March 10, 2011

Whoever invented the wheel should be shot, hanged and then repeated seven times to make sure they're really dead

That's a long title, but I felt it was appropriate. I don't seem to be garnering the attention of Canadia. People in Russia and Slovenia look at my blog occasionally, but not Canadia. Maybe I need to talk about frogs to get their attention? Speaking of Canadia, there's a town called Hamilton somewhere up there where numerous people worked for the Bell telephone company, which was in a nearby town. What were these people called? Hamiltonian operators that commute! If you didn't think that was funny, go ask one of your friends that has taken  a quantum mechanics course. They're response, upon you telling them this joke will be to first shake their head with a smile and then tell you it's really not that funny, and definitely not worth your time to understand. Just take my word for it, it's funny. It could also come in handy if you ever get stuck in an elevator with a bunch of physics/chemistry people. If they're organic chemists though, they won't have a clue as to what you're talking about (it would be like explaining romantic love to a kindergartener, they'd wine and complain that it's stupid and they don't need it, and eventually would either try to pull your hair or kick you in the crotch to make you stop). I'll stop.

The title, oh yes, the title, and this one has nothing to do with ownership of your car, though it does have to do with cars in general. I think cars were sent here as one of the seven plagues before the apocalypse (that's a fun word, for more reasons than one), and it's such a horrible plague that it's not even mentioned by Nostradamus himself. Foreign cars are even worse, and I'm not a Xenophobe either (they call me Ford Prefect).

I know I promised pictures too, but I don't think it's going to happen this time. I'm a terrible artist and most other pictures I can find don't adequately describe the mayhem and panic I envision.

My dad, grandfather and great-grandfather were all mechanics at one time or another (two of them now work on keeping worms running smoothly). As such, when I was growing up when there was a problem with one of the cars my dad was usually the one that initially tried to fix it. Sometimes bad things happened, words were said, pieces were lost at 11pm in those stupid cracks in the pavement that go down just far enough that any small object that enters them now belongs to the Dark Under Lord, and the hammer was usually brought out. This meant the next day the car was taken to a shop where they fixed it. Okay, the last part never really happened, it just meant the next day we had to go pickup more parts and start over. The first time I was told to go help my dad work on one of our vehicles I was super excited! Kind of like the kid on A Christmas Story when he's told to go help his dad change the tire. I quickly learned that this was a way for my mom to not feel guilty about having my dad outside working in the dead of winter on out car late at night in a carport; we had no garage. I also learned that this was possibly the worst thing for a kid to do. I was too young to really do anything other than stand there and hold the nuts and bolts and other assorted pieces that were summarily tossed from the engine, and when put back together we almost always had leftovers, which like Thanksgiving dinner were put in a giant jar with all the previous leftovers and then forgot about until next time. Mmmm, composting in the kitchen fridge. From an early age I learned to hate working on cars. I also learned why mechanics swear a lot, they have good reason to. I met a care engineer once. He's still alive, but only because he swore he just designed the body and exterior parts of the car.

Anyone who's ever worked on a car knows what I mean. They have bolts and screws and other thingums in the most awkward, hard-to-get-to and awful places you can think of. Things are piled on top of each other in an effort to save space. The problem is that the things that break down the most are usually at the bottom of these piles. So if you work on your own car you become very familiar with those pieces that you're not really sure they do anything, but you keep putting them back because you don't really want to find out if they're necessary or not. I have a feeling that if car engineers were required to spend two years working as a mechanic doing repairs on whatever part of the car it is they design, cars would be much friendly objects, and removed from the list of plagues to visit the earth before the end-of-days.

My real hatred of working cars comes from my older sister. Mainly it was one incident that still lives in infamy in my heart and soul, though I'm sure the rest of the family has forgotten it. Did you know that you have to put oil and antifreeze in a car? Well, you do. My older sister, in spite of being incredibly smart, so much so that she was paid to go to college, didn't know this. I can mock her because at that time I didn't have the privilege of driving the car all that often and so I learned from her mistakes and forever after knew you had to check the oil and antifreeze. The engine, for the most part, is made to withstand even cockroaches. The head (the part on top of the engine, once you unpile all the other pieces on top of it, that look like hoses but any competent mechanic will tell you they're not hoses, oh no, they're "who'sy what'sits and thingama-jig-ums that are really expensive to replace") couldn't withstand a two-year-old armed with a purple crayon. With out enough oil and antifreeze the head warps, which causes an even bigger problem because now you're antifreeze leaks into the area where the oil goes, and so you have even less antifreeze. I don't think catalytic converters can do much with antifreeze either. I hear cats  really like it though.

I just realized why this entry was sucking so much. No theme song to go with it...okay we're good now.

My wife, Pam, makes this awesome homemade bread that I'm eating right now too. If I could I would electronically share the bread with you. Unfortunately, until it becomes something gamers are interested in the computer manufacturers won't pursue it that much. Mmm, multigrain goodness.

Long and the short of the ruined head in the car, my dad and I replaced it in the winter months in Northern Utah-it took us about two to three months-and got the car up and running! Once. After it fired up initially it wouldn't start a second time. We ended up taking it to a mechanic where they had to replace the whole block. It ran after that though. I learned that working on cars is the second most painful thing in this world. Going on a family trip and being forced to listen to Celine Dion, Barbara Streisand, Musicals and such is only slightly more painful. We did listen to Three Dog Night, The Doobie Brothers and the Doors as well, so it wasn't always pain-riddled. There used to be this crazy lady on TV that had a 'magic' mirror that allowed her to see the children at home watching (kind of like how santa knows what you want for Christmas) and she called good little boys and girls her doobies. My mom and aunts swear to this. She was probably secretly a hippie.

