A Vehicular Crossroad

Rachel’s car has finally hit that point.

The point at which we need to choose to keep it till it falls apart or get rid of it now.  For the second time in the roughly 60,000 miles that we’ve owned it, it needs a head gasket.  The car is a 2000 Chevrolet Malibu with a 3.1L v6.  From what I’ve heard this is an extremely common problem with this engine.  Awesome.

So, our dilemma…

The car is paid off.  Irregular maintenance has not yet turned into regular maintenance, so monthly costs have been negligible for the better part of a year.  It’s in good mechanical condition (besides the recent development), although it’s in extremely poor cosmetic condition.

The cost of repair is approximately $1200.  We can safely assume if we were to buy a new (to us) car to replace the Malibu we’d be looking at payments somewhere between $200 and $400 a month and a minute trade in value.

At those costs it would only need to last us another 3-6 months before the benefit of repairing it outweighs the cost of a new car payment.  Of course, this assumes that we don’t have any other major issues with the car in that 3-6 month time period which is big possibility.  On the other hand, we haven’t had to do anything to the car (and it’s been paid off) for almost a year, so really it’s already earned the new head gasket.

It’s a gamble, we either bet on our car to last another 6 months or we bet against it, and move on with our lives without the complication, but with a little added cost.

One last thing to consider: We only drive 1 car on a regular basis as I ride the bus to and from work.  Therefor; having one unreliable car has been something we’ve been prepared to live with for a while.

What would you do?

We haven’t decided but if someone decides they want to give us an offer… let us know in the comments.

Avatar

It’s not for everyone but Avatar might just be our favorite movie of all time.  It has a lot going for it and Rachel and I both agree: the estimated 500 million dollar budget was worth every penny.

After 2 hours and 40 minutes, I left the theater in panic mode because it was over and there isn’t yet a sequel.  In the 10 years it took him to make it, James Cameron created a world I don’t want to just visit every 5 years when they release a sequel, I want to live there, now.

To me, that’s a sign of a great movie.  Every movie I’ve ever truly loved has left me with some desire for a part of it to be real.  Everything about Avatar is completely different from the norm and that’s exactly the point.  It’s so unique and different that I wish I could experience it myself.  They even create a rational for how things work rooted in (a tiny bit of) science.  The characters quickly develop into emotional connections, to each other and the audience.  On top of that the effects, the animation, the scenery, everything about the movie was stellar.

We didn’t watch it in 3D, but I’m seeing the movie again with coworkers this Tuesday at the IMAX in 3D so we’ll see how that changes things.  From the first viewing I can only assume it makes it even better.  There wasn’t a ton of gimmicky things flying towards the screen, just a lot of really stunning scenery that would be all the more impressive in 3D.

Filled with even more anticipation than I was before. In the meantime, enjoy the trailer:

Please turn on javascript. Movies require javascript to play.
http://movies.apple.com/movies/fox/avatar/avatar-tlrf_h.480.mov

Although written sunday, this post isn’t going up until I’m sitting in the theater on Tuesday.  Wouldn’t want to spoil it for my coworkers by giving them expectations before they see it.

Tougher Drunk Driving Penalties

Too often we act without thinking which leads to unfortunate consequences for ourselves and for those around us.

Several months ago, two of the most influential, kind hearted teachers (Mr T & Mrs T) at my High School Alma Mater were hit head-on in a devastating Drunk Driving Car accident.  Fortunately, they both survived, although Mr T suffered severe injuries.  He is currently undergoing rehabilitation and will likely be in that process for a long time.  It has had a devastating impact on his family and my hometown community where both taught for many many years.  They are some of the lucky ones though, many other families out there won’t ever get a second chance.

Ken Stoker, another of Marion’s wonderful High School’s teachers wrote an essay about the accident and Leandra’s Law recently, which was published in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.  I’d like to share that with you here to spread the word.

Enact tougher drunken driving laws

It was good to read headline news about “Leandra’s Law,” which went into effect in New York this past Friday. I applaud the new Child Passenger Protection Act but I feel it needs to be broadened to cover all victims of involved alcohol-related accidents.

