athelind: (Default)
[Error: unknown template qotd]

Have you ever had a near-death experience? How close have you come to dying?

Oh, hooray, something morbid to contemplate.

I've had a couple, the first being at age 5.

Our family was vacationing at Yosemite National Park, and my two sisters (the oldest being all of Eight Going On Nine at the time) were set with the task of watching me as we wandered around an outdoor display of old gold mining machinery.

Well, at some point, I got it into my head that I was going to Go Find Mommy, and ran off at full tilt...

... right into the sharp, blade-like edge of some century-old piece of Gold Rush apparatus, set conveniently at Five Year Old Noggin Height.

The blade sliced neatly through the skin of my forehead, along with the layer of muscle underneath, and a major artery. Yes, one of my earliest memories is seeing the world through a red curtain of arterial blood.

Parents were not far distant, as it transpired, and the park ranger responded very quickly (dropping his groceries, as it was always related in later family tellings). With the subcutaneous muscles cut, my forhead skin sagged alarmingly, causing my father to think that there was an actual chunk of skin missing; wonderful parent that he was, he sent my sisters back to the blood-soaked ground to find it.

I was bustled to a doctor's office and stitched up, and I still have a scar neatly along my hairline; four decades later, it's only barely visible. There was a lot of blood lost, of course, and as my mother tells it, I passed out in the car at least once. I have no idea how close I came to death, but if any of several factors had been even slightly different ... .

The other time that I can remember isn't nearly as impressive a tale, and it's been told in this journal fairly recently: the 70-mph blowout I had on I-680 back in March, In this particular instance, I was wholly uninjured, but, again, a slightly different array of factors could have been Very Bad Indeed. If I'd been driving my late, lamented Aspire, with its slimmer wheels and higher center of gravity, I almost certainly would have rolled; the Aspire's tires were brand-new when it was destroyed, but if the blowout was because of something I'd run over, that wouldn't have made a difference.

However close I did or did not come to my Final Destination on that highway, it was shock enough to knock me out of the clinical depression that had plagued me throughout 2009 (if not longer).

Ultimately, I guess I survived that by keeping a firm grip on the wheel and remaining in control during the worst of the crisis.

I suspect that's a metaphor.


athelind: (YAY)
Well, after six months, I finally went to the DMV and transferred my personalized GRAUPH license plates from the (destroyed) Grape to the Saturn station wagon.

After all this time, the Saturn finally feels like my car.



athelind: (Default)
[Error: unknown template qotd]

Do you give your vehicles names? If so, what are they?

My vehicles name themselves, except when they don't.

My first vehicle was a '71 Chevy van, dubbed "Baby" (her full name was "Come on, Baby, please start, don't do this to me again").

A decade later, I found myself with a Camaro of similar vintage. It never really had a name besides "The Camaro".

The car I owned the longest and loved the most was, of course, my '97 Ford Aspire. I attempted to dub it something else, originally, but two different people looked at this small, round, purplish-blue thing, and proclaimed, "It's a grape!" And lo, she was indeed The Grape*.

After six months, the Saturn Station Wagon still hasn't told me her name. We're still getting to know each other, really, even though we've already had a pretty spectacular adventure together.**

I also name my computers. My first one, a 286, was named "Oracle" (after a cybernetic "Ghost in the Machine" from my early '80s Champions campaign). My second had a huge (17"!!) monitor, a huge CPU case, and an operating system that stubbornly demanded that I do things the way it wanted; I dubbed it "Colossus", and gave it a desktop theme from The Forbin Project.

"Rocinante" is my current desktop machine; it's been piecemeal-replaced over the years and now has no components in common with the original version, but there was enough continuity that I never bothered to change the name. Besides, I like it.

Rocinante's been sitting quietly for the last few months, though. My current primary machine is an Acer Aspire laptop, tentatively dubbed "Dancing Star".

I've toyed with renaming it "The Grape", in honor of my last Aspire, though.


*I need to go and tag the earlier entries about that little purple car; we had a lot of adventures over the years, and not ALL of them involved repairs. For that matter, I need to tag the entries about her ignominious demise, as well.
Dammit, I'm all misty again. I loved that little car as much as any dog or cat I've known.

**...okay, "Silver Lady" has suggested itself a few times, but I already call someone else by that name now and then, so it might be a little awkward. Of course, people name boats after their Significant Others all the time ....

athelind: (YAY)
[livejournal.com profile] quelonzia and I went out car shopping today, and came home in separate vehicles!

