Monthly Archives: August 2007

Woohoo!!! Long weekend

I am so glad the long weekend is arriving.  I am totally exhausted and would like a break.  Will I get a break?  Highly unlikely.  Things I see that could be happening on the long weekend:
 
1. Putting together the top on my second quilt.  I have about half to two-thirds of it done.  Unfortunately, Eduardo does not like it.  I like all of it but the blue material that I selected.  It was absolutely impossible to match the blue Pink Panther material but I did the best that I could.  It was easier to start from scratch and pick all the colours together like we did for his daughter’s quilt.
 
2. Scraping down and painting the balcony.  We probably also need to scrub it because it looks to be growing mold along the outer edge.
 
3.  Driving lessons to Eduardo are of course on the list.  He is doing great and I think he will get his license on schedule.
 
4. Homework.  I have three chapters to read, two pages of exercises, 2 translations, study and start our first presentation.  Fun stuff!
 
 

Our New Car

 

We have been talking for months about getting a new car when Eduardo gets his driver’s license.  It is really limiting to try to have two people in two jobs with one car.   Both of us want the freedom to get to work and leave work when we are ready as opposed to always having to wait for the other person.  Both of us spend a lot more time out of the house each day because we share the vehicle.

 

Over the last few months, we have considered all kinds of cars as possibilities:  Cavalier, Matrix, Spectra, Rondo, Mazda3, HHR, Focus, PT Cruiser, Aveo and so on.  We looked at every offering that was below 20,000$.  We looked at consumer reviews and poured over pictures and options on the Internet and walked by cars.  We discussed, we argued, we made up our minds and we changed our minds.   A few months ago, we finally decided on a Jeep product.  Jeep came out with some small SUVs for their 2007 model year.   He favoured the Patriot in Blue or Silver and I was leaning towards the Compass in either White or Blue.  At least once a week, we would walk by the local Jeep dealership and check out the Compass and Patriot offerings.   When he got his Learner’s Permit, we checked all of the online inventory for the Compasses and Patriots that were in our price range with the options that we wanted.  We came up with pitifully few options.  We wanted: 4×2 (better gas mileage), automatic (can’t drive manual), White, Blue or Silver with power windows and doors.  According to one dealer, we were being way too picky.  Maybe… buts it’s our money right?  We came up with exactly 1 Patriot and several Compasses.  The Patriot was more than an hour away which was a little further than I wanted to drive.  We decided to call around to dealerships that didn’t have online inventories.  We found exactly one more vehicle that fit our specifications: a white Patriot.

 

We decided to look at all three vehicles because I had my heart set on a Compass and wanted to go see it.  First we hit the white Patriot because it was on the way.  We discovered it was actually a 2008 model rather than a 2007.  The sales guy was nice and wasn’t very pushy.  He showed us all the options on the vehicle and then let us go for a test drive by ourselves (this is unusual because the other guys hopped in with us).  This was nice because it let us discuss the vehicle as we were driving.   We bargained our way into a lower price (we really being me with Eduardo helping out of the sales person’s hearing) and then headed out to see the other vehicles.   It turned out that the Silver Patriot and the White Patriot were almost identical with respect to options.  The 2008 model came with cruise control, automatically dimming rearview mirror and a rear cargo cover.  The Silver Patriot came with satellite radio which we didn’t really care about.  We hopped in the Patriot first to look at all the options as they were bringing up the Compass.  We then got into the Compass and did a test drive.  By the end of the test drive, the Compass was out of the running.  The Compass and the Patriot are basically identical cars but they are shaped differently.  The Patriot is more classic Jeep with its square edges and the Compass is more rounded and modern.    More rounded meant a smaller cabin or at least the impression of a smaller cabin and it made us feel squeezed in.  We didn’t notice this until we had sat in both cars one right after another.  So… we pitched the idea of a Compass.  This left us with Patriot vs Patriot.  We managed to get the processing fee on the white Patriot waived and decided to go with the slightly more expensive car.   We liked the idea of cruise control for long drives to Canada along with the automatically dimming rearview mirror.   I also liked the idea of the cargo cover and to be quite honest… both of us liked the white colour more than the silver.   It was a 2008 model so the vehicle was actually a newer vehicle as opposed to seeming like one year old immediately after we bought it. And something else to think about… we could get to the white Patriot by metro to bring it home.  The only way the other Patriot was getting home was if I convinced a friend that they wanted to spend 2 hours with me driving my new car back.  

