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First Car Accident

Well, my daughter has had her car for 3 months and was in her first car accident.  It wasn’t her fault, but it scared her none-the-less.  She was stopped at a stop sign — not even pulled up to it completely — when a car turning into the intersection cut it short and clipped her front end.  The lady driving the other car apparently had just picked up the new car from the dealer and was on her way home when this happened.  The lady turned left into the intersecting road and didn’t take into account that there was a car “parked” there.  The funny part was that when she bumped my daughter’s car on the driver’s corner bumper with her front door, she stopped and then started to drive again and continued to scrape her own car all through the back door.  So essentially most of the side of the other driver’s car was scraped.

This was the first accident my daughter has ever been in or close to, so she was scared and hoping the other driver knew what to do.  Imagine her surprise when the other lady got out of her car and said, “I don’t know what to do!”.  So, being the responsible person she is, my daughter told her they have to exchange information.  She dutifully wrote down her name, phone number, make and model of car, and insurance company and gave it to the lady and also got the other lady’s information.  THEN my daughter called me and told me about it and that she was on the way home.

Fortunately, there was very little damage done to my daughter’s car.  The paint on the bumper is scratched.  I checked to make sure the plastic was not cracked or broken, as it is difficult to fix and even more difficult to find a new bumper.  Then I checked to make sure there was no unseen damage, such as the bumper bracket being pushed in or bent.  All was well.  I never even thought to ask my daughter if she was ok.  My first question was “where are you?”  I was going to rush to her aid.  However, that was not needed.  She handled it like a pro — even better than the adult on the scene.

In talking the incident over with my daughter, it dawned on me that we had never really discussed what to do in an instance like this, so we went over a few things:  1) get the name and ADDRESS of the other person.  She got the name but no address.  2) get the YEAR of the car, as well as make and model. 3) take a picture of the accident scene before moving any cars. 4) take a picture of the damage done to both your car and the other car. 5) sketch out the situation showing the road, intersections, and positions of vehicles.

My daughter was worried about the car behind her getting around them, so she moved her car off to the side of the road before exchanging information.  Don’t do that!  Take pictures of positions and the road conditions before moving vehicles!  Then of course, document the damage done to both cars just in case the other person tries to come back and say it was worse than it was or that it was your fault.  Cell phone cameras are wonderful for things like that.  Not everyone carries a camera around with them all the time.

All in all, for the first time ever being in that situation, I thought my daughter handled it well.  It did remind me that a review of insurance issues might be in order so that if anything happened again, she would be prepared and not intimidated.  So just in case you are ever in an accident, remember what you’re supposed to do!


Christmas is for Cars

Well, here it is Christmas, and I have to think of what presents to get everyone.  My husband is easy — he got a professional car lift last month that is his present.  My older daughter loves Tinkerbell.  She’s 29, but Tinkerbell is still her favorite character.  Last year I got her Tinkerbell seat covers for her old Jeep.  This year I got her a Tinkerbell ornament with light-up wings and a Tinkerbell windshield cover for her celica.  There are other things, of course, but those will be her favorites, I’m sure.  She wanted us to get her a new driver’s seat the last time we were at the junkyard, but we couldn’t find anything suitable.  Next time we go, we will take her and she can pick something out that she thinks will go with her car.  She currently has black leather seats, but forget the leather at the junkyard.  Her celica needs new brakes, rotors, and hoses, but I don’t think Santa is bringing those for Christmas.  I think the parts store will have to deliver those. 

My younger daughter, having just bought her first car, is easier to buy for.  She wants everything!  So, first is floor mats for her celica.  Next it’s wheel covers.  Her car only has 3 right now and she wants 4, with a different pattern.  Then there’s new windshield wipers because hers don’t do a very good job, and now there’s new headlight bulbs because her current ones are too dim to really see anything at night.  She wants seat covers and a new radio.  Her current radio no longer accepts CDs and the tape player no longer will play tapes.  The radio part works because of the arrow antenna we put in, so she’s ok for now with at least SOME noise coming out of the dash.  The radio doesn’t have an MP3 jack,  so no more MP3 songs, either.  I’m sure the list would be longer, but I stopped listening.  Of course, Santa is not going to be bringing all of those things for Christmas.  After all, we do have to have ideas for her birthday in April.

