Sunday, December 22, 2013

"Okay Google Now, Find the Nearest Subaru Dealer"

I've stumbled onto a fun design I've been playing with in the glassblowing studio. They're simple tealight candle holders with a thick clear bottom done in various colors. There's nothing particularly difficult about them unless I'm trying to make a few the same size, then it takes a little more skill. I've posted a couple photos of them on my Facebook page and received some nice comments leading me to think about doing a bunch more before changing my focus.

Tammy has been working on perfecting her smaller bud-vases. She's been having fun with them. I encourage her to work a little larger but this is what she enjoys.

Our Christmas cards won't be going out until Monday and for a few of you, that means they'll be a little late. In keeping with our tradition of doing something original in our cards most years, Rachel came up with a New York theme based on our trip to move her out there last August for a semester of school. Rachel did the drawing and Tammy added the color and got them ready to mail. I didn't do a thing but I promise to step it up next year.

Rachel shipped her belongings home via UPS over the last couple weeks. We decided early on that we didn't want to chance a trip by car this time of year to bring her home. She arrived late Wednesday night on a flight and Tony picked her up at the airport.

I think she may have gotten a few hours of sleep before waking up for a mid-morning departure with us up to Babbitt. She's a college kid and is used to operating on little sleep. What's my excuse? Oh yeah, I'm still an air traffic controller in the trenches doing shift-work beyond my 'sell-by' date.

We got away around 10:30 with coffees in hand and with both vehicles because I had plans to leave back for home on Friday for a date with a repairman to fix our dryer that went on the blink a few days earlier.

Two vehicles turned out to be a smart move.

I got a call from Rachel when we were just north of Cloquet saying that their car was making some sputtering noises when she accelerated and that it was running rough. I eased off the gas and asked her to drive alongside so I could see if there was anything obviously wrong. Nothing. She led the way at a reduced speed.

Not one to take too many chances in near-zero temperatures in the frozen tundra miles from help, I got out my Droid and spoke into it: "Okay Google now, find the nearest Subaru dealer". The "Okay Google now" part is what activates the voice command feature. Within a few seconds, my Droid Maxx was directing me to a dealership in Hermantown, 27 minutes away. I phoned Rachel to let them know we were charting a course for Miller Hill Subaru in Hermantown. I phoned ahead to see if they could fit us in and they assured us they could.

Once you own a smart-phone there's no going back.

We killed time in the waiting area playing on our phones and kicking the tires on some of the showroom vehicles while waiting for the news of our car's status. We didn't have to wait long. Casey from the service department led us over to a table where he sat us down, and much like a doctor delivering bad news to a patient, he in so many words told us that our 2006 Subaru Forester was quite ill. He showed us one of the spark-plugs. It was covered in oil and had what looked like a crack running the length of it where he said the plug had been arcing. He said we had a bad valve-cover gasket but that the extent of our problems could be much worse and he wouldn't know until they got deeper inside the engine to have a look around. He encouraged us to consider having the timing belt replaced as well as some other belts that were looking worn. It would save us money in the long run, considering those belts would be easy to access while the other work was being done. The car has 100,000 miles on it and it's recommended that the timing belt is replaced at 105,000. A no-brainer.

He offered us a loaner car to get us back on our way and said they'd hopefully have whatever work needed to be done completed when we passed back through on our way home.

We made it up to Babbitt for a nice visit with Tammy's mom and her sister Cindy but my time there was too short because I had to leave the next morning for home.

I loaded the pups in the truck with me and headed out around 8:30, needing to be home by 2:00 for the repairman. I typically enjoy the 4-hour drive but I was feeling a little anxious about the cost of getting our car back.

I got a call from Casey later in the day with some not-so-good news. The abbreviated version of this is that our Forester is much sicker than we'd imagined. The passenger-side cylinder head is cracked and will need to be replaced. It's Christmas week and trying to get the part expeditiously won't be so easy. It may not be until Thursday before we get our car back and at a considerable cost to us. Casey told us to keep the 2014 Forester he loaned us and to drive it back to Lakeville. When the work is done he'll phone us and make arrangements to meet us halfway for the exchange.

After speaking with him and mulling over the situation I called him back to see if he could give us an idea of what our car was worth as a trade-in for something new, possibly the car he loaned us. Tammy loves it!

And that's sort of where we left it. I'm not opposed to getting something new for Tammy but we're also considering just having the work done and using her car as-is for the next couple of years. It's been extremely trustworthy with the exception of this incident.

Oh, and our toaster broke this morning.

I'm certain that a country-western singer could take this sad story and make a nice song out of it. I'm not sure Jason Isbell is necessarily country-western but his music does have a little of that feel to it and I like his style. He'll do.

Phil from work recently turned me on to his music and I'm really liking it. A lot.

(please wait for the 10 seconds of blank video at the beginning)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Once you own a smart-phone there's no going back."

Amen. I sometimes try and remember life before my smartphone and it's hard to imagine. Trips out of the country every so often help, because I typically refuse to pay the exorbitant data fess!