Car repair hell

Due to a wicked dent in my Jeep’s driver side door, I had to have the entire door replaced, since it didn’t close properly and leaked both heat and water which in this part of the country is a “bad thing”. But since I also had a recall still open on it, I decided to take it to my local Jeep dealer. After three weeks (yes, you read that correctly), I went to pick it up this evening. But in order to get there, I had to leave work early to take their free shuttle van down to the dealership. Leaving work early wouldn’t be such a bad thing in general, but:

  1. I have a ton of stuff to do, and will likely have to go into the office this weekend.
  2. As a lawyer, we have certain monthly targets for number of billable hours. And due to various other things this month, I’m falling a bit short of my target. Which is another reason to go in this weekend, to get back up to speed. It’s a vicious cycle, and sure ain’t like Boston Legal.

Anyway…back to the Jeep. After paying far too much for the repairs (I don’t know how much the Jeep is worth at this point since it’s ten years old, but I just might have paid the value of the damn thing in repairs and maintenance over the last two years), I go out to start it and drive home.

Except that it won’t start. I turn the key and nothing. Not even a click, a clack, or a whimper from the engine. So I go back into the maintenance department and tell them that it won’t start. My service advisor is looking rather surprised, “But I just drove it out there from the garage!” Which is a distance of maybe 50 feet, but it still had to start to get there.

So he goes out and tries to start it. And still nothing.

So he gets a jump box. At least the battery checks out OK, according to the jump box. But trying to start it still doesn’t work. So he starts digging his hand around somewhere in the bowels of the engine. As you might be able to guess, car repair isn’t high on my list of skills.

Then he gets a flashlight (since it’s now after 5:30pm and getting dark) and some sort of hammer. It almost starts when he’s stuffed under the Jeep trying to make it work. But he needs me to turn the key in the ignition, which I do. Ta-da!! Success!

“But,” I say, “what’s going to happen when I get this home? We’ll need to try it again to make sure that it will start up. Because I’m not driving this if it won’t work.”

“Don’t worry,” he says. “We’ll get you a rental and keep it here to fix it.”

And like out of that damned TV commercial, Enterprise picked me up. But unlike the commercial, they knew that I wasn’t at some generic “repair shop”. I told the woman who drove over (it’s about a mile from the dealership) that I felt like I was in a TV commercial. At least she laughed at my stupid joke.

So did I learn anything from all this? Yes, I did. It’s time to get a new car.

Pre-Valentine’s Day Hallmark Moment, courtesy of 24

Tonight’s episode of 24 featured a “touching” moment in which Jack tells Audrey (via cell phone) that he “never stopped loving her.” You can catch more details in the official Episode Guide; it happened around 12:20pm. (This link probably won’t be active until late tonight; blame Fox.)

Hey, keep this lovey-dovey crap on the OC. At this point I was talking to the television, “Jack. Just kill someone, shoot someone, or blow something up!” After all, that’s what 24 is all about.

HVAC Hell

For the past five days, the temperature in my office has been in the mid to upper 80′s. No, that’s not a typo. The morons who manage the building where I work are replacing the HVAC system (I think the new equipment was installed on the roof yesterday). However, they did not properly plan on how to do this, since they wound up pumping warm air throughout the building to jack up the temperature. They said that they tried to pump in colder outside air, but since it was in the 50′s outside, it didn’t help at all.

Doing a little bit of digging online revealed that this temperature is well above what OSHA lists as “acceptable”. See something from the OSHA Technical Manual (see subsection 3) and something from the CDC (see the subsection “Environmental Parameters” under indoor air quality).

The one thing that I’ve learned from this is that if you’re incompetent at any other job, you can probably always find one in Facilities Management. I’ve never encountered any building management type person who seemed even remotely competent. Either that, or they just don’t care about their jobs.

How the new CW network is like the new USAir

Here’s the general premise: you take two things that are really crappy on their own, and combine them to create something that’s bigger and crappier!

The new CW network (a combination of WB and UPN) will debut this fall. See this Entertainment Weekly article.

And the combined USAir resulted from mixing habitually late USAir with clinically brain-dead America West.

