Saturday, May 30, 2009

Long Overdue Updates

A month and a half without an update.  Certainly not for a lack of things to write about.  

Curling season ended the first week of April, but over Memorial Day weekend, I went down to a summer bonspiel in Hollywood.  It was a nice way to spend the weekend, and my team managed to nearly win, only losing in the A finals for a 2nd place finish.  Not so bad!  But now I'm definitely done curling until the fall.  

Never-ending Car Challenges
This story could be a 5-page blog unto itself, but here it goes.  I loved my car, a 2001 Nissan Altima, built like a tank, over the past almost 7 years hadn't had a single breakdown, no major expenses other than routine maintenance, and most importantly it was reliable.  Until recently.  Back on Christmas Eve, driving home over the horrendously icy roads, my dashboard lights up like a Christmas tree (festive, right?).  I make it home without any trouble, still perplexed as to what the problem was, though by the indicators, it seemed to be something electrical.   Day after Christmas I decide to drive over to Schuck's to get a new battery, assuming that was the problem.  Just as I get a block from the store, one-by-one every electrical component in my car starts to shut down.  As I pull into the Schuck's parking lot, the car dies completely.  I replace the battery in the parking lot, and the car starts up again, but no difference in the dashboard lights.  The guy there brings out his tester and determines that my alternator is dead.  I had enough in juice in the new battery to get me over to the Nissan dealer, and I got the alternator replaced, and thought all was fine.  Then two days later, I'm at home and try to start my car, and the battery is dead.  I get it jumped and go back to the dealer that replaced my alternator, and they claim the problem was the battery (that I bought new at Schucks).  Instead of messing with it, I had them replace the battery and I would just take the defective battery back to Schuck's.  I tried that, and they hooked it onto their tester and said everything was fine.  Something didn't add up, the chain of logic wasn't there to me, but I went with it.  The car proceeded to work flawlessly.  

Fast forward to May.  First free weekend I'd had in months, I decide to get up and drive to Canada in search of some Olympics merchandise and just a nice drive.  Had a great time, start to head home, when I get stuck in stop-and-go traffic getting out of Vancouver.  After about 30 minutes of the traffic, my car starts acting strange.  Next thing I know, one-by-one every electrical component in my car shuts down.  (Sound familiar?)  Moments later, my car is stranded in the middle of a 4-lane street, in who-knows-where suburb of Vancouver in another country.  Resisting the urge to panic TOO much, I call AAA, which automatically gets routed to the CAA offices in Vancouver who take care of me just as if I were still in the States.  Just as I get on the phone with them, a tow truck pulls up behind me, just passing by.  The nice guy reaffirms the obvious that this isn't the best place to be stuck, and he drives onto a side street, unhooks the car he already had on his tow, and then comes back and tows me off to the side street, rehooks the other car and goes on his way.  At least now I'm not in the line of traffic anymore.  Of course, it's 5pm on a Saturday, and every shop in town is closed until Monday.  The best they can do is send out one of their CAA mechanics, who jumped the car and determined that the alternator was undercharging, but if I kept the revs up on the highway, I should make it home.  Lo and behold, that's exactly what I did.  The next week, I took the car back to the Nissan service folks, who proceeded to find ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WRONG WITH THE CAR.  

For the next 2 weeks, I don't know if it was just my own skiddishness worrying that my car was going to break down on me or what, but my car did not run happy.  I'd get stopped at a red light for more than a minute or two, and the engine would start to rev funny, or something else would make me think there was a problem.  I just didn't trust my car.  I was constantly feeling sick whenever I got into my car, no doubt having mild panic attacks worrying about whether it was going to break down in a horrible place again.  

I'd had enough.  I'd been considering getting a new car for a while for other reasons, but this was the last straw.  So that's what I ended up doing.  I bought American this time, and got a 2009 Dodge Journey with about 12,000 miles on it.  Never heard of it?  I hadn't either, but our used car guy who hasn't led me wrong before knew it was what I was looking for, and I think it is.  Though I have to admit, I miss my Altima, at least I trust my car again.  So it goes.  

I previously mentioned the new Jim Henson exhibition at EMP|SFM this summer.  Well, as it turned out, I obviously needed something more to add to my summer schedule, so I am now volunteering there once a week.  What they have set up is a puppet stage where people can use some of their specially-made Muppet-like puppets (in the style of famous rock musicians, of course) and try their hand at what it's like to be a Muppeteer.  The volunteers are staffing that area and basically having fun playing with puppets and helping other people doing so.  For the most part, I'll just be there on Wednesday evenings from 4-7pm.  The exhibit is pretty amazing, and well worth seeing!  

Well, I guess I'm caught up with the major stuff, time for more random blogs in the future. 

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