Wednesday, April 30, 2008

False Start

For the past week my car has been a little quiffy with me about starting up. My first thought was that it had to be the starter, but my second thought was, "Corrosion, it could totally be corrosion," and I didn't check the problem until this morning, when my car refused to even pretend to start.

There was a lot of corrosion and that buoyed my spirits considerably...until I cleaned it off and my car behaved in the exact same way. A call to my father was less than encouraging and prompted more calls to every garage in town.

Garage #1 was not home. No recorded message of when the hours are. No answering machine.

Garage #2 Quoted me a price that seemed astronomical, given what my father told me the part cost. But, they did promise a nice waiting area (I hate garage waiting areas, they're so uncomfortable).

Calls to garages #3-6 made me realize that Garage #2 was actually a steal, but I had one more call to make.

Whenever my dad can't fix the car himself (which is not that often) he goes to Sears. It's not loyalty, it's just that Sears is cheap without being detrimental (like Wal-mart). And since my least favorite way of spending money is on my car, cheap seemed like a good idea.

As it happens labor is really, really cheap at Sears, but the part wasn't all that cheap. Even if they'd only taken the one hour quoted to me by every other shop around, they would have come in $20 more than Garage #2. But they didn't quote me 1 hour, they told me it would take 3-4 hours and made foreboding suggestions that the other shops didn't know what they were talking about (all 6 of them?). The conversation went like this:

"Year? Make? Model? Air-Conditioning?"
I answered yes to that last and could hear the air disappearing inside the Sears auto center.
"That'll be a long job"
Asking what "long" meant, I wondered if Sears was simply so efficient than an hour seemed like a lifetime. Unfortunately long was, indeed, long.

The mechanic explained that when his Geo was fixed -
"It's a Chevy."
- when his Geo was fixed -
"It isn't a Geo I own a Chevy."
- when his Geo was fixed it took a fearful long time because of the a/c and the oil pan (???).
"But I own a Chevy. They're different cars."

Geos are pathetic cars. Cute. But pathetic. Once a little old lady backed her Geo Metro into my dad's Cadillac, going about 10-15 mph. The hood of the Caddy was imperceptibly bent. The entire back of the Metro was smashed in and as she pulled away there was a trail of Geo chunks left behind.

A mechanic who would drive a Geo is repulsive enough. If he doesn't know enough about cars to pick out a good one, how can he know enough to fix mine? But the fact that he thought we owned the same wimpy car (the makes sound alike) is just ridiculous. I do not own anything associated with Geo, my car's a frickin' Corolla on the inside! A Geo?! No.

This clinched it for Garage #2. They fixed my car. It took an hour and it cost what they said it would, almost down to the dollar. My one complaint is that my dad just fixed my radio the last time I was home...and now it doesn't work again. Bummer.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Odds & Ends

Robin, Laura and I grabbed breakfast at the bakery this Saturday. We had a little trouble finding a parking space. After taking a trip down to Desi's so Laura could have her dress altered, Robin and I went for a walk up in Elkhart. It was really cold.

I have no idea why they would have this written on a manhole cover. Do you?

At some point we went for a walk by the dam. The weekend's kinda blurry, so I don't know when, but we did.

It's really pretty back there.

We just thought the face in this tree was pretty funny.

Today I ate at The Garden Gate. It's pretty much amazing. I had the Turkey Garlic Herb Barbeque wrap and the owner brought us all a bunch of goodies to try. I'm telling you, if you don't have something going on this weekend you should come up to Shipshe and have breakfast with me. I love this place.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Your market is who now?

My roommate and I were enjoying a food court dinner, a few nights ago. Adorning our table was this advertisement announcing the arrival of a new store.

If you've been in a mall during the past five years you've probably seen an Aerie store and know that it's an American Eagle niche store selling undies and bras to the 12-18 set.

The catch phrase on this ad did what it was supposed to do and caught my attention.
"Turn some heads..." it demands of Jr. - Sr. High girls everywhere. Turn some heads? Plural? More than one individual is going to be seeing them prancing around in their underwear? Where do they think their target market is going to be, a brothel?

The opposite side of the advertisement relies on a girl in a bra to make up for their vague assertion they Aerie is "more than just sexy..."
Oh yes? There's more? Like what, pedophilia?

I can envision how it went down. The design firm saying, "That doesn't actually make sense" and "That's a little weird for your target market, what if we said..."
Sadly they were cut off by the owner who said, "No! That's our catch phrase, that's our idenity! We need people to think of that when they think of Aerie!"

