Monday, March 31, 2008

Shiny blue newness

I am *done* with the horrendous, strength-sapping, mind-melting affair that was the car-shopping experience. Ugh. In the end, I went with new. First time I've ever done that, and possibly the last - we'll see. It'll be nice to have the peace of mind of a warranty, but of course it's a lot of cash.

I spent a lot of nights during the search period not sleeping, because I was reading and rereading reviews and ratings and user reviews and user ratings and specifications and measurements and...well, you get the idea. I tend to get completely obsessed with whatever the current goal may be.

Finally a few Fridays ago, I decided I was tired of weighing options and thus ready to go for it. I talked to a local Pontiac dealership that had a number of new-but-'07-model Vibes, and was all but set to do that. But just to make sure I didn't regret my choice, I stopped by the Toyota dealership to see if they could cut me as good a deal on a Matrix. They could, pretty much...but then I noted that the brand new '09 Corollas were actually a little less, and included all the safety features and all that weren't included with either the Vibe or the Matrix. And there was a pretty bright blue one. And the inside wasn't that much different than my lovely '97 Corolla of fond memory: the same comfy little fat steering wheel (albeit now with tilt and telescoping), the same big, chunky controls that can be operated without looking, in mostly the same locations. But it was the enhanced version of my old car, with power windows and cruise control and a CD player. CD changer, actually. And an auxiliary jack for an MP3 player. Whoa - very high tech...

I'd done absolutely no research on the Corollas. And they're probably not the most bike-friendly vehicle. But I drove one home that night. Logical, I'm not. Entirely, anyway.

So far so good! It's a blast to drive a fairly peppy little sedan after driving the van for so long. And while getting twice the gas mileage doesn't really balance out the payment, it doesn't hurt, either. looking at the reviews on-line after the fact, they mostly said about the same things that were once said about my '97 model: that the car is well-built and should be reliable, but it's boooooring, and not enough of a change from previous versions of the same model. I can live with that.

Am I a trendsetter for once?

I was in downtown Olympia the other day, and one of the many quirky little shops down there now has about half a dozen typewriters in the window. Mostly they were new-ish Smith Coronas (one older flat top, it looked like), and the prices were in the hundred dollar range, which puts them outside of what I'd pay except possibly from a real typewriter shop, but I still found it interesting. Apparently typewriters are hot stuff!

I was with a friend and didn't get a chance to go in and look to see if they're really display only or if they were cleaned up or not, but considering that the rest of the shop's mercantile mostly consisted of Communist literature and hemp jewelry...I'm thinking it's unlikely they're serious repair people. Still...very interesting!

There's also a really fascinating little antiquey shop called "Finders Keepers" just a few doors down from there that has an Olympia SM-9 from the seventies and an Underwood desktop from, I'd guess, the late fifties or early sixties. Both of those were priced fairly reasonably - I think the Olympia was about $20, which isn't super bad, in my opinion. And they provided paper for folks to try them out. They also have a section in the back of the store with old magazines, and also ads from old magazines that weren't in good enough condition to preserve whole. Yes, there were typewriter and fountain pen ads. I didn't buy any, but I *must* return and go through them more thoroughly. Way cool...

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Nailing jello to a wall

I currently drive a '97 Mercury Villager minivan with nearly 130,000 miles on it. It is about the most uncool vehicle a single gal with no kids could *possibly* drive. In fact, in pondering, I don't think I can even think of something less cool. Even a Suburban would have far more cool points than this thing. When I bought it, five years ago, I was doing a lot of driving younger siblings around, along with instruments and pets, and it was very handy. Then I moved across country twice, and again, it was a great hauler -- of goods and cats.

But it's starting to slowly but surely wear out, and it's getting to a point where the lack of payments isn't necessarily costing me less than repairs, and I'm nervous about driving it long distances anymore, because things rattle and bump and I always feel like it's going to fall apart. Most of those thoughts are illogical, but it's true that the next big repair could be the one that makes it worth nothing as a trade-in; not to mention that there are places I've avoided going in part because of driving fears. So I'm tentatively but fairly officially shopping for another vehicle: something smaller and cooler. Though, again, pretty much *anything* is cooler than this thing. A Dodge Neon is cooler than this.

