Hiatus

I am taking a break from blogging … although, that was probably obvious since I haven’t posted in a while. I’m just sick of talking about politics and firearms and everything related to both that is currently going on in the country. No point in saying the same things everyone else has been saying. And I don’t really have anything else to write about that I don’t write about on Facebook.

February 5, 2013 at 3:15 AM 3 comments

Can I call this one?

Obama said he has halted reductions in the Navy, is building up the Marine Corps and investing in the hardware — combat ships, submarines and fighter aircraft — they’ll need to do their jobs. He promised higher pay, enhanced child care and improved support and other benefits.

From here.

If Obama has halted reductions in the Navy and is building up the Marine Corps, could someone in Obama’s goverment circle please let the Department of Defense know? Last I checked, all the services were either drawing down or closing most enlistment categories, such as anything requiring a waiver (for example), effective 1 May 2009.

Just saying …

May 22, 2009 at 5:46 PM 1 comment

Jeep Flair

I’ve not had any chances to photograph the new Jeep in daylight, since yesterday had us meeting with our current landlord and prospective future tenants to show the house.

Two sets of folks came to see the house yesterday.

The first set was a middle-aged school teacher who teaches in the local school district on our side of the water. She showed up wearing a pair of sweat pants and an old T-shirt. She brought along her offspring, a teenage game geek and a little boy who was smitten with our animals. She told of the one dog, five cats, three guinea pigs, and whatever other critters they have, and how they’re moving because she recently separated from her husband and he “keeps showing up.” I don’t think our landlord liked them very much, especially from a landlord’s perspective. It’s one thing to allow pets, and the house is more than full with our four (two dogs and two cats), but a whole zoo is a whole ‘nother matter.

The second person to come see the house was a middle-aged contractor who’d be living her with his wife and their small dogs. He’s from the area originally but has been living and working in the Washington, DC area for awhile. He’s looking forward to getting back into a more rural area. I think our landlord liked him and would prefer him and his wife over the mom with dad issues and a zoo of animals. He was very nice, too, and complimented us on how nice we’re keeping the home.

Once they left, we headed out to go see Angels & Demons, but it was already 7:30 and the last showing started at 7. We decided to put it off until another day, but definitely want to go see it, even if only to see whether it will live up to the book, which I enjoyed a whole lot.

Instead, we headed into town to pick up a few accessories for the new Jeep, such as license plate covers, replacement bolts for the license plates, the correct star bit needed to take off the rear seat belts (we don’t be needing them, since we took the rear seat out), and other such little odds and ends. We also bought a new set of seat covers, since our old paw-print covers were really showing their age. The new ones are just plain black, but water repellent and sturdy.

There are a couple of changes that’ll be made to the Jeep in the future. Among the first will be the installation of running lights on the bumper, adding wire covers to the lights, adding a winch to the front, and possibly getting a roof rack kit. Since the Jeep is smaller than the Escape, we’ll need a way of transporting our extra gear – a roof rack or, possibly, an inexpensive trailer – are in our future. All of this is going to wait until after the move, of course!

We may get the decals that we’ve been talking about done prior to the move, though, since there is a guy who custom-makes them locally and at a very good price, which includes both a military discount and professional installation. We’re looking to add a little Jeep flair by giving it some old-fashioned military Jeep markings. The hood number is from a 1950’s Jeep and the bumper numbers are from the Berlin Brigade, one of the first units Trueman served in. And, of course, the rear windows will have working dog stickers just like the Escape did.

I created a mock-up of what it would look like, using a photo of a similar Jeep that I found on the Internet. Our hard-shell top is actually a lighter color (more of a gray than a black), and this Jeep has different step-ups and a different front bumper, but you get the idea.

May 21, 2009 at 3:21 AM 2 comments

But it’s GREEN!

Because I haven’t really done any blogging about something other than our current car troubles, most of you will remember that our Dog Utility Vehicle, a blue 2003 Ford Escape, had to go to the shop after we hit a deep pot hole on the way home from an event  at the end of April.

This accident had done sufficient damage to the rear gear box to cause the gears to literally cut through their solid metal housing. And I’m not talking about some metal filings flying about in the gear box or some scrapes of metal on metal, I am talking about literally cutting through the solid metal. You can see the damage in the photo below, courtesy of our insurance company’s online claims tracker. You’ll want to view this at full size – it’s a must, to properly appreciate the damage.

Needless to say, this type of damage required the DUV to be dropped off at a local repair shop immediately for some much-needed TLC. Our insurance agent drove up from Norfolk, or wherever his local office is located, to take a look at the mess, and the insurance very kindly paid for the damages – replacement part, labor, and rental car – out of our collision coverage which, thankfully, is quite comprehensive and has only a $50 deductible. (Let’s hear it for low deductibles!)