I also have an older celica that needs lots of things.  A new set of seats from the junkyard that have to be scrubbed and repaired before using.  Believe it or not, they are a DEFINITE improvement over what is currently in the car.  New door panels from the junkyard, a new sunroof from the junkyard, lifters for the back hatch (from the junkyard), and miscellaneous engine parts and hoses.  There is still a long list of things that I want done or fixed, but that can wait for another time.  So I got my Christmas present already, too.

We don’t even need to think past the cars for presents!  How convenient!  So you see, Christmas is for the cars.  No clothes, no kitchen things, no RC helicopters, no flat screen TV, no X-Box or games — just car things.  It makes buying presents sooo much easier!  Aren’t cars fun?

Merry Christmas everyone!

Do You Know How to Buy a Used Car?

I thought I knew how to buy a used car…afterall, I have purchased several of them and worked with them throughout the years.  I mean, I know what to look for and what is good and bad, right?

Well, I THOUGHT I knew how to buy a used car.  I THOUGHT I knew what to look for…Was I ever in for a surprise!

I looked at several used cars for my daughter and finally bought one I thought would be good for her.  I looked at it when it was raining — well, pouring — so of course, I didn’t crawl underneath.  I didn’t notice the front bumper plastic was broken and the reinforcing bar was crooked.  It was wet so I didn’t notice the paint was missing from the roof and spoiler and a few smaller spots.  I mean, it didn’t look any different.  The interior was dirty and smelled like stale pizza, but that’s because the kid who owned the car was a pizza delivery guy.  What do you expect?  Plastic, cloth and carpets can be cleaned and swept.  A couple dents here and there…no big deal. The engine sounded good, but because of the rain, I didn’t drive it.  Shifting the automatic transmission was good, but I didn’t put a load on it.  It’s raining, so I didn’t spend too much time under the hood because I didn’t want to get soaked.  Let’s see, it needs 2 tires, a front end alignment, and front brakes.  Ok, sign the papers and let’s get this baby home!

I drove the car home and into the shop and didn’t think any more about it.  The next day, I  went to the shop to look at my prize purcahse.  I swear, THEY SWITCHED CARS ON ME WHEN I WAS SIGNING THE PAPERS!  This COULDN’T be the same car I just looked at!  Maybe someone switched cars in the middle of the night…but the interior still smelled like stale pizza and there is still the same dent in the right front fender and the same one by the gas tank door, so it HAS to be the same car.

The first thing I noticed was the paint missing from the roof and spoiler.  How could I not see that?  Ok, it was wet and didn’t show up.  Open the hood and look at all the dirt.  Hey, it smells like anti-freeze…there’s a crack in the radiator tank and it’s leaking.  There’s no way I would have seen that with all the rain.  Then I crawl under to look at things…that’s when the real problems started.  The CV joints are broken.  Grrr….should have seen that.  I knew it needed front brakes, but the rotors are scored too.  There is an exhaust leak, the rear brakes do not exist,  and it needs new wheel bearings.  I knew it needed 2 new tires, but with winter coming, I really should get 4 tires and it BADLY needs a front end alignment.  The doors are rusty and there is rust underneath.  The trunk is torn apart and needs all new fasteners to put it bakc together.  It needs a new radio antenna and the CD player does not work.  Some of the lights don’t work.  A few new hoses, air intake hose, air filter, oil change, transmission oil change, new anti-freeze, brake fluid, miscellaneous nuts and bolts and interior fasteners, clean the spark plugs, a little of this and that and it looks like a new car!  Well, almost.  Good news is it DOES NOT need a new timing belt.  The belt in there looks almost new.  

It bothered me that the hood did not sit right over the headlights on the right side.  I wanted to adjust the hood, but my husband was against that because of how much of a pain it is.  Then when he was under the car looking at some other things he noticed the plastic on the bottom of the bumper was cracked.  THEN he saw that the bumper reinforcing bar was bent.  It was pushed into the air conditioning unit on the right side, which is why the hood didn’t fit right on that side.  We never thought to look at the front to see if everything was straight!  So now we need a new bumper and reinforcing bar. 

