Tag: Weather

My Old Car

In 2006, I bought a used 2002 Chevy, for $4000.

It was a reliable damn car, and lasted longer than any of us expected. But about a year ago, the AC compressor went out. I decided it would make more sense to get a new car than fix the old one, so a few months ago, that's what I did.

I planned on giving the Chevy to my dad, who needs a car. But when we went in to transfer the title, we found out I couldn't. Turns out that, some years back, he sold his van to a coworker without getting the title transferred over. The coworker abandoned the van (whatever "abandoned" means; as we'll see below, in the eyes of the law "abandoned" can just mean "parked on the curb too long"), and now Dad's stuck with a $500 fine before he's allowed to register another car.

So the Chevy's been sitting out on the curb for the past few months, while I've been waiting for Dad to get his paperwork sorted. During these months, I didn't take the car out regularly to keep its battery charged -- I knew I should have, but it was a-hundred-and-fuck-you degrees out, and if I wanted to drive a car with no AC in that weather, I wouldn't have bought a new car.

So, my own damn fault; by the time I tried to take the car out again, the battery was dead.

The design of the street I live on makes it difficult to line two cars up for a jump. I've got a little device called a Power Station PSX that's got jumper cables and an air compressor built into it, but its battery was no longer holding a charge. I had already E-Mailed the Power Station company to ask if the battery was replaceable, but I'd received no response.

At any rate, on Thursday the 19th, I got home to find a bright orange sticker on my Chevy declaring that it had been confirmed as abandoned and I had 120 hours to move it or it would be towed.

I don't know if the police officer who left the tag was just a busybody -- it's pretty obvious to a casual observer that nobody's driven this car in awhile; it's got cobwebs and leaves and shit under it --, or if one of my neighbors complained about my car to the police. In the latter case, jeez, neighbor, I wish you'd just come and rung my bell and talked to me about it. I know the thing's an eyesore, and I didn't mean for it to be there this long, but is it really going to be any less of an eyesore in my driveway? If you'd asked me to just clean up the leaves and the cobwebs, I'd have done it.

And yeah, I've been meaning to get that battery charged anyway, but a hard 5-day deadline is a little tight. I mean, it's nice to have a weekend in there, but even if I can find a battery with Amazon two-day shipping at this point, it's Thursday night and that means I won't be getting it until Sunday.

I wondered if I could just reverse the thing back a car-length. What's the legal standard for moving your car? So I called the Tempe Police Department, and talked to an officer who politely and repeatedly failed to answer that question. "How far do I need to move it?" -- "You need to move it." -- "Yes, but what is the legal standard for moving it? If I move it one car length, will it still be considered abandoned? If I move it a couple of houses over, will it still be considered abandoned?" -- "Sir, you just need to move your car within 120 hours." And so on.

Ultimately, I decided the only safe course of action would be to move the Chevy to the driveway and keep my new car on the curb. This doesn't really seem like it solves any kind of a problem. I pointed this out, in exasperation: "If I just switch them so that the old car is in the driveway and the car I drive to work is on the curb, I don't see how that's helping anybody."

"Because," she said, "then the car isn't there during the time you're at work." And I remembered, ah yes, never ask a police officer how a law makes sense, and disengaged from the conversation. It reminded me of the Douglas Adams story about the time he was pulled over to the center lane in the middle of a curve, and when he protested to the policeman that this was unsafe, the policeman responded that it was safe because he was there at the request of a policeman.

Yes. Yes of course everybody is better off because, during work hours, there's not a car in that spot. In case there's, like, a block party in the middle of a weekday and there's no other place to park. How silly of me.

So I went back to trying to figure out whether I could change the battery in my Power Station, or, if I couldn't, whether I could replace the whole thing -- and, either way, whether I could do it by Tuesday afternoon.

A replacement Power Station would run $150 -- and wouldn't be there in time.

So I searched some more for answers on whether I could replace that battery. And I found a YouTube video demonstrating how to do exactly that.

The official battery, the brand and model that came with the Power Station, was expensive and I couldn't find it with Prime shipping. But, for the first and only time in human history, a YouTube comment proved helpful: commenter Maverick Alchemist noted that, based on the voltage, wattage, and physical dimensions of the battery, an item listed as ExpertPower EXP12180 12 Volt 18 Ah Rechargeable Battery with Nuts and Bolts should do the job. And whaddaya know: two-day shipping.

