Saturday, December 31, 2005

More grumblings

As if it hasn't been a crappy enough day, having sat in the car dealership for almost six hours with two restless and tired kids, Andrea goes and pulls bullshit to end all bullshit on me tonight. All week long, she has been nagging me to keep calling the dealership so that I can take care of what she says is supposed to be my car. I picked her up from work this afternoon and she complimented how nice my car is and how jealous she was of my car. All this time, she has been referring to this as my car, until it suddenly becomes convenient enough to her to call it our car instead.

She had to use the car this afternoon to go to the local T-Mobile store and take care of her account since her phone was stolen this morning at work. While she was out, she made plans to have three of her friends meet up with her here at my apartment (which I am still being nice and letting her stay for no charge for the time being) without telling me. All of these people start showing up out of the blue, surprising me and the kids in the middle of dinner. She finally makes it back, late as usual, changes clothes and starts out the door casually mentioning to everyone else that they're going in her new Buick.

At the time, I didn't want to make a big deal out of it, so I asked her to put some gas in the tank since I knew it was low already. She turns around and walks back to me with attitude and exasperatingly asks me, "Excuse me? You want me to fill up the gas tank all the way?!" I told her I knew the tank was almost empty and it would only be smart and fair if she put some gas in, not completely full but just some. Suddenly, she pulls out the us excuse and says that the car is part hers so she can go out and didn't have to tell me about it. I'm sure it was intentionally planned this way so that I wouldn't be able to say "No" easily in front three people that came across town to meet her, expecting a ride.

I just don't understand how or why she would think she has any right to pull crap like this. As far as I can remember, virtually every penny spent on the previous (now dead) car was from my paycheck. Part of the down payment came out of our tax return (which was reduced because she didn't have her employer take any federal tax out), but besides the rare occasion she put gas in the tank, I paid for the previous car. Today, I put down $200 down at the dealership and $198 at the car insurance place, and I expect I'll be making all of the payments on the car as well, besides the tax return (which once again is short because she didn't have federal tax withheld) payment they're taking for the rest of the down payment. If it weren't for her lack of responsibility, she would still have her own car and both of our credits wouldn't have a reposession on it, and it would have been easier for me to get another car from almost anywhere else more quickly.

Am I just being stupid? I'm tired, having been up since 6AM so that I could drop her off at work and then go to the dealership with the kids to drop off their loaner car and get my car. I don't think it's just me being tired and grumpy. Her favorite phrase is that people are walking all over her, and now it looks to me that she's doing just that to me. What a f*cking craptacular way to end the year....

Year-end grumblings...

Three weeks after the big bang, we finally have resolution. Three f*cking weeks. I finally signed off today on the contract to buy a used 1998 Buick LeSabre. Blue, quiet ride, soft suspension, used to hell, but runs well and feels like it could eat most other cars for breakfast in an accident. Thank the fates that the dealership took the old dead car for $1400 trade-in value and it only ended up making my payments $7 higher. The sudden big push was the fact that today is the final day of the year and they wanted to get that one last sale in on the 2005 books... which brings me to my next grumbling.

What is the world's obsession with the passage of time? We celebrate birthdays, New Year's Day, over-the-hill parties, retirement parties, and get-legally-drunk-off-your-ass 21st birthdays, among others. I've never been a big fan of birthdays or New Year's Day and will probably spend both days at home with my kids treating it as a normal day. Then there's the business world doing a mad dash during the last part of the year to make their numbers look good. Why not just put forth a great effort all year rather than an exhausting all-out effort at the end? We are only on this Earth for a short time during each lifetime and should make the most of it. Enjoy what you have and stop counting the days and years, and put forth your best effort every day!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Belated yule greetings

Well, Yule has sprung upon us and we were scarcely ready. The kids got a few meager gifts since the car situation still hasn't been fully resolved, and that was the extent of our celebration. On the bright side, we returned that horrid Kia that we rented and the dealership was gracious enough to give us a free loaner until something can be worked out. It's really strange because the car is also a Hyundai Elantra, just like our now-dead vehicle, only this is a tiny sedan version whereas ours was the spacious wagon style. The controls were instantly familiar and made sense, unlike the Kia Optima which made me hate Kias even more with each drive.

