luscious_purple: Star Wars Against Hate (Star Wars Against Hate)
I had a great Pennsic, right up until the end, when Draco the Honda Accord wouldn't start after not running for almost a week. And then I got him started and drove home, only to have him die again Sunday morning when I was driving the boy toy over to our local IHOP for breakfast.

Now I'm waiting for a new radiator and a new alternator. Those fixes will cost me almost as much as the car originally did (and I still haven't even *begun* to pay off the friend who lent me the money to buy it). I guess it's still cheaper than trying to buy yet another car. But I can obviously cancel any hope I have of getting anywhere near the path of totality next Monday.

Ah, well, at least I made it home before the car conked out. I have AAA Plus for 100 miles of free towing, but Pennsic is 300 or so miles from my residence, so I would have had to pay $800 for towing it back to my part of Greenbelt.

And what is it about my Pennsic attendance and violence? Three years ago, the last time I went to Pennsic, we had the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. This year I drove home to greet the news of the white-supremacist rally and ensuing deaths in Charlottesville, Virginia. What is it with me and Pennsic and violence in the streets? Or is this just a sad coincidence? Certainly I deplore the alt-right white-supremacist neo-Nazi crap.
luscious_purple: OMG WTF BBQ (OMG WTF BBQ)
Last Tuesday -- a week ago tomorrow -- Maugorn and I picked up the Honda Accord from the auction lot in southern Anne Arundel County, and then we had enough time left in the day that we took my 1996 Pontiac Sunfire to the salvage lot in Jessup. I hated to think of my beloved automotive partner of 20.5 years going to "the junkyard," but I need the cash more than the tax deduction (because I may not have enough other deductions to itemize, anyway).

Fortunately, we could get to the salvage lot via U.S. Route 1 instead of limited-access highways. Maug followed me the whole way, in case the bent frame collapsed or something. (I was in a then-SO's 1974 Dodge Dart when the frame broke. He was driving about 5 mph in a parking lot when there was a sudden "bang" like a gunshot and the entire car started to shake like gelatin. So, yeah, I didn't want that to happen to me on this final trip.)

The day was mild and sunny. My Pontiac's engine worked perfectly well, even if there was a lot of noise from the exhaust leak. However, it didn't feel like a dying vehicle. I listened to the all-news station, WTOP, which was just breaking the news of Carrie Fisher's death.

At the salvage yard, the sun shone heartbreakingly brightly through the open sunroof:

IMG_6162 Last view through the sunroof!

Maugie took a photo of my last embrace:

IMG_6170 Maug took this photo of my hugging the Sunfire for the last time.

Final odometer reading: 197,570.

Shortly after leaving the yard, I asked Maug: "Why does this feel as if I just left a beloved family pet at a high-kill animal shelter?" And then the tears came. Well done, good and faithful servant.

Anyhow ... I took the Accord to the local friendly garage for mandatory Maryland inspection. It needs a new muffler and front pipe, plus an upper ball joint on the left front side. Not too bad for a 1993 vehicle. Despite the car's age, several of my Facebook friends have assured me that I made a good choice, with one guy saying that the early-1990s Accords are among the best cars Honda has ever made.

Normally I just call my cars "Baby," but this Accord is going to be known as Draco, as in Draco Malfoy, because R. will take one look at my Accord and exclaim, "SLYTHERIN!!"


R. owns a champagne-colored 1993 Honda Accord himself -- he bought it brand-new from a dealer and takes meticulous care of it. For whatever reason, though, he hasn't asked me about my car situation since I got the Accord. And he and I went to the Wizards game together on Friday (it was his company's employee outing, so it was all free of charge to me). When I do finally tell him about it, he'll get quite the surprise....


Dec. 6th, 2016 04:28 pm
luscious_purple: Ganked from many people (damn not given)
I didn't get the car that I looked at on Sunday afternoon. It was a nice 2003 PT Cruiser, clean and running well, just needed a new O2 sensor. But I said it would have taken me a couple of days to round up the cash, and some guy came by on Sunday evening and said "yes" to the car (and probably whipped out a bunch of C-notes).

