Of Forests And Trees

I don’t know how to feel about the fact that the comment section of yesterday’s post degenerated into a tiny whirlpool of terminal foot Fred-dom:

Good lord, all I said was it rained and my foot got wet! Don’t take this personally or anything, and I love each and every one of you, but holy crap this made me deeply ashamed to be a cyclist.

(Okay, fine, it’s the shorts that make me deeply ashamed to be a cyclist. This just made me slightly embarassed.)

Then again, obviously this sort of weenie-a-riffic discourse is by no means limited to cyclists. For example, as I get closer to satisfying the loan I took for The Car That The Bank Owns Until I Finish Paying Them Back, I’ve become more invested in its mechanical well-being. See, at this juncture in my relationship with this giant internal combustion appliance on wheels I have three options:

  • Put my money where my mouth is, sell it, and join the ranks of the smug and carless (I’m looking at you, David Byrne)
  • Do what my bank, the manufacturer, and indeed the entire United States economy wants me to do, which is to say trade it in and “upgrade” to a new vehicle with a shiny new loan
  • Keep the fucking thing until the wheels fall off

While I may be a hypocrite, I’m not a complete dupe, so for the time being I’m splitting the difference opting for the last one–though of course there’s yet another option, which is to sell it as soon as it’s paid off, buy an even cheaper car, and keep the change:

This could actually be worthwhile if I used the rest of the money to fund a documentary covering how my life swiftly fell apart after taking ownership of a vintage Swedish automobile. Yes, $3K seems like an awful lot for a rolling albatross, though I do see the car’s in Brooklyn, and of course the Saab 900 has huge Gen-X street cred owing to the fact that it was featured on the cover of a Slint album:

This is now the car and pop culture blog you never wanted it to be.

All of this is by way of saying that, now that I’m thinking more about the longevity of my car, I’ve been reading more car-related content on the internet. Specifically, I was wondering if I should change a certain fluid in a certain engine part, and holy shit did I wade into a swamp from which it seemed like I’d never extract myself when I innocently started reading up on it. Fortunately, I’m well versed in bike-weeniedom, which is for the most part overlaps perfectly with car-weeniedom. Generally, when it comes to parsing information presented in forum discussions, whether the subject is bikes or cars or really anything with wheels, all of the self-professed “experts” fall under one of the following categories:

  • The people who draw sweeping, often negative conclusions about specific makes or models due entirely to their own subjective experience
  • The people whose obsession with performing proactive maintenance has completely crippled their lives
  • The retrogrouches who dismiss anything less than [X] years old as hopelessly inferior
  • The DIY humblebraggarts whose [X] year-old bike or car with [X] thousand miles on it is “just getting broken in.” (These humblebraggarts are usually in the process of fixing up some deeply embarrassing old car or bike for a child who’s about to go off to college, where they will no doubt make sure it gets stolen or totaled immediately.)

I should probably also add that there’s considerable overlap between Group 1 and Group 2, because the mechanical problems these people have are no doubt caused at least in part by their constant amateurish futzing.

Anyway, armed with expertise-by-proxy, I rightly concluded I can ignore absolutely everybody and just ask the mechanic about it next time I get the oil changed. (No, I don’t change my own oil, I don’t have a driveway and it’s not worth it. And yes, I’ve read forum discussions on how often to change your oil, and if the same “experts” listed above are to be believed I should be doing it at least two times a week.)

There’s also a deeper conclusion to draw from all of this: specifically, that the Internet, like life, is just a bunch of clueless idiots feeling their way around in the dark. And even though when we bump into each other we should hold hands and create an ever-growing circle of sharing and support, instead we just argue about whether the tapers should be greased or which direction the quick release skewer should be pointing. (Obviously the answer to that one is TOWARDS HELL.)

Aw, fuck it, I’m leasing a…

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