November 2003 Archives

November 6, 2003
The Car(max) Saga

Sorry I've been neglecting this place a bit, but I've been busy, what with my Japanese class, NaNoWriMo starting up again, and... well... all the stuff I'm going to tell you about right now.

So on Friday of last week, Sarah decided she was fed up with her '97 Saturn. It had about 110,000 miles on it and it'd been acting up for quite some time. She'd tried getting it repaired, but it just didn't seem to be helping matters much. The thing was starting to feel pretty dangerous and with her taking classes in the city and us working so far from home, she decided she needed something a little more reliable.

So we went to CarMax, where I'd had a pretty good experience when I'd gotten my 2000 Saturn in November of 2001. Sarah had seen a 1999 Jetta on their website that she was interested in, as she's always wanted a Jetta. She liked the look. So she'd called ahead to see if it was still there and it was. The salesguy we ended up with was really nice and everything. We test drove it and Sarah liked it, so we signed all the papers and drove home in her new car. And this is where the troubles started.

Shortly after leaving the CarMax parking lot, the check engine light came on. The engine didn't seem to be misbehaving, but we thought this was odd, since CarMax is supposed to check everything before they sell a car (their quality sticker was on the window of the car, but oddly, we found a checklist in the car that hadn't been filled out). CarMax was closing soon after we left and we knew the service department was definitely no longer open, so we decided to call the next day. Service isn't open on the weekends, so we just decided to call back on Monday. Sarah drove the car a little bit on Saturday and the check engine light had gone off, so we thought maybe things were O.K.

Monday morning, I get a call at work from Sarah. The car won't start. Apparently, it's the battery. So CarMax tells her she has to get AAA to take the car to CarMax. So she waits an hour and a half for AAA, who jumped the car, so she could take it there herself. When she got there, they told her they didn't do loaners. Which is odd since, when they finally gave her a loaner after she complained a lot, they actually had a loaner agreement form. They said they'd get to the car when they could.

So they call Sarah later on Monday and tell her that they're sending the car to the Volkswagen dealership. At this point, Sarah started considering returning the car and getting something else from CarMax, despite how she'd been treated about trying to get a car that they were responsible for repaired. She agonized over the decision. When she still didn't have the car back on Wednesday, she made up her mind to just return it. At one point during this period, they'd called her and told her that her car was in detailing and would be ready that night. When she got there, they told her they had called about the wrong car. And, actually, on Wednesday, they left a message saying that the car wouldn't be ready until today.

Also during this time, Sarah did some more research about the Jetta from this year and found numerous things to be concerned about. Many many people had reported weird mechanical and electrical problems that repeatedly plagued the car. Anything from the throttle body suddenly going bad to power windows going down and never coming back up. At that point, she was still considering CarMax, but I think hearing a couple other horror stories from other people soured her on the idea.

Wednesday afternoon after work, Sarah went up to Leesburg Honda to test drive a used Honda. She found a used 2001 Honda Accord LX there that had almost everything in it that she wanted. She loved the ride and, so far, we've had no problems at all with it. The warranty's great, it's a Honda certified used vehicle, and everyone there was really nice to us. Hondas are supposedly very reliable and last a long time, so this should be a good car for her, especially for when she takes trips to see her family in Ohio. The price was higher than the Jetta, obviously, but the monthly payments turned out to be only a little bit more and she got a better APR there. So it all worked out good in the end. It was just a very stressful few days.

Posted on November 6, 2003 9:12 AM | | Comments (1)

November 14, 2003
Gray, grayer, grayest.

On this day, back in 1974, I was born.

I may not be older than Christ, but I'm older than Ryan, that whippersnapper.

However, I'm obviously not too old that I'm going to bed at 8pm or anything.

Innocence Mission show tonight at Jammin' Java. From what I've heard of the shows on this tour, it should be awesome. I hope they're signing, so I can get them to sign my copy of Glow.

