Relays

A couple days ago Xy reported she had trouble with the car starting, and sure enough the next morning it was dead. We packed Xy off in a cab. (When she got to her school on the West Bank, she discovered the cab wasn’t equipped to take credit cards (although the dispatcher had assured me that it was) so he ran her to an ATM, but it was broken, so she had to borrow money from another teacher. But I digress.) I asked Tommie, who runs the station across the street, to take a look at our vehicle, but he forgot, until I came home from work at the end of the day and reminded him. The battery was dead, so he charged it up ($10) and everything seemed to be fine.

“If it happens again,” he said, “I’m going to suggest a new battery.”

Later that evening I was planning to ride my bike to a FOLC board meeting, but as a storm was moving in I decided to drive instead. Before I even put the key in the ignition I noticed all sorts of funny clicking noises coming from the dashboard. The car wouldn’t start. The antitheft indicator was blinking, even after I locked the car up, and I had a flashback to the huge aggravation of our previous car. I started to get the chills. We never were able to fix that problem.

That was yesterday. This morning, Xy got a ride with a co-worker, and I dithered about whether to grapple with getting the car fixed or wait until after the holiday weekend. I decided to grit my teeth and go for it. I figured there was some sort of esoteric electronic problem that was causing the battery to drain — something obscure and high-tech that Tommie wouldn’t be able to fix. I figured I needed to take it to the dealership. So I got Tommie to jump the car for me. Actually one of his employees did it. He claims to have written a “Who Dat” book which he’s now publishing. The title is Whodat-Lagniappe! and it would seem to be an inspirational Christian tome. Not what I expected from an older guy of indeterminate ethnicity in a Biohazard t-shirt.

After dropping Persephone off at daycare, I drove up to the North Shore on the world’s (seventh) longest bridge, to Mandeville, to the Banner Ford dealership, which is where I bought the car on the last day of 2009.

(Why so far when there’s a dealership in Metairie? I happened to glance at some reviews on Google and there was a vast disparity in customer satisfaction.)

On the ride there I listened to Democracy Now on WTUL, an interview with Eli Pariser about the filter bubble.

I don’t particularly like cars, and so dealing with automotive problems is anathema to me, and sitting in the waiting room at a car dealership has always seemed like purgatory to me. I was bracing myself for a long, long wait. I had a cup of coffee, took a crap, watched some daytime TV, and rated some songs. (Xy found an iPod about a year ago and gave it to me.) I didn’t even had a chance to crack open my book (Dying Inside by Robert Silverberg) when the mechanic came out and told me I had a bum battery. They just needed to replace it.

What? I remembered what Tommie said and kicked myself mentally. But all those weird clicking noises?

Relays, I was told.

OK, so they replaced it, I paid $136.51, and I tried to head back home. Problem: It’s a toll bridge. I knew that, but I wasn’t certain of the amount. You can’t discern the toll until you’re right up on the tollgate. I only had one dollar bill on me, and (just like Xy’s cab) they don’t take plastic. I had to take the exit of shame and head back to an ATM where I paid a $3.00 fee so I could get the necessary cash for the $3.00 toll.

While getting the cash, I received a text from Xy advising me to get a tuneup while I was at the dealership. Too late, I texted back. I’m on the causeway by the time I get her next text: Omg! Brakes bad 2!

And then she had the unmitigated nerve to call me and fuss about it.

On the ride back I listened to Tommy Tucker (sitting in for Garland Robinette) on WWL talking about the petition to recall Superintendent Serpas.

When I finally got back to Mid-City and turned down our street, another vehicle got caught in my blind spot and I very nearly sideswiped it when I turned into our driveway. The driver honked at me and then she stopped in the street and gave me a good long glare as I climbed out of the car. I shrugged a sheepish apology.

I gave Tommie five bucks for the jump, and walked to work. Somehow I made it there around half-past noon. So the day was not completely wasted.

