Auto Dealer Service “Fun”

I have been spoilt. In Arizona, the major dealers all competed with each other to provide awesome customer service. As there was plenty of competition with the independent service shops, many who were excellent, they needed an edge to keep customers coming back.

I had become accustomed to fast internet, good coffee, fresh donuts and pastries, ample “quiet” comfortable chairs, and workstations to focus on doing my real work. I never minded spending a couple hours with them when I needed service.

Of course, here in California, I am in shock. Small, uncomfortable lounge area, bad coffee made by a machine, packaged pastries for free (but a vending machine), and a loud TV blaring gameshows and soap operas in the background.

Add to that prices that are about double for the same service in Arizona, and pushy upsell. I know I have a sports car, and I expect there to be additional service, but fuck me, you are taking advantage of me.

Since my extended warranty is long gone, it is time to find a local independent shop. Fortunately, in the San Jose area, I should be able to find someone who can treat my S2000 right.

The Lemond Buenos Aires, a reynolds 853 steel frame that remains a joy to ride

Cycling in the Bay Area

From the first time I slung my leg over that second-hand Schwinn Stingray (banana seat and all), I have love bicycling. A happy day when I was able to start bicycling to school, and then getting serious about it after I finished with college, my happiest times were when my work schedule allowed me to get in 200+ miles a week. Last year, while living in Chandler, I got back in the saddle in a serious way, putting on 50 – 90 miles a week, even riding into the office.

Having moved back to San Jose, the place from which I hail originally, it is comforting to get back on the bicycle again here. Having spent time in the south San Jose area, I know a lot of good routes, and am taking advantage of them. Slowly getting back into shape.

After a lot of time in Arizona, riding where it is basically flat, and the biggest grade you see is the slight elevation gain on the irrigation canals, you get a bit spoilt. Of course, there was plenty of wind to add to the challenge.

Here in San Jose though, there are actual, honest-to-God HILLS. Holy shit batman, I am out of shape. The minor hump in Santa Teresa south of Bernal road almost makes me barf my lungs out. I used to think nothing about heading up Big Basin way and riding up to the top of Highway 9, north on Skyline, and then dropping down Page Mill road for a 40 mile loop.

Well, I will have to get back into the grind. Being almost 50 is hard enough.


A Tale of Two Apartments

When we first moved back to the Santa Clara area, we were put up at a newish apartment complex in Sunnyvale. When that month of free rent expired, we moved into an affordable apartment in South San Jose. This will compare and contrast these two experiences.

Sunnyvale: Avalon Apartments

The Avalon Apartments were built in the late 1990′s or early 2000′s. They are modern, well appointed and very functional. There was wired internet (although our relo package included Comcast Xfinity cable and internet), plenty of power outlets, and a reasonable floor plan. It was a 1 bedroom, so it was a bit cramped, but we dealt with it.

Located at Lawrence Expressway and the 101 freeway, it was built in a formerly heavy business district. So a lot of the amenities that you find in communities were missing. The nearest Safeway or Lucky’s supermarket was 4 – 5 miles away, there were plenty of fast food/lunch type places, but few real restaurants. Typical of what you experience in office-park hell, which is where this was located.


Public Bathroom Etiquette

A sort of gross topic today, I am going to discuss some of the oddities I have witnessed in the rest rooms at work. This is not solely my current gig, but instead it is a montage. If you are squeamish, navigate away now.

The Stall Snob

Most public restrooms have both normal stalls, as well as larger, handicap accessible stalls. Larger, they give you a little more privacy, and often a dedicated wash basin (sink).

There are people who will leave a restroom if the handicapped stall is occupied. (hint: they aren't handicapped) They will turn around and either go to a different restroom, or come back later.

You can tell they are stall snobs when they pull on the handicapped stall door to make sure it is occupied.

Is a little privacy really that important? I guess it is.

The Walk Through

At one place I worked, there were two halves of the building, and in the center were the mens' and womens' room. Opening on both sides, they became a freeway between the two halves of the building.

This in and of itself isn't a problem. In one door, and out the other. No big deal.

But add to that the fact that the cafeteria was on one side, and that if you wanted coffee, you had to go to the cafeteria.

This leads to the grossness. The steady stream of people walking through with empty mugs, and returning with full cups of coffee. Or with their microwaved lunch. Or with snacks from the vending machine. Through the bathroom, with people dropping deuces, and draining their bladders.


Oh, and you are carrying you coffee, and you need to whiz? Set the cup on the urinal and drop your fly. As evidenced by the perpetual coffee rings on the top of the urinal.

The Hygiene Freak

Every company has some people who are super attentive to their hygiene. They brush after every meal, so they drag their toothbrush and floss into the bathroom. Grab a cup and brush your teeth. In a public bathroom sink.


The Talker

The advent of cell phones, and good wireless headsets mean that you can continue your conversation from the bathroom. There is nothing like taking a customer support call, and continuing the discussion in the loo.

Or to answer your freaking cell when you are dropping the kids at the pool.

This is rude to both the other users of the restroom, as well as to the person on the other end of the line. For fuck's sake, hang up the phone, and do your business.


Well, I could go on. There are endless odd happenings at public facilities. This is enough grossness for this evening.

Finally, our House is Sold

The saga continues, but some good news is in the air. About 6 weeks ago, we got the call that we had an offer for our house in Chandler. I didn’t get immediately excited, as we had been through this before without result.

The offer was less than I hoped for, and they wanted a couple of unreasonable requests, so I was thinking “not this shit again“. But I played nice. We countered, split the difference, and met them halfway with their requests.

