You know you’re a nerd

You know you’re a nerd if you get the ‘control-Z’ finger-twitch in your driveway.

Just because you’re doing your own work on your bike, I’m learning, doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to do it better than someone you’re paying to do it for you. The flawed “it’s always better to do it yourself” axiom I learned from my step-brother Sam Benson, who comes from a clan of men that seemed to have been zoomed up on some kind of biological xerox copier to 120%. Sam’s dad was a SEAL before there were SEALs, was in underwater demolitions before that was a job, co-founded the Newport Yacht Museum and brought back heavy steel sculptures from the ends of the earth. Sam’s uncle Chip put together Madonna’s Sex book in his basement; he has a drum scanner in his basement, a MASH hospital generator in his backyard, and one of the only privately-owned offset presses in the country (which earned him a courtesy visit from the Secret Service when he assembled it — apparently, the only other privately-owned offset presses are owned by Mafia counterfeiters.) Sam’s other uncle owns a stonecarving operation that’s the oldest continuously-operated business in America, having apparently been carving lettering in hard things using specialized, difficult tools since the 1600s. Sam uses a TIG welder for a living, and collects ridiculously capable Mercedes utility trucks. So for the Benson Clan and their cronies, like Peter Blodgett, an ex-RISD teacher and jazz musician who retired to Newfoundland and wired our house up there (stapling each strand of wire separately and labeling every one in a precise, monospaced font with a black Sharpie marker) it’s always better to do it yourself.

Me? I greased the choke adjustment plate this weekend, and managed to strip the screws putting it back in. Oh, well.

Actually, a suspicious blob of Loctite on the screw when I took it out makes me think that the previous owner may have been the culprit. It’s a sobering notion, though, that just because you want to do a good job means that you’re going to do a good job. That’s an annoying lesson to learn, especially in the real world. Unlike Java code, just because something works perfectly once doesn’t mean it’s going to work perfectly a million times. Plus, you can’t strip threads when you’re programming: control-Z won’t help you when the ratchet makes a sickening, floppy spin all the way around the bolt head.

Fortunately, there do seem to be some real-world equivalents to the “undo” key.

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