Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Fall...when a young man's thoughts turn to ... vehicle repair?

Before we get too far into things, I just want to take a moment to point everyone to Slicing Up Eyeballs as a reminder of just how amazing the music scene was in 1987. Look at the number of hugely influential albums that came out that year! You simply can't go wrong listening to any of the albums in the top ten from that year.

Now... on to the matter at hand. As I posted last week some time, there have been car troubles in my life. And they just keep coming. Seems the truck I bought came along with some problems.

I think I've narrowed it down to an issue in the power steering system that is most likely not the rack and pinion, and the brakes - likely due to getting fluid on the pads.

My hope is that it doesn't turn out to cost a whole bunch to fix. I'm okay with doing some repairs and all, but I really hate the idea of putting too much time/effort/money into this vehicle. If things go well, we won't be keeping it long or we will keep it around as a fishing truck and nothing much more. It is simply too wasteful to drive daily.

I've got a buddy who's going to provide an assist and we'll get it back into safe driving condition fairly easily. But that's not until this weekend which means I have four days to "research" the symptoms on the interwebz and try to do some armchair diagnosis.

This has gotten me reflecting about our access to data on a day to day basis and how much different it is than it once was. Nearly any problem that we face in life we can google and find immeasurable amounts of information. The challenge is finding good quality information that actually answers the questions we have.

On the internet the idea of authority is a bit perverted. In example, the armchair pundits can claim their authority not by what they have done, but by the number of posts they have made. There are a few funny examples of this where people with credentials such as being in the hall of fame for whatever are yelled down on a discussion board by someone who has thousands of posts, but no clearly identified credentials IRL.

So we search and search the web and there are two things that happen almost simultaneously. One - we slowly come round to finding the information that simply confirms the answers we wanted to hear in the first place as we subtly change our search terms based on bits and pieces we've read on various pages. Humans are really gifted as this fine art. Two - we grow to believe that we can't act without having all of the information first - we need to have the cause and the solution defined before we ever actually engage in troubleshooting the problem IRL.

And maybe this leads to the creation of problems that aren't really there. Example: I have a bottom bracket on my bike that feels a bit crunchy. Crunchy bottom brackets aren't good. But, is this something I would have noticed if I had not read about it first? Maybe. It is an actual feeling I get when riding. But did I attune myself to feeling the first minor signs of crunchiness because I had read a number of reviews online that said that the bearings in the BB I purchased are crap and rarely last more than six months due to a bad seal design that lets water in to wash away the grease? Maybe.

Our minds can focus on the most minute things if they are made aware of them.

I've been scouring the net today looking for solutions to my car problems without having first actually done any troubleshooting in the real world to guide my searching - so I've gone down numerous rabbit holes. Now how many things that I've read about today will go wrong in the car tomorrow?

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