Cars and the Rain

I had this small talk at work with someone while waiting for her to sign all the papers–dreaded documents–I’ve been submitting almost regularly lately. Looking at the pale pink dawn sky outside their office window I said, “Nice to see the sun again.” She replied, “I’m a rainy day fan so I really don’t like the sun even back when I don’t have a car.” Well, I had the same sentiments. Had.

It’s been raining for almost two weeks already and it’s effect has become more of a nuisance than a benefit to me. I like driving in the rain but the heavy downpour has taken its toll on the roads where I drive daily. It has exposed once more the substandard asphalt that our dear public contractors have tried to pass as acceptable. Happens every rainy season and this time the potholes are bigger and deeper. Corruption was never gone. Shame.

Then there’s this annoying leak in our car. And it’s now in two places. It used to be only in the driver’s foot well but it’s now also in the trunk. Best excuse to keep me considering a mortgaged brand new compact sedan. Snap, snap. While my trunk now looks like nothing happened to it after a bad rear-ender months back, I realized Servex’s workmanship wasn’t as good as they promised. Servex is Kia Sto. Tomas delearship’s multi-brand shop. No thanks, not returning it for a back job.

Now I’m waiting for clear skies before I go back checking where these leaks are coming from. I was able to find cracks in the trunk and have sealed it but I think I missed a couple more. For now, I’m not wearing flip-flops while driving, else soggy feet.

On a different perspective, all this inconvenience seem trivial. Would I rather take public transportation again than drive a car that has obviously seen better days? And put myself under the mercy of reckless jeepney drivers? Ok, leaky car, I’m still yours, you’re still mine.

Come to think of it, it’s all in the mind. It’s also about influence of the environment. Few months ago Marcus, who by the way is a big fan of fast cars, and I watched on Netflix Paul Hollywood’s Big Continental Road Trip. It’s rated 13+ although there are mature humor in some scenes. The show features cars and culture of different countries and it was the France episode that struck me the most. Despite stature, those who live in castles and play golf on weekends, these French people do not drive luxurious cars. They don’t mind a simple fender bender and nudging a car to get a parallel parking space seems very common. I think I should live in France.

Still on cars, I’ve been trying to get back on writing so I read lengthy posts of James Deakin on Facebook and other pages that talk about cars. I’m a frustrated car magazine writer and almost landed as contributor of a car forum several years ago but the topic they assigned as test piece wasn’t my forte so I didn’t pursue it. This week I read two articles of this automotive Facebook page and it made me wonder if they have an editor because the articles ended abruptly, definitely were half-baked, rushed pieces just to hit the required number of words. I miss writing all of a sudden. Should I start about cars again then? Well, as soon as I’m done writing these papers at work.

***

Here’s a video showing my close encounter with what Marcus identified to be a Mercedes-Benz AMG GTR which he said he owned before in his XBox Forza game. Google shows that this car is 2018 model worth $167,000 or Php8M. I’m sure this car doesn’t leak.

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Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Was able to hit 5K despite gloomy skies.)

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I Have New Wheels. Sort of.

Karma must’ve caught on me. Our newly painted Honda City ’08 was a wreck after last week’s rear-ender. It happened fast, I didn’t see it coming. It was all routine drive until boom, everything inside the car got messed up. Coffee mug was thrown out of the cup holder, my shoulder bag went from front to the backseat, pairs of shoes mixed up, and the dashcam dangled like a pendulum after it got dislodged from its windshield mount. Saw all this after I found my phone somewhere on the floor. I wasn’t meant to be in the office that night.

Cars involved in the collision minus the truck that caused it all.

Good news is I’m still alive and writing and won’t be taking jeepney rides under this cruel tropical summer sun (heat index registering at 40 degrees Celsius lately) as the trucking company owner shouldered everything plus the loaner car. It was a bad experience but this guy lessened the stress of going through the police report and the repair process. God is good. As of this moment, my car’s damage is being taken care of at a Kia dealership that caters all-brand services.

Didn’t expect that a loaner car was an option in cases like this.

What I find funny is that this year we’ve been thinking of either getting a van or a smaller car–wherever that budget will come from is another story–that fits our garage and that could carry a wheelchair. Now it happened, I’m back to driving a Kia. This must be why they say be careful what you wish for.

So far I’m loving the automatic Picanto. It’s fun to drive, it’s easier to park and it can carry all three of us plus the wheelchair. Just this Monday the red compact car got the three of us to watch Avengers: Endgame. I just wonder though if 15 km./li @ 80 kph average speed is the best it can do. The old Honda City have done better. Think think.

(Draft first posted on my Facebook account.)

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Mood: 2/10 Honks! (It rained and looking forward to see how the small tires would handle wet road.)

