Saturday, June 27, 2009

I can't click on my own Google ads.

I can't promote them either. However, I CAN note URLs and use them, and I recently did for one that appeared in response to my posting about my Volvo's busted turn signal. Their local BBB gave them a good rating, and so I invested $30 in a new turn signal (as opposed to $75 plus shipping for a junkyard part) and was expecting it to receive it by about Thursday next week. It arrived in the mail today, and ten minutes later, I'd gone out, popped the hood, pulled the bulb, released the old housing, slid the new one in and replaced the bulb. Then dropped the hood again, disposed of the packaging, and cleaned the road crud off my hands. My old brick is very easy to work on, lighting-wise, and now I can take it through an automatic carwash, since it no longer has an indicator bulb hanging out in the breeze.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The fun of car repairs

Or, why you really should get a mechanic to check your vehicle over.

The LA and I have me driving a Volvo, which we've slowly given enough fettling to keep in running order for a good long time. However, compared to the $1000 purchase price, we've now put in roughly $700 for repairs, including new belts, a new battery, new tyres... but now, it's set for a good while. I've actually got lifetime balancing and rotation on the tyres, which is useful, and it's pretty much set. I'll be keeping an eye on fluid levels, and getting a plano box to keep spare bulbs in the trunk. Funny story there; I had it in the shop this morning, getting the belts and battery replaced, and it turns out that to replace the battery, the right-side headlamp needs to be disconnected. I tend to use the headlamps as DRLs (among other things, I feel slightly wrong in a Volvo without DRLs!), but had turned them off to save the mechanics the trouble... and so, when I turned them back on, BING! The idiot light to warn me that a bulb somewhere was out lit up. I wasn't braking at the time (the high stoplight had blown over the weekend, so I was intending to get the right bulb for that anyway), so this was clearly a Bad Thing. So, I got home, checked my lights, and found... yup. The right-side headlamp was out. (bonus points if you're better at seeing where this is going than I was at the time)

So, off I went to the parts store, to get two headlamp bulbs (much like tyres, they ought to be replaced in pairs), and a bulb for the blown stoplight. Grabbed those, resisted the glass cleaners (my windscreen is 15; that's why it's somewhat gritty, and no amount of cleaners will fix that. Not stuff you can buy at any Kragen (for the UK folk: think Halfords)) and headed home to install them. Popped open the bonnet, and... erm, that looks wrong. Shouldn't there be a cable going into the back of the headlight assembly? Let me have a look... hmm, here's this cable sat neatly out of the way... ah. So, it connects like so... let me go see if the light works now... feh. Yup.

So I have two spare headlamp bulbs, which should be put in a nice protective box before I put them in the back, and it turns out that the bulbs for that stoplight do most of the rear lights, as well as only coming in pairs. So, inevitably, I accumulate a bulb kit. It's good practise to have one anyway, and it's not as though bulbs are heavy. Also, every single bulb in this machine is a tool-less replacement.

I should really call junkyards. I ought to replace the bashed-in indicator, it would be nice to replace the worn-out sun visor on the driver's side, I wouldn't mind replacing the missing ohshit handle on that side either, and I suppose the grille could stand to be replaced.

Oh, and the shop offered me a credit on my next visit for the disconnected headlamp. I was happy with that, and I've replaced the old plate frame (for the previous owners' favoured shop) with one of theirs.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


The yards are now thoroughly dead, and I'm finding myself somewhat stymied, because I lack a hoe. To that end, I'm going to get one, and also a couple of toilet seats, since the kitties have decided they like sitting thereon. The cheap plastic ones aren't up to a cat, especially a cat descending three feet in one bound...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

I aten't dead.

I may from time to time feel as though I am, though.

The LA and I have been busy making the house better organised, and also, this weekend, we went to the LA's ten-year college reunion. This allowed me to meet some of her friends from then (all of whom are interesting) and to see the rather nice campus. It also netted us a 20% discount in the campus bookstore (or, as the sign without would have it, the bookstope), which we used on accessories for her car, a coffee-table book on the college (which actually was not included, but came with a desk calendar and is very pretty anyway), and two books by their staff which appealed. Also on a copy of the Canterbury Tales in the original, since I dislike reading it in translation.

Unfortunately, I was suffering some nasty stomach upsets while there, and the weather caused my knees and ankles to point-blank refuse cooperation. We became regular clients of the students with golf carts ferrying the crocked oldies around.

To reassure those who may have been worried, I was not allowed to drive in LA traffic. Not least because we wanted to give Hertz their Corolla back in the same nice-ish shape we received it in. I did, however, drive us to and from Oakland airport, and found that my Volvo is set up responsively enough that it tries to follow largish cracks in the road. The solution would be to fix the road, of course, since largish cracks aren't a good thing at all, at all.

