Sunday, September 25, 2011

Week 39: Early Mornings and Lazy Days Part 2

Let's pick up where we left off last night shall we?

So, we got my car to the Ford dealer. Once we got inside we let them know that we were looking for a second opinion after having taken it to the independent place down the street. They asked for a description of what exactly it had done before refusing to move, and so we once again explain the whole situation that had occurred in my sisters driveway Saturday night.

Based on our description they seemed to be inclined to think that it was a timing issue. They took my information and promised to look it over the following morning and give me a call. Before heading home dad and I went to look over what used cars they had available, particularly what Ford Fusions they had to offer.

Since it is impossible to look a cars in a dealers lot when they are open without being approached by a dealer, we were approached and asked if there was anything in particular we were looking for, so we let him show us the used Fusions that they had.

The had one that was kind of a shimmery tan/gold color just marked down. It was a 2007 and had brand new tires. It was right in my price range. We ended up taking it for a test drive, and once we got back sat down to fill out the paperwork to at least see if I'd be able to get financing on it either on my own or with my parents. It never hurts to at least see. Right?

By the time we left there the dealer that I had spoken to had promised to call me the next day and let me know if I had been approved for financing, and the man in the service department had promised to call and let me know what was REALLY up with my Ford Focus.

Thursday morning, I was STILL on the 6am shift, but even by my lunch had not heard anything about either car. By the time I got out of work I called my parents, who had found out that it wasn't the engine  that had gone bad in my Focus. Rather it was the timing belt, suspension belt, and the water pump which all amount to less than $700.00.

This sounded much more reasonable then a blown engine. It blows my mind that that guy said my car had a blown engine, it really does. Guess who won't be getting any more business from me...

By the time I got out of work I also had a message left from the dealer that dad and I had spoken with. I was approved for financing on the car, and all by myself too! I wouldn't need my parents to co-sign! The question then boiled down to what I wanted to do.

In all honesty, I've been drooling over the Fusion's for a while. I've really wanted one, but haven't had any reason to get one. But this one was perfect! It was the right price, in great condition and would help me really built my credit history. Plus, this whole situation really showed us all why it would be useful to have another car.

It made it difficult to keep up with four adult schedules when we only had one car between three drivers. It wasn't impossible, but definitely difficult.

As it turned out, we decided that the perfect solution would be for me to go ahead and buy the Fusion, and then my parents would repair the Focus and keep that because in all honesty it would be cheaper to fix the Focus than to buy another new used car later and my Focus is in fantastic condition, considering.

So that's what we've done. I bought myself a brand new used car and am absolutely loving it! It's funny sometimes how seemingly bad situations work themselves out sometimes. This past week has been such a strong example of the blessings that God can create in our lives, and we don't even realize it until we look back later.

It's fascinating to take the chance every once and a while to take a step back and look back at where you've been, and just see the blessings that God has created in your life. He is so good, all of the time.

But anyway, I spent the early hours of Thursday afternoon on the phone with the dealer and our insurance company ironing out details, and then that evening I went in to the dealer and signed all of the necessary financial paperwork. While I had been there when we signed the papers on my first car, this felt so different. It's strange to encounter these situations that you've never before encountered such as buying a car on your own for the first time. It's such an "adult" experience. You know what I mean? There was just something very surreal about the whole thing, but surreal in a good way.

By the end of the night Thursday I drove away in my new Fusion.

Friday, thankfully was the last day of my 6am shift, at least for last week (it starts all over again this week), and by the end of the day I was pretty tired.

Yesterday I spent most of the morning catching up on sleep and just generally lazing around. At noon I watched my Spartans beat the Central Michigan Chippewa's (45-7!!!) and then proceeded to catch up on YouTube videos in my subscription box along with my other usual Internet travels. Like the title implies, yesterday was my lazy day, and I'm sure today will include a fair bit of laziness as well. Perhaps today will be the day I finally finish reading my latest book...

I'll talk to you soon.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Week 38: Early Mornings and A Lazy Day Part 1

When you work in retail you spend a certain amount of time, at a certain time of year, preparing for the busy holiday season which basically begins on Black Friday and lasts through the first few weeks of the new year. This prep time is important, because if you don't spend the proper amount of time prepping you'll never catch up once business starts really picking up. 

At work we have hit that point in the year where we begin preparing. We've started making the proper layout adjustments to the setup of our floor, adjusting the placement of product and moving out the old to make room for the new. This kind of preparation means that I've been working the early shift all week, as in 6am early...

