Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Bad Things Come in Threes, Don't They ?

First off, apologies to all those who commented on previous posts over that last week or so, I have only just now gotten around to replying.

It was an eventful week, during which, it seems that I have offended the God of Gadgets, Cars, and Technology (the individual deistic departments, Cars and Gadgets & Technology, were amalgamated during the last celestial cabinet shuffle. God decided, given the convergence in both areas, a single cabinet position would be beneficial to all). I got slammed with some techno calamities - it must have been the post on Public Atheism that did it.

A few weeks back, Natasha and I decided that a new car was in order. My five year old VW Jetta wagon had only 28k miles on it (due to cycling to work and car pooling), a fine price could probably be fetched for said piece of German engineering. We had wanted to switch to a more economical car, namely the hybrid gas/electric Toyota Prius, and a viewing of "Who Killed the Electric Car," followed soon after by "An Inconvenient Truth," sealed the deal. It helped that the tax man is demanding less of my ass that anticipated, or planned for.
My wife, who could bargain with a tribe of Arab nomads and come out the victor (its her Indian genes: they live to haggle), played two car dealerships and a car broker off of each other, and got an insanely good deal on a Prius. The broker, who won out, offered us less than half the price we could expect on the open market for trading in the Jetta, so we decided to do a private sale. The day we were due to receive the new car, I took the VW to be gassed up in preparation for the many test drives we expected. Upon turning the corner as I left the gas station, the car went "cthunk" and the whole vehicle shuddered. I checked to make sure I hadn't rolled over the curb, or a small child, but nope, all looked good. No dead child on the road. Then, I turned the next corner and it cthunked again, and again, and again. If you have ever ridden a bicycle with a buckled wheel, you'll know how it pops your ass in the air as the buckled part of the wheel hits the road - well, it was like that. Not very good at all. I pulled in at nearest garage, which happened to cater to German cars, and the long and the short of it was that the fucking transmission had gone - on a car that got top ratings from consumer digest and had only driven 28k miles! To top it off, the warranty on the drive train had just ran out. We are currently awaiting Volkswagen's verdict on the matter, the local dealership seem to be on our side, as they said it is highly unusual for this to happen with such low mileage. Suffice it to say, we were spitting bullets, and I can safely say that should VW be difficult about this, Tash will be on the next flight to the Fatherland to argue the point.

The very next day dawned sunny and perfect, and vehicular problems were forgotten as I drove my new auto to work. I reveled in my low gas mileage, and the cool, gadgety bluetoothiness of it all. My superiority as an advanced, environmentally friendly member of the human race was self evident. At lunch time, filled with the joys of spring, I decided to take my bike out and do a lap of San Bruno mountain. I am getting fitter and the steep climb was less tortuous than usual. I flew down the back side, but as I reached the bottom I heard the tell tale hiss - puncture. That's cool though, I am prepared. I not only have a puncture repair kit, I have an extra tube. I decide to repair, it saves me taking off the back wheel to remove the tube. It's then that I discover that although I do have a repair kit, somehow the glue has gone missing. Plan B. The wheel is removed, new tube inserted and some vigorous pumping begins.

Snap!... hiss.

My vigorousness is a little too vigorous it seems, and I have snapped the top of the valve off. However, I am resourceful, it's a very teeny tiny puncture on the old tube, if I pump it up a little, put it inside the tire, jam a patch between the hole and the tire, and finishing pumping, I can probably make it back to work. Rejoicing in my ingenuity, I proceed...


FUCK, SHIT, BOLLOCKS, WANK!!! I've snapped the valve again. I'm really going to have to lay off the steroids for a while. As the proverbial crow flies, I'm only about two miles from work, but at the bottom of a steep mountain pass, the other side of which is my place of employment. I retrieve my pump from the tree where it had ended up after I flung it during my temper tantrum, and I call one of my team members, have him go to the shower room, get my car key from my pocket, and come get me. He is only happy to drive the new car, and is kind about the fact that this is the second day in a row that he has had to rescue my stranded ass. At the next opportunity, I'll buy one of those patch kits that stick without glue.