Better Safe

I woke around dawn to the sound of heavy downpouring rain. After it kept up for a while, I reluctantly dragged myself out of bed, put on a pair of boxers, some sandals, and a baseball hat, and ran out to move the car up to the driveway. Xy tried to tell me it wasn’t necessary, but I’ve learned my lesson from last time. Of course, when I got back into bed, the rain seemed to taper off significantly, but hey — better safe than sorry, right?

Three or four hours later, when I went out the front door on my way to work, I discovered a huge tree limb had broken off the neighbor’s tree, a live oak, and landed in the street. This was no mere twig. It was massive enough to do serious damage. And it was in the exact spot where our car had been.

We Roll Tight Whips Every Day

When we were out in Oregon there was a story on the news that caught my interest, out of the corner of my eye, about Jeff “Free” Luers being released from prison.

Luers was arrested and convicted for setting fire to three vehicles back in 2000. The guy was trying to make a protest statement about global warming. Over the past decade I saw his name pop up regularly in the pages of Fifth Estate, but I wasn’t really familiar with the details of his case.

Turns out he was sentenced to 22 years in prison . This was later reduced to ten years. He served nine and a half before his release last month. In weird twist, he was mistakenly released in October, then taken back into custody after six hours.

The 22-year sentence was way out of proportion to the crime committed, but I can’t condone his actions. Surely there are more creative ways to create the media spectacle he desired, that wouldn’t exact such a heavy price on his personal freedom. However, I do have to admit it led to a discussion with my co-workers back in 2000 about how SUVs guzzle gasoline and how our rapacious consumption of fossil fuels is generally not good. So who knows? Maybe Luers was on to something. He could have plea-bargained, and he chose not to. His interview on Democracy Now is worth a look.


(All of that serves as an introduction of sorts to what follows.)

I really don’t like cars much. In my opinion automotive technology has had a deleterious effect on America and the world. But it’s a sad fact that I couldn’t imagine living in New Orleans without a car. All other contingencies to the side, we need one to evacuate. I’m certainly not going to rely on the “public option” to get out of town when a storm’s coming. And so, as long as we live here, we will be car-owners, more’s the pity.

Since Xy trashed our car a few weeks ago, we’ve been in the market. We decided we wanted something with a lot of ground clearance, the better to handle that pesky street flooding. Since we might need to haul three cats and a rabbit on an evacuation, an SUV started to seem like the best option. Xy and I have always despised the craze for Urban Assault Vehicles; we certainly never thought we’d own one.

I decided that if we went that route we’d need to get a hybrid. That narrowed the field considerably. Searching online, I found one for sale from Banner Ford in Mandeville, a 2008 Ford Escape Hybrid with 29,000 miles. I negotiated the price over the phone over the course of last Wednesday morning, talking them down from $20K to $19K. I tried for $18K but they held fast and I caved first. Anyway I was happy with the price, so I drove up to the North Shore and bought it.

I realized upon the return trip that this is the first vehicle I’ve been even vaguely excited about owning in over twenty years — since I got my first car.

Voodoo Wagon

Of course our new ride is a little bit nicer than the Voodoo Wagon, but mainly I just think the hybrid technology is kind of cool. Pulling up to a stop and hearing — nothing, because the engine isn’t running. That’s wild. Is it the way of the future? I don’t know. I understand those lithium batteries present a new sort of environmental liability. I need to find out more about that.

In the mean time I’m looking forward to having better and more reliable transportation at our disposal.

Big thanks to everybody who gave me advice on what and how to buy. Some people advised me to steer away from dealerships entirely, but I found private sellers just didn’t have what we wanted, and in the final analysis I don’t think we got screwed too badly.

One final footnote: The vehicles Luers torched in 2000 were not actually SUVs but light trucks for a commercial fleet. The reportage on this story has consistently said they were SUVs, and I thought that was the case, but apparently not. I just felt compelled to correct that detail.

