The Caffeinated Penguin

musings of a crackpot hacker

Ordered my car yesterday morning

| August 31, 2004

So, I ordered my Golf. Indigo Blue with black interior. Diesel. 5 speed automatic with the “tiptronic” upshift/downshift. Electronic stability package. Mud flaps. This is the GL, so no sunroof to leak on me. Plain wheels. $400 over dealer invoice (plus, doing the sums, he knocked $100 off the MSRP for the ESP, and he said that he'll install the mud flaps at cost when it comes in, rather than doing it at the factory). The only “hidden” fee was a $420 port charge, but I talked about it with Liz, and she said that this is typical when you order a foreign car and they have to import one for you. If they're going to have it on the lot, or get it from another dealer, then you don't typically pay this fee, but if they're ordering it for you, then you do. Oh well. It's another $400. Only a $20 processing fee, though, and they do the whole “we get you the best rate from a bunch of different banks” and all that jazz.

I don't know when it's going to come in, though. The man said that with the options I chose, it's possible it's built already, because there's nothing unusual about it. So, it might be a couple weeks, it might be a couple months. The longer the better, actually, because I can put more down on the car the longer it takes to get here.

Other than that, happy happy.


| August 27, 2004

Liz has her wisdom teeth out next Tuesday. I get to take care of her. They gave her happy drugs to make her not care about any hurting.

I have to go visit the doctor on Sept 7. At first brush, it's just a physical, but I am a bit worried about the overall health of my liver.

For those of you not aware, two years ago I had mono. This weakened my immune system, allowing a liver infection to take hold. I became jaundiced, was ill for a few weeks, then beat the infection and my liver function returned to normal.

Or so it seemed.

At 's party three months ago, I drank a fair amount – five drinks in six hours. On the way home, I was sick. I assumed it was undercooked sausage (not her fault; I brought the sausage, and had I been more sober, I would have noticed the badness of the sausage), but it might not have been. I'm not sure. Regardless of the cause, however, since then I have not been able to imbibe at all without feeling ill and very thirsty (I have to drink water equivalent to at least twice the volume of alcohol I drank). This causes me concern that thinks are not working as they should. A liver function test should put all things to rest. I am somewhat concerned that the answer may be that I need a new liver. Let us hope not. If the answer is “your liver is fine, just weak, don't drink anymore”, then I'm okay with this. Giving up alcohol is not a large deal for me. Indeed, I've had to do it already, since it makes me ill.

We will see what happens. Wish me good fortune.

The resurgence of the TDI Golf

| August 27, 2004

I couldn't get the itch out of my head. So, after work, I went up to Fiore Volkswagen in Warwick. I talked to a much more knowledgeable man than the last one. His name was Ed Roy, and he was kind of “the diesel guy”. He drives a '96 TDI Passat and loves it. So, we test drove a Jetta Wagon, and then we started talking prices. Basically, he'll sell me an '05 TDI Golf for $400 over invoice, + a $20 processing fee. I don't think it's going to get much better than that. I still want to wait and think on it for a week, but I think I might go for it.

Of course, this means I would be left with a 1994 Chrysler Concorde that I don't need. If anyone is interested in one, I'd be asking $2000 for it (Kelley Blue Book private party value is $2,500). It has a little bit of rust, a 3.3L V6, gets 25MPG, and is your typical large American fullsize sedan. The trunk is huge, and I just replaced the front ball joints and the whole driver side brake system, transmission flushed, radiator flushed, new spark plugs, etc. It's was like $1400. It will probably have about 99,000 miles on it by the time I get rid of it. It would be a good “get ye butt to college/work/etc” car.

If no one's interested, I'll probably just donate it to the Animal Rescue League of Southern Rhode Island and get something like a $4000 tax write off (I think they use the maximum book value of the car). After all, the dealer isn't going to give me a lot of money for it (come on, it's a 10 year old Chrysler with almost 100,000 miles on it), so I might as well use it to save some kitties.

In other news, my old landlord has not returned my $500 security deposit and/or furnished me with a letter detailing what is going on and it's been 25 days since I returned the keys. They have 20 days by law, so they're in violation of that. Also, if they do what they've done, then I can take them to court and demand double the amount plus any attorney's fees. I need to write them a nastygram…

Xenophobia as an aid to foreign relations?

| August 26, 2004

So, we're watching Mars Attacks, and the scene comes up where the president of the US gets a call from the president of France, and they're all buddy-buddy and on a first name basis.

