I Am an Idiot.
OK, not really. I think I'm pretty smart, but more in a instinctual or intuative way than book-learned - not that I don't read. I do, constantly. Wanna know what the Oracle at Delphi was about? I know. How many light years to the three stars that make Orion's "belt" (and their names)? Gotcha. I don't have all those reference books stacked next to my bed for nothin'. And yeah, it's weird. I wholeheartedly agree with you, but when you're the weirdo, what can you do? I've stopped fighting and learned to love "The Dictionary of Word and Phrase Orgins." So there.
Unfortunately, as I get older things just don't pour into my head like they used to. Or maybe it's the sheer amount of information that one has to absorb on a daily basis to feel informed - but one things for sure, it's a freaking struggle.
Another thing is that I'd rather have empirical knowledge of a thing rather than spending valuable time reading the manual. This can sometimes be a rewarding and quick way to do things. It can, however sometimes be quite expensive. You see where this might be going?
A couple of months ago I parked my bike at the local Post Office to mail off some CD's for the Metafilter Swap I was in. The PO is on a hill and none of the spots are flat. I'd parked there before successfully and I was in a bit of a hurry, so I didn't think much about pulling into a slot and running in with my packages. I knew the noon rush would begin soon and I hoped to beat a long wait in line.
As I walked in a young Asian lady walked out. As it turned out, she was parked in the space next to mine. I don't know if she actually touched my bike in some way, or if it was the vibration from shutting her car door or perhaps starting the engine, but all I heard was a loud CRASH! My bike had fallen over.
I ran outside and picked her up, horrified. The lady gave me a "Don't blame me, mister!" look and backed out of her spot. I found a better (flatter) place to park, cursing my poor judgement.
I took stock of the damage. There was a small scrape/dent on the exhaust pipe, the brake lever was bent and the plastic end cap on the throttle had broken off. Shit. I went back into the Post Office, took care of my bidness and rode home.
I ordered new parts for the throttle grip and brake lever. Hotsy took me out to the dealership to pick up the brake lever ($40!) and I found some grips at JC Whitney for $29 or so. I put the lever on right away and when the grips arrived a week later I put off putting them on, 'cause a) they came with no instructions and b) I'd done some reading at Gadgit's Fix-it site and was now thoroughly confused as to what I was doing.
As it turns out, there are two kinds of grips you can buy. 1) What are called "universal" or "slip-on" grips and 2.) grips that bike-specific and come with a new throttle assembly. I was a bit confused as to what I'd actually ordered as far as I could tell, the grips were compatible with my bike but beyond that I didn't know as the grips came with no instructions.
But Saturday, I was feeling gung-ho and figured that I could just kludge something together, or figure it out somehow. I bought grip glue from a University Honda on Capitol Hill and sallied forth to do the repair. A quick glance told me the grips were similar, so I grabbed one and went out side. The first thing I could tell is that I did not need to replace the throttle assembly. Once I cut off the old grip, I could see the plastic sheath underneath it ran into the switch box. So I got out a rubber mallet and started tapping the new grip on. Which turned out to be a lot harder than it looked. I whanged away for a good 15 minutes and when I was done, the grip was mostly on, but was an inch or so short of being all-the-way on.
Since we were leaving for Men's Poker Retreat, I didn't really have time to figure out what was wrong, so I covered my bike and took off for the weekend.
When I got back, I realized that I could not ride it like that. So after several minutes trying various schemes to remove the (now stuck) grip, I decided on a pretty radical solution. I took a box cutter to it.
Needless to say, the grip came off, but now was totally useless.
Somewhat dejected, I figured what I actually needed now was a new grip with a throttle assembly. I went in, surfed the net and ordered a new pair. They were $55. Shortly after that, I walked into the kitchen and while chatting with Cindy, I picked up the remaining grip...and noticed that it's interior diameter was larger than the grip I'd just destroyed.
"Jeez, I'm dumb." I groaned. I went outside and installed the throttle grip with a bit of glue and two taps from the mallet. Which took all of three minutes.
To make a long (and dull) story short, I now have new, matching (and quite handsome) new grips on my bike. If I can swing it this month, I'm thinking it's time for some nice whitewall tires...but someone else is gonna install those.