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A computer fix-up turned into more adventure than expected…

November 22, 2009, 4:52 PM

So on Saturday, I went down to Reston to visit my friend Matthew Tilley. The DVD drive on his computer was acting up, and so our goal was to confirm that it was actually a bad drive as HP tech support had indicated over the phone, and then if that turned out to be the case, to get a new drive.

So after dealing with traffic getting over there (heavier than usual due to the upcoming holiday), I made it to Matthew’s apartment complex. We hung the visitor’s pass on my car and parked in the designated visitor spots. We tested the drive, and it wouldn’t recognize anything short of one music CD, even after ensuring that the discs were clean of fingerprints. So that confirmed HP’s diagnosis – the drive was busted.

Not to worry, though – I came prepared. I brought tools, and so I popped the cover off his computer. Matthew’s computer is an HP Pavilion “Slimline” computer (like this). One thing about those miniature computers is, they don’t waste a lot of space. I’m used to tower computers with a lot of airspace in them, and this one was jammed with equipment just about everywhere. It certainly makes for a more delicate operation, as you could accidentally slip and take out an unrelated component. On the other hand, computers I’ve had, especially my old Gateway, have a lot of room to get in there with your hands and move stuff around.

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These glass guys aren’t exactly bright people, but they do good work.

August 4, 2008, 8:13 PM

First of all, let me preface this Journal entry by saying that the Sable is going through some rough times right now. Not long after I had to drop a new compressor into the car to get it moving again, I have something else go wrong. Let me explain. I’m driving in the car, going to Reston where my friend Matthew Tilley lives, in order to pay him a visit. I’ve gotten off of I-66, and I’m going up Fairfax County Parkway. There’s a car in front of me. And a rock comes right out from under that car, and *smack* hits my windshield, leaving a nice chip in it. So okay. It’s not a big deal. It’s just a chip, but I’m still a little bit pissed about this, even though it’s something that’s totally covered under my insurance.

So after I finished over at Matthew’s house, I headed back to Silver Spring to my house and filed the claim with Progressive. You go on their Web site, and you have to tell Progressive where you got nicked, and how you got nicked. Okay. Next day, bright and early, I got a call from Progressive. Okay. We went over everything, but first they needed proof that the windshield work was done back in 2006. So they had to call Whitesell’s, who, like the truly awesome folks that they are, came through with an invoice. So once Progressive had that in hand, we were going well. I agreed to use their roving glass service to fix the car, since I’m not taking the Sable anywhere to get it fixed if they can come to me.

So then later, the glass guys call me to schedule an appointment. We go over all the information that they got from Progressive, including make, model, body style, color, state of registration, tag number, plus we went over the damage again. In other words, there is only one car that fits that description – mine. And then I confirmed with them – I don’t need to be there for this job, right? Correct. I don’t need to be there. We also confirmed that it doesn’t matter which way I’ve got the car pointed, because they can get at it whether I’m parked forwards or backwards.

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Categories: Mercury Sable

“What do you know that I don’t?”

July 1, 2008, 2:22 PM

Well, the Sable’s in the shop at Lindsay Ford in Wheaton, after I had it towed there late last night. That was not a fun experience last night, but the tow guy was really helpful, meeting me at Glenmont, among other things, making it far easier.

So first thing in the morning, as I’m tying my shoes to go out, I got a call from the folks at Lindsay. They want to know what to do with the remote. I said I just need to get it programmed again, since it quit working when I had the battery replaced back in December. Okay. Pretty straightforward.

Then at around a quarter to two, I got a call from Lindsay’s sales department, as a gentleman was looking to see if I was interested in something a little newer. My exact response: “What do you know that I don’t?” Once I watched him start doing some major back-pedaling, I realized what he was up to, as service just casually gave my name to sales to try to drum up some new-car business. I nicely told him off, and that unless there’s something he knows about my car that I don’t, I’m keeping the one I’ve got, thank you very much. And more back-pedaling, and he made sure to give his name again before he said goodbye.

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Categories: Mercury Sable, Some people

Ford: “Fix Or Repair Daily”? “Found On Road Dead”?

June 28, 2008, 7:24 PM

The Sable’s not feeling well right now.

The little check engine light came on when I took it out on Tuesday, and now today, I had such a time trying to get it going today that I determined that if I ended up taking it out, I couldn’t guarantee that the car would be able to make it back under its own power. So that scraps my weekend plans. I had to run a bunch of errands, and they’re not getting done now. I was also going to go to a coworker’s housewarming party in Shaw today, and sadly, that’s not happening now, either.

