I got to lounge a little in the rental Jeep Liberty between the rehearsal and concert. The back seat is actually pretty decent for a compact SUV, and definitely a step up from the old Jeep Cherokee in that respect - probably because the vehicle is so much taller. Rear seat comforts end there though - they don't even get their own window controls since the only window controls for the entire vehicle sit on the middle console behind the shifter. I suppose the rear passengers can reach up there to roll down the windows...
Friday, 27th of March, 2009
The Enterprise representative insisted I get the Jeep instead of a compact Cobalt or something because I would be a lot more comfortable, but the utilitarian Jeep interior doesn't do anything to that effect. There is also an annoying squeak from the passenger seat when someone is sitting in it, which is probably acceptable for a Jeep's built more for trails than the road but unfortunately I am using this as a road car this week. It's a heavier car with high profile tires so NVH is pretty well absorbed, but the short wheelbase does cause it to bob around on the bigger bumps like I would expect from a compact SUV. The stereo is not bad though - I'm glad that auto manufacturers have learned that it's worth the tiny extra R&D to get the stereo right (in terms of balance, etc.) It sounded pretty good without having to fiddle with the equalizer much, unlike cars of previous decades.
The 3.7L motor exhibits the typical buzz of a V6 - it's a shame that the inline-6 from the old Cherokee is gone. Furthermore, it does a little bit of shaking around at idle - though that could be from motor mounts that are already worn out at 30k miles.
The rear hatch is very useful - push the button twice on the key and the top glass portion pops up. There is a handle that swings opens the bottom half of the hatch - and in the correct direction for loading from a curb/sidewalk unlike our Japanese SUV adaptations.
License bureau, take two: It turns out that the Arizona title requires the previous owner's signature to be notarized. So I had to go meet Cyanne again and get that taken care of. Fortunately it was pretty painless - there was one at the FedEx-Kinkos so we were good to go.
At least the Missouri safety inspection was pretty straightforward. I took it to our friends at Don Brown Chevrolet since it wasn't too far across the river, but they were pretty busy. However, they were extremely nice and gave me directions and a phone number to the Autotire down the street. Autotire got me in pretty much instantly so I was able to drop it off, have lunch next door and it was ready by the time I got back.
Thursday, 26th of March, 2009
Picture - So I decided to do a little of my own research. Yesterday I walked down the street to where the car was stored (they still hadn't provided me with a rental car yet) with a big crow bar in tow to try to pry open the hood and clear away the fan shroud and whatever else might be causing the car to run like somebody is dying under there. I felt like I was in Grand Theft Auto or something with my big bar and it turns out I didn't even need it - just a 10mm ratchet to get the 8 bolts off the shroud, which you can see was visibly cut by the big metal fan.
The next GA moment I had was driving the car with it's half-folded hood down the street back to my house - trying to see over it was an experience, and fortunately I didn't have to go more than 10 mph or else the hood would probably fly back over the windshield.
The A/C seems to run fine, as well as the whole car itself for that matter, so that confirms that the damage is mostly to the body. The hood is really the only thing preventing me from driving this out to a body shop to get a second opinion, so off it goes. Now I've got this hot rod look with no hood - almost makes me want to dress up the engine bay!
Since they did a superb job on our other car, I drove the Cadillac over to our friends at Don Brown Chevrolet to see if we can solve some of the mysteries of the estimate. I was thinking if we get the right information there's a chance the new estimate can be low enough that it would be worth retaining and fixing the car. We discovered that I was right - Deville parts won't work, and worse yet there are no recycled Fleetwood hoods available, so a new one would have to be purchased from GM for $1835.77, and that still doesn't even include the grille.
There's no doubt now that the car is totalled, but since the retention cost is only $500 I'm definitely keeping it, and waiting - for a driftwood metallic Fleetwood hood to come up in the salvage yards one day.
The other adventure I had today involved attempting to title the Subaru I bought yesterday. I paid the previous owner of the car and she signed the title over me, and now I go to the license bureau to get a title reissued in my name. Not so fast. Before Missouri will let me own the car and have a title on it, the car has to be safety inspected, because it currently has an out of state title. Never mind that I'm just trying to get ownership of the car - I'm not even applying for a license plate or driving it anywhere. Why does a car have to pass safety inspection for it to change ownership and sit at an auto shop awaiting an engine transplant? This is ridiculous regulation.
I guess now I have 13 days to go change out the thermostat (assuming that's all that's wrong with it) and get the car over to Missouri and get it inspected or else I get to pay a fine for waiting too long to get it re titled. I have a suggestion to improving the air quality in the St. Louis region since that appears to be so important. How about we all just drive less, and start by eliminating all these superfluous trips to the license bureau and emissions inspection stations.
