Cars

Friday, March 28, 2008

Jay: Dreams Are Weird

I haven’t seen my stepsister in years, yet she was in dreams two nights in a row.  Night before last, there was a mishmash of stuff that included one of my father’s houses, the dream version of it, which in the dream she’d ended up buying.  Last night’s dreams included a scene in which I was telling my stepsister about the dream I’d had the night before.  Very meta, self-referential, or whatever you want to call it.

The seemingly lengthy end part of the dreams last night involved being somewhere to the north, like NH, ME or VT - the highway I drove down was a generic stretch of what looks like northern New England highway that seems to recycle in dreams where it’s needed - and there being a giant snow storm.  I needed to get home, apparently for work, and was trying and trying to get through it, leaving when I shouldn’t have, getting in shoveling scenarios, trying to bash through a snowbank a few feet taller than the car, that sort of thing.  Eventually I gave up and stayed in a motel, though even that was a matter of getting a room, then continuing to try to flee.

In the motel, which seemed to double as one of those side of the highway tourist rest stops and the offices of some business (for that matter, in part it looked like a miniature section of some airport terminal, in rustic), there was the challenge of getting something to eat.  People were strangely open, but not open, at a lunch counter and small store.  I found my way into the dining area, where someone had just been served a sandwich, but most people were just hanging out, and was told they would be serving starting at a specific time.  An odd time, though I forget when.  It was at the motel where I ran into my stepsister, as I recall.

Fast forward and I am driving down the highway in the morning, bright, sunny, and not a speck of snow, immediately south of where I had stayed.  I was fuming at having had to spend the money and time to stay over.  I was also alone, but then I wasn’t, because Deb and a kid, presumably Sadie as a baby, were with me.  This would fit with the blizzard when we had to stay an extra night at the Park Plaza for Arisia, when Sadie was less than 4 months old.  On the way, we discussed the state of the credit cards, and which one I’d used for the stay, and how it sucked to have needed to do that because we so couldn’t afford the $40.

Next thing I know, pressed for time, I was driving straight to work with family in tow, which is odd in that we’d gotten almost home when I got onto the highway going north from here.  In reality, I’d have had to pass work on the way there, then changed my mind and not spent an extra 10 minutes dropping them home.  Then there was a bit of fuss about where Deb and the kid would hang out at the office, which was a cross between my former large client, a larger business, and the motel I’d stayed at in the dream.

That was about it.  I woke up, amused at the whole thing, and started coffee brewing.  I certainly hope we don’t get any snow, and that dreaming about my stepsister has no prescient bad significance.  However, this wasn’t like one of those “dreams that happen” dreams, or like when I flashed “this could be the last time I talk to her” out of the blue and sat to converse with my grandmother at length less than 36 hours before she died.

Being Friday and not having had it early enough to mail it, I have to make arrangements to drop money to the landlord.  We may look like we’re sitting around watching soaps and playing with the kids, but each week we have to come up with $250 or $300 toward rent to defer eviction proceedings.  The drop-ins by people who are bringing food donations and don’t care what the house looks like at any random time are welcome but are still disruptions.  Visits that are just visits on a couple hours notice tend to get “well, this is really a bad day” pretty uniformly.  Friday is especially bad with the actual rent delivery, but today I need to make a post office run - a small contribution to our finances a couple weeks hence because someone bought a book, I need to go to Wal-Mart and figure out how to stretch $30 beyond all recognition - including a couple bucks for yarn for a custom order to help our finances in a week or two, stop at my mother’s for a special crib mattress cover a cousin got us for Henry not to be allergic to the crib anymore (she’s allergic to everything herself, apparently), reply to the person who is offering temp work that’ll be great if the interview Monday doesn’t work out, figure out whether I need $8 or $16 for the train Monday and walking directions from South Station to my destination, help unbury and select clothes sealed in the leaky closet for the winter, continue my office organizing project, make banana bread, figure out what’s for supper and start it ahead of time if needed, and probably some things I’ve forgotten.  Like e-mailing someone who might want me to do a computer cleanup Sunday, or Monday evening, and might have others who could use that, if she’s recovered enough from surgery.  A few of those and it’s close to another rent week.

And I still haven’t worked on the giant “we’re back” fundraiser edition of Carnival of the Capitalists, but I should, because that could contribute to groceries or to the rent on the 11th.  Or gas for the truck, because even if you take six weeks to use a tank, eventually you need more.

And with that, off I go, because the day is getting no younger.