So here’s what happened. I went down to fire up the car to go out, and it started up. I put it in reverse. I move a few inches, and the car stalls. Start up again. Reverse. A few inches, and dead. I eventually did manage to start the car and get it moving, so I ran it once around the parking lot to test. As soon as I got to the exit of my complex, which is up a slight incline, the car died again. I had to wave someone around me there, since the Sable was “Found On Road Dead”. Well, almost on the road. So I managed to get it back into a parking space, and raised the hood to take a look. Here’s what I saw:

Battery on the Sable

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Categories: Mercury Sable

I am convinced that the purpose of the emissions testing in Maryland is for the task of extricating an additional fourteen bucks on top of everything else you have to pay around here…

April 26, 2008, 10:36 AM

Well, this morning, this beautiful April 26 where the sun is shining and the birds are singing, I had to drive down to White Oak to get an emissions test for the Sable. I’m all for keeping noxious fumes out of the atmosphere, but this was pathetic. I’m charged fourteen bucks for a five minute visit with Mr. Personality. Most of this time was spent processing my payment of $14. For the actual test, all I did was drive up to the testing location, turn off the car, get out, he plugs his computer into the car, looks at his screen, unhooks his computer, and hands me an emissions certificate saying I passed. Yaaaaay. No cone over the tailpipe or anything. No computers electronically “smelled” what’s actually coming out of the back end of my car.

This was also one of those things where I spent more time traveling to the location than actually spending time at the location. I always say that any trip, to be worthwhile, should be where the amount of time at the location is greater than or equal to the amount of time spent traveling to and from the location. This did not qualify, especially when you consider that I got stuck behind a roadblock on Randolph Road caused by an accident or something, and thus had to turn around, go down New Hampshire Avenue to White Oak, and then catch Route 29 from there to go up to the emissions testing station.

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Categories: Mercury Sable

Of course, this would be the time when I realize the discs I need are with my parents.

March 11, 2008, 6:14 AM

I was getting ready to convert the Lappy to its new “final” configuration – a dual boot between Windows Vista and Ubuntu Linux – and in looking for my Vista discs, I realized that they weren’t here. I turned the place upside down, too. Went through all the drawers in my desk, through all the junk on my desk, and so on and so forth. Not here. So I have to go digging through what stuff of mine is still in the “pirate room”, aka my old bedroom. Of course, it’s not like it’s far away. I’m going there tomorrow night. So I’ll look.

Otherwise, today should be exciting. This is the day I position the car at Vienna after work. I’ve already packed my suitcase, and emptied my crates (I intend on bringing more of my stuff to Silver Spring, so the take from last time needs to be unloaded). Then you realize that whatever I don’t take with me this evening has to go to work with me tomorrow. Thus the key is remembering everything tonight, because I’m not coming back after work tomorrow, and I don’t want to drag all of everything of mine to work. Bad idea.

And then Sis flies in earlier on Wednesday, so we all will be together again on Wednesday night. Yaaaaaay!

Continuing to stain…

February 18, 2008, 1:32 PM

Now that the stain has proven to be a match, we’re staining two more:

Staining the Malma mirrors

Two coats later, it looks like my bedroom set. Excellent! And it’s 60 out right now, according to Weatherbug, which to me means it’s good staining weather. This is going to look so nice when it’s all done. I haven’t decided yet whether it’s going to be two rows above the bed staggered, or a tic-tac-toe style arrangement. We’ll see.

Meanwhile, speaking of home decor, I’m going to hang the Sable’s old grille on the wall in the closet. Why the closet? Well, it’s not something I want to put out where everyone will see it, but nonetheless it is a keepsake of sorts – a memento of my run-in with the deer, a somewhat traumatic experience.

Categories: Furniture, Mercury Sable

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

What a lovely day with Mom today…

June 16, 2007, 11:58 PM

Mom came to visit this weekend, and we had a wonderful time. She came up on Friday, and took the Metro down to Dupont Circle to meet me right after work. We rode back to Wheaton station, where Mom parked, and then went back to my place, where we brought some stuff in. She brought me my computer chair (yay!) and also a coffee table. Mom replaced the coffee table in the family room last year, and so now I have the old coffee table. I love it. It looks so good in my living room, and it will certainly enhance the way things look.

Once we brought everything in, we ordered pizza from Papa John’s. There’s a Papa John’s not far from here – in the same shopping center as H-Mart. We got a pizza that could best be described as unconventional – their spinach alfredo pizza, which has an alfredo base rather than a tomato base. We also got mushrooms on it. I don’t even want to think about how many calories that thing had, but it was good. After dinner, we watched TV, and then went to bed. Mom became the first to sleep in my bedroom on a cot that she brought, and then I slept in the living room on the futon (as always).

Then on Saturday, we went to Ikea in College Park, where I finally got that new bed. I got their Hemnes brown-black bed with a nice, comfortable mattress. Queen-size, and all for me. We’re getting that delivered. Mom got some furniture as well, and we also got a chance to look all over their showroom. The place was not nearly as busy as it was on Memorial Day, and so we got a chance to stroll around a bit. Plus, considering that this was my second trip to Ikea, I was not nearly so overwhelmed.

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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