User Input

User Input: Idiotic Mythology

Aren't you glad spring is finally here?

Aren’t you glad spring is finally here?

We had Snowpocalypse 2013 here in Edmonton yesterday. I came home to piles of snow over two feet deep in my driveway last night, and there had been nothing there when I left in the morning. And, of course, this monstrous weather resulted in what we refer to as Seasonal Amnesia. After a few days of nice clear weather, it seems far too many people completely forgot how to drive for conditions, and posted an all-new record for most accidents in a single day, with one of the worst incidents happening not far from my home.

As a result of the weather, I spent a good portion of the day helping vehicles get un-stuck, and trying to clean up snow around my workplace. Snow was falling heavily enough that in the amount of time it would take me to shovel a walkway, by the time I reached the end, I had to turn around and start over.

Probably the most frustrating part of the day, however, was when I was standing in line for a coffee, and the woman behind me was lamenting to her companion that she couldn’t understand why she was having so much trouble getting around in the snow. After all, she reasoned, she had all-wheel drive! Her companion asked if she had winter tires on her car, and she looked at him like he had two heads. “Why would I need those?” she asked. Before I could say anything, he deadpanned, “I don’t know, because of fucking winter?”

Now, for clarification for our readers in sunny climates, a winter tire is one that has a tread pattern appropriate for snow and ice conditions, and which stays flexible into sub-zero temperatures. Most cars are sold with an “all-season” tire, which should really be called a “no-season” tire. They can be driven in any season, but only remain flexible to about -5C, and don’t have a tread pattern for snow or ice. So while they work better than a proper summer tire, they’re really not much good for anything. All-wheel-drive might help you get moving in the winter, but your tires determine whether you can turn or stop. This myth of the infallibility and invincibility of all- or four-wheel-drive drives me nuts, particularly because it’s usually espoused by people who honestly don’t know anything about it that they didn’t hear in a commercial on TV.

What erroneous technological mythology drives you absolutely batty?

[Image Source: The Outdoor Men’s Forum]

  • That you can make "something amazing" happen by clicking on a JPEG image.
    That Microsoft, Disney, Obama or anybody else can track how many times an E-mail is forwarded.
    That adhesive gauze pads full of green tea and vinegar can draw toxins out of your bloodstream.
    That starting with ice cold water will brew tastier coffee than lukewarm water.
    That a magnetic collar on your fuel line will "align the molecules" for more efficient combustion.
    That every pest from moths to roaches to ants to mice (but not your cat) will stay hundreds of feets away from the source of a single ultrasonic frequency.
    That salt from seawater is somehow more healthy and wholesome than salt from other sources.
    That reading in low light will damage your eyes.
    That all Lincoln Town Cars are driven by old people.

  • Yes, think of a human being as 'all-foot-drive' (unless they're on a skateboard); your Chuck Taylors aren't going to give you traction in on frozen surfaces the way a pair of Chippewas will. Not for nothing do they call it 'where the rubber meets the road'.

    This is what you need.
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    Though I snicker when I see two wheel drive cars with four of these mounted.

    • B72

      Nothing wrong with having four of these. Turning is good! Directional stability is good too!

      • Bah! My FWD SAAB 900 had 190mm studded tires up front and the regular 160mm all-seasons in the back, that thing could climb the Matterhorn.

        Even the studded bicycle tires I had I only fit to the rear.

        It's been a long time since I had winter and RWD together in the same place, I don't recall what I set the Duster up with.

    • CaptianNemo2001

      It comes down to getting the right “all-season” tire the first time around. Then, for the most part, you can drive in the snow and ice and be relatively safe about it. OFC extreme environments call for extreme tires.

    • Deartháir

      I have 4 of them on the Lincoln for two reasons: one, because I have two rear drive wheels, and two front steering wheels. I want both to grip. Secondly, by having four of them, I can do a normal tire rotation each season, rather than just side-to-side rotation.

  • Bought a HDTV (but didn't upgrade to HD Cable/Satellite/antenna or a BluRay player) and hooked it up with standard yellow RCA video plug to get "Great new HDTV!"

    It doesn't matter that you have a 1080p TV if you keep putting a 480i signal into it!

    • pj134

      This is usually followed by "I don't see any diference, it looks worse if anything!"

      • Yep, my wife hated our LED TV for the few months we had it on a non-HDTV satellite hookup, switched to an over the air antenna, no problems.

      • I have the opposite problem. My mother-in-law has a plasma flatscreen, but a standard-def analog cable package. I hooked up a pair of rabbit ears to show her how much better HD looked. She claimed she couldn't see any difference, that the 480i looked just as good.

        Either her eyes are bad enough that she shouldn't be driving, or she's just in denial because she doesn't want to spend extra on digital cable.

  • mr. mzs zsm msz esq

    "Dual points are for every other plug." Well maybe in a Packard, but still.

  • The Professor

    One of my favourites is, adding a few ounces of nitromethane to the gas tank of your daily driver will give you a boost in power that's totally safe.

