wwcitizen: (Uuuuuuh)
Last weekend was a lot of fun with the Fire Sand Jaguar F-Type convertible. My post about it just went live a few minutes ago, in which I purposefully left a thread hanging from the story. It was left from the story because, frankly, it well deserved its own focus.
  1. It seems that my 2004 Passat is cantankerous. 
  2. It wasn’t good writing to distract from the previous post’s theme.
  3. The previous post’s theme was AWESOME!
  4. This current theme is about a jealous Passat.
When I plopped my little butt into the Fire Sand Jaguar F-Type convertible on Friday and drove away from my office for the weekend, of course, my 2004 Samoa Red Passat had to be left behind. After all, no one can drive two cars – safely – at once. It’s either one or the other. I took the other, hotter, faster car out for the weekend.

I’m frankly not sure what, if anything, transpired with my car whilst I was away traipsing around the countryside in the hottest thing on the NJ and NY highways and byways. My old guy was parked all alone in a Mahwah corporate parking lot for 2.5 days. 

Granted, there’s 24/7 parking lot security at my office, so my Passat was fine. He was safe. I’m certain he felt lonely and neglected without so much as a “See ya!” from me.

After turning in my Jaguar from the weekend, my Fire Sand was watching me throughout the day as I walked from building to building.  After work, I got into my old 2004 Passat, happily content with his practicality.  Happy that he’s paid for and that, in large part, I don’t really have to worry about him at all.

Work ended and Matthew was waiting patiently for me at his office 5 miles up the road on the NJ/NY border.  I got on the highway and was carefully navigating traffic, across lanes to the left and back to the right - the normal ebbs and flows of evening rush hour traffic. I kept noticing that my right side passenger rear-view mirror was wobbling.

I used the little turn knob on my side to push the mirror upwards, downwards, sideways and back to get the mirror to snap back into place. I didn’t realize that the actual glass was the wobbly bit. I didn’t realize that the wind was getting behind the mirror and loosening it from the flat plastic base. In an instant, as I was pushing the position knob back upwards, the mirror popped off and flew into the air behind me! I feel like I heard a “clink-clink-splatter” on the pavement to my back right as I sped away unable to stop and make sense of it all.

I exclaimed, “There it GOES!” to no one in particular with my windows open. “THERE IT WENT!” I screamed again to the gas station sign I was passing. Just really to myself – albeit loudly.  It was sort of a helpless feeling, witnessing my 2004 Passat turning into a zombie before me – with me inside!

I smacked my right hand onto the top of my steering wheel and rested my forehead against my left hand with my elbow on the window sill.

“Hope they have a mirror!” I said out loud to the air whipping around through my car, speaking, of course, about the VW dealership on the way home. What an inconvenient and odd thing to happen after such a nice weekend with my Fire Sand Jaguar!

And there it was. My old 2004 Samoa Red Passat was JEALOUS!  Jealous that I took another car home. Fuming that another, younger, hotter vehicle got to see the hilly countryside in upstate NY. Stewing all weekend by himself in a lonely parking lot, scheming of ways to say, “See?! How’s THIS for leaving me behind?! Huh?! You need to pay attention to me!  Spend time with ME for a change, why doncha?! IN FACT, I want something new for ME because I deserve it.”

And so he made me spend money on him.  To the tune of $100!  Honestly, I’ve done the same thing before with a previous boyfriend in a similar situation. I get it.

Needless to say, the parts department at both convenient VW dealerships were either closed or closing before we could get to either. I had to wait to check with the dealership closest to my office till today, but we met “RD” along the way.

“RD” is a short, beefy (clearly) Italian bulldog who works at the Mahwah-local dealership.  Good arms, great tats, and excellent eye contact. Buzzed hair and furry belly. Yes. Furry belly. More on that later… “RD” explained to me yesterday, “Make sure that you push in the new one like this (demonstrating and checking in with me that I was watching him): In the middle… not on the sides. OK?”

“Yes, sir! Not on the sides, but push it good in the middle there.” I quipped without cracking a smile.

“Right! Grab onto the sides here (checking in again with me) and once you have it seated and plugged in just right, push it in the middle till you hear it snap. Hear that?” I nodded studiously. “That means it’s in place. Then you can get in and move it around.”

Yeah. I’m not totally sure if those were all the words or phrases he used in that order, but they seem plausible. In that order. In my head. Right? RD did show me and instruct how to insert the new mirror once I got it and his demo yesterday was totally cute.

On the way home last night without knowing whether I’d be able to get a real replacement today, we scooted by Pep Boys to see if they had a mirror I could glue onto the old plastic base.  “MacEnroy”, a handsome 50-yr-old, Latin fireplug, told us about a glass place “around the corner” that could cut out a perfect fit. Sounded good, but no dice; the place was closed – in fact, it closed at 4:30PM and at we got there at 6:15PM.  Ugh. So, we went back to Pep Boys and got a set up for about $10 that would get me through about 2-3 days of traffic, in case I had to wait a couple of days for the replacement mirror to be ordered - better to be safe than sorry!

