Ace--predictably--was out of the 3L340 which would have (should have, at least) worked tolerably well for about $7, so I hit the local implement/powersports store. They had the exact part--MTD # 954-0367--for the factory price of $22-ish with tax, so I bought it. It fits, it works, I cleared the rest of the driveway.
What I did not do was to buy a second one--not at that price, not right now. I'll buy a spare belt in September or October; at least now I have a part number and can shop around for it.
I actually had the part number Wednesday night; I found my blower's model number and looked it up on-line--that's how I learned that I needed a belt that was 34.4" long and 3/8" wide. I was merely hoping that I could avoid paying dealer prices for the exact part.
Well, there is something to be said for having an exact replacement, I have to admit, and spending about 2x the price of a generic part kept me from having to waste the rest of my afternoon making phone calls and running around trying to find something that would work. As it is I have to go back to Pep Boys to return the belt I bought on Wednesday, but that's an errand I am saving for another day. Maybe next week sometime.
I have to admit: having more-or-less acclimated to the cold weather I'm now thinking about how much fun it would be to go skiing. Problem is, I'd have to rent gear and drive to f-ing Wisconsin to do it, and it's no fun to go alone. Since Mrs. Fungus is not a skier, guess what that means?
This is why I haven't gone skiing since 1994. *sigh*
* * *
While at the shop today, I decided to take a look at the "powersports" side. I saw some very, very, very nice off road vehicles--essentially they're sand rails, mass-produced, with liquid-cooled engines and selectable four-wheel-drive and doors. The one I looked at the most seats four (with cupholders!) and its speedometer goes up to 100 MPH. It has enough of an electrical system that you could even install a stereo in the f-ing thing.
...and I'd wager it only costs about $10,000, too, after you spend a few hours jawing down the price.
As I left the place, I thought about how nice it would be to be able to afford one of those things. Then I thought about the other costs: you'd need a trailer, because it's not street legal and you'd have to haul it to places where you could use it. An enclosed trailer would be best, of course, and that's going to be several thousand dollars. Then you'd have to ensure the whole kit and kaboodle, and maintain it all, which would be ongoing expenses, and if you get a flat tire or something--well, parts don't grow on trees, and if you're hooning around in the woods you're going to break something. Better get a winch on it, too, which (of course) costs extra, and--
"Wait a minute," I said to myself. "Am I engaging in 'sour grapes'?" I sadly concluded that I was, but there really isn't much I can do about it short of suddenly becoming a multi-millionaire.
Then I thought about the guy who used to live down the street. I was sometimes-friends with his kids, and in his garage he had--at various times--an AmphiCat six-wheeled ATV and a hovercraft. And there was one singular thing about these toys.
He almost never used them.
He took his kids out for a ride in the AmphiCat one time that I ever saw, and it was a major event for all concerned. He wouldn't take anyone else in the thing with them, just him and his kids, but we all followed the thing as he drove it down the street and into the woods and back out again. It was amazing.
The hovercraft--that thing never moved as long as I associated with those kids, but late one cold winter night I heard something outside and saw the hovercraft sliding sideways down the street. I thought, "Oh, that must be [so-and-so]. Who knew that thing worked?"
...recalling all this, I concluded that even if I could afford to buy something like that ATV I saw in the shop today, how much would I--could I--actually use it? When I live in the suburbs and I'm surrounded by houses? The answer that came back was, "Only on weekends when you didn't have anything more important to do. So, maybe four or five times a year."
Well, shit: I can build a sand rail for a hell of a lot less than $10,000 if I really decide I want one, and it would be street legal to boot; I could drive it anywhere.
Part of the problem that we face here in the US is that we spend entirely too much money--money we don't have, a lot of the time--on expensive toys that we really can only use once in a long while. If you own a personal watercraft and you're not out on the thing every possible weekend--if it spends most of its time in your garage, even when you could be out on it--you're wasting money. Sure, it's nice to own a boat--but if you never put the thing in the water, why do you own it?
That was the thing that really got to me when I was a kid. At the marina where my parents kept their sailboat, we were there every weekend in the summertime (or nearly every weekend). Over by the marina headquarters building there were the expensive boats, the 50-60-70 footers. A couple of them were vintage wood yachts, and "wood" means "serious upkeep", much more than with fiberglas boats.
I never--never--saw any people on or around them, and they never moved. They never moved out of their slips and their windows were always dark at night and there were never any cars parked in front of them. "Who," I frequently wondered, "owns these boats yet never uses them?"
They weren't for sale. They were kept up well enough and not dirty. But they never went anywhere--and why would you own a boat if all you ever did was visit it once in a while and wash the deck? For what it costs to own a big boat like that, and keep it up--a boat is a hole in the water into which you throw money!--and rent dockspace, you can get quite a nice vacation home, and have an asset which is likely to appreciate in value.
This was the 1980s, mind you, when gasoline cost $0.70 a gallon.
Then I think about my brother. He's had a snowmobile for more than a decade; he's also had to trail it to Wisconsin to use it. This would be the first year in quite a while that the Fungal Vale has had enough snow consistently that you see snowmobilers around.
So when I get down on myself for not being able to buy something like one of those ATVs, I realize that if I did have the money for one of the stupid things I wouldn't have the time to use it more than occasionally. WTF, come summertime I'm going to have to schedule times around work to ride my f-ing motorcycle, and that's transportation (as well as being a toy), so what makes me think I'd use a $10,000 toy more than my $400 motorcycle?
* * *
Related to that: I bought a trailer hitch motorcycle carrier from Harbor Freight, and used it one time; it's not strong enough for my road bike, having a maximum capacity of 400 lbs. It's fine for the dirt bike, which I haven't ridden since September 2011. Now, in the Cycle Gear catalogue, there's an ad for a similar product at the same price but which has the capacity--500 lbs--to carry my road bike. Argh etc.
Could be worse, though.
* * *
Anyway, my major chore for the day is complete, and I'm going to go take a nap.