Archives » June 12th, 2003

June 12, 2003

Ford – Quality is Job Twelve!

So the Ford is back in the shop again. It seems like we just had it there. The car’s in the shop so often that we’re starting to get to know the repair guys pretty well. It’s still not as bad as an old Chevy Sprint I used to have, though. That thing was in the shop so much that the mechanic joked I was putting his kids through college. At least I think it was a joke; there was a little hint of sincerity in his voice. And my Chevy Metro, with half the MSRP of the Ford, hasn’t been in once yet.

Anyway, the transmission in the Ford is acting up again, doing that little thing where the car decides that while it’s shifting from second to third it might as well take a breather and spend a few seconds in neutral. After all, it’s worked hard. It deserves a break. ‘What, you say you’re going through an intersection? I don’t see how that’s my problem. After hauling you around all day, haven’t I earned a rest? And while we’re on the subject, when was the last time you changed my oil? I’m pretty sure it’s been more than 3,000 miles…’

And, of course, what car trip is complete without a high-pitched squeal coming from the chassis? One that gets louder the faster you go, at that. Add to that the fact that the air conditioning only works on high (the other three settings are purely decorative, I suppose) and we’ve got a nifty bag of automotive goodies for the repair techs.

2003 Ford Focus LXSo we dropped it off, and we got a rental car. It’s a Ford Focus. I think the Focus is supposed to be the entry-level car for young, hip twenty-somethings. It sure cast a spell on my young, hip, late-twenties wife, at least. We’ve only had it half a day, and Viola doesn’t want to give it back. She even let me test drive it through a slalom course in the old Wal*Mart parking lot, around and around, snaking through the light poles and planters. It handles pretty nicely, about like my Metro would handle if it had power steering. Of course, that’s probably the only time she’ll let me drive the car. This rental is a replacement for her car, so I think my adventures with the Focus are over. She’s very possessive about driving. A passenger’s seat is one place that you’ll never see Viola. Not that I mind—it’s like I have my own personal chauffeur everywhere I go, and she never harps on me about “sharing driving responsibilities”. Even on a drive down to LA she’s behind the wheel all 8 hours. If I even offer to drive for a bit she laughs it off and presses on. Being an insomniac has its advantages, I suppose. Me? Driving’s a pain for me, an annoyance, and the less I do of it the better. But the Metro just hit 65,000 miles, so it’s not like I don’t go anywhere.

The Focus has a CD player, which makes her insanely jealous. The Focus is higher off the ground than her car, which makes it easier for her to get in and out. The Focus automatically locks the doors when you shift into Drive, which makes it cooler for some inexplicable reason. I think the Focus would probably make a better husband than me too. Now that she has had a taste of the Focus, she’s not going to want to go back. Never mind that our warranty only pays for a rental car for five days, she’s going to try to find some kind of excuse to keep it. The Focus has even, for a short moment, caused her to forget about her obsession with SUVs. And for that, at least, I will be grateful to the Focus.

And if the rental company never reads this account of me slaloming around the Wal*Mart parking lot, so much the better.

Here come the balloons

You can tell it’s really summer when the hot air balloons show up. Every Saturday and Sunday morning during the early summer you see the balloons rising up on the horizon. They launch from Lampe Park, about fifteen miles away, and they show up as little rainbow-colored pinpoints in the sky. They drift along the air currents for an hour or so, and then one by one drop back to the earth and disappear. All of this happens at a distance; rarely do they venture over to our side of the valley.

Last weekend, though, was the Minden Balloon Race, and I awoke on Sunday to find them practically in our backyard. Balloons filled the sky, and some of them had even caught just the right air currents to bring them over to our neck of the woods. We went outside and watched them drift over our heads, so close that you could hear the people talking and see the flames licking at the fabric. One of them, that Keirra was especially excited to see, was shaped like a fish. That one flew directly over the house and we could see right up its gills. As it drifted off into the front yard, Keirra shouted, “Bye, fishy!” After that, she didn’t want to look at the other ones; they were too ugly for her. She picked up the sidewalk chalk, presumably to scribble curse words at the other, non-fish, balloons.

I guess if you can ignore the heat, and the dirt and sagebrush and drought, this isn’t such a bad place to live.

Stay of execution for 98

Microsoft has given Windows 98 a little bit longer lease on life. The original plan was that all support would be dropped on June 30, the end of this month. After that point, no new patches or bug fixes would be released, and, as I understood it, Windows Update would stop working. That was all outlined on MS’ Product Lifecycle page. Now, Fred Langa is reporting that they’ve quietly pushed the “Non-Support” date back to next January. He thinks it’s a combination of them listening to customer complaints and a fear that people would upgrade to Linux instead of XP.

They never had to be afraid about my company. We’ve been planning the move to XP for a while now; I don’t think there’s a single person in this firm besides myself that would be able to handle a move to Linux. I’m worried enough about them not being able to learn XP! Besides, I don’t think AutoCAD runs on Linux, so the engineers wouldn’t be able to switch anyway. But this reprieve will give us a few more months to get all the XP pieces in place, without having to worry about 98 dropping out from under us.

Now, on the server side, my little Linux test box is duplicating most of what the NT boxes are doing right now. So, the penguins may come marching in on that end. It remains to be seen.