Turns out the local VW place had one in stock and I picked it up today.  And RD installed it!  Oh, yes. And about his furry belly. I saw his furry belly today when I picked up my mirror from the dealership during lunch. I asked if “RD” was around cuz, after all, he’s the one who explained yesterday; I needed him to make sure it was pushed in just right - from in the middle, not the side.

He installed the mirror and made sure I heard it snap into place.  He wiped his fingerprints slowly off the mirror with this t-shirt and, in doing so, exposed his furry little belly.  When he was done with my mirror, he stood there holding his belly button (for no apparent reason) under his t-shirt as we finished talking. Of course, I couldn't leave until he turned to go back to work. It's only polite. ;-)  Plus, meeting RD and MacEnroy were fun silver linings,

It’s also good to know that my Passat’s got a jealous streak. For the next time I leave him behind for a different car…
wwcitizen: (Uuuuuuh)
This last weekend was stupendous. Stupendous because my company allowed me to spend a weekend driving a Fire Sand 2013 F-Type Jaguar (V6 Supercharged) convertible. Driving that car was an amazing experience. What’s even more exciting is that when this project contract began for me working at Jaguar Land Rover North America, that particular F-Type completely captured me.

One day after I parked my Passat to go into work, I noticed that F-Type for the first time. Why? Because it was a Fire Sand F-Type convertible. "Fire Sand" is a cool term for "burnt orange" or "pumpkin". The color is totally intriguing and the body of the car captivated me completely - it looks like an animal. I took 5 or 6 pictures of the car as if it was parked on some side street in Chelsea (something I’ve done, btw).  On my way home that same evening, I mentioned to Matthew, “I just wanna drive that car for a day. Just one day. Is that too much to ask?”

Well, this past weekend, I did just that!  I had won a raffle at a company meeting a couple of months ago; 12 winners of the raffle would be able to drive a company car (a Jag or a Land Rover/Range Rover) for a weekend. I was one of the winners!

Over those three weekend days, I drove at least 500 miles.  Plus, I drove at least a total of 26 hours – just over a day’s worth of driving. Apparently, “Just one day,” isn’t too much to ask! I got my full day of driving just as I had wished and I got to see the car parked in my space for the weekend (I had to leave my Passat parked in the company parking lot for the weekend. More on that on a later, different post…).

At the initial button push, the Jag growled at me when he started up; his grin was tangible. He had me before the first growl. He had been waiting for me to get inside and push his buttons since my eyes squinted at the sun sparkling off his curves the first time. He wanted to be driven. He clearly didn’t want to sit still or be parked.  I brought his top down and pulled out of the parking space, When I rounded the first corner, he seemed to want more of that curve, so I gunned the engine a bit, He smiled and ate that curve in one bite. And then the next one: CHOMP! He was looking forward to the weekend as much as I was.

I pulled up to get Matthew from work (who now works about 5 miles from my office).  Matthew told me later that EVERYONE walking out of that office building was staring at the car. I didn’t notice them because I was looking at everything in the car – the controls, the lights, windows, the mirrors, and the radio.  Matthew was beaming because he knew I was excited for the weekend.  He got in and put on his seat belt. I asked him one simple question: “Are you ready?”

“For what?” he countered.
I asked him again: “Are you ready?”
“Uh. Yes?” he said apprehensively.

Making sure no one was in front of me, I took off toward the edge of the parking lot. Fire Sand snapped our heads back against our head rests.

“OH JESUS!” Matthew exclaimed. “SLOW DOWN!”
“I’m only going 15 miles an hour, grandpa.”
(^^ That exchange repeated itself quite frequently over the course of the weekend…)

When we were leaving the office park, getting onto Interstate 287 South for a bit and back onto 17 South to go home, there’s a very fun curve and Matthew almost shit a couple of bricks as we rounded it.  The suggested speed around the curve was a measly 25… my boy wanted to take it at about 35 MPH. So, I gave it to him and then some.

All the cars on 287S saw me coming onto the road and slowed down (or was I going faster than them?).  I got across the four lanes to the left quite safely, but quickly because 17S comes up right after that curve. 

BOOM! We were on 17S heading home.  All the way down 17S and eventually onto I-80E (another Interstate highway), so many people could not keep their eyes off the car. A couple of handsome guys in fun cars (not sports cars, though) raced up to meet my car. They safely kept their eye on the road in front of them, but checked out the car, me, Matthew, the car, me, and then gave me the thumbs up or an “OK” sign with BIG smiles.

We pulled into our building about 30 minutes later and I was able to dash in, change clothes, and head back out to drive down to visit my buddy Joey for dinner. The drive down, with the top down, was almost fully on the NJ Turnpike all the way down. I picked up Joey and we raced off to Princeton.

