So Easily Entertained, Laments of the 13%, and Country Music IS Noise Pollution

Those of us in the automotive industry aren’t exactly noted for being paragons of virtue, sad to say.

Last night I realized just how easily entertained I can be, and it’s sort of sad.  Jerry has been complaining about the slight vibration in the front end of his truck since the tires were rotated, so I had to follow him over to the dealership last night so their service department can tell him the same things I told him.  1. You have a 4WD truck.  It’s not going to ride like a car. 2. I personally don’t care much for Dunlop tires- at least not the ones Toyota uses as factory equipment tires.  They are OK if you drive the vehicle every day, but we are talking about a 2010 Tacoma with 9,000 miles on it.  When these tires sit, they cup.  When tires cup, you get vibration.  I had to deal with complaints about Dunlop tires (granted these weren’t the same exact model tires) 20 years ago when they were original equipment on Camrys- and the ones who bitched about them always had low mileage cars that would sit for long periods of time.   Most people aren’t fussy enough to even notice a slight vibration like that in a truck, but Jerry is sensitive enough to smell the fart someone just cut up in Moose Dick, Alaska (which is a hell of a long way from beautiful Central Ohio, for those ill-acquainted with geography.)  He notices anything even slightly off with that truck, even if it is well within the realm of normal tolerance.  I pity the service advisor who’s dealing with him.

Maybe I should not take sadistic enjoyment in tormenting car salesmen, especially when buying a new car is about the furthest thing from my mind, but I couldn’t resist wandering the new car lot as I’m waiting for Jerry to drop off his Tacoma with yet another whiny diatribe about the Dunlop tires.  I’m sure he thinks if he whines enough they’ll give him a free set of Bridgestones of his choice, but I highly, highly doubt it.  They’re not a safety issue or even a wear issue.  You have a bit of a vibration at 70 MPH.  Whoop de doo.

Just buy yourself a new set of tires if you are that damned fussy.  I told you to make them swap them out for Bridgestones before you took delivery of the truck…

Anyway, I didn’t even really get a chance to peruse the first two three-door Yarises- other than to glance and keep on walking because they were automatics- on the lot before a thin, sort of ferret-faced salesman starts chasing me down.  That’s what I get for perusing a new car lot on a weeknight.  The first thing I tell him is that I’m just checking out the new cars while I’m waiting on the old man to drop off his truck and that I’m not looking for a new car.  But of course, he persists, so I ask him if they have any (Scion) XDs or 5 door Yarises with manual transmissions.  Mr. Ferret gives me a sort of a weird look and asks, “You aren’t interested in an automatic?”

Ok, so ferrets are cute.  This guy wasn’t, but you get what I mean.

Hell, no, I think to myself, but then I have to wonder how many of the 13% he has actually encountered, and if he has had the rare opportunity to encounter one of the 13% who happens to be female. So I decide to take it easy on him.

“Sorry, but I only drive manual transmissions.  I won’t buy an automatic, which I know sort of narrows down my choices,” I replied, thinking that might make him give up right there.

It must have been a slow night, because the poor guy was running around all over the lot to see if they had any XDs or 5 door Yarises with manual transmissions.  They didn’t, but he did insist on getting my phone number (I gave the home number that I never answer) and e-mail. I don’t entirely want to piss these guys off because I’ve bought my last 4 new cars there.  Even though I pretty much despise car salesmen, I don’t want to be that much of a bitch.  I’m not interested in a new car right now- especially because Toyota isn’t building the Yaris sedan which is what I already have, and am perfectly OK with- anymore.  The XD is intriguing and even though it is a hatchback, that might cross my mind, but good luck finding one of those with 5 on the floor.

Yes, the manual trans is available, but have fun finding one with it!

I hope that I don’t have to resign to driving a farking Volkswagen just so I can get a sedan with a manual transmission the next time I buy a car.  It’s not that I dislike Volkswagen- as far as performance goes there’s no one like the Germans, and VW’s recent models (especially the Jetta and Passat) are interesting- but they are more expensive, and from what I’ve seen in the past, much less reliable than Toyotas.  Who got the farking idea that people who drive manual transmissions only like hatchbacks?   Who got the idea that everyone who likes a manual transmission can afford a European car, even if it does end up being a Volkswagen?  I know it’s hard to cater to the 13%, and I don’t mind that most of the available vehicles are econoboxes, but dammit, there is a market there!

