Saturday, December 08, 2007

Snow, Mechanics, and Other Disasters

It's snowing. Again. And my enthusiasm for the snow has officially waned. We've gotten some wintery stuff almost every day for the past week. Fortunately Rowen is still insanely cute about the snow---bounding through the drifts, pushing the snow around to hide her pee, sticking her nose way down deep in the snow and then snorting it---which helps me keep a somewhat positive attitude as I'm chipping ice off my car for the thousandth time.

Now, the coldness? Not even Rowen can make that amusing. I live about four blocks from the mechanic where I took my car this morning, and that four-block walk back home at 8 in the morning was the most painful walk of my life. Three degrees. When I can tell you the temperature using one hand, it's too damn cold.

And speaking of the mechanic: I need to find a new one. I've gone to this one twice: once to get my brakes replaced and today to get ready for my holiday trip to PA (oil change, alignment, new wipers). Both times, the mechanic has called to "recommend" a laundry list of other services that add up to hundreds of dollars (this time, it was nearly $600 in other services; I declined considering that I was already spending $200 on the stuff I knew that I needed done). Both times I've gotten that gut feeling that I'm being ripped off. But then I wonder if I'm just being paranoid and that I really do need the stuff done. Most of the "recommended" services are related to my 60,000 mile maintenance: replacing the coolant; flushing the transmission; replacing the spark plugs; and so on. Any car experts among my four readers who want to weigh in? Are the recommended maintenance services worthwhile, especially considering that I put maybe 10-15 miles on my car each week (with a big trip from Madison to Baltimore twice a year)?

And speaking of spending way too much money: I've been doing exactly that. Mostly at the bookstore. I bought another two books today. Both are fun books to read over break (Gossip Girl and Big Boned). Except that I already have a huge pile of fun books that I want to read over break. And a huge pile of not-so-fun books that I ought to read over break. And my break this year is only two weeks because I have my qualifying exams* in January. I think I may have to make a New Year's resolution not to buy any books next year! I've been very naughty in 2007.

But the biggest disaster of all is the paper I finished yesterday. On the bright side, I'm done with one paper. But, and I am not being falsely modest in this, it is one of the worst papers I've ever written. I'm ashamed that I'm even turning it in. I started out with an interesting thesis, but the whole thing kind of fell apart, largely because I just didn't take enough time with it. And I don't have the time to fix it. It's due on Tuesday, and I still have to write another 20-page paper and a 5-page paper in Swahili. By this time next week. Gulp!

It's gonna be a long week.

* Two 10-page papers based on questions from the anthropology faculty. I have two weeks to write them. Which doesn't sound all that bad except that these two papers determine whether I finish with a master's degree or continue for my doctorate.


At 4:53 PM , Blogger Mike said...

Not sure about the plugs, but seeing how you normally drive your car for short trips, they might be getting fouled. That means carbon deposits, because the engine never gets a chance to burn off carbon deposits on short trips. Coolant change, yes. It's getting cold again, and if you leave degraded coolant, or more realistically, antifreeze in your engine, it becomes more like water. Some cold day it'll freeze while parked somewhere, and you'll crack your engine block when you start it, destroying your engine. $600 is cheap to make sure all your services are done as opposed to buying a new engine.

At 9:23 AM , Blogger Artemisia said...

A. and his friend MG replace the spark plugs in their trucks nearly twice a year, and I swear to High Heaven it makes the trucks purr. I have no idea why, though.

I am about to hit 30,000 on my car (in 1.5 years! Ack!) and am dreading all the 30,000 mile marker maintenance. But, I want to get at least 200,000 out of this car, so I guess I should fork it over? I HATE CARS.

Your quals - you will do fine. You will do more than fine, you will dazzle your department. Honestly, I haven't any doubt in your abilities here. It still sucks that this is how you have to spend your break, though.

Rowen sounds adorable. I am glad you guys have each other.

At 5:14 PM , Blogger bdogg_mcgee said...

I think you should move back to's way warmer here. :)

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