Never fear Mr. Aerie CEO. In my mind, Aerie is now forever linked with child prostution. Never fear.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008 should be there

If you're in Indiana, Michigan, or Ohio you should make your way to Shipshewana, May 2 or 3 and enjoy the excitement of a Fest that isn't named after food.

The 2nd is not quite as exciting. There are story tellers and a jazz band and a pizza eating contest. I'll probably pop over to take some photos of school children field tripping there, but that'll be about it.

Saturday kicks off with a pancake breakfast, but I recomend giving that the slip and heading over to The Garden Gate or Only By Grace for breakfast. Only By Grace has coffee and some awesome Amish-made cinnimon rolls. Everything at the Garden Gate is delicious, but I recommend the Mango-Breakfast/Dessert-Pannini.

For those who like their mornings early the 4 Mile Road Race, 1 Mile Walk, & 1 Mile Fun-Run start at 8:00. There's also three-on-three basketball, but it's too late to sign up for that.

Shopping starts at nine, the parade starts at ten. Other random activities are sprinkled throughout the day: face painting, tractor pulls, kids games, clogging, pie-eating, a bake off and other things that aren't as interesting.
I'll be wandering around taking photos of everthing...and shopping. There's a list of activities and store specials at, but mostly it's just fun to wander around.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Snapshots of a Weekend

"This place is a tomb! I'm going to the nut shop where it's fun!"
- George, You've Got Mail

My sisters and I used to watch You've Got Mail [whisper]every day[/whisper]. This is one of Holly's favorite quotes. Encountered with a store actually called "The Nut Shop" I had to take a photo.

Robin and I ate at Pizza Hut. We were asked if we'd like lemon with our water. This is what we got.

We also went out to buy gardening supplies. We bought a lot of seeds and a couple rose bushes and a grape vine. And then it nothing got planted except for the trellis.

Friday, April 18, 2008

It only takes three muscles

Evidently smiling is not as simple as the optimists have been telling us. Look at that girl struggle to smile without her smile trainer!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Oh Indiana

I put off writing about the taxi meeting because I haven't had time to do it justice.

When I got to the meeting the parking lot was full. Inside were about a million (or thirty) state troopers in the hall. First thought, "Are they expecting a riot?"

Given Senator Meek's opener of, "Some people said there'd be shouting, yelling and throwing stuff at this meeting. So before we start I just want to say, this is Northern Indiana! We don't do things like that here!"

Yeah. The naivety was just that adorable. And in a sea of men wearing flannel shirts and trucker hats, adorable was in short supply. It wasn't upped much by the smattering of soccer moms and Amish men. That's ok though, there was plenty of hilarious.

The first fellow to talk started off by joking about the crowd's "Hello" being about as responsive as Sunday morning. He then explained that he leads worship at his church. I can only assume that this was to let us know he's a good Christian man and that when the chair throwing started he should not be considered a valid target.

They asked everyone to keep their questions till the end, so for the purposes of my blog post almost nothing interesting happens again until then.

People were generally frustrated because most of the presentations had wildly missed the point. They kept talking about the required insurance the companies need to have and how the DOT has to be on each vehicle and they need to test all their drivers. The "companies" in question are almost exclusively middle-aged couples who have one mini-van. They probably don't make more than $30,000 a year. Aside from hundreds of dollars in one time fees for licensing, their vehicles must be insured for $1.5 million dollars.

The lady from the Department of Revenue told them, "We want to put you in business, not out of business," but by the end of the meeting, no one believed her.

There was scattered clapping when it was announced that a moratorium had been placed on tracking down drivers who are in violation. There had been a lot of confusion before and a lot of people had believed they were in compliance when they really weren't. They have 51 days to get legal, but for a lot of them it won't even be an option.

To start the questioning, Senator Meeks announced that he was retired from the state police and even he found the session confusing - so none of us should feel silly if we didn't understand.
They understood. With the exception of the moratorium the rules were just as unforgiving as they'd originally thought them to be.

He asked a question about the insurance and was told it was a federal requirement.
"Federal requirement? We've got too much government haven't we?"

Lots of applause from the crowd. Awkward looks from all the other government officials. Meek's laughed and said he'd said it before and wasn't afraid to say it here or anywhere else.

A lot of the questions were technical clarifications or concerns. That audience was enthralled, but I doubt you would be. Others were more accusations that questions.

George of Goshen wanted it to be known that he frequents the toll road and that, while he has seen many semi's tipped over, he has never seen a van in a ditch.
No one knew why this was relevant.

Another man urged people to contact their congressman to get the federal insurance regulations changed. One couldn't hold in his anger and declared, "That [insurance is] where this is raping us!" Limited applause. This is Northern Indiana, we don't just toss around words like "rape".

