May 30, 2004

Zoom zoom.

Just returned from a camping trip. Bought a new car the day before we left: a Mazda 3 S-series 5-door. It's sweet and oh so fast. More later, including some photos.

May 25, 2004

May 22, 2004

Oh, my, a moonroof?

We are getting a new Focus. It is on a truck, bound for a dealship in New Jersey, outside of Philadelphia, PA. Then, they'll drive it down here to Baltimore. It is a "pitch black" ZX3 SES with everything, even heated seats (which I don't really want). However, it has the automatic transmission that my wife wants (even though she can't drive at all -- no license -- and that it is an $800 option) and the power moonroof that I wanted on the one we bought last summer. We're kicking around names. I like Orestes -- revenge for the fallen father and all that. My wife likes The Raven, since I'm from Baltimore and since I'm a Poe fan. I think that's way too...goth for me. The other car which we referred to as "The Focus" was sorta-sometimes called The Boat, since it was small. I thought that was funny.

May 20, 2004

R.I.P. the Focus.

I'm waiting to hear from Geico's "Total Loss" division. That's right; that jerk destroyed our nine-month-old car last Friday. When the folks at Geico and the Ford dealer cut the hood off, they said that the engine and frame were too damaged to ever be repaired. That's probably good, since every noise from under the hood would from then on make me wonder. Of course, the insurance company (despite how much I love Geico) only pays the "blue book" value of the car, which is considerably less than we actually owe on it. Fortunately, we are pretty sure that we took out "gap coverage," which pays what's left. Also, my aunt (who is AWESOME) used to work for Ford Credit, so we are getting a sweet deal on a new Focus, as soon as we can find a 2005 model with what we want on it. If everything works out, we'll have a new Focus with lower payments than the old one, which was about the same price as a V6 Mustang. So, my secret wish to have the newly-updated 2005 Focus will come true. But we can't bring ourselves to get another Sangria Red one or a ZX5 -- too sad. We'll probably get a ZX3 (the three door, as opposed to the five door) since that ZX5 was really just a waste of money for us. I mean, we used to put our backpacks on the backseat, using the backdoors, just to get some use out of having the extra doors. Geico called the asshole that hit us, and he wouldn't respond at all to their question about his speeding through a bus stop when he hit us. After that and hearing what a jerk he was at the scene, our claims adjustor says that theGeico is seeking all of the money from his insurance company. Whatever the law is in Maryland about making left turns, they think they can get his insurance company to pony up when confronted with his dangerous driving. This is all good news for me and for my rates. As for his insurance company, they have not even bothered to call me at all. Then, there's the rental car. Geico pays for that. But the lazy bastards at the Enterprise near Hampden gave us a brand-new car with the brake light on. Then, they charged Geico for two days wherein we could not even drive the car, and they never had another one ready like they told Geico they would. So we finally got one last night from another Enterprise, and it's one of those hybrid Toyotas. It's very strange, and I keep waiting for one of the computers to fail. It feels like a box-shaped vacuum cleaner on wheels. But it gets 45 mpg on the highway, and with Bush's gas prices, I guess one can't lose with it. As we were leaving the rental lot, some crazy old man backed into another car in the lot. He hit its wheel with his bumper. He didn't hit it all that hard, but it was hard enough to move the suspension. I told the employees there, and they stopped him. He swore he didn't do it. Cars should come with lie-detectors. And, as my recent experience proves, SUVs should be first to have them installed.

May 17, 2004

In other car-related news.

The Focus is at Bob Davidson Ford, where it came from last summer, before I moved to Illinois, just after I had moved away from Boston. I found and bought it in one afternoon. The gentleman in the body shop is very nice, and I feel like our little car is in very good hands. My brother's [cherry] red Focus and my mother's Mustang have both been to the same body shop, with excellent results. And the same guy at the shop was singing Geico's praises, too. That makes me feel a whole lot better. And we are getting a rental car today at 5 p.m. I hope it's not another Focus; it will just make me sad.

May 15, 2004

Dude, what happened to your car?