The best part about all of those routes was that I could drive at least 65. I positioned myself with traffic, so that I didn’t stand out. I also used my cruise control quite a lot, so that I didn’t inadvertently go over the speed limit.  At 65 MPH, it felt as though he was plodding along at about 30 MPH – he even yawned a couple of times when I sped up to pass someone. 

Cops didn’t seem interested in the car at all, which was just fine with me.  Someone at work told me that cops “respect” Jaguars due to the owners/drivers of Jaguars or something, but I noticed that cops – the entire weekend – were uninterested in the car.  I had always heard that if you drive a sports car, beware of cops. So, I was paying attention. I mean, I wasn’t driving erratically, recklessly, or exceptionally fast (except for that one time…). So, there was no real reason for them to approach me as it was. Still, that warning was playing in my head all weekend, which was probably a good thing – given my history with speeding tickets from when I was in high school (different story for a different post…).

Saturday was the friends tour. I drove to four different friends’ houses to show them the car and give them a ride. A couple of them live close to highways, so I was able to show them a little of what the car could do. One of them had never been in a convertible, much less and actual sports car. Two friends weren’t home, so I took a picture of the car in front of their house; at least their house got to see the car!

By Sunday, Matthew had plotted out a route for us to drive up to New Paltz and Kingston, NY, that included highways and country roads. He found a marina for us to visit, a resort (that we might want to return to for dinner, at least), and in the end, I chose for us to return home a different route than how we got to our destination; I-87 (the NY Thruway) was really backed up close to the NJ/NY border and we would have been stuck in tons of traffic. 

Along the way up there and back, there were lots and lots of twists and turns, hairpin curves, mountains, big hills, river vistas, and plenty of onlookers. We had a great time driving all over the place! Here’s a snippet of some of the roads and terrain we traversed along our road trip on Sunday.

Mountain Curves
Hairpin CurvesPalisades Pkwy
Monday morning came a little too quickly when I had to turn him back into the company. He’s been sitting in the same place since I parked him there. Feels like he’s looking at me, winking, and saying, “Ask for another weekend. C’mon! Let’s go!” 

Over the weekend, I took a ton of photos. Here’s a smaller collection of the best of the best from all that driving. We unfortunately had to stop from time to time, of course.

Part of me wishes that hot, fast Fire Sand cat was mine. The other, more practical part of me sat back with a sigh into my 2004 Passat, who’s paid for and running just fine, and drove to pick up Matthew after work. I didn’t really try to push my old guy too far, but from his brakes, I could tell he wasn’t too happy I left him for a hotter, younger, faster guy for a weekend fling.  He’ll get over it.
wwcitizen: (Lincoln Tunnel)
This morning at QuikCheck, the cashiers were trying to lure customers into visiting any QuikCheck at lunchtime for a free submarine sandwich. In order to get the free sub, you had to succumb to a hand stamp.

I had stopped there for veggie snacks on my way to work. It's a "quik stop" off the highway. I overheard the cashier explaining the "Sub Club stamping program" to a female customer ahead of me: Once the cashier stamps a customer's hand, the customer can go to ANY QuikCheck today to receive a free sub sandwich for lunch. The female customer didn't seem to be heading to work (wearing jeans and a polo shirt) and even seemed to consider getting stamped for a free sub later. But she declined.

However, that QuikCheck gets a LOT of business folks throughout the morning on their way to their office. How could QuikCheck possibly expect that these business folks (like me) would want a "Sub Club Stamp" on their hand when they're heading to work (I don't know if that was the title of the program, but it sounds funny...).

My excuse? As I glanced dramatically at my hand and tie, I replied in a short burst of overacting, "Oh, I coudn't possibly have a stamp on my hand like that at the office. **sigh** Thanks, but no thanks."  <-- Not that I would return to any QuikCheck for a free sub for lunch today.  I wouldn't have returned to any QuikCheck even if they had offered some other form of "program conformity", like a paper coupon because I eat my lunch at work.  But, I if I had given the real excuse, I couldn't have been so audibly and visually dramatic this morning. It was invigorating to give the pretense of being high maintenance.  B-)

Somehow the previous customer's lack of enthusiasm left a morning drama void that I had to fill.

The whole thing was strange this morning. Even the cashier was visibly bothered and annoyed at having to ask me to stamp my hand - she even knew I was going to say, "Oh, huh-uh."

I'd never heard of any store offering a hand stamp in the morning for something free at lunch. Stupid campaign.
wwcitizen: (Car in the Country)

I am so irritated and flustered. I had just gotten off the phone with Matthew and turning off the highway onto the exit for the street where I work. There's always a back up at that exit.  I noticed this morning that the turn off traffic was backed up more than normal. I thought, "I'll cut through the Burger King or the diner parking lot and come up the back way onto my street (something I've never done before).

So, I turned into the Burger King parking lot, where no one was because it's closed this early in the morning, but out of the corner of my eye I see a car - don't know what kind. I get to the entrance to whatever the back street is leading up to "my" street, stop completely, notice that there's an "Entrance Only" thing for the Burger King parking lot and think, "Oops".