The Jetta GLI could be fun, but I still wonder- how reliable?

I’m not enthralled with buying any car that isn’t made by Toyota, and I’m not buying an automatic anything, even if it means I drive my current Yaris until I drop dead.  So there.

I’m also wondering who around here is getting such a taste for oat opera.  Unless I put my headphones on, I am accosted to a rather foul auditory garbage dump of twangy tunes that make me think I’ve died and gone to redneck hell.  I try to be polite and use headphones if I want to listen to music outside of the privacy of my own car, because I understand that not everyone wants to hear Jethro Tull’s “Aqualung” cranked up.  It’s a cool song but sort of gross when you think about it.  I know I have unusual tastes in music and don’t aspire to inflict them on others.   But why do others think I want my auditory channels violated by Conway Twitty or Shania Twain?

Please, please spare me from bad country music- and most of it is IMO, incredibly bad- unless you want me to start playing David Allan Coe.

Trolling for Ephemera, Space and Time, and Other Things I Don’t Understand

I found a wonderful new place to troll for old pics and related ephemera- believe it or not, the Library of Congress’ website is a vast treasure trove of scanned digital images of cool old stuff (most of it is OK to save or print, as most of it is public domain.)  I have merely skimmed the surface of this treasure trove. 

It only reminds me of how I should get busy with the scanner myself while Dad still remembers who some of the people are in all those piles and piles of pictures my grandma hoarded over the years.  She had literally tons of pictures in her stash of stuff.  Grandma never threw anything away.  Some of those pics go back to the late 19th century, most of them are family members, and I would love to have scans of them, especially if I can find out who they are.  It doesn’t help that my scanner is ancient and slow (that doesn’t help my motivation factor at all) and that I would probably have to take a few stacks home here and there and spend some late nights scanning them, uploading them to Shutterfly, and then going through the Shutterfly albums with Dad so he can identify as many of them as possible for me.

Perhaps I can do some of this on my next vacation, if Jerry doesn’t find me “better” things to do. 

I’ve learned long ago that if I want an actual vacation, I need to take it by myself.  Otherwise I simply become Jerry’s personal gofer for the duration, and I end up looking forward to going back to work so I can get some rest.

I volunteered myself to take Mom and Dad down to North Carolina for my niece’s half-sister’s graduation.  I know that sounds complicated but it’s not terribly difficult.  She and my niece have the same father (my sister’s ex-husband) but they have different mothers.  Technically I would assume this would mean she’s not really related to me in any way, but my sister is still close with her ex’s kids.  I don’t know her terribly well but any excuse for a road trip in early June is an excuse for a road trip.  I can put up with Mom as long as Dad is with her to keep her somewhat under control.  Besides, I really don’t want them: 1. driving down there in either one of their elderly, high-mileage vans, or 2. making that long of a road trip through mostly boonies by themselves.   My car gets far better gas mileage, and it’s a 2010 with 11K on it versus either of their 1998 vans, one has 180K and the other over 200K.  Dad’s van would be particularly fun on a long trip because the fuel sender doesn’t work.  It’s nice to know how much gasoline you have left from time to time when the nearest gas station is sixty miles out or more.  Granted, anything made by humans or machines can fail at any time, but failure is less likely in a newer vehicle, and even if there is a failure it is less likely to be a catastrophic one.  

I also know how to use the GPS function on my phone.  Yay!

One thing I’ve not been able to get a good understanding on is the one thing on a car that seems to wear faster than anything- the tires.  It amazes me that “run flat” tires aren’t standard equipment, given how often tires go flat and fail at the most inopportune times.  I wish I could afford run flat tires, and that’s probably why they aren’t standard equipment. I’ve been stranded by having flat tires and not being able to remove the lugs so I could install the spare.  Now I have a breaker bar so if the lugs are properly torqued (and they better be, because I make them note the torque specs on the RO when I get my tires rotated or any other time the wheels are taken off) I should be able to change it out.  I should check to see if I have one of those damned donut things as a factory spare, and if I do, I should go trolling for a full-size wheel and tire.   I did that when I had my Corolla- after, of course, I had a blowout and had to drive forty miles on a damned donut- after I paid a tow company $75 to change the tire because somebody at the shop overtorqued my lug nuts and I couldn’t get the tire off.   The poor tow driver must have been at least 300# and he was jumping on the dinky little wrench that came from the factory tool kit (this was also before I got my breaker bar) to break the lugs loose.   That wrench was bent at almost a right angle by the time the dude got through with it. 