Liz says “Somehow, I don't think Chirac calls up Dubya like that”.

This of course prompted me to respond: “Actually, if Le Pen had been elected, it probably would have ushered in a new era of US/French relations. They's probably have heart to hearts on the best way to kill Arabs and deport immigrants.”

Of course, Le Pen basically seems to hate everyone who isn't French, so he'd probably hate us just as much too.

So much for the VW

| August 26, 2004

Back to the drawing board.

  • They can't keep the TDI Golfs on the lot. Maybe I could get a GLS @ $21K if I'm lucky, but at that price, I might as well buy a Prius. This also means that they can move them, so no financing / clearance / etc. will apply.

  • The gasoline Golfs get 31MPG and are about $15K. At that price, I might as well get a Scion, which gets 37.

  • I could get a Jetta wagon for the price of the Golf, but I think that the Wagons look like crap. The sedans are fine, but I don't want a sedan.

Too bad. I really liked the idea of a diesel Golf. However, I like the idea of diesel cars, so I'll have a look at other ones.

More gastronomic adventures

| August 25, 2004

Last night I made venison stew with a beer-based broth. I think this was a mistake; a good burgundy would have been better.

I also made a black bottom pie; essentially chocolate custard with a meringue topping. Traditionally, the meringue is flavored with rum, but being a coffee freak, I flavored it with Kalhua instead. Quite good. The only thing I need to be sure of is to be more careful in cooking down the custard and integrating it with the eggs. It ended up being a little chunky.

Tonight I made ribs in my new electric roaster. It was cheap ($25) and is a smaller compartment than an oven, so the ribs came out tender and juicy. The same thing can be achieved with foil, of course, but I prefer to leave a smaller appliance on as opposed to the oven. Saves power and such.

Speaking of saving power, I am reevaluating my next automobile my purchase. From the beginning:

  • I currently have a '94 Chrysler. It runs very well and is mechanically sound, but gets 25 MPG (10.6 l/km) at best.
  • I like the Prius, but the cargo area is too small. A hatchback or SUV is a must. Liz's beetle works well, but I don't want a beetle.
  • The new Highlander was going to be the next vehicle, except that it's going to be about $35k and there is probably going to be a 2 year wait (the Prius is currently at 8 months)
  • So, I want something that is more fuel efficient, but that I can actually get, and is cheaper.
  • My brother's girlfriend has a Scion xA. Decent cargo room, about $14K, gets 37MPG (15 km/L).
  • Of course, Liz suggested that if I was looking at those, why not look at a Golf. Oh, and it comes in Diesel. Nice! And at about $19K (possibly less if I wait for the 2005's to come out), with a greater cargo room than the Scion and getting 46 mpg (19.5 km/l)

Any opinions? Anyone have experience with VW's, especially their Diesels? Could people see me in a Golf, or is the car not really me? I was thinking about blue.

RFC – My future

| August 23, 2004

(For the non-tech crowd, RFC stands for Request For Comments)

So, Liz said something the other day that got me thinking. The gist of it was that I have a tendancy to want to impart lots of information to people. For example, I tend to break into lectures about the physics of cooking while cooking. I also will spend obscene amounts of time figuring out things just to satisfy my curiosity. So, Liz said that I should think about going back to school and becoming a professor. She thinks I'd be good at it. Since it is my nature, why fight it? So, for those of you who know me, what do you think?

Of course, this wouldn't be for some time; another five years at least. There's nothing worse than professors who have no experience, save perhaps professors who cannot teach.

Poor english

| August 21, 2004

So, is anyone else a little annoyed by the signs on the side of route one telling people to “Drive Safe”? Shouldn't it be something like “Drive Safely”? Or do we enjoy teaching our children bad english?


| August 16, 2004

This is a really good article about how free/open source software affects the economy, and why we should take what certain companies are saying about how it will destroy the IT insdustry with a grain of salt. None of this is new, it's just really well put together.

Flags at half mast

| August 15, 2004

Julia Child has passed away.