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Monday, March 24, 2008

Jay: Today

My grandmother would have been 97, had she not done the actuarially correct thing for social security and died just after turning 65, as so many once did when social security and 65 as a retirement age were conceived.  That used to be ancient.  Now it’s still relatively prime for many, who will increasingly go on to collect for 20, 30 years and beyond, expecting that not merely to be supplemental, but to be primary and in some kind of style.  Meanwhile, if you take the logic behind it to be the children supporting parents in retirement - since remember, what you pay in goes to support current retirees, not into a fund, not into an investment vehicle that garners market-based returns - then it all falls apart when you have retirees and their children both over retirement age, collecting from the grandchildren and great grandchildren of the original generation.  Historically, there will have been almost a century of fiscal pig-in-snake, with an explosion coming on the far end.  None of which means I don’t appreciate having my grandmother and parents around, but the whole thing is alarming on the larger scale.

I had a crazy dream in which Fred Thompson had died.  He had been dating some obscure cousin of ours, a fictitious person for the sake of the dream, and she was annoyed that being merely his girlfriend, she would get no inheritance.  Apparently, my grandmother had died as well, so the obscure cousin instead maneuvered to take control of my grandmother’s estate instead, trying to steal it out from under the proper heirs.  This created quite the sense of alarm.

Also in the same dream sequence I had returned to college for some classes.  The parts I recall are my worry that I wouldn’t be able to handle how different it was using computers for accounting classes, and riding a bicycle to get to school.  I was with a bunch of other students and a professor, all on bikes, riding down route 106 in an area of Halifax I can’t specify.  As we rode along, the professor or whoever it was lectured on political matters and sent away anyone who disagreed.  It was far worse than anything that was happening back when I was in college.

Anyway, I guess today I have to continue the close and office cleaning and organizing I started over the weekend, which will be useful in that it makes things more efficient.  It’s distracting to go and discover things I forgot existed, pausing to be excited or amused in the process.  That and all the time it takes to relocate or repack things.  The closet space was not being used efficiently.

The problem was it’s where toys go away on vacation, and the kids are hard to keep out of the office, even with the door closed.  It’s also where toys they haven’t been given yet live.  Thus there are a couple of magnetized doodle pads, a couple bottles of bubble stuff, three little cars, a couple packs of modeling clay, some crayons, and whatever else.

We were thinking of putting a bookcase in there, against the window.  Yes, there’s a window in the closet.  It’s smaller than a true walk-in, but large as closets go.  In fact, apart from the ceiling being stair-shaped in one of them, it’s about the dimensions of two closets in the cellar, where our bedrooms were in the house where I grew up.  One was under the stairs, along a hallway front to back, and the other was back to back with it, opening into what was originally the master bedroom.  In fact, as I recall, you could go through one closet and come out the other, hidden passage style, subject to the amount of stuff in the way.  Trouble is, the bookcase would eliminate, it appears, the large shelving unit.  But it would make way for hanging shelves and some other flexibility.

I also need to run to the store today.  I’d say I was trying to figure out how to make $5 buy peanut butter, bear jelly, yeast, sugar, apples, some veggies, a few pounds or so of meat of some kind, some baby food, and whatever else I’m forgetting, but we’re expecting my nephew to stop by and give me $20 for a spare power supply.  That puts it closer to reality.

I was probably going to say something else, but can’t remember, so off to the shower and on with the day…


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Sunday, March 23, 2008

Jay: Mmm… Candy

I’m having a tough to be motivated today, if you don’t count being motivated to eat the jelly beans that are supposed to be for the kids.

Still working on cleaning the office.  Need to start working on changing the chicken carcass into broth and meat and probably carrots and macaroni or something like that.  Maybe not soup so much as a mixed group of food cooked in broth and seasoned together.  If I do that for supper, then the small ham my mother brought us can be cooked another day.

I tried the salmon patties, which weren’t bad.  Sadie ate a couple pieces but probably lacked room with the peeps.  Valerie wasn’t interested, but ate two or three off my fork.  Apparently having been dipped in tarter sauce and served from my fork rendered them okay.  I don’t normally think of tarter sauce as a salmon thing, but it was good.  It would probably have been good on bread, and the texture was like eating a burger.

I had the craziest sequence of dreams last night.  In it, I kept seeing my brother driving, or parked and getting out of, our green van, which had one fender almost covered in duct tape.  The scenario was that he had persuaded us to give it up, then he had turned around and gotten it from the place we sent it to, fixed it up enough for it to be usable, and enjoyed the cheap transportation.  Not sure what exactly I was angsting about or projecting there, but it’s not something he’d have done.  I also kept not being able to catch and confront him about it, and wasn’t clear it was him at first sighting.

