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Thursday, March 20, 2008

I'm in the process of buying a car to replace the GTO. I finally decided the car for me is the 2005 Nissan 35th anniversary 350z. I poked around the Internet and found a few good candidates on AutoTrader. I was very interested in buying one that had a Vortech supercharger bolted onto it but, realized that I don't know enough about all the performance parts to get everything tuned properly. So, I decided that I'll reserve learning such things when I get my 240z rebuilt.

Eventually, I decided on a low mileage 350z out of Kentucky. I negotiated the price and submitted a cash reservation on Monday. However, due to slow responses from both Chase (my lender) and Bachman Auto Group (a specific sales person) the deal is still not done. My intent was to buy a ticket for my Sister to fly up there and drive the car back either yesterday morning, or today. Now that can't happen until tomorrow morning (at the earliest). It may not even happen until Monday based on how long it's taking the underwriters to approve the loan. Needless to say, buying a new car has not been a pleasant experience.

Last week I talked with Lux Blue at Crushproof to see when he'll have room in the garage to do the body work on the Datsun. Based on his current workload, it should be out of my garage by the end of April. I may have a tear down party at the end of next month.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Front End

On Monday, Cory and I went to the storage lot where my GTO was being stored. As you can see from the images, the damage almost looks superficial. I would say, with two new wheels, a front quarter panel, new hood, new front facia, new door, new airbags, new oilpan, new crossmember, and about 5 grand worth of metal repair and paint this car could be drivable again. However, being the orignal owner of this car, I would never have been comfortable driving a car that had been damaged this way and "fixed" by "professionals". I guess it was better for me that the car was a loss.

Over lunch, the insurance company (mine, not his) called me up to tell me what the payout was going to be. Turns out, they are going to give me about two grand under

Blue Book. Taking out my payoff for the car, I'm coming out of this exceptionally well, all things considered. I'm wasn't too banged up from the accident, and there don't seem to be any long term effects.

Now, I'm left with deciding what car I should buy to replace it. I enjoyed the "new car" experience but, I'm not sure that I really want to replace it with new. I doubt that I'll get the same experience with another car, considering most people have the opposite experience when dealing with insurance companies. On top of that, I got a hell of a deal on the car when I bought it off the lot. I've also been re-considering the costs associated with maintaining a new car and feeding a 5.7 liter engine.

I'm pretty sure a Vette' is not in my future (Bill). However, I am a little bit addicted to the sportiness of that a big engine affords, so I kind of doubt I'll be getting a Smart Car (rest easy Christine) or a Prius (good suggestion though, Bethany). Maybe it's time to be better to the environment and get a VW TDI like Matt suggests. I'll continue to consult with my car advisor, Russ, who got me to buy the GTO in the first place.

Well, I'll have plenty of time to think about it since my current plan is to pick up a decent work truck and use it as a daily driver for a while. Since I'm working on my house, it will be a good choice for picking up and disposing renovation materials. Looks like I'm going to be the "can you help me move this stuff" guy, since I don't know anyone in my group of friends who ownes a work truck. So for now, I'll be practical "truck guy" until some other car strikes my fancy.

Oh, and don't think I've forgotten about the 240 Z that I have parked in my garage. I called Lux Blue at

Crushproof to see what their backlog was like and they will have room for it in a few weeks. I may be having a tear-down party in my garage some time next month.


Friday, February 08, 2008

I was on a roll with my blog recently. Seemed like something interesting was happening every day for the past couple of weeks. There was so much that I wasn't sharing, it got me excited about blogging again. All the brewing, nights out, biking, parties and meeting new people were really building up and blurring together so, to keep things organized in my own mind and share my experience with my friends (old and new) I pick up trusty TC1100 my and start writing.

Although, Thursday I didn't feel too much like blogging nor did I have much time to. The day before, I was on my way from Mandolas over to Bo's to watch the newest episode of House. I took Koenig west from Lamar. On the way, I passed a brand new smart car in yellow. I watched it as I passed and glanced at it my rear view mirror (sorry Christine). I saw the green light on Burnet ahead of me but, as I got closer I felt that something was wrong.

I don't remember exactly why but, I reacted by swerving right and slamming on my brakes. The next thing I knew, I was on the other side of Burnet with my car stuck in the fence. I must have been working on instinct since it wasn't clear to me why I had ended up there. I looked across my dash and saw both of airbags had deployed and my drivers side window was busted out.