I kept busy Friday night and Saturday; I made sure to get my chores out of the way -- yard cleaned, dishes washed, laundry done, bills paid, groceries purchased -- before Sunday, to make sure I'd have plenty of time to take care of the car -- change the Power Station battery and jump it, at minimum, and then, if something broke down along the way (battery didn't arrive on time, battery didn't work, jump didn't work...), time to get somebody to help me push the damn thing into the driveway in case my wife and I couldn't manage it by ourselves.

I managed to finish all my other chores up in time to take Saturday night off and go to the Alamo Drafthouse to see the Mads. I'll have a post about that along soon.

So Sunday rolled around. I took the Power Station out front, grabbed my tools, and set to taking it apart to change the battery. The process was tedious -- a hell of a lot of screws, and a couple of inconveniently-placed nuts -- but straightforward. The new battery arrived, the new battery worked, I buttoned it back up. The new battery didn't have a full charge, so I went ahead and plugged it in for a few hours, just to be sure.

And so finally, Sunday evening, around sundown, I went out, popped the hood, wired it up, and turned the Power Station on.

I turned the key.

It started.

First try. It really couldn't have possibly gone any better. Like I said: this old girl is reliable.

So I drove around the neighborhood for about half an hour, to make sure I got a good charge. It was a nice drive, too, with the windows down; we're still seeing some pretty warm days here (I think that day got up to the high 90's), but the evenings are pretty much perfect.

I'll try and take it out once a week or so from here on in, so I won't have to do that again.

A Great Day

Today it rained.

That in and of itself qualifies as a pretty good day.

And then my mother-in-law said we should go out to my favorite brewery.

Man, I feel bad for guys who don't like their mothers-in-law. My mother-in-law is cool. She likes beer.

'Neath Satan's Sweaty Ballsac

It's 116 degrees out today.

And cloudy and humid.

When I stepped out the door after work, I actually groaned, "Oh, Jesus."

When I say "It is literally an oven out there," it's not because I'm one of those assholes who uses the word "literally" to mean "not literally". It's because today at work we had a potluck, and the people who brought hot food just left it in their cars until lunchtime to keep it warm.

When I got in my car I burned myself on the turn signal -- and I'd had a shade in my windshield all day. On my way home, I was relieved when I got close enough to see that whatever's on fire and billowing a huge cloud of smoke into the sky is a good ways northwest of my house.

Tomorrow's forecast is 119. Which, well, I guess the good news about when it gets up to 119 degrees is it's probably not going to get any hotter. (Phoenix's all-time record is 122, and that was 23 years ago.)

And while the humidity is awful, it also means the monsoons are coming and we won't have to put up with this shit for much longer.

And the other good news is, I have made it back to my air-conditioned home and I have no reason to step outside again for days.

My pants are off, and they are staying off.


Well, it's officially summer now. As opposed to three weeks ago when it wasn't summer, just a 113-degree spring.

Mostly indoors in the air conditioning lately, and catching up on TV and video games. Didn't realize I was so close to finishing Mario Galaxy when I quit playing it like 5 years ago.

Course, if it weren't for the backlog and money being a little tight at the moment, I'd be perusing the various Internet game sales on right now. GOG's got a big one, Steam has plenty of deals, the Humble Bundle has both a weekly bundle and an Android-themed bundle going right now, and Amazon has a bunch of stuff for cheap too. (That last one's an affiliate link; if you buy something through it I get a small kickback.)

I don't have the time to play the games I already have. But I picked up the free download of Torchlight and maybe I'll get to it one of these days. And I've had al little more time this past week, anyway.

Books I'm Dropping

I observed, last month, that while I think Scott Snyder is an immensely talented writer and really gets Batman, his two major arcs up to this point really haven't been for me.

I decided to give him one more shot, that #18 would be make-or-break for me.

Well, the good news is, #18 really is pretty great. It brings back Harper Row, the main character from issue #7, my single favorite issue of the new series. #18 isn't quite as good as that one (among other things it lacks Becky Cloonan -- though Alex Maleev's work is fantastic and obviously Andy Kubert is no slouch), but it's a good solid continuation of Harper's story, and gives us a good street-level view of Batman freaking the fuck out following Damian's death.

There's fan speculation at this point that Harper is going to become the new Robin. That would certainly fit what happens in this story, and I wouldn't mind it -- but I'd much rather she stay Just a Regular Person. I've said before, often, that my favorite superhero stories are the man-on-the-street ones -- Ditko's Just a Guy Named Joe, Harmon and Jones's To Serve and Protect, Busiek and Ross's Marvels, Busiek and Anderson (and Ross)'s Astro City. I love supporting characters in the Bat-verse like Leslie Tompkins, or the guy who fixes up the Batmobile, or the lady who builds the supervillains' lairs. I would love for Harper to stay another one of those -- an ordinary person leading a relatively ordinary life that occasionally and extraordinarily intersects with Batman's. That, for me, is her ideal role.