After several days of being stuck with a Chevy Aveo, which is a happy little insect of a car that goes “meep meep” like the cartoon Roadrunner when you honk the horn, the DUV came back into our possession, this time with a new rear gear box – well, not new in the sense that it came fresh from the factory, but new to the vehicle.

Of course, the day after the DUV came back to us, the transmission started to make an annoyed noise when shifting somewhere in the 45 mile range, which, I’m assuming, is the shift from second to third gear (but I might be wrong). Two days after that, the dedicated Four Wheel Drive turned out not to be working at all – it made a lunking clunking sort of sound and provided very little power.

Hum.

We didn’t really expect to get it back from the shop in worse condition than it had entered the shop in, and having two issues – the rear gear box and the transmission – would certainly qualify as worse in my book.

A call to our insurance agent revealed that the way to remedy this issue would be to take the vehicle back to the local shop to have it diagnosed, while paying for a rental car out-of-pocket until the shop and our insurance company decided whether this was an issue related to the original accident, a problem with the part, or an unrelated issue altogether. So this is what we did, then.

This time around, our local Enterprise rental agents provided us with a slightly larger sedan, a silver KIA Rio, which is near impossible to say three times fast, but would make an interesting name for a horse, if one left out the space and claimed Kiario is a foreign word.

I need to mention at this point that the rental agents at Enterprise went above and beyond to make sure we were taken care of, from allowing us to transport the dogs in the rental car (we took the rental to the Air Show, transporting both dogs, our display, and our camping gear!) to giving us a great deal of leeway when it came to the time by which the vehicle needed to be turned back in. They rock!

On Monday, a week after the car had gone back to the shop, we learned that the test drive had replicated the issues we described, and that the car had gone up onto the lifts to be diagnosed. The diagnosis had found that it was possible the rear gear box replacement was either the wrong gear box, or that it was a faulty gear box, or that there was some other issue with it. At this point, however, they weren’t sure what was causing the issue with the slipping gear, and mentioned that they also did not have the ability to diagnose that in their shop.

Our insurance kindly stepped up, after some prodding, to have the vehicle towed to a dedicated transmission shop where it could be diagnosed, and we got an extension on our rental car until Tuesday.

The folks at the transmission shop were very nice and very fast in diagnosing the vehicle, and also test-drove it and made the time to thoroughly explain the issue and the repair options.

The first thing the transmission shop’s boss, Ronnie, pointed out, was that there was nothing wrong with the rear gear box, and that the vehicle functioned perfectly fine in Four Wheel Drive. It turned out that this was because the rear gear box that is on the vehicle now is not the same rear gear box that was on the vehicle when we took it back to the shop with issues. You figure that one out – seems like someone swapped a part so they wouldn’t end up owing us a new transmission due to a faulty part … of course, as there’s no proof, that’s certainly just speculation.

Ronnie also pointed out that the problem shifting around the 45 mile mark was due to a problem with the torque converter, which may or may not be due to the damage or a wrong part or simply the vehicle. Apparently, torque converter issues are a known problem with the Ford Escape SUVs and, it seems, other Ford SUVs and trucks as well. Ronnie recommended that we could replace the torque converter, which would cost in the area of $1,500, and would be entirely out of pocket, but it was certainly up to us whether we wanted to do that.

At this point – having learned quite a bit about Ford and transmission issues from the mechanics at his shop and, later, through research on the Internet – we had to ask ourselves the question whether it would be worth getting it fixed, to possibly see additional transmission issues in the near future, or whether it would be worth looking into other options.

We chose “other options” in the form of a 2005 Jeep Wrangler TJ Unlimited, which is very similar to the one in the stock photo below, and the same lovely shade of green (“electric lime green”, is what it’s called). Photos of the actual Jeep will come once I get a chance to take photos of it in daylight – by the time we were done at the dealer’s, it was starting to get dark.


At any rate, the new car is very much like the one pictured above, except that it has both the hard-shell top (which is currently on it) and the soft-shell top, a black front brush guard, towing package, CD player, and new off-road tires.

It came with its full Carfax report, showing that it has only had one previous owner, and that it has been well-maintained with regular trips to the Jeep dealership for routine maintenance, oil changes, and that sort of thing. It really is in very nice condition. We also got an optional warranty package that is good for three years or 35, 000 miles (starting the day we buy it), which covers everything from body damage to engine replacement, at a $100 deductible.

After everything was said and done and the dust settled, we put $1,000 down on the Jeep, got a good deal on the Jeep itself, which is costing us just over $10,000; the loan on the Escape has been paid off; and we’ve gotten a much nicer finance rate and, with that, lower monthly payments, for the new car. All in all, it wasn’t a bad deal.

