Archive for the 'Nonclassified Nonsense' Category

Damsel in Distress

13 January 2020 at 10:01 pm
by Jonah

Even when I can handle it myself, I’d say my favorite perk, by far, of being female is having males come to my rescue when I have automotive problems.  

Also, sometimes it’s unwarranted. Berck needed to take the Focus today, so that left me with trying to get the Miata up the hill.  My first attempt left my wheels spinning, so I needed to back up off the icy tracks and onto the snow on the edge to get some traction.  Unfortunately, right at that moment, our neighbor Al drove up behind me in his white van.  That left me less room to back down our one-lane alley.  Then I suddenly saw Al in my rear-view mirror trying to push my car.  I opened my door and stuck my head out to tell him I needed to back up, but before I could, he told me that I might have better luck if I backed up off the icy tracks and onto the snow on the edge to get some traction.  I sighed and said I thought that sounded like a good idea.  He also told me to use the emergency brake and hold the button in to keep the wheels from spinning as much, which actually worked pretty well.

During my lunch break today, I thought I’d be nice and go wash Berck’s car.  I drove over to the nearest car wash and then waited for an eternity for the four morons in the car wash bays to try to figure out the payment machines. Finally, it was my turn.  I did a thorough job and used the brush all over the car, even the wheels.  Then I headed back out onto the road hoping I’d have enough time to run by the grocery store.

The car wash is on a little road that empties out into an on-ramp onto South Circle.  It’s a tight curve, and you have to try to accelerate quickly into oncoming traffic.  I take this curve a lot, and as long as I’m not driving the Land Cruiser, I’ve never had any problems. But today was not one of those days.  I don’t know if it was because my tires were wet and soapy or the snow tires just don’t have as much grip.  I made the curve and then just kept rotating, sliding off the road to the right and spinning around backwards.  There’s no curb there, and the ground is flat.  I headed forward, and the car seemed fine.  I waited until there wasn’t any oncoming traffic and pulled out into the right lane.  But the car was not fine.  Unfortunately, that stretch of road is an overpass, and there is no shoulder.  So I limped along until I came to the first turn, which is an entrance into a trailer park.

I got out and investigated.  My newly cleaned car was now filthy from spinning around in the dirt. But more importantly, the left rear tire had come unattached to the wheel.  I texted Berck and then opened the trunk to get out the jack and lug nut wrench.  That’s when a gentleman in a pick-up pulled up as he was exiting the trailer park and asked if I could use some help.  Of course I could, and he took over, undoing the lug nuts with his own drill and socket he had in his truck. He had my spare donut on hardly any time at all.  Berck still hadn’t responded, so I drove back to my office.

When he finally saw my message, Berck told me to take the disassociated wheel and tire to Rex Tire, where they determined the wheel was fine (whew) but the tire was toast. I went back to work and waited for Berck to come, since driving 30 miles home on the donut was not advisable. Berck had just given a set of Miata wheels and snow tires to his buddy at work, so he borrowed one of them back and met me in the parking lot at work.  I got to watch another man jack up my car and replace the tire, this time while I at least could be helpful by holding a flashlight.  Berck complained that I’d let some stranger over-torque my lug nuts.  Then he took me out to dinner.

Maybe I’ll wash the car again tomorrow.

Yolanda Hayes

23 December 2019 at 6:32 pm
by Berck

Colorado doesn’t have a DMV. We have a County Clerk & Recorder with a Motor Vehicle Department (or sometimes Division) that everyone calls the DMV. The one in Woodland Park is maybe the best DMV in the country.

I’m a car guy with some income that I dispose on an ever-growing fleet of used cars, so I’m always going to the not-DMV. I don’t mind. In Teller County, there is no line; there is merely three women sitting at desks.

I’m not entirely sure what the protocol is. There are signs that tell me that I’m not to use my “cell phone”, which is presumptuous for a number of reasons, not the least of which being that there are no cell phones left in the world. But I get the meaning. Otherwise, I don’t know what the rules are.

The first time I went in, there were people at the first two desks and the young woman at the far end was free. She greeted me, and then jumped into an excited discussion of Subaru vs. Ford when she saw that I was registering Jonah’s new Focus RS. There aren’t many car girls in the world, and I certainly never expected to find one working full time at the not-DMV.

