“Greatest Country in the World?”

Seriously? Look at these statistics:

That’s pretty shocking isn’t it?

Yes, I just have to make an obligatory Independence Day post. And it’s not one that you’d expect from someone who actually lives in the states. Alas, here were my remarks on Facebook earlier today:

——————

Some sobering statistics. How does one even quantify “the greatest country in the world?” That’s all subjective opinion as it were.

I’m not saying I dislike this country. I’m also not necessarily saying I’d be less miserable elsewhere. However when we look at objective measuring sticks we see the subjectiveness of such a claim.

There is no “greatest country in the world.” There is no worst either. It’s a matter of personal opinion that when asserted as fact sounds totally asinine.

I pledge no allegiance to any country or government. I pledge allegiance only to my own conscience. I’m an American citizen on paper but at heart I’m a non-citizen of the world, for we are all interdependent upon one another regardless of some imaginary lines drawn in the earth.

Have a good day everyone.

——————–

So there you have it. I now leave you with this song, which has more substance to the lyrics than this entire country seems to. It’s also fitting in that this song perfectly describes the blind patriotism of most American conservatives.

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The Plot Thickens…

Poor Phoenix just can’t catch a break. After the 2nd time back to the dealership, the rough idle remained though I didn’t get any more check engine codes. An engine shouldn’t idle rough at any time or speed, so that means something else was up.

So, after the dealership I bought her from failed to fix her twice, I’m like to hell with it; I’m calling the experts and taking her into an actual licensed VW tech. Apparently Hyundai techs are good for little more than those cars (which are cheap ass Korean cars).

So that’s what I did this afternoon. They ran the VIN and lo and behold the previous owner brought the car in on May 20th – just before the car was traded in at Hyundai. The receptionist remembered vividly selling him spark plugs and ignition coils at the time (which the previous owner was going to replace himself).

Well apparently he didn’t do that, or he decided to try to cheap out with aftermarket parts because the tech discovered that cylinders 3 and 4 had aftermarket coils. Hmmmm, cylinder 4? You mean the one that was showing misfire codes? You don’t say!!! As such, the VW tech changed out coils 3 and 4 with OEM coils and took her for a drive and noticed no more codes pop up.

The tech also suspects that there is significant carbon buildup in the valves and fuel injectors. This would be the result of two things. First is the use of inferior quality gasoline (i.e. that does not meet Top Tier Detergent Gasoline standards) and not using the proper fuel system cleaner at the correct intervals. The other cause for a high-performance engine to gunk up is not occasionally using the engine for what it’s designed for – revving up and driving hard. Obviously don’t do it all the time, but doing so every now and then for short bursts is good for the engine as it will help blow out carbon deposits. This is colloquially known as the “Italian tuneup.” Since these obviously weren’t measures taken by the previous owner, the tech recommended a high power fuel additive to deep clean the entire fuel system. Think of it like a colonoscopy prep for a car.

At the end of the day, now I’m seeing why I got Phoenix so cheaply. The previous owner (described by the receptionist as a “young guy – a kid”) was apparently a complete idiot and did not look after her properly. He fucked her up through both negligence and thinking he knew too much about DIY maintenance. When he did and got tired of dealing with the issues, he traded the car in.

That said, the Hyundai dealership isn’t completely innocent in all this. Coil 4 was replaced by them last time, and instead of getting a proper part from VW they got an aftermarket one to replace a faulty aftermarket part. They very clearly have no clue how to work on a VW and maybe did more harm than good. As such, I will see to it that this and any additional near future repairs needed (because who know what else could be ailing her if this kid was as stupid as I think he must be) will be reimbursed as they sold me an extended warranty on a car they have no clue how to repair.

We shall see. VW Abilene said they’d let me know when another shipment of the fuel system cleaner arrives so I can pick a bottle up and run it through, and whatever else might be the issue hopefully clears up after that.

It’s been a wild ride for sure, but not one I’ve enjoyed. Hopefully it’s coming to the end now. I feel so sorry for poor Phoenix. She didn’t get the love and care she needed from her previous owner. Alas, that doesn’t mean I can’t give her the love and care she needs, and I plan to do just that.

Not all car owners are bad.

Move and Other Life Updates

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a general life update, so I figured I’d do that here.

The first one, and the most glaring for everyone, is the status on my move to San Antonio. When is it going to happen? Quicker than I thought it might. Currently, I’m looking at a fall move date (after the upcoming Mercury Retrograde passes – I’ll talk more about that later). My boss has given me the blessing to work 100% remotely when the time comes, so long as I can show up in the office “as-needed” (which he will give me enough heads-up to be able to do so). It’s such a relief I won’t have to worry about a job hunt, because in today’s job market that could take months to years.

