So what happened in the past month?


Normally my family lives by the mantra "no news is good news". My quiet over the past month has not been so much in that case.

My First Wreck
Dec 18 was the first wreck I've ever been involved in. I was going straight though an intersection. The guy coming towards me was in the turn lane turning to his left. We both thought we could make the light. We were wrong.

The details of what happened a month ago have steadily been trying to fade. I cut my hand when it flew forward into the windshield, poking a hole into it (I punched a hole in a windshield, now that's the version I tell!). There was a nasty looking bruise from the seat belt holding me in that lasted for a little over a week. The other guy seemed to come through ok, which oddly enough was really important to me being as I generally don't care about how other people I don't know are doing (harsh, but honest). I headed to my doctor after the weekend and got a tetanus shot for the cut, plus the doctor said there was a good chance I had gotten a mild concussion but was out of the danger zone.

The next step was waiting on the accident report from Madison PD. Gone are the days of exchanging insurance info, now it's all done through the police department. The accident report took 5 business days, so I got it on Christmas Eve when my State Farm office was closed. After the weekend I got a call from Allstate (other guy's insurance) and started the process of them accepting blame/liability and all the phone calls that go with that. Somewhere along the way I rented a car from Hertz in Athens, which is really a nice place (I'd heard horror stories about Enterprise in Athens, which is where everyone seems to go). Hertz went the extra step in getting me into something comfortable and taking care of Allstate paperwork instead of forcing me to pay and then go through Allstate myself.

After New Years, I got news from Allstate Car Looking Guy that my car was totaled. In Alabama, once repairs reach 75% of a cars value it's considered totaled. He got to $23K without looking too hard. The next step, which is still in progress, is Allstate coming up with a payoff amount for what the replacement value of my car is. Their first valuation was right at the payoff of my car, but they didn't include some after market additions I had. After talking to them this morning we'll see where their offer goes next.

My First Cold In 2 Years
On Christmas Day around 3PM, I had one of those sneezes that loosens up your sinuses and says "you're about to have a sinus cold". I haven't been properly sick since before my gastric surgery 2 years ago. Being sick sucks. Stopped up, sore throat. Blech. Took a week to get over, which I attribute part of all of this to stress from the wreck and all the crap that came with it. In the middle of it all I had some chocolate chip cookies for comfort food :)

My Second Cruise
Jan 8 I set off with Gina, Jacob, and Megan to Florida for a Disney Cruise with a Star Wars Day thrown in. This had been planned months and months ago, and even though the timing sucked it ended up being good to get away from everything, especially the internet for a week. It's amazing how relaxing that part really was, and looking back I think it was my high point.

I learned from the cruise that I should not go on cruises, especially cruises with lots of children. My personality as developed as I'm now the old man that doesn't like crowds and screaming kids bouncing off the walls. And lines. You could tell it was a Disney sponsored event because you were always in a line. Granted, with 3500 people on a boat there are going to be lines. The days of travel that book-ended the cruise didn't really help either. Nothing went wrong at any point of the trip, but I always felt like I was waiting.

My Second Hyundai
When I bought my 2014 Santa Fe, my goal was to see if I could drive it for 10 years (Hyundais have a really good long term reputation). Mine lasted 18 months. With that said, I'm now a staunch advocate of Hyundai safety features. The steering wheel and knee air bags deployed during my crash. Forward of the windshield was all messed up. The wrecker guy told me the axle was bent. It sounds like a hell of a wreck that I walked away from (above cuts and bruises notwithstanding). I liked my car, so I decided than in the likely event it would be totaled (this is what wrecker guy first told me, since the axle was bent) I started looking for a 2016 Santa Fe Sport with Technology Package.

There aren't a lot with the Tech package. The only other hangup I had is that I wanted (1) a beige interior and (2) not another red car. Searching from Nashville -> Florence -> Huntsville -> Birmingham -> Atlanta, there are 3 2016 Santa Fe Sport with Tech Package with beige interior. The one in Atlanta is red, so mark it off the list.