I'm seriously considering using the bonus money I received from my last paycheck (back pay for my recent raise) to just buy a dirt-cheap vehicle from the side of the road just so that I can have a running car and to use as a trade-in after 30 days. (Most dealers won't take a trade-in unless you've physically owned it for at least 30 days.) Hopefully our current car dealership can work something nice out, especially considering it's the last weeks of the year and this would be one more guaranteed sale on this year's reports.

The only thing really keeping me sane is all of the new software I've been playing with recently... Visual Basic 2005 (ran into some nasty bugs last night using layout panels), Office 12 (beta testing--w00t!), X-Men Legends 2 (Wolverine, Rogue, Magneto, and Bishop rock together!), and Legacy of Kain: Defiance (damn you for not naming it Soul Reaver 3--I missed this game two years ago when it was released because it was renamed). Add in the slick Logitech Cordless Rumblepad 2 and an S-Video out to my 27" flatscreen TV and you're talking some slick gaming action. My box has seen so much more action than the PS2 recently. And compliments to Microsoft with the new build of Vista finally being stable enough to recognize and install all of my hardware and support TV-out (I think kudos go to nVidia on that one).

Okay, enough geeky rambling... I haven't had much sleep lately with all that's been going on, but that can't be helped. Here's hoping that things settle back down again soon. Hopefully the rest of you have a better Christmas than my Yule. Happy holidays, regardless of your celebrated holiday.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Don't look down

It sucks when you think things can't get any worse and then they do. That's how I felt yesterday with each successive phone call from the mechanics at the car dealership.

It took until Wednesday for the repair shop to even look at the car and tell us the radiator is blown and it would be $200 total to get it up and running. That didn't get finished until Thursday morning. To make matters worse, while the car was torn apart, they found out that the heads had gotten damaged in the overheating and I know from previous experience that repairs of this nature aren't cheap.

Next phone call, I hear an estimate of $800 to get the head redone and a feeling of dread washes over me. By this time, I'm starting to feel like I'm watching an airplane rapidly descending towards the ground with pieces flying off and fires erupting everywhere. I gave it a fair chance and let the mechanics finish looking at it and get together a full estimate.

Hours later, I call the shop back to check in before they close for the day and talk to the manager who has been overseeing the repairs. The final estimate breaks down to at least a week's worth of time in the shop and almost $2000 total for parts and labor because the car is past its' warranty. The imaginary plane in my head has by this time erupted into a spectacular pyrotechnics show with flames and red-hot shards of metal flying off everywhere before completely exploding into the ground with the force of a giant meteor. I ask the mechanic if we should just give up on the car and see if the salespeople can just get us another car instead.

Andrea gives me a call back shortly thereafter at work (despite me giving them my work number in the last call) and says that Daniel would be able to get us in another car Friday afternoon. Daniel was the salesman that got us the dead Elantra, and seemed to be a really nice guy, but that dealership has way too many people named Dan working for them--at least three I know of. The catch? They get to do our taxes and take the down payment out of it, just like we did the first time.

Great, Andrea and I had to do our taxes together last year because we were still together and married, but her employers didn't get the forms to her until days before the tax filing deadline. Plus, I was looking forward to filing by myself this year and claiming the kids on my return since they lived with me all year and I paid for clothes, food, utilities, etc for them, so I would get a nice return. I had plans to get them furniture for their room and some cool new toys, spend some on car maintenance, then use the rest to move into a house. Now we have to file together because I'm sure that my credit sucks too bad to be the only person on the car loan--especially since I was the co-signer on her car that was recently reposessed.

I had plenty of time to go over all of this in my head on the way home last night from work. Once again, I did the 13-mile trek from work to home in the cold after 9pm, except last night was so much colder than previous nights and the air sure felt like it had more moisture in it which only made the cold worse. I had to stop in at Target to pick up a third long-sleeve shirt to wear on the way home along with some kick-ass biking gloves to keep my fingers from freezing. At least my body is getting used to the ride. The last two days I rode my bike, there was little soreness in my legs after I got home. At this rate, I'll be doing 100-mile bike marathons and effortlessly kicking in steel doors by next month.