While attorneys might go to court and argue that the driver of this and similar crimes deserves another chance because this had “only been a first, second or third offense” (what is the difference?), we all know that victims in such horrendous accidents do not even have the luxury of one day in court, let alone a “second chance.”

Their lives are either ended, or at best changed forever because of another’s irresponsibility.

Until several weeks ago, I guess I had been lucky to have only read or heard about such tragedies. This type of pain and suffering always had happened to “someone else.”

All that changed on Friday, Oct. 16, when two of my closest friends, professional colleagues and community leaders faced their own “near-death” experiences when their car was hit by another car driven by a man who had allegedly been drinking alcohol earlier that day.

He was charged with driving while intoxicated. Eight weeks after the accident, one of the innocent victims is slowly regaining limited movement.

It is a sad but familiar story.

These two accident scenarios are grotesquely similar, if perhaps only because they both have involved helpless victims whose lives have been taken or drastically changed in an instant.

And while there can never be any total guarantee that such events will never happen again to any one of us, a law with the same bite to it as the new “Leandra’s Law” needs to be enacted as quickly as this one has been to cover all victims of crimes involving drunken drivers, not just children.

We’ve all heard that “everyone makes a mistake and should be given a second chance.” That may work for some things, but not for the drunken driver.

I counter that neither Leandra Rosado nor the countless others who have been killed or maimed by drunken drivers’ reckless actions are really given a second chance to resume their lives normally.

Familiarity with the law should already count as that “first chance.”
Breaking the law should then be met with the same immediate and harsh punishment as outlined in “Leandra’s Law.”

~Ken Stoker – retired teacher of German and English, currently working around the world as an instructor for Academic Services International.

I’m appalled by these sorts of occurrences and disgusted by the lawyers who defend them.  If it were up to me, there’d be no second chances.  Stiffer penalties for those caught drunk driving, and permanent license revocation for those involved in an accident while under the influence.  No reductions, lawyer or no lawyer.

Pictorial Webster’s Fine Print Edition

law booksA major portion of business for the company I work for is fine (legal) book publishing.   They’ve moved mostly online now but book printing & publishing is still a big part.  As a result, this video on how the Pictorial Webster’s Fine Print Edition was put together is immensely interesting to me.  I realize the legal books we have around probably aren’t put together with the same hand-crafted level of precision and dedication, but it’s still interesting and the process is most likely similar.

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=5228616&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=0&color=&fullscreen=1

Pictorial Webster’s: Inspiration to Completion from John Carrera on Vimeo.

Old Pictures of Downtown Rochester

I love seeing old pictures of Downtown Rochester.  Historical photos of places we see all the time are just so interesting.  On top of that I work in one of the most historical buildings in the city, the old Aqueduct Building, with the statue of Mercury on top close to it’s original place.  The building is located near main street on the Genesee River.  As such, our building is almost always visible in these old photos.

The following is a Panoramic picture from 1906 of the Genesee River area.  You can see Mercury in it’s original position above the Cigar factory.  Just across the canal (what later became broad street) you can see the Aqueduct Building.  I found the picture (amongst others) on the Rochester Subway site.

So damn cool.

House Insurance Sucks

InsuranceOur experience with insurance companies of all kinds is horrible.  We’ve had the absolute worst luck although We’ve never really written about it here in detail before.  Our car insurance has been canceled several times (for reasons beyond our control) and our house insurance is expensive because of a few punk kids in Fairport and a stupid AllState policy.

We’ve dealt with our high cost house insurance for 2 years because it was the best we could get at the time (thanks to AllState, jerks).   We figured after living with it for 2 years things would have settled by now and we’d be able to get a better rate.  Through phone calls to at least 15 different companies, we’re not gonna have any luck and it looks like we’ll be stuck with what we’re paying now: about DOUBLE what seems to be the local average.

