Final Post For 2013

2013 is firmly in the rear-view mirror at this point. It’s been an interesting and productive year for me personally. It’s also been an odd and frustrating year, again, speaking personally. I finished my novel rewrite. I started grad school. I started a new blog (this blog, in fact).

I’d like to take a moment to highlight a few of the previous year’s posts:

Most read post of the past year: Myers-Briggs And RPG Classes 

I feel conflicted about this. On the one hand, I’m pleased that something I wrote is bringing in so many new readers, even if they don’t all end up sticking around. On the other hand, I think that this first attempt to bridge the MBTI types and RPG archetypes was flawed and rather poorly executed. The comments for that post are the best part as several of my regular readers rightly called me to task for mistakes in my analysis. On the positive side, however, those comments led to a far stronger post in the form of The Psychology of WoW Classes.

Most controversial post of the past year: A Mountain Shrine, Dénouement

Although several of my posts brought out some detractors, I think my defense of the decision to not remove the religious shrine on A Mountain brought the most heat. It’s certainly the argument that sticks out the most vividly in my mind. My various jabs at Men’s Rights Activists brought out some interesting commentary, but with only a few exceptions, it tended to veer more towards trolling than anything else.

Personal favorite post of the past year: Thoughts On Tauriel

It didn’t attract the most page views. It didn’t spawn a large number of comments. It wasn’t even the most deeply personal thing I wrote last year. But there’s something about that post that’s been sticking in my mind all year. I did see the new Hobbit last week and I plan on doing a follow-up to that post and a discussion about how Tauriel ended up being portrayed. Regardless, I think the words I wrote in that original post still ring true. They’ve become the backbone of my feminist discussions lately and they’re a codification of why I think it’s important to argue against white male privilege in fiction:

In short, let’s hope for sci-fi and fantasy created that cater to people of all demographics, not just mine. ‘Cause, you know what? I had  plenty of heroes who looked like me growing up. I got to have Han Solo and Luke Skywalker and Peter Parker and Bruce Wayne and quite a few other heroic characters to identify with. I was spoiled for choice. A lot of kids weren’t, though. A lot of them were ignored or marginalized.

There are enough stories and characters that everybody should have someone. And don’t tell me it’s unimportant; growing up, these are the stories that provided the lens through which I engaged the world. These are the stories that helped make me me.

My stories told me, over and over, that I looked like the hero, the protagonist, the main character, the star. If you wonder what privilege looks like, that’s it right there.

Thank you for reading my blog. See you in 2014.

On Having A Christmas Eve Birthday

I turned 27 about an hour ago. I should be getting some sleep so I don’t end up sleeping through my entire birthday tomorrow, but I wanted to write out a few thoughts tonight while things are quiet.

It’s inevitable when it comes up, whether just as topic for discussion or when someone happens to see your driver’s license.

“Oh, you’re a Christmas Eve baby!” the person will remark.

“I am,” I will say.

The inevitable response: “How much does that suck?”

There are different answers to that question. Some feel that having a birthday on or around Christmas sucks unequivocally. Others feel that it’s the best thing ever.

I guess it all depends on your perspective. Here’s mine:

  • Good: I never had to go to school on my birthday as a kid. Say what you want about getting cookies or cupcakes in class, but I’d rather be home playing video games all day.
  • Bad: I really, really, really hated going to the Christmas Vigil mass on my birthday as a kid.
  • Good: Rather than getting ignored, people tend to remember my birthday more easily. I think this is because there’s already an atmosphere of gift giving in mind, so people are more likely to call/send cards/etc. Also, Christmas Eve sticks out in one’s memory a lot more than a random day in June might.
  • Bad: “This is your Christmas and Birthday present” was something I did hear as a kid, although never from my parents. They were vanguards of keeping gift levels equal between myself and my brother (whose birthday is Halloween, incidentally).
  • Good: Two days of presents was better than one. My birthday became sort of my own little prelude to Christmas as a kid; I’d get some cool stuff and then, instead of ending after the day was over, I would have another day and more cool stuff. This was very exciting as a kid.
  • Bad: It was absolutely impossible to celebrate my birthday with friends since everybody was doing something for the holidays.
  • Good: I once had the most amazing surprise party thrown for me the week after. If you’ve never had a surprise party (especially one you really, really were not expecting, I can tell you it’s awesome and heartwarming). I wasn’t expecting all my friends to be there, because like I said, everybody was always busy with the holidays.
  • Bad: My 21st birthday was kind of awkward because I was hungover for Christmas.