Now, of course, there are perks to working such a shift such as getting out in the early afternoon and getting the entire weekend off. These things, of course, are nice. The thing to remember here though is that by the end of that shift, not only are you tired because you've been up since 6am (and probably didn't sleep much the night before if you're like me), but you've also got the rest of the day ahead of you. 

This week, most of my days after work were filled with various errands and most importantly hashing out the debacle of my car. As you may recall, last Saturday my car mysteriously died and we were therefore forced to push it from my sisters driveway to the parking lot of a local mechanic. 

Seriously, Saturday was only the beginning of the craziness that was going to take place this week. 

So Monday, since I was at work as of 6am, my mom called into the mechanic and let him know that my car was in his driveway and the key in his drop box. She also filled him in on WHY it was there, obviously. Of course, he had a pretty packed schedule for the day and said he probably wouldn't be able to get to it until Tuesday, which even though it wasn't ideal for us, mom said it was fine because really what else could you really say?

Within no more than an hour the mechanic calls back with a diagnosis. According to him the engine was blown and it would cost nearly $3,000.00 dollars for him to replace it. Obviously, I was a bit stunned with this diagnosis, and dad was a bit hedgy as to the veracity of it. How could it possibly be the engine? There hadn't been any oil when we popped the hood, it hadn't been leaking oil, and I take really good care of it. I get oil changes regularly. How could it be the engine?

Then of course it was down to weighing the options. There was no way I was paying this guy nearly three thousand dollars to put a new engine in. There is just no room in the budget for that. So then I started researching what it would cost to buy an engine myself and have my cousin install it. That would be manageable, but do I want to put that kind of money into this particular car? It might be better to get a new used car.

The more we considered the guys diagnosis and how quickly he had come to it the more unsure of it we became. It just didn't sound right, you know? By Tuesday night we determined that we wanted a second opinion, and that if it was the engine then it would be best to buy a new used car as long as I could get financing one way or another. 

With this plan in place, my mom called in to the mechanic on Wednesday, because once again I was working the 6am shift, and asked if we owed anything for him looking at the car and let him know we planned to come in that evening and pick up the keys/car. He said that there was no car, and asked what we planned to do with the car. Rather than say that we planned to get a second opinion, we told him we were going to push it to the Ford dealer down the street and see about a trade-in. He said that with a blown engine they probably wouldn't offer us much and asked if we'd let him know what they did offer.

This, again, made me a little suspicious. We think he probably wanted to buy the car to fix it up and re-sell it. 

So we get there, and he had told us my car would be moved out of the back lot and we'd have access to it, but we don't see it anywhere. Dad and I go inside and tell the woman at the counter we are there to pick up my car, and she at first has trouble finding the key. She does eventually hold up a key and ask if it looks like that one and would be untagged.

I tell her that yes, that is my key and she hands it to me and says that we are all set. But then, we remind her that we actually need to know where the car is... So doesn't know either, so she heads out into the back to ask someone else, having re-taken my key. 

She tells us it is probably in the back lot and they will drive it around, and as she leaves dad and I look at each other and wonder how they are going to drive a car with a blown engine around front. We wait a few minutes before heading outside to wait by my dads van. As we are waiting and looking towards the back lot, she yells over to us that the car won't start and they have to jump it. How do you jump a car with a blown engine? Of course it won't start, that is why we brought it here. That is why we PUSHED it here....

We wait another minute or so, and then head back inside thinking she and this other guy don't know the real deal with my car. She isn't at the counter, but we stand there and wait in case she wanders back so we can clue her in to why the car may not be starting. I'm looking out the front window when all of a sudden I see my car drive out into the front. HOW DID THEY DRIVE A CAR WITH A BLOWN ENGINE AROUND TO THE FRONT!

I tell dad that they've just driven my car around, and we both go out to investigate. The guy that drove it around has popped the hood and is looking under it when we approach. He says that it's "running rough". No, really? He says that in order to keep it from stalling out, you have to drive it with your feet on the gas and brakes at all times. 

With this tidbit duly noted I jump into the drivers seat and put the car in gear. I drive out of the driveway with my feet on gas and breaks. Dad is right behind me in the van as I turn onto the road. The car stalls out halfway to the dealer, and so dad pushes it the rest of the way just like Saturday. 