Anyway, here's hoping that we can get a decent car this afternoon so that I can get in some much-needed time in at work to make up for the time I missed this week. They don't have a big lot, so I'm not expecting the greatest selection, but anything has to be better than what we have (or don't have) right now. Fates be kind and get this over with quickly.

<Gratuitous Advertisement>Anyone that needs a car can buy from JD Byrider in Mesa and use me as a reference. They pay like $100 towards your car loan per buyer referred. They got me a car two years ago when nobody else would because of my credit.</Gratuitous Advertisement>

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Dead car

Ugh, my car died again on Thursday afternoon. Our dealership won't get to it until Monday morning, but they don't charge us for labor and only charge their actual cost for parts, so hopefully it'll be worth the wait. But today most of my body is sore from riding my bike a total of about 25 miles to and from work. Public transportation here sucks--it would have taken about the same amount of time for me to get to work using the city bus, plus have to put up with all of the weirdos. And I don't have enough money to spare for a rental car, so that was out of the question. Luckily my raise will take effect on my paycheck this coming Friday, including retroactive back pay owed to me from the past one or two paychecks, so I should have plenty of extra money then to throw at the car (hopefully I won't have to). And I must also thank my grandparents for the holiday cash I just received in the mail that will all probably go towards repairs. I probably will have to go in to work tomorrow again, since I'm short about 14 hours thanks to the car's dramatic recovery and second death this week, so hopefully I'm feeling better then.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

New toy found

I'm tired of fighting with the Audiophase CDM375 that I picked up for $20 on sale at Best Buy last fall. It's truly a case of "you get what you pay for." It does a half-decent job of playing back CDs, MP3s, and WMAs, but that's it.

I've been attempting to use it to listen to the audiobook version of Wizard's First Rule while driving, but I quickly found out that the unit has serious issues with seeking if the audio files are more than 16 minutes long (the audiobook I got has them broken up into 45-minute files). It takes 20-30 minutes for me to get to or from work, so I end up stopping midway through a file. Manually splitting the files into 15 minute chunks was my only solution, but I'm still unhappy with how slow the unit is in loading so many files, not to mention the frustration of the burned CDs I wasted trying to figure out what the problem was in the first place.

One of the articles in today's CNET newsletters was for cheap digital audio players, including the Lexar LDP-200. It's small and inexpensive and its capacity is limited by the size of the SD memory card you put in. It sounds like a simple, no-frills unit and that's all that I'm looking for. The only catch is that it only seems to be available online, so I'll need to make sure to make sure I pay more than the minimum on my credit card to afford the purchase. =)

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Word of the day

noc·tur·nal (nŏk-tûr'nəl)

  1. Of, relating to, or occurring in the night: nocturnal stillness.
  2. Botany. Having flowers that open during the night.
  3. Zoology. Most active at night: nocturnal animals.
[Middle English, from Old French, from Late Latin nocturnālis, from Latin nocturnus, from nox, noct-, night.]
(taken from

I used to like being nocturnal, but now I'm more of a day person. Working nights now is tough, especially since I come in to work with two dozen emails waiting for me. It's just a change since I'm used to handling each "crisis of the hour" as it comes up, rather than all at once when I get in at 3 or 4 in the afternoon.

I just keep reminding myself that I'm doing it for the kids. Rather than paying too much money for someone else to raise my kids five days a week, I stay home with them and enjoy our time together. We watched Cinderella today, since Kaylee loves it so much. Not my favorite movie, but definitely very amazing to look at on DVD, compared to what I remember it looking like on VHS many years ago.

Nocturnal (adj.): sacrificing for your loved ones. =)

Monday, December 05, 2005

w00t for promotion!

Ugh, it's been too long since my last post, mainly because I've flipped my work schedule around to nights for the time being so that I don't have to pay the exorbitant cost of daycare. At least I received great news at work this evening that my annual review was good and I'm getting a nice promotion and pay raise. That certainly will help compensate (and then some) for the medical benefits I signed up for that hit my paycheck so hard, but at least I know that me and the kids are covered in case of an emergency. Anyway, like I said in the title, w00t--promotion! =)