Your morning lecture today comes courtesy of our old friend Ben Bernanke, the power of applied mythology, and a big broken belt on a John Deere 318 hydrostatic lawn tractor.
The belt broke in mid-mowing yesterday morning, leaving the Camp Jiggleview parade grounds half beautifully clipped and half ugly, looking like an overgrown weed field in which Mary Poppins lurks, ever ready to burst forth singing schmaltz. (It has been wet, and mowing opportunities are infrequent.)
The result was determination to scrap all other plans, immediately replace the belt, and finish the job. Thirteen miles away, the nearest Deere outlet sadly reported no belt in stock. Thirteen miles and three auto parts stores further away, I found one at a marginal farm store, not an OEM product but usable.
While there, I decided to pick up a can of WD40. It was available and on sale! at $6.99 for 12 ounces, at which point I decided not to pick up a can of WD40, even though I like the stuff because (a) the spray can is handy and (b) colorful enough not to get lost in my shop clutter. Those perceived advantages fade at $74 per gallon, even if it really does contain fish oil you spray on a worm to outwit a six-pound bass. Even if has magic molecules to make your date amorous.
The magical stuff is magic because television and the teacher unions have combined to created a population which believes in mysterious potions since chemistry is even harder than math.
WD40 is about half "Stoddard Solvent" which is a geeky way to say "paint thinner." About 15 per cent of it is mineral oil and the rest is inert stuff and CO2 to get it out of the can.
(The figures do not add up to 100 per cent because, just in case I've missed something, one needs to leave a little room for the possible magic molecule which, theoretically, could make fish bite and Julie Andrews hot for your body.)
So, for so long as the miracle elixer goes for eighteen times the price of gasoline, I'll be concocting my own. Fill a pump spray bottle about two-thirds full of diesel. Top it off with SAE 10. The results mimic the magic of the bright blue and yellow can, and the savings can be applied to gray-market .22 ammo.
So what's Bernanke got to do with this? Think, Man, think. He's the witch doctor who creates a money-like substance out of thin air, making sure enough of it floats around to persuade Americans that paying $6.99 for about 50 cents worth of goop is a perfectly reasonable transaction. It stimulates the economy.