Friday, January 30, 2009

The mechanic's tale

Nothing worse than having car problems when you don't know too much about cars.

I wish I'd watched my Dad more as a kid when he did things under the hood.

Taking the car down to the local tire supplier--they've got great prices but they're die hard Republicans and seething about Obama's victory and his stimulas package--I was informed teh front two tires were shot and the back two had about a month left.

They gave me a quote and had them changed, then booked the car in for a wheel alignment.

Arriving the next morning, I said, "By the way, the car makes a strange knocking sound when I brake or it decelerates."

We'll check it out for ya'"

An hour later, I was summoned out to the garage where the car's raised high on automatic jacks and the mechanic pointed to things near the wheel called rods and said "they're broken. New ones will sort your problem."

What can you do? You've got to trust your mechanic and try and look knowledgeable at the same time so they don't smell "idiot."

Two hundred dollars later, I drive home very happy that it's not the transmission which even I know is tres, tres expensive. Halfway home, there's a noise....yes, the old familiar knock sounds again. And then it sounds again and again...only worse this time because there's an accompanying rattle.

This morning I arrive down and the lady at reception who knows every tire and bolt in a car says,"You're back."
"Yeah, it wasn't the rods."
"I'll get Fred."

While Fred examines the car, I wait and seethe as I listen to one of the workers talk about how he and his wife going out to dinner "tonight with their Democrat friends" and they are not going to talk about the stimulus package.

"I hear ya'" said receptionist. "And what about that woman in California who just had eight kids and has six at home and no man. Disgusting, that is."

Yeah, yeah," said her colleague. "Who's gonna pay for them?"

"We are," said a customer. "She's on welfare. Our tax dollars."

I realize this could be true and do have sympathy here.

"They need to lower taxes. That works. I want no government in my pocket," said the receptionist.

Thinking about Bush's tax rebate last summer and how ineffective it was, I just bit my tongue.

Fred comes in. "Can you come out to the garage a sec'?"

This means it's gonna cost me. Sure enough, I'm underneath the car again looking at some other curious bits and bobs that could be space shuttle parts for all I know as he tells me my transmission is leaking fluid and the mounts supporting the chassis are a bit dicey.

The logical side of my brain wonders why he didn't see and mention that yesterday but I nod sagely. I also wonder now the economy's in free fall, are they taking me for a ride. The other part of my brain, the wanna everybody to be nice and caring, thinks they're being helpful and doing the right thing.

"I see," I say as I look into the black oily guts of my car. I really wish I'd watched Dad more often and not thought it boring when he worked on the family car.

It's going to coast another $400.00 to repair ands even then it might be the transmission.

"Give me the quote in writing," I said. "I'm gonna get the transmission checked first.
"Not a bad idea." he said. "We don't do those."

So off to the transmission shop next week.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


What a great day for the republic yesterday was.

What a delicious sight at the mall as over two million people gathered to weep with joy and celebrate and hope.

What a delicious sight to see a true middle class/working class family, an African American family with no wealth and privilege, move into the White House.

What a reminder of the fallibility of humankind to hear the Chief Justice flub the words of the oath of office and to see the President at first hesitate and also stumble...and how it brought smiles to even the most cynical.

And what an inspiring measured speech, one that let the people know he understood the people are hurting and change was going to come and America was immediately charting a different course to rectify the wrongs of the previous administration and would take its place as a leader in the civilized world, with the proviso that leadership is earned not automatically given.

And then came the executive order that implementation of all Bush executive orders given in last few days were to be 'frozen'. A standard policy, but still satisfying.
The first grain of sand passing through the neck of the newly turned egg timer.

Of course, the usual laments are in abundance today, that the President was short in information about how he would finance such an ambitious agenda.

Is that the purpose of an inaugural speech? I think not.

And the greedy reckless ones in Wall Street panicked and let the Dow fall by the largest number of points in any Presidential inauguration.

Maybe it was fear that the day of reckoning is nigh.

What a wonderful day for the restored democracy.


Monday, January 12, 2009

Is there really a thing called women's fiction

So I took the plunge and decided to open the covers of my first 'women's fiction' novel. It's My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult.

I started reading it while on the elliptical at the 'Y'--the true acid test of a good book, because if it doesn't make the time fly, out it goes.

Astonishingly, my first fifty minute workout went by really quickly. I'd even done the five minute cool-down without realizing it--and I was stepping away and no 'burned calories' were being recorded because the damned machine had switched off.

Well and good.

As I delved deeper, I began to anticipate what was going to happen--not so good. But I have to say her writing is excellent. She can sure turn a phrase and some of her similies and metaphors are really good--if a bit abundant, something I was accused of by an editor on one occasion. And a few are a stretch, but every writer can't hit a perfect score on that count.

I find her woman characters are fantastically drawn, but am less convinced by the lead male character, Cameron, and Sara's husband. Their sensibilities and thoughts are too much what a woman would want them to be and didn't ring real for me.

However, these are minor quibbles and I will definitely read another Picoult novel.

Men looking for an ice breaker at the gym or wherever might consider carrying about one of her novels. It's extraordinary the number of women who've approached me to ask how I'm enjoying the book and then begin chatting as if I'm their best friend, even women who've ignored me at the gym for the past three years.

Yes Virginia, there really is a thing called women's fiction.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Wintuk and more

We went up to see Wintuk at Madison Square Garden over the weekend. I'd never seen a Cirque du Soleil production before so I was quite excited.

It's the story of a Nordic boy's quest to have snow in his village for Christmas. At first I was apprehensive when the performance began and three skate boarders began doing tricks--having watched kids outside the National Theatre in London doing the same kinds of tricks, I wasn't very impressed. Fancy turns on skateboards just don't cut the mustard anymore.

But things soon picked up when the four streetlights came to life and an array of performers came on and did their acts, all accompanied to the ethereal musical scores and chanting one associates with Cirque du Soleil.

My appetite is now whetted for a trip to Las Vegas to see one of their truly spectacular shows.

On teh subject of appetites, friends had suggested restaurants to visit for lunch. But, wanting something different, I researched the net and found a great Indonesian restaurant in Hell's Kitchen just off Restaurant Row. Time Out had given it a good review so Larry and I went there with open minds and hungry tummies. As this was Larry's first Indonesian meal (I'd been to a really good one in Amsterdam), we settled for one of their special menu's, which contained samplings of various dishes from fish to chicken.

Excellent, and all washed down with crisp Indonesian beer. Well, all except teh delicious banana in a filo-like pastry desert.