Archive for February, 2013

Doing the math

Of course, money isn’t everything, but in this case, it is definitely something to be considered carefully.

Here’s a little algebra problem.

Let x = the purchase price of a used truck. . . a truck that that you know when you buy it will need tires and brakes “soon.”

Then .125x = the cost of replacing the tires and front brakes 11 weeks after you buy the truck. . . but before that can be done, you learn that your ball joints are shot and dangerous, and the necessary alignment can’t be done till the ball joints are replaced, and on your particular truck (unlike most vehicles) one must pretty much take everything apart to get to the ball joints, and then one must replace not just the ball joints, but the entire ball joint assemblies.

So .1x = the cost of replacing the ball joints and doing the alignment 11 weeks and one day after you buy the truck. . .

And a number that varies between .5x and .9375x is the estimated cost of putting a new engine in your truck, when it throws a rod 12 weeks and three days after you buy the truck.

So the pertinent equations look like this:

x + .125x + .1x + .5x = 1.725x

and

x + .125x + .1x + .9375x = 2.1625x

Meaning that IF we choose to have the truck repaired (that is, put a different engine in it), we will have spent either 73% of the purchase price (for the cheapest rebuilt engine option) or 117% of the purchase price (for the new-from-the-factory engine option) for repairs.

Or we could try to sell the truck.  The truck that cannot be driven even six inches without extremely expensive repairs.  Yes, that truck.

This is why I am fervently praying for my husband, Our Earner Of Money and Manager of Vehicular Maintenance, to have the wisdom of God!  All blog readers’ prayers to that same end are coveted and sincerely appreciated.

 

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Will Reno save the day?

You know, in the Olympics, it’s a good thing.  Those track and field guys take a javelin and hurl it as far as they can and everybody claps, but when your Durango throws a rod, trust me, there is no applause.

We own four vehicles, but one lives in Virginia and one needs major front-end work plus tires and is currently unlicensed, so with the truck now in the shop with potentially life-threatening injuries, we have very suddenly found ourselves down to one car:  Scott’s Honda.  As that car is in Springfield three days a week, it dawned on me rather quickly that with all our various comings and goings (Scott’s work, my shopping, Andrew’s choir, drama, piano, and homeschool co-op activities, my helping at church, Scott’s chiropractic and physical therapy appointments, my choir practice, Scott’s vacation home responsibilities, and Andrew’s worship practices – not to mention our favorite LLAMA coming home for spring break in three days!), we would need to very carefully plan and coordinate the use of that solitary car.

Of course, we owners of older vehicles – our current collection including a 2004 Dodge Durango, a 1998 Toyota Camry, a 1995 Honda Accord, and a 1986 Toyota Camry; ages nine, 15, 18, and 27 years, respectively – are well-acquainted with the used-car-ownership mantra to “always own one more than you need, because on any given day, one is liable to be in the shop,” and until three months ago, we very consistently adhered to that principle.

But when the maroon car, affectionately named “Reno” by Jessica who was its primary driver for several years, wouldn’t pass a safety inspection in December due to front end issues that would cost something in the neighborhood of $500+ to repair, Scott looked at the new-to-us Durango (purchased to be our “reliable family car”) and the faithful-and-recently-majorly-serviced Accord, considered that there were only two of us driving, and decided that Reno wasn’t worth repairing.  In fact, he was planning to give it or sell it very cheaply to a friend who is mechanically inclined, knew of its issues, and wanted it for his son.

I didn’t like that plan, because (A) Reno was “Jessica’s” car, and she would miss him terribly if she came home and he wasn’t here, and (B) I thought it was important to keep an extra car around, both so that we could loan it out (which we have done a LOT) and so that we’d still have access to two cars if one was being repaired. Sadly, on this matter, we disagreed, as we have on several matters, both large and small, through the years.  = )

However, the deal with the friend never happened, so Reno has been sitting rather forlornly in the driveway  – broken, unlicensed, and not driven – for several months.  Yesterday was a very bleak day in several ways, and on that day, not knowing how, when, or even if we would be repairing the truck, Scott asked me how I felt about driving the Toyota regularly.  I told him I was not okay to drive it in its current unsafe and illegal condition, but he said his plan was to get it to Advanced Automotive, have them repair it, and then use Reno as our second car.  Two cars definitely being better than one in our rather busy little family, I agreed.

As I type, Reno is still in the shop, but he is expected to be released from captivity this afternoon.  I have a friend on standby to give me a ride over there, and I have collected all the paperwork to go straight from there to the license bureau and get him some pretty new tags.  In theory, we should be back to a two-car family tonight, but as we all know, theories don’t become laws until they are proven.