On the downside, the Jeep is a much larger-seeming vehicle than the Escape at first glance, both from outside, and considering the view from the driver’s seat, which is certainly different. On the inside, the cargo area is actually smaller, which may turn out to be a problem when we’re trying to transport both the dogs and a bunch of equipment to reenactments, but we’ll figure out a way to make it work – they do make cargo racks for the roof and spare tire mount, and it does have that tow hitch, so we may well get a small trailer in the future. And did I mention it’s “electric lime green”? Yes. Green, very green.

Trueman thinks that it will be a great vehicle for New York, particularly for the anticipated winter weather conditions, which neither of us have any experience with. He is already talking about investing in a winch kit for the front of the Jeep – you know, in case we ever need to tow ourselves out of some deep snow up there…

Unfortunately, the custom vehicle decals I had made for the Ford Escape are now gone along with the Escape itself – which is a shame, because I put a fair amount of time into designing the “Caution Working Dog” decals that graced both our rear windows for the past two years, to keep the intellectually challenged from sticking their digits into the rear windows to pet a barking German Shepherd. And losing the “Redde Patriam” text I had made just about a month ago was annoying, to say the least.

We have been talking about getting new decals made for the side windows on the hard-shell top, maybe ones that match the Jeep logo in font, and the Jeep’s color. We have a place just down the road that makes custom decals – and does a very nice job of it, at a great price – and may just go ahead and have them done prior to moving again. And, just to make it a little more unique, we’ve been talking about dressing it up with hood and bumper numbers, like a vintage military vehicle would have. Just something different.

Trueman wants this for the back of the Jeep, maybe on the spare tire cover. I’m pretty sure our local shop does not have the ability to custom-cut Arabic letters, but they may be able to create it from the graphic. The question is, will white vinyl lettering stick to a vinyl spare tire cover, or would a hard plastic spare tire cover be needed for this to work. And, more importantly, would people take offense to this in the lovely state of New York?

May 20, 2009 at 2:56 AM 5 comments

My Next Car


Okay, so that’s not really my next car, but while I was looking at cars on Craig’s List to see what one might expect price-wise should it turn out thatwe may need to obtain a second vehicle to drive for the time being, I stumbled across a local fellow who is selling one of those, a CUCV ambulance.

It’s desert tan in color like this one, with only 48,000 miles on it. On the down side, of course, it’s a Diesel and Diesel is god-awful-expensive, but it would make a nice reenacting mobile … and double as a camper after hours.

The guy has had it listed for some time and, apparently, not found any buyers, so he may be willing to talk about the price. He has it listed at $3500. Probably (as in “very likely”) not gonna happen, but I would love to have it.

May 15, 2009 at 3:59 PM 3 comments

Fail & Random Stress

Today, while working at a children’s day camp, one of the kids who is allergic to peanuts went into anaphylactic shock. I ran and grabbed the boys eppe pen. I was holding it backwards so the injection went into my hand, causing me to pass out and both of us to be rushed to hospital. FML

From FMyLife

Someone posted a link to the FMyLife website to the dog forum I frequent recently, and I can honestly say I’m glad they did. With all the stress of the upcoming move and the car being in the shop, I can use a chuckle. Reading about other peoples’ bad days makes me chuckle. Or cringe. Or just shake my head. Either way, it’s a good distraction in these stressful days.

Moving News …

We are mailing the paperwork and deposit to our new landlord tomorrow, and are very much looking forward to getting the move over with and getting settled in our new home. This time, at least, we won’t have to do any painting, since the house has wood-panel walls!

Household Goods is picking up our things down here on June 22nd, and we have a walk-through date with our current landlord on June 24th, at which point we will turn in the keys and head out.

We have a little more time to clean and pack than we did last time, and will only need to clean the house and prime the walls. Our pet deposit pays for cleaning the carpeting and floors, and the landlord is responsible for painting the house once it’s primed. We’re hoping to actually get back our security deposit this time around – it would make for a nice change.

Car News …

The car is still at the local repair shop where it’s currently up on a lift and being taken apart to diagnose the problem. Both the mechanic and another person at the shop test-drove it and replicated the problem it has, both when driven normally and in 4 Wheel Drive. What the mechanic hasn’t figured out yet is what is causing the problem and how it’s related to it being repaired a week and a half ago.

I would (will?) be livid if the insurance company does not pay to get it fixed. It was running fine prior to the pot hole incident. It went into the shop and and the insurance paid for it to be fixed. It came out of the shop, and it wasn’t running right. One might deduct that the current issue is either supplemental damage from the pot hole incident or that the issue is supplemental damage from the repair. At any rate, it should be something the insurance company should cover. Shouldn’t it?

