Baby Boomer Tools

The featured image for this post is a group of three snow shovels, one of which is my new ergonomic snow shovel, which is the one with the silver handle with the black grip. It’s right next to the old one, roughly the same model only with a crack in the blade from the time last winter when I tried to use it as an ice chopper. That’s why there is also a box labeled “Ice Chopper”—which is also new.

Snow shovels are important at our place because we don’t have a snow blower. We got a little snow yesterday (which promptly melted almost completely) and the forecast is for a few inches tomorrow. I probably won’t need the shovel.

The snow shovel is about the only tool I feel reasonably confident in using these days.  I used to be more comfortable with a variety of tools years ago, even including some automotive tools, like the one pictured below. If you don’t know what it is, it might be because you’re not a baby boomer, like me.

Vintage Auto Tool

There’s a similar tool that a seller on eBay calls “vintage” and which you can buy for about five bucks. I can’t recall what I paid for the auto tool when it was new. I’m sort of a vintage boomer. There have been a couple of surveys done in the last few years which tend to indicate that baby boomers know a lot more than most younger people about what do with cars for preventive maintenance and repair. It surprised me a little that young folks may know more about how to set up the GPS than change a tire. I have changed a tire once or twice in my entire life. One of those times was in the pouring rain. Everyone should have those experiences; they build character.

At least, that’s the kind of things many of the old-timers (I assume most of them are older) say on some of those DIY web sites. There were 70 comments in reply to an on-line story written by someone who was courageous enough to mention that he didn’t think it was worthwhile for most people to change their own oil these days. Most of the commenters were polite but a few mentioned that if you didn’t change your own oil, you should lose your “man card.” One of them was named Natalie.

That doesn’t necessarily apply to all boomers. I changed my oil regularly back in my younger days. I used that tool and knew what I was doing—sort of. On the other hand, I did have a slight problem getting a transmission adjustment done, which resulted in a large bulge in our garage wall, when I mistakenly hit the gas instead of the brake. Sena thought I would not mention that. It was another time, maybe in another dimension.

Sena asked me to check the fluids in the SUV yesterday, which tends to puzzle me anymore. I’m not sure what to do about the oil, transmission fluid, and whatnot these days and, because we lease a car, I’m not motivated to do much, including oil changes. I used to change the oil in our cars but that was many years ago. I had a pair of red ramps I drove the car up onto so I could slide on my back under the car; I had an oil wrench; I had a pan to catch the old oil; I had a big oil stain in our driveway. Sena was a bit more tolerant of certain things like that back in those days.

I also knew what to do with that strange looking tool pictured above.

Anyway, I checked the oil. It was fine. I was not sure where the transmission fluid dipstick was—and eventually found out by checking on the web that there is no dipstick for it. The driver can’t check that; it has to be done by a dealership mechanic.

I topped off the windshield wiper fluid. The radiator fluid level was fine. There was also the matter of a maintenance alert on our dashboard screen that I tried to reset but could only get partly accomplished. We didn’t need to change the oil yet but the darn thing was constantly alerting us to do so, each and every time we started the vehicle.

The owner’s manual was not helpful for learning how to reset the maintenance alert or much of anything else. Sena stopped at the dealership while she was out doing other things and told him the manual was not informative. He was surprised to learn that we even looked at it—most people don’t.

I see snow flurries out there already; maybe I will need the new shovel after all tomorrow. I’m prepared.

My shovel and me

By the way, that tool in the picture is my vintage Kastar Precision spark plug gauge tool (which the guy on eBay called a “rare type”). You see the spark plug is a key component in the combustion engine, which works mainly because of a series of controlled small explosions caused by the spark from several plugs igniting a critical mixture of gasoline and air which leads to a series of relay switches and connectors to the GPS unit on the dash which tells you to drive your car through the back of your garage.

At least I still have my boomer card.

Author: James Amos

I'm a retired consult-liaison psychiatrist. I navigated the path in a phased retirement program through the hospital where I was employed. I was fully retired as of June 30, 2020. This blog chronicles my journey.

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