 

We spend Thursday evening and Friday evening setting up an account at the credit union and getting a pre-approved loan.  On Saturday, we spend 5 hours driving around looking at the three prospects and purchasing the finalist and then spent 3 hours on Sunday (I kid you not… 3 hours) going to the dealership by metro, picking up the vehicle (getting things explained to us) and then driving back home with it.   Tonight, we need to head to the bank again to sign the loan papers.

 

The weird part about this whole deal was that the dealership did not ask us for proof of financing or proof of insurance. 

 

WAAAAH!!! We just found out it comes in Orange!!! Not copper but orange!   Here is the URL if you are curious about the vehicle:

http://www.edmunds.com/new/2008/jeep/patriot/100909633/researchlanding.html

 

A tidbit about Canada

I was reading an article on the Drug Wars on the Washington Post and discovered the following about Canada.  It was kind of shocking to realize that Canadians were so active in exporting illegal drugs. 

The URL is: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/17/AR2007081701716.html

Those swamps are steadily seeping toward the United States.  British Columbia now home to the greatest number of organized-crime syndicates anywhere in the world (if we accept the U.N. definition of a syndicate as more than two people involved in a planned crime). According to B.C. government statistics, the production, distribution and export of B.C. Bud, highly potent marijuana grown in hothouses along the province’s border with the United States, accounts for 6 percent of the region’s gross domestic product. It now employs more Canadians than British Columbia’s traditional industries of mining and logging combined.

The majority of the province’s criminals remain passive hippie types for whom the drug is a lifestyle choice. But as Brian Brennan, the chief investigator for the drug squad of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police told me, the marijuana trade is threatening to turn nasty as British Columbia’s Hells Angels, one of the best-organized criminal syndicates in the world, moves in on the action. The drug trade is so lucrative, he said, that when police seize growing operations in houses worth $500,000, suspects simply abandon the properties. "They are making so much money that they don’t care about losing that investment," he said.

An avalanche of B.C. Bud rolls southward into the United States every day, dodging U.S. customs in myriad imaginative ways. But as the Hell’s Angels and other syndicates get stronger and their control over the port of Vancouver tightens, the ability of U.S. and Canadian authorities to monitor the border becomes ever weaker. 

I’m a published artist

A year ago (or maybe more) our Rug Hooking guild sent pictures of a Guild Challenge that we did to an author that was calling for examples of group rug hooking projects.  Our group project never made it into the book.  I was majorly disappointed and never really thought of it again.  Just today, I received an email that our projects made it into another book that she published!!! I am so excited.  Imagine having one of your first projects published in a book.
 
The book is "Modern Rug Hooking" by Linda Rae Couglin.  You can see the front cover here if you are interested:
 
 
On a side note:
When working with really really really hot peppers, you might want to wear gloves.  I didn’t although I did wash my hands immediately after.  My fingers burned for a few hours after I cut up the little peppers.  OUCHIE!!!!  At least I knew better than to touch any other part of my body!

My honey has taken a new step

My honey has finally gotten a learner’s permit to drive.  We spent several mind numbing hours at DMV but walked away successful.  We had heard horror stories about refusals and such like of documents that would appear to be perfectly acceptable but were not acceptable to DMV without a fight.  A little scared of these stories… we came prepared.  And thank goodness that we did.  We brought multiple proof of residency documents and that was definitely a good thing.  They refused one because it had his middle name on it and not his first name.  WTF???  They had never run into the concept of a person using his middle name?  Luckily, we came with a bank statement that had both his first and middle name on it.  Then they decided to reject his passport as a valid proof of identity.  Say what???? What other document could be more accurate than that?  In fact… what other document can you provide as a foreign resident of your identity?  Just about nothing.  But I was prepared and we whipped out the list of acceptable documents that DMV provides to us poor saps that have to navigate their bureaucracy and pointed out that his passport was perfectly acceptable.  After a small consultation, they agreed with their own rules and we got to move on to the knowledge test.  He passed that and we walked out almost in shock.  It took us all evening to realize that we had actually managed to get him his learner’s permit on the first try.
 
