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Brakes and rotors and lights, oh, my!

January 12, 2008, 2:31 PM

Well, the Sable got its Maryland inspection today and failed it. However, everything that was wrong with it could be fixed, as I expected. I knew I needed new brakes, but I didn’t think I needed both front and rear brakes at the same time. I figured just rear. Then I also needed new rotors. Greeeeeeeeeat. Meanwhile, a couple of lights were out on the car, and they’re going to fix that as well.

However, what surprised me was not what didn’t pass, but what did. While I was in Philadelphia in November, one of the hinges on my back window cracked through, rendering it useless. The window was in no danger of falling out due to several other attachment points’ being sound. I discussed it with Dad and sent him a photo, and he said it was a fix we could probably do ourselves, and it would be fairly easy to do after we got the part. But in the short run, while I was still in Philly, since the loose hinge was rattling, it was highly annoying to hear while driving. And the idea of a three-hour drive back to Maryland with that rattling the whole way was more than I was willing to handle. So I made a quick fix on it right before I got on the turnpike to go home – I went to a convenience store, bought a small roll of duct tape, and taped it all back together. And it held. I didn’t have to hear that thing the entire way home.

And now, I still haven’t fixed it. And that part passed inspection. I was waiting for them to say something about that, and nothing.

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Categories: Mercury Sable

I should have gotten “Technology Czar” put on my new business cards…

January 10, 2008, 7:40 PM

Yes, if it’s in the office and it plugs in, takes batteries, or has a screen, it falls under my domain. One of the fun things about my job is that when we get some new electronic toy, I get to be the first one to play with it and figure out how it works. Case in point: We got this new direct fax system, where everyone now has their own fax number. I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited to fax something than I’ve been with this. Usually, I hate to fax stuff. The conventional fax machine is a pain in the butt, you see. You put your number in, feed the document, and then maybe it will work if the moon is in the proper alignment with Betelgeuse, Pollux, and Deneb. So yeah, I got the new system running today, in my newfound role as “Phone Czar”, and I faxed. I think I sent about six faxes. And they all showed up one after the other as a PDF in my inbox. How nice! No longer do we have to wait for the fax machine to slowly spew out what we want. Now, it just dings into the Email. Yay!

Meanwhile, it’s been eight months to the day since I moved up here, and I’m embarrassed to say that my car still has Virginia plates. That’s a bit of a work in progress. I have a Maryland driver’s license, and I’m registered to vote in Montgomery County, but legally, the car is still from Stuarts Draft. I’m getting a Maryland inspection done on it this weekend, so things will hopefully be going on that front soon. I just can’t get over how long it’s been since I moved, and that I still don’t have Maryland license plates. Well, at least I’m getting more time than I expected out of my Virginia registration. My Virginia plates’ month is April, and I figured, that’s 35 bucks down the drain, as I was expiring and, at the time I went in to renew, I knew I was moving up to the DC area, but not exactly where yet, but probably on the Maryland side (it’s a tad pricier in northern Virginia). And with that move happening within a month’s time, I was convinced bad timing had cost me 35 bucks for about a month’s worth of use. That’s what, $1.16 a day for a month’s worth of useful registration. After all, the 35 bucks is less than the ticket I’d get if I’d adopted a wait-and-see attitude about it and went around with an expired tag waiting to figure out where I would be living. However, it’s taken me ages to do anything with the whole car thing (I’ve been busy, yo!), so I’ve stretched that registration out to nine months. Still, yeah, time to get that done…

Categories: Mercury Sable, Work

Sable is packed to the gills…

May 11, 2007, 9:53 PM

I don’t think I’ve filled a car so full since I left Potomac Hall at JMU for the last time back in 2003. Back then, I had the Previa stuffed to the gills with my junk from the dorm. Now, I have the Sable filled to the brim with my stuff, headed for Silver Spring. That car is literally packed full. The back seats are folded down, and I’ve put stuff in every possible spot. There’s even stuff sitting in the passenger seat. I just hope the car doesn’t think it’s a passenger and sound the seat belt alarm when I get going. That would look odd to have the seat belt buckled over there, to keep the alarm quiet.

It reminds me of a rhyme by Muffy from Today’s Special:

There was an old woman who lived in a hat,
With fourteen kids and one smelly cat.
The hat was bulging, filled right to the brim,
And inside, things were looking mighty grim.
And then when the woman came back with one more kid,
The hat shouted, “Fifteen!” and blew its lid!