Finally one lady asked if the rumors of the Amish being stopped by the state police for a horse being lathered up, was true.

The government officials were adamant that this was only a rumor and that the state police did not and would not do such a thing. So...would the regular police? I didn't ask. It seemed touchy.

Some one else was angry because they're cracking down on the Amish but there are hundreds of illegal immigrants right down the road. Judging from the earlier cheers when a rule that, "A driver must be able to read/speak English" I'd say this view was shared by many people in the room. To me the Amish and illegal immigrants are the same. Neither one claims any responsibility to this country. At least the immigrants don't ruin the roads.

A person who I have labeled in my notes as "Angry Man" got up for the second or third time and declared that the new rules were going to put the drivers out of business and that then there would be 600 buggies on the road, which would create far more safety problems than un-insured drivers would.

I was glad he brought it up, because that's one of my main concerns. I don't know if it was just because of the weather or if the Amish were all out in protest, but when I drove home that evening there were more buggies on the road than I've seen in a long time.

Friday, April 11, 2008


There are a lot of police out on the streets of the city I live in. They've been all over the place lately and they're completely worthless.

Robin and I were walking home from downtown. We started to cross a four way stop at the same time as a white car was slowing down to stop. We were almost across when the white car sped up and swerved to hit us! We ran out of the way, but Robin got the license plate number and we thought to note the street names and time.

When we got home we called the police. I told the woman that we'd got the license number. She asked where it had happened and the type of car. I told her the intersection and that the car was white but that I didn't catch the make and model.

She said, "Ok, well we'll put out patrol cars," and then she hung up.

Robin and I saw no less than four patrol cars on our walk. I don't see how they could put out more or what good it could possibly do. I wanted to give her the plate number, but she didn't take it. I wanted to call back and say, "HEY, we got the license number! Take it and run her plates!" but I feel a little weird about that.

Why do we have so many police out if they're not going to do anything?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Idol Gives Back?

I haven't been that excited about American Idol this year and Idol Gives Back turned out to be an extra bummer because Michael Johns got kicked off.

I didn't really watch Idol Gives Back, last night. As a matter of fact, I made plans for the evening specifically because one year of watching Paula, Randy, Simon, and Ryan pretend to care was enough. But, last minute changes in plan found me at home when the last half of the show was airing after all.

This year American Idol execs planned better. Most of the songs actually had to do with caring for people rather than reveling in our apathetic tendencies. The people who were sent to Africa either actually cared...or they have better acting experience. The point is, as a viewer at home I felt like they care - and that's what keeps people phoning in their pocket change, yes?

There are only two bits of the show I really payed close attention to.

One was when the Idol contestants sang Seasons of Love. I like that song. Yes, I know. RENT is an evil movie created for the sole purpose of corrupting good Americans like you and me. The song is still pretty.

Ironically a, somewhat anti-Christian, idol-blogger, Rickey Yaneza, and I were upset about the same part of the show. The finale. Idol contestants came back together with a gospel-type choir to sing Shout to the Lord.

Rickey is angry because,
"Shout to the one of the anthems of the born-again movement in the world — a movement which does not support contraception and is intolerant towards gays and people with HIV/AIDS...Saving children in Africa and New Orleans has nothing to do with the Christian god. What were they thinking? Bah!"

My roommate and I were horrified's a worship song. And it wasn't even one of those songs about God's love for the earth or how God takes care of His children or how we're His hands and feet. That could have been appropriate. The whole song is about how glorious God is and about how the whole world recognizes it. The point is to worship God for His greatness...and they used it as a display case for pretty voices. It wasn't about God at all.

I don't expect the majority of the Christian viewers to be bothered. I rather imagine that they will be tickled that a song they sing Sunday mornings was on American Idol. That their importance as viewers has been noticed. I imagine the same people will have been offended by Carrie Underwood's rendition of Praying For Time (which I loved and thought was incredibly appropriate). That's not to take a swing at anyone who feels that way. I'm imagining having this conversation with my parents and how perplexed they would be at my opinion.

Don't get me wrong, I've always said that Idol execs need to get their act together and realize that a majority of their viewers (and probably contestants) are church-goers. I was thinking more that they should just refrain from offending the living daylights out of us - not that they should hold us a service.

In the end though, I don't think it would matter what they sang. I'm never going to help people through American Idol. Ever. I much prefer to know where my money is going and what it is doing. I can't help thinking that the money Idol Gives Back has gathered will primarily go towards paying for "promotional materials" or to pay for celebrity appearances.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Snap Judgements

My roommate's boyfriend is not the flower buying kind. He had to be yelled at (not by her) before he consented to buy her flowers for valentine's day. My roommate is such a clever person. She bought herself flowers one day. Then she left them out on our kitchen table in a pretty vase. Boyfriend arrives. First question on his mind, where are these flowers from? Who are these flowers from? When he voices his concerns she tells him that she had to go out and buy herself flowers. The pictures above are of the flowers he brought her the next day.

