A Time of Year to Give Thanks

It’s been a good year. I know it’s not quite over, but since Thanksgiving is just around the corner, I thought that now would be a good time to do a little reflection.

We moved to Phoenix in January. I left a job that I liked in city I liked to come to a city I didn’t know and a job that I… well.. I didn’t have a job. To say that there were several questions in our future is an understatement.

Shortly after we arrived here in Phoenix, I was presented a job opportunity, and have been gainfully employed ever since. Amy loves her job here in Phoenix, and Daniel is kind of the “Norm from Cheers” at his Daycare. It’s cute the way all the kids in the room yell “Daniel!!” when we come in the door in the morning.

We’ve settled in well to our house here in Phoenix, and we’ve got a new bundle of joy coming our way in March of next year. All in all, this year has treated us very well, and for that, I’m grateful.

Happy Halloween!

It’s that time of year again when the ghosts and the goblins walk the street to collect their weight in candy. This is Daniel’s 3rd Halloween, and really the first one that he’s really starting to appreciate.  Last year, he went as Tigger, and was very interested in the bag of treats that he was given. The year before that, he went as a 3 month old. Go with what you know right? This year, he’s going as Spiderman!

The thing about this year is that we’re in a different city and a different state than we were the last two. I don’t really like the idea of going door to door here in Phoenix, since it just seems unsafe. I think we’re looking at going to the mall and doing the Trick or Treating there. I don’t want to be the dad that’s scanning his kids candy with an MRI machine out of sheer paranoia, but it feels like it’s going to be that kind of year.

Hopefully, my family will be patient with me.

Viva Las Vegas!

This weekend, we’re going to be making our first pseudo-long road trip with Daniel. We’re off on a 5 hour drive to Sin City, Nevada (that’s Las Vegas for those of you living under rocks). This is an interesting mile stone for me for a number of reasons.

  1. This is the first long road trip for Daniel. Up until now, the longest trip he’s been on would be maybe an hour and a half. Not exactly breaking any records. I’m hoping that he takes to the road well, and we don’t have any screaming fits, but that could be in vane.
  2. This will be the first weekend that Daniel will be sleeping outside of a crib. We’re not taking one with us, so we bought bed bumpers, and we’ll be using those in a real bed. This has never been done before, and has real potential to blow up in our faces. Hoping not.
  3. The reason we’re going. One of my best friends is getting married. Out of the four of us that hung out in college, he’s the last remaining hold out. 3 out of the 4 of us are going to be making it for the festivities, and it’ll be good to have almost the whole group together again.

Hopefully, Daniel has a good time on the road, and let’s us all have a good time in Vegas. I’m really looking forward to it, even though I’m a little nervous about a couple elements of the journey. Keep your fingers crossed that we all have good luck in Sin City.

Frosty in Phoenix

Original Link

Well, we finally did it.  The air conditioning in our car is finally fixed. It only took us a little shy of a year, and just under $3000 to do it.

Sometime last year — around August — Amy, Daniel and I flew up to Montana to visit Grandma and Grandpa. When we arrived back in Reno, we noticed that the air conditioning wasn’t blowing a whole lot of cold air. We let it sit for a couple days, thinking that maybe it just had a plugged filter or something, and finally broke down and took it in.

We’d been taking the car for all maintenance to the dealership because the car was under warranty. Because of this, anything we needed done was essentially free of charge.  Love it. This time around, we were informed that our car’s 30,000 mile warranty was expired. Sure enough, the odometer reads 30,423.  Yay.  Missed it by 423 miles. Not happy.

We do some brief calculations and determine that we can’t afford to pay to get the air conditioning fixed at this time, and since it’s August anyway, we’re coming into cooler weather, and it won’t be as big of a deal pretty soon anyway. After quite a lot of badgering from the Reno Toyota dealership telling us all the horrible, horrible things that could happen to our car if we don’t fork over what ever cash they tell us we should give them, we got our car back and went on our merry way.

Fast forward a few months to late December. We’re in the middle of a move. A move to the more temperate climate of Phoenix, AZ. In case you’re not someone who actually knows me, yes I’m joking. We pack up our house, pack up our car, and drive south.

The weather in Phoenix isn’t actually half bad in January. Not to hot, not to cold. It’s just right. Amy starts her new job, I find myself a new job, and Daniel starts in his new Daycare. All is well and good in the world. At this point, the air conditioning is still not working, and really, we don’t care all that much since the weather is pretty nice.

Cue summer. Ouch.

The temperatures start to climb into the 80s, 90s, and finally the 100s. We finally cave and decide to take the car into the dealership to get the A/C fixed. We take it to a non-dealership for cost reasons. The dealer is always more expensive is our logic. It’s been pretty sound in the past, and we doubted that it would fail us now. They take a look at our car, and tell us the same thing that the dealership in Reno told us. It’s our A/C compressor, and it needs to be replaced. Here’s where the trick comes in: They can’t do it. They tell us we need to take it to a dealer. Bummer.

