Sometimes if I leave work early I run into Joe on the train ride home.  He and I both take the quiet ride car and I pulled out my laptop and he pulled out his Kindle.  I texted him “what are you reading” and replied by holding his hands up to his mouth and miming that he was eating, followed by tucking his arms like he had wings and flapping them while cawing.  He was reading George RR Martin’s “A Feast for Crows”.  I replied with another text consisting of “last time you and I talked you were reading” where I then mimed thunder and the sound of katanas striking each other with accompanying hand motions.  “A Storm Of Swords”.

The next book in the series is “A Dance with Dragons”, not sure how I’d do that while sitting.

Battery Terminal Cleaning – The terminals on my car battery were the rainbow of verdigris and aerugo that comes from copper compounds oxidizing into at least three different states and while beautiful, probably didn’t help the functioning of my car.  I removed the terminals, scrubbed away the corrosion and found that there wasn’t enough terminal left to actually connect to the battery post.  Hazaa.  So I borrowed my dad’s car to get new terminals and go to Michael’s.

Candy Melts – Candy melts are bits of chocolate one melts down to use as coatings for fruits, confections, and other things that should be covered in chocolate.  They’re largely vegetable oil which was maybe passed over by a cocoa bean and the industry seems to be dominated by the lone firm of Wilton’s much like Arm & Hammer is the world’s only producer of baking soda.  Michael’s had candy melt but only in pastel colors.  Assuming color in candy melts are subtractive, I reasoned that adding together pastel green with pastel blue, with pastel red would make a very non-pastel black, I purchased these in equal parts.  Later, I found out they did make black, or eventually did, I lost track of my double boiler and the pot seized leaving me with a darkened cocoa brick.  I opted to just use morsels on the next batch of truffles to coat and avoided the color conundrum.

Frames – Michael’s once stocked SSFs “simple shitty frames” but seems to no longer.  I had a coupon for 50% off all frames in a purchase and simply wanted a piece of acrylic with black plastic around it.  I buy frames to protect and highlight the photo, not subdue it.  All that Michael’s had were terribly garish “FAMILY” and “LOVE” frames that were either almost Baroque in ornamentation or in odd (to me) dimensions.  I did find what I’d call “frames” but these went by the name of “acrylic photo display boxes” which, of course, was not included in my “frames” coupon.  I guess I go back to buying out Joanne’s Fabric’s stock next time they have a sale.

A day of failures, but a productive day in that I got them all out of the way before lunch.

Wanda, my 2006 Toyota Matrix, was in need of some cosmetic attention so today I set out to wash, vacuum, and Armor-all her for the first time in, if not her life, at least a pretty long stretch.  As I set to cleaning, the flavor text of “Tromp the Domains” came to mind:

  • White stain on door (May 2010) – When driving from Austin, TX to Tucson, AZ I tried to save time by brushing my teeth while driving.  Too late did I learn that the viscosity of toothpaste spittle prevented me from reasonably spitting it out my window while driving and much dribbled down my door.  The residue didn’t come off with normal wiping but Armor-All took care of it.
  • Green splotch under paint on bumper guard (Sept 2010) – I drove through what may have been a cloud of locusts going through Kansas.  The front of my car looked washed in green hamster blood, but some had gotten under the paint and was only visible once the paint came off.
  • Pine needles in hatchback recess (Nov 2010) – The Everglades had their beauty which I paid for with blood, almost literally, as I think the slash pine needles in the seal of my rear door came from me trying to escape bugs after taking pictures.  I had parked under a copse of slash pines and didn’t bother to brush the branches away before closing the door.

Were I industrious, I could probably trace where the salt crust on the inside of my wheel well came from.

Jiffy Lube Attendant: For a high performance, high mileage vehicle like yours, we recommend 10w30 high mileage blend to keep your car running great.
Me: Ma’am, please look at the front of my car. *pause*  What you see is the piebald front of a salvage recovery 2006 Toyota Matrix.  It may be 9 horsepower and the rear passenger side floods when I turn on the air conditioner.  If you can tell me my glorified station wagon is “high performance” with a straight face, I will buy your fancy oil package.
Jiffy Lube Attendant: Ok, sir, I have you down for our standard oil change, it should be done in about 15 minutes.

My current work project has required some long days as each sample can take unattended hours to test.  I came in at around 4 AM, did a sample, setup up a new one, and drove to Best Buy to have my car stereo repaired.  The person who took my keys looked more likely to jack car stereos than repair them but there appeared to be cameras about I needed to admire his consistency when asking me questions:

Agent: What’s the problem with the radio?
Me: A few things, for one it’s fugly.  Also, the iPod connector doesn’t seem to work.
Agent: What is?
Me: The install, I really suck at this.
Agent: You did this yourself?
Me: Yea, any professional should have probably just slit their wrists if that were the quality of their install.
Agent: What do you mean?
Me: Well, there were wires, of various colors that had words written on them like “To Brake Cable” and “To Battery” and not seeing directions on what to do with them, I bunched them up and rammed them behind the head unit.
Agent: Ok.  Let me look.
*Minutes later*
Agent: Sir, this make a while.