I make a right turn, safely - with no one behind me, and go up to the merge onto my street. Then I notice that there's an SUV DIRECTLY behind me. I mean like ON MY ASS. This SUV is RIDING MY ASS all the way from when I turned right and jerking back and forth.  I thought, "Oh, could this guy be seriously full on road rage this early in the morning?"

I almost felt like pulling over to the side of the road to let the guy pass.  Instead, I make a legal merge/turn onto my street go over a bridge (that goes over the highway), stop at the next traffic light - fine. This guy is still ON MY ASS. Even through the light, he's lurching forward, jerking back and forth, and I think, "Jeez, fella, calm the hell down and get around me."

He finally does and pulls along side me. He's apparently an off-duty cop - not even in an undercover cop car!! I glared at him and soooo wanted to say, "Dude! Calm the fuck down!"

But, I didn't. He stays driving next to me, looking at me then back to the road for like a block. He's swerving and jerking his car as he keeps turning up his hands to look at his speedometer and back at me. All the while, I'm driving around 35 mph in a 40 mph zone.

He speeds up, passing me, but has to stop at the next traffic light and eventually turns left. So, it seems as though he was trying to make me speed and go over the speed limit or do something illegal, so that he could pull me over or something. I did nothing illegal - even in the BK parking lot, really.

There was no sign stating "No Thru Traffic", which some lots have if they're on the side of a highway.  And the "Entrance Only" sign is a private sign - not installed by the city, but possibly monitored by town cops. That's the only thing I could imagine was this guy's beef, but he couldn't really nail me on it.  Maybe I came into the parking lot too quickly. Who knows?

The only thing I could imagine being an issue is, the NJ statute that reads, "Operating a motor vehicle on public or private property to avoid a traffic control signal or sign". But, I wasn't avoiding a traffic signal; I was avoiding the backup of exit ramp traffic heading to the same signal I was ultimately heading towards, just from the other direction.

UGH!! That type of cop behavior pisses me off so much! Enough venting. Thank you for listening.

wwcitizen: (Car in the Country)
The other day, the NJ Motor Vehicle Commission sent me a registration form - standard every year - for me to register my car.  There's an envelope and a form to review containing all my current data, which is standard.  The form has a front and a back and you need to confirm data as well as fill in certain things, such as your social security number - something I don't like to write out and put in the mail.

So, I went online to re-register my car.  The form doesn't tell you that there's a $2.00 "convenience charge", but the website does when it tallies your payment. There's no tax for the registration, but there is this silly "convenience charge."  Now, if I were to fill out a check, pop this form filled out in the mail with a stamp, all-in-all it would probably cost me $1.00 total.

But, in principle, I have a problem being charged a $2.00 "convenience charge," when ultimately, it's more convenient for the MVC to have the online registration process. It's more convenient not to build up paper waste for the state. It's more convenient for there to be no human error at the state level for registration completion and fulfillment. Right?  Why should online users be charged a $2.00 "convenience charge"?  Because it probably pays for the website hosting, data fees, credit card transaction fees, etc.  I understand all that.

The "convenience" of online users is actually SAVING the state money, person hours, effort, and the possibility of human error.  People who choose to mail in their registration payments should be charged the $2.00 for adding extra work rather than online users - as an "inconvenience charge".

New Jersey is one of two states (Oregon is the other) that requires gas attendants to fill your car with gas. People who pull up to the pump are not supposed to get out of their cars and pump their own gas. It's nice not to have to get out of my car on a rainy, snowy, cold, or really hot day to pump gas into my car. I can stay in my comfortable car while someone else does it.  The thing is, having that "service" is actually saving the state and gas stations money!!  NJ gas prices are much lower compared to most other states. Primarily because of subsidies and low fuel taxes, sure, but then also because of the lack of the need for as much liability insurance at the gas pump.  There is also the increased maintenance of pumps from being regularly monitored.  Self-service contributes to unemployment – especially among young people - so, the NJ set up is keeping/creating jobs that would otherwise be given to machines.

Throughout the US, other states have pretty high costs of liability insurance to allow people to pump their own gas. That insurance cost is conveyed not onto the majority of gas pumpers, but to those folks who pull up to a full service pump. It's more convenient and safer for people to stay in their cars and have someone else pump their gas, but, frankly, it would save the gas stations and the state money and liability by not charging the "convenient pumpers" for the extra cost of running a gas pump.