    • You ever hear of putting moth balls in the tank to get an octane boost? That is one of my favorites. A guy in high school used to tell people that he blew a muffler and exhaust pipe off his car doing that because it boosted the gas so much.

      • CaptianNemo2001

        YES. The old moth balls contained methanol and could dissolve in the gasoline. SO with the High Test 102-5 octane and methanol well it really turned things on. Sadly the new moth balls are made differently.

        • Seriously!?! I had no idea. I may have to revise my attitude towards this fellow as a mildy retarded blowhard.


  • SSurfer321

    MONSTER brand cables are technologically superior to other brands.

    • Deartháir

      Actually, having taken quite a few of them apart to see the difference, I will give Monster a tiny bit of credit. They really are the best, most advanced cables out there. The technology that is inside them is superior to every other brand.

      The problem is that they're also three or four times the price of other high-end cables, and the actual difference they cause can only be measured by computers specifically tuned to look for interference or signal degradation. Now there is a big, noticeable difference between a high-end proper cable and the little slips of tin that come included with most electronic devices. But from Monster to Philips? No difference that the naked eye can see.

      • I have learned the hard way don't buy the cheapest HDMI cables from the store or ebay. Don't pay for Monster cables, but don't get the Chinese rejects either.

  • I have all seasons on my Subaru. For the first 5 minutes or so of any freeway drive in cold weather, I would swear the damn things are square.

    • SSurfer321

      The stock Bridgestone's are complete shiite when its cold, and by cold, I mean anything less than 45 F. And they lose a pound of pressure if it drops more than 10 degrees overnight initiating the TPMS idiot light to come on. INFURIATES ME!

  • GTXEliminator

    Off topic but… I’m making my decision on where to go to college. I’m planning on studying civil engineering and I’m deciding between MIZZOU and Missouri S&T (Rolla). The price difference is negligible. S&T is likely the better engineering school but doesn’t have all the amenities as MIZZOU, but at the same time MIZZOU will probably be a bit easier academically. Any input from the toaster readers?

    • Speaking with parents of kids a bit older than mine, several have told me that MIZZOU, not Rolla, now has the better reputation as an engineering school. Not sure what areas of focus that applies to.

    • Go meet with your prospective advisor at both schools. See who is most helpful/interested in you.
      In my experience, he/she is the critical element in a good college experience.

      • skitter

        Advisors have always been useless to me.
        And I'm bitter about my college experience.
        So you may be right.

        My experience:
        Engineering school reputation matters way more than GPA (1) once you have the diploma (2) outside of a college job fair.

        Even at a hard school the concepts are over-simplified. If you go where you have early and frequent opportunities to apply what you've learned, and learn what you haven't, that will make you the better engineer. Schools tend to think curriculum and canned activities are enough to make you a good engineer. They are not. Engineering is not about using formulas. It's about the analysis and synthesis of formulas, and making decisions based on imperfect information.

        Go where they will make you think about questions that don't have a prepared answer.

        • Wolfie

          That is the most intelligent comment I have read so far this year.

        • Great advice.

          Also, internships are more important to post-graduation employment than ever. It would be worth knowing which school has the edge in helping students secure them.

        • I went to the state college phyically furthest away from me, on the strength of my advisor interview. I never regretted it. I consider him a good friend and we still keep in touch.

          But I was an Art Education major—about as different from Engineering as you can get.

          • CaptianNemo2001

            There is alot of ART in engineering. As a History Major (1 term left) I have seen more engineering from then you might think and all of it, with few exceptions, is ART. (Late 19th and early 20th C Tech)

        • I'm not even sure I had an academic adviser at college. Don't remember them. I went to an engineering school. We just got a course catalog and figured it out.

          I have to agree with you for the most part. Engineering school reputation will help get you a job interview and open some doors, it won't help near as much in getting you a job. GPA does/did still seem to matter for the first 2 or 3 years after school or first job or two, whichever comes first. You will learn 75% of what you need to know to do your job on the job anyways.

          Maybe try to contact some recruiters or HR people in the field you are looking at for some advise.

          i would put amenities WAAY down on the list for picking a school, unless you are talking about well equipped labs and such.

    • CaptianNemo2001

      Oregon State University?

      Sorry, just shamelessly promoting my state. But I hear it is a good school. Although I had a chance to be an mechanical/areo engineering student by going to Boston College in Boston. I still have the packet of information on the school. But instead went to a local school to get a degree in History.

  • jeepjeff

    Putting High Test in will help you with your smog check/get you more power/do anything other than prevent knock in high compression engines.

  • Felis_Concolor

    If you don't make at least one top speed run in your new automobile during its break-in period, that engine will never develop its full potential.

  • Number_Six

    – Wing flex means an aircraft is shitty and dangerous
    – "I'll never fly that airline again because the ride was too bumpy"

    • How about this one I've heard from more than one person: "If you have ear pain and pressure during a flight, it's because the flight engineer was lax about regulating the cabin pressure." Surely the pressure compensation isn't manually manipulated…is it?

      • GTXEliminator

        Especially now since there's no flight engineers on 99.9% of commercial flights.

  • Wolfie

    " Hold My Beer and Watch This".