The car he urged me to get rid of was the Sentra, for years, reaching a crescendo around the time the ill-fated van came available.  Thus he can’t say he told us not to buy the van, but he’s didn’t tall us we should, either.  He gave a clear idea of the risk and condition and from there it was all my doing.  For some reason he thinks he has to make sure the world knows it’s not his fault I bought it.  However, the purchase, of that vehicle at that time, was a direct result of his harping on the Sentra.

But he had nothing to do with our deciding to get rid of the van.  Very strange.

It may have been inspired by the rumor that a relative is thinking about giving us a car that is about to be retired and replaced, as something we could muddle along with briefly and apparently carry everyone in.  Since it’s someone who has no special reason whatsoever to think of doing that, and an utter surprise, I was astonished.

Anyway, back to getting things done.


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Thursday, March 06, 2008

Jay: Just to be clear on the migration thing…

The discussion of moving is little more than fantasy at the moment and probably for a couple years anyway, notwithstanding that we’d have probably packed and moved this week had we been financially able.

To move in the near term would require winning the lottery, which I can’t afford to play because a dollar is a lot of money just now.

It might be possible relatively soon if I got the right offer of work that would cover the cost of such a move up front, or would allow for my getting there and getting crash space while supporting the cost of this place and accumulating enough to consummate the move.  Or something similar that would involve two locations.

Otherwise?  If I get enough work for long enough here, sure, but then if I have such work, there will be a disincentive to move and a pull toward staying.  It’d end up being a decision for a time when whatever I do next for primary income tied to this area came to a logical and natural conclusion.  But since people take jobs with big companies and keep them for thirty years, then retire wealthy, unless they are lazytard slackers who are disgraces to their families, even if nobody else has that fantasy job either, a bout of employment drawing to an end would never be an issue until it was time to decide between dueling retirement heavens in Florida and Arizona.

We’ll see, but if I get a great keeper job in Massachusetts, it may be worth the risk of having to fight with or move out of a local school system over the right to educate our kids properly, and worth having to avoid certain people other than through distance.

Time to make supper, I guess.

Update:

The main thing is it’s been a tipping point.  When I met Deb, I had the option of moving to California, or of both of us moving elsewhere, but I was tied to the business, and I still wanted to be near the family and didn’t have as much political reason to want to leave.  Frankly, I couldn’t picture leaving the state.  It felt scary and unsettling, close as I came to it once before.

Now it doesn’t.  It feels desirable and perhaps inevitable.  The buildup toward it started long ago, and it would have probably gotten there eventually.  It’s just sooner rather than later that the mental switch inside me flipped.


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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Jay: Flight Analysis

We have to regroup before we can go, but the feeling that we’re in danger combined with the increasing conviction that we’d be better off away from much of the family has led me to start analyzing more formally the relocation thing mentioned earlier.

One of the things that came up was “shall issue,” which led me to this entry of interest, mainly in that it includes this cool animated GIF.

Based on the most recent year displayed, Alaska and Vermont are the best states, the bulk are now acceptable, and the ones absolutely ruled out by that would be Illinois and Wisconsin.  That’s without reading or more formally looking up details.

We also figure about four hours drive time from here, or really from anyone with whom we’d prefer to maintain a friendly distance.  I should figure out what that rules out offhand, but pretty much anything in New England, if you count not wanting to shovel roofs.

Okay, Google Earth puts New York City just over four hours away.  Albany is about an hour closer.  Syracuse is over 5 and Ithaca (where I once had a remote office of sorts) is over 6.  Parts of New York, then, though upstate gets you into that shoveling the roof thing in some cases.  Then again, there are worse things.  I’ve thought for many years that Montana or Idaho might be nice.

Looks like we’ve ruled out seven states and parts of one, strictly speaking.  More, if we rule out “may issue” states.

Again, without knowing if the source is reputable or researching further, this page tells us the best states for homeschooling are Texas and Indiana, which I already knew, Alaska, Idaho, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey and Oklahoma.

The worst are supposed to be Massachusetts, Maine, Minnesota, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia.  Basically if you have to ask permission to educate your kids, which is the way it works here, even though lots of people do it and there doesn’t seem to be a big deal - but that depends on school district, then it’s not acceptable.

So wow, I could start a map based on all that.  Finer points, sure, but it’d get the ball rolling.

I did a map then thought to look for tax comparisons, which for the moment are coming from the 2007 listing here.  I messed up by starting with state burden and then switching to overall burden.  The distinctions can be small enough that this is less important than some things.