There's one in Hendersonville, TN that is Platinum with the options I want. I called and chatted with a nice man about it and told him my situation.

There's one in Florence with the options I want but it has a grey interior. It also has 5000 miles on it. Florence is running some kind of really good dealer discount on this model that make it almost exactly what the payoff is on my 2014 (wrecked) car. I talked to a nice man in Florence and set up a test drive that Jacob took me to.

Now I have a 2016 Grey Santa Fe Sport with a grey interior that already has 5000 miles on it. I'm ok with that.

My Second Cold In 3 Weeks
On the trip back from the cruise, I coughed in Atlanta. The cough quickly grew worse and worse over the next couple of days. It was accompanied by the usual sinus crap that one might find when starting the day at 80° and ending it at 34°. It's gotten gradually better (after a week); At least now when I cough it doesn't feel like a jagged blade is being pulled across my throat while my lungs try to break my ribs. Theoretically.

I've gotten some good drugs and am on the mend, but I'm still taking it easy.

conveyances road trip

Not quite 5 years...


On Halloween of 2009 I purchased my 2nd Explorer. Just after Memorial Day Weekend of 2014 I break the streak and do not purchase my 3rd Explorer.

I tend to replace cars after 5 years. Living in the boonies and travelling to work, I put close to 20K miles on a car per year, and 100K of wear seems to be the point where the larger maintenance costs start to kick in. Being me, I'd much rather put that money towards a newer car with fresh parts to put mileage on instead of replacing and repairing. You can thank the 10 years that I spent driving a Camaro that was 7 years old when I got it. Most of those 10 years felt like going through hoops to keep it running.

My Explorer has been creeping close to 90K miles. It's in need of it's 3rd set of tires (counting the tires that came with the car) and based on the way it's jerking when braking, it needs new brake pads (at the very least). Although I had been planning in the back of my head to trade it in after the new models come out in September, I started looking around to see what SUV I would want to replace my Explorer with. After 10 years of Explorer driving I was ready for something different. Add in that I can fit in more cars now that I'm 130+ pounds lighter with a foot less of waist, and my options are better than the familiar roominess of the Ford Explorer. Plus, I don't like the body style the Explorer changed to in 2011.

At first I was looking at luxury SUVs. BMW, Acura, Lexus, even a Range Rover or two. My problem was that there were 3 options I really wanted that were difficult to find together:

While surfing the web for reviews, options, and prices, something in me finally clicked. Why did I want a luxury SUV? I didn't really have a good answer, at least not good enough for myself. Why not look for something dependable that would last? I've never paid off a car outside of that first Camaro ($2700 over a 3 year loan!). For once get something I can better afford...

That led me to thinking about Gina's mother's Santa Fe. She bought that SUV when it first came out and has enjoyed it the whole time. She's had a couple of problems, but anything close to major was handled under the warranty. Gina and Jacob even went to the same dealership in Decatur and got their cars. I should look into the Santa Fe. So I did. It turns out the Santa Fe Sport has the 3 options I want. I wonder if I could comfortably fit in a Santa Fe? I went to Decatur to find out.

In Decatur, I found out I fit in a Santa Fe. I fit in a Santa Fe with mud guards and a sunroof. 4 hours later I was on my way to Gina's house to show her that I no longer had a red Explorer with mud guards, a sunroof, and a trailer hitch receiver but instead had a red Santa Fe with mud guards, a sunroof, and an order for the dealership to install a trailer hitch receiver early next week.

I was able to get a good deal on my trade in for the Explorer (evidently I keep it clean, and the salesman thinks it'll sale within a week after they put on fresh tires and give it a break job). My car payment went down $20/month and I now have a 5-year loan instead of a 6-year loan. The Santa Fe is my first 4- cylinder car, as well as my first front-wheel drive. Outside of my required list of 3 things, the first things I noticed that I like are 2 safety features: the backup camera and the blind spot warning lights on the side mirrors.