I have a very dirty mouth. I've stripped the paint from statues of the Virgin Mary with my language. I have heretofore refrained from exercising my vulgarity on this blog, and I will try to restrain myself now. I apologize if I alienate or offend anyone. Anyone except for the son of a bitch who nearly killed my 85-year old Polish grandmother, my wife and I today in the Focus. I took my grandmother out for lunch, since I haven't seen her since Christmas break. My grandmother needed one quart of 1% fat milk. We were on the way to her favorite market to get some. We were stopped and about to make a left turn. Suddenly, someone in a huge small-penis Expedition flies out from traffic going the opposite way -- who are all stopped behind a vehicle making a left turn -- and into the front and side of the Focus, hitting us hard enough to spin the car around one third of a turn. Geico was awesome enough to send a tow-truck immediately, and the car is now at the Ford dealer where I bought it, one with whom my family has had some body work done with great satisfaction in the past. I was getting my cane-weilding grandmother out of the passenger seat immediatly after the impact, and the fucking asshole who just morphed my shiny red Focus into a smoking and broken piece of metal and plastic actually hit the car again with his door as he got out of his cock-extension of an automobile. Had I not been pulling my shaking grandmother out of the wreck, I would have fucking killed him then and there, in front of the the police officer and all of the people standing around. I swear. Right there. He didn't say a word to the scared old lady he had almost killed seconds earlier. Or to me. Cock. So, to sum it all up, I am 850 miles from my actual residence, at my parents' house in Baltimore, and I am waiting to hear if my car is totalled. No one was hurt, since I lied to my grandmother (who never ever ever wears her seatbelt) and told her that modern cars won't start without the belts engaged and, since we didn't actually get to turn (in which case, we would have been side-swiped). Geico is being great about the whole thing so far, and we can get a rental car next week until the Focus is all better, which might take a few weeks. Luckily, Geico lets the work start as soon as they look at the car, not as soon as who is paying for it is settled. According to Maryland law, since I was making a left turn, I am considered partially at fault automatically. As such, Geico is going to have to pay for some of the accident (and I will have to give them $500 as my deductible). However, if the other asshole is at least partially responsible for the accident, according to Maryland law, his or her insurance company also has to pay. He should pay for the whole fucking thing. The bottom line is that this fucking 68-year old jerk-off with a huge fucking chrome brush bar on the front of his I-have-a-small-penis-SUV drove through a bus stop at an excessive speed and into my car, and my insurance company is going to have to pay for some or all of it, and then -- surely -- pass that expense along to me. My car will be in the shop for a long time, and I have to get back to Illinois in a few weeks. Some asshole drove like an idiot, hit me, took my car away for a long time, almost killed my wife and grandmother, and his stupidity and assholicity will cost me a ton of money, in addition to the heartache. That's just fucked up.

May 11, 2004

Baltimore is HOT.

Baltimore is as hot as Southern Illinois this week. Just spent hours washing the bugs, road dirt and remaining mud from Makanda off of the Focus. He's shiny now. Globs and globs of mud and grass fell out of the wheel-wells with a good hosing. I hope that bringing Southern Illinois mud to Maryland won't upset the ecosphere. But if someone was going to be dumb enough to do it, it would definitely be me. Also, we have a guest blogger coming soon: Chris from Blog Collective. He's back in the US!

May 08, 2004

Baltimore, here I come.

Washington Monument, Baltimore City, January 2004, very slow shutter speed. Thanks to Typepad's delayed posting, this will be published before dawn on Saturday (tomorrow) morning, right when we are leaving for the 12-14 hour drive to Baltimore, Maryland. We drive through southern Illinois, southern Indiana, all of the way through Kentucky and West Virginia, through the Continental Divide, through western Maryland, and all of the way to the Chesapeak Bay. It's a gorgeous trip. In all, the trip is about a third of the way across the continent. I only stop for gas and bathroom breaks, and I do all of the driving. The poor Focus will have to survive an 850 mile drive in mid-80-ish temperatures, with the air conditioning on. He gets his revenge, though. He kills thousands of tiny bugs and then carries what's left of them to where we are going as tiny, sticky trophies. Sick sangria red metallic bastard.

May 06, 2004


Finished. The last paper is printed out. The signature is in my hands for summer study. In two days, I'll be in my hometown of Baltimore, Maryland, 12-14 hours away. My glasses are off, I just had a nice Sam Adams, "The Simpsons" are on, and I'm going to eat breakfast tomorrow morning at the Corner Diner. Life is good.

May 05, 2004

Almost there.

I finished a draft of my last paper today, on Max Scheler, William James and human suffering, i.e., is there a usefulness to suffering? Successful? Ah, I'm more concerned about it being finished. The other two long papers are handed in, and I already received one back (A, thank you). When I finish this last one, I need to get my fellowship paperwork in order, get a signature and registration for the summer independent reading taken care of -- and I am finished my first year of PhD work. I'd say, "finally," but the year has gone by so quickly that I think it will take me until July to catch up with it.

May 02, 2004

Muddy Makanda Spring Fest.

We went to the Makanda Spring Fest today. Among the hippy-esque and hipster-ific* moments of the day, one stands out in particular. It rained all night Friday and all day and night Saturday. The parking at the festival is outside, on grass. On the way in, some friends of ours told me that I should get my "off-road badge" for getting the Focus through mud and standing water. The car was pretty muddy at that point. On the way home, however, I took the sludge too slowly, and we sank. And sank. And sank some more. The wife, M and K got out of the car and got very muddy trying to push it. In a strange coincidence, the senior who was recently cleared of his charges at the university was there, and he suggested we try to put a floor mat under the spinning and digging front wheels. That didn't work, since the car had sunk so deeply that I could barely open the door. The mud was flying so high that M, K and the wife were getting caked. The wife got mud in her hair, all over her clothes, on her glasses and even in her mouth (I have a picture of that, but I know better than to show it to anyone). At that point, we were going to give up. Then, someone in a black pick-up showed up, pulled up behind the Focus, hooked up a cable and pulled it free -- all out of the goodness of his heart. At the same time, a family man stopped, came over and helped direct things. What could have spoiled a nice afternoon turned into a far smaller mess. We drove home, muddy, but relieved. My face really hurt from laughing about it so much. So to the young man out there in the black [non-Ford name here] pick-up truck, and the country guy in the red shirt, thank you for being our saviors in mud. My mother thinks I have a guardian angel of some kind, but I think that detracts from the sheer niceness of what those gents did for us. [*Coined by my office-mate, M2.]