So here’s the map so far.  Brown states are ruled out.  Green states score best.  I’d tend to rule out Alaska, much as I’d love to visit.  Purple states were good for homeschooling and shall issue, but without the added benefit of being in the lowest of the low tax states (well, the lowest 20).  Conversely, blue ones came up good for taxes but didn’t fall on the best or worst home schooling lists.  The mustard yellow states were in the worst 20 for tax burden, but otherwise didn’t register one way or another.  White/blank didn’t have anything to flag.  Either of those might be acceptable if looked at more closely, with the green, purple and blue shaded states presumably falling in that order of preference based on what I know so far.  This is pretty minimal research, for which I so don’t have time, but it was cathartic or something.  Like a goal setting thing.  By the time moving would be possible, we’d be past the current danger, but other factors won’t have changed.  I’m to the point where instead of it seeming weird to move out of the state, it seems right and inevitable.  Which could change if I get an amazing job here, but hey, worth a look.

Looking at all this, refined from the original post, any thoughts?

Oh, almost forgot the map!  Here it is (click for larger, as usual):



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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Jay: Rest In Peace

This morning a guy came from, as it turned out, Hank Zion’s to get the dead van after being the best offer from my Craigslist post.  Good riddance, yet I am also sad, because had I been able to spring as little as $200-odd shortly after it died, it would probably have been fine for an extended time.  We had finally gotten down to the root of what ailed it.  Which I still think shouldn’t have been so mysterious, since in retrospect I Googled the symptoms and the answer to what ailed it floated pretty unambiguously to the top.  Someone who knew cars ought have been able to say “hey, back pressure into the coolant, so it acts like a radiator problem but doesn’t overheat” and insist we do head gaskets.  For that matter, the guy who sold it, a mechanic of sorts, had apparently used radiator sealant to mask the problem long enough to sell it, even as he was being mostly honest about its condition.

And for the record, my brother did not overtly and firmly advise us to buy it.  He’s all hysterical and revisionist, making sure all and sundry know that he told us in no uncertain terms not to buy it so dammit not his fault.  He gave us an honest, skeptical assessment of the risk we’d be taking.  However, he has spent the last several year drumming on me about owning the Sentra, and how it was going to fall apart on me, and I needed to replace it Right Now, with the crescendo reached right when the van came available.  He wasn’t entirely wrong, and we needed something bigger, but if he hadn’t scared the crap out of me about the Sentra at that point, I would probably have waited, and probably gotten a few relatively inexpensive additional months out of it.  We didn’t need a van until August, and obviously we can manage without something that size.  We’d just have managed better with two vehicles that could hold 6 people combined than with one that holds 2.

But I digress.

The van was, when it ran, a solid, comfortable ride.  If only the motor…

The guy picking up the van asked about the Sentra.  That led to my scrambling to empty it, after having put some of the van contents into it.  I got what I expected for it, but without having to make any further calls or arrangements.  In the course of taking part of it into the cellar and talking to the downstairs neighbor, I discovered the guy on the 3rd floor has an IP camera monitoring part of the cellar.  Cute.  That fits with his suddenly starting to lock the deadbolt on the back door.  That’s fine if you have a key.  I suspect it may be a case of his having a “friend” who can’t be trusted, or that sort of thing.

It was good the way it happened, because it was like yanking a tooth suddenly.  After it was empty and hooked to the back of the ramp truck, I ran upstairs to get the title and grabbed the camera.  When I got back down and started to take a picture, I remarked it might seem odd.  He said not at all, which sparked a conversation about beloved cars.  Some people cry when he takes them away, which he said just as I was trying not to.

It was parked for some overly long stretches, worst thing I ever did to it, but it’s awfully close to 12 years to the day since I bought the Sentra.  In that time, over 100,000 miles, I spent slightly more on repairs that I spent on the van in the course of maybe 7 months, less than 4000 miles.  It spoiled me - that’s how I came to expect cars to be, maintenance-wise.  Especially since the car before it, an Escort, had been decent as well.  That one worked great until it experienced total meltdown, and even then the guy I gave it to was able to drive it away.  His had a good motor but had been slammed in back by a drunk.  Mine had a good body.

It’s the end of an era.  It’s also kind of a slate cleaning.  We don’t have the dead cars staring us down in the driveway, needing to be dealt with.  Things that should have long since moved into the apartment or cellar are in.  It’s akin to my doing the partnership taxes for the last time this weekend, though that’s not done until I actually file them, and I’ll still be storing all that stuff for years because, well, someone has to and I paid me for the privilege.

Anyway, it made for an interesting morning, made all the earlier by my waking up at 5:30 when Valerie got in bed with us, and never going back to sleep.  I still need to put some stuff away in the aftermath.

