Friday, October 25, 2013

Ear Hair Triggers Practical Decision Making?

I would like to reiterate my stance on anything that is a Pain In The Ass (PITA):  I'm against it.  That being the case, why would I purposefully bring an electronic tool into my life?  I don't like to build things and I don't like to repair things and I certainly don't like to tinker.  At least that's what I thought until about a month ago.

The fact of the matter is the decision to buy an electric racket stringer was a practical decision.  I can't believe I just wrote that sentence because right up until I got  this thing I believed in impulse buying only.   What's next, I have to trim my ear hair (I did that for the first time last month)?  

Sidebar: I now have a theory that trimmable ear hair triggers practical decision making.  As a caveat, bald guys make practical decisions much earlier in life.  You see, it seems to me guys that go bald seem to lose their hair at an early age (20's or 30's).  These same guys typically have hairy bodies and thick, burly beards and curly ear hair.  Because they have trimmable ear hair at a much earlier age, they therefore make practical decisions earlier.  That's a scientifically sound theory, right?  Scratch that, my dad was bald at 19, braided his ear hair,  and has yet to make a practical decision at age 66.  

Prior to buying this PITA, I was taking the rackets to Sacramento (40 miles) to be strung because they could do it in a couple of hours, unlike other places.  The cost of strings, labor and gas added up quickly so I started researching options (when did I start caring about stuff like this?).  I quickly deduced that the machine would pay for itself within the year.  Of course, this meant bringing an electric tool into my life.  For reference, the only power tool I own is a drill, which doesn't really count since 99.5% of the population has one of those.  It's like saying I have a fork.  Needless to say, I made the jump.

The machine arrived assembled as shown (minus the stand (+1)*).  When I was attaching the legs on the stand, one of the screws stripped and couldn't be used (+2)**.   I don't have a work bench *(3) so I had to sit on the floor to assemble the stand (+1).  Once assembled, I had to read the instruction manual because it matters which holes you put the strings in (+2).  The manual makes you believe your racket is definitely going to crack when you make one slight error, you giant jackass (+5) *(4).   I thread the string, clamp it, pull tension, and immediately strip the strings because the clamp isn't tight (+3) *(5).  I get the mains (vertical) done, start the crosses (+3) and misweave the third row (+4)*(6).  Screw this, I cut the strings out (-3) *(7).

I start over and notice that it's quicker this time (-1).  I don't strip the strings (-1) and  I don't misweave any crosses (-3).  I'm able to tie the finishing knot (-2) *(8).  I finish in under an hour (-3).  I use it in regulation play and it feels good (-5) *(9).  I can string the racket at my convenience (-6).  Wait a minute, if I'm not mistaken that's a net (-6) on the PITA scale.   That means the stringer is not a PITA.  That can't be correct, this is a power tool.  Nope, that's right, it's a (-6).  That means I've made a practical decision and it's not a PITA.  

The truth is I sort of enjoy stringing rackets.  I can put my headphones on, go in the garage, and hone my war tools.  The best I can figure is that it's a primitive instinct to craft your tools, like making your own bow for the kill and bringing home sustenance that will ensure your survival.  In suburbia, though, honing our war tool means you get to beat a 52 year old in sweatbands with long ear hair for bragging rights.  It's almost the same thing.

* The PITA scale is based on a + or - system.  Anything that is a + adds to the PITA rating and anything that is a - takes away from the PITA rating.  The higher the PITA number, the bigger a PITA it is.  For instance, changing out the engine on a 1965 Mustang would have a PITA rating of +1,000.  This is the highest (biggest PITA ever) rating possible.  A back massage while drinking a Blanton's on the rocks would be - 1,000. This is the lowest (best) PITA rating possible.  The scale is relative to each person, make your own definitions of best and worst.

** Have you ever assembled anything where you didn't strip at least one of the screws?

*3 I don't have any tools for god's sake, why would I have a work bench?

*4 Seriously, you are convinced that the slightest change in adjustment on the knobs or on the strings will instantaneously render your racket useless.

*5 I don't get it, I watched a youtube video so I should be an expert.

*6 Weaving the cross strings, especially as a beginner, is a big PITA.  Add in the fact that I'm using poly string and the PITA is much worse.  Nylon string is pliable so the weaving is quick.  Poly string isn't nearly as pliable so you essentially end up "bending" the cross string under and over each main string.  As a beginner it's hard to tell when you misweave so often you don't notice until you're several rows down.

*7 It feels good to cut the strings out, although I'm concerned, per the manual, that if I don't cut symmetrically, I will definitely f*&k up the racket.

*8 There's a lot of info on knot tying.  I focus on one knot and use it in all circumstances.  I don't give a crap if I'm supposed to use the half hitch here and the double hitch there.  I use the freaking Parnell knot in all instances!

*9 This is the funny thing about stringing your own rackets.  Every time you hit a bad shot, you assume it's because you did such a shitty job stringing the racket.  It couldn't be that you just hit a terrible shot, right?

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