Every time I’ve been to the not-DMV since, the woman at the first desk greets me when I walk in, while Car Girl sits at the far end and does not look up. I’m guessing it’s possible that I could simply walk straight up to Car Girl, but I don’t know the protocol and it seems odd to bypass not one, but two perfectly nice and efficient women just to visit my not-DMV employee of choice. So instead, Closest Woman helps me with the exact sort of polite efficiency and lack of obtrusive questions that I desire in all transactions while I wonder about the banter with Car Girl that I’m missing out on.

Today, I headed to the not-DMV with a renewal reminder for Simon and the paperwork for my latest Audi disaster. I was delighted to discover that Closest Woman appeared to be on vacation and Middle Woman was busy with another customer. I headed over to Car Girl’s desk.

She raised an eyebrow about the dealer I’d purchased it from, “Golden Motors,” and I assured her that it was every bit as shady as she might be imagining, without going into detail about the Russian proprietor who seemed like he’d rather be doing anything other than selling cars. “Well, I hope the car is good,” she said. “Oh no, it has a blown head gasket and is in pieces in my garage.” She comisserated then pointed out that there was no need for me to register the vehicle today if I’m not driving it. “But I thought I only had 60 days to register without late fees?” “That’s true, but we automatically wave late fees on all dealer sales.” Super useful information! I went ahead and renewed Simon’s registration (one day he’ll be a full-on race car and I won’t have to bother), and asked about fleet registration. She said I could only do that with the state and that it’s a fairly involved process. She also mentioned that if I had a fleet that I should consider something called broad form insurance. I hadn’t heard of it, but told her I’d research.

I’ve often wondered why I have to insure each of my vehicles and can’t instead just insure the ones I’m actually driving at any given time. It turns out that terribly-named broad form insurance will actually let me do just that–insure drivers rather than cars. It means my cars won’t be insured if other people drive them, and it’s not legal in all states, but it is in Colorado. It would be a clear win if it were just me, but I’m married and want Jonah to be able to drive all the cars, so that means buying two broad form policies…. but it still looks like it might save me $200/year or so, and for that I thank Car Girl!


21 November 2019 at 9:45 pm
by Jonah

There was a fire inspection at our building at work at this morning at 7 a.m., and someone had to be there to unlock our office. I volunteered last week and immediately set my alarm for Thursday at 5:40 a.m. I put it on both my personal and work calendars and set each to send me two notifications. There was no way I was going to forget. I checked the weather last night (not much snow) and calculated my commute time and and double checked that my alarm was set for 5:40 with the “Bright Morning” sound. I went to bed early.

This morning I woke up with Berck rubbing my belly, which is his way of telling me that my alarm is going off and it has awoken him. My phone was vibrating, which is how I usually set it. It was also going off at its usual time of 6:25, and it said I had a missed alarm from 5:40. In ideal conditions, I have a 40 minute drive to work. I was already late.

I was out the door in ten minutes, dressed and teeth brushed, and engaged in the extreme sport of driving without my windshield defrosted. There wasn’t really snow on the roads, but people were driving sooo slowly. I got to work at 7:20, twenty minutes late. The building was pretty much empty, and I unlocked our office and propped open the front door, hoping they hadn’t gotten to my suite yet.

At ten till 8:00, the fire inspectors finally strolled through the open door, sweeping the ceiling with their gaze, searching for sprinkler heads. “Hi, we’re just here to do a fire inspection!” they greeted me cheerfully. They found all the sprinklers then told me not to use the fire extinguisher because it had been recalled. Then they inspected the fire extinguisher more closely and realized their co-worker had signed off on it. Tsking and taking notes, they told me they would let the property managers know we needed a new one.

It snowed all day today, but it was too cold (edit: too warm) to stick. This is the most dangerous precipitation. As soon as it got dark, the temperature dropped, and all that melted snow on the roads froze. I started up the pass tonight after work and then realized that suddenly the cars in front of me were going REALLY slowly. When everyone around you is doing something out of the ordinary, it is often a good idea to give in to herd mentality. Sometimes there is wisdom in crowds.