That was then followed by the top flying off a nearby top hat. But yeah, I think if I put anything else in there, the car will shout, “Fifteen!” and blow its lid, too.

One thing that I will really appreciate with this run for stuff is the lamps. Those four torchiere lamps that I have are coming, and will be placed in strategic locations in the apartment. It’s helpful because there are few light fixtures in the apartment, and lots of switches attached to electrical outlets. Thus since I brought no lamps on the first run, I had to kind of find my way around in the dark upon leaving the apartment, feeling for walls and furniture, to avoid running into them, and the subsequent cursing. And I don’t particularly like to swear, though I’ve been known to let them fly fairly easily.

Speaking of swearing, I remember something I did for a professor at JMU that both the professor and I found amusing. He said that we could write whatever on the tests themselves, “Just don’t write any swear words.” So I decided to be a bit of a wiseguy. I wrote “SWEAR WORDS” in all caps near the top of the test paper. Not actual dirty words – literally the phrase “swear words”.

All in all, I’m excited about living in the DC area…

Sable got slimed…

January 24, 2007, 2:39 PM

First of all, just to let you know, I did go to the protest, though I wouldn’t consider it to be as successful as many would have liked. I’ll discuss it in more detail later, because I want to look at the photos and movies from it first.

Otherwise, though, this was the Sable’s 31st trip to the DC area (my 85th since starting going to DC regularly in 2004, but who’s counting), and it was not looking all that nice after the trip was over.

The reason was the snowfall we had on Sunday. The area where I live, as well as the Washington DC area, was hit by a snow and ice storm on Sunday, January 21. As a result, the roads were salted. With the snow and ice on the ground, I took the Sable on two back-and-forth trips to work on Sunday and Monday. It still looked all right after that. And then on Tuesday, it went to northern Virginia. I-81 and I-66 were perfectly clear, though I managed to catch my fair share of residue from snow and snow removal.

I was surprised to see water laden with dissolved de-icer dripping from the ceiling of both parking garages at Vienna (where I was unable to find a parking space this time). That fell down on my car as big white drops.

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I feel like such a yuppie…

January 8, 2007, 10:06 AM

Here I am, sitting in a coffee shop, working on a laptop computer via a wireless connection, with a cup of coffee on one side, and a scone on the other. I’m sitting here at Daily Grind in Stuarts Draft, looking oh so trendy here with my coffee, scone, and little mouse next to the computer. The trick, though, is not to spill coffee on the Lappy’s keyboard. That would be BAD.

Otherwise, I got the Sable inspected today. It passed with flying colors, minus the right rear tire. I got that replaced, and all is well again. I kind of expected the rear tire to fail, as I’d had trouble with it holding air for a while. So good riddance to it. I have a brand new tire now that hopefully will hold air like a pro.

And then today is an off-day because I was originally supposed to pick my friend Katie up from the Charlottesville airport today. But guess what – Katie came back home early, and to stay, too. So that airport trip was scrubbed, and I’m glad. Since she’s been back in Waynesboro, I’ve gone to see her three or four times now.

Then I’m also a bit concerned – the Green Line up in DC had its first-ever accident yesterday, as the fifth car of a six-car train derailed outside Mt. Vernon Square station, injuring 20. This is also the first accident involving CAF cars. And Mt. Vernon Square is a station I’m quite familiar with. It’s the station that services the area around the Infoshop. How weird to think of a train derailing over one of the interlockings in that area. Check out an article on the incident.

And then later today, I’m going to Charlottesville to do some odds-and-ends shopping.

Leak update…

December 14, 2006, 6:07 PM

Whitesell’s is going to fix the leak, no problem. Just give them a few hours with the Sable, and all will be well. The problem, however, is going to be in finding a time to actually give up the Sable for those few hours for them to re-seal it all. I’m off Monday and Tuesday next week. Monday is a DC trip, and then Tuesday will be the car.

So it ought to make for an interesting return from Monday’s DC trip should things work out as I hope. That would take the Sable from Washington directly to Waynesboro, and then I’d pick the Sable up Tuesday afternoon after someone gets home from work to take me back to Whitesell’s.

Needless to say, that will be an interesting end to a DC trip, with my landing at Whitesell’s instead of at home. The last time I took a DC trip that ended anywhere but my house in Stuarts Draft was actually April 12, 2003 (see A Protest Against the War for what happened that day). That trip ended at Potomac Hall at JMU. This time, Dad’s going to meet me at Whitesell’s, and he’ll take me the rest of the way home. Then someone will pick me up to take me back to Whitesell’s in the evening. Then the Sable will be all ready for another run to work the next day.