So, here I am, planning to get on the Metrobus in the rain to go downtown (i.e., into the District) for my local professional group's annual holiday gala. Nobody knows how to party-hearty like the science writers. Except, perhaps, the Lithuanians. :-)

Yesterday I sweated through some online applications for professional jobs. Tomorrow I'll be back to the classified car ads.
luscious_purple: The middle class is too big to fail! (middle class)
I *might* have found an easy solution to my transportation woes. I'll probably know the definitive answer by tomorrow. I hate to write too much before I know for sure, but please think positive thoughts for me tonight!!
luscious_purple: OMG WTF BBQ (OMG WTF BBQ)
By and large, it's been a rough month, punctuated only by a few better moments.

I hope everyone who celebrated U.S. Thanksgiving a few days ago had an enjoyable holiday. I did -- as I have for the past 15 or so Turkey Days, I went to my friend T.H.'s home, where I joined her extended family. Everybody contributed something, nobody shouted about Trump (we're all LGBT-friendly people, disgusted with the Giant Lying Russian Stooge), and everybody had a good time.

This year, however, I did NOT drive to T.H.'s house in my longtime motor vehicle. Those days are over.

My 1996 Sunfire, a.k.a. "Patty's Pretty Purple Pontiac," a.k.a. "Baby," is destined for the sunset after 20.5 years of mostly faithful service (the transmission failure on the road to Pennsic 40 being a notable exception).

Details... )

So, what do I do about a new car? I'm pretty sure that I don't qualify for any kind of financing. I certainly wouldn't give *myself* a loan. So I need to buy an older model (beater, jalopy, hoopty, etc.) that will pass Maryland inspection and run for a few years.

What's my budget? I am still figuring it out. As small as possible, but remember that a $700 car that needs $2300 of work to be legally registered under a new owner really costs $3000.
I wish I could just get myself to Carmax, but that place doesn't seem to sell anything under $7000 and I don't see myself being able to afford that anytime soon.

I'm really caught between the proverbial rock and hard place, folks ... without reliable transportation, it's even harder to find temporary or permanent employment, but without an additional source of income, I can't afford wheels. I have no idea what my health insurance costs will be next year ... they are already going up a lot under Obamacare, but I am NOT counting on Obamacare to last past January 20. Seriously.

Gaah, I don't know what to do. First-world problem, I know.
luscious_purple: Daily News: Mitt Hits the Fan (Mitt hits the fan)
Yeah, I know, long time no post.

I had a long feature article to write, I felt all seized up from anxiety over the presidential election, so I went WAY over deadline, which meant that I got paid a lot less for my work... and my editor was pissed off... and then I got anxious over money....

And then I went through all the ups and downs of the near-end of the seemingly endless election cycle, and I went into my work as an election judge thinking that of *course* Hillary Clinton was going to squeak through. But the news looked bad as soon as I got home and I just couldn't fall asleep for the longest time, even though I'd been awake since 4:45 a.m., until I took cold medication (and I am not sick) to try to still my racing mind.

I had posted this on FB before going to bed:

Report from today: I awoke at 4:45 a.m. to get to work at a precinct in College Park. (I voted on Oct. 31.) I served as a provisional ballot judge. We were busiest, surprisingly, between 7 and 9 a.m., with an early crowd of people trying to get voting accomplished before the workday. Other than that, a steady stream but no big evening rush. Perhaps all those folks had voted early too (one of the local early-voting sites was elsewhere in College Park).

Before today, I had worried that idiots were going to harass the incredibly diverse voters of this precinct, but the only observer we had was from the Organization of American States. He was the former Peruvian ambassador to the U.S., and he bore an uncanny resemblance to Tim Kaine.
This precinct gave three times as many votes to Clinton-Kaine as to the Giant Lying Russian Stooge and Lord Voldemort. We did our part.

Even though CNN just called California for Secretary Clinton, I am feeling lots of loathing and disgust right now. Can you say "reverse Bradley effect"? I can't even imagine the suckage of another humongous recession. I am going to bed after I finish this one beer, but this may be the last news I watch for a long, long time.

Since the news, I have been in a dark place.

Facebook again, Wednesday afternoon:

(Adapted from a couple of comments I made on other pages.)