Ultimately, when people ask me “how much does that suck” when they find out my birthday, I don’t bother giving them a straight answer; I might be sarcastic or I might be sappy, but I don’t bother to explain that it has its ups and its downs. I do think that it’s much better to have a near-Christmas birthday before the holiday rather than after; my sympathies go out to the after Christmas birthdays out there, much in the way that the rest of the world does to me.

So today is my birthday. It might not be perfect because everybody else is thinking about the holiday tomorrow, but this day is mine and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s part of me and always has been.

Also I have an absolutely heartwarming story from my birth involving a lady at the hospital and a Christmas stocking large enough to hold a newborn. Yes, I still have the stocking. How many other birthdays have that?

Correlation vs. Causation: A Handy Guide For Rich People

Hi. My name is Matthew Ciarvella and I’m a member of the middle class. I’m assuming that the majority of people who visit my blog are also middle class(ish), but I don’t really know for certain. On the off-chance that you are reading this blog and you’re a member of The Rich, please pay attention to the following discussion about the difference between correlation and causation, as it seems one of your number (actually, more than one, but let’s just focus on Tom Corley) has tragically confused correlation and causation, thus bringing shame on the good names of The Rich everywhere.

First, the offender: Tom Corley lists 20 things The Rich do every day (the link will take you to a post by Dave Ramsey defending Corley’s list, due to Corley’s site currently not functioning):

1. 70% of wealthy eat less than 300 junk food calories per day. 97% of poor people eat more than 300 junk food calories per day. 23% of wealthy gamble. 52% of poor people gamble.

2. 80% of wealthy are focused on accomplishing some single goal. Only 12% of the poor do this.

3. 76% of wealthy exercise aerobically four days a week. 23% of poor do this.

4. 63% of wealthy listen to audio books during commute to work vs. 5% of poor people.

5. 81% of wealthy maintain a to-do list vs. 19% of poor.

6. 63% of wealthy parents make their children read two or more non-fiction books a month vs. 3% of poor.

7. 70% of wealthy parents make their children volunteer 10 hours or more a month vs. 3% of poor.

8. 80% of wealthy make Happy Birthday calls vs. 11% of poor.

9. 67% of wealthy write down their goals vs. 17% of poor.

10. 88% of wealthy read 30 minutes or more each day for education or career reasons vs. 2% of poor.

11. 6% of wealthy say what’s on their mind vs. 69% of poor.

12. 79% of wealthy network five hours or more each month vs. 16% of poor.

13. 67% of wealthy watch one hour or less of TV every day vs. 23% of poor.

14. 6% of wealthy watch reality TV vs. 78% of poor.

15. 44% of wealthy wake up three hours before work starts vs. 3% of poor.

16. 74% of wealthy teach good daily success habits to their children vs. 1% of poor.

17. 84% of wealthy believe good habits create opportunity luck vs. 4% of poor.

18. 76% of wealthy believe bad habits create detrimental luck vs. 9% of poor.

19. 86% of wealthy believe in lifelong educational self-improvement vs. 5% of poor.

20. 86% of wealthy love to read vs. 26% of poor.

Let’s look at what it means to confuse correlation with causation.

For any two correlated events A and B, the following relationships are possible:

  • A causes B;
  • B causes A;
  • A and B are consequences of a common cause, but do not cause each other;
  • There is no connection between A and B; the correlation is coincidental. (Source)

That’s the basic structure, although there are other permutations.In Corley’s case, he’s doing something a little bit different. Corley is guilty of a reverse causation fallacy. This is a good example and explanation of a reverse causation fallacy:

The faster windmills are observed to rotate, the more wind is observed to be.Therefore wind is caused by the rotation of windmills. (Or, simply put: windmills, as their name indicates, are machines used to produce wind.)

In this example, the correlation (simultaneity) between windmill activity and wind velocity does not imply that wind is caused by windmills. It is rather the other way around, as suggested by the fact that wind doesn’t need windmills to exist, while windmills need wind to rotate. Wind can be observed in places where there are no windmills or non-rotating windmills—and there are good reasons to believe that wind existed before the invention of windmills. (Source)

Thus, Corley’s argument: The Rich are observed to read more, eat better, and exercise more than the poor, therefore reading more, eating better, and exercise cause a person to be Rich.

So if poor people will just not eat junk food or gamble or watch TV or would read more, they will become Rich themselves! It’s so easy! Get ye to the organic produce aisle, poor person!