Shoot!  I should have asked if they wanted the tires I have in the back of the truck.  At one point someone mysteriously swapped a wheel on the truck for one with an excellent snow tire that made it all mismatched.  I got two good used tires from my father, had those mounted, and was left with a still good original tire and the good snow tire.  Apparently the not inconsiderable cost of swapping the tires didn’t include disposal, or they assumed I’d want them, given their good condition (reasonable and safe assumption).  The salvage people could probably sell them to a happy customer.  Oh well.  There’s a spot in the yard where they can go if they get in the way in the truck bed.

So… bye 1994 Plymouth Voyager.  Good riddance, and couldn’t you have died gracefully without first costing a significant fraction of the year’s income?  I can’t imagine I’ll ever buy another Chrysler van.

Bye faithful 1988 Nissan Sentra.  You were the Best Car Ever.


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Monday, February 25, 2008

Jay: Special Day

This is a very special day in other ways, especially given the traditional significance ascribed to each five year increment, but it’s the first day of one of the longest birthday-free stretches of the year, six days, until a couple days ago, 7 days.  I’d forgotten the other thing until I looked at the calendar to confirm the birthday drought.  One of us will probably post about it later.

Tax-related stuff proceeds apace.  That needs to be done today, even though I am sending the results to the former partners in PDF form so not depending on something mailed today getting there tomorrow.  I also need to work on my own pretty promptly afterward.

Sounds like the ad people we’re waiting on may pay us today.  Apparently they were affected by snow.

I’ll be getting back to people who made offers for the van today, starting with the larger offer, then working temporally through the ones that were identically smaller if that doesn’t fly.  That’ll invoke urgency about clearing it out the rest of the way.

I need to reply to a family member about promoting the site of a brick and mortar (almost literally) business online.

There’s stuff related to job hunting, prospective jobs, the business, and the always present need to clean and organize and file and so forth.

There’s Carnival of the Capitalists for the week.  Not to mention I’ve been wanting to post some content over there.  Other stuff comes before it, even if it’s delayed until Wednesday, and I can work on it late at night if needed.

It’ll be a busy day.  And the kids are all bursting into tears if you so much as think something negative in their general vicinity, which always helps.  Or ask them to answer a demanding question like “is that Valerie’s cup?”


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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Jay: Exciting Day

Today I need to download and print tax forms, plug in and double-check numbers, scan and copy and such when done, and in the midst of this take Valerie over to my grandmother’s for dinner and cake and guilt.  Meanwhile, Sadie has gotten Deb’s cold she got from my brother’s airport germs.  She seems downright unpathetic at the moment, painting at my other computer, right behind me.  Tylenol must be helping, and I think I managed to teach her how to blow her nose.  It’s a surprisingly difficult thing for the extremely young to grasp, somehow.

I was awake most of the way to 3:00, so up at 8:30 and awake before that when Sadie crawled in was on the early side.  Valerie is still asleep, as far as I know.

Between tax stuff, emptying and selling the van, billing for web work, other business and job seeking related stuff, and the day to day, it’s going to be a busy next few days.  Thus it has to be purely my imagination that I feel the aforementioned cold coming on…


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Saturday, February 23, 2008

Jay: It’s that Time

Besides taking Valerie to see my mother and grandmother at some point, I will be focused mainly on tax stuff for the weekend.  Have an invoice to do, too, which is no big deal apart from being the point at which I have to create said invoice’s format, even if I don’t use a tool more sophisticated than Word.

Not much else to say today, offhand.

It’s rather cool that Gmail spam filtered the scam-sounding e-mail responses to my Craigslist van for sale post.  I saw all that in the spam folder and thought I might have missed a better offer, but no.

Yeah, that’s about it.  Probably something I meant to post but am forgetting.  Heck, I don’t think I posted American Idol reaction.  Maybe at some point before Tuesday…


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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Jay: Cost per Mile: 83 Cents

That is about what it cost to buy and repair the van.  Add the insurance and such, and you’re up over a dollar.  We drove it a grand total of 3845 miles.  All assuming we get zero for it, and in fact we would presumably get $200 just for scrap.

And I am pleased to have the blog record of work done, to help me pitch it on Craigslist.


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Monday, February 18, 2008

Jay: Obligatory Post for the Day

Seems weird to get this far into the day with nothing here.

I did one of my reposts, this from April 2004, over at Bizosphere: Introversion As Business Challenge.

That follows the previous reposts Partners, Friends, And Uncommon Goals and Business Lessons From Gilmore Girls.  I’m also thinking about finding and reposting my drumbeat of posts over the years about the housing bubble.

I should post some kid pictures.  even without some of the exceptional ones I know haven’t come off the camera yet, there are plenty.  Then again, I think we’re obligated by Parenting Law to give Henry the full third child treatment, so he’s lucky to be in any pictures, let alone have them shown off to the world.

