A car for the mature driver
The ugly little Tercel finally gave up the ghost. It had a loud noise from the engine that lots of oil didn't fix, so I nursed it to our mechanic for his two second diagnosis. It was a rod about to go through the block, or hood, or somewhere it wasn't supposed to go.
I started hunting on cars.com, autotrader and craigslist. It's darn hard to find a reliable car for $2000. Sunday Mrs. Ha and I went around, said no to a riced up Integra and Civic, and no to a Volvo 850 with 213k miles on it.
Monday my dad and I went out, trying harder to buy a cheap reliable car and get it on the road.
We ended up at four big car lots, who had a total of five cars just above our price range of $5000 (Nissan Sentra, Monte Carlo SS, 2 Cobalts and a Mitsubishi Galant), none of which were fulfilling our need of basic, reliable transportation for a family of four.
Counting Sunday, I went to seven tiny lots and a private owner, and had choices on the seventh, two Camry's, a Civic and a Mazda Tribute. It was a tiny used car lot way south of the city, almost in the next county. The 98 Camry with 120k miles was right in the price range at $4000, it's very bland though, four doors, grey interior, champagne exterior, a few dings and scratches but very little rust. Mrs. Ha likes it too, it's an automatic.
I like it, it's comfortable, but it's not the tiny stick shift urban warrior I'm used to. This will be the first time (save for rare times when I was borrowing a car) that my daily driver is an automatic. A bigger car, with heat and AC, and an automatic, I feel middle aged, nearly old. I better start working on my midlife crisis vehicle, once it gets a little warmer.
I had expected to pick it up the next day, but the dealer was able to get it ready for us Monday afternoon, so more driving.
We may just end up parking these in the driveway, and the first one out takes whatever is closest to the street, so I'll be alternating the Windstar and the Camry.
When I dropped off the Tercel for our mechanic to scarp, he said there's a shortage of good used cars, apparently if it has less than 100,000 miles, they get auctioned off to African buyers, there's a big market there and I'm not aware of any African carmakers.
I'm hoping we're good for another 2-3 years, though the minivan has lots of rust. Next steps, open up a savings account at a credit union and pay off usurious CC debt.
That was my Monday, one of my days of exhaustion. The Saturday before was also exhausting, see below.
Our oldest skipped swimming early in the month to attend the Town Hall meeting at the school. In short, because of a district deficit and a change to Equitable School Funding, her high school is facing a 35% budget cut. People are upset.
The school district has a $700 million budget, and an $80 million shortfall, roughly 10%. Last years shortfall was masked by one time only stimulus grants and $26 million from emergency funds.
The district has fixed costs, so it's not surprising the individual school cuts would be above 11%. What is surprising in the level, 35% at our high school, other high schools are facing 25-30%. If they get implemented, most electives would be cut and juniors and seniors might be out of school by noon.
I do wonder how top heavy the district is, those numbers are hard to come by. In the 2007-2008 school year, we were the worst in the county. I hear that there's 1 administrator for every 7 teachers. I do know the superintendent got a 5% raise in January. Stay tuned.
All I wanted was a Pepsi
It was too late of a night for a school day, and I wasn't even pushing little rocket ships.
Fourteen year old was assigned a project in early February, it was due in early March, she started the night before. She finished about 11:00. She had to read a book by an African-American author (and I'm not aware of any fantasy sword and sorcery books set in a medieval European type place with plucky teenage girl protagonists written by African-Americans, which is her favorite and nearly exclusive genre) and write about five songs that reflected the protagonist's feelings, and provide the songs, Holy Copyright Violations!
The book was about an urban boy growing up with a sibling in prison and gangs. Sometimes he felt alienated and angsty, so I suggested Suicidal Tendencies Institutionalized . I even found the video, but she didn't like it.
Having to provide the songs on CD added about half an hour, since it involved iPod updating, and such. She said her own laptop that would not connect to the internet would help, so I found one on ebay for about $50. I tested it by loading Civ 2 on it, and I was able to stop playing Civ 2 after a few days.
Stupid Craiglist, or another rough Monday
I don't like Mondays. On DST weekend we went to Buffalo to celebrate our niece's 18th birthday. I figured the next Monday would be rough, we got back about 9:00, fourteen year old stayed home and hadn't had a dinner yet, so she was up until 10:00.
That morning she was slow getting up, and slow getting her contacts in. She can't put her makeup on without wearing contacts, and she can't go to school without makeup, because people would realize she wears makeup, there's that whole dependency thing. I blamed her lateness on being slow to get to bed, she blamed it on DST, and I yelled that I didn't write the calender, I don't like it either.
I ended up driving her to a further on bus stop.
