Thursday, February 3, 2011

A fast sort of country: The Red Queen Syndrome+ Hoopty Motoring

  • Copied from Wikipedia:
Well, in our country," said Alice, still panting a little, "you'd generally get to somewhere else — if you run very fast for a long time, as we've been doing."
"A slow sort of country!" said the Queen. "Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!" [1]
America has become a fast sort of country.  It doesn't seem like it used to be anywhere near this bad, this hard, this tight, this close to the bone...for everybody.  We're all strained and stretched.  We're all nervous.
And it feels like there's another shoe waiting to drop.  Not sure why I say that, just a subconscious impression.

 I got my W-2 the other day.  I made a little less than $4000 more than I'd ever made before in a year...and I've never been as consistently close to broke as I have been this year.
 I don't generally budget, but I'm a natural-born tightwad, and get nervous without emergency I take antianxiety medicine at least in small part because I consistently fail to have enough in the bank to feel that I am protected in case of predictable emergencies.  Such as catastrophic hoopty failure, necessitating the purchase of another hoopty.

(reminds me...rotors are going to need turning Real Soon Now)
My car is actually a Nice Car in the process of becoming a hoopty because I keep not having either the time or money to fix it.  This is more than annoying; it is tragic.

Because it means I will waste more money replacing this car with another, when I could have kept it on the road years longer with better care.
Welcome to the expensiveness of poverty. You don't have the dime now to prevent spending the dollar later.

This is why I'm thinking about getting a decent small used motorbike on credit-because it will do two things: save on gas, and give me a second vehicle, so I can put the damn car in the damn shop, or take the time to fix it myself.
My wife is getting depressed again.  She actually teared up in our couples' counselor's office, because she's terrified that when I talk to her, it's sucking up what little time she has to better herself so she can get a better job.

She's trying to make more money. I'm trying to grow some of our own food-and so do more with the income we have.  Gardening's a skill that will pay off now and in the future in terms of really fresh, organic produce straight from the yard, picked and eaten only minutes apart. An investment in our health...and damn my arms are bulking up, too.

I'm thinking about d-diving restaurant waste to make more vermiculture with. Wow, that's really going to make my car smell good...but it'll make some great wormpoo. The wormpoo will make great veggies.  All for the cost of scooping the nasty out and hauling it home

Note to self-get some buckets from behind Shipley's to collect food waste.  And some stale doughnuts for the wild birds if such are there.
I do want a truck.

Oh, in case you ever wanted to's a link to how to drive a hoopty...and yeah, I've totally used all these driving tips in some of my past cars: how to drive a hoopty

Although I'd add the following tips for good hoopty motoring:
  • Take duct tape, coathangers/baling wire and needle-nosed pliers with you.  If you can recover the pieces of car you lose along the way, you can reattach them using the above.
  • In fact, if you've got one, take your whole toolbox. The hoopty will bring novelty into your life.
  • Old pantyhose can be subbed in for a belt for a few miles(get the hoopty to the parts store)
  • Carry all manner of fluids with you, check fluid levels often.
  • Carry a good spare and a good tire jack...chances are the hoopty will be wearing the tires very unevenly and you may get surprise flats
  • Sea breeze and motor honey are your friends.
  • if the regular brakes aren't working, practice braking a few times with the parking brake.  It will put you into a skid, so you have to pop it on and off.
  • If you have to turn the car off and coast(say, because it's overheating again), put it in neutral, and expect power steering and braking to go away.
  • If you have to brake, but also give it gas at the same time to keep it from stalling, do so with the same foot.
  • No tailgating.  Drive slow.  Carry uninsured motorist coverage.  If you get hit in the rear, you get a 'new' hoopty.
  • If you have a manual transmission and the brakes go...hey, you're okay!
  • Black smoke from under the hood is normal for the hoopty.  Steam from under the hood is not.  And fire is a really bad sign.
  • Your toolkit should include a hacksaw in case your muffler wraps around the axle when it falls off.
  • Carry jumper cables.  Trust me.
  • Duct tape can form structural component replacements.
  • Regular coca-cola can clean battery terminals.
  • NEVER take the hoopty to the shop and say "just fix it!" because the bill would include your arm, leg, and firstborn child.  Specify in writing.
  • Probably better to live with any electrical problems you can't fix yourself.
  • Wear your seat belt. Tightly. Do not expect any onboard hoopty airbag, if such exists, to actually work.
  • Expect the hoopty to lose ground contact over bumps, meaning you won't be able to steer or brake much.
  • Do not ignore damaged tie rods. Really.  
  • Be familiar with the sounds your hoopty makes, so that when it starts making new ones, you can tell. Squealing or grinding ones are bad.
  • Probably better not to clean the hoopty too well-the dirt may be holding it together
  • The Haynes Manual is your friend
  • The junkyard is your friend
  • Tomato cans are your friends

    The hooptyest thing by far I ever drove was what I called the Jeep From Hell(it was a Grand Wagoneer with Issues)...its' fave trick was stalling out backing up.

     If I was in enough of a hurry I'd forget to take it out of reverse before I hotwired it to get it started again, which involved bridging at the solenoid-under the the stupid thing would start up and start chugging away from me, necessitating me chasing it down.

    All of its gauges would swing all the way to the right and then back when I turned on the headlights.  One time when I had some other work done, the way the belts were set somehow caused the power steering pump to rhythmically squirt P/S fluid (flammable stuff) all over the engine compartment.

    It was however, my Tercel (named Shake n' Bake for it's wobble-inducing frame damage and a tendency to overheat) that lost a turn signal housing on the freeway, and I went back and got it.

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