Friday, April 18, 2008

NYR 2008 update

1. Read 45 books or more this year, 15 or more of which are on the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list.

I'm not making much progress on this goal. I'm on my way to finishing book #5, so I would need to finish 40 books in the next 8 months. Yikes. To my credit, though, I've been busy planning a wedding.

2. Use up another three bottles of perfume.

I finished up the first bottle this morning, and I'm partway through another (I've been alternating perfumes for variety).

3. Save money toward the Smart car and our wedding.

We've managed to save some money, but this wedding thing is expensive!

4. Increase my daily pushups and situps to 50 each.

My coach added "Supermans" to my daily routine. In this exercise, you lie on your stomach on the floor and lift your arms/torso and legs off the floor at the same time. It's going to help me arch my back for sit spins. I'm up to 25 of those and 44 each of pushups and situps, so I've made good progress here.

5. Go out for lunch only once per week at work.

I'm averaging more like one and a half to two times per week (the salad bar at Marsh counts as half).

smart car arrives!

Our smart car arrived on Monday, and we picked it up on Tuesday afternoon. They had it sitting back in a bay by itself, and we spent quite a while poking around it and playing with its various features because our sales guy was running behind. It's so cute!

Our New Smart Car

I like it very much for the most part -- it's easy to drive and very cute. The interior is laid out pretty well, too, and the clear panel in the roof is a nice feature.

Everywhere we go, people stare and ask what kind of car it is. My co-workers were so excited that they called a 3:00 meeting in the parking lot so I could show it to them. We proved that it's roomy enough for tall people, that it has a loud horn, and that you can fit a medium-sized guy in the hatch if you need to.

It's been ten years since I got Phoebe, and I'd forgotten how fun it is to get a new car. Steph and I have been trading off driving it to work. She keeps apologizing when she gets to drive it -- she thinks she's keeping it from me somehow -- but I'm just glad she likes it. I hope to keep it for many years, so we'll both have plenty of opportunities to drive it.

The car only has a few flaws: its transmission, the quality of its parts, and the lack of rear speakers.

The "automated manual" transmission shifts quite slowly, and if you take off with any speed at all, the car nose-dives with each shift. It behaves better if you shift it yourself in manual mode, but the car can't decide what gear is appropriate at city street speeds. It constantly asks to be shifted up or down with an arrow that appears in the instrument panel, and there are some speeds at which no gear seems quite right.

When he was showing us how to open the hood, the hatch, and the engine cover, the sales guy emphasized how careful one must be with various parts of the car. It seems that many people have broken parts of the car already, as they're quite fragile. Also, the engine cover (which must be removed to check the oil) is nearly impossible to release. It requires you to press down on it with your full body weight while leaning over the hatch to be able to turn the screw. I successfully managed that only once, and I wasn't ever able to get it to screw back into place.

The sales guy had the attitude that I shouldn't worry my pretty little head about checking the oil, telling me that I should instead just bring it in once a year for an oil change. I'm pretty sure that if the car began to burn oil and the engine was harmed before that next yearly oil change, the smart company wouldn't be sympathetic to my story that the sales guy said I didn't have to check the oil. (I reminded him that the manual suggested that I check the oil each time I buy gas, and he said that that was just the manual and I didn't have to worry about that.)

I ordered the car with the $350 premium stereo package. The mp3-capable 6-CD changer and integrated auxiliary jack are great, but there are no rear speakers. The sound very obviously comes from in front of you, and the bass is distorted even at the +2 setting (out of 7) . My 15-year-old stock Honda radio that plays my iPod through a cassette adapter in a deck that needs cleaning sounds better (except for the one speaker that rattles).

Other than those things, it's quite fun to drive and it's completely adorable. I hope Phoebe isn't jealous when I get her out this weekend and introduce them.

Monday, April 07, 2008

The beginning of the art car

This weekend I began to attach the bottle caps to the Honda. I started on the door with the dent in case my adhesive didn't work, but it seems to be holding up well. Before I stuck the caps to the car, I sprayed them inside and out with a clear gloss Rustoleum paint that will hopefully keep them from rusting. The adhesive is 100% silicone caulk, and it needs 24 hours at a temperature of 40F or above to cure. I'd planned to adhere one cap as a test, but once I got started I didn't want to stop, so I did 15 on Saturday and 55 more on Sunday. 70 down, 12733 to go...

Thanks to Steph and Douglas for the photos.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

To clarify about organic fruits and veggies...

In my previous post, I intended the lists to serve as a reference for organic purchasing; I wanted to put my scrawled-on-a-paper-towel notes in one place so that I could access them when I make decisions about which produce to choose or substitute. I didn't at all mean to minimize the importance of organic food or the food we're getting.