I never realized how much more affordable covert surveillance equipment has become in the past few years. Some of Jerry’s drunk-and-stupids would be positively You Tube gold. The time he tried to start a fire in the fireplace with gasoline would have been right up there with the stuff you see on World’s Dumbest or 1,000 Ways to Die, only flashpoint doesn’t kill you, (usually) but it does burn off body hair.
Speaking of 1,000 Ways to Die today I had to explain to some Uncle Dad (ill-educated backwoods redneck) that there’s a reason why one does not install a remote start kit on a vehicle with a manual transmission. Something about disabling the neutral safety switch (the gadget that keeps you from starting the car unless you have your foot on the clutch) is one of those Not Very Good Ideas. Just color me ethically cautious, but 20+ years in automotive have made me both cautious and cynical when considering the average person’s ability to understand simple directions, i.e. being 100% sure the car is in neutral when you try to start it without having your foot on the clutch. If I’m telling you a particular modification is not a good idea, chances are I’ve either tried it (lots of experience in the School of the Burned Hand) or observed the carnage when someone else did. I spent way too many years of my life in mechanical shops and in close proximity to body shops.
It does beg the question why would anyone want a remote start kit (even if you don’t drive a manual transmission car) to begin with. I don’t want my car running without me in it. This is Ohio, and winters can get cold, but it does not get cold enough here to warrant letting any modern car run unattended for any length of time. That’s why vehicle manufacturers came up with all the nice innovations such as computer controlled idle and timing and electronic fuel injection. The electronic controls make the necessary adjustments to idle, timing and fuel mix to adapt to the ambient temperature, so that puppy is going to start and run even if it’s cold. Start the bloody thing and take off already, that’s how newer vehicles are designed. It heats up quicker that way (both the engine and the heater, which gets hot because the cooling system from the engine gets hot) and it saves gasoline. It’s not like back in the day when you had to play with carburetors and chokes and mechanical distributors and such, only to put the car in gear and have it stall out if you didn’t let it sit and idle and get relatively warm first.
Believe me, I don’t miss carburetion or conventional ignition one bit. The scary thing is I am old enough to remember both- and know how they (are supposed to) work. Rube Goldberg had nothing on 1970′s and 1980′s (blecch!) domestic carbureted vehicles’ fuel and emissions systems. It’s a bloody engineering marvel if and when they DO work. Most of the time they didn’t, especially in the the depth of a wet, cold Ohio winter. There’s a reason why nobody is still driving their old 1982 Chevette- many reasons, actually, but I don’t think there are very many of those old turds left that still can be driven- even if the floorboards by some Act of God failed to rust through.
I may be one of the last surviving women on the planet who knows how to decipher GM carburetor (and differential, and speedometer gear) charts. Just because I know how to look up the component parts for these old carburetors in the old GM charts doesn’t mean they are available (most probably aren’t) but it’s a quaint old skill, sort of like using a slide rule, or writing a letter using pen and ink. The guys who play with vintage/classic cars will understand exactly what I’m talking about, but most people will scratch their heads and wonder what the flying thunder I’m talking about. Have fun rebuilding that four barrel Rochester for your Chevelle. There are vintage suppliers who still deal with that old stuff, but as for me, progress is a good thing. I may be many things, and not all of them lovely, but I am certainly not a technophobe- especially as it applies to the automotive world. I want to see a car that gets 100MPG (if it’s not too dorky- like the Smart Car that has no room but still doesn’t get any better mileage than my 4 door Yaris sedan- or expensive I would probably buy it) and for the most part I like the electronics and gadgetry available today.
However, I don’t need a remote start, even if it were safe to use them on a manual transmission vehicle (and trust me, it’s NOT!) I really don’t mind being a bit cold for a few minutes while the heater warms up, and there are few things I disdain more than wasting gasoline.
Speaking of wasting gasoline in creative ways, I got to observe yet another drunk-and-stupid adventure last night. Joy! I am afraid to look in the back yard. Jerry found himself a very sweet high-faluting John Deere weed whacker. Now, I don’t get excited in the least about yard implements. I don’t like yard work, and I’m doing good to even start a lawn mower or a weed whacker. But Jerry loves yard work, and he loves the lawn tools, with the passion that middle-aged men have for all things lawn, and he gets even more excited about dangerous gasoline-powered toys when he’s good and besnookered. After a twelve pack, and after Bob showed him how to put line in this particular weed whacker, Jerry was out to weed whack everything. I stayed in the house with the dogs. I am only hoping he steered clear of the tomato plants, the eggplants and the zucchinis. I will have to go investigate tonight when I get home and can see the carnage in the light of day. I am hoping he kept his whacking activity limited to the weeds around the sidewalk and the hedges, but redneck + alcohol + gasoline powered lawn toy is bound to equal some sort of mass destruction of plant life and anything else he could reach with the whacker.
I need to get some of the spy camera and micro DVR stuff. Jerry out running amok with the weed whacker would have been priceless You Tube fodder.