Wednesday, 25th of March, 2009
Tuesday, 4th of March, 2009
Saturday, 1st of March, 2009
She's insured with State Farm but I can't seem to find any phone numbers for their claims department that isn't an answering machine over the weekend. I guess it will have to get sorted out during the week...
Saturday, 14th of March, 2009
With grippy summer tires on now, I had full motivation to move forward with replacing the front struts on the Cadillac with the Bilsteins that I purchased over the winter. The car wasn't exhibiting horrible bobbing up and down characteristic of blown struts, but they were far from new, so it's possible they may be 16 years old.
Looking at the factory service manual it seemed fairly straightforward with the special strut top socket, which I was finally able to acquire thanks to Joe at Chris Auffenberg Chevrolet. I figured I had already done half a strut replacement when we changed out the rear sway bar on Nolan's Volvo over Christmas, so this should be a piece of cake.
The problem was, I got cocky - I looked in there, figured I could do it without taking the wheel off, didn't use any rust penetration spray, and just started wrenching away. I got the nut halfway off before I had stripped the strut top.
Picture - Fortunately, I had read about an alternate technique on the Cadillac Forums - stick a 5/8" socket on there and a huge breaker bar and just rock the strut back and forth until you snap it in two. It's easier when it's all rusted, which is the situation I was in - I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was, in fact.
Picture - I have always liked the look of good new shocks next to otherwise old and crummy front end components. While my old shocks were not blown and in a state that it was having a serious negative affect on handling, they were old enough that the new shocks distinctly provide better feeling, even on turn-in. Old shocks are one of those subtle things that can really give away a car's age - driving around tonight with the grippy new tires it almost felt like I had a new car.
Wednesday, 11th of March, 2009
Tuesday, 10th of March, 2009
Sunday, 8th of March, 2009
Medal of Honor: European Assault came in the mail today, so now I'm in a great position to make a direct 3-way comparison. Apparently they kept spending good money on orchestration because European Assault so far has the best music of the three. Here is some other side-by-side comparison:
|Medal of Honor PS2 Games||Rising Sun (2003)||European Assault (2005)||Vanguard (2007)||Multiplayer||Up to 4 players, 8 total including bots||4-player, extra objectives, no bots!||4-player, no bots!|
|Health||Pick Up||Pick Up, choose when to use||Recovery-based|
|HUD||Traditional||Adds "radar", other guides||Same as European Assault but high-contrast display causes screen burn-ins|
|Difficulty Levels||3||4, adds "Hero"||3|
|Story Line||Relatively linear list of objectives||Many optional objectives||You are no longer in the OSS completing strategic missions - just kill the enemy.|
I can see why most people view Vanguard as a half-baked 2007 release while EA focused on the PS3/Xbox360/PC release of Medal of Honor: Airborne that same year. I guess they have already reached the limits of the 6th generation console graphics so they couldn't add anything significant. While European Assault seems like a better game even though it is older, I can't help but wonder if the even older Rising Sun might still be the best due to 2-player campaigns and the ability to play bots in multiplayer - why did those things go away?! I guess everyone just wants to play their own console and do multiplayer on the network now - who wants to share a TV with 3 other people...
Friday, 6th of March, 2009
They started the performance tonight with a suite of Bach movements, starting with the first movement of Brandenburg 3. It's interesting how slow it has to be played for it to be dance-able, and it wasn't a bad thing at all. In fact, tonight's performance is the best dancing I have ever seen, by a longshot. I used to not quite understand contemporary dance, but tonight's performance makes every other dance performance I've ever seen look like child's play - it was outstanding! I may even believe we will see such dancing in heaven - with every violinist playing as well as David Halen does in Brandenburg concertos, of course, since we will all be perfect.
Thursday, 5th of March, 2009
The first thing I did was set the difficulty to hard and tackle the first career race, only to experience the worst implementation of force feedback logic ever - which I guess shouldn't surprise me for a game that has flawed physics everywhere. The way street lamps get knocked over and bounce around and the ridiculous cornering of the 240ZX is more along the lines of Midtown Madness. That said, they did seem to grab some various elements from other arcade games - you get a directional arrow that tells you where you're supposed to be going, almost exactly like Crazy Taxi. And similar to Grand Theft Auto, there is a story line, and you get to drive around the city to go from one race to another, and even jump between "boroughs". Speaking of the story line, they did their best to immerse you into your own The Fast and The Furious fantasy. Yes, you go into the game as an undercover police officer who has to take down this illegal ring of smugglers and street racers, and there are some interesting video cut scenes between your races.
Oh well, Medal of Honor European Assault is already on its way - GameFly is only helping me confirm that I probably already own the few decent PS2 games out there.
Sunday, 1st of March, 2009