Broke My Damn Toe and Other Entries in the Annals of Idiocy

I’ve been wanting to visit a podiatrist, but I am daunted from seeking healthcare, daunted by my insurer. Humana refuses to thoroughly update their database of “approved” physicians to reflect the reality of post-Katrina New Orleans. This may come as a shock but after the floods of ’05 many doctors simply ain’t there no more.

I became so aggravated that I called Humana and asked them to find a specialist and make an appointment for me. To their credit, they did so in fairly short order.

So Tuesday morning I got in our shiny new rental car and made my way to see an orthopedic podiatrist in the medical district. As long as I was headed in that general direction, I figured I’d go on to the Quarter and catch a haircut from Pat at the Monteleone. It was pouring rain as December chugged on its way to becoming our wettest month on record. I found a place to park on the street, fed the meter, got my haircut, went around the corner to Cafe Beignet for a cup of coffee, petted the big fluffy cat perched under my table, and finally made my way back to the car, scurrying along under the ubiquitous balconies in a vain effort to stay dry.

I reached into my pocket for my key and was distressed to find it wasn’t there. I must have left it in the rental. What if I locked myself out? But no, I told myself, if hte key’s in the car, I must not have locked it, because the clicker is on the keychain.

Then I got to the car, pretty much soaked, and sure enough the door was unlocked. And there was the key, right where I left it.

In the ignition. With the engine running. It had been sitting there unlocked and ready to go for forty minutes.

Sound familiar? It should. Because Xy did the exact same thing a couple years ago. At which time I remarked:

…it’s so stupid it seems like something I would do.

And I guess I’ve proven myself correct on that point.

(Later when I recounted this tale of luck and folly to Xy, her immediate question was: “Are you pregnant?” For the record, I don’t think I am.)

The rain had been positively pounding down the whole time, which is I’m sure the only reason the car was still there. It’s also why I didn’t notice the motor was running when I left it. I could not hear the engine over the sound of that rain.

I went on to the doctor, filled out a vast ream of meaningless paperwork, waited around a while, got some X-rays and finally confirmed that my pinky toe is indeed broken. Yup, I broke my damn toe. Broke it a week and a half ago. I stubbed it on a piece of furniture while trying to change P’s diaper in the middle of the night. (And she didn’t even need a diaper change. Just wanted to get out of the crib.) The only real treatment is to tape the pinky to the fourth toe and let it heal.

I’ve also got some arthritis in my ankle, the one I sprained about a month before Xy’s stunt with the car. And I’ve got some pain in my heel for which the doctor prescribed an orthotic to wear in my shoe. My left foot is just a mess.

Vehicular Challenge

Michael gave me a lift early Sunday morning to pick up the car from where Xy had abandoned it on Airline Highway the night before. It wouldn’t start. While we were unloading her Xmas shopping a cop pulled up and chastised us for leaving the car there overnight. He waited while I called Progressive Roadside Assistance. They told me all their tow contractors were fully booked and accepting only police calls. So I had the cop call it in, and eventually we got the car to the Banks Street Service Station. I had to borrow a bunch of cash from Michael to pay for the tow. (Note to self: Pay him back.)

This morning James gave Xy a ride to work. I called the closest car rental place and reserved a vehicle, then went over to Banks Street Station with the girl on my hip and explained the situation to Tommie. He called me back a few hours later and said that in his opinion the car needed a new engine and should probably be considered a total loss. (We still owe $4,333.18 on it.) Progressive won’t be able to get an adjuster out until Wednesday. I picked up the rental a few hours later — about the last car available since so many people had cars flooded over the weekend — and so we are driving a Kia Spectrum for the next little while.

To be honest I’m hoping the Saturn is totaled. We have really come to dislike that car. The worst thing about it is the antitheft system which triggers improperly under certain atmospheric conditions, rendering the car unstartable for eight minutes at a go. Number two, it rides waaay too low to the ground, constantly scraping bottom over the slightest dip in the road, and as recent events illustrate that’s just not a good thing when streets are flooding. And we have numerous miscellaneous gripes over the rapid deterioration of interior details.

