Who uses it: Auto mechanics
What it means: Replacing the rings at the tops of each piston in an internal combustion engine. The rings keep oil out of the engine; when an engine starts burning oil, chances are the rings need replacing. It can be very expensive, and by the time most cars need ring jobs, the price of the ring job is more than the value of the car.
How you can use it: When you need to rebuild something from the fundamentals.
Another morning in Mechanicsville, with Thomas the Tank Engine and Frog and Toad Are Friends. Frog and Toad was my sister Kathy's favorite book when we were little, and I love being able to read it to my nephews. Frog's 1970s-style leisure suit looked weird to me even when it was in fashion, but my nephews don't notice. Nor does it bother them that in Richard Scarry's world, some animals wear full sets of clothing, and some wear only hats.
Dizzy and I head down to Virginia Beach this afternoon, and I need to get the Blueberrymobile's oil changed before I go back to Maine, which made me think of this term. The first car I ever owned was a 1981 Mercury Lynx that had not been maintained at all, and burned oil from almost the first day I owned it. I paid $500 for it, and within two weeks of its purchase, a mechanic told me I'd need to spend $1,100 on a ring job to make it run properly. It was not an attractive car -- dark brown, with a black interior -- and I hadn't had time to become emotionally attached to it, so I put the title in the glove compartment and called a salvage company to take it away.
But it was the car I learned to drive a standard shift on, which was worth $500. I've seen some sniping about the fact that the newly-cast James Bond, Daniel Craig, doesn't know how to drive a stick shift; I like Daniel Craig, but I couldn't suppress my own internal sneer at this news. Driving a standard shift is an essential masculine skill, like grilling and being able to change the washer in a faucet. I own my prejudices.