So there you go.

Categories: Mercury Sable

What a surprise to see water streaming in…

December 14, 2006, 1:28 AM

I took the Sable to the car wash after work today to wash off whatever assorted road boogers had accumulated on the car. This would also be the first time I’ve taken the car through the car wash since the repairs were completed. I was quite surprised to see, as the machine made its various passes, that water was coming inside via the upper right (passenger) corner of the windshield.

I figure it’s probably a bad seal in that area. I also figure that the problem came about when the windshield was replaced, as this didn’t happen with the old windshield, and I’d taken it through the car wash a few times. The problem also doesn’t show itself in normal rainy driving, or even heavy rain, as I’ve taken it through heavy rain on the way home from Washington on a few occasions. Most recently was on November 7, when I had, to quote my November 8 Journal entry, “medium-to-heavy rain for much of the drive home, and wet conditions for the remainder.”

Still, that was a surprise to have water coming in, and I’m certainly glad I didn’t have a passenger with me at the time, because they would have gotten wet. That would certainly have been an unpleasant surprise for them.

So now I have something to do on Thursday. I’m going to go to Whitesell’s and get this problem fixed.

Categories: Mercury Sable

They say, “Vote early, vote often.” I did.

October 25, 2006, 5:56 PM

Today, I spent about an hour at the Augusta County Government Center in Verona, doing a bit of business with the local government, getting everything all squared away with everyone.

My goal was twofold. First of all, I was going to take care of the taxes on the Sable, and find out what the deal was with a $3.00-and-change late fee that was attached to the tax bill. It turns out that the late fee is related to a form that the county sends you at the first of the year. What they’re doing there is checking to make sure that you have the same vehicles that you had the last time you paid up. I did nothing with that form at the first of the year. I think I either trashed it, or it’s still sitting in a drawer somewhere. Either way, it seems that the 39-cent price of a stamp is well worth it if it saves me from having to pay more than seven times the amount in a late fee.

And then I also paid my personal property taxes on the Sable and bought a new county sticker. For 2007, the county stickers are orange. This is a change from the dark red 2005 sticker and the blue 2006 sticker. Since the old 2006 sticker was already loose in spots due to its being transferred to the new windshield in September, I just pulled it off with my hand, and affixed the new sticker. Bingo bango done.

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And here it is…

September 29, 2006, 4:11 PM

As you can see, the Sable is BACK!

Sable following repairs

The new grille is in place, and the dents have all been repaired. I am whole again.

Categories: Mercury Sable

The Sable is BACK!

September 29, 2006, 12:12 AM

The Sable has returned, and now it’s got a brand new grille, a new windshield, and all the dents from the deer accident have been repaired. So basically, it’s good as new. And I also still have the original grille.

The only major difference is in the windshield. The original windshield was plain all the way up. On the other hand, the new windshield is tinted blue at the very top.

They also detailed the whole car in and out, so it’s looking just gorgeous. We’ll see how long that lasts, but I’m going to make it last as long as possible.

And of course, I’m out of Sis’s car again. Trust me, once one takes a ride in my Sable, and especially once one has become accustomed to it, it’s hard to go anywhere else. I’ve come to enjoy my leather seats, and I also have more legroom in the Sable.

As you can tell, and as if the present photo feature wasn’t a BIG hint, I’m so glad that the Sable’s in one piece again.

Categories: Mercury Sable

The Sable is now at Whitesell’s for repairs…

September 25, 2006, 3:31 AM

With the Sable at Whitesell’s getting the dents taken out and a new grille and windshield installed, I’m going to be driving Sis’s car, a 1997 Mitsubishi Galant. This would be one that I’m going to have to get a shovel to make presentable.

Let’s put it this way: Dad described the Previa that I used to drive as a “dumpster”. I did, however, defend it there. It had its faults, but it was still a good car, albeit very well-loved. And it wasn’t the cleanest. On the other hand, Sis’s car is “worse than a dumpster”. All I know is that in being off work on Monday, I’m taking a garbage bag to that car and cleaning out the… well… garbage… from the interior of the car.

It’s going to be weird driving another car this week. Though I can’t wait to see the Sable restored to its proper look again. Plus they’re detailing the whole thing…

Categories: Mercury Sable

One windshield, added to the list of things to do.