Can you spot the flaw in Corley’s logic?

Is it possible that poor people eat junk food not because they are gluttons craving sweet, sweet heart disease and obesity, but because junk food is cheap? Or, if you prefer, cheap food is junk. It works either way. If you’re shopping on a poor person’s budget, you’re not going to be enjoying the organic, farm raised produce that costs five times as much. You make that dollar stretch as far as it can and that means frozen food. It means the dollar menu. It means loads of salt, sugar, calories, etc. In short: junk.

But how is it that poor people don’t have time to work out four times a week? After all, it’s not like having a personal trainer or home exercise equipment or a gym membership makes exercising easier, more interesting, or more enjoyable, right? It’s not like a poor person is working a thankless job with brutally long hours for less than a living wage that would leave them without time to exercise, right? If you’re poor, you don’t have a job. You should have lots of free time if you don’t have a job, right? If you had a job, you wouldn’t be poor, unless you’re stupid and fritter away all your money on, I don’t know, drug addiction or gambling or something.

Tom Corley thinks that these good behaviors like reading more, exercising, and eating well are the reason he’s Rich, but that’s the reverse causation fallacy. Much as windmills don’t cause wind, doing these things does not cause Richness. Richness is what allows Tom Corley to have the time and money to do these things, because he does not need to worry about niggling little details like starving to death or getting evicted or having the electricity shut off at the end of the month or paying any dozen of another bills or needs.

If you checked the earlier link to the list itself, Dave Ramsey follows Corley’s list with a long, Christ-laden defense of why Corley is right and everybody who is attacking/mocking/picking him apart is wrong and stupid (my paraphrase). I don’t have the inclination to go through all the ways Ramsey himself is wrong, too, but he does make the same mistake as Corley originally, in assuming that your choices are what make you The Rich. Thus, if you’re not Rich, you made bad choices. Not being Rich, according to Ramsey, has nothing to do with the extensive system of privilege that a person such as Dave Ramsey has enjoyed his entire life, a system that excludes people who do not fall into a narrow band of physical characteristics that cannot be chosen or changed.

There is one final thing I want to mention about Ramsey’s rather silly Christ-wants-me-to-be-rich defense of Corley. Ramsey explains that he, like all the other poor people in the history of ever, was poor once. But then he worked really hard and God blessed his efforts and helped him become The Rich as a reward.

Which, if you think about it, is deliciously ironic. Let’s follow the chain of events:

Ramsey is poor. Ramsey believes in God. God rewards Ramsey by making him into a Rich Person. Jesus says in holy, infallible Scripture-that-is-not-open-for debate-or discussion-or-interpretation-so-don’t-even-try:

And Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24“Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:24)

God has made Ramsey into a rich man even though it’s going to later make it impossible to receive his eternal reward. That’s a dick move, God; making a guy rich just so you can screw him over later.

I’m going to pause with the sarcasm and address this final point directly: if you are rich, it is due to privilege. It might be the privilege of being born into a wealthy family that was able to provide good opportunities and education, or it might be the privilege of the right place, right time, or having a particularly good idea or any number of other confluences. You are not rich because you are a good person; consequently, being rich does not make you a good or bad person. These things are unrelated. You can be a good or bad person regardless of your richness. You might have worked hard for your wealth or it might all be a trust fund and you never worked a day in your life. It doesn’t matter in this context.

It all comes down to privilege. Privilege is what gives some people the choice between wealth and poverty and gives many people the choice between poverty and poverty.

Which is to say, privilege gives many people no choice at all.

The Bitcoin Roller Coaster

Back in September, I was trying to decide if I wanted to buy some bitcoins after hearing about them in a podcast. My plan was to buy a few bitcoins, sit on them for a while, and hope they appreciated in value. Ultimately, I did not pursue this goal after my graduate school situation ate up a large chunk of the money I’d set aside for this purpose.

I agonized over that decision after bitcoins went skyrocketing in value from $140/coin to over $1100/coin. I was convinced that the money train had left the station and I wasn’t on it.

Now, though, I’m starting to think that maybe I’m better off not worrying about it. I don’t think I really need this much stress in my life:

The typical price of bitcoins for the past two months.

Ye gods, that’s a bit of a roller coaster, isn’t it? I’m not an economist but I’m pretty sure that currency value isn’t supposed to do something like that. It sort of makes it hard to know how much money you actually have when the value of your currency could fluctuate at seemingly any moment.