Carless and Enjoying It

It’s almost a month since I sent our car to a shop for its much needed paint job. Surprisingly, I seem to have adapted to this new lifestyle. I’m carless and I’m enjoying it.

The first couple of weeks I carpooled to and from work. It changed my routine, it challenged my patience. Most days I’d play the waiting game and there was a day when I stood like a lifeless statue for an hour before my friend arrived but I didn’t (show) complain one bit.

Then the dreaded need to report on a different time and extend after shift happened. I had to take public transportation which I soon discovered is actually easy and convenient in some aspect even if the jeepney rides exposed me in the open, more so the tricycle trips that were like extreme games played in the middle of a busy road. My fate was on the hands of possibly crazy drivers and their equally unstable vehicles. But so far I survived.

Car’s all wrapped up in the paint shop.

One of the good things without a car is that I get to places I normally would avoid because of lack of parking space. Like yesterday morning right out of work, I went to a newly opened Domino’s Pizza parlor to get something for lunch. In the afternoon, coming from the paint shop and doing errands to the laundry shop I stopped by at a small eatery and indulged myself with their special lomi. It was something I haven’t done for years. I got so excited at the sight of a nicely served hot meal that I started mixing it before deciding it would make a good social media post for a change. It was likely 600 plus calories so I stopped halfway after finishing the meat and the rest of the toppings. 😂

Raffy’s lomi tastes good though it was better years ago.

I checked the car and it is on its buffing stage before the top coat will be applied. Construction of our covered garage at home was just completed as well after a week of noisy activity and it should be ready to accommodate the car when the concrete is fully cured. I can’t wait to drive the car again but now that I’ve learned of another option to commute to work I might drive less and take the public transportation more if weather permits.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Longer weekend ahead. Hit 30:52 minutes at 5K mark which breaks last year’s PT.)

An Airbnb and a Van

Last December was a vacation with a different setup. No thanks to the near miss that almost ruined our Christmas and left us with only one parent. The good news she’s a fighter and is recovering fast but to lessen her stress of managing demanding guests, therapist, and helpers in one house, not to mention the growing pets, we all decided to use Airbnb. For the very first time, all of us visiting Bacolod lived in a house that wasn’t ours.

A breakfast at MyPlace.

It was a good thing that we found MyPlace on Airbnb. It appeared among the first set of search results given the number of guests. MyPlace can accommodate 13 with its four bedrooms but since there were only six of us checking in, the first issue we had was picking which room and which bed. Others were very minor and we learned to deal with it. Props to the host, Judith, and her staff who are very professional, organized, and friendly. They made sure we have what we need and familiar with everything, including the wi-fi password, before leaving the whole house to us. MyPlace in Bacolod City is an ancestral house that became our home for seven days.

Tempting to have a party with such space but house rules don’t allow rowdy ones.

On top of a house that’s fully furnished, MyPlace has a two-car garage. This encouraged wifey more to pursue renting a van instead of us flagging a taxi every time we need to go somewhere. In a busy December, it was a sound idea. Her spec includes that the vehicle could take two wheelchairs–one for my mother and one for Marcus–and luckily we found one that my high school friend owns. Vehicle was a white Nissan NV350 with only a few mileage on it.

Shot of the garage from my dash cam that I attached to the van during the entire trip.

I’ve driven several vehicles in the past but never a full size van so I had some anxiety about doing it since the thought of getting a rental started. But no guts, no glory as we used to say in my younger years, so we did and there was no regrets.

The van was surprisingly easy to drive. A few adjustments on day one and minor hiccups like driving with the emergency brake engaged, I picked up faster than expected. NV350 van is diesel and it’s a bit torquey on the first gear but I got used to it soon. Its wide mirrors made it easier to park and maneuver in tight December traffic so I never had any problem driving it. The white van made our trips to the malls, fast food breakfast runs, and every other trips needed a more convenient one. P2000 per day seems worth it.

It was raining on and off so I had to get the van washed at least once.

One week has past since we left Bacolod and join the rat race once more. I miss everyone back there, including our first Airbnb home. Of course I also miss the white Nissan van which has become my new dream car even if it will be hard to fit it in our space. Maybe I’ll stick to the Honda Jazz or maybe I’ll stick to our current City. Perhaps a new paint job to the 11-year old car will do the trick of shaking off that thought of mortgaging a new car.

***

While waiting to pick up sis and family at the Silay airport.

I wasn’t totally honest. There’s actually one thing that annoyed us. Nissans are known for their good air conditioning so I was surprised when the front blowers died while we were on our way to have lunch at Vikings SM Bacolod. My backseat drivers said the rear fans were working fine so we proceeded anyhow. On that same afternoon I dropped by my friend’s house to have it checked and we later confirmed that my hunch about a busted fuse was right. It was late in the afternoon when a technician found the blown fuse so he replaced it with the only spare available but one that’s underrated. As expected, it blew up two days later after I absentmindedly turned the blower to full setting. Good thing the fuse box is easy to access so I was able to replace it myself and even bought extra 15 amps spare flat trumpet angle fuses for my friend’s future use. This fact however does not change my newfound love for vans. Marcus loved it too and it fits his wheelchair upright. I must win the lotto soon.

