Tuesday, February 18, 2014

How does one start a blog without sounding like a egotistical prick?  Or for that matter, how do I put thought to paper on a regular (semi-regular) basis without it all turning into the "me" show?  I keeping thinking of the Demotivational poster hanging in my office:

But if I were to write under the assumption I were pissing into the abyss I might as well get a LiveJournal account. (or reactivate my old one...)  So, fukkit, I'm going to do as I have been urged and just write as though this is something people would want to read.  If nobody does, than, really, it doesn't matter that I threw-up all over this first paragraph.

So what would be entertaining to read?  My recipe for "passed-over" soup using the ingredients from the Seder Plate?  Embellishing my already fucked-up dreams into something more filmable?  Unenlightened insights to my day-to-day misadventures?  Perhaps I should just start typing and see what happens, flow of consciousness style. . and. . .wait, am I in front of a computer?!  Maybe I'll just stick what what I know and go from there.

This weekend (okay, Monday, but I was off work so, weekend) I fixed my car.  I had the windshield replaced and I installed a new rear wheel hub assembly.  Parts and labor all together was about $400.00. The wheel hub bearing has been humming loudly for months and months; I just got my income tax refund if it's not apparent.  I estimate by putting on the hub assembly myself I saved at least another three hundred in labor.  After buying tools as I broke the shitty old ones I have and busting a lot of knuckles between said tools and my car, and beating the shit out of the old rusted hub with a hammer, I put a several punches onto my Man-Card.  There are a lot of people who can't or won't do their own car repair, not even change their own oil.  There's nothing wrong with that, we each have our own talents and strengths, but I want to make a point that just because I can do this sort of thing doesn't mean I'm special or talented in that department.  I have no formal training, I just feel confident that I have a chance of success.  I like to think that any technical or mechanical task set before me I can absolutely do, so long as I give myself enough time to do research about it.  I've built computers from scratch with no formal training and so far, beyond oil, I have changed headlights, brakes all around, a new brake caliper and now the wheel hub (same wheel, it's a pain).  All in all, I'm guesstimating (especially since I have repeated called for quotes from the dealer) that I have saved myself at least fifteen hundred bucks by doing it myself just in the last year.  All that money, armed only with YouTube and whatever mechanical aptitude was passed to me by my father.

I think this confidence, in a way, makes my father sad.  He is a diesel mechanic and has been since before I was born.  First it was farm implements, then radiator repair and odd-jobs, and the last couple decades has been as in-house mechanic for two different county road maintenance shops.  When I was growing up I was not. . . how do I say this, smart with cars.  I was either living in a demo-derby or just not putting water in the radiator until the engine seized.  I even had a tire just fall off at one point (though that was not entirely my fault), crashed in the Utah desert, and left steaming wrecks on the side of the road in Wyoming.  So, it is safe to say that being a lifelong professional my father was always my go to guy for any reversal of vehicular misfortune.  One thing though, no matter what the problem was, or even just basic upkeep like an oil changes, I was always allowed (or forced) to come with and "help".  Helping was mostly staying the fuck out of the way or fetching tools, but I did get to watch a lot.  But while I watched I picked up some stuff and put it in mental storage.  Even after I left for college I would always come home for oil changes and tune-ups. (this was a common occurrence given my tendency to drive hearses [that's a later post])  So, while I've always been rather independent, you can imagine that my desire for vehicular life-support helped my dad feel appreciated. (even if he grumbled all the way to the shop to get his tools)

Keeping that in mind, I put on my own replacement starter motor once.  I was a freshman in college, an hour's drive from home with my first Cadillac (not a hearse) and had to fix the problem or the car no start no mo'.  I could hear the pride in my father's voice when I called him and told him that I had done it all myself and the car actually started afterward.  But there was a certain undertone to his voice that has only grown stronger in recent years.  When I bought my new car nearly 6 years ago I brought it home to show off my good fortune my dad was obviously proud.  Except, upon looking under the hood at this compact Japanese fuel injected block of metal and plastic he could only say, "Well, you're on your own now!"  He was my master of carburetors, but this was, without a computer and some training, beyond him.  In the intervening years I have taken some windfalls and spend time unemployed, but I kept up my payments and kept the car.  And because of a lot of things, not just vehicular maintenance, I made a lot fewer trips at home.

So, sometime this week, I will call my father (or more likely he will call me) and we will discuss my car and the repairs I have made to it.  He will be very proud, this is a project on par with any of the other difficult things I have fixed in the past. But under that pride will still be my Dad, knowing that but for my confidence and ability to try new things this was another opportunity to spend some time with his Son that he didn't have.  So when I have that conversation I will also be proud of my achievement, but in hearing the undertone to his voice and knowing what it means will also make me sad.

I'm going to make damned sure we go fishing this summer.  We can talk about how many cars I killed previously while we drown some worms.

(Huh, that was kind of a downer. . . I swear the next one will be funnier.)