I’m not predicting the death of bitcoin, not when it’s still valued at nearly four times the value when I first considered buying. I’m just saying that if I had a sizable chunk of money tied up in this, I’m sure I would have had a small heart attack during some of these falls.

Politically Correct

Let’s have a little discussion on what the term “politically correct” means. Fair warning: I don’t normally resort to (much) profanity in my posts, but this one is going to break that soft rule.

If you’re the sort of person for whom “political correctness” equates to cowardice, overly sensitive new ageism, hippie shit, liberal shit, or any variation thereof in which shit enters your calculations, please pay attention very closely, because this is written with you in mind. If you’re the kind of person who scoffs when someone endeavors to be politically correct, please pay attention. If you’re the kind of person who says, “I know it’s not politically correct of me, but. . .”, please pay attention.

If you fall into any of the above descriptions, it’s very possible that you are an asshole.

Here’s what you think I’m doing when I say something is or is not politically correct:

“Stop being a cog in the wheels of the oppressive, feminist, white-hating, pinko, anti-male matriarchy. Be a REAL man.”

Here’s what I’m actually doing:

“I am trying very hard to not be a spoiled, privileged, self-absorbed, entitled, ignorant, narrow-minded asshole.”

If you think that deriding something as politically correct is an example of cutting commentary, it’s very possible that you are an asshole. If you think it’s stupid to be so sensitive and that people should “lighten up,” it’s very possible that you are an asshole. If you don’t see what the big deal is, you may not be an asshole, but it’s very possible that you are somewhat ignorant of the world outside yourself.

Politically correct isn’t a neutering of language. It isn’t caving to some cabal that exists only to strip away all the joy of “being a man” or whatever.

Politically correct is recognizing that there are other people in the world, people who are different than you. It’s recognizing that words have power. It’s recognizing that only ignorant fuckwads wield words without considering their consequences or their implications. It’s recognizing the perniciousness of privilege and how goddamn much privilege needs to go away so we can have equality. Actual equality, not this “hear no evil, see no evil” shadow version that the privileged pretend is the real thing so they don’t feel bad about themselves.

So here’s my message to you, if you’re the sort of person that thinks it’s funny, cool, interesting, or amusing to laud your “I’m not politically correct” nature. Just stop. You’re being an asshole. If people around you are amused, it’s very possible they’re assholes, too.

Would you like to stop being an asshole? Great! All you need to do is realize that differences of genderracereligionethnicitysexual orientation and disability should be treated with respect. Show respect by using respectful language (i.e. politically correct). That’s it!

But what about the jokes, you might be wondering. Hey, if you’re the kind of person who enjoys telling racist jokes, go ahead and keep telling racist jokes, so long as you do so while accepting that this makes you a racist. If you aren’t sure whether a joke is racist, consider whether you would say the joke while a person of that race that you did not know was standing in the room with you. Would you feel uncomfortable? There you go.

Insert the other -ists here where appropriate (sexist, chauvinist, etc).

I’ve written before about a need to engage in diplomacy with those who disagree with you so that you can more effectively win them over to your way of thinking. “Pick your battles, catch more flies with honey, etc.” Those are still valuable policies. They’re valuable when the person you’re talking to is capable of listening. Assholes generally don’t listen; if they did, they wouldn’t be assholes.

More and more, I’ve seen that there are some who don’t want to listen or can’t or won’t. So, here you go: my honest opinion and my honest anger. I’m anti-asshole. People that are assholes should stop being them.

Seasonally Appropriate Responses

It’s only happened once in my life, but I can recall the moment I was verbally assaulted by a customer for responding to an offered “Merry Christmas” with “Happy Holidays.” The crystalline clarity of that exchange has far outlasted most other memories from that early job (grocery store bagging clerk).

It didn’t matter that “Happy Holidays” was the corporate-approved response that we were required to say; I’d have said it regardless, because I’m just that sort of person. I don’t like doing things just because they’re tradition. I like doing them because I like doing them.

Consequently, I also like conducting myself in such a way as to communicate my personal belief that the world does have more than one religion. I think there’s, like, four, based on holidays: Christmas for Christian people, Hanukkah for Jewish people, Winter Solstice for Pagan people, and Kwanzaa for . . . I don’t know what religion celebrates Kwanzaa. Seems a little racist to just say “black people,” you know?

I guess there’s also Boxing Day for Canadian people but finding out the truth about Boxing Day was a big disappointment because I used to imagine there was a holiday dedicated to fist fighting and that made me happy.