I learned my lesson well from that.  Any tech who overtorques my lug nuts because he just grabs the impact and goes at it (too lazy to use a torque wrench on the proper setting) will be a very sorry puppy should I find out about it the hard way.

There are certain modern innovations I can’t function without, but I still have a fascination for history.  It’s interesting to observe, but perhaps it wouldn’t have been so fascinating up close and personal.  I know bathing wasn’t incredibly popular back in the day, there was a lot of communicable disease, and no indoor plumbing.  No wonder people died young, and of things that would be preventable today.

As I was trolling through pages of old Civil War pictures- mostly of people whose identities have been forgotten, I came across two pictures that haunted me a little bit. 

This was a mother’s picture of her son taken long before he died in battle at age 18.  I can’t imagine the heartbreak.   The irony is that death in battle is probably one of the most preventable causes of death- but it’s still happening today.  There are still soldiers dying in battle today.  There are still mothers whose sons aren’t coming home.

And a little girl whose father never came home…

Intellectually, I understand that there is such a concept of  “just war,” and that there are times where the only morally correct thing to do is to fight for one’s country.  Emotionally, I have a lot harder time with that concept.  I’m thankful that Dad got out of having to go to Vietnam at the 11th hour (a long story, but one reason why I should be thankful for my sadistic oldest sister- she was the reason he got exempted from service) and I am grateful that barring any unforseen apocalypse, Steve-o will likely not serve in the military.  I don’t think as things are now that he could get an exemption for the nerve injury in his hand even if he would try (again) to enlist.

I have nothing but respect for military Veterans.  I don’t know if I would have the psychological strength to do what people in the armed forces do every day.  I highly doubt it, even if I had been physically sound enough to serve.  My leaky heart valves pretty much nixed my chances for any type of military service.   So I am, like every other common American citizen, beholden to those who were willing, and who were put in the position to make the ultimate sacrifice. 

I do certainly hope that the quality of military chow has improved since this pic was taken:

That kitchen set up looks like Montezuma’s Revenge just waiting to happen.

Tires, Testicles and Trouble, with Some Pent-Up Angst Too

Sometimes old pics are creepy, especially if they are high quality color pics.  The above postcard of Downtown Marion from the early 1950’s reflects that not terribly much has changed other than the cars and a couple of the buildings.  I know exactly where that pic was taken- right in front of the south side of the Courthouse looking west.  I can see the cigar store (on the south side of Center Street, on the east corner of the intersection) and what is now the Ohio State Bank across the street from it.  Further west on the south side of Center Street is the Harding Hotel, which is also still there but has been made into senior citizen apartments.  The Taft Hotel (on the north west corner of the intersection) was torn down in  1969.  The National City Bank built their ugly boxy windowless monstrosity of a bank there (which burned down in 1985 or thereabouts) and rebuilt another hideous modern architectural disaster piece there on the same exact spot, which PNC Bank inherited.  The Bank Fire was almost a funny thing to watch as the digital thermometer on the outside of the bank skyrocketed to over 500 degrees (F) before it melted.  Then again, when you live in a backwater town, excitement is where you find it.  One would think a bank of all places would be built of relatively fireproof material, but I guess as long as the vault holds, who cares?

The WWII In Color episodes are fascinating, but they are almost too personal, as if they are bringing something too antique and faded into real life.  Some things are better viewed through the distance of black and white.

Some things are just too powerful and frightening to experience in all their details.

Admittedly I have been more depressed than usual lately.  Part of it I know is coming off of the Late Winter Funk that lasts from the beginning of February until usually the middle of April or so. I just can’t get enthused about much of anything as the snowbooger grey days drag by, overcast, rainy and dismal.  My perpetual state of poverty does nothing to brighten the picture, especially when Jerry’s groundbreaking suggestions for “saving money” include options such as getting rid of my car, and cancelling cable except for the basic channels -so he won’t miss any sports.  At no time were curtailing beer-drinking, eschewing gambling or getting serious about quitting smoking put on the table.  Then again, I don’t drink beer, I hate gambling, and thanks be to God I quit smoking several years ago.  Jerry isn’t going to address cutting back on his vices but it’s OK to cut back on my base essentials.  Imagine that.  I am disappointed, but not surprised at his zeal to make my life as miserable as he possibly can.  He wonders why I absolutely can’t stand to ask him for anything- not even basic, common sense things like paying for his own scripts and for a reasonable amount of his own expenses.  However, I am not going to give up the car. If worse comes to worse he can cram the cell phone where the sun don’t shine. I can live without the electronic leash, but as far as I can help it I am not going to put myself in a position that I have to beg for the use of his truck.  Being at his mercy for transportation is just not a good idea.  Not happening.

