Monday, March 24, 2014

Four and a Half Hours Against Lies, Stupidity and Cowardice

Google the title, I dare ya. 

But that's about what it came to, several hours anyway, and what I was railing against Hitler-like was the pack of lies, stupidity, and cowardice contained in the modern manual that comes with your purchase of whatever. This time it was a lawn mower.

I figured we better grab a lawn mower for our new house before the grass started growing aggressively, so we went to Tractor Supply Company and picked out a self-propelled model. Their brand, Countyline; TSC treated us well recently about the invisible fence we bought, but that's another story. For the mower, there was a small amount of assembly required, and I haven't fooled with a lawn mower in eons, so I wanted to look over the manuals that came with it pretty thoroughly.

First the Cowardice. The manuals are jam-packed with inane safety warnings. Sure, maybe there are some people who wouldn't know it's probably best not to operate the mower in a closed garage and be breathing carbon monoxide; or need to be reminded. But by the time you've read all the silly stuff such as "gasoline is dangerous," your eyes have glazed over and your not going to get to the advice you might really have needed to read. And the manual is so jam-packed with this nonsense it's hard to find and keep track of the things you actually need to find to put this thing together and operate. It *is* cowardice. All these outfits are scared to death of the lawsuits. "I didn't know my child shouldn't drink gasoline"

Next the Stupidity. After discovering what I needed to glean from the one billion pages of the manual was one diagram and a paragraph or so ... about the only real content outside of the safety warnings ... I was ready to find something about how to operate the mower. I got to that part and it said "drop dead". Well, not literally, it instead told you to go to the other manual. That part is provided by Honda, since the motor is a Honda. And although the other manual committed the same sin of failing to put out a document that was just for the mower I bought [mucho "if so equipped" lines to deal with], the Honda manual was a monstrosity in this regard. It was one manual for 9 different motors [no exaggeration]! I would actually have been better off not looking at this manual. Finally giving up on it, I just approached the mower and tried to see if I could get it going. 

The first thing I see is a tag around a large cap on top of the mower. It says there's no oil in the mower yet, to put some in before starting, and [thankfully] it said to check what you were adding with the dipstick. But I saw no dipstick! I looked to see if it was attached loose somewhere. It's nowhere. Finally I see that this self-same cap has a symbol on it indicating this is where you put the fuel. Wow, due to the stupidity of putting that tag on the gasoline cap, I almost ruined the motor by pouring oil in there! I'll grant you that is stupidity on my part too, but honestly the last mower I remember much about was Dad's as a kid, and that had a fuel tank on the side with a small cap ... just above the exhaust pipe too [Sue can tell you something about that].

No safety warning in the manual about that though. The safety of the motor is no concern of the seller. Whoever heard of a lawsuit about that?

Well, I get the oil put in and the gas too. Figuring out how the lawyer-designed spout for the gas can worked was another 15 minutes of my life I'm never going to get back, but let's move on. The instructions I unfortunately read have a little checklist that includes checking the spark plug. This is shown on all 9 pictures as being on the side along with the throttle/choke controls etc. I peer at this nut that would appear to be hiding completely the spark plug; weird, never imagined you would have so little access to the plug! All it really shows is using a special wrench on the plug at this spot. Well, I figure OK, all I appear to need to do now is pull the cord and start it. Surely the plug is in there all set to go.

So I pull and pull on the cord, nothing happens. Probably now the thing is flooded. So I wait a while, try again, wait a while, try again. Nothing doing. I have to give up and start imagining taking this back to the store to see if they can get it going. But I decide to look over the whole mover top to bottom. Sure enough, in front where none of the diagrams show it is the spark plug with the wire disconnected. I connect it and in one pull the mover is running. Unbelievable!

Lastly, the Lies. The mower operates by squeezing one lever up where your hands are to open the throttle, and squeezing another lever next to that to propel the mover. The cord to start the mower is also up by your hands, so you can squeeze the lever while you pull the starter. This lever is called "blade control". OK, well, it'd be kind of nice to have a lever that stops the blades that handy, yes, we'll even say it is a good safety feature. Surely, though, the engine doesn't stop every time you let go of this lever! Wrong! That's exactly what it does! Are you kidding me? every time I need to let go, the engine stops and I have to start it again? What attorney up in what ivory tower thinks that is going to go on? Without question, I will not be operating the mower without using something to clamp down the lever, no, not even for the first time I use the mower. Well, maybe "Lie" is not exactly the right word for this idiocy, but I will say it is a Lie that what they are worried about is safety. Lawsuits filed by morons is what they are worried about. No one in his right mind would ever go this far otherwise.

One day the Safety Nazis will win and they'll figure out how to do this and there will be nothing you can do about it. Mowing the lawn will mean buying a new mower every other year, as no one will be able to stand an old mower that take a few pulls to get started. As for now, thank God we can sometimes win some of the battles.

Oh, one more 'defeating the Nazis' battle won too: around here I can get gasoline from the Farmer's Coop that is alcohol free. That's about 10,000 times better for the lawn mower motor. We're using it in our vehicles too. To understand what that does for me click here:

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