I now own a silver 2000 Saturn station wagon with about 107K miles on it. It seems to be in fine shape -- the engine sounds great, there were no obvious oil leaks, the interior is roomy and comfortable. It handles nicely, though it's a Much Longer Car than my late, lamented hatchback; THAT will take some adjustment time.

It's over all a better car than the Grape, and in better condition, too, despite the extra 20K miles. Oddly, despite its larger size, it may actually get better fuel economy.

Over the next few days, I'm going to be putting all the personal gear from the Grape into the new machine. I may not bother with the steering wheel cover, and the old seat covers stayed with the little purple car (because they disintegrated when I tried to get them off), but my dragon-decorated floor mats are definitely goin' back in.

I'll need to drop by the DMV and swap out the plates for my GRAUPH personalized plates.

Oh, and the plastic divinity of my choice is goin' on the dashboard.


athelind: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] quelonzia and I went out car shopping today, and came home in separate vehicles!

I now own a silver 2000 Saturn station wagon with about 107K miles on it. It seems to be in fine shape -- the engine sounds great, there were no obvious oil leaks, the interior is roomy and comfortable. It handles nicely, though it's a Much Longer Car than my late, lamented hatchback; THAT will take some adjustment time.

It's over all a better car than the Grape, and in better condition, too, despite the extra 20K miles. Oddly, despite its larger size, it may actually get better fuel economy.

Over the next few days, I'm going to be putting all the personal gear from the Grape into the new machine. I may not bother with the steering wheel cover, and the old seat covers stayed with the little purple car (because they disintegrated when I tried to get them off), but my dragon-decorated floor mats are definitely goin' back in.

I'll need to drop by the DMV and swap out the plates for my GRAUPH personalized plates.

Oh, and the plastic divinity of my choice is goin' on the dashboard.


athelind: (coyote drives)
Okay. Theoretically, the settlement check should be getting here today.

Does anyone have suggestions for places to look in the Bay Area for a decent car for about $2500-3000?

It's got to have an automatic transmission, and I'd prefer something smaller, but otherwise -- I'm easy.

We'd prefer a dealership, rather than a private owner.




This place had some tempting listings, but this review sets off ALL KINDS of alarm bells -- evidently, as recently as Halloween, they were operating under another name at the same address, and that place got lousy reviews.
athelind: (Default)
Okay. Theoretically, the settlement check should be getting here today.

Does anyone have suggestions for places to look in the Bay Area for a decent car for about $2500-3000?

It's got to have an automatic transmission, and I'd prefer something smaller, but otherwise -- I'm easy.

We'd prefer a dealership, rather than a private owner.




This place had some tempting listings, but this review sets off ALL KINDS of alarm bells -- evidently, as recently as Halloween, they were operating under another name at the same address, and that place got lousy reviews.
athelind: (coyote drives)
So, the plan today was to hop in the car, head first to Campbell and then to Santa Cruz, and personally deliver resumes to some likely employers. The hand-carry trick is what landed me the Schaaf & Wheeler contract back in 2007, after all.

I had everything carefully mapped out, via Google. I had minimaps of all the twisty, curvy confusion of Santa Cruz streets. I was steeled and ready for Hwy 17 -- brand new tires! What better time for it?

Naturally, I rear-ended another car on the El Camino onramp to Lawrence Expressway. For those taking notes, this is the major intersection closest to my house.

What happened? I'm still not entirely sure. There was a line of six or seven cars; I think I was at the back. We were all accelerating smoothly; the two onramp lanes had merged together, I was deliberately taking it easy because I had a long drive ahead.

I checked my side mirror, looked up, and SHIT CAR STOPPED BRAKE BRAKE BRAKE skreeeeeee slam.

We both pulled off to the side, and were immediately apologizing to each other and making sure everyone was okay.

According to the folks in the other car, someone three or four cars ahead of them had stopped abruptly, and, well, dominoes. They were, themselves, right behind a motorcycle, so they really slammed on the brakes to avoid taking him out.

Nobody was hurt, though the passenger in the other vehicle hit her head against the headrest on her seat. She seemed okay, though I know better than to assume that in such cases, and told her that, if she was still having problems later, she needed to get checked out. The other car had no visible damage.

The Grape's snoot is visibly crumpled, and the hood is popped on one side. At least one headlight looks misaligned.

The CHP arrived on scene after, oh, maybe half an hour after we called, since there were no injuries reported. Since we had no problem exchanging insurance information, they said they didn't need to write up a report.

