Saturday, April 7, 2012

A trip down memory lane...

Many, many moons ago when I was a vocational ed teacher, I had a bootleg VHS copy of this little gem. I used to play it on the first day of my four-week class on automatic transmissions as a break from my "Clarke's Law"* monologue**.

As a demonstration of the point I was trying to make, it rarely got a laugh.


*"Any technology, sufficiently advanced, is indistinguishable from magic."

**'People don't understand how transmissions work. By the end of this course, neither will most of you.' (paraphrased - I wasn't quite that mean.) In the early eighties there was a deplorable trend among high school career counselors that, when they determined a student to be too stupid or unmotivated to do anything useful, he should fare forth and become an auto mechanic. This almost never worked out well for anybody, and became a huge factor in my job satisfaction as a post-secondary teacher.


Craig Cavanaugh said...

And I had so hoped he would finally show me where that damn conuter valve is : )

Carl-Bear said...

...and no doubt Haggert went on to a long and lucrative career with the Star Drek franchise.

I sometimes convince myself that I understand the general concept of the automatic transmission. Then I look at a diagram... or, gods save me.... an exploded parts break down, and realize I was wrong. I'm absolutely certain there are are least two extra spatial-like dimensions involved. Possibly a time-like dimensional extension as well.

I think string and brane theorists started out as failed auto mechanics. Or maybe vice versa.

Joel said...

Don't feel too bad, Carl. There was once a transmission remanufacturing plant in New Jersey that hired my company to write a training program for line workers when, even after testing every sub-assembly all the way down the line, 60% of the transmissions failed to function at the end of the line.

Both I and the guy I brought with me took one look at their testing procedures and said, "You don't need to train the line workers. You need to train the guy who designed your line." They were testing every sub-assembly, but not the points at which they fitted together and that's where all the most important pressure seals are. Naturally, since the company made such a big deal of testing the other stuff, if the workers weren't expected to test those fittings they couldn't have been very important. It's a wonder any of the transmissions worked.

Thing is, a normally intelligent person can look at a piston engine's parts and figure out pretty quickly how they're all supposed to fit together and function. Actually getting it to run is a little more complicated, but the basic operation is self-explanatory. Not so with transmissions. You can take one apart piece by piece, study each part, and be no wiser at all at the end of it. They're magic.

Carl-Bear said...


I've done a lot of QA and QC work. It never ceased to amaze and horrify me how many people couldn't grasp, "If you have Part A and Part B with tolerances of +/- X, you'd better make damned sure A+X still fits B-X. Range matters!"

Heck, I had problems with that just trying to put SCA armor together for people who... acquired miscellaneous parts from various sources. I ended writing a filk song about it(borrowing heavily from "Mister Compatibility").

But yeah. Automatic transmissions are magic. Evil, black, necromantic magic.

BobG said...

"Any technology, sufficiently advanced, is indistinguishable from magic."

Only if you already believe in magic. I look at it as:

"Any technology, sufficiently advanced, is indistinguishable from advanced technology."

Carl-Bear said...

...says the guy who clearly never tried to work on an automatic transmission. [grin]

Keep telling yourself that. But keep a couple of sacrificial chickens handy.

JFP said...

Carl, that Star Drek machine would be the Heisenburg Compensator.

Currently in use to allow obamacare to be a tax or a penalty depending on who the gov is talking to.

MamaLiberty said...

...and people wonder why I insist on a manual transmission.

But as for training people to do things right...

Try teaching intravenous therapy. You don't get any oopsies, and it has to work RIGHT every single time.

Teaching that to high school graduates in the 1990s is exactly why I quit at the community college and got a real job in hospice.

If your nurse looks to be under 30 years old... RUN for your life!!!!!

Bustednuckles said...

Air checking the seals in the clutch packs is fine and dandy but it won't help if the guy down the line puts in a Bellville spring in backwards or forgets to put a ball bearing in the right place in the valve body.

I hate automatics with a passion. I have worked on them and I hate 'em. Go through all the trouble of pulling it, tearing it down, cleaning everything, rebuilding it, reinstalling it, just to find out something isn't right and having to do it all over for free sucks ass.