Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I have now been back in the States for 2 weeks. Having adjusted from jet lag and vowed to never fly overseas again I am left to get shit done around the house.

I've been pretty pro-active about checking things off of the list. First was getting the back door lock replaced, and that was a simple phone call. Second was replacing the thermostat with a programmable one. Mike did this back at the Robot Factory, and I wasn't involved at all. I just left it up to him and this EE magic to make the electrons move through the right pipes. I did a little research online to find some good programmable thermostats, then I buy one and head back to replace it.

First step is to shut off the power to the unit, but I couldn't find the switch and I couldn't find the circuit breaker to cut the power . . . so I was dealing with "live" wires. Disabling the existing thermostat was easy, and I labeled the wires to make installation easier. But as I was looking through the manual I read the number of wires and notice that while there are instructions for 2-5 wire setups, we have 6 wires. After some research the extra wire isn't just a dummy wire, it is part of the heat pump. So I call Honeywell and they tell me that I need to get a different model thermostat. That's why I kept the receipt, so I head back to Lowe's and get the correct model. Unfortunately the new model is 40 dollars more expensive. Whatever, I get back and start wiring and find out that there is a jumper missing. Check the back . . . nothing there. I thought about going back to the store to return it, but I read the contents, and it doesn't list a jumper at all . . . despite mentioning the necessity of a jumper in the circuit. For a second I thought I could be cool, strip a wire off of the old thermostat and use it as a jumper, but it turns out that was a bust since the wire wasn't big enough to be held by the placement screws. A short drive to Radio Shack to buy a spool of 18-gauge wire and the thermostat is working.

Next on the list is the daunting task of getting the VW up and running again. The car has been practically stationary for the past 2-3 years, and now when I drive it the car doesn't accelerate right. So aside from it being illegal to drive, the car doesn't drive well anyway. I drive the car with a "tag stolen" sign on the back up to Marietta to the dealer just before the weekend. Get back on Monday and the dealer tells me that they will have to replace the whole clutch-flywheel-bearing assembly for a "reasonable" price of $2000. Well that sucks. Thanks to help from Chowning (and her co-workers) I find a place called Karma VW that will do the work for only $1100. Now I have to employ Jeremy to get me up to the VW dealer, then tail me in my illegal car as I drive from Marietta to Avondale and leave my car with another dealer. Things go well there, and they describe my clutch as "exploded" and give me back a car that drives well . . . but is still illegal. Next step is insurance and DMV. Insurance is no problem, but the DMV is a bitch as always. I drive down there (in the Prelude) and go talk to the DMV people. They say that I will have to pay back taxes on my car . . . the one I haven't been driving for 2 years . . . that will amount to $250. Add in the registration and this years taxes and we are looking at $509 to get the car nice and legal again. The 9 dollars is important because the DMV wont run a credit card, so you have to go to the ATMS in the building. But our account has a limit of $500, so I have to draw from 2 different accounts to get the money to get my tags to put on my car. But it is all done, and the car is legal just in time to realize the radio stopped working!!! What the fuck!!! So I do research online and it couldn't be more difficult to replace a VW radio (double din). First, the Monsoon set up I have is great; second, Karma doesn't do audio so I'll have to find a new place or go back to the dealer. I spend a day thinking about it and trying to come up with a limit that I am willing to spend (after spending almost $2000 on this car already). Just for kicks I call Karma and the guy there tells me to try pulling out and resetting the fuse. Lo and behold it works, and I'm saved another few hundred to fix the radio.

Finally, the VW is back running and legal. It still lives under a tarp in the basement most of its time, but it will soon be my primary car again. I took it to Cactus to give it a nice clean, so it looks "great" despite the dent and scrape. There are still things to accomplish on my summer list, one of which is selling the Prelude to a junk dealer for cash to try to offset the cost of fixing the VW. I've been playing video games, I swear. And I have also been trying to continue my japanese learning with Mike's help.


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