They accepted the counter, and off to the races. They wanted to close on August 20th, and we of course had to go through the inspection, and the fixes. All this happened on schedule, and low and behold, on August 20th the transaction closed and was funded.

We ended up selling for $268K, (original offered at $280K), which netted us about $23K over what we paid in 2 years.

The bad news is that we made less than we hoped, and our down payment here is less than we expected. Alas, our budget for a house here will be about $100K less than we were planning. This will crimp our choices.

I guess we will have to sell our Tucson house to get us back into a comfortable price range. We have 11 months left on the lease we signed, so we aren’t in a rush.


Jackasses ruining the Dog Park

Dog parks are great places in general, however there are some people who screw it up. Today, we had one of those days.

When we got to the park this afternoon and it felt a little off. There were three people there and 5 dogs. One group grabbed a couple of their small dogs and left (not uncommon, we have greyhounds, so small dog owners are nervous).

The three remaining dogs were a german shepherd, an english bulldog, and a small poodle thing. The first warning was the english bulldog was on a pinch collar. and the owner was working hard to restrain. But no real troubles except that the little poodle dog liked to squeak and that gets Tate all excited. We know this and we prevent it from getting out of control.

Commuting Insanity – the exit shark

Living in south San Jose isn’t so bad, but it does mean I have a somewhat lousy commute. If it is a lucky day, I can get in in a little over 20 minutes. If I am not so lucky, it can take 45 minutes. This is the drive to Santa Clara, the drive home almost always sucks big tool.

This will be a series of posts, and if I get around to it, I will get a go-pro and films some of the idiocy that I see on the road. There is plenty of it.

Today, I will chronicle the ever hated exit lane shark. The setup: an onramp, that turns into an exit lane. Maybe a half mile long, it is designed to give merging drivers room to get into traffic, and people who want to exit a chance to get ready for the exit.

Alas, when there is even moderately heavy traffic, the temptation for drivers to dive into the lane, and speed by, and then to merge into traffic at the last second. No really, we don’t mind when you squeeze in with your fucking pig SUV, or BMW. You are clearly way too important to wait in traffic.

The worst exit I see is Union Avenue, off ramp off 85 northbound. I am sure that maybe 2 cars a morning do actually exit there, but it is a non-stop stream of dick heads trying to shave off 3 or 4 car lengths.

Oh, how I wish I had a shoulder fired missile…


Apartment Living – Competitive Scrap Metal

Yesterday morning, I took the recycling out, and upon putting it in the recycling bin, I noticed that a whole shopping cart was in the dumpster. I wanted to come back for a picture, to point out the insanity, but a scavenger was working it. So today I carried my camera out to grab a picture.

I shouldn’t have bothered. The shopping cart was stripped of all metal. The frame, the stiffening rods, even the bearings in the wheels. All that was left was the plastic basket.

I have never seen so thorough of a stripping job. It is like the scavengers here are fucking metal piranhas, anything that might have any commercial value is stripped clean.

Living in an apartment is a lot of fun.

Living with Arthritis

Alas, getting old sucks. A lot of things begin to degrade, and just stop working. Mid last year my left thumb started to become painful. At first, I assumed it was just a physical damage like I jammed my thumb. When after a month or so, it didn’t get better, so off to a doctor I went.

Long story short, the prognosis was osteo arthritis. The usual treatments were tried, spica brace (OTS and custom made), NSAIDs, and finally a cortisone shot into the joint.

I also tried the alternative solutions. Glucosamine and MSM. Alas, they seemed to be a big heaping pile of placebo, even in high dosages, for several months, no noticeable relief.

All that happened was a temporary respite. The only thing that helped was massive doses of NSAIDs. 800 mg Ibuprofen 2x a day did a pretty good job of keeping the sharp pain at bay. But that is not good, as I also take statins, beta blockers, ace inhibitors, and anti coagulants (don’t ask), adding 800mg of Vitamin I made me bleed in interesting areas. So I am off the NSAIDs.

There is surgery, but it is not a good option, as mobility will be greatly curtailed. The hand specialist told me that they don’t do that surgery in people my age (too young). Gulp.

Now, I am in a constant low grade pain. I can’t play guitar. I can hold on to a bicycle, but not sure for how much longer.

Getting old sucks. I fear that from now until the long goodnight, it is just a series of disappointments as I have more and more things I can’t do.



Classic TV – The Rockford Files

With the recent passing of the legendary James Garner I have once again tossed the hit TV series “The Rockford Files” onto my Netflix streaming list. I had gone through the series a few years ago, reminiscing about my childhood, but this time it was to honor the memory of James.

It is astounding how well the stories hold up to time. Written and filmed in the mid 1970′s, the stories are timeless, and entertaining today. Yes, technology is better, and a lot of the tricks of the trade employed by the main character wouldn’t fly today, in all it still makes for amazingly entertaining watching.

One fixture in the show, is Rockford’s trailer, parked on the beach. Unassuming from the outside, and remarkably spacious on the inside, it is a comforting prop to the show.

Of course, now that I am looking for a house here in California, and I might slip down into “manufactured home” territory (thanks to my shitty relocation company) I look on Rockford’s trailer with envy. Great location, and boy, how spacious is it inside.

Answer: far more spacious than it really is. Alas, the interior filming was done on a sound stage, the main reason why the trailer shots aren’t cramped.

Still, a man can dream.

If you have Netflix streaming, I highly recommend tossing this on your list, and watching a few episodes. You will be sucked in and enjoy the time spent.