Well, to make a long story short, we put more into the car than we thought we needed to when we bought it.  If we had looked more closely, we would have seen most of the things that were wrong.  Maybe not the paint, and maybe not the cracked radiator, but we really should have seen everything else.  It’s a car that we should have passed up and kept looking.  We paid too much for the condition it was in and had to put too much into it.  We made the mistake that a person who never bought a used car would make…”I want this kind of car and I want one now, so I’m getting this one”.  The bad thing is…I KNOW what to look for in a used car!  Well, hopefully, NEXT time I will know BETTER what to look for and won’t make as many mistakes.  The car does look pretty good now and runs very nicely, and my daughter is happy, even with a hunting arrow as a radio antenna, so I guess it worked out.  Just an expensive project for me.

Entertainment at the Junk Yard

Have you ever been to a REAL junk yard where you have to find and take off the part you want yourself? It is quite an experience!
Years ago I went to junk yards where there were a couple hundred cars and I took a couple wrenches and got a small part off a car. Lately, the junk yards I have called about parts, are ones where you tell them what you’re looking for and then go back the next day to pick it up. THEY take the part off the car.

 Recently, though, I had the time of my life in a REAL junk yard. It covered over 200 acres with thousands and thousands of cars — all kinds and makes. There was a pricelist handed out when you paid your modest fee to get into the yard, that listed every part imaginable and what it will cost. We went on a Sunday, we thought early, but when we got there, we had to park at least a half mile away. The place was “crawling” with people! There were all kinds of people there –  old ones, young ones, guys with girlfriends, guys who knew what they were doing, and a number of guys who had no clue what they were doing.  Most spoke no English.  Some came in nice decent clothes, but EVERYONE left covered with grease and dirt, including me. In looking around, I’m pretty sure I was the only grey haired lady in the place; in fact, one of the very few women.

The yard is organized by make of car and labeled section and row, so it was easy to find the cars we were looking for. We lugged, or I should say, my husband lugged, our 5 gallon buckets of tools a good quarter mile to the cars we were looking for. We went to find a front bumper assembly for a ’95 Celica. There was a blue ’94 and a silver ’98 one there. Since our car was the same color blue as the blue one there, that’s the bumper we took off. Then, looking at the engine, it’s the same engine! So we decided to take that, as well — just in case we need parts for the one at home. Besides, it looked in better condition than the one at home. We tried and tried to get that engine out, but to no avail…it was stuck to the transmission and no matter what we did, it was not coming out. I called my brother, who is a mechanic, and asked him if there were any tricks to this procedure. He gave us some hints on what to do, but it just would not budge. The yard was closing, so we had to leave our engine halfway out. We checked out with our treasure of the bumper assembly and drove the 2 hrs. back home, with the promise of coming back Monday to finish the job.

 Monday morning came bright and early. The yard opens at 8:30 AM, so we had to be the first ones there to make sure no one got our engine. Sure enough, we were the first ones in line. Not as many people were there today, but there were still some who must be regulars that I recognized from Sunday. We went right to “our” car with the engine hoist and got right to work. We decided the only way to get the engine out was to take the transmission with it. How easy!! We were done in no time!  Then we decided to take the computer from the car “just in case”.  They hide those things in the most difficult places!  We had to tear the whole inside of the car apart to get to the computer to unbolt it and take it out.  I really learned alot about how they put those interiors together.

Then we had time to look around at some of the other cars to see if there was anything else we would need.  There was a huge machine crushing cars and then picking them up and carrying them to another part of the yard where they were loaded onto a flatbed trailer to be hauled to the scrap yard.  It was fascinating watching the guy working that machine — he was having WAY too much fun!  In fact, even the regular yard rats, driving a truck around to pick up stray tires and parts, looked like they were having fun.  My husband said if we didn’t live so far away, he would apply for a job there.  It was fun crawling around in the engine compartment and inside of cars to seek out our special treasures!

The hardest part of the day was pushing the engine hoist, with the engine, back to the checkout counter. Once that was accomplished, we had to transfer the engine to a wagon to take it into the sloping parking lot to another hoist so we could put the engine onto the truck bed. Wagons with several hundred pounds of engine do not travel well downhill and over stones! We both almost killed ourselves getting it to the hoist in the parking lot. Finally we got the engine loaded and tied down and were on our way home again after a hard day at the “office”. It was so much fun! I can’t wait to go back again!