So I slowed down too and turned off the radio, wondering how long I had been dangerously driving the speed limit. Eastbound traffic on the other side of the creek had slowed to a crawl as well, and that’s when I realized how many backwards vehicles there were on the side of the road. Once I got high enough, the road dried up and it was safe drive normally again. I turned my podcast back on.

The dictionary definition of luck is “success apparently brought by chance rather than through one’s own actions.” By that definition, I consider myself extremely lucky, because my ability to avoid disaster does not seem to be related at all to my own efforts. Another way of thinking about it is being blessed. Today I’m thankful for luck.

(If you have a Pixel 3 phone, make sure your alarm volume is turned up if you set it.)

And the stars

20 November 2019 at 9:41 pm
by Jonah

And God said, “Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, and let them be lights in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. God set them in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:14-18 New Revised Standard Version

And the stars

My commute home this time of year involves driving into the last bit of light after the sun has set. Last night Jupiter and Venus guided me home as I traveled west. In the summer the days are long and I get home with the sun still in the sky. But in the winter I pause before I go inside and look up at the sky when it’s clear. We live far away from the city, and I can see the Milky Way nearly every night that it isn’t obscured by clouds. Right now the Pleiades are visible to the east when I get home and Aldebaran of Taurus is just peaking above the horizon. Stars are not only useful for navigation and time telling but they’re beautiful too. I’m thankful for stars.

For signs and for seasons and for days and years

While last night’s sky was clear, tonight it is snowing and foggy. I drove home slowly. One of the things I love most about Colorado is the seasons. In the South, where I spent my childhood, it’s hot and then it’s not as hot. I used to stare wistfully at the calendar pictures in December and wonder what it was like to experience snow. Now I live in a place with proper seasons, though our summer is pretty short (my car has snow tires on it more of the year than not). Today I’m thankful for seasons.


11 November 2019 at 10:49 pm
by Jonah

Tonight we played Balderdash with cousins. 

I had pumpkin pie with ham (long story… well, not really… I just asked for pumpkin pie with ham and I got it).  But we really wanted something to eat on the way home from Orlando to Apopka.  Berck convinces his mom to get off a highway that starts with a 4, which are all the highways in Florida, to stop at a Krystals.  Because we don’t have those in Colorado.  She really doesn’t want to, especially since it was between two pawn shops and a liquor store (THAT part of town), but she does. Berck orders some Krystals burgers with extra mustard and some chicks. I ask for a large sweet tea. Berck orders me a medium sweet tea, and I didn’t argue, because it’s past midnight and more caffeine at this point is simply not necessary.  We get our order at the drive-through window, and then Berck says, “They put CHEESE on these!”  and orders his mom to drive back around through the drive-through.  Right then, a white dude with dreads and obviously suffering a psychotic break throws himself onto the pavement in front of us and starts hollering and thrashing about.  My mother-in-law, who doesn’t want to be there but who has been ordered to drive back around to the drive-through windows, starts driving forward, and Berck yells, “DON’T DRIVE OVER HIM!”  We manage to miss the psychotic break-dancing and proceed to the drive-through window, where Berck complains that we didn’t order cheese on our Krystals.  We get some replacement Krystals and then continue on our way.  (The schizophrenic dude has now picked himself up and started down the sidewalk.)  We have an argument about navigation, but the computers want us to go one direction, and Berck’s  mom prefers to rely on her memory of the roads in the area. We take a road heading north called Apopka Vineland Road, which Berck’s mom refuses to believe actually goes to the town of Apopka, where she lives.  Berck is trying to convince her that the reason they called it that name was because it goes from Vineland to Apopka.  That’s when we get to a train track with the gates down and the lights flashing.  Several cars in front of us are driving around the tracks, because, it is pretty obvious that the crossing warnings are malfunctioning. There are three possibilities at this point: take our chances flaunting the crossing signals, turn around and try a different route, or stay there indefinitely.  Berck’s mom decides to turn around and try a different route.  We take a detour and end back up on Apopka Vineland road, which, spoiler alert, ends up in Apopka.  

Today I’m grateful for my long-suffering mother-in-law who takes us to get Krystals, even when she really, really would rather not.