So I think we are going to be shopping for a car real soon. We hoped to do so anyway, but events are forcing our hand.

Our last two cars were slightly-used Saturns. I was never crazy about the product, but I liked the Saturn approach to sales: no BS, no haggling, the price listed was just the price. Alas, Saturn is no more, and I wouldn’t buy them again anyway after our frustrations with this vehicle.

Thus I feel supremely unqualified for navigating the automotive purchasing transaction.

I don’t even really know what we want. I’d kind of like something that rides higher than a standard sedan but is not so bulky as sports utility vehicle. And wouldn’t it be nice if that also could run off electricity. A hybrid hybrid if you will. I gather such things don’t exist. So we are setting our sights lower. An affordable compact wagon perhaps? Lee got an HHR and that looks pretty good to me.

Any advice is most welcome.

Auto Motive

Oops, I meant to post this mix to go along with the previous post about the burned-out car.

This one’s almost an hour long with tracks by Dizzy Gillespie, Blue Öyster Cult, and of course Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy and Matt Sweeney. As I always I welcome your comments.

Note also that 8tracks has just added a new feature which allows you to “like” a mix, so if you have an account and deem my mix worthy, by all means let your views be known.

Tale of a Burned Out Car

Here’s something I observed a few weeks ago, but am only finding time to write about now.

On Monday, October 26, as I took my daughter to daycare in the morning, I encountered a burned-out car on Cleveland near South Salcedo Street.

Burned-Out Car

I used to see burned-out cars on the streets of our neighborhood with alarming frequency. I always found them compelling artifacts, symbolic somehow of the state of our society. Even so they are disturbing, ugly, and dangerous — and once they appear, they often remain for way too long.

Auto Interior

Happily, this phenomenon seemed to wane after Katrina. I can’t remember the last time I saw such a car. When I saw this one, I sighed. I guess things are getting back to normal. But I also made a mental note to grab my camera.

So on Wednesday, October 28, I passed by again and took some pictures. Imagine my surprise when I saw that this car had been tagged by the city the day before.

Official Notice

But here’s the real kicker. When I passed by again on the morning of Monday, November 2, the car was gone!

I should note that it must have been torched over the weekend before I first spotted it, say October 24 or 25. That means it only took the city two or three days to tag the vehicle, and another few days to actually tow it away.

Note also that this vehicle was in front of an abandoned house on a block without many residents, a place one might expect the city to neglect.

People are often very critical of our city government and our current administration in particular. I myself have been known to gripe on occasion. Perhaps my expectations have been lowered, but this struck me as an instance of something actually working correctly. I thought it was only appropriate to give the city some props.

Curbed

The damage to our car from running up on that curb has been repaired. The bill? $4,008.53. Xy’s response: Time to get a new car. My response: At least we met our deductible.

On a related note, the future of Saturn appears uncertain at this point, so I’m rather discouraged about ever getting satisfaction on the non-starting issue.

And speaking of curbs, sort of, I was happy to see work crews on my block this morning, ripping out some old beat-up sidewalks for wholesale replacement.

Sidewalk Replacement

More Trouble Than They’re Worth

They’re more trouble than they’re worth! I’m referring to cars, of course.

Xy drove the car up onto a curb yesterday after work and did some serious damage to the undercarriage, not to mention the body. A bunch of people in the area said they’ve run over the same curb, which was actually a little triangular piece in the middle of a three-way intersection. The car was leaking coolant, so the neighbors advised her against driving it. But I came by on my bike later in the evening and drove it the seven blocks or so to Trep’s, one of my favorite mechanics. It was after hours so I wrote a note and dropped the key in the slot. Our insurer, Progressive, tried to persuade me to have it towed out to Metairie so they can fix it up in their shop, but I’m sticking with Trep’s.

Normally we’d just limp along without a car for a while, but with the holidays upon us we don’t really have that option, so we’re renting a big-ass SUV that can drive over curbs with impunity.