And that is where my tale stops this evening. But I promise there is more, and if you click back tomorrow you to will know the rest of this fascinating story. Until then, I have some reading to catch up on and a desk to finally clear off. 

I'll talk to you soon. 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Week 37: In Which I Apparently Have A Lot To Say

It’s been an eventful two weeks. This is not an excuse for failing to blog last week however, it is merely a statement of fact.

Last weekend Sarah and I drove up to Clarkston for three days, to go to two concerts. The first one we went to was the Uproar Festival on Friday (9/9/11). We didn’t go see all of the bands that were playing, but we got there around six and saw the four bands that we were most interested in seeing: Bullet For My valentine, Seether, Three Days Grace, and Avenged Sevenfold.

That concert was so much fun! We’d previously been to a concert at the DTE, but last time we got general admission tickets, which essentially is lawn seating, which isn’t really seating but more standing in a hill outside the cover of the pavilion. That was crazy, and we determined it was an experience not worth repeating. This time we paid the extra and got seating in the pavilion. It was so worth it!

There just aren’t words that do the experience justice. Each of the bands were great, and if you ever get the chance I definitely recommend seeing Avenged Sevenfold live. They were phenomenal.

I took a few videos that give you an idea of the experience, but really don’t do it justice. (Seriously, you just have to go!)

Here’s my playlist:

Saturday was a free day, since we opted to get a hotel room and stay in Clarkston rather than making the drive up and back home twice within the span of one weekend. We checked out the Great Lakes Crossing mall, which was huge, and made a stop in to best buy to pick up larger memory cards for our cameras.

Then, because we had the time and it sounded good, we went to Steak and Shake. Mostly we went to try their shakes, which we had heard were really good (And they are!!) but we also each got cheese fries (or chili cheese fries in Sarah’s case).

Then we just kind of drove around the area. It was a nice day and we didn’t have anywhere to be, so why not?

But there was some excitement early in the morning on Saturday. We had each set alarms on our phones to go off between/around 11:00-11:30. There was no need to be up SUPER early after all… So, we were both surprised when the hotel provided alarm clock started BLARING at 5:30am.

We each startled awake, Sarah turn on the lights and we haphazardly tried to read the teeny tiny directions on how to operate the clock that were located on the tray attached to it. After a minute or so I noticed there was a button on the front of it that said “Alarm OFF”.

I hit that, and then we each attempted to catch a little more sleep.

So, right. That was exciting. But that brings us to Sunday. We had breakfast/lunch in the late morning. We had to be checked out of our room by 11:00am.

After grabbing something to eat we drove up to Birch Run to check out the outlets up there. It was gorgeous out, though admittedly a bit warm. Overall it was a nice day, and the trip involved a lot of walking. We just spent the day generally hanging out and relaxing until heading to the concert around seven.

Sunday (9/11/11) was the 89X Birthday Bash and featured My Chemical Romance and Blink 182. Again, so much fun! This was the first time that I’d seen My Chemical Romance, and they were SO good live. I’d previously seen Blink 182, but I must admit, I really don’t know many of their songs aside from those that have been singles on the radio…

I did take one video of My Chemical Romance performing, and again it’s SO much better when your actually there. You’ve GOT to go, I’m telling you!

Here’s the video:

So, that was LAST weekend. This week, was not nearly as exciting, well that is, until today. I worked until three this afternoon, so my day started early and was rather uneventful, aside from you know, working. The exciting portion of the day started once I got home.

I got home just in time to catch the Michigan State v. Notre Dame game, which I was fairly excited to watch. It was actually, as a Spartan, a bit painful to watch. It’s not so much that they lost, it’s just…. I mean did you watch the game?

So, yeah, obviously, watching your team lose isn’t exactly the most fun in the world. But, wait, it gets better. Literally the minute the game ended my dad gets a phone call, from my mom, who had borrowed my car to go get my niece.

My car died. It would not start, and since everything was working, the lights weren’t dim or anything, it’s not the battery. I mean, anyway, the battery is brand new. Or, practically brand new. We don’t know why it wouldn’t start, but it wouldn’t. You put the key in and turn it and all it would do is make this awful sound.

So, they left my car in my sisters driveway thinking maybe it had overheated and just needed to cool off. About an hour later dad and I went with the intent to retrieve it one way or another because for reasons I’m not going to get in to there was no way that’s where my car was staying.