Same issue: Convenience charges laid out on the people who, ultimately, would help save money overall.  The perspective is wrong and the people who'd be saving money, time, effort, and other costs are being charged, when all the folks who .
wwcitizen: (Car in the Country)
Matt and I have had a long discussion over the last 2-3 years about my car. Every once in a while, he'll pick it up again and we start deliberating.  Yesterday, I picked up my car from Firestone, where I've gotten a few things done on it over the last month:
  • New battery, 2 new tires (with rotate/balance), Oil/filter change (synthetic oil and recycle the old)
  • 2-3 different electronic and systems diagnostics
  • Brake fluid and fuel line flushes (good to do if unused for 2-3 years!!)
  • Coil, spark plug, and belt replacements: alternator, power steering, and fan (check engine light was on)
We've been using my car more and more over the last 2-3 weeks, too. Matt still complains that, "It's not new and flashy and 'modern'" (i.e. no Sirius/XM, no steering wheel volume/radio channel control, no GPS, no dashboard screen display, manual headlights, etc.).  But, I think he realizes that it's a good decision and my car's fine - not awesome, but fine. From my point of view, we can go on more vacations happily without a new monthly car payment hanging over my head.

In total, all repairs ran me about $1400. I've not spent more than $500 on my car's maintenance in 4 years, also paying it off 4 years ago. That means, insurance and registration notwithstanding, I've retroactively spent around $40/month for the last 4 years to have my car. My car's now good to go for at least another 70-90K miles; aka 5+ years. That means, too, that without further repairs, the monthly "charge" for my car would work out to be less than $20/month for 8+ years. Why get rid of it, if it does what we need it to do - get me from point A to point B safely and comfortably?

I don't need a new car and I'm happy about that. I love VWs and I love my Passat. They're good, solid cars.  Last week, I even got about 28-30 MPG (miles per gallon) to go to Princeton for dinner with a friend.

When I pulled my car away from the car wash a few weeks ago, it sparkled and made me smile. I kept looking at it thinking, "Wow, what a beautiful car!" 
The only problem with VWs is the VW service department. VW service departments SUCK! They SUCK big time. I've told a couple of them how badly they suck, why they suck, and why I couldn't wait to go somewhere else because their service department sucks - all of them that I've dealt with. They suck because 1) they won't take you right away, 2) you have to schedule an appointment, 3) if you don't schedule your service appointment, you get "punished" and can't pick up your car for DAYS. DAYS!!  4) when you leave your car there for service for days, the charge goes up exponentially - not for storage, but because 5) they keep "finding other things" to do. 

With Firestone, the first time I took my car in for a battery, basic diagnostic, oil/filter change, and new tires - on a Friday at about 1PM. I had the car back by 6PM.  When I took my car in this last time, it was at about 4:30PM when they close for the weekend at 7. I knew it was going to take some time, so I told them, "No rush."  They got it back to me at the end of the very next business day. How great is that?!  On TOP of that, Firestone gave me a $125 discount (!!) for being "inconvenienced" once (the shield underneath had come unfastened the first time I went there and they gave me a coupon for my next visit). At the VW dealership's service center, I would bet $10K (tee hee) that the work would have taken 4-5 days and cost me an extra $2000 at least.

I'm very happy with my decision.  If the car lasts me another 5+ years, then, that's $25K+ that I will have saved. One thing that my father taught me that I've learned is about choosing a car wisely and not spending too much money on them, because from the moment you drive them off the lot, they become a quickly depreciating asset.  Well, I appreciate my VW and it's sticking around with me as long as it'll have me.  :-) 

Took A Nap

Apr. 27th, 2012 05:30 pm
wwcitizen: (S&M - Sleep)
Just got up from a wonderful power nap. Matt came into the bedroom when the mechanics called about my car, which has been in the shop today.  I haven't driven my car since last June, actually, as posted earlier this year, about a month ago.

When he came in the room talking to the mechanics on my cell phone, I woke up out of an intense dream thinking, "What's that? Who am I? Where am I? Is Matt up already? Have we had our coffee?"

That kind of reaction typically means that I had a pretty decent nap. I could probably sleep a little while longer, but paired with last night's awesome sleep (almost 8 hours!), I think I'm good for the evening.

We might go looking at cars tomorrow, but most likely, I'll keep my car now for a while - after spending $400 on two new tires, a new battery, a slight tune up, and an oil change. I think I'm pretty justified in keeping it at least another year or two. Right?  It still doesn't make good fiscal sense to buy a new car when I'm still a consultant with no guarantee of 5 years commitment.

Have a GREAT Friday evening out there and a wonderful weekend!
wwcitizen: (Car in the Country)
Matthew wants me to buy a new car. I don't need a new car. Matt keeps pointing to new cars or "new to me" cars and saying, "I will buy you a car!"  Not bragging, but I could walk into a car dealership today and pay cash for a car and drive away - even without trading in my current car. I.AM.NOT.GOING.TO.DO.THAT!  Suze Orman would also say my decision is sounder and more financially responsible than Matt's suggestions.

Matthew hates my car - a 2004 VW Passat (uniquely colored Samoa Red, the color of Shiraz or Chianti wine).  He hates my car because the battery keeps dying (explained more thoroughly below).  He also hates my Passat because it doesn't have Bluetooth, a 6-CD changer, a nav system, or the pizzazz of a new, 2011+ car - whatever the model. 

