New wheels

On a frigid day in January, 2001, I purchased a new car.  It was a 2001 Kia Sephia, black, with none of the fancy options.  Although the Sephia was a reliable little car, it was … well, a little car.  With none of the fancy options.  And in the five years I drove it, I put 150,000 miles on it.  Did I mention it didn’t come with any of the fancy options?

The last year had been painful for my trusty little home-away-from-home.  I’ve had intermittent starting trouble since the autumn of 2004.  Last December, it needed a new alternator and two new headlamps.  The “check engine” light had flashed sporadically for a week, earlier this month.  The windshield has been cracked for years.  Acceleration?  Increasingly sluggish.

And so, on Tuesday, I sent the Sephia into a well-earned retirement, replacing it with a newer vehicle — a Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo, with all the fixin’s: power everything, remote locks/starter, power sunroof, deluxe CD player, special fog lights, four-wheel-drive capability.  It drives like a dream, and it only had 42,000 miles on it (I bought used, this time).

I’ll say this:  It’s nice to be in a big vehicle again.  Before the Sephia, I drove a 1989 Jeep Wagoneer, which was nice but old, with ongoing oil and coolant problems; in fact, I bought the Kia a week after I blew the rear transfer case in the Wagoneer and limped home 40 miles in 4WD, but on the front axle alone.

The only downside might be gas.  I filled the tank from empty this morning for $45 (ouch!).  At least the mileage isn’t too bad; the on-board computer tells me I’m averaging about 23 mpg, which isn’t that much lower than the Sephia (which allowed me about 320 miles per 13-gallon tank, or the functional equivalent of 25 mpg).  We’ll see how far the trip odometer reads when I next hit empty in the Grand Cherokee.

So now, your happy scribe is in a nicer, larger vehicle in which — for once — he is not embarassed to be seen in public.

It’s been a good week!

Book browsing

I had an interesting experience this afternoon.  While browsing at a local bookstore, I lingered for a while in the current-events section.  It’s always fun to see the latest polemic du jour, and I was not disappointed with the selection of throw-away titles that promised to tell the “real truth” about the Iraq war or […]

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I’ve lately grown into the habit of working on my writing-related work from a local coffee shop.  It’s refreshing to get away from the distractions of home; at the coffee shop, I can simply plug in and type.  With mocha and free wireless Internet.  Heavenly. Occasionally, this new venue provides ample fodder for the people-watcher […]

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Lent has arrived

Part of the wisdom of Catholicism is the opportunity the Church extends to the People of God to deepen their faith through the mechanism of the liturgical year.  Lent has returned, and at Ash Wednesday, we are challenged to resist Lent’s derogation into the merely routine, and to grow in faith and in wisdom despite […]

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Simulated lessons

Off and on over the last four years, I have participated in online political simulations — either based on some sort of Web forum, or through Yahoo! Groups.  I was originally attracted to the idea because I thought the sims would provide an interesting counterpoint to the conventional wisdom of political scientists, about the structure […]

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Buyer, beware

I admit it: I do a lot of Internet-related transactions.  I purchase and sell things on eBay; I buy products from Web-based merchants; I purchase subscriptions for online services.  And I usually don’t have too much trouble. But last week was different.  In the space of two days, I was hit with three unexpected transactions […]

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Oh where, o where, are the Olympics held?

Ahh, the Olympics. A symbol of human solidarity in a world rent by bloody factionalism. A chance to see athleticism at its most pure and noble and inspiring. A forum for non-violent and friendly competition among nation-states. An opportunity for the talking-head glitterati to inadvertently demonstrate that the emperor of cultural correctness wears no clothes. […]

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Customer service … ?

This afternoon, I stopped at the local outlet of a major national retailer.  My purpose: To return a book I had purchased a few days ago, that I forgot that I already owned. I assumed that this would be a relatively painless operation.  The book was unopened and in perfect condition, I had a receipt […]

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Site reset

Today I switched my Web/e-mail host from ValueWeb to Site5.  I have no problems with ValueWeb — I was hosted by them since 1999 — but I wanted more e-mail flexibility, and Site5 provides it at a cheaper cost.  So here I am.  Consequently, there is a complete reset of all data at, although […]

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