Oh, here’s a funny.  Reno has been without a license plate since we bought the truck.  Scott needed a plate on the truck to drive it around for a few days before he got it licensed, so he took the plate off of Reno and put it on the truck.  Then, once the truck was licensed (and knowing that Reno was not going to be licensed), he tossed Reno’s plate back into his front seat.

Yesterday, we jumped Reno off the Honda, and I told Scott I’d follow him in the Honda.  (I’m not big on driving unsafe illegal cars; we have husbands to do that kind of dirty work for us, you know.)  I also suggested that he be sure to take his wallet with driver’s license, because for the past several weeks, there have been multiple law enforcement guys along Hwy 65 between here and Branson, nearly EVERY time I drive that stretch – and with play practices, trust me, I was driving it many times a day.  I sure didn’t want Scott to get pulled over without a license in a car that had no plate on the outside and expired tags on the inside!

I followed Scott and he stopped at the top of the hill to get gas.  Reno’s fuel gauge doesn’t work properly, and he looked to be pretty low.  While Scott was fueling Reno, I asked if he’d want me to fill the Honda, too.  This is one of those husband-wife preference issues that will never be resolved.  I get nervous when my tank is below 1/4, and I almost never let it go below 1/8.  Scott, on the other hand, rarely fills a tank unless it’s on E, or preferably slightly below E.  I was driving “Scott’s” Honda and I had already told him it was slightly below 1/4.  Amazingly, he told me to go ahead and fill it.

I did, but the pump wasn’t working right, and when I thought it had been filling for nearly a minute, it hadn’t and I had to start over.  Therefore, it took a while, and while I was standing there, he drove off.  I was slightly miffed, because I had planned to  follow him closely, in case he had car trouble and/or to hopefully keep the cops from noticing his plate-less back bumper.  But, oh well, whatever.

I got on 65, and sure enough, a couple miles south I could see blue lights.  I really hoped that particular cop would be busy with whoever he had pulled over and would let Scott slide, but no.  It was Scott.  He was standing outside Reno and blue lights were flashing.  Sigh.  I quickly pulled in right in front of him and waited.  After a minute or so he called me.

Me:  Well?

Scott:  No problem!  The favor of God!

Me:  No ticket?

Scott:  Nope!

So that was a relief, but I am highly motivated to get Reno tagged ASAP.  In fact, Scott told me to have the guys at Advanced Automotive put the plate on for me.  Even though the tags are expired, that should make me less conspicuous, and since the law is generally out and about more on 65 than in town, I’m not expecting any incidents.

At least it’s not between 7:00 and 8:00 AM!

I am pretty sure the water heater is out again.  I’m trying to wash dishes and can only get some lukewarm water.  Thankfully, it’s not a  showering time.  With no attic shower option right now, it would be BRRRR fuh-reezing cold if we were all three trying to get going in the morning.  I guess it would be invigorating.   = )

I’m glad I discovered this now, when My Hero can fight the beast to get it lit!

[Note:  Scott and Andrew got the pilot lit, and we have hot water again.  Hot water is a very nice thing.]

Brandon Beck says it’s going to snow.

He’s the KY3 meteorologist, so he should know.  Rain tonight that’s supposed to switch to snow about walking time tomorrow morning. Maybe an inch of accumulation.  Good thing I’m not a betting woman.

I hope it snows!

What a play it was!

“To Kill a Mockingbird” had its final performance this afternoon, and it was tremendous.  As the dad of one of the Scouts told me, “It’s just sad that after ALL that work, they only got to do it six times!”  I agreed with him, and the producer told me this evening that she felt like today they were all really settling into their roles well, and it would be great if they could have done it for a month.  Amen, Angela!

Today, I think Andrew delivered his lines the best he ever has; especially that deep, introspective, “They trust him to do right,” before he runs off.  His timing on that pause today was simply exquisite.  I am very proud of him.

Also, to his credit, when most of the kids were running around playing and we adults were cleaning up the theater, I finished up cleaning the women’s restroom and told him to clean the men’s.  He did argue a bit, but a few minutes later, he was in there scrubbing.

It was also fun to see all the kids re-hanging the sparklies at the end.

We took pictures of him with most of his new friends, and tears were shed.  It’s been a great experience, and I hope he will have more theatrical opportunities in the future.

The case of the dueling snow plows

In the wee hours of Thursday, February 21, we experienced a “wintry mix.”  No, it didn’t really snow, but it did sleet heavily – to the tune of an inch or so, complete with thunder and lightning; very odd – and we had a bit of freezing rain.  The end result was that the grass was nearly covered with white stuff that looked like snow, but which was actually very icy, schools were closed for two days, and the snow plows were out in force.