However, I do rather like my current job and would prefer to avoid creating irritated customers, which is why I have embraced my current holiday response with enthusiasm. It’s basically a form of verbal Jiu Jitsu, in which you attempt to trap your opponent in a position that they cannot retaliate from. Here’s my brilliant technique:

Customer: “Thanks, and have a Merry Christmas!”

Me: “Likewise!”

Likewise is perfect. It’s unassailable. It tells the person offering their particular well wishing exactly what they want to hear, without actually endorsing any particular holiday. You’ve trapped them in a verbal situation in which they cannot reasonably respond with offense.

Try to imagine such a person getting offended by likewise:

Customer: “Thanks, and have a Merry Christmas!”

Me: “Likewise!”

Customer: “What, you can’t wish me a Merry Christmas? HAVE YOU NO SOUL?”

Me: “What exactly do you think ‘likewise’ means?”

Checkmate. They can’t wriggle out of the fact that you expressed the offered greeting back at them, but you also can’t be held accountable for supporting any particular religious tradition, especially if you work in a secular or corporate establishment where that sort of thing is not policy. If you think this sounds overwhelmingly cynical, you are clearly not a person whose affection for the holidays is lukewarm, at best.

I could probably write a book about this: Christmas for Cynical People. I’m sure it’d be a great stocking stuffer.

This Week In Terrifying Theoretical Science

If you ever need something to cause you to reflect on the futility of life, look up “fate of the Universe” on Google and do a bit of reading. The Big Freeze, the Big Rip, the Big Crunch . . . there aren’t too many scenarios in which the Universe makes it out alive at the end of time. Even the most optimistic scenario, the Big Bounce, still ends with this universe dying so a new one can take its place.

But that’s deep time. The Big Freeze will be about 10^100 years from now, which is an unimaginably vast length of time. Even the soonest possible fate, the Big Rip, will still take 22 billion years. Nothing for us to worry about, right?

Except that maybe we won’t have to wait that long. Turns out the Universe could collapse at any moment:

Danish scientists say an expanding bubble of existential doom could crush the Universe into a tiny ball. And crazily, the odds of this collapse is higher than previously thought.

This theory isn’t actually new. But the scientists who conducted the new study say previous calculations were incomplete. Their new, more precise calculations, now show that (1) the universe will probably collapse, and (2) a collapse is even more likely than the old calculations predicted.

You can check out the article for the how and what for what a Universal collapse would actually mean, but practically speaking, it’s The End. Of everything.

That’s not the scary part. We already knew the Universe is going to die someday; current physics do not allow for a scenario in which the Universe survives forever, as mentioned before.

The scary part is that it could be happening right now:

“The phase transition will start somewhere in the universe and spread from there,” says Jens Frederik Colding Krog, PhD student at the Center for Cosmology and Particle Physics Phenomenology (CP3) and co-author of an article on the subject that appears in the Journal of High Energy Physics. “Maybe the collapse has already started somewhere in the universe and right now it is eating its way into the rest of the universe. Maybe a collapse is starting right now, right here. Or maybe it will start far away from here in a billion years. We do not know.”

The good news, if you want to call it that, is that if a Universal collapse is happening right now on the other side of the Universe, it would travel at the speed of light, meaning that it would take a while to reach us. On the other hand, we’d probably know about it juuuust long enough to panic and contemplate our coming demise.

So, you know, there’s that.

Actually, there is other good news; all it would take is the existence of other, currently unknown elementary particles to call the whole model of collapse into question.

Hopefully you’re out there somewhere, little particles. I rather like existing and would hate to see all of reality buckle in on itself. It would seem a rather ignominious end.

12 Days Of A Math Riddle

I hate math problems almost as much as I hate the 12 Days of Christmas. I hate these things for different reasons. With math, it’s because I’m bad at it. I survived high school algebra and precalc by the skin of my teeth and for college, I was able to take a philosophy logic course for math credit (and even then, I still got a D).

I generally don’t like Christmas music anyway, because it seems to constitute a genre of its own and yet it’s entirely stagnant, repetitive and a blend of nostalgia and tradition that seems to exist solely to perpetuate itself. The 12 Days of Christmas is the most repetitive song of them all, which is why it’s my least favorite.

So why am I mentioning these two things?

I’m not sure where I first heard this problem (probably some long-forgotten math class), but here goes: assume that the song lyrics are literal and that you actually receive a partridge in a pear tree on the first day and the second day and the third day and so on. Assume that each gift is considered a singular item (a piper piping is a single gift, even though you’re getting both a pipe and a guy to play that pipe for you). Which of the 12 different gifts will you have the most of at the end of the twelve days?

