February 8, 2006

Rock Hammer Pragmatism

Some areas of life are off limits. Mere mortal man is not supposed to change his own oil, look inside his own computer or read the ingredients of his Twinkie. There are certain boundaries that for some reason or another we do not cross. When circumstances dictate that I actually do these things, I'm terrified. I bought a CD burner for our computer last year. For some reason, the internal CD burner was 50% less expensive than the external one. So I crossed my fingers, bought the internal one and I went home with a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I was going to have to open my harddrive. Nobody had ever said anything specifically, but I knew this was against "the rules." People like me are not supposed to do anything more than press the shiny buttons on the outside of computers and pout prettily when things go wrong. But I had this new CD burner and a screwdriver so in I went. I felt like a castaway on a desert island who is forced to perform surgery on himself. Sick, sick, sick.

Much to my amazement, it was a snap! Guess what, there's not much in there. I felt like I had uncovered the Wizard of Oz and felt totally let down. If I can't trust internal harddrive components to be confusing and ethereal, what can I trust? It was the same with HTML. It was as mystical a language as Sanskrit but it turns out that it's as easy as a Dick and Jane book. Want something bold? Stick the bold command on either side. Want a picture? Tell it where the picture is. Want a cookie? Well, it can't do that but it's still pretty accommodating. Cracking the html "code" is one of many recent Oz experiences.

I keep finding out that all these secret realms I've been so afraid to enter are nothing more than Chucky Cheeses's with huge bouncers at the door. Most people are too afraid to actually approach the door but if you do, they'll smack your rear and send you inside to play. So is nothing sacred? It seems like having a healthy fear to do-it-yourself is good in certain circumstances. I once had to replace the driver side mirror on my car. I went to the Toyota dealership and bought the new mirror for $30. I asked the guy if he thought I could install it myself to save money on installation. He said "yeah, it's really easy. You just pop the old one off, and pop the new one on." Popping. I can pop. So I brought it home and tried to "pop" off the old mirror. It wiggled a little but didn't budge. An hour later, I had progressed to the stage where I had my rock hammer out (shown above) and was pounding the mirror trying to get it off of my car. It wasn't until I noticed that I had bent the entire frame of the car that I took a reality check and dropped the rock hammer. I took a deep breath and upon closer inspection, I found a small screw on the inside of the car that I needed to take out. And what do you know - the mirror came off in my hands.

Three years later, the window on my car still doesn't roll up all the way because of the frame damage I did to my car in my do-it-yourself experiment. Every time I get in the car, I'm bitterly reminded that there are areas of life that are best left to the professionals. If only I could know which they were before I took $1000 off the worth of my car. My next forbidden zone to challenge? Homemade Chinese food. It can't be that hard, can it?

1 comment:

Katherine said...

Didn't you see Shawshank? Rock hammers are only for tunneling thru walls!