Okay, back to work.  I think we have this weeks imperatives and well into next week’s covered without selling the dead cars yet, but I should post those.

Also need to start supper.  Well, should have a couple hours ago, come to think of it, as I was thinking crockpot, but 3 hours is not enough for that.  Hmmm.  Perhaps instead of beef we’ll have chicken brocolli alfredo.  Main thing is not to run the oven, as it’s hot and steamy from being 60 degrees out.

I need to work on CotC, beyond merely having screened the entries.  I need to continue Val’s story, though at least that’s percolating in the back of my mind.  I need to start on the tax stuff.  I need to work on the resume variants I have in mind.  Being underemployed is no barrier to being thoroughly occupied.

Looks like my brother will be staying with us Wednesday night after he flies in from Ohio and drives down from New Hampshire.  That’s always cool.  He makes it tempting to move to Ohio, or nearby in Kentucky or Indiana.

Okay, back to whatever…


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Sunday, February 17, 2008

Jay: Nobody Born Today

Okay, so nobody in my birthday calendar.  Sheesh.

I had a strange dream, from which I woke I thought for the day, only to be so cold I bundled up and fell back to sleep for almost 3 more hours.

My car had work done at what looked like a tiny garage at the intersection of 123, 106 and Bay Road in Easton (AKA Easton Five Corners).  At the same time, it also reminded me of the much larger Bob’s Garage, now Davis Automotive, in Halifax.  During the two interludes between his body shop burning down and being rebuilt, my father conducted business out of three bays worth of that building.

The car in question either was my Sentra, or resembled it.  My father delivered me there to pick it up, driving a maroon boat of a car, something like an older Cadillac or Oldsmobile.  If he’s ever driven something like it, it’s been decades.  He then pulled around the back, in my peripheral awareness.

I was expecting the work to have cost $200, and had $300 on me, though really I couldn’t afford to pay out that much.  Funny, $300 is what’s needed toward rent Friday, and $200 is what’s most readily available toward it, though really it’s another $50 that needs to come from somewhere else, and there’s another $225 needed to keep utilities on another month.  Anyway, I was anxious about the cost, but sure I had it covered at its worst.

The more recent garage guys we’ve dealt with in the past several years have been skinny and Lebanese or Italian.  Instead, this was my childhood image of the hefty, if not downright fat, localized American of diluted European descent.  Kind of like the late Bob of Bob’s Garage, who dropped dead around my age, or the owner of Anderson’s junkyard, where they were shocked by Bob’s death when I happened to go there shortly after.  Bob Castle was a good friend of my father’s, and I went to school with his daughters.

So the guy doesn’t have it all written up yet (which I have come to expect of garage owners), but it was $300 not counting the extra part he’d not tallied yet, and you know, that lever work can be tough.  That gave me a mental image of them playing with something resembled the emergency break lever, and my thinking it was nuts for that to have cost much.

Since I wouldn’t have the money, I scrambled to make sure my father didn’t leave without taking me.  I ran off yelling “Dad, Dad!  Don’t leave yet!.” There was his car, parked in the deceptively large expanse behind the building, so I looked inside.  There he was, helping to push a car up onto a ramp with about four other guys.

Some women were trying to push a VW bug into place on a much more rickety contraption, and as I watched the car slipped and the tip of the rear hit the floor at a sharp angle, denting it.  I stepped in to help.  That took them from not enough to too much strength, and my pushing too hard made the car go too far forward on its rickety perch, collapsing to the ground and knocking the supports over.

In the face of angry glares and grumbles, I declared I would not touch it again, turned and walked out the door, remarking that I’d never been so embarrassed, and hoping my father was done hanging out and would follow quickly.  It was of interest for me to note that I was wearing my giant winter overcoat, at least at that point, even though it didn’t seem to be winter.

That’s where I woke up, quite disturbed and thinking it was late enough, a bit after 6:00.

That part of the dream tied in with a longer sequence about going to a giant family house up north, which looked more like the von Trapp lodge in Stowe than anything we’d own, and being at another house, where my stepsister was using a rather odd kitchen.

Much as I’d love to continue cleaning, today needs to be back to trying to rustle up money.

I can always break from that to work on the story I’m trying to write for Valerie for her birthday, applying differently than I’d pictured originally a concept I thought of a couple years ago.  She’s particularly book obsessed currently.