Non-Starter (part five in a series)

Here’s a new twist on an old theme. Because of our intermittent no-crank no-start problem, Xy has taken to going out early on cold mornings and giving the car a test start. This was such a morning. It was about 36º F out there. But the car started up, no problem. But twenty minutes later, when she was ready to go, it failed.

I called Saturn about this a couple weeks ago and gave them an earful. Turns out the car is still under extended warranty, which means that they’ll pay for the repairs, and even pay for a rental car for us while it’s in the shop. But here’s the rub: They would have to reproduce the problem first. Given the intermittent and unpredictable nature of the problem, that proviso is a non-starter, pardon the pun. We’d have to take the car into the dealership, leave it there, and rent a car on our own dime. They’d try to reproduce the problem, and each day our rental expenses mount and the stakes get higher. Since the car can go for months without a problem, I’m rather daunted by the prospect.

I just called the U.S. Department of Transportation Vehicle Safety Hotline and filed a complaint. I don’t imagine that will do much good.

I’m so freakin’ aggravated by this. There are certainly bigger problems in the world, but this is a known issue. The manufacturer should own up to it and take the necessary steps to make it right.

And we wonder why the U.S. auto industry is in a jam.

Update: I have to take back what I said in a previous post about not being able to find any evidence of someone defeating the Passlock system and thus solving this problem. Here’s a video:

And here’s an extensive forum discussion with multiple people claiming to have solved the problem by just “cutting the white wire.”

Falling Behind, Catching Up

Somehow last week got away from me, and I failed to record some happenings here.

For example, on Thursday morning the car refused to start again. We waited ten minutes and then it started up fine. (Well, almost fine. Xy still couldn’t get it to start so I tried, and succeeded. Therefore Xy drove to work with my key, which fact would come back to haunt me.) Xy was not happy about the delay. She had to tell her carpool partner to head on to school under her own power. I called our mechanic and also the dealership, but they only confirmed my suspicions: They’d have to duplicate the problem in order to diagnose and fix it. But I know they’ll never be able to reproduce it. It’s just too random. And I’ve chickened out of trying the bypass solution I mentioned before, since I can’t find any reports of anyone else making it work, and it seems like it could make things worse or create other problems. So I am stymied and frustrated, not to mention ticked off.

Also: I didn’t participate in any of the anti-violence activities Friday because I found myself dealing with a different kind of crisis. We noticed the girl had around rash mid-week. Not a horrible rash — a mild one. Subtle. You could feel it more easily than seeing it sometimes. All over her body. We could not puzzle out what she might have been exposed to or eaten to cause an allergic reaction, and it certainly didn’t look like any of the major diseases that cause rashes. No fever. I was inclined not to worry, but Xy was concerned, and then Friday morning I noticed it seemed a little worse. I called the doctor’s office for advice and they suggested I might want to bring her in just to check. I figured, OK, sure, why not, I’ve got the car, I’ll zip over to daycare, pick her up, take her to the doctor and take her back. I’ll only be a little late to work.

Wrong. Turns out I never got my ignition key back from Xy. Damn! So I called a cab, ran over to daycare (literally), walked back with the girl, got the car seat out of the car, and changed her diaper just in time for the cab to arrive. The driver mocked me for not knowing how to install the car seat in his cab, but in my defense I’d only installed it in cars with hooks, not using the alternate seat belt method. Then on the ride the driver bent my ear the whole way hashing through his problems with his fiancée. It actually sounded like he hated her so I advised him to break it off.

The doctor confirmed my thinking: The rash isn’t much to worry about, and there’s not much we can do about it in any event. She said it was most likely an allergic reaction. There’s an off-chance it’s viral, but with no fever that’s unlikely.

Fortunately I ran into a friend from the neighborhood who was able to give me a ride back. But the real kicker: That night I discovered Xy had left the ignition key in the cupholder of the car. It was there the whole time. She tried to text me about it but it didn’t go through. So all that drama was unnecessary.