The cliche is that these things happen in threes, so I begin to wait for the 3rd techno calamity, and sure enough yesterday it arrived. My iPod, the one that has already been replaced TWICE by Apple, rolled over and died. Despite my reservations about Apple's quality, I love and need my iPod. Luckily I am an old hand at dealing with iPod support, which is actually very good. My iPod is lying in state, awaiting a box to ship it to Apple. I told them I had no intention of paying for shipping and repair, and they kindly acquiesced.

On top of all of this, my parents-in-law were in town. We went out to dinner with an ex California state senator whom they know from way back when they were all much, much younger. Very nice person, great story teller. We got lots of opinions on Governor Schwarzenegger and San Francisco's young, dashing, shagging-his-best-friend's-wife mayor, Gavin Newsom. Unfortunately I can't say a damn thing about any of that in this blog...


Blogger Kav said...

Ah well I forget what I was gonna say now!

Linzi and I are looking for a new (well, second-hand new) car just now as well. We were hoping to trade in the jalopy, and wouldn't you know it, just last week the exhaust decided to crumble. I've got some sellotape on it at the moment but it still sounds like a boy racer's wet dream. We'll be lucky to get fifty quid for it.

6:53 AM  
Blogger The Hangar Queen said...

I'm in the market too for a replacement Suburban (hauld yer whisht John)as ours was totalled.

That's what you get for ditching the VW.She wasn't ready to leave you but you had to force the issue.It's Carma dude.

I'm glad your underling didn't send the Prius flying into some ravine because that's where I thought this tale was going.

2:12 AM  
Blogger John Mc said...

Kav, used but just a year or two old is probably the way to go. We would have done the same, but the demand for used Prius's is so high that they are expensive anyhow and given that they have a new model with 2% financing we went with the new.

Dev - A Suburban! Has Al Gore started sending you death threats!

We also have a Honda Odyssey mini van - pretty good gas mileage for a mini van, (it is a Honda after all), but we wanted to make up for it by getting a 2nd car that was much more efficient.

Believe me when my workmate was driving my car, all i could think was that the fates would send him into a ravine! And it was just off the car lot and he wouldn't have been insured!

5:27 AM  
Blogger The Hangar Queen said...

Believe it or not Herself used to process the Gore's photos when they were DC residents.I have so much dirt on them I have a special dispensation for the Suburban.

Actually with proper looking after and one of the Tornado air filters our truck got about 22mpg and that's comparable to some of the hulked up mini-vans.It's range is about 700 miles on a tank of gas and as we don't commute with it or drive it every day I think we do alright.East Coast winters and dodgy mountain roads played their part in the decsion to get one but the biggest reason for getting it was we were expecting twins at one point.

Herself uses public transit for work and I have a brand new Jetta that's reasonably efficient for my commute but we can always do better.

I would give an awful lot to be able to walk or cycle to work and and when I start poking around for a new job in the summer that'll be a huge consideration.

10:11 PM  
Blogger John Mc said...

Dev you HAVE to spill the beans. After the sex change the secret service won't know who you are anyway!

cycling to work - love it, love, love, love ,love it. Except when it's really windy.

BTW you had pictures of yourself on the blog with an Irish cycling jersey, pray tell where did you get it ?

3:39 PM  
Blogger The Hangar Queen said...

Try www.worldcycling.com for the jersey.Mine is the 2005 version.The new one is fucking hideous.They are extremely form fitting (even for a road jersey)so don't be afaid to go a size bigger.

As for the Gore's and the Secret Service? How do you think I got the Suburban and the dispensation to run it in the first place?
Bloody armour plating and bulletproof glass was murder on the brakes though.
Still now that we lost that one I wonder if my promise to keep quiet still holds :)

8:35 PM  

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