Sunday, July 07, 2013

Fixing it Yourself Matters

Confronted by Rust
What does spending 3 hours on a hot afternoon contorted under a 1997 Toyota Camry with 215,000 miles on the odometer do for you?

Here's what it did for me:
  1. Engaged my problem solving muscles
  2. Two words - Neural Plasticity
  3. Saved money
  4. Kept a depreciating (-ed) asset on the road
  5. Helped me be "sustainable"
1. Problem solving - Practice, practice, practice.  If you're not using a skill, it's probably atrophying (or, completely atrophied), so, with that in mind, I decided to figure out how to do it.  No lift? No problem.  Hydraulic jack, sawzall, exhaust clamps, aluminum wire, tiger patches, lengths of pipe - it took multiple weeks, the borrowing of tools and various implements of destruction from multiple family members and driving to too many places - and I figured it out.  

2. Neural Plasticity - the concept idea that we can continually alter our brain, essentially rewiring it to increase its health and our intelligence.  One of the ways to do this is to do things the hard way - I learned by reading a Scientific American blog post I found through @AndreaKuszewski.  I was happy to see that the little things I try and "fix" on a day-to-day basis (waxing my own shoelaces, making a funnel out of a soda bottle, trying to figure out the best way to alter a container to make a drip irrigation system for a container that I'm growing tomatoes in) are not merely obsessions, but activities that might make me a bit smarter (or waste way too much time).

3. Saved money - Depending upon how you value your time...  In this case, the intermediate pipe that this portion of the exhaust's noise cancellation system is part of cost north of $300.  Add installation, and the hours I spent associated with point #1 was worth it...well, the sense of accomplishment at least.  

4. Kept a depreciating (-ed) asset contributing - I'll probably never buy a brand new car (unless something drastic changes about me and or my life), and, I don't view a car as much of an asset, it's more of a mode of transportation that makes our life a little more convenient at the moment, despite the costs associated with it.  The point?  This is a way to get us around in some semblance of comfort - as part of our net worth, it's a piddling contributor (if I really crunched the numbers, possibly a liability) so let's leave it alone. 

5. Helped me be "sustainable" - Did it?  According to this 2007 article from Treehugger, it does not.  Damn.


Anonymous said...

Congratulations on the car repair. DIY can be very satisfying, even if it doesn't accomplish environmental goals.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for reading. Yes, doing a repair for the simple satisfaction of doing it was part of the equation as well. I feel the same way when I successfully attach a button that has fallen off of something - though I am certain my stitchery is not of the highest caliber.