Born to Purr-form

Our car isn’t going in any showroom soon. Not even in any car club’s show and tell EB. The current state of it’s exterior has obviously seen better days. Thanks to our resident cats. Shown here is one those that always grabs the opportunity to make our car their siesta spot and scratching post.

The car still gets us to places though. Yesterday we almost didn’t make it to our flight to Bacolod after an accident somewhere near Alabang had us moving in a crawling pace for almost an hour. I went maximum legal speed the moment we cleared the area and thankfully made it to Park ‘N Fly then to the airport. Our names were on PA just when we passed through the X-Ray machine. That close.

Happy to be singing we are flying on an airplane.

***

Mood: 3/10 Honks! (Attending a wedding later. Free food.)

Advertisements

Zen in Car Wash

There was once a time when finding time to wash the car leisurely was no big deal. I can do it anytime, I can do it even every day. But that was then for this activity has taken a backseat among other priorities. When I do get time to do it though, thoughts about the past with it would seem to come by. It’s like there is Zen in squeezing the sponge and applying bubbly car shampoo solution on the car’s cold silver gray surface.

Our car turned eight this year and everything has remained stock just the way I prefer it to be. Last year I was lucky to receive a dashboard cam which is the only significant change that has happened to our Honda City so far. And this month, exactly on its anniversary, we gave it an RFID toll sticker—one that has already helped us breeze through toll gates during our weekly trips to Batangas. Take note, weekly. We have been that busy.

RFID transaction took less than 15 min.

It will be two months since I have been driving almost daily, weekends included. And there have been lots of instances when driving was stressful and judgment fails despite best effort to stay focused. Like recently, a motorcycle rear-ended our car after I tried to overtake a slow moving jeepney. The car had a very minor scratch, the motorcycle rider had a nervous escape, and I had nothing to blame but my sleepy and reckless self. Sometimes bad karma could happen that fast.

I have been wishing to be on a long road trip to break the boring routine trips to the malls, more so, to and from work. This last weekend, that road trip finally happened. The trip to Kamay ni Hesus was nostalgic, the last time I was behind the wheel to Lucena was more than 10 years ago. Not much has changed though except for some completed road improvement as well as perpetual road repairs which give the hint of an incoming election period not to mention the substandard materials that our dear government officials and their contractors love to use.

It was a road trip around Mount Banahaw.

The drive back home was more interesting as we took a different way plus the fact that it was my first time to pass through what drivers refer to as little Baguio or bituka ng manok route.  Named for its undulating and twisty road that resembles the curves of a chicken’s intestine, the route was challenging as expected and every now and then it was tempting to push my driving skill to the limit. It took us almost an hour of twists and turns before we see straight road again. We got out of it intact, no dizzy wifey, Marcus and his cousins didn’t require barf bags.

The last time I washed the car was before New Year and it was also when I had it polished and waxed. I could be that detailed when time and resource allow it. Yesterday, I had the energy to pick up the sponge and bucket once again, thanks to a graveyard shift cut short by two hours, but just to realize that I have ran out of Turtle Wax car shampoo. So for the very first time in my entire life as a car owner I bit the bullet and used a Dove body wash just so our dusty car could have its much deserved break. The bright side? It was the most fragrant car wash it ever had.

Works for humans and cars.

Come to think of it, a car could remind us of how life is. That life will never be perfect, it is never perfect, and if it seems to appear like so, we must accept that it won’t remain perfect forever. There is no point in fretting over minor dents and scratches. As long as the car’s engine keeps running, then so be it. Same goes with life.

***

Mood: 3/10 Honks! (Home earlier than yesterday. If I go offline tonight any longer, I might as well work at LTO.)

Dealing with a seven-year old

Our seven-year old is acting up lately. The past week has been a struggle especially for me as there were so many issues that I have to deal with. It is some sort of tantrums, or as my wife puts it, ‘a sign that it is seeking attention.’ Whatever the reasons are, it is becoming obvious that this one has seen better days. Nope, it’s not our son but our Honda City.

On hump day morning right out of work as I happily imagine a hearty breakfast at home I found a screw—a screw stuck deeply into my left rear tire. Needless to say, I had to change the flat tire while tired and sleepy and hungry. Good thing I was able to summon my inner pit stop crew skill and I was out of Nuvali after less than 15 minutes which is not bad given my then present condition. (The vulcanizing shop guy was able to pull out a four-inch screw which he said must have fallen from a motorcycle brake adjuster.)

