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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA



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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

The Facts, in Oscillation

(Hey, Scienceers! Wait, that’s not right. Scientitians? Scientarianists? Sciccer Hooligans?

Whatever. At any rate, it’s time for more Secondhand SCIENCE. And this week, we’re Om’ing into the realm of transcendental numbers. Hold onto your navels, Scificcionados. This one’s gonna be deep.)

I have a car problem. At least, I think I have a car problem.

Probably, I have a car problem. And I definitely had a car problem, which I tried to get fixed. Twice. But I still probably have a car problem. I just don’t know for sure.

The thing is, most of my driving happens during my commute — and it’s not much of a commute. On a good day, I can zip my old Nissan Maxima through my neighborhood, over a bridge, down a nice, big river-adjacent road — those of you on the right of the vehicle can enjoy a beautiful view of the Boston skyline; thanks for joining us today — and into the parking garage in ten minutes. On a bad day, it might take twenty.

(On apocalyptic traffic days — like, during the Boston Marathon or a Red Sox game or thirty-seven feet of snow falling during rush hour — well. Then it takes an hour or more, which is maddening.

All I ask is for every person on this side of the planet to keep themselves and their vehicles the hell out of my way. Is that so unreasonable?)

Of course, as the saying goes: “It’s not the length of the commute; it’s the… uh, motion of the ocean.” Or something. I forget the saying. The point is, I also don’t go very fast on this commute. There are no highways or expressways or keep-the-hell-out-of-my-way-ways (sadly) on my drive, so I rarely tick the speedometer over forty miles an hour. These are “city miles”, in car-peddlerspeak.

And that’s nearly all the driving I do. Except for the occasional trip to shoot a short film — or to plan out an phenomenally festive faux theme park website — which seem to mostly happen in Rhode Island. Which is an hour away, mostly down a highway.

(Though not necessarily, I’ve found, a keep-the-hell-out-of-my-way-way. Bastards.)

“Fearful for my car’s well-being — and also my teeth knocking each other out, and additionally, my life — I took the car to a garage.”

These trips involve streaking down the road at sixty-plus miles an hour, which is no issue at all unless that speed makes your vehicle rattle like a handful of Mexican jumping beans inside a maraca in a dryer running the “Megaspin” cycle.

Which, I found out a few weeks ago, it does.

Fearful for my car’s well-being — and also my teeth knocking each other out, and additionally, my life — I took the car to a garage. They told me one of my tires had a “bubble”, and yes, that could totally cause shaking on the road, and no, you might not feel it until higher speeds, and yes, we do totally have cheaper tires in stock, but instead we’re going to sell you this outrageously expensive one, because what did you expect, really, sir?

Also, you know you need those in pairs, right? For balance, or something. Probably.

Two (presumably gold-plated) tires later, and I was on my way. Back to the commute, and all was fine. Until the next trip down the highway, when the car shook again like an epileptic bartender mixing James Bond a martini during a Twist and Shout marathon.

Back to the garage. They found a bubble in another tire — not a new one, naturally — so I got that one replaced, too.

But if it was all tire bubbles, I asked, shouldn’t the first one have cancelled out the second one?

It doesn’t work that way, they said.

So how does it work, I said.

They replied: Here’s your bill.

So. Two bubbled tires, three new ones installed and I should be all set.

And maybe I am. I haven’t been back on the highway since. But I have been up around 40 mph on the commute, and it feels maybe a little… wiggly? Just a little? Vibrational. Am I imagining that? Maybe something’s rattling — or bubbling, please god no — and there’s a hint of a ghost of a shimmy? Or maybe just a pothole. Dead squirrel? Slow biker? I really can’t tell.

So I probably have a car problem, but I really won’t know until I get it up to speed and see if it shakes. I’m sort of expecting it to, at this point — and then what do I do? Take it to the same garage, because maybe third time’s a charm? I’ve only got one old-ish tire left; maybe they’ll find a bubble in the carburetor or something next time. Or maybe it’s a bubble on the spare in the trunk causing the issue. I don’t know. And I don’t really want to find out before I have to, which is why I haven’t popped out to the interstate for a test run.

But soon, I’ll have to. Before the next jaunt to Rhody, ideally. Because I don’t think I can take another hour riding in the “Agitator”. There’s a reason they don’t shake babies, you know. And now I know why.

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Highlights
Me on Film 'n' Stage:
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Favorite Posts:
30 Facts: Alton Brown
A Commute Dreary
A Hallmark Moment
Blue's Clues Explained
Eight Your 5-Hole?
El Classo de Espanol
Good News for Goofballs
Grammar, Charlie-Style
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  09/06/04: Connection

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