I opened my door and suddenly it was clear what had happened.The SUV in the oncoming lane had tried to turn left, pulling right in front of me as I was crossing Burnet. The front end of the SUV dug into the side of my GTO and spun 90 degrees pushing me across a traffic island, across a sidewalk and into a fence.

As I walked up to the driver of the Expedition, he was speaking only in spanish. I asked him what happened and after a few more sentances he turned and ran away. One of the helpful witnesses said he went to get his uncle. I didn't know what to think. So, I took a picture of his car, and many pictures of my car with my blackberry. The images are not good (as you can see) but, they will be helpful if any of this leads into a courtroom. I called Cory since he and Bo were not far behind me. We had just eaten dinner together at Mandola's at Lamar and Guadalupe

The ambulance arrived and I called them off (signed some form to say it was OK for them to leave). Then the police arrived and I and three guys explained what happend from our perspectives. When the conversation got to where the other driver was, he showed back up with his uncle. Turns out, he was a Mexican citizen with no drivers license. His uncle allowed him to use the car while he was at work. I knew this would complicate issues.

Once the wreckers came and took both of our cars away, I was left with a handful of paperwork, my personal effects from the car (wrapped up in a shipping blanket) and a sore wrist (my hand was popped off the steering wheel and into the drivers side window when the airbag deployed).

So, the next day, I called up the insurance company and got a claim number. Since the policy owner was not driving the car, they would not commit any dollars to me for a car rental. I don't have a clause on my policy for rental either, so I am currently car-less (if you don't count the busted down Z in my garage). They called me yesterday and said the car was repairable but, when I called them today, it turns out it's a total loss. This works out better for me since the blue book value is 21K and I only owe 11K on it. Unfortunately American Century Claims (ACC) allows people to get minimum coverage for liability, which means (in Texas) that they will only pay up to 15K. So, that means I have to get my insurance involved. Fortunately, Farmers is really helpful when you have full coverage. They will pay out the full amount and go after ACC for the money that they are owed. On the down side, I don't have a rental clause in my policy, so I will have to pay rental out of my pocket until someone can make ACC cough up the dough.

Judging on how things are going, this may well be my best post-accident experience. Most of the time (all of the time) I get shafted and end up spending my own money or get my parents dropped from their insurance policy (sorry Mom).

Fortunately, I won't be needing a car for the weekend since I left for Las Vegas on Thursday afternoon. Betty drove me to the Airport but, hopefully I'll have the rental situation figured out when I get back to the airport on Sunday night.

I need to get a few more things out of the car before I turn it over to the insurance company but, I'll do that next week.


Friday, November 02, 2007

The issue that I had yesterday was caused by a defect in the B&M after market short throw shifter that I installed in December of 2005. A screw that connected the L shaped dark colored piece (upper right) and the tapered rod (center) sheared off. You can see the lower hole on the tapered rod still has what's left of the screw that held the two parts together. The Pontiac dealership diagnosed the problem, removed the part and completly disassembled it. That same evening, I pulled the original parts out of my garage and dropped them off. The next morning, the guys in the shop put the original shifter in and didn't charge me a dime. I didn't get charged for the tow, or for the labor. How cool is that? It's nice to have a car that's under warranty.

On top all that, everyone at the office were very generous in their offers to drive me home. I declined of course, because Cory was kind enough to drive to my office and pick me up. Thanks man!


Thursday, November 01, 2007

So really, no a one of my readership wants these Mike Doughty tickets? Crazy. I still have one couple that might be up for it so we'll see.

Eric as NPHOk, last night was really fun. TJ and I went down to 6th street to see the freaks and have a few beers. Everyone got home before Midnight, and a good time was had by all. I really wished that we had taken a taxi down there, and really booze it up but, it's better that I didn't. I would have regreted it this morning.

I did wake up a little late but, that was by design. No scheduled meetings until 9:30. I've been driving a different route to work recently, and it's really shortened the trip from 25 - 35 minutes after 7:30 down to 17 to 22 minutes. I used to hop on 183 right out of my neighborhood, roll on down to 35 and go south (slowly) until I reached the upper / lower split. It's where the 4 lane highway splits into an upper deck that speeds you down to MLK, and the lower deck has all of the exit ramps for every road all the way from Airport to MLK. So, I recently switched it up and roll down Airport, where and jump right up onto the upper deck. So, the first part of the trip is cut way down, and the trip from there on down to 71 is smooth sailing anyway. So, if I leave after 7:00 in the morning that's my new route, otherwise the 183 to 35 route is still pretty fast.