New Fitness Ebook on the Way

This learning to make money on line stuff is rather time consuming!  After the initial set-up with Aweber, hosting, domain name, blog set-up, then there’s the posting.  I don’t really have a problem with that so much.  I’m really good at rambling on about things.  Now comes the “make money” part…choosing a niche, writing an ebook or recording a video, then somehow monetizing that to get to the money part.  Well, after all the frustration of getting set up…I still do not have an Adsense account because Adsense can’t get their act together to remedy the problem they caused…now comes the frustration of trying to find a niche that will make money.

Ok, John Thornhill says to choose a topic that I am passionate about and then research that topic to see how popular it is.  Well, the topics I am passionate about don’t seem to have any popularity.  There are no ebooks on Clickbank for sale on those topics, and not really too many to find in Google.  Yes, I can find forums specific to the general category, but is that good enough?

So I have chosen the niche of Fitness.  Now what about it?  There’s lots of information products for adults who want to lose weight, adults who want the “body beautiful” and the six-pack abs.  There are a few ebooks about women and strength training that don’t seem that popular on Clickbank.  What about the out-of-shape people who can’t do the heavy workouts that are out there?  What about the kids who shouldn’t become out of shape or obese to begin with?  What about those with disabilities who still want to stay in some sort of fit physical condition?  There are alot of possibilities that interest me and certainly areas of fitness that are somewhat neglected.  But will they make money?  Well, I guess I will find out.  Stay tuned for my new ebook!

Kite Runner Book Review

“The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini is…awesome!  It’s described as  “Powerful”, “Haunting”, “Riveting”, “Unforgettable”, “Moving”, and “Extrordinary”.  It is indeed, all of those.

The novel is told in the first person, leaving one to believe it is a memoir of the author.  Listed as a “novel”, is it fact or fiction?  My guess is it’s fiction based on fact.  The setting is Afghanistan before the wars, when it was a prosperous country under a monarchy.  The story is of the character’s childhood and of growing up in his culture.  The character, Amir, is best friends with Hassan, a servant’s son, who is also of the Hazara ethnicity, which is looked down upon in Afghan society.  This is the story of love, hate, violence, betrayal, and redemption.

The story continues through the revolution and subsequent invasion of Russian forces.  This is a powerful story of how life changes and how people have to change with it to survive.  It’s the story of struggling to overcome the powerful forces of evil and violence and to realize and become the best person you can be.

This story gave me a totally different perspective about Afghanistan and why our own American forces are there fighting.  It is a must read for everyone…not just politcal science people, or international studies people, but all of us.  While it is “just” a story, it is a very poignant story that provides a real look into the lives of the everyday Afghan people — people just like us.  People who want the same things we want and are fighting to achieve them.

Read it if you get the chance.  You won’t be disappointed.  In fact, I bet you won’t be able to put it down!

Fitness or Weightloss?

My 62nd birthday is coming up in a few weeks and I’ve been reflecting on my life.  Coming first to mind is the fact that I am overweight.  Not grossly overweight, but enough that it affects how I move and how my clothes fit.  Of course, I have been overweight since I was pregnant with my first child.  I never gained back my figure, although I was physically fit.

That brings up the question of what is more important…fitness or weightloss?  I have tried various diet plans, like Nutri-System, L.A. Weightloss, and Weight Watchers ,and I lose weight, but gain it right back again…except with more fat.  Weight Watchers was by far the best and lasted the longest.  The secret I found to the weight thing is not just eating right, but also EXERCISE!  With L.A. Weightloss, they don’t want you to exercise at all.  Yes, I lost weight, but I also lost muscle and that has been replaced with fat, so now I am fatter than when I started.  I don’t weigh as much, but I am fatter.

So, with exercise being the key, that should be easy…right?  WRONG!  I have been active all of my life and involved in all kinds of outdoor activity and sports, including backpacking, canoeing, sailing, and horsebackriding.  However, due to illness, I was unable to participate in anything for about a year.  Then I had extensive surgery on my back, which kept me from doing much at all for almost another year.  I decided to start my activity with mild horsebackriding. My horse, who never has shied at anything in her whole life, was easy and all I had to do was sit there.  Well, the second time riding, she shied at a cow and I was thrown at high velocity and ended up with a broken left hip, broken right shoulder blade, and broken ribs.  Six months later and I still couldn’t walk without aid, the doctor found that my hip fracture had not healed and now I needed a hip replacement (actually a hip conversion since I already had hardware in my thigh).  Now I am up to 3 years without being able to exercise.

