The Car Saga

Volume II 

I’m not good with cars. Cars have only one purpose in my mind: to get me from A to B in safety and relative comfort. I don’t buy a car thinking, “Man, think of all the cools things I can do with this car!”. I’m more of the kind of guy that buys a car thinking, “Hmm . . . how much money will this cost me to maintain?”.  

Apparently, because I am a man, I’m supposed to enjoy talking about and working on cars. I’m supposed to casually mention the size of my engine while leaning luxuriously on the hood of my vehicle. I’m supposed to brag about the scars that I have attained while “dropping the tranny, or “putting in a sick, new fuel injection” contraption. It seems to be an expectation that I spend more time lying on the ground underneath my car than sitting in it.  

Sorry to disappoint you manly men of the mechanical breed, but we probably won’t have anything to talk about. 

When I think about “mods” that I can do to my car I think of Bluetooth receivers so that I don’t have to listen to the radio. I think of a nice air freshner, or perhaps some expensive tires.  

When I have to do any repairs to any one of my vehicles, I’m always crunching numbers to see if the convenience of having someone else fix it for me outweighs the ridiculously high cost of mechanic labor.  

In the case of my most recent vehicular acquisition, I was told I needed to replace a few parts for the steering. Some ball joints, and two arms; one of which goes by the name of “Pitman”. I got my brother to agree to help me fix them, he likes fixing cars after all. So I bought the parts and took my new car to my parents so that we could fix my car together. A little brother bonding time, I guess. 

3 hours into it we hadn’t removed a single part that I was supposed to be replacing. Apparently this was expected. . . . SMH

Another curve ball was finding that Chevrolet presses their ball joints on there with a permanent press system, so I was literally whacking my new car with a chisel and hammer to get the dang things off. . . . They did not come off.  

Also, I have been told that the auto parts store gave me the wrong part; so instead of having one of those arms that isn’t called Pitman, I’ve got some steering thingy that I need to take back. And also one additional curve ball I wasn’t expecting, apparently, to remove said arm of the Pitman variety I need to remove the steering control box (or something similarly named).  

No matter what you call it, it sounds important, and my car-tarded mind automitically thinks “Well, that sounds important, I should probably just leave that in there”. But I can’t because I can’t put the tires back on until I get those ball joints off, which are currently half-drilled, half-whacked to bits, but still firmly attached to the whatever-it’s-called that they’re attached to. Probably another “arm” of some sort.  

Gee-crime-a-nilly! I’d rather just take public transit (if that was any good in Utah) than deal with this mess!  

Please, somebody say something that makes sense to me, like API, or CRM. Someone talk about processors or predictive models; or pentatonic scales and the difference between equal temperment and mean tuning.  

I just want to be done with Mr. Pitman for the time being. Instead of crawling under my Chevy, I would really like to just crawl back into my nerd-den. . . . 

I’ll be back when I’ve recovered from my car-tastrophe. . . .   That could be a while. 

Someone say a prayer for me and my hopelessly car-averse brain. Ima need all the help I can get. 

Cloudy With a 100% Chance of Food Puns

(This is an older blog post that I’m migrating from my old blog on Blogspot)

It’s been a while since I’ve written.  My last post was really serious (can you detect my sarcasm?) so I thought that I would lighten things up because my wife and I were celebrating this week.

Why were we celebrating, you might ask.  Well there are several reasons.

  1. We managed to pay off all our remaining debt with our tax returns.  We didn’t have any substantial debt, and we haven’t made the plunge into home ownership yet, so it may have been a small and temporary victory, but it was a victory nonetheless.
  2. We had some wonderful days off from my job because of some inclement weather, which gave us an unexpectedly long weekend.  We took the opportunity to head off to visit relatives in Virginia.
  3. While in Virginia our relatives decided that they were going to use their tax returns to buy a new Blu Ray player.  Not having any need for their old Blu Ray player they graciously gave us their old one.  (Thanks again to Roz and Dan, if you’re reading this, you’re the best!)

We were previously using an older-ish model of this thing called a DVD player.  Maybe you’ve heard of them, they were all the rave a few years ago.

The DVD worked for us . . . for the most part.  The only problem with our late DVD player is that the remote got lost sometime in between moving from St. Louis to Utah to Maryland.  I hope whoever has it is enjoying it.  In all likelihood it is lost somewhere in my parents house, or was given to DI.  If the latter is the case, may it rest in peace rotting on that thrift store shelf.

After putting our DVD player to rest back in the box from whence it came we went out and got ourselves a Redbox film, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2.  What’s funny is that we got our new BluRay player set up, but I’m pretty sure that we rented a DVD. . . . One day we’ll do this whole Blu Ray thing right. . . . Baby steps, we’ll get there.

My wife and I really liked Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs.  It was a funny movie. . . .  ‘Nuff said.

Cloudy 2 was different though.

