Friday, October 30, 2009

Shiny Objects

Okay, anyone out there seen "Over the Hedge"? If you have, I'm sure you'll remember the Hamy scene where the raccoon used a laser (shiny object) to direct Hamy through the perils of a backyard. You'll also remember that Hamy gets distracted by the cookie.

Follow the shiny object... oooohhhh.... look there is goes, better follow it. Wait... there's another shiny object - let's follow that one now. Sounds just like a two year old, doesn't it? Here's a car, isn't it pretty? Oh look at the other car and now here's a hammer to play with.

Well, it might sound like a kid, but it's actually my husband. Isderf jumps from one project to another just like a kid with a shiny object. In fact it doesn't even have to be a project. The other day we're getting ready to leave, I can't remember at this time where we were going, but we were putting on shoes and coats, grabbing misc. items like purses and phones. Isderf goes to put a pen away in the drawer and his eye is caught by a shiny object. The next thing I know, he's trying to convince the kids to do temporary tattoos. I glare at him and say, "We're leaving." He looks at me like I'm interrupting and then admits it might be bad timing.

He keeps a white board in his garage of possible projects, this way he knows what he's been working on and what needs to be finished. Of course, most of the projects have been up there for a while. For instance... We completely remodeled our bathroom in January of 2008. Remodeled as in pulled out everything down to the studs and rebuilt it. Isderf did really well with his focus and projects for about four months. Most of it was completed and it looks great. Now I said MOST. We decided to trim the inside window with the same kind of wood that our cabinets came in. Isderf found a good piece of maple, cut it and got it to fit, but to this day that piece of wood is hanging out in his garage. No stain, no window trim. On top of that, I won't let him hang the towel bar because it's below the window. Last time we tried putting something up above something else, it got broken.

Since then, he's built the kids treasure boxes and squirrel feeders. He's even helping a friend build the extra parts of a bunkbed. He's used our Cuisinart to shred bean bag foams, which are still sitting on top of the frig outside. We have mold boxes (supposed to fill it with sand to pour hot metal into them) that are collecting water outside and lots of other things piling up.

It doesn't take much to distract him at all. You know, using a chisel and thinking, "I could make one of these." Next thing you know you've got popcorn tin furnaces to melt metals and wood lathe to make handles. Of course, I don't think I've seen an Isderf made chisel at all.

Heck, even cooking breakfast can be catastrophic. "I wonder if you can make soap from bacon?" To answer that question, yes you can. We've done it... but next time we should try to read ALL the instructions before proceeding. It seems someone intended to, but they got distracted. My mother has generously donated 20 lbs of pork fat for our next try, Isderf is ecstatic.

P.S. Someone has pointed out that this may be one sided and make Isderf appears as if he doesn't complete his projects. He actually completes quite a few, they just usually aren't the project we were hoping for. Also, in his defense, he usually has two children tagging along asking him a dozen questions that he likes to answer in a "hands on" approach, which means more projects!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Buying Tires

Okay, I know I said that I'd write about how Isderf gets into trouble all on his own, but at this time I feel like ranting and so I'm going to do so.

Today, my rant is about purchasing new car tires.

Now, I'm typically not an impusle buyer (unless it's chocolate). I do my research and I try go into just about every situation with some understanding of the subject. This gives me a little more power and knowledge and minimizes any scams. I know this is a terrible generalization, but as a woman without much working knowledge of vehicles, I feel very intimated trying to purchase anything for it. Also, I feel that most mechanics and such (who probably have to deal with people like me so much that they don't even realize they're doing this) talk down to me and omit items that I should know. Either that or they just plain lie to me to get the sale.

As for knowledge of tires, if you've ever gone searching online for tires you'll know that everyone and their dog has an opinion. Separating the good from the bad takes a lot of time and trying to find something that says "for this type of car use this type of tires" is impossible. I've also noticed that they are very hard to compare across brands. You might have a 40K All Season Blackwall from company A and another from company B, but because of treads and quality, it's still comparing apples to oranges. Every driver drives differently and on different roads, so reviews are difficult too.

After spending a few hours printing off suggestions and making note of tires that seemed to get a lot of both good and bad reviews, I decided to go straight to the source.

I hit five major tire dealers in our area. Thankfully, four of them were within a mile and it only took me about 30 minutes to get five quotes.

All five places sent someone out to check my tires and their size. Most commented that I definitely needed new tires (well, duh, that's why I'm here...). One gentleman showed me where it was wearing through and some metal or wire or something is sticking out. I told him that I was planning on getting my new tires within the week, but I wanted to shop around. Although it wasn't a high pressure "You HAVE to buy from us NOW", he made the comment that it needed to be done today and I felt some pressure to tell him okay and get it done with. I don't like that at all. I understand that it might be unsafe and that they need to be changed, I don't like feeling that I need to go along with whatever the salesman thinks I should do. And although he was nice about it, that I felt the need to give in automatically ruffled my feathers. This gentleman also printed off pictures and information on the tires he recommended and wrote down a quote for me. The two suggestions were on either end of the payment scale.

The next three places I stopped at were very professional. They looked at my tires (Yes, I know they need replaced) and then gave me printed off quotes that included their best suggestions along with a cheaper economy version. The quote included tax, balancing costs, and various other options I could go for.

One of those places, a younger man tried explaining why siping prolongs the life of your tires. He told me it was physics in action and that it was a suggested option for any of the tires I choose. That may be, but he needs to learn a little more about physics and such before he tries explaining why again!

Another of those places had an older gentleman that acted just like my dad. Wants to know everything about you and how you're doing and offers a lot of advice that you didn't even know you needed - I liked him immediately. He gave me a quote for a mid-level tire, I don't want the cheapos and can't afford the high-end. I also don't drive enough to get an 80K warranty unless the tire is exactly what I need and a good price.

As for the last place I visited, I threw away his bid right after I walked out the door. This might seem petty, but I visited 5 places. Most of them gave me professional bids with all the pricing & warranties in writing. This place wrote out the cost of the tires on the back of his business card. No warranty information, no other costs for balance, etc. He was nice enough to actually show me the tires, but he didn't have an exact suggestion, just that these three would work. I realize that some people don't want to make exact suggestions and don't want others to think they endorse a specific type or be responsible for doing so, but having them point out that one particular brand or type that would be the best for my vehicle and the road conditions does help. I may not be able to afford that type, but then I can choose the less expensive economy version if I need to.

So who am I choosing? Well, it's a toss up between the father-like salesman and the non-physics major. I'm still trying to justify the cost of those expensive brands. $300-$400 seems like a lot to invest in tires, until you see that my tires have lasted about 5 years and that cost over that time is minimal. Also, I have children in the car with me. I'd rather put some money into good tires that will get me through the snow and the rain, than have something that keeps me off the streets during winter. However, that last suggestion doesn't sound too bad! We still get a lot of people from warmer climates that don't understand black ice.