Saturday, August 23, 2008

Back to Civilization

I've been away on vacation for a week. Just got back today. The place we go is fairly desolate, and I made a great attempt to make it a 'real' vacation. I didn't check email, voice mail, or watch TV (except an hour of the Olympics - Equestrian). So, I've spent the last couple of hours catching up on news websites, blogs and my email to try and get a feel for what's happening. What I know:

- Michael Phelps did get his 8 golds (we found out about this one early in the week, but only because we picked up a Vancouver Sun on an excursion to the nearest town.)
- There was another tropical storm/hurricane (Fay). I don't know where it hit land, if at all. We're already to the 'F's?
- There have been a series of metal thefts in my neighborhood. The Benz and the 325 are in a carport. I should check to see if they still have their catalytic converters. (Side note to potential thieves: The houses on all three sides of me are occupied by professionals that work out of their home. You'll be seen.)
- Despite heavy volatility, the DJIA is 35 points from where it was when I left.

One quick story -

We take two ferry boats to and from our destination, and while waiting in line for the second one, I left the lights on in the Toyota for about an hour (while listening to the iPod and using my GPS unit to try and find an alternate route over the border). Ferry loading can be a stressful thing, requiring enough patience so you don't start the car too early and look like a dork, and enough attentiveness so you don't hold people up when it's time to go. As you may have guessed, the battery was very well drained when it came time to load. After a few embarrassing moments, I coasted the car down the ramp in neutral and got it out of everyone else's way. The ferry people bring over a battery and hook it up to your car. They must do this at least a dozen times a day, because the universal disclaimer about injury and damage is actually printed on the back of a BC Ferries business card. They just hand it to you on the spot, make you read it and hook up the battery. I started the car, and by their instruction, revved the motor for a few minutes.

Now, the tricky part. You get one shot to turn off the car, and try to start it back up again. If the car won't start, you don't get on the boat, because they don't want to risk having you block everyone's way AGAIN. Fortunately, the car Gods smiled and the Highlander burst to life. The bad news is that I was in the ferry equivalent of the 'penalty box', the area of the boat behind all of the semi trucks, buses and other commercial vehicles. At least we made it, which made it easier to convince my six-year old that we weren't going to die (her words, not mine).

The Toyota battery is the factory original (10/03) so I may be replacing that one in short order. It's the family car, and I'd hate to see them stuck somewhere. Note to self: move jumper cables to Highlander.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Neat Freak

That's me.

Some will argue, which really comes down to the fact that everyone has their own areas of cleanliness about which they are particular. Kitchen countertops and automobiles are mine. In other areas of the home, I can tolerate pretty high levels of grime, so it really depends on what your cleanliness hot buttons happen to be.

Since I'm holding off on further maintenance for the season, I am spending more effort on the cleanliness of the car. I sometimes half think that it would make a great concours vehicle (an actual contest where judges look at your car, and deduct points for dirt) at a local level. Usually, events will have some sort of 'display only' category, where you can clean it up, bring it to the show, set out the lawn chair, and spend the day and afternoon wiping it down while spectators ooohhh and aaahhh at the sheer square footage of pristine automobile paint. It would be fun for me, but I'm afraid that not many others in my social circle (especially my family) would enjoy it as much as I would, so I haven't had the chance to partake yet.

One great thing about this car - it takes very little time to do a basic wash and even wax. You don't need to clean the roof, and the body is pretty small. Today, a very detailed wash took only 45 minutes. I also have been wanting to clay the car. It's when you take a small brick of clay (duh) and rub it across the body panels (you also use some sort of cleanser to act as a lubricant). The clay picks up all of the microscopic crap that has accumulated (bugs, bird doo, road tar, acid rain) and leaves the paint clean. It sounds weird, and I was skeptical the first time I tried it. Trust me - it works. From this point, you can polish (to remove swirl marks) and then wax. I already polished it when I received the car, so it's really not useful to do it again, so once it was clayed, I just waxed it. I also spent some extra time on the rubber molding, because it was thoroughly disgusting.

Here's a shot after I was done (which looks so good, it's now at the top...)

Here's the cloth I used on the rubber. Gross.

Another shot of the shine...

That's all for now... Enjoy!