In lieu of giving you a detailed review of the film let me just sum it up for you, if you haven’t already seen it (very unlikely, but I’ll go for it anyway):

Cloudy 2 took all of the funny gags and jokes that they used in the first film and used them again.

They introduced a lame villain; no depth, too predictable.  He started out as Flint’s childhood hero, and within five minutes it became apparent that he was the villain set on pitting Flint against his own friends.  Blah, blah, blah, an hour later you’re watching the ending thinking “I totally knew that it was going to end this way”.  Kinda lame.

Kids shows are frequently obvious, I get that.  Unfortunately that wasn’t the deal breaker for me. What did it for me was the endless food puns.  And the villain . . . but mostly the food puns.

They’re on an island with sentient food, “Foodimals” as they call them.  It was the perfect setup for food jokes.  The puns were endless.  If they weren’t mashing food names with dinosaur names (Taco-don Supreme anyone?), they were punning up a storm.  It got old after about five jokes.  Towards the end I was just rolling my eyes with each new food pun.  Cloudy 1 had some food jokes, but it wasn’t to the extreme like in Cloudy 2.  It was silly.

Besides the food puns the story just moved along too quickly.  The characters didn’t feel developed.  I couldn’t relate to them.  I didn’t feel connected with them.  I didn’t love them.  I know it’s harsh, but it’s true.

You might say that I’m being too critical, that it’s just a kids show, an animated cartoon.  Well, you’d be right, I’m pretty harsh.  But imagine if I told you that it was a wonderful film, filled with spectacular jokes, well scripted characters, and a plot that will have you watching it over and over again.  Well, that would be a lie, and you’d never read my reviews again.  So I’d better stick with the truth and hope that you can at least agree partially with my critiques.

To sum it up:

On a scale from “Buy The Collectors Edition” to “Redbox it“, this is definitely a Redbox movie. Unless you’re buying for your little kids, and you don’t mind that they may watch it 5 billion times before they’re 4 years old (you know how kids are), it’s probably not worth the money.

P.S. One day I’ll actually get a real Blu Ray to watch on our player . . . I promise . . .

Morning People

Becoming a morning person is not a lot of fun. If you haven’t convinced yourself that you don’t want to be a morning person by the end of that first morning, then you just wait until the second morning. You’ll give up pretty soon.

To become a morning person you need to change two habits just to be able to establish one. You need to get out of the habit of going to be bed late or watching TV until late at night, and replace it with an early-to-bed habit. And you need to change the habit of getting up late with the early-to-rise habit. But going to be bed early doesn’t gain you much utility in life without getting up early, so it’s kind of a pointless habit unless you actually do get up early. So, you get rid of two habits, but only get utility out of one of the habits that you replaced them with.

The hope is that you’ll be able to achieve more in those early hours of the morning.

My problem currently is not the waking up part of the equation. I can wake up, or I can wake my body up. I go a on a little walk, the cold air chills my body awake. But my mind is a stubborn beast. My mind, even after walking for 10 minutes in the ice-cold January air, is still sluggishly sloshing through the motions. I’m writing, but not particularly creatively. This is starting to feel like one of those anti-self-help blog articles that I see every-so-often on the internets.

I’ve been awake for long enough that my mind should be catching up to my body. But as I sit here in my warm house, just having eaten my cold cereal, I find myself wanting to drift off to sleep again. I got up this early in the first place so that I could write for a longer period of time and get more done, but now that I’m awake all I really want to do is to go back to sleep.

Being a morning person is just not that fun. It sucks. But it’s the only way that I can fulfill my goals. My lunch time is too inconsistent of a time to write. Depending on what I have going on at work, it just doesn’t work out that well. And after work is dicey. Depending on how needy my kids are, and how late they go to sleep, I may never feel like writing. Just getting the kids ready for bed is a Herculean effort at times, and by the time they’re in bed I either want to shut my mind off for a while or go to bed myself. And if I keep on getting up so confoundedly early, I will almost certainly just want to go to bed when they do.

Surprisingly my walk didn’t take as long as I was expecting. And my scripture study and writing session didn’t take that long either. I’m sitting here at 6:45 AM wondering how I managed to take a walk, eat breakfast, and write 500 words, all in 45 minutes. Maybe being a morning person isn’t so bad after all. I mean I still just want to fall over and sleep on the next soft thing I see, but I managed to accomplish a lot in a relatlively short amount of time.

Maybe this whole morning person routine won’t be so bad after all. I don’t think I’m going to get anything done on my other writing projects this morning (you know, the ones that I actually woke up to work on), my mind is just not waking up. In fact, I’m feeling it shut down right now. But I think with some practice I can get this whole morning person thing down. . . . Or at least to the point where I can do more than just complain about waking up. I mean, honestly, who wakes up at 6:00 just to complain to a word processor about waking up? Who does that to themselves? Me, apparently. But not tomorrow . . . maybe.