Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Listen to the Music

So, Company, I don't know if you realize this not too long ago I bought myself a new vehicle. Well not new new, but new to me. Since, however, it was only a couple of years old it might as well have been new, so as you could imagine, it had a pretty nice stereo. Stereo, CD, mp3, big buttons and knobs, neat green lights, the whole nine yards. But...yeah, there's a but. There is always a but. But, I hate it. I shouldn't say that, hate is a strong word. But I really, really, really don't like it. I mean, it had good enough sound, looked good in the middle of the dash, and that was just fine. I still didn't like it. In fact, aside from the way it looked in there the only thing that I liked about the damn thing was this one little button that muted it when you had a phone call or something.
So there. Above, around, and between all of the things I didn't like about the damn factory stereo I managed to go ahead and find on feature that I really, really found helpful and neat. And I liked it. So I put everything down and sort of made a list, and when you compared the two sides the side that said "pros" was much, much shorter than the side that said "cons." So that made things pretty clear to me: If I were going to drive this vehicle for the next five or seven or ten years I want it to be exactly like I want it. So it was off to the store to get an aftermarket stereo.
That's a lie. I didn't go anywhere. I ordered one online. And it came, as all things ordered online or purchased in stores should, with everything I needed to install it save the tools. Oh, and a 100 ohm resistor. There was a 47 ohm model, a 150 ohm, a 200 ohm, 300 ohm, etc. model, but no 100 ohm resistor. Bold strategy. So I figured that out with the help of Jimmy James, who also helped me figure out the terrible instructions and what had to go where, and I set out to put it in. I did, however, have to get a new set of instructions from the manufacturer of one of the parts. Off to a good start then.
I can do car stereos, okay? No problem, not an issue. I have done this over half a dozen times in fact, on a variety of different cars. I have taken the entire dashboard apart at times, an operation that took over two days, and I have put in stereos that have taken roughly twenty minutes. It's a rather simple thing in theory, and I am not generally afraid of it. I have, however, never had the need to splice anything - simple electrical connectors worked just fine, and I have never been asked to do anything with the actual electrical system of my car other than to splice into it. So when I got the wiring harness to hook my sweet new stereo up to my steering wheel controls and it told me I was going to have to cut into all sorts of wires and whatnot to get it to work, and I was going to have program the thing with nothing more than one button and one light, I was nervous. No, let's call a spade a spade here folks, I was flat-out scared.
Maybe that is because this is my first grown-up car. Maybe that is because I never worried if I was messing up my shitty cars. Maybe that is because I was younger and wilder. I don't know. But I was definitely scared. So I rounded up Mike-a-licious to hold my hand and do some soldering on my behalf. To illustrate how nervous I was, I actually disconnected the negative lead on my battery in order to keep things from shorting out. I have never done that before. When the time came to plug the battery back in and actually turn the key away from the relative safety of the "OFF" position, I hesitated. I dawdled. I didn't want to do it. I was prepared to run away with smoke wafting up from the hole where my stereo should be. But that didn't happen. It didn't happen at all. It worked. And it worked well.
So now I am tasked with figuring out how the damn thing works and setting it up for myself, which is half the fun. But I am still wary of the whole thing. I am waiting for wires to melt and smoke to pour and insurance agents to call me and let me know that I am not covered for modifications I did myself. I will, I expect, be able to enjoy things more once I have driven around for a couple of days, maybe a week. Until then I guess I will just have to crank up the music to drown out that annoying nagging voice in my head.

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