Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Small, Unrelated Rant for this Amazing Day

In the midst of this historic day I find myself in the midst of overwhelming frustration. I took the day off from work for two reasons. (Originally, I was going to be working from home, but as events have unfolded the work has just not been done.) The first was that my car's check engine light is on so I am at my parents house where the trusted family mechanic is just down the street to fix my car today. My registration is due this month so it's important to get this fixed. His shop is a busy one and though I called a week ago about my car, today was the first day he could fit it in.

The second reason I am home from work today is that it is Inauguration Day. I do not own a television, nor do I have internet at my house, so I am spending the day at the 'rents watching the inauguration festivities and waiting for my car to get better. What an amazing day! Besides President Obama's inauguration speech, I think my favorite part was John Williams' Air and Simple Gifts performed by musical giants Yo-Yo Ma, cello, Itzak Pearlman, violin, Gabriela Montello, piano, and Anthony McGill on clarinet. I hope you all caught it.

Now, I am awaiting the start of the inauguration parade. I am a proud former member of the University of Utah Marching Band which was invited to march in parade. I hear they are third from the last and the parade is an hour or so behind. That's what CNN says anyway. So while I am sometimes patiently and sometimes very impatiently waiting to see if I can find my friends in the band for the parade (complete with herald trumpets, which only brought out for these special occasions and I myself have only seen them once during the Fiesta Bowl parade in 2004), I get a call from my mechanic.

It's the O2 sensor. Okay, no big deal. The part costs about $85, plus labor. It's a little lower than I was expecting, so I'm happy.

Still waiting for the parade to start. Another call from the mechanic. Maybe my car is done already! No. The mechanic tells me I don't want to hear from him right now. I don't want to hear from him right now because my model of Honda Civic doesn't use the regular, standard Honda O2 sensor. It uses a different one that has an extra wire that costs $449.

What!?! My mechanic tells me that he's sorry. He says he can just reset the computer and try and get the check engine light to go off. If I can drive it for about 35 miles and the engine light is still off it might pass the registration tests. But he doesn't think the light will stay off. I am thinking that this is something that needs to be fixed anyway. I am thinking about how O2 sensors work and that it's not only important for my car and it's own fuel economy, but it's also important for the environment. In Japan, cars must have new O2 sensors every two years to make sure they are getting the best fuel economy and the cleanest emissions possible. My mechanic tells me over the phone, as I'm weighing my options, that it is recommended that all cars get new O2 sensors every 60,000 miles, but no one does because they're so expensive.

Well, I'm chalking this one down as an expense that is both economical and ecological right now. I could have my mechanic turn the light off, hope it stays off for my emissions test, and then wait until next year to get a new O2 sensor. In the mean time, the fuel I would be wasting without an effective oxygen-to-fuel manager and the harm that causes to the environment...well I don't know what the exact numbers are, but just getting the darn thing fixed will probably be worth it in the long run.

But at least the parade has started now. President Obama's high school band from Hawaii is marching by right now. I'm sure those kids are ecstatic to be there today. The Ute Marching Band is supposed to be third from the last. Until then, I will enjoy what the rest of the nation provides for the parade.

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