The answer is posted after the break:

Continue reading “12 Days Of A Math Riddle”

On Surveillance

A few months ago, I wrote the following:

If you are able to complain about the “lack of freedom of speech” in a public forum, you still have freedom of speech. You’ll know when free speech is gone, because nobody will be able to say anything about it. (Complaining about the erosion of free speech is still vital, however, as it safeguards against that erosion.)

The day I know we’ve slid into an actual authoritarian police state will be the day when I do not see numerous books on the shelf in a public library accusing the current President of destroying the countrybeing an idiot, or just being evil in general. We won’t have a news networks that are pathologically dedicated to mocking everything the government does. Those things don’t exist in a police state. You don’t get to be a talking head on a popular news network, you get to be shot in the head.

I’m trying very hard to remember the certainty I felt when I wrote those words. Because I don’t feel it now.

I’m not going to bother linking to any news stories. There are too many to choose from. The Daily Show segment was probably the most amusing, though.

I take back what I wrote. I thought about deleting the original post, because I know longer believe it to be true, but I think it’s important to oppose censorship, even and especially self-censorship. Let the old post stand as a reminder that I was wrong.

Pope Francis is Time’s Person of the Year, but in this blogger’s humble opinion, Edward Snowden should have been.

Thoughts After Installing A New Radiator In My Isuzu

My car radiator developed a leak about two months ago, although leak is the wrong word. Leak implies a slow, steady drip and what really happened could be better described as “torrential, geyser-like, and/or relentless.” Due to the poverty imposed by paying for my grad school course out of my own pocket, I parked the car for a few months and became a motorcycle-0nly commuter. This decision was advantageous for several reasons!

  1. Riding a motorcycle is fun.
  2. Riding a motorcycle is very inexpensive. $8 for a week’s worth of gas is awesome.
  3. Riding a motorcyle makes you look cool.

However, this decision was made in early October and while the rest of the country might be experiencing the prelude to winter that is autumn, for us desert rats, October is still basically summer (except it’s not actually summer, because it’s “warm” rather than “Nazi-face-meltingly hot”).

When November rolled in and the temperature began to plummet, the good reasons for taking the motorcycle to work each day were gradually eclipsed by the fact that it’s very, very, very cold at eighty-five+ miles per hour when the thermometer is a blip above the freezing point of water. So fixing my Isuzu was something that was always on the back of my mind, though the cost of paying to have it done made it untenable.

Unless I did it myself!

Last week, I bought a new radiator. This past weekend, with qualified adult supervision (i.e. somebody who knows what the hell he’s actually doing), I found myself on my back in the dirt, wrenching and torquing and sawing and doing my best impression of “guy who can fix his own car.” Here are a few things that I learned during the process:

  • You know how in Indiana Jones movies, the ancient switches and traps still function after thousands of years? That’s bullshit. It took me almost an hour to pry off a basic metal clamp because after twelve years, it had merged with the tube it was clamping. The tube and the clamp were as one. There’s no way an ancient stone pressure plate is going to slide down just because you picked up the treasure it was supporting.
  • If you can’t get a metal clamp off after an hour of screwing and pulling (how very deviant sounding, but it’s really not), it’s okay to take a hacksaw and cut the damn thing off, since you’re replacing the tube anyway. This is immensely gratifying.
  • I had no idea radiators and transmissions were even connected, but it turns out, they are!
  • Old transmission fluid is really, really gross when it splatters on your face and collects in your hair.
  • On the positive side, you’ll fit in with the motley citizenry of South Tucson when you go to buy replacement clamps because the first set of clamps no longer fit due to all the screwing and pulling you did earlier.
  • The first store you go to will sell you the wrong clamps.
  • The second store will have the right clamps, but will try to get you out of there as quickly as possible because you look and smell like a derelict.
  • When it’s all said and done, you’ll feel absolutely awesome because you saved a few hundred dollars on labor.
  • You’ll feel better still because of the strong feeling of self-reliance in doing your own work.
  • You’ll be grateful to the person who supervised your efforts and made sure you didn’t accidentally hacksaw the brake cable, or something.
  • You’ll cry out in rage and despair when you realize the next day that now you are leaking transmission fluid from somewhere.

Looks like it’ll be another cold ride tomorrow until I can get that fixed. Sigh.