September 18, 2006, 8:45 PM

So let’s officially add a windshield to the list of things to work on while I’m in the shop. I also finally got the insurance check from the deer accident resolved, and it’s now in the bank and waiting to be paid to Whitesell’s when the work’s all done. The Sable’s going to be out of service for a week. It’s going in next Monday night, and returning on Thursday or Friday.

And meanwhile, I’m going to DC this Wednesday instead of next Wednesday. It’s confirmed: Dad won’t let me take Sis’s car to Washington in the week that the work is going on, and so I’ll be taking the DC trip a week early, and doing it in the Sable. This means that DC will see my car with its dents and missing grille one more time, as well as that brand new crack in the windshield that happened yesterday. Of course, this means that there will be a longer gap between DC trips than I’d prefer. One week between this and the last one, and then three weeks until the next one.

Needless to say, I’m going to be climbing the walls by the time October 11 (estimated date of next scheduled DC trip) rolls around unless I double-dip (meaning that I take an extra non-scheduled trip), which is possible.

Categories: Mercury Sable

Add “windshield” to the list of things to fix next week…

September 17, 2006, 11:17 PM

It seems that when it rains, it pours, as I had another incident in the Sable on my way up to Harrisonburg today. This time, I got a nasty crack in my windshield. I was driving up I-81, and a rock flew up and hit my windshield in the extreme upper left corner from my perspective. Since it was so extreme of a corner that it was actually on the black, I thought at the time that I’d gotten away unscathed, since I didn’t see any damage from my vantage point in the driver’s seat.

The purpose of my trip to Harrisonburg was to visit the Rocktown Infoshop, which is a left-wing bookstore on Elizabeth Street in downtown Harrisonburg similar to the Brian MacKenzie Infoshop in DC. I parked along Court Square in Harrisonburg, and walked the block or so to Rocktown Infoshop.

Rocktown Infoshop is a neat place. Besides a small selection of books (they aspire to have as much as DC’s Infoshop), they also have locally-made crafts, a free store where you can donate items and also take what you wish at no cost, and a place to sit and relax. The space is larger than DC’s Infoshop, and unlike the Infoshop in DC, Rocktown Infoshop is at street level, and therefore has a good storefront. Recall that in DC, the Infoshop is in the basement of the Flemming Center, and as such has a narrow set of stairs to access its outside entrance, and has no street-level storefront to speak of.

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Categories: Driving, Mercury Sable

The Sable reports for repairs on September 25…

August 28, 2006, 9:27 PM

Yes, on September 25, I will finally get a grille again. For that matter, starting that day, I will no longer have a sizable dent on my right fender. And while I’m out a car, I will be driving Sis’s car, which is a gray 1997 Mitsubishi Galant.

I’m going to miss my Sable dearly during that time, but I know that it’s going to be made good as new during that time period. No longer will I be driving around looking like I had a head-on collision with a deer, despite how fortunate I was that the car was still drivable after that deer incident. So I’m going to be pleased with that.

And it’s given me a whole new respect for the wildlife that lives along the Blue Ridge Parkway, and to take it even more slowly up there than I was going when the accident happened. When the accident happened, I was only going 40, five below the posted speed limit of 45 mph.

So with my driving Sis’s car while the Sable’s in the shop, I’m going to have to make a few adjustments to that car before the time of need arrives. Specifically, Sis left that car in a mess when she went to Virginia Tech. There’s all sorts of trash and other debris in the floor, in the front seats, and in the back seats. As a point of comparison, the Sable’s relatively clean, with only a little bit of tracked-in debris in the driver’s side floor area. So I’m going to be doing Sis a big favor and taking some time to completely clean her car out. Since I’m not driving in that kind of mess. No way.

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Categories: Mercury Sable

Should we call it “close encounters of the deered kind”?

August 24, 2006, 3:18 AM

The Blue Ridge Parkway is very quickly becoming a dangerous place for the Sable. And before you ask, no, I did not hit another deer (thank goodness). But I did have a close encounter near the Rockfish Valley Parking Overlook. This deer was along the side of the road, minding its own business. I kept an eye on it as soon as I spotted it, waiting for it to make a move. It sees me. It did that deer-in-the-headlights thing. Then, as I continued, it just darted out in front of me. I slammed the brakes, enough to activate the anti-lock brakes. It was a close encounter, but we missed each other.

I contemplated adding deer whistles to the Sable after the repairs are completed, but according to this article, this article, and this article, they’re junk. So that goes out the window.

I don’t know what it is, but it seems that the deer are really out and about this year. I didn’t see nearly as many deer on the Parkway this time last year.