So this whole time I am unable to exercise and of course, I’m still eating.  Because of the stress of being incapacitated, of course I am eating cookies, candy, cake, brownies, and all the stuff I’m not supposed to eat.  So now I have gained back much of the weight I had lost earlier, but it is still fat and not muscle.

I found that the physical therapy I am supposed to do is really good for strength training and I can add weight to the exercises to make them more difficult.  I can swim, so when the weather cooperates, I spend time in the pool getting a cardio workout.  I can’t walk very well yet, mostly due to lingering problems with my back, so that highly touted exercise is not possible for me.  So no running, no jogging, no walking…that leaves swimming and bike riding. 

With swimming and bike riding for cardio, and the PT exercises for strength, I’m hoping that I can get some semblance of fitness back into my life.  I’m hoping the weightloss follows, but I’m more interested in the fitness.  If I can move better and longer due to stronger muscles, then I should be able to lose the weight.  Of course, I will have to eat better, too, but I think that will come as I feel better.

I will keep you informed as I progress and let you know how things are working out!  Stay tuned!

Monster Truck

The County Fair was last week and because we had nothing really pressing to do, we decided to go and see what was happening.  We live in an agricultural area, so of course there are the animals and food competitions.  Then the carnival rides and games, and of course, FOOD!  We made sure we ate dinner before we went so we wouldn’t spend a weeks paycheck on the food.  However, we DID splurge and get a funnel cake…with powered sugar on top.  Can’t go to the fair without getting a funnel cake!

I haven’t been to the county fair since the kids were little and we took them for the rides and games and the “crash cars”.  That’s demolition derby to us adults.  Well, this night was Monster Truck night…and monster car and whatever else had 4 wheels.  I had never been to a monster truck event, so what the heck…we paid our money and went to see what it was all about.

They had a course set up with hills and cones and big tires to circle around and the event was timed.  It was interesting to see which cars did well and which ones did not.  Then there was the ambulance, complete with flashing lights, the police car with flashing lights, and the huge box truck that couldn’t even turn around in the space given to go around the tires.

There were two divisions — one for 4 wheel drive vehicles, and one for 2 wheel drive vehicles.  Some cars were exciting to watch and others were ho hum.  It was exciting to have a woman driver take the lead half way through the event.  She lost the lead shortly after, though, when a ’69 Dodge Charger, painted to look like the “General Lee” from Dukes of Hazard, beat her out by 0.5 seconds.  Most of the vehicles didn’t have a muffler on them, so of course they were LOUD!  It was really fun to watch them skid around the turns, nose-dive into the dirt coming off the hills, and most of all, blow the engine or transmission and be dead on the track.  How embarassing to have to be pulled off the track by a tractor!  Then there was the truck that crashed into the wall head on instead of even trying to make the turn around the tire.  He backed up and continued on course.  What was he thinking?

The most fun was watching the top 10 vehicles in each category have a race-off for first place.  Some vehicles, of course, had super suspension and extra bracing for their vehicles to take the hard landings and turns.  The best ones were the SUVs — Jeeps and Expeditions.  Then there was the half sized Jeep that took the turns on two wheels and almost tipped over.  And then the  ’67 VW bug…what can I say?  Not only cute, but VERY good.  Took the turns skidding like a pro, flew over the hills expertly, landing just right, and FAST!  Then, horrors of horrors, his engine died when he landed after the last hill.  He had the best time up to that point, but coasting over the finish line slowed him down.  Well, at least he FINISHED!  Two guys then came out of the crowd and pushed the bug off the track — no tractor for him!  Too bad he couldn’t have finished at top speed…I think he would have won.  As it was, an Expedition won both categories…the same Expedition.  Of course, he had super suspension, extra bracing and a really souped up engine.  He does this alot, I think.

Next year my daughter wants to enter our Prius in this event.  It will take some super bracing and suspension to make that happen!