While just a stock photo, this is what the Explorer replacement looks like.

Not a stock photo, and this is exactly what the Explorer replacement looks like on Gina's rainy driveway.

I tried to explain it's not a photobomb if you're in the picture to begin with...

With luck I'll keep this car for 5 years and pay it off. I just happen to have another 5 years left on my mortgage. It would be amazing to hit 50 and not have a car and house payment to make. I could pretend I could retire.

I like the thought of that!


Cold. Car. Compressor.


The first cold of 2012 is mostly over - I've still got a couple more days of antibiotics to take, but I'm about as well as I'm going to get (nagging cough notwithstanding). The antibiotic knocks me out about an hour after I take it. It's a once-a-day antibiotic, so I'm assuming my nap an hour after taking it is a side effect.

I tried to go to work today but didn't make it. Oddly enough it had nothing do to with being sick (or recovering). Last week I was running errands and the car made a funny noise between the Athens Lowe's and Staples. These are across the highway from each other, and it was a chilly day so I was trying to chalk it up to the car not warming up enough before turning it off. The sound was that of a fan rattling. I'm not sure what switches I was hitting, but by the time I made it to Gina's house to ask her opinion everything was sounding back to normal - hence the "maybe the car hadn't warmed up enough" diagnosis.

This morning as I made my way to work that sound popped up again as I turned on the defogger/defroster. I generate enough heat on a cold day that I fog up the windows. I heard a rattling fan and figured it had something to do with that defogger button, since the sound went away when I turned the defogger off. The only problem here was that the window was fogging up so bad I couldn't see out. I made it as far as Publix (roughly 4 miles) before I turned around and made it back home, taking only twice as long as normal. Every time I would wipe the inside of the windshield, I would work up enough heat to fog it up all over again.

Once the morning traffic dies down, I went back out and tried holding my breath as I headed toward the Athens mechanic. The windows were cracked, it's 38° outside, and I'm worried about my body heat fogging up the windows. The windows didn't get too bad by the time I got to the garage. The mechanic gave me a quick diagnosis - compressor. I figured it would be something expensive. He then spent the next hour calling around and getting parts which won't all get delivered until tomorrow. So I held my breath and headed home again.

Tomorrow I'll drop the car off to get it fixed. I don't know when Ford decided to make the compressor and important part of the defogger running. I always thought it was just a fan that blew non-compressed air. Now I know better.

I bought the car on Halloween 2009. 3¼ years I've now had:

Usually after the 3rd problem I start looking for another car. I hope that 3rd problem can wait another 2 years.

conveyances random

Motorbikecycle Pics


I've actually had it for 3 weeks, but here are some pics of my 2005 Honta VTX 1800 Retro motorbikecycle:

The original pics from the dealership area lot nicer than anything I've managed in the garage, so I thought I would just go ahead and post those. The only thing I couldn't notice from those pics was that the leather on the bottom of the seat has a little cracking. Not enough to bother me - my year-old SUV has some cracking leather too.

Since getting the bike I've been out on it twice. The first time was during my bike class refresher. I went out again one morning last week for maybe half an hour or so on the back roads near the house. There was at least twice that I was glad nobody was around when I did something stupid.

The 2 things I have to get used to are slow maneuvers - stopping, turning, starting,... a combination of those at the same time - and to not have a death grip on the handlebars. After about 10 minutes my fingers start to go numb from holding on too tight.

For now I still have a healthy respect (or is it fear?) of this beast of a motorcycle. I think that will limit my stupid things to when there's no traffic around for me to run into. That's my plan at least.

conveyances random



I managed to take the riding portion of the Motorcycle Class again without incident, and even managed to ride my motorcycle to the Harley dealership and back so as to get some practice riding that beast. Ironic that I drove it 13 miles to where I could practice turning (which I really needed to do, and still need to practice some more).

Suffice it to say that I've survived the class, plus my first ride.

I really need to take some pictures of the bike and post them while it's still nice and pretty.


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