Archive for October, 2014

Minivan Update, Part 2

When the salesman said “we have a deal” and I filled out the paperwork, I never saw in writing the price we had discussed. So I was worried that day and the next that the paperwork would come back mysteriously incorrect.

Minivan shopping was day 1. This is day 2 now. We told Mr. Salesman that we would be back at 6:45 pm on day 2 to pick up the minivan. I knew there would be some more paperwork to sign, so I expected that they would have it ready at 6:45 so I could walk in, sign the papers, and get the van.

We all drive in the old minivan to the dealership. The kids were excitedly discussing who would ride back in the new minivan. I did not want to trade in the old minivan, since it wouldn’t be worth much and it is useful to have a third vehicle so that no one is inconvenienced by having a car in the shop.

We arrive at the dealership and I go in to start the paperwork. Mr. Salesman greets me and takes me over to the waiting area for the paperwork. Salesmen don’t do the paperwork stuff, that’s handled by a specialist.

“You’re next,” I’m told. I text my wife that information. She’s sitting in the old minivan with all the kids.

A little while later: “Soon”. Another relay text.

After 20-25 minutes, my wife texts me for help. Gamma fell asleep while not in his car seat. I leave the waiting area, expecting that my name would be called while I’m out, and move him into his car seat. “I still haven’t started signing anything – you might as well go home,” I tell my wife. So she leaves, and I go back to the waiting area.

After about 45 minutes, I am finally called back. It might be understandable if they were busy, but I was the only one in the waiting area. There was not a literal line that I was in – just me, a bunch of empty chairs, and a TV playing a very repetative CNN station.

I go back to Mr. Finance’s office.

I had been waiting 45 minutes for them to finish with the other (invisible) customer(s) and to get my paperwork drawn up.

But when I get in his office, most of the paperwork was not drawn up. Why not? Because he has to inform me about all my other options (extended warranties, protection plans, add-ons, etc.) No sense printing out all my paperwork because the numbers aren’t final until I decline all the options. Which I do.

I had paid the extra convenience fee for the dealership to handle the government paperwork too, which includes the license plate. Mr. Finance goes to arrange for my license plate, then realizes that it’s after hours (for the government office) so he can’t. “We’ll just take care of that tomorrow and mail you the new plate” I agree, but am skeptical.

I sign and initial a bunch of papers. They all make sense and the numbers match my expectations, to my relief. The last time I bought a car, the numbers did change from one day to the next. Different dealership, but I’m still cautious.

Mr. Finance takes me back over to Mr. Salesman, who gives me the keys, tapes a temporary registration paper in the back window, and shakes my hand.

It feels weird to drive the van off the lot and head home, but no one stops me so it must be ours now.

An hour and a quarter.

It took almost as long to pick up the new van as it did to pick out the new van.

The dealership may have been slow, but they were not incompetent. Nothing was wrong. Things were fairly straightforward. Don’t know that I’d be thrilled about going back, though.

Next time I go to buy a car, I’m going to bring a book to read.

P.S. The temporary registration was good for 15 days. It is meant to be short-term, until the actual license plate is obtained. After 11 days with no sign of or notification about the license plate, I called the dealership. “I saw your name on the list, so it should be tomorrow or the next day. We’ll let you know when it’s in,” I was told. Probably just like I was next in line for Mr. Finance the whole time.

So I wait. Now it’s the day the license plate expires. I call Mr. Salesman and leave a message in the morning. In the early afternoon, he calls me. “Your plate is in.” “Ok, don’t mail it. I’ll stop by to pick it up.”

Really, it shouldn’t take 15 days to get a license plate. But it did. We wonder if the people at the dealership don’t do anything unless the customer asks or complains.

If they say to us, ‘Wait until we come to you’; then we will stand in our place and not go up to them.

1 Samuel 14:9

Minivan Update, Part 1

We bought our first minivan just before Beta was born. He’s now 9.

In the last year, we’ve had to get some work done on the minivan. A radiator here, a heater core there.

At the last oil change, the shop mentioned the tie rods should be replaced and the power steering was leaking. $800 to replace it all. Yeah, let’s skip that for now.

Maybe we should think about getting a new van. My wife agrees and lobbies for it to be sooner rather than later so that she’s not stranded when the old van does die and then we’ll be pressed to get a new one not on our terms.

My wife has been mentioning that the van smells a little like exhaust inside. And when I happen to be outside when she drives up, I can hear that it sounds louder than it used to. Must be a crack in the exhaust pipe somewhere.

I look under the van. No obvious cracks or rusted-out spots.

So I go to open the hood. The hood release lever snaps off in my hand.

Okay, minivan. If you want yourself not to be replaced, you need to make a better showing than this.

I pull the dangling cable to pop the hood. I look around – nothing apparent in there either.

I shut the hood.

It doesn’t latch.

I shut it again. Same result.

Reach back in the cabin, jiggle the cable.

Shut the hood. It stays shut.

I go inside and inform my wife that we’re going minivan shopping tomorrow. We agree on a dealership halfway between home and work. At lunchtime.

I have been researching prices for slightly-used minivans, so I know what to expect. We choose this dealership because they have a selection of several minivans.

“Can I help you with anything?” asks the salesman who meets us outside the door.

“We are looking for a used minivan, something under 50,000 miles” is our general reply.

He takes us on a trip around the lot. Three minivans that look nice but are listed for a few thousand more dollars than I wanted to spend. We don’t make any positive responses and he walks us to an area where some more might be.

Nope, that one’s sold. How about this one?

Wrong color for my wife.

He takes us back to the showroom where he can look up inventory on his computer.

Two more are around back. He’ll go bring them around so we can see them.