This should be an interesting week.  Henry turns 6 months on the 20th.  My brother arrives in the area that evening for the winter see-his-kids allowance.  On the 21st Valerie turns 2.  We have a cake mix and such that didn’t get used previously, and a few small presents we’ve accumulated.  The birthday is going to mean our presence will be expected at my grandmother’s house Sunday, which is a challenge and, though I feel bad given how much she adores the kids and Henry especially, an annoyance.  My brother presumably returns his kids to captivity Sunday, as he leaves for home first thing the 25th.  Which could mean that the entire crowd will be expected at my grandmother’s Sunday, or a different day.  And it means we’ll see him this week, probably at least once with the kids and without the kids.  That’s always fun.  In the meantime, I need to work on the taxes.  Not merely because the former partner demands his K-1 before the 27th, but because I am completely unclear what to tell the Mayberry Gas & Electric people on their “please don’t cancel us yet” form, where the income is moot because the baby is under a year old.  So I have a week to tell them that, or to tell them I still don’t know.

This morning I woke to a flood of automatic replies and bounces to spams spoofed with random addresses @elhide.com.  No wonder I had set the domain to bounce anything at an unused address, before I got worried and wanted to make sure anything that got through, I would get.

What’s worse is the stuff is going through a Gmail account, then forwarding, so most of the crap is actually getting spam filtered before it gets to me.

On that note, I’m back to cleaning that up and moving on with the day.  I still need to list the van for sale, and review some correspondence about ad sales.  I’ve been percolating how to extrapolate from the concise (someone called it an executive summary), comprehensive resume to special purpose ones, and can probably wrap my mind around that any time.

Off we go…

Ooh, I just realized I also need to figure out food for today.  There are two roasts and a good-sized steak in the freezer, so most likely we’re talking chili, a stew sans potato, or beef and gravy.  Or chicken.  There’s always chicken.  We’re out of hamburger, sadly.  I should have bought more at Market Basket.  I experimented with chicken in red sauce with pasta, but the standard is burger.  Anyway…

Update:
How could I forget!  I also have to take care of Carnival of the Capitalists.  Between this afternoon and sometime Tuesday, and then next week if nobody volunteers.


02:37 PM | BusinessCarsFood & CookingJob HuntingKidsTotally Random • (0) CommentsPermalink

Friday, February 15, 2008

Jay: The Van and Cellar

I mentioned the van in my Sentra post.  We’re putting that up for sale in hopes of getting $500 for it, never having to deal with it again ourselves, and starting over with something better when we’re adequately past the part about not getting evicted or losing the utilities.  Eating, too.  Book value less work needed says it ought to be worth at least that, though I fear we’ll end up with less, for scrap.

It has 176,358 miles on it, but it originated in Florida and has a great body.  It’s had a radiator, a transmission, hoses and such, and front end work - CV joints or whatever it was that we knew it would need after a while when we bought it.  I’m thinking it might have had brakes, too, but I may be transposing from the truck and the Sentra, which both had them fairly recently.

As of right now, it doesn’t start, which is probably in part battery weakness after sitting, and the rest because, yay, it needs head gaskets.  It had enough trouble starting when it was parked.

We’ve been using it for storage, and that’s what’ll be interesting about getting rid of the two vehicles.  The apartment is bursting.  We already have the front landing in heavy use.  The cars hold the strollers, the car seats, some tools and odds and ends.  When I stuffed the storage unit full, I grabbed the yard tools like shovels and found a spot in the cellar for a trash barrel with them standing in it.  Even after they’d cleaned some of it out, the downstairs neighbors had the cellar pretty full of stuff.  The third floor has a discrete area to store things near their washer and dryer.  We don’t.

To empty the cars, I need space down there.  I had a second trash barrel in the van, and a bin in the Sentra, which ought to hold any smaller stuff, and then we either have to put the big stroller down there, or it has to come up here, which is unimaginable.

So.  First I find that the outside door to the cellar is now deadbolted.  Nobody let us in on this or gave us a key, but it can be opened from the inside, which at least means it’s only inconvenient.

Then I find that the third floor has split the space down there at least evenly with the first floor, leaving, wait for it, no space.  Third floor has a motorcycle down there, and has access to a workbench clear and is using it.  A workbench?  Who knew!

I stuck the second barrel in front of a kiddie basketball hoop I have never seen anyone pull out and use.  Not sure where the rest will go.  I only put the jack stands in the barrel so far, and it’ll hold a lot of stuff.  Well, or it’ll hold the spare vacuum cleaner from the office and a little stuff.  That may be able to go beside out washer or something.

I’m kind of amused that I didn’t want to rock the boat about the fist floor using 95% of the cellar, but seeing we might need it, the first floor had started cleaning out the cellar the summer after we moved in, then when the new third floor arrived, they pushed along the process and took over that space.

Oh well.  Coffee time.


01:09 PM | CarsMoneyTotally Random • (0) CommentsPermalink

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Jay: Poor Sentra

I finally got around to firing up the Sentra, which had a low battery when I tried recently, after several months.  Just needed to get around to jumping it.

