20 June 2015

Shop Manuals

I was disappointed after receiving the shop manual I ordered for a new Honda generator, but at first couldn't put my finger on why. Then I realized: shop manuals are no longer the good, long reads they once were. Gone is text not only explaining in print the how to perform the maintenance/repair/adjustment at hand, but also the background and theory into how and why something works.

Today's manuals, like so many things, seem to have become more about pictures and less about words, just cutting to the chase. Is this because those who are expected to work on stuff are better trained, and understood to be able to fill in the general technical/mechanical blanks when servicing things? Or that our busy lives—and busy jobs—do not allow for any "wasted" time on interesting but frivolous information? That's hard to believe, since we are surrounded, including at work, by frivolous and huge time-sucks like Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. Does time allow, but attention spans do not? Or is it because we've all become so "in the moment" that we don't care about the background, the "why" stuff is the way it is? Need it, Google it, execute it, forget it.

Or is it because we simply cannot read?

The Detroit Diesel In-Line 71 Service Manual was a compelling book I could curl up with on a rainy day just to read for pleasure, not only to study in preparation for upcoming service or repair of my bus's engine. The Honda Generators EM6500SX Shop Manual is just something on the reference shelf to be pulled out only when needed.

Are curiosity and retention dead, deemed simply wastes of time? Pity, if so.

06 June 2015

Acceptable Behavior

I personally don't think Doug Hughes (gyrocopter guy) is a nut-case, but then again, that very description has been applied to me more than a few times, so who am I to judge? Nonetheless, does anyone, left, right or center, save for perhaps those reaping, directly or indirectly, the harvest of the money itself, disagree with the need to get obscene amounts of funding and its influence out of politics? Unfortunately, Mr. Hughes's action—and his Bernie Sanders appearance doesn't help—is the type of thing often associated with the psychologically unstable, allowing for quick and convenient dismissal as such. But it's a fine line between genius and madness; so also might it be a fine line between activist and revolutionary, protester and rioter, soldier and terrorist?

Who is to say that someone is crazy or going outside acceptable behavior when they've tried, individually or as a group, every "acceptable" means of demonstration, never to be heard? There have been many voices, resounding and respected, that have tried to educate the public and convince politicians of, to cite two examples of which a reasonable amount of the general populace are aware if not informed, racism and campaign finance reform. But the national, mainstream media never seems to enlighten the broad audience of these crucial issues and seething cauldrons of rage until some group sets a city block on fire or lone individual lands a gyrocopter on the Capitol lawn. And regarding the latter, latch onto the security issue, not the purpose of the mission in the first place. Left to the major television networks and press, all of which, let's don't forget, make massive amounts of money on campaign advertising, the payload on board that 'copter—innocuous letters, not armed explosives—and Doug's mission were all but ignored; the shock and sensation of some senior citizena Florida Man, of coursein a flying bicycle managing to mosey along for miles flying literally beneath the radar of some of the most restricted airspace in the country was the story, period. We already know our national security is falling apart along with our infrastructure. The media (and, alas, viewers) were probably disappointed when he didn't blow himself up or pull out an AK and start shooting.

Perhaps once in a while a story should lede before it bleeds.