I promptly fell asleep in the waiting room and at some point I recall waking to a kid saying “he sounds like daddy”.

Agent: Sir, I believe I updated your install.  Here the video display now works when parked.  You can adjust the date, and the battery display info is now also available.
Me: What about the iPod connector?
Agent: I’m not sure, just in case I wrapped it with electrical tape.
Me: Is there a shock hazard or something?
Agent: No, the grey plastic looks ugly.

Thank you, tattoo, nose-ring, and beard-having scruffy Geek Squad Man, you’ve made Wanda sound grand.


Bob Tait agreed to let me borrow his 1999 Chevy conversion van for a weekend trip to Cincinnati with 27 friends (only 7 of us were in the car) so I took to cleaning out Wanda the Wonderbrick, my 2006 Toyota Matrix, to make it presentable for him.  I washed the windows, vacuumed the interior and wiped down the dash and then brought it to JiffyLube to do get an oil change.  I sat there, reading Wired, when the service attendant came over to me saying the servicing was done, ending with “as a return customer, we’ve vacuumed your vehicle interior and washed the windows.  Thank you for choosing JiffyLube.”

At least I can claim the wiped down dashboard was all me.

I purchased new windshield wipers blades today and, having previously never replaced them, I gave in white man doubt and let the store clerk do the switch.  In the mean time, I filled out the “if I crash my car, I won’t blame it on you” paperwork and there was a checkbox about being added to their store mailing list.  I heard that some clerks ignore this box and enter you regardless so I took a more active stance in fighting spam.

I need to work on my printing as it looks like  I wrote “no, please don’t sprm me”.

My car needed to be inspected for September but due to travel and computer issues only today did I get around to bringing it in for service.  The shop I used is our standard backup for when my family needs something done quickly and cheaply but without total confidence in the quality of the work.  The shop owner worked a lot with my brother but had poor vision so we had a bit of an exchange when I arrived.

Him: *stares at me*
Me: Hello?
Him: Hm.. You must be Terry.
Me: How did you know.
Him: Your father said you or Ryan would be over with a car but I knew it wasn’t him.
Me: Why is that?
Him: Well, you dress differently, wear sunglasses, sound different, drive a Matrix, walk differently, and have a different haircut.  But in general, I just got a feeling it wasn’t him.
Me: *jokingly* That’s it?
Him: Mostly it was just a feeling.  I get those sometimes and I’ve learned to listen to them.

I wonder what intuitive discoveries brought by his array of diagnostic tools will come to him during my inspection.

My car has a computer error and by some miracle of registration it’s under warranty and comes with a courtesy rental that would be awesome to have for my drive to Texas.  I drove to the dealership, dropped off my car, confirmed the rental was covered, and was brought to Enterprise to get a rental.

Attendant: What states will you be driving through?
Me: Ok.  Pa, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland *pause*
Attendant: Ok, PA, NJ, DE, and
Me: I’m not done.  Ohio, Illinois, maybe Michigan, Indiana, Oklahoma, Texas, I may do a jump into Iowa.
Attendant: Coverage stops at the Mississippi.  The other option is to take the 200 mile per day coverage option.  It’s $0.20 after that.
Me: Hm… That’d come out to $400 unless you have a hybrid.
Attendant: We don’t.  Let me do a call to the service manager *calls* I have a customer who’s going to be going over the Mississippi and I wanted to know if you’d cover *pause* no, ok.

My choices were to take my car with a faulty computer on a 3400 mile trip, get a rental and hope it takes 3 weeks to repair my computer to cover the mileage, or come up with something else.  Wanda and I were off to Texas.

[Editor’s Note] Normally, I don’t add parenthetical notes for something that made something funny in retrospect but when I came back to drop off my car for service, I was informed that a Prius was returned about 15 minutes after I left.

I hit a diminutive pre-dead deer the other day while driving.  I thought it was a lot smaller or my car was a lot higher (apparently I nearly bottom out over speed bumps) and I ravaged the corpse fiercely.  My car began making rather loud (Harley with a glasspack loud) so I swapped it out with another car at home.

I got a call from my dad:

Dad: Did you hit a deer?
Me: Yeah, how did you know?
Dad: Two things: the size of the dent, as well as the deer fur, deer blood, deer guts and what I think was a deer tooth lodged in your undercarriage.