Sad broken GTOSo today (and here's the interesting part of my day) I got all the way to Smith School (the cross road where my office is) and pulled into the parking lot when my stick shift went from 2nd gear to ???. It was mushy and did not engage in any gear. The stick just kind of floated around, allowing me to push it in every direction to extremes that were not possible before with my B&M short shifter. However, it engaged in absolutely no gears except 4th, which could be found by laying the stick all the way back until it was laying on the console.

So, I called Pontiac roadside assistance who said that the issue was covered, and that they would dispatch a tow truck to take my car to the dealership. They also told me to contact the dealership to tell them that the car was on it's way. About an hour later, the tow truck driver called me to get the key. On the way, I called the dealership (Champion Pontiac) who told me that they would have to assess the damage before they would be able to approve a rental car. The worst part is, the transmission guy is busy today and would not be able to do the assessment until tomorrow. So, that leaves me stuck here at the office this afternoon and without a car tomorrow morning. Great!

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

I skipped out of the office early to drive up to Round Rock to pick up Cory and reunite him with his car. I tried to get there as quickly as possible by using 71 and then going up 130. It took around 45 minutes to get there but, I believe it was faster than going up 35. The next stop was the body shop for my car, so Cory followed me over with his car fresh from the transmission shop. I dropped my car off, pulled all of the junk out of the car and waited for Cory to pick me up but, instead I got a phone call. Cory's car was overheating and oozing liquid from the transmission housing. The first problem was new but, the second was the reason he dropped the car off in the first place. So, I had to head back (in rush hour traffic by this time) and pick him up, which meant that I wouldn't be dropping my car off at the body shop until much later that night.

Cory and I met up with a colleague of mine from my HP days at Quality seafood. I hadn't seen TJ in a long while and it was good seeing him again. He is currently married living in the Woodlands and working for a company here in Austin.

A man, a beard and a glass of chocolate milkI ended up staying up for late packing for my trip to Denver. The flight was at 8:00 and Christine dropped me off at the airport. I slept through the whole flight and woke up Jon when I called from the runway. Fortunately it takes forever to get from the plane to passenger pickup area. Jon surprised me by stepping out of his Subaru all scruffy faced. So, what was our first destination? Pete's Greek Restaurant, the last place we stopped on my way out of Denver last time I was here. Jon got a glass of chocolate milk, I got a (guess what?) a beer. We headed back to Jon's place and I took a nap while Jon played a new "free" online game. Then when I woke up, Jon was taking a nap. It's now 6:25 and we are hungry again so, we're heading out for sushi. We'll have to head back here by 9:00 because Matt will be arriving at Jon's place. After that, who knows?

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Saturday, October 06, 2007

Bonus Weekend Blog: I started my day with Christine, Jasmine, Atticus, and Trixie at the pug meetup on Bull Creek. From there, I ran a few errands and dropped my car off at Sunbusters and got my windows tinted (I'll post the pictures later). Cory picked me up and we went to lunch with Christine at Pars. Once we finished up there, Cory drove me out to Liberty Hill to take a look at a truck (left) that I saw on craigslist. It's a 1957 Dodge 100 truck with a three speed transmission on the column. It had been modified a bit to better suit it's environment, which was a farm. It would have been a fun truck to own but, ultimately it was not serviceable as a city truck so, I did not buy it.

When we got back into town, I dropped by the tinting place and picked up my car. On the way there, I saw an '04 yellowjacket GTO AND an '05 yellowjacket GTO and I have to say, by comparison the dark tinted windows really make the car totally bad ass. Money well spent.


Wednesday, October 03, 2007

I picked up my car this afternoon and the color was right and the clear coat was smooth but, the job was not done correctly. The shape of the outside of the wheel arch was rounded out when it should have been flat (I'll post pictures later). So, I talked with the sales guy, then talked with the manager and they agreed to take another shot at it. It would have meant that I would have to rent another car but, fortunately I'm going to Denver on Wednesday morning and I should be able to drop my car off and borrow Christine's car on Monday or Tuesday morning.


Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Got at call today that confirmed that the color on the side of my car needed to be blended across the drivers side door. They will have to remove all of the accessories, strip the clear coat off of my door, blend in some paint from the back then clear coat it again. So that's going to be an additional $350 and won't be done until tomorrow afternoon. The price is not bad but, I'm discouraged by the fact that the paint needed to be blended. Maybe it just shows my ignorance about paint but, the factory yellow paint should blend pretty easily with factory specification aftermarket yellow. Of course, this means that I'll miss my Wednesday morning drop off with Pontiac.