But if she becomes Robin, I'd be down with that too.

(Course, I also won't rule out Damian coming back. This is comics. And it's not like Morrison's never done the "bring everybody back to life in his last issue" trick before.)

But now for the bad news:

If Batman #18 was the book that convinced me to stick with the Snyder/Capullo run, the news that #21-#31 are going to retell the origin story is probably going to convince me not to.

Origin Stories Forever!
Image via CollegeHumor.
This fucking thing was on the inside cover of every DC comic a few months ago.
Apparently without any intention of irony.

I am not spending forty-four dollars reading Batman's fucking origin story again.

Like every sentient human being in the galaxy, I already know Batman's origin story. I've seen it. I've seen the Finger/Kane/Moldoff version. I've seen the Burton version. I've seen the Timm/Burnett/Gilroy/Derek/Kirkland version. I've seen the Miller/Mazzucchelli version. I've seen the Nolan version. I've seen the Tucker/Jelenic/Vietti/Beechen version. I've seen Grant Morrison, Neil Gaiman, and various Kuberts take a crack at it. I've seen the Liu/Montgomery adaptation of the Miller/Mazzucchelli version. I haven't seen the Johns/Frank version. And I've got zero damn interest in the Snyder/Capullo version.

Look. I love Batman. And I love his origin story. It's a classic bit of comics history, it's one of the key elements to his story, and it's one of the reasons he's endured as an American icon for lo these 74 years.

But enough is e-goddamn-nough. Give it a rest. Tell some new stories.

Finger, Kane, and Moldoff told Batman's origin in a page and a half. There is no good damn reason to stretch it out to eleven issues at four bucks a pop.

I'm sick of the fucking relaunches, rehashes, reboots, retcons, repetition, and various other words beginning with "re".

I'm the biggest damn Batman fan I know. And I'm sick of this crap.

I'll probably read #19 and #20. And I'll probably stick with Inc as long as Morrison's writing, and maybe Detective as long as Layman's writing. But there's every chance I'll be a non-Batman reader before the year is out.

Also, I think I'm done with Animal Man. I finished the latest issue, did some reflecting, realized I genuinely did not give a fuck about anything that had happened in this issue or any issue since Travel Foreman left the series, shrugged, and decided that's another three bucks a month I could stand to spend on something else instead. Like air conditioning. It's supposed to be 94 degrees today. It is the middle of March.

This is really a pity, as Animal Man was absolutely the best comic out of the New 52. But that Rotworld shit went on way past its shelf life.

And here we hit the central problem, I think, with comics marketing for the past couple of decades: things like crossovers and reboots do sell -- but their popularity is unsustainable. Today's sales through cheap gimmicks come at the expense of tomorrow's sales through loyalty, goodwill, and repeat business.

The good news is, there's so much great shit out there right now from publishers who aren't DC or Marvel.

Robot Hell

Still haven't received my unemployment pay for the week I reported (accurately) that I worked and earned zero dollars. The status of the claim still says that it was unpaid due to earnings.

As I mailed the documentation on Wednesday the 9th, DES should have received it a week ago today. So I decided I needed to follow up.

The DES contact page lists a number for a Client Advocate -- "Contact the Client Advocate if you have a complaint about an Unemployment Insurance related matter or the service you received." That sounds right.

So I called the number. And, surprise, it's just a damn computer switchboard.

Thank you for calling, visit our website; you can file your claim there. To talk about a claim, press 1; for other questions, press 2; to repeat, press 3.

Welcome. You can file your claim on our website. If you have a question about your card, call JP Morgan Chase. (Different voice at different volume:) To continue in English, press 1.

(Tangentially: It's a pity "I shouldn't have to press 1 for English" is the battlecry of ignorant racists, because it's actually a legitimate UI complaint. The most common option should be the default and shouldn't require user intervention. The switchboards that do it as "For English, stay on the line; para español, oprima número uno" have the right idea. Not because of any ignorant "Yer in Amurika; speak English" notions, but simple demographics -- if I were calling a business in Guadalupe, the reverse would be true and UI design would dictate that Spanish be the default option and, yes, as a member of a minority, I should have to press 1 for English.

