Ode to YouTube…or should that be ‘owed’?

January 2018 Posted in Columnists & Opinion

carl-sampsonReaders of this column will recall that I believe the internet will destroy civilization as we know it. It draws out the dark side of people and provides a voice for every wing nut in the universe, including those that we have elected to public office. In the not-so-distant future, the internet will turn society into a “Hunger Games” of snarky comments and uninformed “opinions.”

Well, I was wrong. There is an exception to the nonsense powered by Facebook, Instagram and all of the other anti-social media.

It is YouTube.
Oh, there is plenty of junk on that site, too, primarily videos of “Newsroom Bloopers” in which a news person falls out of a chair. I guess that passes for entertainment on the 21st Century internet.

But YouTube also has some amazing stuff – including videos that have saved me thousands of dollars.

I admit it: I’m the least handy guy in Oregon, and maybe on the planet. I am lucky to be able to tighten a bolt without messing it up, let alone build or repair anything. I always said I was a 10-foot builder. That means if I build a fence or anything else, it will look OK from ten feet away, but if you get closer you’ll see the boards aren’t exactly level, and the nails look like they were hammered in by a chimpanzee using a rock.

With YouTube, I can do two things. I can find how to fix or build virtually anything on the planet. But it also helps me determine which projects are way beyond my abilities. For example, my wife and I decided to replace a shower in our house. It was more than 50 years old and was built for Lilliputians. Anyone taller than 5-foot-10 banged his head into the ceiling. Considering we have a family of 6-foot-plus kids, that shower was almost useless.

I went to YouTube and scouted videos on tearing out old showers and putting in new ones. What I decided is I could tear out the old one and rebuild the ceiling so it was a normal height, but I would be in trouble if I tried to do the plumbing and tiling.YouTube saved me the money and trauma of learning that the hard way. And the plumber and tile guy did a way better job than I could have, saving hundreds of dollars in the process.

When I was a teenager I monkeyed with cars. I got away from that as they got more complicated and I got lazier. Then I witnessed the “Miracle on Third Avenue.” Our 20-year-old son has a 1992 Volvo. Said Volvo died on the side of Third Avenue in Stayton. After monkeying with it he and I determined the timing belt had failed. It had more than 300,000 miles on it so I guess that was to be expected.

He decided to change the timing belt there – in the rain – while following a YouTube video. The total cost was less than $50. I don’t know what a repair shop charges for replacing a timing belt but it’s probably more than that.

After the miracle, I started thinking. One of our cars had a door that was bashed in. I found several YouTube videos that showed how to swap the door for one I found online and even change the lock. Total cost: $168 (I had to buy a couple of tools, too.)

Then another car’s starter died. Another son did most of the work to install a new one with me offering moral support. Total cost: $82.

So when it comes to YouTube, I’m a believer. It helps me figure out how to fix things – and when to call in the professionals.

Plus, if I can’t find a video on how to fix something,
I can alway watch more “Newsroom Bloopers.”

Carl Sampson is a freelance writer and editor. He lives in Stayton.

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