Monthly Archives: October 2018

How to change a tire by Mike Baron

HOW TO CHANGE A TIRE

I ain’t the handiest guy in the world, but I know how to change a tire. A lot of new cars don’t come with a spare. If you get a flat, you’re shit outta luck. Better have one of those plug-in tire repair kits so you can hobble to the next service station. I also know how to drive a stick shift. Growing up on the flat eastern plains of South Dakota, my friends and I couldn’t wait to get behind the wheel, so much so, that we would routinely “borrow” our parents’ cars late at night to get the hang of it.

It was a car culture. My best friend’s dad always had copies of Road & Track and Car And Driver in his clinic office. He was a successful doctor who also owned several hot cars including a Ferrari, which he let me drive once.

“I think eighty is fast enough, Mike.”

Doctor Delaney also had a Mercedes 300 and a humongous Dodge with a hemi.

I love shifting the gears, matching revs on downshifts, feeling the engine hit its torque curve. It’s a joy to feel part of the mechanical apparatus that moves you through the countryside, and the joy is greater when you ride a motorcycle, because instead of being sealed off from the land in an enclosed steel cage, you are part of the countryside.

I love the smell of gas.

These days, most cars have automatic transmissions, rear view cameras, devices that correct the steering if you nod off and fail to notice you’re about to rear end a semi. People refer to manual transmissions as millennial anti-theft devices, and there’s some truth there. A lot of kids are leery of driving and in no hurry to get their licenses, partly because of stupid propaganda demonizing internal combustion engines. All progress comes at a price. The internal combustion engine has been one of the greatest boons to mankind since the invention of the wheel. For every person who dies in a car crash, a thousand have been transported swiftly and safely to hospital emergency rooms for everything from pregnancy to heart attacks. Fresh water and medicine travel to disaster areas via internal combustion engines.

Those who want us to emulate Europe with mass transit don’t understand what makes America unique. Part of it is freedom. The freedom to hop on your bike, or into your car, and go wherever the hell you please. America is a huge country with vast distances, especially out here in the West. Mass transit works great in dense urban areas, not so much in the West.

Today’s risk-adverse yoot are not buying motorcycles. Scary! There used to be numerous monthly general purpose motorcycle magazines. Now there are two quarterlies, Motorcyclist and Cycle World, and neither has anything of interest. Motorcycle manufacturers don’t vomit forth dozens of new models each year as they did in the past.

But like the horse and comic books, motorcycles will never disappear because they have their enthusiasts. I hope they will make a comeback.

To change a flat tire, you loosen the lug nuts before you apply the jack. Jack the wheel off the ground, replace it, gently screw in the lug nuts, then lower the car back to the ground. Once it is on its full weight, you tighten the lug nuts.

Weasel Words by Mike Baron

WEASEL WORDS

In the never-ending battle to obscure or ameliorate whatever it is they want to say, certain parties have infected the English language with weasel words. When my dog Freddie was dying from heat stroke, the veterinarian at CSU said the test results were very “concerning.” He said it over and over again. I wanted to strangle him. If Freddie was dying, why didn’t he just say so?

Some find words empowering. I find the word empowering debilitating. Don’t trot out those dictionary definitions! I’m warning you, do not do it! But I must. I feel empowered. To empower: “authorize, entitle, permit, allow, license, sanction, warrant, commission, delegate, qualify, equip.” Well how empowering can it be if another party has to do it for you? I’ll do it myself without your help, thank you very much.
But is my empowerment sustainable? What does sustainable mean?

The ability to be sustained, supported, upheld, or confirmed. Environmental Science. the quality of not being harmful to the environment or depleting natural resources, and thereby supporting long-term ecological balance: The committee is developing sustainability standards for products that use energy.

“To be sustained.” There’s that passive tense again, blithely ignorant of Newton’s Laws of Physics. The first law of thermodynamics, also known as Law of Conservation of energy, states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed, energy can only be transferred or changed from one form to another. In other words, energy cannot be created or destroyed. Are electric cars sustainable? From where does the energy come? Could it come from coal-burning power plants? Perhaps it comes from nuclear power plants. We all know that nuclear power plants lead to world-wide disaster and death, except for those nuclear power plants that power most of France.

The US has 99 nuclear power reactors in 30 states, operated by 30 differenT power companies, and in 2017 they produced 805 TWh. Since 2001 these plants have achieved an average apacity factor of over 90%, generating up to 807 TWh per year and accounting for about 20% of total electricity generated.
Is it sustainable? You be the judge.

I love Judge Judy. Whenever a litigant says, “Basically,” Judge Judy interrupts.
“NO BASICALLY. Just tell me what happened.”
The word basically needs to go the way of the dodo.

Likewise “literally.” When you use the word “literally,” you sound like a fool.
And “undocumented immigrants.” And the word “optics.” One day the media rose up as one and decided that the “optics” would replace appearances. They think it makes them sound smart. Optics means, “The scientific study of sight and the behavior of light, or the properties of transmission and deflection of other forms of radiation.”
When I watch a show on On Demand, they warn me that “fast forward and other functionality may not be available.” Functionality? What the fuck? What’s wrong with functions? And “may not be available?” It’s never available. Like those car ads that say, “available 800 horsepower engine.” That means you gots to pay extra.

Mike Baron, The Survey

THE SURVEY

Every company is desperate for positive feedback. Every company employs some firm to conduct surveys on its behalf.

Use SurveyMonkey to drive your business forward by using our free online survey tool to capture the voices and opinions of the people who matter most to you.

School district issuing surveys to complete picture about home, classroom, technology use.

Online surveys are part of the broader family of self-administered surveys (Internet, by post, etc.), as opposed to administered surveys (face to face, telephone). By taking the time to give your opinion, you are providing input for the development of a product or service. In fact, the quality of an online survey depends on the reliability of the information you provide.

The information collected from surveys reaches clients, but will always conceal individual identity. Survey results are aggregated by combining responses with those provided by other participants who have also completed the online survey. This data is stored in a database that can be analyzed by clients, but personal data will never be revealed, sold or traded without your permission.

My own experience is that they are intrusive and irritating. Automatic calls are the most irritating, as they do not work on your schedule. A prerecorded voice says, “Your feedback is important to us. Please take a few minutes to answer this survey about your recent experience with Veeblefetzer Orthodontics.”

But it’s not a few minutes. They phrase the questions so that the can provide neat statistics to their employer. There is seldom room for personal experience. “On a scale of one to ten, one being least satisfactory, ten being most satisfactory…”

And the questions go on and on. I usually hang up after five minutes. Online surveys are nearly as irritating. Don’t we get enough spam? In days of yore, businesses knew they were on the right track by repeat customers and personal testimonials. I’m happy to give a personal testimonial. I write glowing reviews for the Better Business Bureau. But this survey business is out of hand. I went through McDonald’s the other day and by the time I got to the second window, the survey was waiting.