All that said: pressing 1 for English is not that big a fucking deal, and I've already spent more time talking about it than the subject deserves.)

To file a claim, press 1, or file via our website, where you can file your claim. (Several other options, routinely switching voices and volumes.)

Lengthy legal disclaimer.

Enter your SSN.

You have entered blah-blah-blah; if this is correct, press 1.

Enter your PIN.

You must speak to a customer service representative. Please wait while your call is being transferred.

I am sorry, we are experiencing a high volume of calls. Please try your call again later. Thank you.

And then -- it hangs up.

No hold, no voicemail. Just 4 minutes of navigating fucking prompts, only to be hung up on.

This, right here? It's why people fucking hate government bureaucracies.

Just because I'm unemployed doesn't mean I don't have better shit to do than fuck around on the phone for 4 minutes to get hung up on.

(8 minutes, actually, because I tried again a little later, partly in the hopes of getting someone this time and partly to make sure I got all the details right for this post.)

So I guess I'll submit a comment on the website? I don't think this qualifies as an Appeal of a Determination of Deputy, because there's nothing under "Determinations" on my claim page. I think this is a Written Protest. And although I've already sent a letter, I'm wondering if they're going to make me send another, and hoping I won't pass a deadline and miss my window.

Hey guys, unemployment is really pretty terrible. I do not recommend it.

Guess I should submit more auditions -- which I'd have probably already started on if I weren't busy fucking around with DES.

This time I'll focus on projects that offer hourly rates and bypass this issue altogether.

And after a few hours of that, maybe I'll get a chance to go for a bike ride. We've had a couple weeks of weather that was pretty damn chilly for Phoenix metro, and now we're back up above 70 -- it's a nice day out and a shame to be cooped up indoors.


Today I saw a man walking down the street in a tricorn hat, powdered wig, and other assorted revolutionary garb, waving a placard explaining how our Founding Fathers really love Romney and Flake.

I decided not to make any banal jokes about Halloween being last week, mostly because that's so blisteringly unoriginal but also because really, wearing that getup in 92-degree weather is its own punishment.

Never a Dull Moment

Today's adventure: trying to figure out how to get two rather large pallets of networking equipment from the curb to the NOC. Without a pallet jack.

But hey, at least it was only 99 degrees out.

Standin' in Line

Not planning on seeing Dark Knight Rises this weekend.

I am the biggest fan of Batman I know.

But do you know what I'm an even bigger fan of?

Not standing in line when it is 108 degrees out.

And no, I don't want to see a midnight showing either. I've got work tomorrow.

Here is a short list of things I have stood in line for over the years:

  • Episode I
  • Episode II
  • Not Episode III (I had learned my lesson by this point)
  • A PlayStation 2 (actually Brad did the bulk of the standing in line on that one)
  • A Wii (which I did not get; I was the third or fourth guy in line but all but 2 of them came in damaged; I later purchased one just randomly walking into the same store and asking if they had any, no line required)
  • Spamalot
  • Bruce Campbell's autograph
  • All three Lord of the Rings movies
  • The Avengers

Now, don't get me wrong. I had fun all those times. (Even the Star Wars ones.) I can see the appeal of standing in line with a bunch of nerds with similar interests. It is a conversation starter. Sometimes it's almost like a party. (Not a very good party, but, you know, one of those parties where people show up in costume and there's no beer or music.)

So, you know, it was fun to do a few times. But I think there are lots of other fun things to do in Tempe in the summer. Like sit in my air-conditioned house and play video games.

I'll catch DKR -- maybe next weekend, more likely the weekend after. Do it up right, see at at the IMAX.

But I'll wait until there are no lines.

What I Did This Weekend

  • Drove to Tucson
  • Saw Brave
  • Went to Bookman's. Bought a used copy of Perdido Street Station and the first Cerebus trade.
  • Watched MST3K (Night of the Blood Beast). Slept through the middle.
  • Had some barbecue -- David grilled up some turkey burgers and chicken dogs
  • Watched Godzilla: Final Wars
  • Caught Vertigo at an independent theater
  • Hit up an Irish pub. (Tip: 20%, plus an extra dollar for live music, plus one more dollar for not charging me for my pint of Guinness. Considered one more dollar for overflowing the urinal; decided that wasn't really my fault, and hey, I let the waiter know.)
  • Walked out into a monsoon; got good and wet.
  • Dealt with the joy of Arizona drivers in heavy rain.
  • Came home.

Good times.

And my good friend Jim is off to New Mexico for grad school. Good on ya, Jim.