Recently our car had been acting funny. We'd be driving along and it would start talking to me. Pam says she never heard it, but I know it was talking and it kind of freaked me out. One time it didn't like what I was doing and told me I better watch it, it knew where I slept. At this point I realized it was kind of pointless for me to be using my seatbelt. Thankfully Ralph Nader got the car companies to make steering columns that wouldn't impale the driver. We're still waiting for him to do something else useful ....waiting ....waiting kind of reminds me of waiting up to see the tooth fairy take your tooth and put the quarter under your pillow. You never saw it, but people kept telling you that because the quarter was there the tooth fairy had done it, and you believed them for a while. One of my nieces believes in the booger fairy. I'd love to see her pillowcase on laundry day. One of my old roommates called them nose-trolls. Euphemisms are fun, and not just because it's a strange word that makes me think of rivers in which thousands were sacrificed to pagan gods. Thank you Michael Keen.

Could you imagine if they made a car modeled after Pauly Shore? It would keep telling it's out of gas, and then when you pulled up to the gas station it would explode. Keanu Reeves? It would try to out race muscle cars, out off-road SUVs and out comfort luxury cars, all while doing the exact same things, which is nothing. Martin Short? We'll keep this moderately clean and so won't mention what you're car would do. Paris Hilton?   It'd carry a small dog around in its gas tank and wonder why it kept dieing.

Our car also was making funny noises that it shouldn't. I thought the ball joints just needed to be lubed up, but kept putting it off because I really didn't want to have to take off the wheels and get my hands dirty. That's the honest truth. I finally broke down and screamed at my inner-girly-side until it was crying in the corner like a little girl (I had to tell it it was fat), and took the tires off the front of the car to check it out. Lo and behold, there was a slightly bigger problem. There's this little piece called a stabilizer connecting rod that one of the bolts had come off of, which explained why our car felt like it was leaning to the drivers side. It was. I wasn't too thrilled about it (earlier last year my dad and I had changed out the CV axles, while it didn't take as long as replacing the head, I would much rather do that again than replace CV axles) but we hopped over to the neighborhood auto part store on Abbey Road, asked Sgt. Pepper for directions and had some pickles and cheese on a yellow submarine. After this we made it to the service counter where I had to try and explain the part I needed (I didn't know what it was called at this point; car parts don't come with names on them). He pulled up a picture and asked me if that was what I needed. It looked like it, so I said sure, and after paying slightly less than it costs to smuggle rabbit fur into Finland, we were on our way home.

UPDATE: This picture was given to me by a good friend and is a pretty good at describing what I envisioned (if you haven't looked at his blog you should)

Once home, Pam quickly went inside. She's a very wise woman, other than marrying me, but I'm not complaining. Surprisingly, it was very easy to take out the old one and put in the new one, and I only had grease on my hands and little on my upper arms. I changed the oil in my youngest sisters car once (stupid Chevy) and ended up with both arms up to my shoulders completely covered in grease. The oil filter is positioned at the back of the engine where the only way to get to it is by reaching in from either the top or the bottom, snaking your arms around various immovable pieces and putting all contortionists to shame. This invariably means you will be covered in grease. I also, foolishly, mistook an easy to reach filter as her oil filter and found out that transmission fluid does not taste like burnt sugar like used antifreeze does.

The moral of the story: invent a time machine, find the person that invented the wheel and beat them. No wheel = no car = no oil crisis = no Bush family dynasty = no 911 = no emergency services = more deaths = no food shortage = no starvation = everyone, not just Americans being fat = Jenny Craig is a worldwide hit = ... it's a win-win situation for all involved. 


Charlie Pulsipher said...

Would they carpool with the Unitary Operators?

I drew you a picture for this post and will email it to you now. Love ya!

Amateur Steph said...

At least I gave you something. All this time I thought I was a bad sister.

Anonymous said...

Chuck, thank you for the picture I think it fit marvelously.

As to whether they carpool with unitary operators, well that's just silly, they're unitary. ;-)

Steph, oh you've given me plenty of things over the years, most of them good too. =D

charbetrichey said...

Evan went out to "help" his Dad once, at his mother's insistance. He was back in the house within minutes. When asked why he was back so soon, he said, "I don't need to hear those kind of words." He never went out again.
Congraulations on being able to fix a car. I'm proud of you.
Buy a Toyota and you won't have those problems. Ooooh, my Dad would turn over in his grave to hear me say those words.

Anonymous said...

We have a toyota, which has actually been a very reliable and awesome car (as long as we don't confuse the gas for the break and have it 'magically' accelerating unexplainably). =D However, Saturn's while not the most luxurious cars were the easiest to work on and fix.

Blue Dragon Arts said...

i was raised by a mechanic, so i don't even bother trying to fix my truck. i just take it to another mechanic, big bucks, but no embolism! (besides it's an '89 and anything after 70 pretty much sucks for understanding parts)
give me back my '53 chevy and i can cook on that baby...and change the oil, spark plugs and just about anything else!