Now We’re A One-Car Family

The Buick is gone.  Today, as expected, our friend Jeff McKinney came over, we got the title to the Buick notarized at a nearby UPS store, and I handed it over to him.  We originally bought the Buick on April 6, 2002, so this week marks eleven and a half years since then.  I owned it longer than anybody else, and unless Jeff can work miracles on it, it has given me the best years of its life.  Adieu.

He also looked at the car we still have, the 1992 Nissan, and decided that it needs a new catalytic converter.  Because it is unsafe to drive in its current condition, I did not take it anywhere today.  Tomorrow I’ll go to a repair shop Jeff recommended.  This is a major job, that will cost a pretty penny at a time when I don’t have many.  Ouch!

On Tortoises, Visitors and Autos

First, this weekend my brother Chris ventured across the Florida-Georgia border to visit the Kolomoki Mounds Historic Park.  Here is a video of a gopher tortoise he spotted there:

 

I have always had a soft spot for turtles and tortoises, and so I was saddened when gopher tortoises, so common when my family first moved to Florida, became a threatened species due to land developers.  There used to be a colony of them in the vacant lot across the street from my house, until an apartment complex was built on the site in 2000; I don’t think the builders relocated the tortoises.  Therefore I am glad to learn that south Georgia has some gopher tortoises as well.

Meanwhile, back in Kentucky, yesterday Leive and I got a visit from two very old friends:  Ken & Jorene Garrison, my former pastor from Florida and his wife.  Both of them are native to Kentucky, but we met them while they were living in Florida, and then in 2009, they moved to Hodgenville, KY so they could be near Jorene’s mother.  Because Hodgenville is about 100 miles west of here, it took until now for them to visit, and because they were on their way to a wedding in Georgetown, they only stayed for twenty minutes.  Still, it was good to see them again, and I don’t think they look any older than they did last time we were together.  By the way, our crazy parrot Brin-Brin liked them, too.

While the Garrisons were here, our new mechanic friends, Jeff McKinney & Jeff Lowe, were working on my Buick in the driveway.  After going to buy yet some more parts, they got it working and drove it away.  However, we’re not out of the lurch yet.  Late this afternoon, the Nissan started misbehaving again with the same feeble engine problem it had last Thursday.  Tomorrow I expect to give them the title to the Buick; I’ll have to ask Jeff & Jeff to take another look at the Nissan while they’re here.

Building a Python Trap

Okay, two mechanic friends came over today to look at the cars.  All the Nissan needed was new spark plugs, and it ran great after they were replaced—whew!  They bought a fuel pump for the Buick, too, but still couldn’t get it to start, so they’ll be back to try again tomorrow.

Meanwhile in Florida, a new weapon has been introduced in the fight to cut the Burmese python population down to size, before it eats the Everglades out of house & home.  You’ve heard of building a better mousetrap; how about a snake trap?

USDA to test new trap to catch Everglades pythons

Trouble With Both Cars

Sorry I haven’t posted much over the past week.  I’m writing, but it’s not something visible from here yet.  After completing the Southeast Asian update at the beginning of this month, I decided it was time to do what I have been postponing for the past few months—compose the next chapter in my Latin American history project.  This will be the fifth chapter in the series, covering the years 1889 to 1959.  I am planning to call it “Uncle Sam’s Backyard,” because the United States has been a strong influence over Latin America as least since the declaration of the Monroe Doctrine, but it was during this period that it came closest to completely dominating the region.  So until I announce the chapter is finished, you can assume that when I’m not here, I’m fully into working on the next history paper.

Old friends of the family know that Leive & I have two hand-me-down cars from our Florida days:  a 1995 Buick and a 1992 Nissan.  Previously we did most of our driving in the Buick – that’s the car I took to Connecticut – but it developed engine trouble on the way back, in April 2012, so I have driven it sparingly since then, and used the Nissan instead.  Then last August 8 the Buick broke down completely while I was running minor errands with it, and I have not been able to get it to work since.

