I just changed my alternator! Woo! And reconnected the new battery and checked the voltage, and it WORKS, and it's all better and I did it MYSELF! No help and no manual!
I have to return my parents car tomorrow, and it's actually rather warm (about 15 degrees, which still makes bare fingers on metal say brrr), so I knuckled under and bought the stupid thing yesterday and put it in this morning. There were a few bad moments - like that time I was unscrewing one of the connections and something fell off the backside of the screw and went *ping!* down into the engine (I was able to recover it when the alternator was out), and that moment I found a part in my pocket and could NOT figure out where it went (Ah... wasn't a part from the car, it was the protective nipple from the nail gun that had been in my pocket since last summer!), but pretty much, it went smoothly, and only took about an hour from start to finish. I'm very chuffed with myself. Saved a bundle on mechanics fees, and didn't have to pay to have my car towed from the bottom of a very tricky driveway where it was parked wrong way in and we live far enough out of town that it would have been expensive.
So, YAY. I have a car again.
And tomorrow I get a harp. Nineteen years of wanting one, and tomorrow, FINALLY, I get one.