Loyal readers will remember that we live on a US highway, and therefore our road is plowed early and often.  This meant that while I was out walking, snow plows passed by a few times.  My current walk takes me 40 – 45 minutes, ample time for a snow plow to do its thing one direction and come back the other way.

I was on my final trek home, over by the church and heading toward the bridge, when I heard the sound of a snow plow scraping its way west from behind me.  It was up by the In and Out, which meant that in a little over a minute it would round the hairpin curve, mosey down the straightaway, and then pass me.

The highway runs basically east and west, and I was headed west, toward our house, on the north side of the road.  Yes, I do know that pedestrians are supposed “walk on left, facing traffic.”  I religiously obey that maxim half the time – the eastbound half of my walk.  I always walk on the north shoulder because I like it better.  The view is nicer.  This means that when I walk east (away from the house), I am facing traffic, and when I walk west (toward the house), the traffic is behind me, forever and amen.

So I heard the snow plow coming, and we all know that snow plows toss their snow to the right, onto the shoulder, as they go.  If I remained on the right shoulder, I would have a LOT of heavy sleety slush dumped on me; not a pleasant prospect.  By this time, I was on the bridge, and that posed a slight problem.  Had I been anywhere but the bridge, I could have moved off the shoulder, farther from the road, to avoid the Big Dump, but ON the bridge there is nowhere to go – at least not on the north shoulder.

My solution was simple.  I would simply cross to the south side shortly before the snow plow arrived, let him send a nice spray of frozen stuff up against the wall of the bridge, and then cross back to the north side after he passed.  It was a great plan.  I could hear the snow plow down on the hairpin curve, and I knew I had about thirty seconds.  I was just about to cross the street to the south side of the bridge when my great plan fell apart.

While I HEARD the snow plow approaching the bridge westbound from behind, I suddenly SAW the flashing lights of a snow plow approaching the bridge eastbound from in front of me!  For a moment, my brain paused, contemplating the miniscule odds of such an event.  Really now, how bizarre was it for TWO snow plows to pass each other precisely ON the bridge WHILE a pedestrian was waking on the bridge?!?!?

I shook myself conscious and realized that for me, the more important question involved how (or if!) I could avoid being dumped on.

I looked over my shoulder and could now see the westbound snow plow passing the church.  Whipping my head back forward, I could see the eastbound snow plow passing my house.  Realizing I was truly stuck, I pulled my coat high up over my shoulders and head and raised my hands up to try to protect my head a bit, and waited.  For a few seconds.

But then my fight-or-flight response kicked in, I glanced up again at the eastbound plow, and I decided to make a run for it.  In an expression of what was probably sheer idiocy, I dashed across the bridge to the south side and stood there for about four seconds as the westbound plow passed by, leaving me high and dry.  Then, with the eastbound plow already on the bridge, I dashed back to the north side, just in time to avoid the second potential deluge.

Thankfully, I was not run over by either snow plow, no white slush was dumped on me, and my increased heart rate and the accompanying adrenaline rush probably helped me burn a few extra calories.

 

 

Like son, like mom?

When Andrew was two years old and knew good and well that he was not allowed to climb up on the top bunk (he slept on the bottom bunk and Josiah was on the top in what is now Andrew’s room), he climbed up on the top bunk, enjoyed the view for a while, and then fell off, hitting his head on the edge of a metal desk, and gashing the bridge of his nose.

Head and facial wounds tend to bleed like crazy.  This I know because I have four children.  When Katie was something like a year old, she pulled a desk phone off an end table in the living room and it came crashing down onto her face.  The phone was heavy.  It may even have been a rotary dial model, and no, you don’t have to be THAT old to remember rotary dial phones!  Sheesh!  We used one for children’s church for years.

Anyway, she bled (as the saying goes) like a stuck pig and I panicked and called the pediatrician, whose nurse told me to wipe it up, apply pressure and all would be well; that head and facial wounds bleed like crazy, but that she would not surely die or need stitches.  No sutures, and I know she’s alive, because she just texted me about carrot cupcakes with cream cheese frosting!

So by the fourth kid, I wasn’t too bent out of shape about the bleeding on the bridge of Andrew’s nose.  I washed it up, applied pressure, put a Band-Aid on it, and sent the kid to bed.

The next morning it had bled through the Band-Aid and all over the sheets.  Quite the mess, and it was still bleeding.  The cut was short, but deep.  What to do?  It was a Sunday morning, around Easter I think, or maybe it even was Easter.  I put another Band-Aid on it, which he promptly pulled off.  I put a second one on it and he pulled that off, too.  I put a third Band-Aid on it, put several more in my purse, told him NOT to pull it off, and took him to church.