I also got a call from Buck's Bikes, where I dropped off my Cannondale over the weekend. Unfortunately, there are no suspended forks that are compatible with the 1" neck of older bicycles like mine. This saves me $250 and leaves me with only a solid fork as an option for a replacement. Apparently, the staff at Bucks have all abandoned suspension on their mountain bikes, so I don't feel too bad about the limitation. It will be nice to have my bike in good working condition and hopefully hit the trails this weekend.

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Monday, October 01, 2007

My car won't be ready until tomorrow, so I have the rental car for one more day. I'm pretty glad that I dropped the car off last week at Haas Collision instead of waiting for Jeff's Autobody to get their shop ready for this morning. I'll have my car for sure by Wednesday, just in time to drop it off at the Pontiac dealership to massage out a few dents they put into the right front quarter panel of my car. Hopefully they'll have my car back by the end of that day and I can return my rental car. My next stop will be the window tinting place that Bo recommended on 183.

I've been meaning to get this done for a long time and I have three good reasons for doing it. All summer my car sits in the sun at the office parking lot and by the end of the day the car gets really hot, requiring me to blast the A/C and roll down the windows. By the time I get home, the car is cool but, my back is sweating from the hot leather. The second reason is, the leather in the back seat got cooked by the sun, shrinking the material and tearing the seams on the shoulders of the rear seats. I got them replaced under warranty but, I don't want that to happen again. The third reason is, I think the black tinted windows would really look bad ass against the bright yellow of the body. I'm pretty sure this would be a good investment.

In response to Mike's comment on Friday's blog: Since I am destined to have the rental car out for 6 days (Thursday through Tuesday), I would have paid $15.15 ($14 plus tax) each day for insurance, coming to a grand total of $90.90 which is about the cost of a new window. I can't know how much they will charge me but, I've never purchased the insurance on a rental car so I think (from an overall perspective) I'm coming out ahead.

Oh! One last thing for this morning's post, I was looking for some previous pictures of my car to format into avatars but, when I looked at my tablet PC for some good source pictures most of my folders were missing and I don't know where they went. Disaster right? Wrong! I backed up all my images on my NAS (which is named Hermes Conrad by the way). Hermes saves the day and I am grateful.

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

scraped paint, bent metal, and hurt feelings As you can see from the picture, I scraped some paint of my car and rippled the metal a little. That happened on Tuesday. That day, I got estimates from three different bodyshops in Austin. I started by looking at Angies List to see the reputable paint shops in the area. I ended up getting three quotes that all ended up being about the same in the end.

I dropped my car off at HAAS Collision this morning at 7:00, but the office workers hadn't rolled in yet, so I ended up waiting until 7:30 before I could sign my paperwork and get the rental car. HAAS had the lowest estimate but, later they called me and said they might have to blend paint into the door, which meant stripping the door down and blending new paint across the back side of it, then clear coating the entire surface of the door. If this was necessary it would cost an additional $400, which pushed the price really close to the first estimate from Jeff's Autobody Repair. The cheapest quote would then be from Champion Pontiac but, I didn't do any checking of the quality. They did use the same estimating software as HAAS and came up with a different number. I intend on negotiating the price down if I can. $1300 bucks is pretty steep but, I'd be happy to pay it if the job was done right and done before Tuesday. Once the clear coat cures, I'll put the Zano Bros. treatment on it.


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

I got a few quotes on the paint repairs and they range from $950 to $1500. I figured I could get my insurance to pay but, my deductible is $750 and I have one accident on my record that's just 3 months shy of not being on my record. So, unless I want my rates to go up by possibly %50, I can't claim it. Personally, I can't keep my car in this condition, so I'm going to go through with the repairs. Fortunately, I've been squirreling away my money for some other "fun" things that I can sacrifice. I also plan on tinting my windows, since the sun did a number on the leather in my back seat. Of course that means, I'm going to be driving a rental starting tomorrow.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

While meeting Christine this afternoon, I scraped a concrete post with the rear drivers side wheel well of my car. My mission, which I'm forced to accept, is to get it repaired as quickly as possible. I'm going to be dropping off my car tomorrow morning at the Pontiac dealership for some repairs that were already planned. Hopefully they have an opening in the body shop in the next couple of days. I also called a few places around my house to get estimates. Not so much on cost (although that's a factor) but, more around how long it takes to get the work done. I've reviewed a few shops on Angie's List so we'll see how they compare to their "A" ratings.