Posted on November 14, 2003 12:18 AM | | Comments (1)

November 16, 2003

Well, my birthday weekend was really nice. My boss let me off work a bit early on Friday, which was good, since I needed to get my car inspected before going away for Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, that took an hour and a half because the guy did it wrong the first time and then did two other cars ahead of mine before doing mine again. But anyhow...

I came home to find gifts from my mom, my brother John, and Sarah. Since I'd been desperately needing clothes since I lost so much weight, my mom got me a nice pair of Dockers and a polo shirt for work. Sarah got me a few work shirts, some t-shirts, and some nice jeans. John got me The Cure's Trilogy DVD and The Grateful Dead's Closing of Winterland DVD, which both look excellent so far. Sarah also got me Tekken 4, Guilty Gear X2, the first two volumes of Risky/Safety on DVD, the 30th anniversary release of Bowie's Aladdinsane, little clone trooper ornaments for my office, the Battlefield 1942: Secret Weapons of WWII expansion pack, and a stuffed owl. Quite a good haul. And my older brother, Mike, left me a message telling me that he'd bought me gifts, too.

Also as a gift, Sarah took me to see The Innocence Mission at Jammin' Java. The show was to start at 8, so we got there around 7 and the place was packed. I'd never seen quite so many people there before. Sarah had reserved, so we signed in, found some seats, then went to get some yummy chili. At 8, the opening act, Don Conoscenti, came on. He was quite good, playing banjo, guitar, and piano. We both liked him quite a bit, but not enough to buy his CDs. We just didn't see ourselves listening to them often. However, the second opening act (which we hadn't expected) was better. A lovely and talented girl with a guitar, Mila Drumke had just moved to the area from NYC... without her band. So, for this show, it was just her, which worked quite well. After hearing her, seeing how much the CDs were, and seeing how much the CDs would've cost if we bought them online and had them shipped to us (about $15 more for the three she has), Sarah decided to buy them.

At about 9:15, the Innocence Mission came on. And they were phenomenal. Karen's voice was just as beautiful live as it is on the CDs, perhaps more so. I love Don's style of playing and both he and Mike played great. It was so nice to see them all up there having a good time, smiling at each other, giving each other little looks. Though they don't tour often, you could tell they really love playing together. And Karen's smile is lovely and truly infectious. They played a good mix of songs from all of their albums. And came out for three encores. After the first three song encore, I thought there was no way they'd come out for more, but they did. The crowd was really great and obviously huge fans. Everyone was calling out songs they wanted to hear. And everyone was very forgiving during a pretty humorous moment when Karen started playing a song in the wrong key (and both Mike and Don apparently switched keys to play the wrong ones right along with her). A great show.

After the show, Sarah chatted with Mila for a bit and got her to sign the 3 CDs. I'd brought along Glow, Christ Is My Hope, and Sarah bought me Befriended there at the show. I got each of the band members to sign the cases for them. All of them were really nice and kind and sweet and I got to chat with each of them for a bit. I felt really dorky telling them all it was my birthday, but I was just excited to finally be seeing them after being a fan for over 10 years. I wasn't fishing for Happy Birthdays (thought I got that from each), I just felt like it was a great birthday present for me to have them come to my favorite place to see a show on my birthday.

By the time we got home, my birthday was almost over. But it was really great. And now I don't feel quite so bad about being so close to 30.

Posted on November 16, 2003 8:27 PM | | Comments (0)

November 17, 2003

Great. I look like a total lunatic in this year's school pictures. My eyes are wide and my smile is eerie. I think the photographer said something bizarre (I believe I remember him saying something like "Now give us that Sunday smile!" or something like that) and I was trying not to laugh at the weirdness of it. So now I just end up looking like a maniac. With a 5:00 shadow at 2:00 in the afternoon.

Yay! I look like I shoot up at work!

Posted on November 17, 2003 12:48 PM | | Comments (2)