But, just like that overused TV shopping line, wait there’s more. That night, I had to deal with several rude drivers on my way to work. Oncoming vehicles flashed their headlights; some even had the nerve to honk as I get near them. Just rude, inconsiderate at the very least, right? Well, it was midway of my trip when I realized I was at fault—I was running with one headlight on the passenger side only. It would have been cool if I were in the music video of that Wallflowers’ song but in real life it’s really not. Anyway, I made it through the dark stretch that I regularly take and I even had the time to drop by True Value Solenad to grab a replacement which I was able to install the next day. Another problem solved, comes the next.

When it rains, it pours—in my car’s case, it leaks. The recent rainy days have exposed a leak on the driver side.  I thought at first that it is coming from under, that there could be a hole, that whenever I pass by this flooded part of my trip water comes in. The good news, I discovered, is that there isn’t one right below but the bad news is that it is coming from a breach either in the gasket where the wires and hood cable from the engine side go through or from an unknown location. So yesterday I had all my tools out—hydraulic jack, jack stand, hand tools, and a caulk. The front of the house was a repair shop for hours while I am trying to beat the hot rising sun.

All the caulking I made under the left fender weren’t successful though. It rained hard in the afternoon—hours after we arrived from buying Marcus’ CoQ10 and Alpha Lipoic Acid at Healthy Options ATC—and this morning I discovered the leak is still there. But I now think that I have found the culprit which is a small gap where the windshield and wiper panel meet. Another caulking session took place while I was all sweaty right out of my workout session from the nearby gym. Fingers now crossed.

I would say that if there were cars during Jean Valjean’s time then ours could be his. I know it’s an exaggeration but such inconveniences had me relate more to Les Miserables which is a story I read while killing time at the parking lot—while in my car, our seven-year old car.

Either I win the lotto or join a networking group to make his last year’s wish a reality. There are other options but would be against the law.

 

***

Wifey bought a DVD of Les Miserables which we watched yesterday while rain poured hard outside, while I was wondering if I was able to fix the leak of the car.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (A part of me wishes for the El Nino to persist.)

Blindness Falls

Darkness is the absence of light…and blindness is the presence of a oncoming vehicle on high beam.

***

The long wait for the part has come to an end. More than a month after my low beam conked out because of a faulty headlight switch, I got the call from my Honda service advisor informing me about the replacement part’s availability. And with this, the people whom I usually meet while on their way back home from a tiring work day will now be so grateful not to have another blinding encounter. To the tired engineers driving their cars, factory workers riding their underbones, Tagaytay-bound party goers, jeepney drivers, tricycle backseat passengers, village security guards, toll booth workers, and others — pedestrians, street dogs, and stray cats included — whom I have blinded, my sincerest apology. I had no choice but to drive on full high beam. Contact a Honda engineer for more explanation why its part no. 35255-S5A-A12 failed before its fifth year.

***

If it’s any consolation, I saw the light — my low beam light — again on 12/12/12.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Guilt-free driving again.)

Rookie Rider’s Day Out

Almost a week after I bought my motorcycle and I’ve ridden it only once. It was one quick ride inside our village and I’ve craved to do more. Due to work and recent heavy downpour I had no choice but to lock and cover it in our yard until today.

This morning’s weather hasn’t improved still and it isn’t a motorcycle-friendly day but the call to take another ride took over my worries of getting wet. I felt a mix of anxiety and excitement once I got home after dropping my wife off the shuttle bus stop. Today’s D-Day and here’s my first ride log:

