January 08, 2006

Reliability, For Less Than I Thought

GAD, WHAT A WEEK. In a stunning reversal of my fortunes, though, the past several days have turned out amazingly well. Key among my triumphs were getting my car fixed and my computer rejuvenated, tasks which had previously filled me with dread and anxiety, respectively.

When we last discussed the car, your correspondent had just spent an hour fussing around with the battery in his Ford Taurus, which was being uncooperative. The plan was to go out next morning and start it up, with the hope I could get it repaired sometime in future. It did not start up. As the following dramatization shows, this left me in quite a spot.

ME: Dammit! (click click click click) Start, you --- God! Wretched, cheap, stupid battery! Start! (click click click) Jesus Christ! I don't believe this. OK. I've got 18 minutes to get into the office -- but at this point, that'd be like recovering an onside kick!
JEROME BETTIS: Excuse me, but I think you're being a bit liberal with the football terminology!
ME: Yeah? Well, you start the car!

Fortunately, I was able to get the car started -- with the help of the building maintenance guy, who jump-started the battery with a generator.

Upon arriving at the shop, I recalled that my battery was not two years old, as I had previously thought, but four -- and when you get right down to it, four years is a lot for a battery, especially considering the winters we have up here. The shop went about its work, and as it turned out, my DieHard battery had, well, died hard. Fortunately, though, there was a solution, as this dramatization shows:

MECHANIC: You can see here, this is the "health meter" for your battery.
ME: Oooh. I guess I need a new battery.
ME: OK, well, what batteries do you have?
MECHANIC: For your car, we have one battery in stock.
ME: One battery.
ME: Well, that makes it easy, doesn't it?

Actually, though, it seems like a decent battery. It's supposed to last six years, and if it lasts until 2012, it will undoubtedly outlast everything else on the car, including minor parts such as the "steering column." Even better, it only cost about $100 for the whole repair, which gladdened even my cold heart. Plus, I get to go out to a car that always starts up in the morning, and the relief from no longer worrying about the car should last a good week.

But that was just one nifty repair.

This weekend, I hired a computer expert to install some RAM I got as a Christmas gift. When all was said and done, I not only had my new RAM working, I also had a clean and quiet computer, plus a reinvigorated monitor. It was like having a new machine and it only cost $90. Plus, since it was a house call, I didn't have any lost time in terms of computer availability. So here's a swell personal-finance tip: always find someone you know to do computer stuff, because they're cheaper than the brand-name services.

Not that I just sat back and watched the football game, of course. For one thing, New England was kicking the Jaguars back to Carolina. For another, my machine had suffered greatly due to my former habit of smoking two packs of cigarettes a day. Cigarette dust, as my expert pointed out, didn't just blow away -- it's tar. So I spent a bit of the time cleaning, as well as keeping track of tools and such.

It's sobering when you see what the tar does to machinery. I mean, my God: to think the same stuff was coating my lungs (and teeth, and throat)! It's not merely that it's filthy -- it's that it's devilish to remove. Then, dust gets kicked up along with it, and there's much coughing and hacking, and then a headache -- it was just foul. Just foul.

But the computer has run SMASHING ever since. It's truly unbelievable how much it has improved, and for that I'm quite pleased. I was also pleased I refrained from panicking when my expert went to town on my computer. We hear enough bad football cliches as is on television.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at January 8, 2006 10:40 PM | TrackBack

Ew...cigarette ash has tar in it, too! I never would've thought that, before, but it's so obvious. Ick. Glad your car and computer are running more reliably, now. :-)

Posted by: Princess Jami at January 10, 2006 01:08 PM

Yes, it's fair to call the stuff godawful. Imagine dusting a surface, but instead of just wiping it, having to thoroughly scrub it -- because otherwise the stuff would still stick. That's exactly what it was like.

However, thanks for your kind words -- I too am glad my car and computer are working better!

Posted by: Benjamin Kepple at January 10, 2006 11:39 PM