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Yesterday, I called Pontiac to see if they could do anything about my dead GTO, and it turns out the car is still under warranty, and even the towing is covered. So, James at Champion Pontiac-GMC should have my car today and it should be ready by Friday, so I can walk over and pick it up. Hopefully, the Toyo Proxis T1-R tires that I bought yesterday will be in sometime this weekend as well, so I can get some new summer shoes on my Goat. I can't wait to burn out my old tires until they smoke.

For dinner last night, I ordered 1 sushi, 1 nigiri, and 1 roll (which ended up being 8 pieces). On top of that, I ordered tonkatsu (pork cutlet schnitzel) udon (thick wheat noodles), but they just gave me a plate of tonkatsu, with salad on the side. I should have been tipped off by the waitress offering me miso soup before my meal. Since the tonkatsu udon was in broth, so I said as the lady walked away "I already ordered soup". Anyway it ended up being too much food, but I'm too disciplined an eater so I cleared everything on my plate, except for the bowl of rice (that I took back to the hotel with me).

On the way back, I looked for a store that sold Gears of War for the Xbox 360. There's an EB Games right next to Edo, but they had none that were used or new. So I searched the stores that were along the route back to the hotel. I first stopped and bought a copy at Toys 'Я' Us, but found a blockbuster just a few blocks away. So, I just rented a copy and returned the game to Toys 'Я' Us. I played a little bit, but couldn't really get into before I had to get some sleep. I figured I'd be sleeping in a little, but still needed time to get the ice off my rental car and get into the office before 8:00.

Sure enough, I was awakened by the sound of ice being scraped off windshields and the tapping of icy snow on my hotel window. The snow was icy but, powdery and my dress shoes sank right into it. Fortunately, I upgraded to black gym socks from thin dress socks. My feet were warm, even when buried in the snow. My hands, however, suffered quite a bit as I was brushing the snow off the glass. It flew off the back face of the scraper and pelted my hands with icy pain. One that was over, I took the slow drive to work, practically idling the entire way. Other than being very slow it was uneventful. Still, there's plenty of work to do today so, even though my co-workers are heading to the airport this afternoon (or earlier, due to the weather) I'm here until tomorrow afternoon.

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Monday, February 12, 2007

Last night, I rolled into my driveway at exactly 20000 miles on my odometer. I engineered the moment a bit by coasting up the street, since the car flipped 20K in front of Northcross Mall. So, when I pulled into the drive, the steering was un-powered which made me swing wide, putting me at an odd angle behind my Datsun. I snapped a few pictures with my phone (now that I can mail the pictures through my phone) to immortalize the moment.

Each Monday, since I started flying to Baltimore, I've been leaving the house late rand later, to see how close I can cut my flight. So today, I waited until 8:15 to leave. This morning, the car would not start. My 2004 GTO, that just turned over 20K would not start! I frantically looked from the batter charger in the garage, but it was not to be found. Even if I had found it, I don't think I would have used it, since it wouldn't really fix the problem. Since I don't know how the battery got discharged in the first place, jumping the car would only get me to the airport, and it would most likely be dead by the time I got back into Austin. So, my only other option was to get a taxi to the Airport.

I was able to make it to the airport with enough time to get a poor quality sandwich and get into the "B" line for my Southwest flight. The line was getting longer, but for the most part everyone was sitting down, since the seats were in line with the entrance. Then, a traveler walked up and asked of the people who were standing "was this the B line?". The people who were sitting down (I among them) responded, and pointed him to the back of the line. He told us that it was unfair that people could be in the line and be sitting in chairs, so he decided to stay, cutting directly in front of me. One boisterous lady had a few choice words to say to him, but he stood his ground. A few people groused about it to themselves, but ultimately he cut in front of about 15 people and nobody really did anything. I was ready to snap at him but he took a seat that I didn't want anyway, and he was quick about it.

By that evening, I was exhausted but, I still found the strength to make it to Trivia Night at with Benett at the The James Joyce pub in downtown Baltimore. I've been going there for the past three weeks, and we've won second or third place every time, which usually brings in a $25 gift card. I say "we", but Benett really runs the show. I only provide a sounding board, and perhaps a few facts that I can remember in the time allowed before we turn in our answers. Even so, it's pretty impressive that a two man team can come in a close second to table full of teachers (I'm talking to you "Vandelay Industries").

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