It was rough Sunday for other reasons, Mrs. Ha found a listing on craigslist that could be for her position, so hours of the day were spent debating on whether or not it was for her position, or some other daycare in NE rochester, what she's going to do, blah, blah, blah. I wish I made enough that she didn't have to work. I wish I made enough to hire a cook, because if I did ten hours days at work so I can scale the corporate ladder, we'd be living on Wendy's.
Other than that, her job is going well, though it's an adjustment for her bosses. They never hired anyone before, they're getting used to having an employee, Mrs. Ha is getting used to two bosses. She really prefers to work with kids.
A meeple in every pot!
One of the candidates for mayor is a gamer, Alex White, who owns the small gaming shop four blocks from me.
We had a special election since our previous mayor ended up as Andrew Cuomo's running mate. The leading candidate is a business friendly insider who was a utility executive before moving into City Hall, Tom Richards. A former mayor, Bill Johnson, who had vision but had trouble with details is also running. We're still paying for the expensive Fast Ferry to Toronto he bought (and then sold), it was launched without the permits for commercial truck traffic, making it a money loser until it was sold. Then, there's Alex.
Tom Richards won.
One day our mail order med company called me about Mrs. Ha's med, but I couldn't help, so I gave them our home phone, warning them that she doesn't her name on that credit card I'm using. They called her, she called me back so I could confirm the charges.
Later the bank called wondering if those charges were fraudulent. Nope, two grand for drugs, A-ok.
Hell is other people
other people's tired, ill-behaved children I mean.
Last Friday my high school bud's band was playing down the street, at the cozy bar next to the gaming store owned by Alex White, candidate for Mayor. I was meeting another bud there who ran late because the Amerks went into OT, so first bud and I chatted about India and city politics until other bud showed up. Fourteen year old had a swim meet the next day, so I left at midnight along with non-playing bud, who had to pick his daughter up at a late night movie.
Saturday, we (fourteen year old and I) spent most of the day at the swim meet at the community college. She had her best time ever in her 50 m freestyle (30.58), placing 10th out of 22. That put her into the finals, though we didn't know it until we were home and her phone and the house phone went crazy, asking her where the heck was she. So, I called Mrs. Ha as she had the only working car, we rushed over there and she ended up 11th of 12th (the 12th didn't show), but she did mess up her flip turn and buzzer press and start. Too exhausted, good thing two hour practices start for her.
It was not fun for spectators, the pool area was hot and crowded, food options were limited, and restless younger siblings were loud and annoying. I even got bored with my phone, but the backup battery pack worked. Another day of exhaustion.
This Sunday will be another day of exhaustion, my mother in law is having a birthday party at the nut house, we'll attend and may even take the Toyota.
One of the Goodwill finds was PK Dick's
Paycheck And Other Classic Stories, a compendium of his short stories, and amazingly, I didn't recall reading any of them. They were good, but not the acid tinted reality bending Dick I prefer (sig that!), with Paycheck being the best. A mechanic is released from a highly secret corporation with his memory wiped and an envelope containing seven apparently random items that he picked out for his payment.
As I mentioned, fourteen year old's favorite microgenre is swords and sorcery books with plucky teenage heroines. This caused trouble when she had to read a book by an African American author for Black History month. Her favorite author could be Tamora Pierce, and she kept pleading for me to read Terrier(The Legend of Beka Cooper: Book1), about a sixteen year old girl who grew up in the roughest part of a city and decides to become a cop. It was a good story with her starting out as an apprentice on the night watch, making friends with other young folk, and getting magical messages from whirlwinds. But, if I have to read about cops in a medieval, magical city, I'll pick Pratchett.
Speaking of Pratchett, life's been stressful so I decided to retreeat to DiscWorld. While I was downtown for Girl Scouts and the Saint Paddy's Day parade a few Saturdays ago I went to the main library and picked up Lords and Ladies. It was good, but I should have read Witches Abroad first, as I got dumped into the tail end of the coven of Nanny Ogg, Granny Weatherwax and Magrat Garlick. I should buy Nightwatch.
I also haunted the history stacks of the main library, and found two good books about WWII. First up was Brazen Chariots: An Account of Tank Warfare in the Western Desert, November-December 1941 a biography of a British tank commander, commanding a Honey/Stuart during Operation Crusader. Pretty good so far, and ties in nicely with Moorehead's d Desert War , and he even mentions Moorehead.
Germany's Last Mission to Japan: The Failed Voyage of U-234 is about a big Nazi submarine sending all sorts of high tech stuff to Japan, right before Germany surrendered. The cargo led to all sorts of conspiracy theories, since some of it was uranium. The ironic conspiracy is that the uranium did make it to Japan, but not in the way the Nazis intended.
The Dream Machine: The Untold History of the Notorious V-22 Osprey That gave me a chance to finish Whittle's The Dream Machine, the story of the MV-22B Osprey from conception to it's first deployment. I found it interesting, but then I like reading about the problems in using 5000
psi titanium hydraulic lines.
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