We drive the one. It’s fine. He asks if we want to drive the other one and hands us the key. We start it. My wife says it’s louder than the other one. I say it sounds rougher. We agree there’s something wrong with it. Maybe that’s why it was parked back by the service area and not in the main lot.

We debate what to do next. I know therer are cheaper minivans to be had. They sell several minivans a week here. If we wait a week, there might be a better deal. But if we wait a week, our minivan might die and there might be a worse deal.

There’s nothing wrong with this minivan. And its price seems appropriate. I am a lousy negotiator. But even I know we can’t just tell the salesman we’ll take it. So I say that it might work but it’s a little more than I was hoping to pay. He explains why the price is set where it is. We somehow get to a point where I agree to buy it if he can knock $500 off the price.

Of course, he must get his manager’s approval. He leaves. I don’t see where he goes – he could have been sitting in the bathroom for several minutes. He comes back and says “we have a deal”. I shake his hand, I make a down payment, fill out an application for the loan, and we leave. “We’ll be back tomorrow evening to pick it up,” we tell him.

I head back to work. Total time: an hour and a half. Test drove one minivan. Bought one minivan. Rather, agreed to buy one minivan.

The caravans of Tema looked, The travelers of Sheba hoped for them.

Job 6:19

Count Their Blessings

There are some hymns that were great back in the day, but don’t necessarily translate to modern life.

For example, Count Your Blessings.

I’m sure the hymn writer didn’t imagine the days of social media, with Pinterest showing what is possible and Intragram showing what people are doing. And it’s always much better, cooler, and more fun than your dreary life.

So we need to update that hymn.

And I have.

I present to you: Count Your Neighbor’s Blessings

(Neighbor is taken in the modified Biblical sense, in that it is anyone whom you come in contact with, or can read about on the internet.)

Also, if you’re having trouble reading the music, right-click on it (or whatever you have to do) to view the image – the blog page scales it down.

sheet music for the hymn Count Your Neighbor's Blessings, based off the old hymn Count Your Blessings

Verse 1:
When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed
When you are discouraged thinking all is lost
Count your neighbor’s blessings, count them when you’re bored,
And it will surprise you what they could afford.

Count their blessings, list out all their stuff;
Count their blessings, you don’t have enough!
Count their blessings, list out all their stuff;
Count your neighbor’s blessings, your life is so rough.

Verse 2:
Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your neighbor’s blessings, happiness will die,
And you will stay angry as the days go by.


Verse 3:
When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that riches passed you by, you’re getting old.
Count your neighbor’s blessings, keep your eyes on things.
Aim for temporary joy that money brings.


Verse 4:
So amid the conflict whether great or small
Try to be disheartened, others have it all.
Count your neighbor’s blessings, envy will attend;
Bitterness will fill you to your journey’s end.


In case you want the music in an editable form, here is the music for the Count Your Neighbor’s Blessings hymn in ABC notation.

For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.

James 3:16

Cheese Taking Photos

image of cheese taking a photo and saying People

Why do we say “Cheese!” when taking pictures? And what does cheese say when you take its picture? Any ideas?

I smiled on them when they did not believe, And the light of my face they did not cast down.

Job 29:24

Continuing Driver’s Ed

Around here, the cheat sheet for the driver’s ed test is a pamphlet – produced by the state – called What Every Driver Must Know.

That’s the official version.

The unofficial version, What Every Driver Should Know, is over at Some Fun Site.

Peruse it and let me know what tips and advice I should add.

The watchman reported, “He came even to them, and he did not return; and the driving is like the driving of Jehu the son of Nimshi, for he drives furiously.”

2 Kings 9:20

Water, Water, Everywhere

Similarly to how the arguments against incandescent bulbs do not apply to me, arguments for water conservation also do not apply to me.

I let the water run while I shave. I run the water while I’m brushing my teeth. And I run the water while I’m loading the dishwasher.

Why don’t I care? Because my house has well and septic.

Not only is water essentially free, but it also follows the law of the conservation of mass: water can neither be created nor destroyed.

How do I “use up” water by letting it run? Answer: I don’t. All I do is move it around.

Here’s a well-and-septic system:

image of how a well and septic system work to conserve water

Water gets pumped out of the ground, up to my sink. Then it flows down the drain and back into the ground. What is the problem with that? It’s a zero-sum game – the water travelled a little bit, but its amount and location didn’t change.

“Turn off the water while you brush your teeth, and it could save you 5 gallons of water a day.”
“Benefits include a reduced water bill and conservation of fresh water.”

I pay to run the pump. I don’t care about that cost, and I just showed that no water is wasted (i.e. removed from possible future use) by letting water run. I have yet to be convinced there is a good reason why I can’t let the water run as much as I want.

I could see how someone could argue against lawn watering because then much of the water evaporates and doesn’t go back into the ground. While the argument shouldn’t be that water is wasted (since it just changed phase rather than disappearing), I will agree that the water does change its net location. Why it’s bad to provide rain for someone else is another discussion. I won’t put up much of a fuss either way on that argument, because I don’t water my lawn. Why help your lawn grow when that just means you’ll have to cut it more?

and he sent out a raven, and it flew here and there until the water was dried up from the earth.

Genesis 8:7

New Word Search Puzzles

There has been a word search puzzle generator over at Some Fun Site for a while, but not everyone wants to generate his own puzzles.

So we added some pre-made puzzles. Starting off with some basic geography and Bible stuff – 50 states, capitals, nations of each continent, books of the Bible, sons of Jacob, etc.

Any other topics for some good word search puzzles?

Any other types of puzzles that need a generator site?

Then King Darius issued a decree, and search was made in the archives, where the treasures were stored in Babylon.

Ezra 6:1