You're only given a little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it. Robin Williams

Location: Kentucky, United States

Tuesday, October 01, 2002

This or That Tuesday

1. Front or rear wheel drive?
Rear wheel: How many race cars are front wheel drive? That should tell you something. my wife and I keep revisiting this discussion. She prefers front wheel drive. She says because the engine weight is over the drive train the car is less likely to lose traction. I agree, but have you ever lost traction with a front wheel drive car? The back end has a mind of its own. Once during a bad winter storm I drove over twelve miles on the parkway and stayed in a skid the entire way. It was fun, and no there were not any other cars out. I'm "one of those crazy people" who like to get out on the roads when it snows. That is until we bought a front wheel drive.

2. Car or truck or van?

Two brand new SL Saturns; we could do a commercial.

3. Fancy or utilitarian?

A car is just a tool to get me from one place to another. It's like the old saying; if I've got any money left over from buying books, I buy food and clothing.

4. Power or manual windows/locks?

Power; they came standard on the model we bought. I must say however I am completely spoiled by the keychain clicker. I've forgotten how to open the trunk with a key.

5. Small econobox or giant luxo cruiser?
See SL above.

6. Factory or aftermarket radio?

Factory, but it is the only thing on a car that I will alter. Satellite radio has my interest.

7. Lease or buy?

I know of too many horror stories to ever consider a lease.

8. Perform own maintenance or farm it out?

One of the best things about Saturn is the Car Care program. For less than the price of the oil changes I get ALL scheduled maintenance through 60,000 miles.

9. Hi-test brand name or cheap-o fuel?

Low grade brand name.

10. Run-it-till-the-wheels-fall-off or a new one every two years?

Our last car had to be hauled away for junk. Like the "Deacons One Horse Shay" everything was worn out. If you have never heard of the Deacon here it is.

The Deacon's Masterpiece

HAVE you heard of the wonderful one-hoss shay,
That was built in such a logical way
It ran a hundred years to a day,
And then, of a sudden, it--ah, but stay,
And I'll tell you what happened without delay,
Scaring the parson into fits,
Frightening people out of their wits,--
Have you ever heard of that, I say?

Seventeen hundred and fifty-five,
Georgius Secundus was then alive,--
Snuffy old drone from the German hive.
That was the year when Lisbon-town
Saw the earth open and gulp her down,
And Braddock's army was done so brown,
Left without a scalp to its crown.
It was on the terrible Earthquake-day
That the Deacon finished the one-hoss shay.

Now in building of chaises, I tell you what,
There is always somewhere a weaker spot,--
In hub, tire, felloe, in spring or thill,
In panel, or crossbar, or floor, or sill,
In screw, bolt, thoroughbrace,--lurking still,
Find it somewhere you must and will,--
Above or below, or within or without,--
And that's the reason, beyond a doubt,
A chaise breaks down, but doesn't wear out.

But the Deacon swore (as Deacons do),
With an "I dew vum," or an "I tell yeou,"
He would build one shay to beat the taown
'N' the keounty 'n' all the kentry raoun';
It should be so built that it couldn' break daown:
--"Fur," said the Deacon, "'t's mighty plain
Thut the weakes' place mus' stan' the strain;
'N' the way t' fix it, uz I maintain,
Is only jest
T' make that place uz strong uz the rest."

So the Deacon inquired of the village folk
Where he could find the strongest oak,
That couldn't be split nor bent nor broke,--
That was for spokes and floor and sills;
He sent for lancewood to make the thills;
The crossbars were ash, from the strightest trees,
The panels of white-wood, that cuts like cheese,
But lasts like iron for things like these;
The hubs of logs from the "Settler's ellum,"--
Last of its timber,--they couldn't sell 'em,
Never an axe had seen their chips,
And the wedges flew from between their lips,
Their blunt ends frizzled like celery tips;
Step and prop-iron, bolt and screw,
Spring, tire, axle, and linchpin too,
Steel of the finest, bright and blue;
Thoroughbrace bison-skin, thick and wide;
Boot, top, dasher, from tough old hide
Found in the pit when the tanner died.
That was the way he "put her through."--
"There!" said the Deacon, "naow she'll dew!"

DO! I tell you, I rather guess
She was a wonder, and nothing less!
Colts grew horses, beards turned gray,
Deacon and Deaconess dropped away,
Children and grandchildren--where were they?
But there stood the stout old-one-hoss shay
As fresh as on Lisbon-earthquake-day!

EIGHTEEN HUNDRED; -- it came and found
The Deacon's masterpiece strong and sound.
Eighteen hundred increased by ten;--
"Hahnsum kerridge" they called it then.
Eighteen hundred and twenty came;--
Running as usual; much the same.
Thirty and forty at last arrive,
And then came fifty, and FIFTY-FIVE,

Little of all we value here
Wakes on the morn of its hundredth year
Without both feeling and looking queer.
In fact, there's nothing that keeps its youth,
So far as I know, but a tree and truth.
(This as a moral that runs at large;
Take it,--You're welcome.--No extra charge.)
FIRST OF NOVEMBER--the-Earthquake-day,--
There are traces of age in the one-hoss-shay,
A general flavor of mild decay,
But nothing local, as one may say.
There couldn't be,--for the Deacon's art
Had made it so like in every part
That there wasn't a chance for one to start.
For the wheels were just as strong as the thills,
And the floor was just as strong as the sills,
And the panels just as strong as the floor,
And the whipple-tree neither less nor more,
And spring and axle and hub encore,
And yet, as a whole, it is past a doubt
In another hour it will be worn out!

First of November, 'Fifty-five!
This morning the parson takes a drive.
Now, small boys, get out of the way!
Here comes the wonderful one-hoss shay,
Drawn by a rat-tailed, ewe-necked bay.
"Huddup!" said the parson. Off went they.
The parson was working his Sunday text,--
Had got to fifthly, and stopped perplexed
At what the--Moses--was coming next.
All at once the horse stood still,
Close by the meet'n'-house on the hill.
--First a shiver, and then a thrill,
Then something decidedly like a spill,--
And the parson was sitting up on a rock,
At half-past nine by the meet'n'-house clock,--
Just the hour of the Earthquake shock!
--What do you think the parson found,
When he got up and stared around?
The poor old chaise in a heap or mound,
As if it had been to the mill and ground!
You see, of course, if you're not a dunce,
How it went to pieces all at once,--
All at once, and nothing first,--
Just as bubbles do when they burst.

End of the wonderful one-hoss shay,
Logic is logic. That's all I say.

Oliver Wendell Holmes


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