I admire everyone who is saying, "Yeah, folks, let's go out and fight for justice! Never give up!" However, some of us are in a very dark place emotionally and are not ready to do that yet. Some of us may never be ready for that, ever. I know that my grief and disgust are still too deep.

Since I have earned degrees in journalism, physics, and astronomy, I am feeling some professional as well as personal repudiation. There's nothing like living in a nation where a large chunk of the population believes that every journalist sucks and repudiates the science that both detected the global warming problem and could give us the tools to fix it.

The polls lulled us because so many people in this country are willing to lie about their own bigotry. I have lost a lot of my faith in the arc of the universe and the supposedly intrinsic goodness of humanity.

And finally in the evening:

On top of everything else ... I started heading out to the "gathering in community for worship, reflection and fellowship" at my church, and the steering on my 20-year-old car started acting really squirrelly. The car was pulling to the left, which grew noticeable at about 30 mph, and when I tried to correct it, the steering system felt all loose or something. I pulled into a parking lot and checked the tires -- no flats. Managed to drive home, but I have to get it looked at tomorrow. It could be something as simple as power steering fluid or as messed up as a bent tie rod or a busted axle. Just another episode in the ongoing saga of "The Ruination of Patty D[redacted]."

Still don't know what is wrong with my car. Still don't know whether I will ever work again. I *do* know that without an Affordable Care Act subsidy, my health insurance will cost $532 per month for my high-deductible plan. Right now I pay $70 per month. My mortgage is only about $594 per month.

I am still sad. I am angry. I am on a hair trigger.
luscious_purple: OMG WTF BBQ (OMG WTF BBQ)
Still waiting for my car to be fixed; the garage is waiting for a part (the new wheel cylinder) to be delivered. The "good" news (for some value of good) is that the repair should cost a bit less than $200 including labor. I was expecting four times that. Maybe I should keep my mouth shut.

So, last night I couldn't get all the way up to Baltimore for Lithuanian dance practice, but tonight I was able to get a ride to Three Left Feet dance practice in College Park (a lot closer). We finally had an excellent turnout: nine dancers, including a woman who used to be a regular until she moved to Colorado some years ago. Thus we could actually do some of the four-couple dances like "Hyde Park" and "Goddesses" that we haven't done in ages. (A word of explanation: most of the dances we do are English country dances that were written for a particular number of couples.)

Anyhow ... If you are new to my journal, here's a link to a short biographical entry that I wrote recently. Please feel free to ask questions in the comments.
luscious_purple: Julia, the Maine Coon Cat (Julia)
I didn't realize until Thursday was upon us that October 29th is National Cat Day. The previous day, I had bought Julia a second cardboard scratch pad so that she will have one at each end of the condo. She still uses the one in the living room, but she had taken to sharpening her claws on the bedroom carpet. I can't afford to replace the wall-to-wall carpeting in the biggest room in the condo, so I got the new cardboard pad, and she has been happily using it since.

However, on Friday morning I could see that there had been an overnight explosion of feline energy on the sill of the bay window, which serves as Cat Central. The cat bed had been kicked several feet in one direction and the bowls had been pushed onto the floor in the other direction, and one of them was broken. Naturally Julia could not get to the leftovers of her evening meal because they were under the overturned and busted dishes, so she was loudly meowing for her breakfast, but otherwise not copping to anything. I suspect that some wandering outdoor cat had taunted the heck out of her and she had responded by vigorously defending her territory. Silly beast!

Anyhow ... my car has been in the shop this weekend. Brakes got all mushy on Thursday, and adding brake fluid didn't fix the problem. Obviously I'm not happy about the additional demand on my dwindling dollars.

I think I'll do NaBloPoMo this year. Not NaNoWriMo -- I just don't want to chase after the chimera of a 50,000-word novel so bad it'll never get published. My next nonfiction feature article is due a week from tomorrow, and making money from that and other things has to be Job One for me.