Matthew also remembers that I frequently took my car in for oil changes, tire rotations, new tires, and brakes upgrades.  For the first 3 years of owning the car, I was traveling 100 miles a day to/from work; aka 2000+ miles a month!! It made sense for me to keep my car running properly and in tip-top shape. I wasn't taking my car in for fixes or repairs; it was standard maintenance that any good driver and responsible car owner goes through. I would have done the same with ANY car I owned at the time. Having to rely so heavily on a car "drove" me to look for a job in the city where I used public transport to commute - not a car. 

Matt leases his cars; he doesn't provide his cars with the same intensity that I did when I was driving so much more (explained below). He takes his car in for maintenance before a big trip, like up to Provincetown or Newport. He's never (to my knowledge) had to get new tires or brakes.

Since the beginning of 2007, I think I might have driven my Passat 4000 miles. Maybe. And the car has about 74K miles total on it now (roughly 120K km).  I haven't driven my car at this point since getting a new battery in June 2011. The time I drove the car before that was to get a new battery the June 2010. Matt think the CAR is the reason that the batteries keep dying; the batteries die because Matt doesn't like to ride in my car, so we take his leased Acura SUV everywhere. In the grand scheme of things it doesn't make sense to drive his lease as frequently because for a lease, you wanna keep the mileage low.

While I have entertained the thought of a new FIAT, a SMART car, or any of the electric cars out there (even Ford!  YIKES!), it doesn't make sound financial sense. Electric cars are a no-go, since we don't have electricity at our parking spots.  I've entertained the thought of trading in my car for a one-owner used car, but frankly, all I need from my car is to get from place to place when Matthew is either teaching or if I want to go somewhere when he doesn't want to go. 

Matthew wants us not to be a one-car family, which I kind of get.  His reasoning isn't very convincing or compelling IMHO since we have a modicum of public transportation here - more so than when I lived in Trenton. There are extremely rare instances when we really want to do something without the other present.  I, frankly, don't really want to go and do anything without Matthew, but he seems to think that we need to do things apart from time to time.

It'll cost - TOPS - $800 for me to get my car up and running.  That $800 would cover a new battery (if needed), new tires, new oil gaskets, new spark plugs (I think that was the total run-down). That $800 expenditure would prepare my Passat to support my personal transportation needs for at least another 5 years. In that 5 years, I can save enough money for TWO cars and lots of vacations.  I'm firmly standing my ground and making sure that I keep my Passat. There is no good, sound, fiscal reasoning to getting a new car right now.

I work from home as a consultant; i.e. there is no commute and no distinct job guarantee.  I would possibly need a car to go somewhere maybe, perhaps, possibly once or twice a week. Honestly, though, for the things I "must" do without Matthew, I'm happier planning a day for us to do the things together - using his car.  If I'm desperate for his car usage, I can drive him to school, use his car for errands, and pick him up again. I think that's happened three times in the last year.

Am I right or am I right? 
wwcitizen: (Car in the Country)
We're leaving tomorrow after I'm done working for Sharon Springs, NY! We're heading up there for the Spring Festival and staying in The American Hotel. All sound familiar? Well, it might because of the Fabulous Beekman Boys of Beekman 1802 on Planet Green.

Derek Hartley and Romaine Patterson (of the DNR Show on Sirius OutQ Radio) will be working in the Beekman 1802 Mercantile all weekend with the Beekman Boys. We listen to them practically every day and I've posted conversations I've had with them over the last couple of years. We're hoping to see lots of local celebs there and get to chat with them all. Plus, staying the one night in the Bears' hotel tomorrow night, we might enjoy dinner there Saturday evening before coming home.

We haven't gone anywhere, really, since Christmas, so this is will be a nice little side trip. Haven't packed yet because we weren't sure whether we'd get the hotel reservation or not. They called us back late this afternoon just before I shut off my work computer.

This is the weather for the weekend:

Can't wait! We're also breaking in Matt's new car for the road trip. Should be fun!
wwcitizen: (Car in the Country)
So, even though I haven't driven my car in over a year and it's fully paid for, Matt and I went out and got him a new lease. We've been driving a Toyota Highlander for the last 3 years and before that Matt was only a Nissan Pathfinder guy. I got him out of the Nissan and into something different. Now, we're heading into an Acura and it's got all the bells and whistles except for the technology package, which we don't need (both our phones have built-in GPS and other things).

We're going over on Friday to pick it up. We looked at the current Toyotas and Audis, but they didn't measure up for the same price and the same packages. Thing is, with the nuclear fallouts in Japan, cars won't be hitting the Japanese car lots till November 2011 - stock will dwindle.

