Alkahest my heroes have always died at the end

February 19, 2011

What a week…

Filed under: Personal,Pique — cec @ 12:41 pm

The past week has been a series of ups and downs, culminating in the saga for the last half of the week.  My car.  My Celica.  The first new car I ever owned started making a noise on Wednesday.  The noise was due to extremely low engine oil (hypothetical question – what’s the point of an oil pressure light if it doesn’t come on until after the car is making noise?).  The good folks at Jiffy Lube wouldn’t actually work on the car, but were kind enough to fill up the oil and suggested that I take it to an automotive shop immediately.  I called up Wasp Automotive and made an appointment for the next day.  I had heard a lot of good things about Wasp and even had that confirmed after I made the appointment.

About 2:30 on Thursday, Wasp calls up and says that my car, my baby, my constant companion for the past ten and a half years was dead.  Dead. Dead! DEAD!!  Well, actually, it’s not dead yet, but it had a terminal injury and would be dead in maybe 100 miles.  PANIC!  No, don’t panic.  I was expecting the noise to be fatal all day on Thursday, so I had checked out a few car places and was contemplating buying a car that night.

One really shouldn’t impulse buy a car.  Instead, I made an appointment to see a Prius over at Carmax on Friday.  I had a recommendation for Auction Direct and I saw an interesting Prius at another used car dealership nearby.  I called Bill Rankin who generously offered to loan me their truck for a few days.  I picked up my car from Wasp, drove it to Bill’s, borrowed his truck and was set for the night.

Friday, I left work early, picked up my title and spare key from K and drove in to Raleigh.  The Prius at the used car dealership was okay.  It seemed to be in mediocre shape, tires weren’t worn down, but they weren’t new either, however it was a 2009.  I left there and drove down to Carmax for my appointment to see a 2008 Prius.  This one was about $1k more, same mileage, but had more features.  The problem was that I really hated the service at Carmax.  It was everything I had been warned about.  Even though I had an appointment, and had been called about it a half hour before, the salesperson I had spoken to was busy, so they had to track down someone else.  They kept pushing their warranties.  They wanted to use their financing which was about 3% higher than what I wound up with, etc.  It turns out that Carmax salespeople work on commission, go figure.  I asked if they could hold the car for a day or two so that I could get financing in order.  They said, “no.”  kthxbai

Finally, I went over to Auction Direct.  They didn’t have any Priuses, but did have a very nice 2008 Honda Civic Hybrid that was about $3k less than the Carmax Prius. I drove it for a bit, decided I liked it and went ahead with the purchase.  The Civic Hybrid feels like more of a regular car than a prius.  There isn’t a big center LCD display with a graphic showing you when you are charging and when you are draining the batteries.  Instead, there are a couple of discrete extra guages that provide the exact same information. I like the fact that it uses regular tires, as opposed to the expensive, short-lived low-profile tires of my old Celica.

The only problem was that it still took forever to finish up.  I didn’t get out of there until about a quarter to seven.  After all of that, I was not very good company when I got a chance to see my friends.  I hope y’all forgive me.  I’m doing better this morning, but it has been a long week.

March 3, 2010

Turn about and all that

Filed under: Pique,Political,Social — cec @ 9:38 pm

So maybe in my last post, I was a bit hard on Louisiana because it’s the state I’ve left.  It’s not like we don’t have our own wackos in NC.  Two examples:

  1. One of NC’s representatives, Patrick McHenry (R) has proposed that we put Reagan’s face on the $50 bill.  Maybe for his work on voodoo tinkle on trickle down economics?  Although there is some appropriate irony to giving Reagan the $50… it’s a bill that most people don’t use.  Personally, I’m not rich enough to deal in $50s, $20s maybe.  Hey, if we’re redesigning money, why don’t we give more important presidents more prominent spots.  Jefferson definitely outranks Reagan and he’s on the never used $2 bill.  What about Madison?  The dude practically wrote the Constitution.  Shouldn’t those of who don’t use $5,000 bills get a chance to see him?
  2. And closer to home, the newly minted republican majority on the Wake county school board has succeeded in rolling back a nationally recognized program to improve educational outcomes by ensuring socio-economic diversity.  Sure, I was bussed in elementary school.  It wasn’t the most enjoyable experience of my life, but at the same time, I think that it was good for me as a person to be exposed to other socio-economic groups at school.  Moreover, the program in Wake has demonstrated that it reduces the achievement gap between poor/minority students and rich/white students.  That’s gotta be worth a little time on the bus.

<sigh> Music for the evening: Danger Mouse’s and Sparklehorse’s Dark Night of the Soul and Titus Andronicus’s The Airing of Grievances.  They seem to capture the mood.

April 21, 2009

Vint Cerf called . . .

Filed under: Pique,Technical — cec @ 9:58 pm

… and he and Tim Berners-Lee want you to stop breaking the Internet.

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve had several occasions to be invited into someone’s walled garden on the internet.  You know the places.  Lovely little sites that are entirely self-contained and which you can’t access unless you are a member?  In the old days, Compuserve and AOL were the big walled gardens.  These days, it’s Facebook and Linked-In.

These two social networking sites provide easy access to various tools for maintaining a web presence, but also keep enough meta-data that it’s easy to track down other people that you are likely to know.  FWIW, I have no problem with the meta-data aspects of the site.  If you want to find people that you may know due to past associations, well more power to you.  The concern I have is that once you go beyond those functions and start using the internals of the garden to maintain information, well, then the only people who can see that information are those who belong to that garden.  Even that is fine with me if the information is private and should be restricted through some form of identity management and authorization; but what if you intend the information to be public, should everyone have to come into the garden to see what should be public?  What does restricting the information to only those with (Facebook) accounts do for you?  You aren’t controlling access, you are just making the owners of your walled garden a little richer by increasing the popularity of their sites.

I mentioned that I’ve had several invitations respecting walled gardens recently.  FWIW, two were on Facebook.  A few of these are related to my upcoming 20th high school reunion (er, actually, that should be 20 year – technically it’ll be our 1st reunion and at this rate, our 20th will be in the year 2389) and seeing someone’s pictures, or viewing our class group or….  The other was a friend who stopped blogging publically (for the most part) and is now (as I understand it) “writing on her wall” (which is a wonderfully ironic image for this post).  The Linked-in request was to “recommend” someone professionally.  Okay, it’s true that I do belong to Linked-in, but I use it as an online rolodex, not as a way to keep in touch with what former colleauges are doing.  I don’t “recommend” people.  I don’t ask to be “recommended” and I don’t really keep up with what happens.  As far as Facebook?  Not participating and not joining.  Use the (free) tools that are available like flickr for images and blogger or wordpress for blogging.  In the meantime, if Facebook and/or Linked-in ever open up to the rest of the Internet, then maybe I’ll look at your images and read your writing.  But if they don’t, then you’re restricting yourself to only a subset of the people on the Internet.





oh, and You Kids Get Off My Lawn!

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