Other news since the last post includes a report that Ikea have (gasp!) changed the design of the Billy bookcase. Instead of the old system of a nut and bolt holding the fixed shelves, one now uses a long-headed screw and half-turn fastener to provide this security. The white ones now also come with a one-piece back, folded into three to fit the box. The silly finishing nails remain, though, so we used the staple gun instead.

And now, I'm going to go collapse into a familiar bed. Sometime tomorrow, I must call and schedule a massage; Southwest are great in many ways, but being wedged into an airline seat does my back no good at all, no matter what. This is even more true if the plane is full. I have never been more glad to be back in my driving seat; Volvo's mid-90s seats really were excellent.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Today we are being Swedish, ja?

The LA and I piled into my Swedish automobile today for a little jaunt. Along we went, reaching the lovely paradoxical stretch of freeway that is 80 East/580 West (and which actually goes roughly North) and swung off for Ikea. Yes, the land of furniture you make yourself, strange unpronounceable names (with the odd utterly perfect one, such as the Sitta seat cushion) and meatballs. Through long corridors we toiled, arriving eventually at the checkout with a stupendous expenditure, which effectively eats our returned damage deposit from the previous place. However, what we got is rather good at improving our prospects of liking this place.

Here's the list: Two chairs which go by the name of Ivar. Cushions for same, named Ritva. Four folding chairs named Terje. One kitchen cart by the name of Bekväm, which I carefully assembled wrongly (at a right angle to its intended construction, since that fits our space better). A Fixa toolset, to summon our screwdriver from wherever the heck it's gone. A roller blind for the kitchen window, named Isdans. And two bookcases named Billy, and one named Expedit, for storage.

I don't get how people can have such hatred for Ikea assembly instructions. They're about the clearest I've encountered, and make it very hard to fail. They certainly seem to be clearer than the instructions on urinal cake holders; I had to use the restroom at Ikea twice, and in both restrooms, the urinal cake holders were upside-down! That's only part of the reason I'm not a fan of Ikea restrooms, though; they also feature the dreaded blowers. These things make a lot of noise and leave you damp-handed. Sorry, paper towels for me!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

New lawn plans.

Or rather, non-lawn plans. I was glancing through a book last night, and it appears that what I should do is simply knock down the weeds (must talk to the neighbour who has a rotary mower), and then dose lightly (optional) and mulch. Leave for a year, and then seed. I have to say that bark chippings would probably look pretty reasonable, I can always claim it as a drought measure to save water, and it would beat allergy-causing weeds. Unfortunately, bark chippings are expensive, and they're the cheapest mulch I can find. We'd be looking at somewhere in the region of $300-600 for the front and back, if I went to Home Depot, and it would take a truck to deliver all of the stuff.

Sigh. This lawn care is hard work for the bank balance as well as the back, although thankfully we've finally gotten around to having our friend the massage therapist make appointments for us. I fully expect her to be horrified at the state of my back - I've never had a professional massage. Ever.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Rejoice, for the attercop is slain!

Those of you who follow me by means other than this blog will know that yesterday, I suffered a serious chunk of phobic reaction to a spider. The thing was, this spider fit all the descriptions of a black widow, and it was hiding out in the central handle of the garage door. Right where one grabs to swing it up and over. I discovered its presence when I opened the door, after hitting the back yard with herbicide. This didn't exactly make me happy. I spent the afternoon freaking out more than slightly, although not quite to the point of suffering an actual panic attack, and after some useful advice from Ravelry (largely consisting of "DO NOT go get the usual chemical for dealing with spiders, it's nastily toxic to cats") I had calmed down enough to make an attempt on its life.

I prepared with long sleeves, bloused trousers, work gloves and a broom. I was NOT going to be at risk of a bite! I then beat at the door with the broom, finding smaller spiders and squashing them, and destroying egg sacs aplenty. Finally, she came out to play, and I knocked her down. By then, I'd mastered the optimal method of squishing spiders with Panama soled jungle boots, and so she was swiftly vanquished. All her venom availed not against vulcanised rubber with twelve stone of panicked geek bearing down on it.

Anyone wanting to find out if she really was a black widow, feel free to come look. She's the biggest smear of spider juice on the driveway.

Monday, June 1, 2009

And so it begins.

The front yard - yes, all of it, bar the rosebushes - has just been dosed with Roundup. In a couple weeks, I'll go out, rake off the crud, try to break up the soil (going to be tricky; it's uncertain whether the soil or the cement around it is harder) and start thinking of re-seeding. If I do re-seed the lawn, it'll be drought-tolerant; I'm intending, for this year at least, to do any irrigation I do do by means of carrying a watering can. I want to think about every drop.