Yesterday a friend from church came over to look at the Buick (not one of the mechanic friends I have told readers about in the past).  He couldn’t start it up, either, but he figured out the problem – the fuel pump failed.  At this point, we decided that keeping the Buick running is no longer worth the money and the trouble, but he might be able to fix it, so he’ll probably come by tomorrow to tow the Buick away.  That car has served me well, I hope it can serve him, too.

Needless to say I was driving the Nissan when I went out today.  On the way home it developed serious problems of its own.  It kept stalling when I cranked it up, and I could only get it to go by starting it with the transmission in neutral, and then suddenly shifting to drive before it had a chance to stall; it also handled with much less pep than usual on the road.  My untrained guess is that a vacuum hose broke, because another mechanic friend, Dan Sturdivant, replaced the vacuum hoses in the Nissan last June, and it ran better after that.  Maybe I can get the friend who’s taking the Buick to look at the Nissan.  At any rate, the Nissan is not safe to drive until this is fixed, so both cars are effectively out of action.

I can group the complicated problems we have, those that require a specialist to solve, into four basic categories:

1. Car problems (need a mechanic).

2. Computer problems (need a geek).

3. Health issues (need a doctor).

4. Home repairs (need a handyman).

Of those four, computer problems scare me the least.  As a computer nerd, when I have trouble with my hardware or software, I usually know exactly what is causing it, and can give a ballpark figure of what it might cost to fix it.  Car problems scare me the most, because often I have no idea what the cause is, or what to do about it.  In addition, with my long-term unemployment, this is probably the worst time to repair or replace a car.  If ever I needed a miracle for my situation, it’s now!

NFL Football Is No Fun Anymore

No wonder college sports are more popular here in Kentucky.  Who is going to find NFL games exciting if each one is “12 minutes of football – 3 hours of replays, reviews, challenges, and commercials,” as the commentary below suggests?  I don’t know anyone who tunes in just to hear sportscasters talk, and the commercials are only interesting around Superbowl time.  As for the nanny rules, with more and more of them appearing, I hereby declare that football is no longer a “violent” sport.  Sure, players can get injured in it, but they also get hurt in baseball and basketball, supposedly more peaceful competitions.

Will Nanny Rules Break the NFL?

A Bit of Connecticut Humor

Overall, Yankees aren’t as funny as Rednecks; that’s why I don’t hear as many jokes about the North as I would like.  Here’s one, though, from my own experience:

The two biggest grocery store chains in Connecticut are A & P and Stop & Shop.  While I was there, the A & P in downtown Danbury closed.  Maybe the other stores should merge, and we’ll call the new chain Stop & P.

Intexticated

Texting while driving is stupid, no way around that.  You may be able to cruise along while talking on a cell phone, but sending a text message requires both hands and your attention on the little screen.  I know for a fact I couldn’t drive and do all that at the same time; heck, when I get a phone call on the road, I’ll pull over at the first opportunity.  Texting makes me glad I don’t have a smart phone, because I never learned how to text with only twelve keys, which is what my “dumb phone” has.  When I need to send a text message, I use my laptop or tablet, and log into Heywire.com.

What makes it worse is that we’ve all heard the stories about the horrible accidents caused by people texting while driving, like the train wreck in Los Angeles a few years back.  And you may have seen this sign:

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Nevertheless, some folks consider texting so important that they won’t turn their eyes and hands away when they’re needed elsewhere.

Well, sometimes there is justice.  Today I read about a texting accident that happened in Wisconsin last month.  Click on the link below to read the story yourself.  To start with, the offender was texting while driving a rental car, a Mustang convertible.  For the record, I am always more careful when the car I’m driving isn’t mine.  Suddenly he crashed into a manure truck, spilling diarrhea all over the road.  The car was totaled, but unlike the other stories I’ve heard, the driver lived to learn his lesson; he only broke one finger.  No word on if it was his texting finger, sorry.

Car Hits Manure Spreader