We consider ourselves lucky to have gotten exactly what we wanted and will have it by the end of this week!! YAY!
wwcitizen: (Car in the Country)
It's been about 6 months since I drove my car. Yes. Six (6) months. Reasons being:

1) We had two, no, three blizzard-quality snowstorms between January and March.
2) Matt's car was always in the front (we have tandem parking spaces, which gets annoying).
3) Matt's car is bigger (he IS Italian; Italians always drive bigger cars).
4) Matt prefers to drive because it's - apparently - more calming than riding with me (not that he's a control freak or that I'm Mario Andredi on the road...).
5) I like having the freedom to do what I want to when Matt drives - like take pictures.
6) Eh.

When we returned from one of our nights of Pride fun in NYC (the last 4 nights, mind you), we found a note on my car about painting the lines on the floor of the top deck (I like big decks, don't you?). We had to move my car out, which meant we had to jump it and take it for a spin.

We drove 20 minutes to Mahwah for sushi with Matt's sister's family and we had a lot of fun. It's so nice that the kids want to talk to Uncle Steve and share things that's going on in their lives, while Matt gets to catch up with his sister.

Samantha, the oldest and 11, told me about her beading classes, her friends, her brother's girlfriend (next story), and other things. It was really sweet. Her little brother - about 20 months younger - Michael of 9 years, told me about his drum lessons coming up, his girlfriend (I noticed later his t-shirt said, "She's Into Me" with a big yellow arrow pointing left), and his recent braces and Mohawk.

The youngest, Gianna of 3 years, sat between Matt and me and we made sure she got her food and ate. Throughout dinner, this was our conversation:

Gigi: "Uncle Teeb. Uncle Teeb. Uncle Teeb. Uncle Teeb!!"
Teeb (me): "Yes, sweetheart?"
GiGi: "Nothing. Never mind."
Teeb: turns around to engage Gigi's dad (also Matt)
1 minute later:
Gigi: "Uncle Teeb. Uncle Teeb. Uncle Teeb. Uncle Teeb!!"
Teeb: "Yes, sweetheart?"
Gigi: "Tickle, tickle, tickle... Tickle, tickle, tickle..."
Teeb: "But Gigi, I'm not ticklish!" holding up my hands in feigned confusion.
Gigi: "Why aren't you ticklish, Uncle Steve (she can say my name, she just knows it makes people laugh when she says my name wrong.)?"
Teeb: "Well, my daddy taught me not to be ticklish."
Gigi: "Why'd he do that?"
Teeb: "So that pretty little girls wouldn't tickle me, like you!"

And I tickled her. She giggled and went back to eating for about 2 minutes and the cycle started anew, unless she was playing with her sister's iPod.

Now, I wonder how long the new charge on my battery will last. The sushi was good.
wwcitizen: (Car in the Country)
These are GREAT! I found these from a friend in Australia with whom I worked in Germany. I owned a Trabant for about 6 months in Leipzig before I moved to Austria. That was the first car I worked on and fixed!! I replaced the starter.

I love how the "scientists" run to the car:

Good music to this one (and no German):

Trabi (Trabant) Safari through Berlin!!!

This is a Wartburg - cool car and heavier than the Trabant:

wwcitizen: (Car in the Country)
Last weekend, we were in New Hope, PA, and then later in Flemington, NJ. We saw LOTS of cool, old cars (and some motorcycles - for [livejournal.com profile] boomerz1, and I immediately thought of [livejournal.com profile] curtimack and [livejournal.com profile] dan4behr. Enjoy fellas!!

I don't know what all of these cars are, but we ran into the beginnings or the end of a Mustang/Ford car show, which seemed to range from very old cars to very new ones. WHY do people bring their new models to a car show, especially if you can find THAT car in a dealership? They buy the car last week and this week they're showing it off at a car show. Seems a little presumptuous or just unexciting. But I'm not that much of a car enthusiast, either.

Here's an opening car shot (with Matt) from a different photo album I'm posting today:

The other cars are posted here.
wwcitizen: (Car in the Country)
Love the town, but New Hope, PA, is slowly becoming a den of yuppies from what I've heard. We haven't been there in years. Especially, since the best nightclub EVER "was inundated with smoke damage to the point that it was unusable ever again and had to be torn down." But, but, we all thought that part of the structure was under historical preservation...

When I came out, the Cartwheel (the best nightclub EVER) and the Raven (just down the street) were the places my best friend, Joey, and I went almost every Friday and Saturday nights. When we were exceptionally bored on a Monday or it was a holiday weekend (like Memorial Day), we'd head there for the Monday Night Drag Contests. We did actually like the contests and enjoyed seeing who was eliminated week to week till one of them was crowned with some shiny, plastic piece of crap.

Friends who visited me from all over were often treated to a day in New Hope or Lambertville (across the Delaware River in NJ). We'd get into town for a wonderful cup of coffee and a muffin, then take off walking slowly around the towns. Crossing the bridge, we'd anticipate the other town and the stores along the main roads.

Lambertville has an annual Shad Festival in April, and New Hope has an Art Festival in May or June. Sometime during the summer, they'll have other street fairs and antique shows or flea markets. Winter is the time for the annual Lambertville Winter Festival with ice sculptures all over the place. Fun towns, for sure. Lots of things to do back when I still lived in Trenton. That was about six years ago and we haven't been to those towns in about four.