I have two other blogs: my professional blog on Wordpress and my SCA blog. But I'll enter this one (at least the LJ version), because realistically it's the one I'm most likely to update daily. Who knows, maybe I'll make a few new friends/followers again.
luscious_purple: The scribal demon made me do it! (Titivillius)
Last night's party at the home of CZ, Phoenix and kids was enchanting ... until I discovered I had a flat tire. Apparently I'd picked up a nail or other road debris on the way to the party, and I noticed it only when I tried to drive out of the neighborhood. I turned around and proceeded to the only reasonably level place where I could safely park, which was the very bottom of Boo Manor's steep driveway. CZ came out and set up a bright work light and did the heavy-lifting work of swapping out the flat tire for the spare donut. I drove all the way home on Route 1, where speed limits are lower, because I'm pretty sure the owner's manual (which exists on my hard drive now) says to drive under 45 mph on that tiny spare tire. (The B-W Parkway's speed limit of 55 mph is always exceeded late at night unless there's been an accident.)

So, my plans for today were shot. I might have liked to attend the Ponte Alto event, but after seven days away from the boy toy, I thought I'd keep the home fires burning, so to speak, by going on a foodie excursion with him to Union Market (we've never been there). Guess we'll have to go tomorrow. As it was, I didn't get out of the tire shop -- with two new tires -- until around 4 p.m. So we just stayed home and did laundry.

Big thanks to CZ for the help!!

Not again

Feb. 16th, 2014 04:56 pm
luscious_purple: The scribal demon made me do it! (Titivillius)
Yesterday the boy toy and I wanted to do a bit of grocery shopping. So we got in the car ... and nothing happened.

Or, rather, the engine cranked and cranked and tried to turn over, and came awfully close to turning over and catching, but nada.

Our next-door neighbor tried to give us a jump start, and so did the AAA battery truck, but again, nothing. So I had to wait for a different AAA truck with towing capability.

This time I took it to Greenbelt Auto & Truck rather than Precision Tune, just so that I could walk home instead of waiting for two different Metrobuses that might or might not be following their usual routes because of the recent snow. (Not that we had another Snowmageddon, just an average heavy, wet snow on Thursday.)

Now, I had the battery replaced less than three months ago (see entry of Nov. 26, 2013), so I don't think that's the problem. (If it is, I want a free replacement!) But of course I'm worried that it's a worse problem. And I hope this shop will work with me if Maugie volunteers to help me find a replacement part again.

It sucks to have an aging car, but at least I *have* a car. I shudder to think what will happen when that vehicle bites the dust for good. I really hate asking for rides and relying on the bus.
luscious_purple: The middle class is too big to fail! (middle class)
Tonight, when I went to Baroness Sorcha's house for a while, the car's odometer turned over to the 168,000 mark.

Since I've never owned a car that got past the 130K's, every new thousand miles is a new milestone along the journey. I wonder how much more "oomph" my car has left.
luscious_purple: Snagged on LJ (great news)
First of all, we got the rest of our power back in the wee hours -- was it early Tuesday, maybe? Everything seems to blur together -- all these disasters!

The important thing about the week was that the transmission shop in Old Town Bowie did NOT lose power, or at least the electricity was on by Monday morning. That enabled the workers to finish my car by Tuesday afternoon! On Wednesday morning Maugorn kindly drove me to the bank (which was along the way) and then to the transmission shop, where I handed over my cash and retrieved my pretty purple baby (yes, my Pontiac will always be "my baby," even though she's 15 years old). The front desk in the transmission shop had a basket of small Kit Kat bars for the taking, so I made sure Maugorn got one too.

Since then I've had a couple of occasions to accelerate my purple Pontiac up to highway speed, and the transmission is transmitting power nice and smoothly. So, yay, I've got my wheels back! And I can take myself to Atlantian 30-Year! *happy dance*

A big THANK YOU to all who made it happen, too!

In other words, between all the hurricane-related disruptions, my freelance articles, and general life, I did not post that we just passed the anniversaries of my father's death and birth. For those of you who are new around here, my Dad's birthday was August 31, and he died on August 29. You can look up those dates in my journal archives (more so on LJ than DW) to see what I've written about him in the past. I certainly have been thinking of him these last few days.

Actually ... yesterday (Dad's birthday) brought me over to our Local Friendly Space Agency to interview three scientists (for an article I'm writing, not for a job). I got another tour of the Chambers of (Instrument) Torture, where spacecraft get shaken violently, blasted with 150 dB of sound, freeze-dried, baked in vacuum, and whirled on an eyeball-popping centrifuge, all in preparation for liftoff. Although all these tests are designed for non-living things, I can't help thinking that the torturers of the Inquisition would have loved to get their hands on them....