These things are like what happens when two ugly people get married and have kids (or two stupid people, take your pick).

On Antonio Davis’ stand-jumping

In case you don’t already know, the NY Knicks’ Antonio Davis went into the stands in Chicago to “defend” his wife from being “assaulted” by a fan. See the ESPN.com story. Several commentators and players have said that it was perfectly OK for Davis to be going into the stands to protect his family.

Maybe I’m missing something here. Nobody seemed to want to mention that while playing in a game in overtime (and hence, a close game), Davis was more concerned about what was going on in the stands than he was with what was going on on the court. As a professional basketball player, his job is to play the game. Not watch what’s going on in the stands. How many of us would be allowed to keep our jobs if, during critical moments where our concentration on our job performance was vital to the success of the job, we were to stop paying attention and focus on other things? Not many I imagine.

Yet another crappy tech journalist

Perhaps I got into the wrong line of work. Apparently, you can be a “journalist” without having to do a whole heckuvalot of research. Today’s example comes from May Wong, via a story distributed by AP on the new Mactel machines. Specifically, I refer to the portion of the article which states:

…Apple’s move opens up the issue of backward compatibility and the possibility that PC users might run pirated versions of Mac OS X, Apple’s critically acclaimed operating system, on their generally cheaper non-Apple computers.

Now this statement, according to previously published reports from Apple themselves, is 100% false. See this Macworld article for the scoop. Scroll down about 2/3 of the way through the page to the question “Will any PC be able to run Mac OS X for Intel?” which answers the question thusly:

Apple says no. Our guess is that some enterprising hacker may be able to get it to work, but we’d expect that if anyone can get OS X to run on PC hardware, it will be a laborious process, and the end result may not be a particularly stable system. You certainly won’t be able to go out, buy OS X, stick the install DVD in a Dell PC, and have it just work. Apple intends Mac OS X to only run on Apple hardware.

So your average PC user won’t be able to do it. A hard-core geek might, and it could be iffy at best. (Look at this article for an example of how complex the process can be.) This little bit of digging took about five minutes. I guess I could do her job in addition to mine, since hers doesn’t take all that much time…

Today’s Macworld announcements

First off, thanks to MacRumors.com for providing an excellent live feed of Steve Jobs’ keynote address, which I had running while at work. (Read their feed notes here).

The good news: there are now Macs with Intel processors. (See them here.) I was a bit surprised that there was both notebooks and iMacs included in this annoucement. I had figured Apple would start off small (literally small, with a new Mac Mini).

I am a bit perplexed at the pre-keynote consternation from the various Mac rumor site that stated that Intel-based Macs would not be coming out now, since it was mentioned back in June 2005 that the machines would be shipping “by mid-2006″. Apparently people were focused on the “mid” portion of that statement from Steve Jobs and not the “by” portion. Maybe they forgot about the promises of the 3GHz PowerMacs which never materialized. This is just another excellent example of Apple managing people’s expectations.

Will I buy one? Not yet; I don’t need a new computer right now since mine is only about 16 months old. I know Karen is looking for a new computer, but I don’t know if she’d use a Mac since she calls it a “fake computer”. Eh, what does she know? She’s crazy enough to be marrying me…

Open note to Marcus Vick

Marcus,

You are an extremely talented football player. But lately you are behaving like a complete a-hole. Intentionally stomping on another player during a game? (See story.) What were you thinking? Oh wait. You probably weren’t thinking.

And the off-field antics? (See this story, which includes a nice sidebar of the run-ins with the law.) Marcus, you are not yet famous enough to be able to get away with this crap. Do you really think this behavior will help your draft position? Teams are (hopefully) wising up to these destructive behaviors and avoiding these types of players altogether.

Good luck in the draft,

Steve

Some cell phone pictures

These pictures have been lingering on my cell phone for some time, so I decided that it was time to share them.

First up is a picture of the moon taken one evening from my office, looking towards some of the other tall buildings (Liberty Place and the PNC Bank Building) in Center City Philadelphia.

The second is a picture of the sunset taken while driving across the Betsy Ross Bridge, heading from New Jersey into Philadelphia. I am surprised that I managed to snap this without dropping the camera or swerving too badly.