So, today, we're heading to New Hope - four of us - meeting up with friends of friends for brunch and shopping. People around NJ, PA, and NY (even down to DE) are calling it "No Hope" because once the straight yuppies take it back from the artsy and gay folk, there's no hope for the town. It'll get dirty and run-down again. Then, one day, in a generation or two, the gays will return to gentrify the town once again and make it "Sparkle, Neelie! Sparkle!"
wwcitizen: (Really Big Things)
Anyone else watching Bullrun on Speed?
wwcitizen: (Car in the Country)
Jumped my car today and it ran fine - for the time it was running. We made it up to Mahwah, NJ - about 20 miles from here and had lunch at a pretty decent diner. 45 minutes later when we came back out, the battery wouldn't start the car again. Thing is last year about 16 months ago, I got the battery replaced - new. I didn't drive it enough for the first two weeks or so to charge it up properly. It died, or just lost its desire for living continuously. Once in a while I would jump it, knowing full well that I wouldn't have the time or the gumption to invest in keeping the battery up to speed with the rest of the world.

Alas, the car's been parked and not driven now since last Thanksgiving. That's right - Nov. 23, 2007. It is now August 25, 2008. That's the better part of NINE (9) MONTHS! My ecological footprint for at least my car and its low gas emissions was substantially low. ([livejournal.com profile] hugthecub, that was for you!)

But, today, after having to jump the car a couple of times, and remembering the recall notifications on my car from VW's corporate HQ, I decided to take my baby to the dealer and get it looked at - if nothing else, get new brakes, change the oil, and update all the fluids. Meanwhile, they can also fill all the recalls (6 to be exact!!), and charge up my battery as well as replace the fuse for the radio (hopefully that's why it wasn't turning on...). Fun with my car! (I'm sitting here with my ears burning knowing full well that [livejournal.com profile] sparkygearhead will be shaking his head going, "That boy can't change the oil in his car??")

It was definitely exciting, though, to be driving again, but I like the freedom of public transportation. While we were in the throngs of hotties, cubs, and slick salesmen at the dealership, we picked up some new pamphlets and fliers on the new VWs. Their new concept car looks REALLY COOL! Plus, the other day in a parking lot, I stumbled upon a new VW EOS. Cool little convertible sports coupe - a different version / replacement for the Jetta perhaps (had two of those...)? Oh, and the new Tiguan - there's a future ZERO emissions future concept for the Tiguan!! I know that [livejournal.com profile] hugthecub will dig these... I PERSONALLY LOVE THEM ALL!

My battery

Aug. 6th, 2008 03:58 pm
wwcitizen: (Car in the Country)
It's wonderful being free for a little while. Jumped my car today (haven't driven my Passat since Thanksgiving - almost 9 months!!). The battery has been completely dead and was practically empty of water, too, which lessens the possibility of keeping a charge. I'm going to see how long this charge lasts - when it dies - even if I can't start the car - I'll know whether I need a new one or not. Hopefully I won't need a new one; this one I just got last year, but haven't fully charged it enough. I need to take it out tomorrow for a good drive to charge up the battery. I figure we could drive out to the Delaware Water Gap and go walking/hiking either tomorrow or Friday. We didn't get to Great Adventure on Monday cuz I slept too long, so we're hoping to do that tomorrow with Matt's sister and her kids. Should be fun.
wwcitizen: (Car in the Country)
I got the registration slip in the mail this week, which isn't up till the end of August. Interestingly enough, there's a "convenience charge" with the NJ Motor Vehicle Commission for us to stay away from the MVC or send them back their registration card with a check. If we either call the toll-free number or visit their services online, there is a "convenience charge" of $2. Granted, the $2 is no big deal, and it is certainly a convenience not to have to go to the NJ MVC after all (who has the time for those lines?).

For me it's a misplaced appropriation or incorrect naming of the charge. I mean, why should the convenience charge befall us who are making the job of the people at the NJ MVC facility easier? If everyone went online or called the number to renew rather than send in the checks or visit the facility for their registration, the NJ taxpayers would be paying for people to stand around. We would be paying for people to do nothing, meanwhile still paying the convenience charge. I thought that the NJ MVC might have been privatized, but their website is a ".gov" website. No one can have those addresses unless they are specifically government, right?

At the end of the registration process, they give you a survey to fill out on how you found the website to register your car. In the spot where you can provide more feedback, I wrote the following:

"I don't understand the "convenience charge". Though small, it's actually a service we are doing the MVC by not coming to a facility; therefore, anyone who visits a facility should be charged this fee, not those who are reducing the taxpayers' overhead for the facility. The charge should be called an "inconvenience charge" for any facility visitors rather than those who use the online and phone conveniences. Something to think about."


wwcitizen: (Default)
Stephen Lambeth

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