New life experience!


Kris, Heather and I are planning on spending the weekend in Santa Barbara. Heather has arranged a group wine tasting in celebration of Andy's birthday (that would be HER Andy's birthday, note the tag, we're going with Chenoweth here, not Crews).

We managed to drive all the way to Morgan Hill before disaster struck, where disaster is a minor bump in the road. Well, bump if bump is a bots dot and minor if a flat tire is minor.

Kris was just changing lanes from lane two to lane one when the rumble over two bots dots was particularly loud. "What was that?" I asked.

"I just changed lanes," Kris answered.

"Is it a flat tire?"

"No, just the bots dots."

We listened.

"Uh, that's flapping. That's a flat tire. Pull over."

"Oh. Yeah."

When all of this was happening, none of us thought to look out the window to see where we were. It was 8:15 at night, we were on 101 heading south. We had passed Morgan Hill. Great. That's all we knew when Kris commented, "Time to call Triple A."

"No it's not. Your membership isn't any good," I answered, fumbling with the console between us. "They cashed our check, then denied your membership, and we have no way to prove it because Netbank went under and f---ing took seven years of our banking data with them."

Kris looked at me aghast.

"Time for Audi Roadside Assistance!" I called out, triumphantly pulling out the card I had placed in the car just last week, finding it on one of my organizational crusades.

After a few minutes, the fifth or so question I was asked by the Audi operator was "Do you have a spare?" Well, crap. Did I?

Yes! And it was a full spare, no less! And it was full! Yay!

Five minutes after hanging up with the operator, we received a call back: the car service guy would be at our vehicle in 40 minutes. "That's too long!" Heather cried out. "Let's change the tire ourselves!"

Out of the car we tumbled out, hair and jackets whipping around in the cold wind blowing along the freeway, tousling everything. Heather found the jack and wrench from the back, handing them to Kris as she pulled the spare out of the back. After a few moments, Kris handed the jack to me, asking me out to work it, the mechanism's leverage point not immediately apparent. I cranked it, told him how to place the jack, then hopped back out the car, car manual in hand, to show him where to place the jack, then putting the jack where it needed to go.

Kris cranked up the car as I ran back into the car to get my camera. Only after I had taken a few pictures did I realize his folly, and told him to drop the car back down. "Why? I just lifted it."

"Because you can't loosen the lug nuts with the tire spinning."


Down went the car. Off went the lug nut covers (the car has lug nut covers? What kind of car has lug nut covers?). Loose went the nuts (after some heavy duty stopping in the left direction) and back up went the car.

You know, physics is great. With the proper leverage, even a scrawny woman can lift a car.

Part way though this escapade, our surroundings lit up. A police office had pulled up behind us, shining his lights on the car. He hopped out of his car, and stood behind us, flashlight shining down on the tire. His car lights helping much more than his flashlight did.

I would have helped Kris and Heather more, but I was too busy either taking pictures or talking to the car service guy, who called 30 minutes into the ordeal, after we had already changed the tire. I hopped back out of the car in time to roll the flat tire back to the back of the car and drop it back in the spare well, but not soon enough to let Kris know that when tightening lug nuts (or, as in the case I learned with: clutch plates), you want to tighten in a star pattern, and not around in a circle.

The police officer let us know that the Kris-arm tightening was sufficient, that we didn't need to jump on the lug nuts to tighten them, and that I needed to check the alignment of the car, as the tire wore then blew on the insides of the tire, indicating poor alignment. Great.

My thoughts were, huh, this flat tire wasn't so bad. I had fears of a disastrous tire blow like you see in the movies. "That's crazy, Kitt!" you think, "You're retarded." Maybe. But talk to my brother's ex before you say that, and ask about the Honda rolling after a blowout ("That's one [flip]. That's two. I wonder when I die. That's three."). Then ask me not to worry.

Heather's thoughts were, "HEY! New life experience! That wasn't so bad!" She had never changed a tire before, and was worried about it. She was happy the car had a good manual, as well as all the tools for changing the tire.

Kris commented it was the first tire he had changed, too, which surprised me. I hadn't expected to be the only person in the car who had changed a flat tire before.

When we arrived at the hotel, at 1:30 in the morning, much later than we had originally planned to arrive, Kris wandered into the hotel room, and wandered back out as I was walking in the door. "Huh, well, that's a new one," he commented, looking up at the canopy bed. "I've never slept in a canopy bed before."

"Another new life experience?"

I think I heard, "Yeah," through the toothbrush in his mouth.

I think I'll save the new life experience of "sex in a canopy bed" for tomorrow.

Brand loyalty is dead


My first car, the first one I called mine because I purchased it and chose what I purchased, was a Honda. In particular, it was a Honda CRX. When Kris and I went to buy a new car, by process of elimination, we ended up with another Honda for me. Four years later when he decided it was time for a new, greener car for his long commute to work, he opted for a Honda hybrid, and we had our third Honda

Basically, for a decade and a half, I've been driving Hondas.

The newest car isn't a Honda, however. It's an Audi. To me, Audis are the Big Red Roller Skate™, the car my mom had when I was very young. It didn't work exactly well all the time, and, well, sometimes had to be pushed, hence its nickname.

However, when Katie asked me if wanted to buy her car, and I said yes, well, it was only fate. I mean, the license plate matches my address, how could I ever say no to that little coincidence? Clearly fate.

Well, fate, and a very generous Katie.

Not buying a Honda was almost as hard as buying another car before the previous one had been driven into the ground. The CRX had over 200k miles on it and still drove me from point A to point B, albeit not necessarily as safely as the next car did or the new car does, but that part wasn't as much of a concern for me as being as cheap with cars as possible.

However, the purchase made me realize there are other options out there, other than what my favorite brand offers. When I was looking for my next digital camera, my current one having taken over 15000 pictures, at least two dozen drops, a few trips around the world, four Nationals tournaments, several weddings including our own, I immediately look at Sony cameras. I've had incredibly good luck with the DSC-P10, but it doesn't focus as well as it used to, and well, it was time to look for a new one (mostly because it'll take me a year or so to find one I really want).

I mentioned this to Eric and Mom, and immediately Eric recommended I purchase a Canon. The Sony they have focuses slowly and, well, echoing my complaint, uses proprietary memory formats. You have to buy a Memory Pro stick, you can't use an SD card. So, economics shows it'll be more expensive for extra memory. Bah.

Eric showed me some pictures, and, wow, they were amazing. Their new Canon camera runs off standard AAA batteries, which he bought high-quality, recharable batteries for, so its big. The pictures it took, however, were amazing. It took some fantastic close up pictures. Since I take a lot of close up pictures for work I do with buttons and beads, the close up quality was the deal maker.

I now have a new Canon camera. So far, it's pretty awesome. It doesn't have a view finder, so I'll need to learn how to use it when I want to maximize the battery time (or buy a bunch of extra batteries), but I think I'll manage.

Now, if I can just get it to wirelessly offload pictures via bluetooth onto my computer, which automatically uploads them to my website, I'll be all set.

Oh wait, that's my camera phone which already does that.

Maybe via wi-fi?