All in all a worthwhile time spent at the county fair.  We’re looking for the next monster truck event held in a larger arena.  It’s almost better than “crash cars”!

How to Train Your Dragon

At he behest of my college age daughter, I watched this movie the other night — another cutsie animated movie appealing to kids.  Well, I must say, I thoroughly enjoyed it!  Yes, it was cute…and animated…but it was a good story!

The setting is viking land and the vikings are fierce fighting people so they are portrayed as large, muscular, and lots of weapons with which to pursue their favorite pasttime of killing dragons.  The main character, Hiccup, is skinny, small, and gentle.  Not at all like a Viking, and a total disappointment to his father.  Right off the bat, I could see that Hiccup, by his very name, was being somewhat bulllied, albeit “nicely”.  He showed lack of self-esteem, knowledge that he was different and that everyone teased him or picked on him.  His strength lay in the fact that he knew he was good for something…he just had to find out what it was.  He chose to prove himself by finding and killing a Night Fury… a dragon never seen by anyone.

I liked that the girls in the gang of kids, were equal to the guys in their training exercises.  They were portrayed as strong and capable and sometimes even better than the guys.  Good role models.

Hiccup, being forced into dragon-killing class, found that he really wasn’t a warrior and couldn’t kill dragons.  Instead, he tried to understand them and tame them so they wouldn’t attack.  Being very successful at this, Hiccup came out #1 in the class.

I don’t want to give away the whole story, so I will stop telling what happens.  There are several lessons here, though…one, of course, is the bully stuff, another is the strong female part.  Also is understanding those that are different and trying to work with them and include them in the culture — a good lesson in diverstiy and acceptance.  Accepting people for who they are, even though they might be a little different, and finding the talent they have rather than trying to make everyone the same, is another lesson.  Turning hate into understanding is there, too.  I could go on and on…

I’m sure the kids look at just the story line.  But we adults can enjoy not just the story, but the messages underlying it.   And then remind ourselves that it is up to us to  carry those messages forward and incorporate them into our daily lives.  Maybe our children didn’t understand that part of the movie, but we did, and we need to teach our children those concepts while they are still young so they can enjoy their lives fully as they get older.


First Real Job

My daughter got her first real job this summer.  She has worked here and there at temp jobs, but this is her first REAL job.  She is a server at a local restaurant.  She has never been a server before, so we were all surprised she was hired with no experience at such a busy place. 

The first thing we did was go shopping for “uniform” clothes — black top with black shorts, khaki shorts, black pants, or khaki pants.  So we got one of each bottoms and several black tops.  Her first paycheck went to paying me back for the clothes.

She spent 2 days in training, following other servers around and becoming familiar with the computer used for orders and bills.  Then she started for real on a Friday night.  What a baptism by fire!  For some reason, they didn’t think they would be busy and they were swamped!  Poor girl — she was overwhelmed.  Her very first order, when she picked up the tray to take it out, she dropped a plate of french fries off of the tray.  She was devastated!  She was so nervous then, that one of the cooks wanted to follow her out helping her with the tray.  He didn’t, but he wanted to.  The next day when she was telling us about it, she started crying.  She was embarassed, upset, wondering if she could do the job, and basically just really overwhelmed with everything there was to remember.  She went back the second day and it was busy, but she did much better.

That first week was really difficult.  So much to remember!  She goofed up orders, some people had to wait longer than they should have because she didn’t realize they were in her section, she goofed up bills, and generally made all the mistakes a beginner would make.  Most of the customers were really understanding and didn’t take her mistakes out on her.  In fact, most of them gave her fairly good tips!  Having an outgoing personality and letting them know she was new at this, the customers helped her out and made her first week better for her.

Now that my daughter is starting her third week, the “new card” will be more difficult to play — unless she is on the deck, where she IS new.  Many customers are repeat customers and they have asked to be seated in her section.  That’s a nice compliment!  She has waited on people she hasn’t seen in quite awhile and it was nice to catch up on happenings.  She even found out that one of the dishwashers was a really good friend from her childhood!  They have become reacquainted and are having a good time reminising about their childhood exploits.  Having all these people around and the ever changing atmosphere really helps keep the summer from being too boring.  That’s a good thing!  First jobs are always good…and this one is VERY good.