But I'd really love to have something like a Pontiac Vibe. Or a Subaru Forester, if I could find a really good price on one. Something station-wagonish and dog and bike and musical instrument friendly (nice to have the instruments in the same compartment as me, so they aren't exposed to strange temperatures, for example), but a little bit sporty.

I found two cars locally that looked to be more or less in my price range and asked questions asking about pricing. And now I'm remembering just how unfun it is to shop for a vehicle. It's worse than a job interview. The salesbeings answer pricing questions with evasive maneuvers. It's a complicated and ugly dance. "Oh," they say, "Why don't you come on down and we'll have you take it for a test drive. Then we can talk about what we need to get you into that vehicle." And speaking of which, what is with that particular turn of phrase? "We'll get you into a great used Subaru," they say. I don't remember folks talking like that last time I was shopping. Now...I do intend to "get into" a vehicle to take it for a test drive. And I can do that all by myself, thank you, Mr./Ms. Salesperson. After I'm done, I will drive back and get out of the vehicle. If I like it, I might buy it and get into it to drive it home, but then I will get out again. Getting into a vehicle is not a permanent condition. Hopefully. And that phrase bugs the snot out of me.

Luckily I'm busy this weekend and can't really do any shopping around. I need to recover my calm and steel myself before going out to try to pin down any direct answers from the salesbeings. Maybe I'll make myself a specially designed tinfoil hat to strain out the buzz phrases, too.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Followed me home, it did! Hones'

I, again, couldn't resist an orphan.

Someone posted a free typewriter on Craigslist, and from the blurry picture I could tell it was a wide carriage SM-9. All good so far, huh? But it's never that simple, is it? The guy who had it said he wasn't sure if it worked, which I already assumed meant "it doesn't work", but I was optimistic enough to think maybe it just needed a good scrubbing. It was the filthiest typewriter I've dealt with yet, at least on the top. Looked like it belonged to a smoker, who possibly collected beetles, too. Ugh.

But still, I put in a piece of paper and tried to type. First, the type bars wouldn't go all the way to the platen. I eventually remedied that - not sure how - but now key pressings only move it half a space, and then it stops.

I spent hours and hours cleaning it up and fiddling with it this weekend, and that's still the final result, though it's a good deal cleaner now. I don't know whether to laugh or cry. I guess you get what you pay for, but I was so hoping it'd work, and for free...I had to try! Worst case scenario, I may try to find someone to look at it eventually... There's a certain charm to the really ugly typers.

On another topic, at the bottom of the case with the beetles, there was a little white plastic case that says KoRecType Typewriter Opaquing Film. It's copyrighted 1976, which was a very big year for me. Opaquing...gotta love that word! This is the first time I've gotten to play with correcting tabs, and I like them! They don't always give perfect coverage, but they're sooo much tidier and easier to use than anything else I've ever tried. Different than I'd pictured, too. Tabs brings to mind something itty bitty...I thought you used one per letter or something. But they're actually between the size of a business card and a playing card.

The other interesting thing about them is that they leave you with a typed record of your mistakenly typed letters. For some reason, I seem to mistype "d" in place of other letters a lot. I'm sure there's some Freudian explanation for it. I just can't think of any before coffee...

**EDITED** to add...yes, that's a bug and a bit of cobweb that's adhering to the box. Ew. I should probably retake the photo, but I guess I'll leave it as a sample of what I was dealing with. Ew again.

You might be a guitar addict if...

Early yesterday evening, I started on a couple of new tunes. At about six-thirty, I got out some homemade chili to have for dinner. I turned it off when it got hot, and immediately got distracted by the tunes again.

Two hours later, I'm heating it up for the third time (luckily chili only gets better under such treatment...), and realize that I'm stirring it while I still have the guitar strapped around my shoulders and my left hand still on the neck.

I'm thinkin' that's not altogether sane.