Non-Starter (part four in a series)

Here we go again. It was probably the coldest morning of the season so far.

No crank, no start.

Xy was pissed, and I can’t blame her. It was her turn to drive for the carpool. Two co-workers were depending on her. Fortunately they were able to switch it up at the last minute.

Of course, a short time later, the car started up — no problem.

Having read a bunch of internet forum posts about this, I’m convinced some weather condition improperly triggers the Passlock anti-theft system. However, aside from the cold-morning pattern, the problem is so frakking random that it’s frightening.

There’s at least one guy who advocates using a bypass/override module. These modules are designed for people who want to use a remote starter, but in theory it should solve our problem even without a remote. I’ve found various models online, like the Omega IB-PLJX. Only $23. I think I could install it myself.

I’m hesitating for two reasons. One, I want to hear what the guy at the dealership might have to say. I’m waiting for him to call back. Two, I’ve been searching the net for a success story, and I can’t find one. I’ve seen plenty of people ranting about this problem — They oughta have a recall! We oughta sue! I’ve seen a number of people theorizing about the bypass module solution. But no one is bragging about actually having done it, and that makes me leery.

Non-Starter

This morning the car wouldn’t start again. Only three weeks since the last time. Cocking the wheel didn’t help. Nothing helped. I waited about five or ten minutes, and it started right up.

I don’t think this is related to the colder weather, because when it didn’t start on the 9th the low was only 66º. There just doesn’t seem to be any pattern, except that after waiting a short while the car always starts up. We can’t reproduce the problem at will, so I don’t think any mechanic will be able to help. I’ve had 25 people give me 25 different ideas of what it could be. I’m mystified.

Our biggest clue is that after a few minutes it starts up fine.

Apparently this is known as a “No Crank” scenario. We know the battery and the connections to the battery are good. Since there’s no clicking or clunking I assume it’s not the starter, solenoid or Bendix.

After a bit of internet research I have come across reference to other people having this problem. A lot of folks seem to have narrowed their problem down to some kind of anti-theft device called the “passlock” system which is being improperly triggered. I guess next time this happens we should look for an icon of a car with a lock on the dashboard, as apparently that’s some kind of secret signal. I think I would have noticed it, though.

(This is one of those rare days I actually drove to work, because I was taking my eleven-year-old Power Mac 8600 in to the office to see if I can pull some data off the drive before giving it away to a friend of a friend. First time it’s been booted in over three years.)

Non-Starter

Again this morning with the non-starting car. I think this is the second time since I wrote about this problem back in January. Plenty of power, but no engine action. We both tried it repeatedly. Xy was about to get a ride to work with our neighbor Debra when she asked me, “Did you try cocking the wheel left and right?” I hadn’t, so I tried it, and then she started right up. Coincidence? Or could there be a connection?

Sometimes the car won’t let go of the damn key when you shut it down. Could that be related in some way?

At a frequency of about four times a year, this problem is the very definition of intermittent.

Speaking of possibly related symptoms, I’ve been feeling like I’m fighting some kind of a bug for about a month now, off and on. Yesterday I started feeling a sore throat, and today it’s slightly worse. So I’m taking it easy, trying to rest up and stay hydrated and eat plenty of the good chicken soup Xy whipped up last night.

Latest Entry in the Annals of Idiocy

This morning, Xy was sitting in our car, waiting to give a ride to some co-workers. A short time later, I got a text message: “u have the car.” I looked out the window and saw, sure enough, Xy was gone but the car was still there. Must have been a mix-up about who was giving a ride to whom.

Then came the follow-up text: “oops, keys r n car.” So I went down and checked it out. Yup, the keys were in the ignition. Not only that, but the engine was running. And the doors were unlocked.

The first reaction most people have when I relate this story is, of course, that “it’s because she’s pregnant.” It’s a compulsion. Go ahead and say it; you know you want to, and it will make you feel better. But I can’t help recalling what Xy’s mother said when I first met her 15 years ago: “If she had half a brain she’d be dangerous.” And, for the record, she wasn’t pregnant then.

