Tag Archives: vehicles

Weekend Coffee Share – Enemies Edition

Mine! Mine!If we were having coffee, I feel at some point I would complain about driving here over the last couple of years. They’ve been working on a bridge project on the main route to my work, and it’s just changed everything up. On a pretty constant basis – they’ve kept the highway open, but to work on parts have kept moving and diverting the flow of traffic.

Part of what they’ve done for this is reduce what was two lanes down to one, and left it as such for pretty much the whole time – although where we reduce down changed in the middle of the project to move further back. Still, you get the same effect: a bottleneck that we all just get to muddle through.

Which is fine, mostly, as people get in the surviving lane and we just make our way patiently through. But inevitably, there’s always the person or two who decides they want to race everyone and get to the front right where it reduces down to one lane. Not to calmly zipper in to traffic, one car at a time – they always seem to be looking to be ahead of everyone in the surviving lane.

So, I feel like there’s a lot of talk about Enemies. Like in religion, about how to treat them, about forgiveness. Like in superhero fiction, about the eternal struggle between for instance Batman and the Joker (Batman Day reference!). Like in so much of fiction, really, if the conflict is external. Like on the oh-so-many police procedurals on TV – did the deceased have enemies? Is there an easy explanation? Oh, no, never? Okay, we’ll fill the hour of television…

I look at my own life and I have trouble seeing enemies. I don’t really have enemies, I feel like. Certainly not on a personal level. On macro levels, there’s I guess people who disagree politically? Terrorists? Something like that? Nah, too abstract or inaccurate. But then it came to me. And comes back around – you guessed it. Other drivers.

And in talking to Holly about this, she had a really good point – it’s a lot like Internet trolling. There’s anonymity. Because you can’t talk to the person, can’t tell them that what they did was wrong, or why it inconvenienced you. Or if you do something wrong, you can’t tell them why – why you’re distracted, or what caught your attention, or what you were avoiding, or what have you. They are an anonymous moving vehicle, inconveniencing you or racing to get ahead of everyone and seeming like they’ll kill someone at some point…

And it leads to responses in us like aggressive driving, road rage, things like that. Certainly adrenaline and raised agitation. I had a friend whose family called curse words “car words” – I might have to steal that. While Holly and I were talking about it yesterday, at the bad merge point, a truck went careening by at high speed to get ahead – and I used a car word to describe them. Then a second truck did it! They got a louder, more agitated car word from me!

So my enemies, the people who daily put me in danger, are other drivers. It fits. We’re even probably locked in an eternal struggle…

If we were having coffee, I would ask you what you think about enemies in your own life. Internet trolls? Do you have people you actually know who are enemies? Let me know in the comments! And don’t forget the coffee share linkup over on Part-Time Monster – you don’t even have to drive there.

Weekend Coffee Share – New Car Smell Edition

weekendcoffeeshare

If we were having coffee, I’d lament the fact that we were having coffee in my new car. I’m totally going to spill.

For many, I suppose a new car would be a cause for joy. I’m sure we’ll get there, too. But for most, I’m sure that they spent time looking, thinking, saving money, planning, and mentally preparing.

We did all that in under 24 hours this week.

We took my car into the shop for its 90,000 mile service this week. Apparently a good thing, because they found oh so much wrong with it. With the different service amounts added up, and the question to me to proceed… I said let me call you back.

The first consult was over to Kelley Blue Book, where I found that their higher end estimates on what I could get for my car were really close to the number I was just given over the phone. Certainly within $100.

So Holly and I talked. We talked to family. We called a friend who works at the dealership for advice (it’s a small town).

Because putting the value of the car into it for service just felt like a bad idea. But putting off service, when driving around the Geek Baby, seemed like a worse idea. Going without a car when one of us is taking care of the Geek Baby and one of us is at work just didn’t seem like a good long term plan. If we lived somewhere with really good public transportation then considering going without a car wouldn’t be such a burden.

We knew we couldn’t afford a down payment (yay unpaid parental leave… grumble grumble John Oliver grumble) but family was supportive there. We had made a plan, a budget, for this year, so that we could take leave. And unexpected costs keep showing up – and this one takes the cake (hopefully…)

We weren’t sure if we could make loan payments then either – we’re still paying on a car loan for Holly’s car, which we saved and planned to buy for maybe a year or more. The same sort of planning we wanted to do to buy me a newer car, say in a couple years… We also each have sizable student loans, to go with our shiny Masters degrees. Oh, and did I mention the Geek Baby?

So lately we had been thinking of options. Toying with the alternatives for when we’re both back at work. For child care for the Geek Baby. Could we each figure out a week day off, to get more time with her? Reduce our work weeks? Work weekends? One of us stay home completely? Could we?…

All of a sudden we needed to solidify our plans. We were running our finances. Making budgets. Making decisions. All in one night. We decided a number that, with both of us working full time, we could probably afford.

So the next day, with me at work, Holly went in and picked a car and told them the payments we could afford. The math went backwards from there to figure out a down payment to get the payment amount. Oh, and the trade-in on my old car? $1. Yep. It needs a lot of work…

And so, in under 24 hours, I got a new car – sight unseen.

These sorts of decisions are suddenly very different with a baby at home. There are risks I might have been willing to take without her. And even more so, all the costs this year – combined with all the lost income – made this just the worst time for this to happen. It also made us solidify our future plans.

Sorry. The weird thing is that it’s odd to be so thrown off about getting something nice, something new. But neither of us have had a new car before. I didn’t even have a car until I was 23 years old. This is all very new to us, and it’s also kind of this final feeling – I’m an adult. With all the loans and costs and budgeting that goes with it.

Perhaps I’m just lamenting first world problems… I certainly know that I am very lucky to have a really supportive family. But I think much more for us what it meant was a paradigm shift, or paradigm solidification. What we’d had before was a future full of possibilities and options, and we had thoughts as to what that was going to look like. And all of a sudden, it feels like most of the options are off the table.

But anyway, that’s our week. How’re you?

What the heck is this post? It’s a weekend coffee share post! This is a weekly meetup hosted by Diana, over at Part Time Monster. We’re trying this out over here at Comparative Geeks – tell us what you think!

Cloud Connected Vehicles

Every year we see new technology growing in leaps and bounds. One of the areas that has not moved as quickly – but is still progressing – are vehicles, in particular cars. In today’s world you almost need to be a computer programmer or engineer to work on a car anymore. No longer is it simply about an engine, but now a computer runs the entire system. Not only does it run the entertainment, air, and windshields it also helps you park and warns you when you almost hit another car.

Weren't we supposed to have this flying car by now? Found on http://io9.com/5989200/20-lies-back-to-the-future-ii-told-us-besides-the-hoverboard

Weren’t we supposed to have this flying car by now? Found on http://io9.com/5989200/20-lies-back-to-the-future-ii-told-us-besides-the-hoverboard

While not fully functional we are not far off from being able to have driverless cars as a viable option. Now on one hand this seems like a a great idea, on the other you could easily raise issues with a computer being able to control all the features on a vehicle. Particularly the question is: how do you protect the vehicle programming that makes it run correctly?

Recently an article in Wired magazine shows that these questions are actually issues that currently exist. The problem seems to be the fact that the cars are not closed systems, but connect wirelessly, presumably to the manufacturer somewhere. This means that someone can access the vehicle remotely and mess with a large number of functions that could cause serious problems. Continue reading