Of course, we first attempted to start it again, to no avail. Instead, we put it in neutral and pushed the car out of the driveway. Once we got it to the end of the driveway, we made sure it was positioned correctly on the road and then I quickly jumped in and hit the break so it wouldn’t take off before we wanted it to.

Do you like bumper cars? I don’t mind them, but I prefer not to play bumper cars with my ACTUAL car. So, most of the way was downhill, which actually worked in our favor since, you know, my car wouldn’t start. But every so often we would have to go up hill. This was interesting because I’d be coasting along and then my car would momentarily stop and begin rolling backwards. I’d hit the break to slow it down a bit and then once it made contact with the front bumper of my parents van dad would give me a little push.

Thankfully the garage that we’ve previously taken it to, to be worked on was just around the corner. So, for the moment my car is hanging out at the repair place, and Monday we’ll put a call in to see about having them look at it and see what’s up. Thankfully we’ll be able to work things out so that we can all make it to the places that we need to be on Monday even though we’re down one car. (One car of two that is.)

But, things always seem to work out one way or another. I mean, really, what can you do? While this whole thing is kind of crazy, you can’t help but laugh and take it all in stride.

By the way, did you notice the new “logo” header thing? I made that this afternoon. Well, I started making it last night, and then finished it this afternoon. What do you think? It was time for an update, the other one was just a tad out of date.

I’ll talk to you soon.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Week 35: The Book Talk Tag

The other day I watched this video on YouTube, and thought it'd be interesting to answer the questions here, so I'm going to. I've pasted the video in for reference, and my responses, as you can see appear below.

The video that inspired this post. Click here to see, because I couldn't figure out how to embed videos now...

1. What are you reading right now?

Right now I am reading "Department 19" by Will Hill. I'm about 100 pages away from the end and loving it so far. I'll probably finish it before bed tonight. I definitely recommend checking it out.

2. What's on your to-read list?

There are a TON of books on my to read list. In fact, I have a whole shelf dedicated to books that I have yet to read. We'd be here all night. A great place to see what I have read, or intend to read though is my Good Reads Account.

But, for the sake of answering this question, the very next book I intend to read is "The Girl in the Steel Corset" by Kady Cross.

3. What genres do you prefer?

I always feel like it's a cop-out to say that I read everything, or just about everything, but it's true. I guess really what I read the most is fantasy. About 80% of the books that I own or have read are fantasy/sci-fi.

4. Must-have books in your library?

Again, there are a ton of must haves in my library, but I'll limit myself to two authors. Tamora Pierce and Jane Austen are most definite must-haves in my personal library.

5. Three of your favorite authors?

Oh dear, these questions are so hard! Only three?!

Ok, so the first one would definitely be Maureen Johnson. I am always so captivated by her characters and the crazy situations that they find themselves in.

Number two, Patricia Briggs. I absolutely ADORE the Mercy Thompson series. It's just so incredibly good, and each time I finish one of her books I impatiently anticipate the follow-up.

And, ok, my third favorite... Libba Bray. She is such a great story teller. I love spending an afternoon (or the better part of what are supposed to be sleeping hours) getting lost in her books. She is simply astounding.

6. Guilty pleasure books?

The twilight series. I will not lie, I was completely captivated by them, and have a feeling if I were to pick it up again would be captivated by it all over again. I don't know how to explain what the appeal was... But in the moment of reading them I definitely had moments where I thought that they were just SO good, and then immeditely after finishing the final one I began to wonder what I had been thinking. *shrugs*

7. What do you think about current trends in literature?

When thinking this question over, the major trend that comes to mind is the way that certain authors/publishing houses seem to be jumping onto trend bandwagons. What I mean here is when a certain book, or general plot seems to be doing well, you suddenly see a TON of books that all seem to have a premise similar to that original.

The thing is, is that eventually you find that the writing isn't stellar enough to keep you interested as the plot devolves into the same plot that you've read lately in several different series, and that each of the series show no signs of coming to a conclusion anytime soon.

I hate it when a series doesn't know how to end, because as much as you can love a set of characters within a story, eventually enough is enough. I'm sure you all know which books I'm talking about. There have been a few series already that I've started and stopped reading 3 or 4 books in because it seemed like there was never going to be a resolution.... (Each of those series are now up to at least 6-7 books now, and STILL show no signs of stopping...)

So, yeah. Those were my responses to The Book Talk Tag. You should leave you're answers in the comments, or on your blog and leave a link for me in the comments... you know, if you want to. Anyway thanks for reading!

I'll talk to you soon.