Essays

A collection writings and thoughts by artist Gary Llama.

Cars… and unneccesary complication

There are many things I don’t like, that I make compromises on to live in the world today.

– cars
– phones
– social media
– promotional website for various businesses I run
– business card
– cars

A lot of the reason I don’t like these things, is they take time out of your life, for maintaining the thing.

Facebook is a good example. I like being able to talk to friends every now and again, don’t like having to wade through a huge amount of shit to do it.

Phones: I like being able to find my spouse when we get lost from each other in Target, don’t like getting calls or texts though.

Promotional websites: I like being able to refer to a thing I’m doing by directing someone to something at a fixed URL, don’t like having to figure a way to display it, because, well, all web design is fucking horribly tacky compared to any other medium, save for glossy DJ fliers, those are about just as bad.

With cars, I don’t like owning something I cannot fix, and that if I can fix, it costs lots of money to fix. I also don’t like owning something that is over complicated that, while I can fix, I now need to fix, because it’s breaking. Especially when that breakage doesn’t bother me, but will bother a state inspection. Like power windows. Fuck power windows. I’d rather just have a manual crank and not spend my Saturday in a hot junkyard pulling a window motor out of a dead version of my car.

If I had my choice, and could figure out a way to make it work:

– Walking instead of car
– Way to communicate with friends that was easy for them to communicate with me that didn’t require it’s own seperate apparatus like facebook does
– a phone that could only text and receive text from spouse and doctors
– magically be able to reference product or service I have without a website

But, well, walking isn’t really practical in the city I live, scooter, as fun as they are, won’t work with a baby or a spouse, riding in rain on scooter sucks, and riding in winter on scooter sucks too.

So I have a car, which after rebuilding the transmission this year for $1700 (because 1998 was a horrible year for Honda Accord automatic transmissions, and third gear likes to grind out then sprinkle itself all over the other gears like some kind of fucked up pixie dust) then doing the normal brake changes, the car decided to blow a hole through one of it’s valves.

The problem revealed itself to us in the mountains of West Virginia. The car began to sound a bit like a helicopter. Slowing down to a rest stop, we realized the idle was really, really fucked. Pop the hood, nothing loose. Shit. Hoping it was the altitude we were at, and possibly the ECU was having issues adjusting fuel flow based on the changes, we drove on.

Long story short, cylinder 4 isn’t firing. Swap plugs and wires, still not firing. So I called up a buddy who had a compression gauge. Run the test, nothing. Nothing at all. We swap out to a different cylinder, just to make sure we have enough power to crank, yeah, that one works. Cylinder 4 is dead. Buddy also had a OBDII scanner, so we pop that in, oh, looks like the distributor is going to fail as well pretty soon. Fun Fun stuff.

So, looks like the spouse and I are buying a car in January.

Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy working on somethings. Trying to get a stubborn race car started with my dad, is fucking fun. But trying to fix a modern car is kinda like climbing a modest height mountain just to eat a bowl of instant mash potatoes: Your thankful for the sustenance, but the reward is bland and rather predictable, and passion isn’t evoked at all.

And perhaps that is the problem with modern cars. They are not designed to be worked on by anyone but a specialist. They use almost exactly the same technology as they did in 1910, yet they’ve overcomplicated them to the point where figuring out what is actually going on requires a fucking computer. A computer that is more technologically advanced than what a space shuttle uses to calculate trajectories. And that is ridiculous.

I suppose It also hurts a bit, because I realize, a lot of the complication comes from the desire of companies to build something new; a new model, not necessarily better, but different, with new parts, meaning that a part from this year won’t fit on this other year, not because it’s better, but because of redesigning the part for reasons that have little to do with functionality and much to do with style and fashion.

The bottom line, folks with little money like me don’t need to be buying cars that were designed for fashion and style. We need standardized workhorse, utilitarian, vehicles. Things that have a large parts supply, can easily be swapped out, diagnosed, and are designed with use in mind. Now, such vehicle do somewhat exist, but they get 15mpg, they care called used police cars. And fuck 15 mpg.

I am really not looking forward to buying a different car, as once you realize the design issues inherently involved, you realize your just buying another shade of the same thing.

And that leaves a lot to be desired.

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Llamatism is a collection of things, a cabinet of curiosities, and reports from explorations on things, by Gary Llama.

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