So… last night we headed over to the elementary school to give him his first try behind the wheel.  The school has some little roads with a stop sign and some crosswalks and everything sp that we could practice stopping and turning and putting on signals.  They had a couple of parking lots that we could practise parking and backing out of spots.  He didn’t hit any real cars but about 4 imaginary cars got sideswipped and backed into.  I was concerned that I would be taking my life into my hands but I guess driving a car is like riding a bike.   He had no problems remembering how to operate the car once he got started.  Driving in Peru is a little different than driving in the US so we need to practise those kinds of things rather than how to keep the car going in a straight line.
 
Helping him is bringing back funny stories about what I was like when I started driving.  I remember the very first time that I got behind the wheel (if you don’t count the tree I ran into when I tried to drive the lawn tractor).  The car drove in whatever direction I was looking.  If I got distracted by some guy raking the leaves on his lawn… I was driving towards his lawn.  I sucked so bad that its more embarrassing than funny.  Thank goodness Eduardo is not starting from that point!
 
For the next month, we will be spending some time every day honing his skills so he can take the road test in 30 days. 

Eye Insurance

I swear that insurance of any kind is a racket.  It makes you feel secure that you can afford your health but it still takes a huge bite out of your paycheque.  I can’t imagine how people who are struggling to get by can even afford the bits that insurance doesn’t pay for.
 
Last weekend, Eduardo and I went to the eye doctor.  I was overdue by about 6 months but Eduardo hadn’t had an eye exam in three years.  Off we went, secure in the knowledge that we had a kick-ass insurance policy according to our human resource department.  Lets just say that at approximately 300$+ later (JUST for Eduardo) that I am not so convinced that we had a kick-ass policy.
 
The eye exam was free for Eduardo but was 60$ for me.  It costs 60$ because they have to have an contact fitting for me.  Maybe I should have been an optometrist because that comes out to 360$ an hour for a contact fitting.  I am definitely being generous that the woman took 10 minutes to look at my eyes after I stuck in the suggested prescription for my contact lenses.
 
Eduardo wears glasses instead of contact lenses.  For that, we get a 120$ allowance towards the frames.  This sounds amazing right up until you realize that you CAN’T (and I mean can’t) get any frames for that price.  The cheapest frames that I saw were 170$.  Of course, I didn’t go through each and every frame to see what the prices were.  Eduardo ended up with 289$ frames.  A bad-ass frame for a bad-ass price.  And these my friends were not even the most expensive frames.  It turns out that Eduardo is blind as a bat and his lenses would be like coke bottles if he didn’t get these high-index lenses (OUCH!!!!).  I can definitely appreciate that he doesn’t want coke bottles for glasses so of course we are going to buy him these high-index lenses.  And then even with the high-index lenses he should also get the anti-glare because his lenses are still thick enough that it will give him glare… and so on and so forth….
 
We also bought Eduardo sports glasses.  This was actually the part that was worrying me when we went in the door.  I was afraid that these babies would be expensive and I knew insurance wouldn’t cover them because they only cover one pair of glasses.  In comparison,  these little guys were CHEAP!!! Less than 200$ for frames/lenses and everything.  This was cheaper than his everyday glasses EVEN AFTER THE INSURANCE.  He needs these glasses to play soccer and raquetball without worrying about shattering his glasses.

Alien Invasion

When I first started dating Eduardo, Harmony was added to the household.  This means that since Harmony was about 8 weeks old, Eduardo has been in her life either part-time or full-time.  In this ENTIRE time, Harmony has never really warmed up to Eduardo.  Most of the time she acts terrified of him and if he tries to go near her to pet him she runs off like the big, bad monster was after her.
 
A week ago, she let him come up to her to pet her and she didn’t move a muscles.  She didn’t run away, she didn’t shake like a leaf or anything.  She simply laid there and let him pet her.   She has been letting him pet her whenever he wants.  Sometimes he will say to her, "Hey… it’s me… I’m petting you!" and she just lies there like it is no big deal.  THIS IS A BIG DEAL.  It has taken a year to get to this point with her. 
 
Short of an alien invasion the only thing we can think of is that we switched vacuum cleaners.  This new vacuum is much quieter and the cats are not as scared of it.  We have always wondered if Harmony was scared of Eduardo because he was the one that ran the vacuum.  We would notice that if we missed a week vacuuming she would get a little friendlier.  I guess Harmony thought the vacuum was part of Eduardo and she needed to be scared of him!  Silly cat!