This is, for the record, my second vehicular accident in my driving career -- the last one was twenty years ago, or more. As I said to the officers, if this happens so seldom that I'm never quite sure what to do, I must be doing something right.

Because the Grape is kind of old and scroddy, however, we don't have collision coverage, so this is all gonna be out of pocket.

Note, however, that Coyote does, indeed, love me: "For all the bad luck we have, we have a lot of good luck." On a day that I'd planned a drive over Highway 17, a twisting, turning route over the Santa Cruz mountains, with long stretches that have no access or egress, and traffic reports regularly show extensive blockages because accidents and mishaps can jam up the whole route for miles... my accident happened a block and a half from home, and nobody was hurt.



Meanwhile... my stepfather's in the hospital today, getting tests run. He had some dizziness yesterday, and the doctor sent them to Urgent Care, who in turn started running tests. When I talked to mom this morning, they'd done an EKG and were scheduling an MRI. Hopefully, it was just a head rush, and neither heart nor stroke.

Poppa turns 80 on the 29th. My sister's been planning a surprise party for him on Halloween, since that's the closest Saturday.


athelind: (Default)
So, the plan today was to hop in the car, head first to Campbell and then to Santa Cruz, and personally deliver resumes to some likely employers. The hand-carry trick is what landed me the Schaaf & Wheeler contract back in 2007, after all.

I had everything carefully mapped out, via Google. I had minimaps of all the twisty, curvy confusion of Santa Cruz streets. I was steeled and ready for Hwy 17 -- brand new tires! What better time for it?

Naturally, I rear-ended another car on the El Camino onramp to Lawrence Expressway. For those taking notes, this is the major intersection closest to my house.

What happened? I'm still not entirely sure. There was a line of six or seven cars; I think I was at the back. We were all accelerating smoothly; the two onramp lanes had merged together, I was deliberately taking it easy because I had a long drive ahead.

I checked my side mirror, looked up, and SHIT CAR STOPPED BRAKE BRAKE BRAKE skreeeeeee slam.

We both pulled off to the side, and were immediately apologizing to each other and making sure everyone was okay.

According to the folks in the other car, someone three or four cars ahead of them had stopped abruptly, and, well, dominoes. They were, themselves, right behind a motorcycle, so they really slammed on the brakes to avoid taking him out.

Nobody was hurt, though the passenger in the other vehicle hit her head against the headrest on her seat. She seemed okay, though I know better than to assume that in such cases, and told her that, if she was still having problems later, she needed to get checked out. The other car had no visible damage.

The Grape's snoot is visibly crumpled, and the hood is popped on one side. At least one headlight looks misaligned.

The CHP arrived on scene after, oh, maybe half an hour after we called, since there were no injuries reported. Since we had no problem exchanging insurance information, they said they didn't need to write up a report.

This is, for the record, my second vehicular accident in my driving career -- the last one was twenty years ago, or more. As I said to the officers, if this happens so seldom that I'm never quite sure what to do, I must be doing something right.

Because the Grape is kind of old and scroddy, however, we don't have collision coverage, so this is all gonna be out of pocket.

Note, however, that Coyote does, indeed, love me: "For all the bad luck we have, we have a lot of good luck." On a day that I'd planned a drive over Highway 17, a twisting, turning route over the Santa Cruz mountains, with long stretches that have no access or egress, and traffic reports regularly show extensive blockages because accidents and mishaps can jam up the whole route for miles... my accident happened a block and a half from home, and nobody was hurt.



Meanwhile... my stepfather's in the hospital today, getting tests run. He had some dizziness yesterday, and the doctor sent them to Urgent Care, who in turn started running tests. When I talked to mom this morning, they'd done an EKG and were scheduling an MRI. Hopefully, it was just a head rush, and neither heart nor stroke.

Poppa turns 80 on the 29th. My sister's been planning a surprise party for him on Halloween, since that's the closest Saturday.


athelind: (coyote drives)
Glad I still roll down the windows to and from work; last night, there was a TAP TAP TAP noise that picked up in rhythm as I picked up speed. Brain quickly assessed that there was Something Stuck To Or In The Left Front Tire.

This morning, I took a walk around the block, and, amazingly, remembered to actually LOOK at said tire. Sure enough, there's a big, fat ol' Philips head embedded in the tread, and it's lookin' mighty low.

AAA's been here and gone, the donut is on the car, and I'm about to toodle down to Goodyear to get the real tire fixed.

