brand in decline
Sunday, April 6 2014
It was a gorgeous sunny day, with temperatures topping out in the low 60s. In the afternoon, Gretchen dragged a chaise lounge out into the driveway so she could read in the sun. Meanwhile some asshole was taking advantages of the sunny day by monotonously firing a gun down at the bus turnaround. It was such an annoyance that Gretchen called the State Police and managed to convince the dispatcher to send out a cruiser even though such target practicing in the State Park is legal. By the time the cruiser arrived, the shooter and had packed up and left, but he drove by our house and talked to Gretchen for a bit and she said he was "nice" and that his name was Rossback. I came up with a memory aid to help her remember that name: picturing Ross Perot with the severe bacne that afflicted one of our fellow students back in Oberlin.
Meanwhile I was struggling to fix the side mirror on our Honda Civic Hybrid. Some asshole in Woodstock had knocked it off while Gretchen was working in the book store, and it had been temporarily duct-taped in place. The other day I'd managed to repair the broken plastic inside it with JB Weld, and today the plan was to remove the mounting arm from the car's door so I could run screws up into the detached piece from below. To get the mounting arm off, I not only had to remove a nut from a bolt hidden behind a small plastic cap (that was easy), but I also had to remove some nuts from behind caps that were back behind the plastic panel on the inside of the driver's side door. Those panels are never fun to remove, but usually they come off more easily than the one on this car did. I removed the only obvious screw holding the panel in place, but that wasn't enough. Some plastic rivets popped loose, but something more substantial was holding it near the door handle, and pulling on the panel succeeded only in breaking it in one place (no biggie!). That break gave the panel just enough flex to open up a space between the panel and the door just big enough to get my tools into so I could remove the nuts holding the side mirror's attachment arm. But it was such an awkward space that I managed to drop sockets into the door not once but twice. And of course, the door seemed to be designed specifically so that nothing dropped into it could ever be recovered. Any access to it was blocked by plastic sheets sealed in place by a disgusting black goop. Happily, though, I was able to recover those fallen tools using a rare-earth magnet taped to the end of a stick.
Every time I've done work on this Honda Civic Hybrid, I've discovered things about the way it was designed that seem to be deliberate efforts to thwart would-be DIY mechanics such as myself. Things that are relatively easy on other cars are often just at (or slightly outside) the physical capabilities of a normal human on this one. I'll never forget how hard it was to replace an oxygen sensor; my arm just barely reached far enough back behind the engine and even then I had to tighten it with the very tips of my fingers. Things in the car that should be held together with screws are instead held together with the kind of plastic rivets that can't really be reinstalled once they've been removed. And then there is the placement of the various screws and nuts securing things that are not uncommonly replaced (such as the side mirror). It's as though the car designers at Honda made deliberate decisions to make the car difficult to repair even in cases where those decisions had no other advantage for Honda. Well, the bloom is definitely off the rose for me; after the experience with this car, I will never again be buying a Honda of recent vintage. It's a brand clearly in decline. At least I got that side mirror fixed.
Tonight was the broadcast of the first episode of the Fourth Season of Game of Thrones, and I began downloading it within a few minutes of when it first appeared on Bittorrent. The moment it was all down, I went into the teevee room to watch it on the big screen with all the lights off. That's the way to watch it.
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