Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

A few extra tugs

People used to call it “thirsty work”.
That’s what I had to spend my day off doing yesterday– thirsty work. I had to do it because: A) it is Spring and the ground is thawed, and B) because I carry a curse.

That’s right– I said, I’m cursed. As in hexed, jinxed, and generally “not blessed”. The particular curse I’m referring to is, I believe, inherited… though it’s possible that I just crossed paths with a gremlin, and there’s lots of us out there to whom he’s given it.

I just have the dangdest luck this time of year. It is time (of year) to wheel out the tools that have small gasoline-powered engines, for the first time after they have been sitting all winter (lawn mowers, leaf blowers, rototillers, edgers, etc.). It does not seem to matter a lick that I fully “winterize” these machines before tucking them away, neither.. nor that I’ve insulated and waterproofed my shed.
I consider it a true miracle when the only thing these machines require is a few extra tugs on the pull-starter to get going and.. if one of them ever actually ran properly after starting, I would notify the Vatican.

I don’t care what motor-driven tool you choose, they all do me the same way.
1) They’ll require a few extra tugs. That’s a given.
2) They require a few extra tugs, start, blow blue smoke, and within seconds, die. Repeatable endlessly.
3) They require a few extra tugs, start, blow blue smoke, and run in way that threatens to die any moment, and when you touch the choke/throttle/handle, they do die. Repeatable endlessly.
4) They require a few extra tugs, start, blow blue smoke, and run in way that threatens to die any moment, then even out and run nice and smooth, (giving you happy confidence) and when you touch the choke/throttle/handle, they die. Repeatable, well… you know.
5) [My favorite] They let you yank and yank and yank (and yank) that pull-starter, and don’t even pretend to start.

Oh, yes.. I almost forgot: 6) They’ll run fine and dandy, but never quite develop the gumption to turn the blades worth a hoot. (I think this is the cruelest one of all.)

This curse has been with me my whole adult life, and so I am well-versed in new filters, new gas, additives, fuel line inspection, oil changings, and all the things one does to prevent and cure these symptoms (and.. inventive, heart-felt cursing; I’m well-versed in that, too). None of them seem to matter. The only thing that cures them is a trip to the small-engine man and a “rebuilt carburetor” (at least.. that what they claim they do to it. Probably all they do is have a Holy Roller come in and sprinkle some of his water on it..).

It never fails, and the age of the thing does not seem to matter, nor does manufacturer (I don’t go “thrifty” when it comes to my power-tools), nor if the motor’s 2 or 4-stroke. It’s just.. my curse. (Or.. what they started doing to our gasoline refining processes to appease the tree-huggers??? Nah… It’s me.)

And how many ‘few extra tugs’ do I tug before I decide to quit the struggle? How many tug-related back injuries? Tug-blisters? Generally, my rule of thumb is, six hours. If I can’t yank, fiddle with the choke and throttle; yank, and fiddle with the “mixtures” (etc.), and get it operational in six hours, I concede.
Six hours is a lot of cursing, and my repertoire gets tired.

Of course it happened again this year, and so I spent yesterday clearing the ground and working the soil in preparation for this year’s vegetable garden. And I did it the old-fashioned way– with a rake, shovel, and wheelbarrow –which is thirsty work. I understand that the planting of vegetable gardens is experiencing a surge in popularity recently.. which makes sense to me: I’ve been planting them since I was knee-high to a grasshopper and folks say I have a green thumb. 
Planting a garden is the only way to get a decent tomato.

All of this might explain why I enjoy working with computers so much. I have the exact opposite luck with digital devices, and frequently my just walking near them cures them (as if I have a magical aura). I kid you not. I am a computer whisperer. (And PCs don’t have pull-starters… A big plus!)
I believe there are many similarities to troubleshooting recalcitrant gasoline engines and computers. They both require logic, and practical, methodical approach. Troubleshooting requires some skill and practical experience.. and probably some tools. And, sometimes our best efforts fail and we have to call in a Pro. There’s no shame in this. A Pro has more practical experience and, probably, better tools.

Fortunately for us “home troubleshooters” and D-I-Y Repairpersons, there are many resources available to help guide us; such as Owner’s Manuals, “How To” books, and websites.. it is quite possible you found me by looking for an answer on the Internet. For today’s Tip of the day, I would like to remind you of Windows’ built in resource, the Help and Support tool, and refer you to this prior article of mine on how to use it when you need to do some home PC troubleshooting yourself:

[Apple users: Mac users can find troubleshooting help at]

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Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.

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March 17, 2008 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, PC, tech, Uncategorized, Windows | , , , , , | Leave a comment