And I had PRODUCTIVE things planned for today. =P



Addendum: Well, that was fast and (relatively) painless. The tires were six years old, and the guy at Goodyear said that they weren't supposed to patch tires more than five years old -- though he said it in a way that implied that they'd do it if they really had to. However, the tires were six years old, and due to be replaced anyway, so the Grape is now riding on happy new tires.

And now -- onto Productive Things!


athelind: (Default)
Glad I still roll down the windows to and from work; last night, there was a TAP TAP TAP noise that picked up in rhythm as I picked up speed. Brain quickly assessed that there was Something Stuck To Or In The Left Front Tire.

This morning, I took a walk around the block, and, amazingly, remembered to actually LOOK at said tire. Sure enough, there's a big, fat ol' Philips head embedded in the tread, and it's lookin' mighty low.

AAA's been here and gone, the donut is on the car, and I'm about to toodle down to Goodyear to get the real tire fixed.

And I had PRODUCTIVE things planned for today. =P



Addendum: Well, that was fast and (relatively) painless. The tires were six years old, and the guy at Goodyear said that they weren't supposed to patch tires more than five years old -- though he said it in a way that implied that they'd do it if they really had to. However, the tires were six years old, and due to be replaced anyway, so the Grape is now riding on happy new tires.

And now -- onto Productive Things!


athelind: (coyote drives)
Back in the summer, I took my 1997 Ford Aspire (nicknamed "The Grape" for its deep indigo hue) into my local Goodyear service center for a general check-up -- "tell me what needs to be done."

"What needs to be done", all total, came to about $1500 -- but a goodly chunk of it is the regular 90,000 mile maintenance. Since the Grape's odometer only just rolled over to 85,000 a week or two back, I have plenty of time to get a little done at a time. I had to replace the axles back in August, and I just got the brakes done, and now I can start whittling away at the actual engine-related parts of the list.

So, naturally, yesterday, I was running around town doing some errands. I'd finished up pretty much everything, and was going to call it a day. About a mile from home...

The Check Engine light came on.

Now, I was already planning to take the Grape in on Thursday for the Next Step On The List -- the Cam Shaft belt, which can turn an engine into a solid lump of metal if it breaks -- so I should be okay. I've Googled "1997 Ford Aspire Check Engine Light", and it looks like the most common cause is the coolant system -- which is also on the list, with the same priority as the Cam Shaft belt.

Just to play it safe, though... I'm driving [livejournal.com profile] quelonzia's car for the next couple of days, and driving her to and from work.

I'm just hoping it doesn't turn out to be something on top of the existing list.

I should note that, while the Grape is up for a Whole Buncha Maintenance At Once, it's her Ninety Thousand Mile Check. I got her with about 36,000 already on her, so she's taken me nearly 50,000 miles with no maintenance beyond a couple of oil changes (and that ongoing issue with the problem wheel that finally got outright replaced a couple of years ago).

athelind: (Default)
Back in the summer, I took my 1997 Ford Aspire (nicknamed "The Grape" for its deep indigo hue) into my local Goodyear service center for a general check-up -- "tell me what needs to be done."

"What needs to be done", all total, came to about $1500 -- but a goodly chunk of it is the regular 90,000 mile maintenance. Since the Grape's odometer only just rolled over to 85,000 a week or two back, I have plenty of time to get a little done at a time. I had to replace the axles back in August, and I just got the brakes done, and now I can start whittling away at the actual engine-related parts of the list.

So, naturally, yesterday, I was running around town doing some errands. I'd finished up pretty much everything, and was going to call it a day. About a mile from home...

The Check Engine light came on.

Now, I was already planning to take the Grape in on Thursday for the Next Step On The List -- the Cam Shaft belt, which can turn an engine into a solid lump of metal if it breaks -- so I should be okay. I've Googled "1997 Ford Aspire Check Engine Light", and it looks like the most common cause is the coolant system -- which is also on the list, with the same priority as the Cam Shaft belt.

Just to play it safe, though... I'm driving [livejournal.com profile] quelonzia's car for the next couple of days, and driving her to and from work.

I'm just hoping it doesn't turn out to be something on top of the existing list.

I should note that, while the Grape is up for a Whole Buncha Maintenance At Once, it's her Ninety Thousand Mile Check. I got her with about 36,000 already on her, so she's taken me nearly 50,000 miles with no maintenance beyond a couple of oil changes (and that ongoing issue with the problem wheel that finally got outright replaced a couple of years ago).

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