It. Still. Runs.

It. Starts. Right. Up.

Sounded a bit rough, but nothing running a while and having some fresh gas and oil wouldn’t fix.  It had, after all, been running more smoothly than either of the other vehicles.  (And that’s when the van still ran, and reasonably well.)

Trouble is, it’s been sitting.  It’s rotted that much more.  The brake fluid is gone and the brakes are completely unresponsive, and I would bet it’s on account of a line having rotted through.  Which means I couldn’t have used it as a fallback vehicle starting sometime in the past several months, without having that fixed or being a tad dangerous.

I even drove it a few feet forward and a few feet back, moving it slightly back from where it had been, for whatever it’s worth to spare the tires at this point.  It wasn’t enthusiastic about budging, as you’d expect, but it went.  If it had brakes, it could probably drive to its final destination.

And that’s what’s so cool about the car.

It has 157,961 miles on it.  I bought it in early 1996 with 51,400 miles, for $2000, and a couple years back I estimated that it had cost me about $50 a month average to keep it going.  The worst thing I ever did to it was to let it sit when I got the first van, a $2500 mistake.  The other worst thing may have been to let it site after being replaced by the $550 van that was almost as costly a mistake as the first van, only more so because I didn’t get much use out of the second one.  Then again, if I could afford to fix it and keep it on the road (you know it’s bad when you’re excited that you’ll get as much as $80 refunded on the insurance after you turn in the plates), the second van would be more valuable to keep.  The first one was never as solid, for lack of a better word.

The Sentra, well, we practically worship that car.  If there was any way we could have used it to bring home Henry, as it brought home Sadie and Valerie, we would have.  I sorely regret having listened to my brother’s drumbeat of dismay about the Sentra.  He’s funny.  The van having been a disaster, he can’t repeat enough that he told us not to buy it (not strictly true), and he’s right in that he didn’t strongly advise us to buy it.  However, he couldn’t wait for us to ditch the Sentra, and had us convinced we Must Switch ASAP in a more general sense.  I should have tried to get a sticker, and if it failed on account of floorboards, gotten them patched.  We wouldn’t have been able to take five of us places in it, but it would have given us longer before it failed for good.

If I had money, I’d keep it and have it restored, just because.

Obviously, not gonna happen.  In fact, it’s going to either a good home (preferably) if someone will give me $100 for it and take the risk of patching it and tolerating the accumulated foibles for a few more miles, or it’s going to car heaven, which probably means a similar amount.  After my look at it, the latter seems more likely.  Very sad.


10:09 PM | CarsMoney • (0) CommentsPermalink

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Jay: No Live Birthdays

I do have one in my calendar for “Ethel Irving (Corcoran) (Brown)” for the year 1910, with the notation “great aunt.” All my grandfather’s siblings are dead as of the past year or two, which would mean her too.

I had a weird overnight.  I fell asleep in the kid’s room, getting them settled, woke up after most of a normal night of sleep, wide awake, but trying to reflux more than just acid needing the bathroom.  I sat up for quite a while, corresponding and doing stuff in LinkedIn and making sure the host login worked at Bizosphere and checking/cleaning out Gmail accounts.  Eventually I decided to go back to sleeping where I was, rather than disturb anyone, but that didn’t work.  More time at the desk, another bathroom run, and finally I felt like I hadn’t slept in days.  Sacked out in the office and before I knew it it was 10:22.

I suspect the fake peanut butter spread.  Either that or I picked something up by leaving the house.  I picked up a computer from an attorney at the old client, and dropped off baby clothes for charity to another.  Had almost no contact with anyone, it was so streamlined.  Stopped at the post office (well, a different post office, as I had already stopped in Middleboro to mail packages) and then saved several dollars by going to Market Basket, which in this scenario was only a couple miles extra driving.  Apparently $2.99 is their regular price for milk, which is a buck per gallon saved right there.

Anyway, I have a computer sitting here to diagnose and either fix or retrieve files from.  Some of that is going to mean firing it up on the kitchen table and just letting it run while waiting for it to do what it reportedly does.

This is a clear day, until late, when all heck breaks loose, and not as frigid, so it’s a good day for cleaning stuff out of the cars to prepare them for sale.  Part of that will involve trying to claim a couple square feet of space in the cellar to put a trash barrel with some tools and such in it.

Guess those are the main things.  Besides anything that’s been pending on these lists or the slightly longer mental list that feels so ethereal.


04:07 PM | BirthdaysBusinessCarsFood & CookingGeekeryJob HuntingMoney • (0) CommentsPermalink
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