But as I said yesterday, I am thankful that things aren’t any worse.  Maybe I can beat some sense into his head if he’s sober- or just ignore him as usual if he’s drunk.

I don’t know why he is so jealous of any social contact I have with people other than him, even women.  It’s a fight for me to go to church and other activities at church.  Maybe in his mind he sees that he’s missing his “live-in maid” or gopher and he resents not being able to order me around or bitch at me for an hour or two here and there.  Maybe deeper down he’s afraid that I’m trolling for his replacement.  Being with Jerry is sort of like driving an old hoopty. You get none of the options that make having a car fun or comfortable (no A/C, no stereo, etc.) but all of the problems inherent to an old POS. (POS: Piece Of Shit)  He reminds me of my ’79 Rabbit that I spent $800 in repairs on in one month.  It did have a good stereo but no air conditioner, and it was a crap shoot as to whether or not it would start and run from one day to the next without something major failing. Why the hell keep on dumping money, time and frustration into a lost cause?

If I’m going to pay out the ass to drive a car,I want one that works, and one that doesn’t give me fits.  The same goes for men. I had enough of nickel and diming away my life on pathetic hooptys in high school and college- and enough of nickel and diming away my life on mooching trolls from there forward.  I hate to admit it, but Jerry has simply followed the pattern- taking advantage, draining me dry, and browbeating me into feeling like a total shit every minute I am not actively kissing his ass.  It gets old.

I take responsibility for this in so much as I allow it and I have allowed it to continue for years.  I don’t know how to make it stop other than simply disappearing, which I can’t do because I have no money and nowhere to go (also my fault) so it’s a catch-22.  The vicious cycle continues.

I’ve never been able to find a trouble free man.  If anyone could find me one who isn’t a complete troll, please let me know by commenting on this post.  Seriously.  But then again, perhaps I would be better off alone.  I would be, if I could afford it.

It’s not that I am inherently anti-men.  I love men.  I love to look at hot dudes.  If memory serves me right, I like a lot of activities involving men.  I simply have a problem with being used and guilt tripped and ignored and made to feel as if I only have value if I’m either earning money or doing endless chores.  The minute I don’t have enough money to just pay for everything or I’m exhausted and can’t do anything else then the hell with me as far as Jerry’s concerned.  Steve-o treats me the same way.  As long as Mommy’s footing the bill everything is roses, but the minute Mommy’s broke it’s F.U. this and F.U. that.  At least my poverty and lack of stamina have served me in two important ways: to let me know I am not worth a tinker’s damn to anyone, and I’m pretty much destined to die alone.  If the dogs don’t eat me, I’ll be left to decompose for months until the guy who comes to read the water meter can’t get in and as he’s banging on the door he notices a funky smell.   That’s what happened to the creepy old lady who lived across from Mom and Dad.  She used to bitch at us kids for “stealing her snow” if you scraped up a handful of snow from her yard as you went down the sidewalk.  It was thought she died sometime in February, but they didn’t find her body and fumigate the house until high summer- the middle of July.  It took two weeks for the health department to fumigate that house.

I wonder if the “I’ve Fallen and Can’t Get Up” alarm people have an alarm for old people who live alone and whose relatives are either dead already and/or don’t give a rat’s ass about them?  If I live to be old, I will be one of those people I am afraid.  When said geezers die in their sleep the alarm could go off and call the coroner to come and get the corpse before it festers and rots for months or the deceased’s dogs start munching on it.  I’m going to need one of those, or should I say the poor suckers who eventually happen upon my remains would probably be grateful for an early warning.

Maybe that could be the invention that makes me rich- the Dead Geezer Warning System.  So the coroner gets to you before the smell gets to everyone else.