Monday, September 12, 2011

Note to Self

In the future, let's avoid the whole car-suddenly-stops-working thing in the one term of the year that I always end up driving all over creation, especially right before the time of the week when I do it.

Fortunately, the warranty should still be good. I'll be paying out the nose to get to where I need to be in order to teach, though. Today I'm in Round Rock (15 miles to get here, same, of course, to get back, and no time to get a rental car); tomorrow I'm in Georgetown first thing in the morning (20 miles) and then directly to South Austin (33 miles) and back home (16 miles). I don't think I'll have to do it all by taxi, since I think I can hop by Enterprise in Georgetown tomorrow (I'm also seriously thinking about getting a hotel room tonight between Round Rock and Geogetown; at these miles, it's not going to be hugely more expensive, and might even be cheaper).

It's actually not a serious problem, although it comes at the most inconvenient possible time; a little organization will handle, and money, too, of course, but I'm careful enough with the latter that it will hardly be noticed as long as it doesn't go on for more than a few days. But it is a sudden reminder of how much I am at the mercy of my schedule. And you, what would you do in this situation?

UPDATE:Ha, I think I've got it. More expensive than not having car problems, of course (but what isn't), but I think I've got things down so that I'll be able to make it to all my classes with minimal cost, at least to the extent that the cost can be minimal given that everything has to be done at last minute with insufficient time.

It's rather interesting; in my Ethics class tonight I was talking about John Stuart Mill's Art of Life. Unlike many (although not all) utilitarians, Mill doesn't think that utilitarianism is only a theory of morality, right and wrong; he thinks it's a general account of practical reason. One of his criticisms against Bentham is that Bentham constantly talks as if the only thing relevant to happiness was right and wrong. But, says Mill (in his excellent essay, On Bentham, which I highly recommend), there are other things that contribute to it: not just duty, but also beauty and lovableness, for instance. And when he talks about the Art of Life in the System of Logic, he says there are three departments of it: Morality, Policy or Prudence, and Aesthetics or Good Taste. The middle one of the three, Policy, deals with the expedient or useful, and as I pointed out to the class, our happiness depends on competence or effectiveness just as truly as it depends on virtue and duty, and we constantly act on the assumption that it does. You may care whether your hired help is honest, but most of the time you care more about whether he's a competent than whether he is (for example) an occasional adulterer, however seriously you take the latter. And, likewise, we don't just want to have moral lives, and a theory (like Bentham's, as Mill sees it) that only gives us that is deficient. To have a genuinely happy life, we need to see ourselves as competent and effective, as well. And, while I wish my car were already fixed, I'm almost enjoying being able to get to far-flung places (far-flung, at least, if you don't have a car and have a schedule you have to keep!) without any of my ordinary means for doing so, and no doubt I'll be proud of having done it when it's all over.


  1. Michael Sullivan10:21 PM

    Glad you're working it out, but still, what a pain. I've had vehicle troubles myself as the semester begins, but at least in my area there's a fairly good public transportation system. I feel for you.

  2. Catherine Hodge10:58 AM

    If we still lived in Round Rock, you would have been welcome to crash at our house. That's generous of me to offer, I know.

    When we first moved to Texas, we shared one car, but the inconvenience was migitated by the fact that Brendan worked at Dell, so he could walk to work if necessary. That wasn't always comfortable in the heat, but we did feel "competent and effective", knowing that he could always make it to work no matter what our transportation circumstances.

  3. branemrys12:44 PM

    Well, it's the thought that counts, and I thank you for it. It's actually not been too bad, although I wish it had been at a better time.


Please understand that this weblog runs on a third-party comment system, not on Blogger's comment system. If you have come by way of a mobile device and can see this message, you may have landed on the Blogger comment page, or the third party commenting system has not yet completely loaded; your comments will only be shown on this page and not on the page most people will see, and it is much more likely that your comment will be missed.