***

Mood: 3/10 Honks! (Each small bit of chocolates seem to stuff me up.)

Chubby White Guy

I met a chubby guy.

One after the other. One day I was in a paint shop, next day in a car registration office, and then couple of days later I see myself at a tire shop. The pattern of where I’ve been at in the past few days shows that this month is definitely car month. More expenses in short. The price I have to pay in maintaining a 10-year old car.

Yesterday I finally replaced my car’s Goodyear Duraplus tires that already breached three years since February this year. I’ve been using the same brand after letting go of the noisy stock Bridgestones as I’ve proven that Goodyear tires are better and tough. In fact, this last set held on until the last thread pattern are almost gone which why it was hard for me to easily trust any other brand.

But here comes the chubby white guy. Up to the last minute I tried to fit another set of Goodyear tires specified for my car. The bad news is that even Goodyear dealers I’ve checked out don’t have the 175/70R13 tire readily available anymore. Fortunately someone recommended a tire shop that gave me an offer that’s hard to dismiss–a discounted Michelin.

Michelin has very good reputation despite the tire brand’s poor performance against the Pirellis at the F1 races years ago. Ask random car guys and most would likely say that Michelin tires are better but pricey. I had the same impression until I contacted someone at Minerva Yokohama tires in Calamba. A Michelin tire at Php 3000 a piece was a steal.

Two weeks ago I discovered my front tires have deteriorated badly, both would fail the coin test, and since then wet roads got me more worried than before. So imagine my relief when my schedule and wallet–wifey’s support included–aligned at last to get all four tires replaced before heavy monsoon rains strike again.

Needless to say, I’m back on safer grounds. The Michelin tires made me feel confident driving once more as the car has the grip it needs to stay in control. It’s also noticeable that there’s lesser road noise which means I can focus better behind the wheel. Only distraction now is the glowing blue seven segment LED display on my USB charger. Dear heavens, I need that voltage stuck at 12.5 volts please. Next stop soon, car battery shop. I need an online job.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Introvert mode off later.)

My Talkative YI Dashboard Camera

“Keep a safe distance, please. Keep a safe distance, please.” “Caution, car drifting. Caution, vehicle drifting.” That’s neither my wife nor Marcus interfering with my driving, they’re used to it. The demanding voice that repeated itself over and over again at quite close interval emits from my new YI dashboard camera with its ADAS or driving assistance feature.

It was a hassle-free Lazada transaction. I ordered the item Tuesday and it was delivered morning of Thursday, paid COD. The box came with a Chinese manual but I was able to set it up in less than 15 minutes. Not that I understand Chinese but because camera’s menu is in English and control buttons made it so easy to navigate. Only time I needed from the YI Dash cam English manual that wifey found online is its wifi’s default password. It’s 1234567890. You can thank me later.

YI dash cam app.

Stock parts work. Suction mount holds and the camera fits nicely behind my rear view mirror. That’s right, I set it that way just to be compliant with our country’s anti-distracted driving law and besides I could access all of YI dash cam’s settings as well as extract video clips using its wireless connection. A YI dash cam app needs to be downloaded from Google Play or App store to connect to the cam’s wifi. Both our Android and Apple phones connect to the camera in a breeze. The USB-micro USB power cable that came with the package works fine but I find it thin and too long so I replaced it with something better which I already have at home.

Video quality is fair even at night except I noticed that lights appear dispersed and this could be an issue if there’s a need to capture an oncoming vehicles plate number so I hope I won’t have to.

For the price of Php2600 YI dashboard camera is worth it. It’s obviously a whole lot better than what I had since 2015 except for its talkative driving assistance. I have already turned it off the day after.

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Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Back to healthy food.)

My First Lazada Order

Dashboard camera.

I have joined the bandwagon. Years of holding back, leaving all the online buying to wifey, ends today. Out of necessity brought about by the anxiety over my current dashboard camera hanging up on me yesterday, I’m left with no other choice but to take a deep breath and try out Lazada for the very first time.

Wifey never had any major setback with this online store. She has purchased several items that I once joked if she holds a share in Lazada. Of of these items I can count at least one or two that didn’t meet expectations but worked just fine nevertheless. So I’m crossing my fingers that I’d have the same experience in doing my first transaction. Site says my item would be received in 2-5 days. Let’s see.

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Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Created my first Epic account. I can now play Fortnite with Marcus.)