This is the silliest stunt she’s pulled since smashing out the kitchen window or flushing her keys down the toilet. In fact, it’s so stupid it seems like something I would do.

Non-Starter

One morning about a month ago, Xy couldn’t get our car started, and she had to catch a ride with a co-worker.

I was all set to take it to the shop, but when I tried it an hour later, it started right up for me. So we dismissed it as a fluke.

This morning we had a repeat performance. Car wouldn’t start for Xy. I tried it too and it wouldn’t start for me either.

It had full electrical power, but nary a peep from the engine. Not a grind, not a click — nothing. Though you could listen to the radio if you wanted.

A couple hours later, it started up with no problems.

So now it’s not a fluke. It’s a pattern, and a rather aggravating one at that.

Other than this, the car runs fine. It’s a Saturn Ion 3 circa 2005.

What on earth could be causing this mysterious problem? We’ve racked our brains and can only think of a couple of common factors, which are probably red herrings. Both times, Xy had just filled up the gas tank the night before. Both times, it rained in the early morning.

I’m thinking about calling Tom & Ray on this one.

Hoosier Car

As I’ve mentioned before, a white Honda Prelude has been sitting on our block for over three months. It’s had debris piled on it. It’s been jacked up and cannibalized for parts. It’s had the rear window smashed out. The police came and looked at it on several occasions. But still it remained.

I was pleasantly surprised this weekend to see the owner return and haul the damn thing back to Munster, Indiana.

I talked to them about it, but I didn’t learn much. It seems they had a small problem with the transmission. I didn’t ask why it took three months to remove the vehicle.

Herewith, a pictorial retrospective of this derelict automobile’s tenure on North Salcedo.

Indiana Plate

Car Under Debris

Smashed

It’s gone now. Good riddance.

Car

In April I looked out my window and saw three white kids pushing a white car. They stopped just down the street from our house. I thought to myself, “Oh, they’re having car trouble.” An hour later I noticed they were gone but the car was still there, and it dawned on me: That car’s gonna be there for a while.

Indiana Plate

It’s a white Honda Prelude with an Indiana plate, #96 C 3139. That’s Lake County, I think. No good, dirty, rotten Hoosiers.

It’s three months later and the car is still there. A couple weeks ago someone jacked it up and helped themselves to some parts. Last week another house was gutted and the debris was partially piled on top of the car.

Car Under Debris

I’ve faxed and phoned about this vehicle repeatedly. I’ve seen the police come out in response to my calls and take note of the vehicle. Yup, that’s an abandoned car all right. They even appear to write stuff down. But it’s still there. I wonder how long it will stay?

Update: An anonymous tipster tells me that this plate is registered to one Kevin Trotman out of Munster, Indiana — who should not be confused with this Flickr user of the same name.

Vehicular Transport

We bought a car yesterday. It’s a 2005 Saturn Ion 3. It has about 11,000 miles on it and cost us about $10,000. It’s bright white. The dealership gave us only $300 for our old 1998 Saturn SL1, about what we expected for a car with a severe engine problem.

Saturn

I hate the car shopping process almost as much as I hate car trouble. It took most of the day, and we didn’t even scratch the surface in terms of shopping around or doing research.

The Ion meets our most important requirement: It comfortably accommodates both Xy and me despite our foot and a half height difference. Other than that, I’m not crazy about it, and neither is Consumer Reports. But I think it will do the job of getting us around.

Our plan is to consider trading it in after about three years for something newer. The experiences of 2005 taught us how important having a reliable automobile can be if you live in New Orleans. I think our days of driving old beaters into the ground are gone.

Story #18

Oh, as for the article about our renovation, which I mentioned earlier? I can’t find the text online, alas, but they did use a picture by yours truly:

Sanding Windows

Also in today’s paper, there’s an excellent editorial by Michael Homan.

Update: Thanks to Adrastos, I found the article about our renovation online.
Continue reading Story #18