My roommate has an adorable and evil dog. She refused to look straight at the camera. The instant I have a camera in hand she runs away.

The shoe section at Target has always been bad, but this may be a new low. My sister demonstrates the pain and sadness that Target is causing.

Actually, I don't like most of the clothing at Target at all. I love their housewares and office supplies, but their clothes all seem strategically designed to flatter no-one.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Crisis in Amishland

The community I work in has three types of people. Amish people, English people who like Amish people and English people who don't.

(note: despite the fact that we aren't English, that's what Amish people call us. Maybe because we speak English instead of PA-Dutch?)

On Friday a Pro-Amish guy was by the office. He was ranting and raving about government oppression of the Amish.

Amish people drive in horse-drawn buggies (or pony drawn carts, or on horses, or on bike or they walk - but mostly the buggies). The obvious disadvantage to buggies is that it takes a lot longer to get places so a lot of times Amish people hire drivers to take them to Wal-mart or anywhere that's a couple towns away. There are a lot of people who make side money "Hauling Amish" - or they used to.

Sometime last year the government started threatening fines on all the Amish Haulers who weren't properly licensed and insured as commercial drivers. The thing is, the licensing and insuring would cost more than these people make off driving. A few people went through the proper channels and started hauling again (I guess they had enough business), most stopped hauling, and others kept hauling illegally.

Well, according the the Pro-Amish, man the government has been staking out Wal-mart and stopping vans of Amish people as if they were checking the border. If the driver isn't legal all the Amish people have to get out and the driver has to leave them there. The Amish people asked what they're supposed to do the government officials have said they don't know and don't care.

Here's the thing. Yes, the driver is breaking the law, but the law in there to protect the people he is driving. If I went to a nail salon and it turned out the manicurist wasn't licensed (yes, you need a license to slap on some nail polish) they wouldn't be hauling me away (or ripping off my acrylic nails!). It isn't my job to check that the person is running legally, when a person hangs out their shingle the customer assumes that they are legal unless they're selling crack or something. So why are they punishing the people who the lack of insurance leaves at risk?

I'm not pro-Amish en-mass (though there are Amish individuals that I like), but this just seems absurd. Pro-Amish man went on for quite some time and told us another story about family's who'd gotten in trouble because their horse was foaming. People sweat, horses foam. Evidently this is abuse. Another time a horse had icycles hanging off its nose because it was cold out and the foam had frozen. Again, abuse.

So - no drivers for the Amish, but they can't use horses either.

The Amish people asked what they were supposed to do and the police officer told them they should change their ways. Probably this is not a government attitude and the police officer had simply had to dodge one too many buggies. Everyone has those days - even so.

Drivers, Amish, and businesses are upset about this. Wal-mart probably doesn't care, but Aldi and other stores have seen their profits fall. So there's going to be some sort of meeting with government officials to discuss the situation.

We were telling out boss about all the drama (and petitioning him to let us report on the meeting) when another guy came in. He was not pro-Amish. He doesn't see a problem. After all, why should the state change the rules for just our county? We should we have special priviledges?

My boss mentioned that the drivers are being charged more than drivers in the city (who make more and have a higher accident risk). I just think there should be rules for this situation. Other counties don't have Amish so of course they wouldn't have rules providing for them (though many Indiana counties do have Amish communities).

I'll you know how the meeting goes.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Weekend? Where are you?

Yesterday was a day of madness.

I took Monday off this week. Not a biggy because nothing comes in on Monday. I probably would scrounge up work to do. I was really sick two of the four days I did work. I don't remember anything about those days and it seems unlikely that I lived up to my full potential.

We had a ton of extra advertisers. This is more of a big deal.

There are a lot of people out there who believe that just because I have a computer and a degree in graphic design I can take some hacked up photograph, with bad color and coffee stains, and turn it into a professional ad. They're right of course, but it takes time and I didn't have much of that.

There are even more people who don't understand what the word, "deadline" means. People call us up and cry pitiously into the phone about how their sale will be over by the time we publish another issue, it will be too late and all will be lost. These were things to consider two days ago. Before the deadline.

It was 7:00 before I finally got out the door and I expect Monday will be much the same.
There's something to look forward to.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

cold & flu

I made it all winter wihtout getting sick, but now that it's spring (technically) I've got a nasty cold. Of course.

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