He pulled it off.

One of the ladies at church was a nurse and I asked her to look at it.  She said it probably should have been stitched, but she thought pulling it closed well with a butterfly bandage would work.

After church we picked up some butterflies and I applied one. . . which Andrew promptly pulled off.  Actually, it was pretty sticky and he had to work fairly hard for quite a while to get the thing off his head, but he was a persistent guy at two.  At that point, I pretty much gave up.  Nearly 24 hours after the injury, I thought it was too late to go have it stitched, and I figured that it would be better to leave it open than have him keep picking at it to get the bandage off.  I left it uncovered during the day and slapped a Band-Aid on it after he was asleep at night.

And that is why Andrew has a scar across his forehead at the top of his nose.  Should ‘a had it stitched in the first few hours!

So. . . Sunday morning I was racing around trying to get dressed and get to church.  Why d0 I always try to do too much too quickly, thus consistently eliminating the time margin that lets me relax and be peaceful and purposeful?!?  My pants were static-y, so I reached for the can of Static Guard on our closet shelf.  It was high and hard to reach, and I yanked hard on the can to get it down.  It came loose from whatever was holding it, and because I was pulling hard, it came down hard.  The bottom of the can hit the bridge of my nose, and it hit so hard that I subsequently had a dull headache for 24 hours.  It knocked my glasses off, and my head – and especially my nose – really hurt.

I was already just about dressed, so I finished that and looked in the mirror.  There was an indentation just like the one on Andrew’s forehead.  Hmmm. . .   At least it wasn’t bleeding, but it and my whole head just hurt like crazy.

You know how there are sometimes delayed responses to trauma?  Like when you watch a kid get hurt and for a split second he doesn’t cry, but then suddenly the signal got to the brain and back to the vocal cords, and the kid goes off like a siren?  Well, as I turned away from the mirror, some 30 seconds after the Static Guard can impacted my flesh, that indentation started bleeding, and being a facial wound, it bled like crazy.

Sheesh. I needed to leave for church in five minutes.  What to do?

Well, the general rule of thumb is to apply pressure till the bleeding stops, so I shoved my left middle finger hard against it and held it there while my head throbbed.  That slowed the bleeding, but I still needed to cover the beast.  I found a Band-Aid under the sink, but you know, it’s been a long time since we had little kids in the house that needed Band-Aids in a variety of sizes on a daily basis.  Nowadays, I only buy them in one size, and because I’m into durability, I like the flexible fabric.  In the realm of Band-Aids, they are, even in the generic form, a force to be reckoned with.

They are also huge.

This cut, although kind of deep, was less than half an inch long, and it was on my nose, for crying out loud.  Right in the middle of my face!  Now, I’m not terribly vain, but there was no way to get this Band-Aid on my nose in any way, shape, or form.  If I put it cross-ways (the way it really needed to go), its ends would be stuck to my eyeballs.  If I put it up-and-down, one end of it would inhibit nasal breathing.

I pulled out my mini-scissors. . . Wait.  You must bear in mind that to this point, I was doing everything one-handed, because I was still duly applying pressure with my left middle finger.  With one hand, I had dug in the basket for a Band-Aid, managed to open its devilish little paper enclosure, and peeled off the paper strips.  [NOTE:  Whenever you need a Band-Aid, you need it quickly and often you have only the use of one hand.  Why one earth do they make those little paper wrappers so impossibly difficult to get into?]

I next needed to reduce the size of the Band-Aid, and that would require two hands.  First, I took a wet Kleenex and swabbed blood off my nose and cheekbones, while, I might (proudly) add, skillfully failing to remove any of my makeup.  I’m good that way.  I then released my firm-pressing left middle finger, cut out a little section Band-Aid including both pad and stickiness, affixed it vertically to my nose, and wiped up the blood that had oozed out in those few seconds.  I then put on my glasses, hoping that the bridge of the glasses would minimize the visual impact of a thick, fabric Band-Aid on my nose.  It did not.

So I went to church looking somewhat like a clown, but to their credit, no one said a word about my facial anomaly. Not one single person asked what happened, and for that I was thankful.

That night, I had Scott replace the ugly partial Band-Aid with a small piece of steri-strip, pulling gently to get the sides of the wound together and thus hopefully avoiding a scar.  Granted, the steri-strip was still no fashion statement, but it was tolerable and at least marginally more aesthetically pleasing than the Band-Aid.  I left the steri-strip in place all week, and this morning, a full six days after the Static Guard can attacked me, Nurse Scott replaced it with a fresh one.

Moral of the story:  Never buy polyester pants!