We’re still fighting this dealership thing, and finally find a certified shop in Phoenix that can replace the compressor. Here’s where the next trick comes in: the part is $3400. I have to admit I just about blew a gasket when I heard that price. To top it off, that price is just for the part. Counting labor, they’re quoting us just under 5K. $4700 give or take a hundred.

I’m sorry, how badly do we need this fixed again?

So, we sit on it again. We suffer through a couple weeks of 90 to 100 degree heat until finally we’ve resorted to taking squirt bottles into the car with us to work as “misters”. It’s ghetto but it works. Kinda.

During this time, we are in communication with a dealer, and the company. The dealer tells us that sometimes, in especially rare cases, the company will cover the price of the part if the replacement is both expensive enough, and uncommon enough. In our case, the A/C compressor is actually built into the hybrid engine in our car, which is why it’s $3400 instead of $250 like most cars. Expensive?  Check. The procedure for replacement is uncommon enough that the dealers themselves had never done one. Rare?  Check.

The company agrees to pay for half the price of the part.

We’re in business here people! We take the car in, and after a day and half wait, we are informed that it’s finished. Amy picks up the car, and drops off the free rental they hooked us up with while we were waiting, and picks me up from work. Not a moment too soon either. This last week, we’ve been seeing temperatures in the 100-110 range. In case you’re bad at math, this is hot. Not at all pleasant.

After all was said and done, parts labor, taxes, and pastries, the grand total came in almost $700 less than the part was originally going to cost us. Thank you Toyota, we owe our frosty morning and evening commute to you.

Go With Someone You Can Trust, NOT Thrifty!

So, here’s a tale of a stupid move on my part, and a pretty dishonest one on the party of Thrifty Car Rental.

My parents were in town, visiting for a couple days, and we decided to make a trip to Tucson for the day to see the Pima Air and Space Museum.

As a side note, very cool by the way.  If you get a chance go and visit.  Back to the subject at hand.

At this time, the Air Conditioning in our car is not working.  I might write a whiny blog post about that later on, but for the time being, it’s not relevant other than it’s out.  So, since we were expecting temps in the 90s, we thought that maybe it would be better to rent a car and drive that so we would have working AC.

Amy drops me off at the rental place to pick up the car, and when I walk in the door, I’m greeted by a line long enough to earn you a pair of dentures.  So, after getting a full lesson on the vortex under Sedona from an otherwise nice guy, I finally get to the counter.  This is after at least an hour of waiting.

I tell the gentleman at the counter that I don’t want any extras on the car. No gas. No insurance (it’s covered under our existing car insurance).  Nothing.  He tells me to follow the instructions on the little electronic pad.

I’m really in a rush now because we’re trying to get out the door, and we’ve got a limited time to drive all the way to Tucson and see the museum, and drive back, and having four adults and a two year old in the car for any longer than necessary didn’t sound fun.

I cruise through the pages and sign the last screen, and run out the door to get the car.  I get the car, and get home as fast as legally possible.  Zoom to Tucson, old planes, zoom back.  We’re back in Phoenix after a day in the hot sun.

Amy notices that there’s an extra $22 charge on our bill that I didn’t notice.  She’s naturally curious as to what this $22 charge is about, so when we’re returning the car (same day by the way), we stop in to customer service to ask about it.  Since I had told them flat out that I didn’t want any extras, it seems pretty strange that there’s extras on there.

The guy at the counter at first seems at least a little bit concerned, so he pulls up a series of pictures that are basically the screens that I rushed through earlier.  Turns out that even though I told the guy that I wanted ABSOLUTELY no options added, he stuck them in anyway. I, being in the huge rush after the long wait, didn’t notice what he had done. All I can get out of the guy at the counter was an explanation (over and over) of what the screens were and how they worked. “If you didn’t understand the screens you should have asked for help.”

I want to know why that screen was even presented as an option after I explicitly told him that I didn’t want the extra insurance that he stuck in there anyway.  The idiot behind the counter couldn’t answer that question, and instead just pointed to the screen again, and tells me again that if I didn’t understand, I should have asked for help.

I hope that Thrifty enjoys that $22 they got off of me today, because it will be the last red cent they ever see from me.  When I tell someone that I don’t want their option, I don’t expect it to be stuck in there anyway.  When I find out they did, I want that charge removed. What I got was an explanation that pretty much said, since you didn’t catch us trying to rip you off right away, you’re screwed.

New Site..

Well, here it is boys and girls, my new site. I’m not sure what I’m going to use it for right now. Maybe nothing, but maybe just family type stuff. You know the stuff. News, pictures, etc. Keep an eye on this space for new, more interesting stuff.

Mike