May 28, 2011

The Passing of the Green Focus

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 10:12 am by msweet42

To: Dominique and Samantha
Subj: The Green Focus

There comes a time in one’s relationship with a vehicle where one must do the math regarding what it will cost you to keep the thing on the road versus what it is worth. When the answer is in the negative, one must bid said vehicle a fond farewell.

Sadly, we have arrived at that point with the Green Focus. The issue that caused it to cease operation so abruptly is a dying alternator. It would cost $400 to resolve that. Then there is the exhaust system getting a bit too throaty and the body shedding bit of paint large enough to create miniature Frisbees that are hazardous to surrounding traffic.

The car might be worth up to $500 if we or anyone else were planning to buy another car.

As it sits in its present condition, there is an offer of $250 cash on the table from someone that Jacques the Mechanic knows.

Barring any objection from you, Do and Sam, I will fill out the paperwork tonight to sell the car tomorrow.

Diane and I will go and have a private moment later this evening to thank the car for safely getting us to Sea Isle all those summers (there is still sand in the glove box and in the trunk), for getting us all around town in all kinds of weather to school, practices, and such, and for being patient while each of you learned to drive.

Cars and cats and people. They come and they go. We enjoy and appreciate them when they are here and we keep a place in our heart for them when they go.

If you have any thoughts, feel free to share.

That is the note I sent my daughters to advise them that the older of our two Ford Focus (Foci?) was going away. As noted, this was the car we would take to the Jersey Shore many summers and this was the car they used to learn to drive.

During their learning period, I’m sure they did not find the car to be so charming. It had a manual transmission. Just up the street from us is the supermarket where we do our shopping and where they both worked. On the way to the store is a hill with a traffic light half way up the hill. So you have this beginning driver hyper-aware of the traffic behind her trying to master the maneuver of having the car in gear, releasing the clutch and hopefully smoothly moving forward. This didn’t always go as planned and they would kill the engine. I would sit beside them and instantly whack the 4-way flash button which was conveniently located in the center of the dash. At the same time, I would pull the parking brake so they could ease the car into gear without rolling back into the poor soul behind us.

There was always elation and a sense of accomplishment when Dad could sit there and not have to do anything when the light changed.

It was important to me that they know how to drive a stick-shift. It is one of those things that once you know it, you can always do it.

Having said that, once they had the opportunity, they jumped into vehicles with automatic transmissions. Our other Focus, the yellow one, is automatic. Sam still lives at home. There have been times where she needed transportation and the only car available was the green car. She would take the bus.

All of which got me to thinking that there is something intrinsically different about our relationship with cars versus other machines.

I don’t know of anyone who has gotten misty-eyed about retiring their toaster. No one I know has named their vacuum cleaner. But we do this with cars and trucks. It can’t be just because we use them every day. I use my cell phone every day but have no emotional ties to it. This whole “ties that bind thing” can even extend to vehicles you don’t own.

I spend most of my time in someone else’s vehicle as a driver. When it came time to let a couple of the cars go, especially 466, I felt some sorrow seeing them go. I know they were sold to taxi drivers. I know 466 has four small paint defects at the tail end of the trunk lid. Every time I see a Lincoln EXL taxi, I quickly look at the trunk lid to see if it is old 466.

So there is another mystery to ponder.


May 5, 2011

Want to go to Manila? Start with YVR.

Posted in Travel tagged , , , , at 10:49 am by msweet42

We left home at 0520. The plan had been to leave at 0500. Plans are goals. So be it. We got to the shop at 0540 and met up with Farid. We moved our luggage from 598 (the company sedan that I had been using) to Farid’s car. Farid thoughtfully a black coffee for me and an orange juice for Diane waiting for us in the car.

We had a 0730 flight to YVR (Vancouver). We got to Ottawa airport at 0550. Immediately figured out 0530 would have been better. Made it through Air Canada check in with no major glitches except Diane had to sign her passport.

Security: Large hand cream – no. Hummus – no. Chicken salad – no. So it goes. Grapes and apples – ok! Diane also lost a bottle of water.

We got water in the boarding area. The flight boarded at 0650 as advertised. What I thought was 29D wasn’t. I got the window seat!

Pushes off at 0734, taxied at 0738, and took off at 0744.

Due to hit YVR in 5 hours and 3 minutes.

Great view of Ottawa on takeoff. Clear blue skies.

There is a fun map function on the touchscreen in the seatback in front of me. There us also a USB port and a 120V plug.

And now, at 0750, we settle in.

Just about midway through Asia

Posted in Travel tagged , , at 10:29 am by msweet42

Our time in Manila is coming to a close. I had hoped to get this blog started before we got here so I could do a running blog. But this plan, as with most plan, is subject to revisions by the demands of reality. Be that as it may, I’ve got this first entry here with more to come.