  1. Motorcycles are meant to be started and left idling for a few minutes before taking it for a ride – It’s not about wasting gas but it’s a requirement to warm up its engine unlike cars that one can start and step on the gas right after.
  2. I wore shirt, jeans, sneakers, and helmet which I got free from the motorcycle dealer. These are the minimum although one item in the newly debated LTO guidelines states that a leather jacket is a must.
  3. A P500 in the wallet is more than enough for a full I have a full capacity of only 3.7 liters or P200 worth of gas. That’s just sweet. I’m yet in the process though of figuring out how far one liter can go.
  4. Motorcycle signal lights do not automatically turn off after executing a turn so don’t forget to switch it off or drivers behind would be confused.
  5. A jacket is indeed needed for an early morning ride. I realized midway of my trip that my nipples are getting harder with the cold wind blowing all around me. Ti abi.
  6. You can’t scratch your nose or any part of your face while your helmet is on. I unconsciously tried doing it and saw some smiles by the sidewalk. Embarrassing.
  7. Fixing something somewhere in your crotch is a no-no. Do I need to elaborate
  8. Water puddles aren’t fun. I love to go fast on these while driving my car (making sure of course that no one’s around to be reached by the splash) as I imagine myself in a Peugeot and trying to beat Sebastian Loeb. Now I guess I’ll have to get used to imagining beating Jeremy McGrath instead.
  9. Coasting isn’t possible. My motorcycle’s shifting pattern does not allow me to shift to neutral after achieving a sustainable speed like on a downhill. But then, other than being illegal according to the rule of defensive driving, motorcycle’s fuel consumption is already thrifty compared to cars that coasting isn’t significant anymore.

I covered 32 kilometers for this morning’s ride and it felt good to be out on the road and coming home safe. Riding a motorcycle is not actually scary as most people (usually wives and those without motorcycles) would say. The rules that need to be followed are still similar to driving a car except for some other things that need to be observed such as staying more visible to other motorist, giving more focus due to the obvious reason that a rider is exposed to all elements and maintaining balance at all times.

With my introduction to the world of motorcycles, it opened me to a new perspective. I’m now beginning to feel empathy to those people who have no choice but to take a motorcycle to work despite heavy rain. I now respect their space on the road and I now understand the need for car (and any other four-wheel vehicles) drivers and motorcycle riders to co-exist in order to create a healthy and safe commuter environment. Of course, I still believe that education is the key to achieve order and hopefully, more people will soon get educated enough to drive safely.

***

Postscript

Having held back from telling my mother about the idea of buying an motorcycle, I finally called her after this morning’s ride and told her all about it. I was expecting some sort of worried remarks coming from the other end of the line, but I was all smiles when I heard her say, ”Ay gali? Ano ginbakal mo? Ang mga pambabayi na motor? (Really? What did you get? Those feminine motorcycles)

I was laughing when I asked her what she meant by “feminine” motorcycles and I laughed harder when her description fitted that of the underbones –the one I have. She must be expecting me having a motocross (also known today as motards) which I remember were the “in” thing when I was a kid. Anyway, I explained to her that underbones (and scooters) are now the trend as they are cheaper and have lower displacement thus, lower fuel consumption; AND that they’re not just for women. (she’ll be mobbed in the forums with those remarks. hahahaha)

I was still wondering about the unexpected jolly remarks from her after I ended our conversation, and then I remembered that she was the one who taught me how to ride a bike during my elementary days. I recalled her patiently holding on to me until I feel comfortable with the balance and she ran along while I pedal it all by myself. From my late high school to college years, she likewise never questioned my scuffed shoes, tattered jeans and tiny bruises when I was into BMX flatland. AND she even approved when I came home with a haircut which has the word “BMX” shaved behind my head. Come to think of it, she’s a cool mother.

Back On Two Wheels

 

What do these things have in common?

  1. Vietnam
  2. Discovery’s American Choppers
  3. Nat Geo’s Long Way Down
  4. Nat Geo’s Rides
  5. Wild Hogs (movie)
  6. Mo Twister’s most hated
  7. Motorista magazine

If you still haven’t got it right, the last one is supposed to be a give away. Yes, everything relates to motorcycles big or small; slow or fast; flashy or funny. And today I got my own, my first one. Now I’m back to riding, or better yet, learning, on two wheels. This time it’s motorized.

Following careful and lengthy considerations and several discussions with my own self, I am finally convinced to give in to the urge of riding a motorcycle. I’m quite sure though that my dear wifey still has some reservations on my recent toy disguised in the name of beating the gas prices.

But I can’t blame her for having such thoughts. We were both together when we witnessed an accident up close. If that’s not scary enough, the news of motorcycle riders clashing with other vehicles or pedestrians are so common nowadays that anyone could get confused if the news is current or a replay of other day’s. That’s the bad side of motorcycling these days. Its notoriety comes from becoming cheaper that even those who don’t have the capacity (read: brain) to ride defensively can now buy it as long there’s cash or down payment to start with.

honda wave
My ride. (Image from Hondaph.com)

But as any motorcycle advocate will tell you, accidents are bound to happen whether in a car, on a bus, on a train, on an airplane or just even while walking leisurely. It doesn’t matter what transportation if the one who’s in control doesn’t know what he is expected to do. And that’s when training and common sense–assuming it is common–come into play.