Hopefully, something will happen on this soon. In the meantime, we have the little KIA rental car until Monday afternoon, and are paying for it out of pocket.

We have a big living history event at the this weekend, and that has been an additional source of frustration for me, especially coupled with the car issue.

This is the first year the Fighter Factory is having an Air Show, which will feature vintage aircraft, reenactors, a hangar dance, live music, and a big dinner. It is open to the public at (I believe) $25 a ticket, or somewhere thereabouts, with proceeds going to the museum. I suppose last year’s Memorial Day event raised the necessary interest to turn this into a full-blown air show and living history display.

The problem with a first-time event anywhere is that it tends to hit hiccups in the planning stages. I’ve found it extremely difficult to get the event coordinator to email me back to answer questions, which (I’m assuming) has to do with the fact that he knows both myself and Trueman and happens to be the kinda person who plays favorites. I’ve had an equally difficult time getting a hold of the museum director, but at least I know that, with him, it’s due to the fact that he’s busy preparing for the event. We’re still not 100% sure on what we’ll be doing.

The original plan was to bring the working dog display. That has two issues – one, they’re telling us they have no indoor room for us to set up the display; and two, it’s supposed to rain, so being outdoors is not a good choice, as the display primarily consists of original vintage items. Not exactly compatible with rain.

And, of course, it also has the issue that we don’t have the damned SUV to transport it in, and the chances that everything, including us and two dogs, will fit into the KIA are pretty slim, so we may be looking at either leaving the display, or part of the display, at home or making two trips, which, at an hour each way, may not exactly be feasible.

Urgh.

I sold our big cat condo on Craig’s List today since Murphy has never used it unless she was placed on it, and Finn has not used it since he was a kitten. One less thing to move. The girl is coming to pick it up tomorrow.

The AK sold on GunBroker and will be shipped as soon as the cashier’s check for its purchase price and shipping cost gets here, which should be toward the beginning of next week, most likely on Monday, since it is coming via UPS. It’s going to a good new home in Texas.

I’ve been in a selling mood lately. We have too much stuff, too little room, and don’t use half the stuff we have. To be honest, simplifying and cutting down on the amount of stuff we own wouldn’t be a bad thing, and if it adds some money to the moving fund, even better.

May 15, 2009 at 1:27 AM 2 comments

Frustration

The Dog Utility Vehicle is back at the local repair shop and in the capable (I hope) hands of the mechanic who worked on it just a little over a week ago, when it had to be taken in because the rear gear box was going to pieces.

This new issue is directly related to that last repair – apparently, when the rear gear box was going to pieces, this damaged the rest of the transmission, considering it had to work overtime to keep going correctly – and strong enough to cut through the gearbox.

Trueman originally noticed a slight issue with the transmission slipping while shifting gears around 45mph the day after we got it back, and did talk to our insurance representative, but chose not to take it right back in due to work commitments and a lack of funds – Enterprise had kindly both charged the credit card for the extra insurance on the rental and placed several holds on it at the same time. He’d informed the insurance fellow that he would take it in as soon as possible – which was today.

Now we are waiting for the mechanic to talk to the insurance guy and explain to him that this damage was directly caused by the incident that damaged the gear box, and that it needs to be repaired. Hopefully, at that point, the insurance guy will say, “Go ahead and repair it.” and the insurance will take care of it, because – frankly – if the insurance doesn’t, we’re just shit out of luck, considering we’ve got a move coming up, need to put the deposit on our new digs up this Friday, have no spare money laying about, and just put another $300 on the credit card for this week’s rental car expenses (which, if the insurance does pay for it, will be refunded).

It’s just beyond frustrating at this point.

The rental of the week is a little silver Kia, and the only thing I can really say about it is that it is larger than the Aveo they saddled us with last time. The Kia actually has a surprisingly roomy trunk, which is a plus, as we may end up needing to take it to theair show this weekend, transporting our entire display, ourselves, and two dogs. We may have to make two trips, realistically – at least it gets good gas mileage.

When we get another vehicle in the future, whether it’s one just for me or a new “family” vehicle, I want it to be a Toyota 4Runner like the one pictured below.

I have not yet heard a bad thing about them, with the exception of them being difficult to find used “because people are keeping them.” I talked to a number of 4Runner owners on the big dog board I belong to, and the general consensus is – reliable, great in the snow, no “common” issues, and it just keeps on going. Even a Toyota mechanic chimed in, pointing out that there really are no major issues with the 4Runners. And that’s exactly what we need – dependable and problem free!


On the positive side, the AKMS isup on GunBroker with less than a day to go and a bid on it. So whatever else happens, at least it’s going to a good new home.

May 13, 2009 at 2:04 AM 2 comments

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