Sunday, October 31, 2010

Monday, October 11, 2010


Since I am a contractor and have NO idea where (or really even if) I will be employed in a month or so, of course I ran out and bought a new vehicle.

More on the employment drama later, right now I'm obsessing over this:

Her name is Petunia. I've never actually named a vehicle before, and I feel a bit nuts doing it this time but the thought hopped into my head and I can't get it out. Maybe I've not named the others because I did not buy them new? I'm not really a fan of renaming animals after you acquire them either, if it can be helped. Yes, I know the truck isn't actually cognizant, thank you.

I love my Jeep, but it's aging. (And thank you, Jeep, for discontinuing the best, most practical, perfect vehicle ever. I hate you. And I want another damn Cherokee. What is WRONG with you people anyway???) Twenty thousand miles ago, my brother told me that I had between thirty and fifty thousand miles before things started going really wrong. I'm coming very close to 150000 miles, and the little things have gone wrong a-plenty.

No heat. No air conditioning. (I think. It's not like I ever turn it on.) Strange electrical issues. Rust starting. Weird paint issues after the Great Flood. When it gets Ohio cold (but not North Carolina cold), the locks have started to stick. I had to climb in thru the back a couple of times while home for the holidays last winter. The back door has also decided that cold isn't going to work for it anymore, and below some certain undefined temperature, the back door is liable to come crashing down without warning. The hood sticks. Then releases. The clothe on the ceiling is falling down, and my attempts with spray adhesive have only made things worse. The seals are starting to go, so when it rains (i.e. the Great Flood), the Jeep stays damp and musty for days - very pleasant. The Alpine stereo is beginning to get very warm after twenty minutes or so, and will no longer eject CDs when instructed to do so. And so on and so forth.

Anyway, I started the vehicle search about a year and a half ago. Since I can't have what I really want (Bastards!), I went a-hunting for the next best thing. It needs to handle snow. Rain. Hail. Velociraptors. (Ok, well not so far but if it happens to anyone, it will be me.) Mountains. Swamps. On road, off road, highway, streambed, cornfield. I have to be able to load it full. Of people. Or cargo. Or both. I want a manual transmission, dammit. (And that alone thinned the ranks considerably. I know many people who prefer a stick shift. Stupid car companies.) I finally narrowed it down to either an XTerra or a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited. Then I went test driving - many of them, ALL over the place. The Jeeps didn't have enough power to get out of their own way. Seriously, the Cherokee does better HAULING A BOAT than any of the used AND new ones that I test drove. But the XTerra... oh, I fell in love!

So after several months, I knew what I wanted: 2008 - 2010 Nissan XTerra with 4WD, preferably the off-road package, a manual transmission, in a dark color. Picky? Um no, not me. If it was an off-road, I wanted 2009 or newer 'cause of the cool (gawds I'm a dork!) off road lamps. I love Seriously. LOVE them. I searched and searched and searched. "They" say that everyone wants an automatic transmission, but a car lot gets a manual in and that thing is GONE in minutes.

Finally, a few weeks ago, there was a used 2010 for sale in Georgia. It had everything I wanted except it was black instead of the dark grey. AND there was a new 2010 in Maryland that had EVERYTHING I wanted, including the color. I emailed the place in Maryland and told them that if they beat the price of the one in Georgia, I'd come get it.

(Note: if you are car shopping, be aware that the internet sales manager is usually paid differently than the run of the mill sales guy. He is usually paid a salary, with a small commission per vehicle sold. The normal sales guy usually gets a percent commission on every car sold. Therefore, it is NOT in his best interest for you to get a good price. The internet guy doesn't care how much each car sells for - his money comes from the volume of total cars sold. This is important.)

My timing was not accidental - the 2011 models have been out for about a month so they have incentive to get the 2010's off the lot. After some dickering (I'll pay this. This? No. This? No. THIS? No. I think we're done here. Fine. You'll pay that? Yes.), I caught a ride up to Maryland to pick her up. More dickering - three hours of it - at the car lot made me very glad that I decided against trying to trade the Jeep in at the same place. FINALLY after all papers were signed, the finance guy asked me what I did and I told him that I was an SQE. When he asked what that meant, I told him that meant that I spend all day forcing people to do what they said that they were going to do. His response? "Oh. Well, that explains today." Yup. Then I had the keys and I just had to remember how to drive a stick shift. Through Baltimore. At 5:00 on a Saturday. Yay! But we made it, and I haven't actually stalled it yet.

So, my shoe budget has been severely curtailed for a while, but I LOVE LOVE LOVE my shiny new XTerra!

Friday, October 01, 2010

So What Is A Cubit, Anyway?

We've had A LOT of rain here... like 15 inches in 5 days. Everything is flooding. The drive to work (approx 33 miles each way) has taken two hours each way every day this week. Right now, it's pick your favorite weather advisory - all of these are currently active: thunderstorm watch, tornado warning, flood warning, severe weather watch, tornado watch, coastal flooding watch, wind advisory... and I might have missed one or two.

Yesterday, I left work at 5:00 based on a friend's recommendation that if I didn't leave then, I would be staying in town for the night. The road was mostly standing water and at one particular intersection, it was over a foot deep and rising fast.

What is currently amazing me is how nonchalant everyone is about the situation. Everyone who's been here a while has told me that it hasn't been this bad since [Hurricane] Floyd came through and then they go on to regale me with tales of their cars being under water and standing on their cars and still being chest high. These are the same people who freak the f*ck completely out over even a mention, a mere HINT, of snow. This is baffling to me.

I live in one of the town's historic districts, and while I chose it because I love the houses, it occurred to me that the house has stood for over a hundred years - odds seemed good that it'd survive whatever comes next. This theory proved correct yet again. One problem with this theory: I didn't really take into account getting TO and FROM my nice dry house. That has posed more of a challenge since it is situated on the only high ground - which means that it is surrounded by low ground.

As a matter of fact, last night was quite a challenge. I ran over something while sloshing through a bit over a foot of water and it shredded one tire and scuffed up another. I have no jack in my Jeep. I spent three hours sitting in my jeep in the pouring rain, waiting for the tow truck. That was awesome. So today I spent some quality time at the tire place, replacing two tires. (And having to do that TODAY with what I'm doing this weekend makes me all kinds of happy!)

In the photo below, you can kind of see the water thru the raindrops - the field is completely flooded, so is the drainage ditch and there was about four inches of standing water on the road - for several miles.

This is normally a fairly small little river. It's swollen to more than 3 times its normal width.

At this point, even the ducks are soggy and irritated. My plan is to cuddle in with some hot cocoa and work out the plans for the ark that I'm going to build in my (not flooded yet) backyard. So what is a cubit, anyway?