Jun. 4th, 2011 11:30 pm
luscious_purple: Baby blasting milk carton with death-ray vision (death-ray baby)
I guess the universe didn't want me to go to Highland River Melees, because my car was just sitting out there in the condo parking lot with its right rear tire all flat. Ah, well. Now the bicycle tire is in that space, and tomorrow after church I'll have to go tire shopping.

All the tires on my car are old -- IIRC, last time I bought any was in October 2005 -- so this is no big surprise. Still, I'm glad I didn't go somewhere distant today and stayed home to do some cleaning, rather than have this thing go flat in the middle of nowhere.

But still ... I am really, really jonesing to go to an SCA event! It's been two months since my last one. *sigh* Oh, well, I am under no illusions that I am going to win the Pearl Passport Promenade.

At least I am getting rid of some clutter. Today I got rid of some old cosmetics and potions that I'd forgotten I'd had, and put more stuff in a donation bag. The Lupus Foundation will be making a pickup at my house next Wednesday.
luscious_purple: Julia, the Maine Coon Cat (Julia)
My baby Pontiac, that is!! I can haz wheelz!

Total cost including sales tax on the part: $283.27. That's a whole lot better than $825, isn't it??

All hail to Maugorn for making it happen!!!
luscious_purple: Baby blasting milk carton with death-ray vision (death-ray baby)
What do they say about no good deed going unpunished?

Anyhow, I didn't think I should stay for feast, because while Bright Hills has awesome cooks, SCA feasts tend to get long in terms of time, and I have this freelance deadline thing. So I borrowed Mistress Fevronia's phone to call the boy toy, and he asked me to pick up a pack of cigarettes for him on the way home and he'd pay me back. I hate doing this, but as long as he reimburses me...

So I filled up the gas tank at the Sheetz there in Manchester (Maryland, not New Hampshire!) and got myself some coffee and a small bag of chips. The drive home was uneventful, although there was a stretch along MD Route 30 (in both directions) where the GPS system started giving wonky directions, insisting I make a left turn where there was none. I wonder what kind of strange geophysical anomaly lurks in Carroll County.

I got off the parkway at my usual exit, which is actually pretty close to my house, and stopped at the gas station right at the end of the exit ramp. I bought the cigarettes (yecch), got in my car, and drove off.

Well, right at the next corner the car ... went ... and ... gave ... up. It just pooped out and I steered it as far as I could to the side of the right-turn lane before it stopped moving. The engine would turn over, but once it would "catch" it would run out of gas, so to speak, and stop running. Yeah, 50 miles past the most recent fill-up.

Officer Friendly pulled up behind me to tell me that I couldn't leave the car there. Well, duh, I live right around the corner and I drive through that intersection practically every day! At least he put out some flares while I walked back to the gas station ... remember, I forgot to bring my cell phone with me. So I called AAA, and I emphasized that my car had expired in a bad place and I needed it moved ASAP (as opposed to the time, years ago, when I had waited FIVE HOURS for AAA in a Metro parking lot). A second set of flares from the police officer later, and the tow truck came and picked me up and brought my car back to the service station where I had bought the cigarettes in the first place. Then the tow truck driver brought me home.

I'm sure I was quite a sight for the tow-truck driver ... though my winter jacket covered most of my garb, my House Corvus Decameron pouch with its bright white tassels dangled from below the jacket, and I pulled my white haversack, my tablet-weaving loom and the boy toy's Dirt Devil out of the car to take with me.

Needless to say, I was not up for writing much by the time I got home. After finally eating supper, I lay down on the bed to watch "SNL" and didn't keep my eyes open past the opening monologue.

Today I found out from the gas station that my car's fuel pump is shot. I'm pretty sure it's the original fuel pump, so it lasted almost 15 years and 148,200-plus miles. The station gave me an estimate of $825. I'm pulling some cash out of the reserves, but I think I can do better on the price. (I rather HAVE to...) Maugorn is already hatching a plan to get the repair done for much less $$$.

But first, I have this deadline tomorrow... a long article with lots of words for which I can charge actual $$$....

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