Three reasons we’re having trouble:

  1. Our house is a Multi-Family Duplex.  Many insurance companies simply don’t offer insurance for these types of houses.  Although it reduces the number of quotes we can get, and therefor the possibility of getting a lower rate, I don’t fault them for this.  It’s their company and they can choose to cover whatever types of houses they want.
  2. Our house was built before the turn of the 20th century (approximately 1890).  It’s Old.  Many companies seem to think this is just too old so they won’t cover it.  I don’t get this one.  Yes older houses were built using different standards and fit to different codes, but that’s the point of risk pools.  Just put the old house into an appropriate risk pool.  This was totally shocking to me since there’s TONS of people with houses older than ours.  I hope the houses we’re building today last more than 100 years…  Will they stop covering houses built in 1990 in 2109?  Seems dumb.
  3. We have 2 Siberian Huskies.  They’re awesome family dogs and very friendly.  We didn’t really think anything of this, but every company we talked to categorized Huskies as an aggressive breed.  What a bunch of bull.  I’ve never seen a non friendly Husky and I’ve never heard of one.  Their rationale seemed to be that they’re related to Wolfs.  Well, hate to break it to ya guys but your Lab & Retriever dogs share the same ancestors as our Huskies… they’re all related and share some Wolf DNA.  Huskies just happen to have maintained their appearance more than others due to their natural work environment.

The first 2 issues I can gloss over because not every company had those restrictions and they almost seem reasonable since a company can choose what to cover and what not to cover.  The 3rd however; is inexcusable.  I simply do not understand where the idea that Huskies are an aggressive breed it’s coming from.

We were just trying to get a big win by getting our yearly insurance cost lowered.  It looks like this won’t be happening anytime soon thanks to yet more retarded insurance policies.  The whole industry is a giant scam in my opinion.  As soon as you want to USE your insurance, they drop you or raise your rates.  Why can’t we lower our rates every year (or month) we DON’T use the policy?

Pittsburgh is an Awesome City

Drinking and Star Wars all with a DD? or my wife rules part deux? Awesome.

IMG_1414Rachel and I went to Pittsburgh for Star Wars in Concert a few weeks ago.  Before we went I learned a little about the city because, honestly, I knew nothing.  Pittsburgh is in the middle of the mountains? Why did I not know this?  It’s only 4.5hrs away.  Really? Why have I not been there before? It takes longer to get to Camp sometimes (driving up route 81 across the Tug Hill Plateau in the middle of the winter is no fun), and we go there almost every weekend.  It’s easy to get to also, just take Interstate 90 to Interstate 79 south right into the city.

We stayed at the Wyndham Pittsburgh University Place which we highly recommend, partly because of the quality of the accommodations at their price, but mostly because they include a DD.  They have a shuttle which takes you anywhere within a 5 mile radius every hour on the hour.  Our car didn’t move once we got there until we were headed home which was nice.

IMG_1397First thing we did when we got there?  We headed to the only place (I know of) where you can get your drink on inside a Church, the Church Brew Works.  A little silly for Rachel, but they served an excellent dinner too!  Surprisingly enough, on top of the great atmosphere, their beer and their food were amazing!

A few suggestions from our list of favorite spots for when you go to Pittsburgh.  Be sure not to miss the Monongahela Incline, it provides simply stunning views of the city and it’s cheap.  Or you can just drive to the top of Mount Washington, but what fun is that?

pittsburgh-pano

IMG_1534Pittsburgh might be the only place in the world where you can see a real live Transformer, or at least a sculpture of a fake transformer named Arch.  Don’t miss that while it’s there.

IMG_1553The ice rink at PPG Place looks like another Rockefeller Center amidst a beautiful crystal (glass) Palace (office complex).  You can rent skates and skate amongst the palace towers around a ginormous Christmas Tree.  Unfortunately we didn’t discover it until a few minutes before the concert or else we would have partaken.

Our favorite part of the trip was (obviously) the reason we were there. Star Wars in Concert was amazing! What an interesting new way to experience the Star Wars story.  Narrated by none other than C-3PO himself (Anthony Daniels) and performed by a live orchestra.  Hearing the Imperial march live along giant HD images of Vader raised the hair on the back of my neck.  Yes, before anyone asks, there were lots of people in costumes around (I sat next to Obi-Wan) but no, we were not among them.  Overall we’d highly recommend the whole Star Wars in Concert experience.

IMG_1611

An incredibly enjoyable weekend.  Pittsburgh is an awesome city and we WILL be back.

Wdljyndham Pittsburgh University Place