Luckily nowadays, motorcycle newbies like me have the internet to help us coach on how to go about learning how to ride. A couple of hours googling could lead one to a numerous motorcycle-related sites (e.g., MSF) and forums (e.g., MCP). It now depends on how one comprehends what he reads–individual learning curves differ.

So how am I doing so far?

After spending a couple of my time reading all about motorcycles since more than a month ago and right after I got my brand new unit this morning, I’ve given it a try only once by doing a couple of rounds inside our village. I did it noontime where sun is steaming hot but with fewer people outside. I was actually rather more embarrassed than nervous for riding it like a sissy unlike those I’ve seen that were so relaxed, confident and at some point, irritatingly showy. A few more practice and I’m sure I’ll get the hang of it.  I swear I’ll stay safe by then.

 

We Could Steal Cars

“Very nice…High Five…” – Borat Sagdiyev

Having planned a road trip with wifey for quite some time, even when we still have our trusty Kia Pride, the 12th PIHABF (Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta) came as the perfect moment. So I filed for a two-day vacation leave month ahead in anticipation of this event. And just like ants preparing for a rainy day, my wife and I went shopping a week ahead for clothing, food and storage–buying a Coleman cooler justified.

Feb 10. Past 3 AM. With the car’s boot filled with the stuffs we need, we set off. The early morning drive went well as expected. Traffic was light from Cavite to NLEX and in the back of my mind I began imagining picking a good parking spot and a good vantage point for us to witness the balloon flight before dawn. I fought the urge to floor the pedal. At some brief point the speedometer was at 120 yet the Honda City stayed stable despite it. Realizing the car’s capability, the temptation to go faster became stronger but sanity and the presence of the speed limits along the highway kept me from doing so.

In the middle of the trip, we decided to stop by Total gas station in San Simon and it was when the most unlikely thing happened. While waiting for the attendant to fill the tank to the brim, my wife and I decided to step out of the car. I grabbed some water in the boot while she picked something in the gas station’s store. Unconsciously, we both closed the doors with the car key still inside. A minute after I shut the boot door and while lazily stretching myself, I heard the car alarm’s beep followed by the sound of a latching door lock. Damn, for a moment I saw myself turned pale. I almost cried in despair. We got locked out!

After hopelessly trying to wake myself up from a bad dream, I started considering some options and eagerly asked help from the gas attendants and other people who also stopped for gas. The inputs ranged from the ridiculous yet the most direct–shattering the glass window, to the tiring and frustrating 60-kilometer public commute back going to Cavite to grab the spare key, and to the most viable yet costly option of hiring a locksmith to do the job. Also considered was taking chances if other Honda car keys will match. That one didn’t work, as expected. For the first time I hated Honda’s wave key and alarm feature.

honda-kyes
Always. Bring. Spare. Key.

The thought of missing the balloon fest and ruining our trip made me decide to seek the locksmith’s assistance so I called the guy referred by a gasoline attendant. I was greeted by a man sounding a bit irritated–I understand the feeling of being awakened early Sunday morning–yet he was kind enough to encourage me to keep on trying by opening it through the door handle using a stiffer wire to reach into the lock. The mixture of desperation, the thought of a Hazard Pay’s episode, a welding rod wire, and persuasion from my wife seemed to work together after the phone conversation.

After an hour of trial and error, the lock tab popped. To say I shouted for joy would be an understatement. Upon checking my watch, I learned that we’ve been locked out for almost two hours already.  Without wasting another minute more we continued our trip but only after giving a ride to the two gas boys who stayed with us until the end of their night — they were our cheering team during the whole ordeal. My wife and I exchanged congratulations several times on our way to Dau. We kidded ourselves as being able to be in cahoots as carjackers. Honda City owners beware.

We arrived in the Balloon fest area past 7 AM, tired but glad we still made it. Parking far from the entrance gate didn’t matter anymore. Just being at the site bustling with people to watch an event featuring everything that flies is satisfying enough.