Laina came up and visited this past weekend, and we had a blast together and with a couple of my local friends. We went bowling, something I love to do but haven’t done in years and it sure as hell showed. We ate some great gluten-free food at a couple of my favorite local eateries. I showed her some highlights of Abilene (what few there are). She drove Phoenix for a little bit, did excellent for someone who hadn’t driven a manual transmission vehicle in 16 years, and I drove her pickup for a bit and realized just how easy it was to drive (oh, and I didn’t lock up the brakes trying to clutch!). I’ll be going back down to San Antonio this weekend for a visit, also, and to do some more scoping. This will be my first road trip with Phoenix, so I’m really hoping her ailing fourth cylinder has been cured this time around!

Concerning the gluten-free thing, I’m coming to realize in the few times I’ve gone gluten-free to make Laina’s life easier when eating out together or having drinks, that there is in fact a life after giving up gluten. Sure, there are so many things I won’t be able to have, but I’m surprised by how many things I will be able to still enjoy if I in fact have to go gluten-free. I wasn’t willing to consider it before, but now I totally am, for I want to stick around and see my vision come true. Once I get settled into my real home, I’ll have the panel run to see if it is in fact the thing. As mentioned previous, it could explain a lot of things ailing both my physical and mental health.

I’m slowly working at getting into music again. I’m playing my guitar and pipes more, and am gradually inching my way back out to performing again. It was a great outlet, and I loved it before that one time I got booed off stage. Singing along to the radio and jamming with a certain special someone and a close local friend has helped me to regain some of my confidence, and while I’m still a long way away from ready to getting back to performing, but my confidence is slowly returning. Very slowly, but returning.

Concerning my next tattoo, I think my next one won’t be a new one, but a re-work of an existing one – my dagger and Saltire flag. That one healed like complete shit. It’s already lost so much definition. Many lines are blown out, the color saturation is spotty and the detail in the dagger is blurred out. I’ve stopped putting sunscreen on that one and am letting the sun do its thing to lighten it up to make it easier to re-work. Hopefully that will come before the end of the year, for I’m out of ideas for a new tattoo at the moment but I still need to go under the needle regularly as that’s an integral part of my overall well-being. That tattoo was the only one my primary artist hasn’t done, and needless to say I’ve learned my lesson not to get tattooed in the back of a camper.

Anyway, probably the biggest transformation in me now? Remember how I mentioned Mercury Retrograde earlier? Recent months has served as sort of a spiritual awakening for me, getting in touch with my higher consciousness and the ways of the universe. It’s an angle I’d never considered before, but after so much of what Laina has shared with me about true Sidereal astrology (not the Tropical bullshit that came out of the Council of Nicea, along with that lying sack of shit called the Bible), and how true it’s rung to me in my own life, I can’t help but think there’s definitely something to it. Of course the Abrahamic/monotheistic religions are obviously total bullshit, but that doesn’t mean spirituality isn’t a thing. I can be quite comfortable being an atheist while adding that dimension, and it’s so very fulfilling. I’m just lucky my sign under both the real and fake systems is the same, for I’d already been permanently marked as a Pisces!

Is there anything else? I can’t think of anything at the moment, but those are my biggest life updates. I’m on my way to being a better version of me. Don’t worry – I’m still the short shorts (warm weather) and leggings (cold weather) clad, tatted, Aspie me I’ve always been and always will be. I’m just putting to rest some demons in my past and coming out of my shell more, embracing my true inner self. This has been a transformative experience for me, and it’s only the beginning. What’s next? Only the universal consciousness knows, but I can’t wait to find out!

Crisis Averted Again?

Well, apparently there was more to poor Phoenix’s ailing fourth cylinder than a faulty spark plug.

On the way back from the office, I got caught up in the parking lot driveway just long enough for the engine to idle roughly, once again triggering a misfire code as evidenced by a flashing check engine light. I debated whether or not to turn the engine off and get a tow, but it went away after I got rolling so I felt comfortable as to drive it into the dealership for another go-over.

Turns out that sure, the spark plug was blown but so was the coil pack. VWs are apparently very order-sensitive as to where you put things, and the previous owner apparently attempted a DIY tune-up and wiz-wired the thing to the wrong firing order, probably blowing the plug and coil. A new coil later and all seems well again.

Hopefully this is the end of the saga. A word to the wise: do not attempt a tune-up on a German car unless you’re an expert. They apparently require an extra level of attention that crappy American cars don’t.

Alas, this was all resolved at no cost to me so I can’t complain too much. Phoenix is a badass little car after all (you can even ask Laina who I let drive her this past weekend. Laina did well enough for not having driven a manual in like 16 years).

Oh, speaking of which, Phoenix also got her first tattoo today. Just as I am tattooed, so are my cars. It’s an appropriate tattoo for her too:

Fitting isn’t it? And I was able to get a decal that matched the shift pattern. Absolutely perfectly fitting. Now to replace my Texas Motor Speedway sticker.

Bad Luck – It Could Get Better(?)…

…but it’s going to get worst, first (assuming it does even get better).

Well that’s how it all works right? My suspicions were confirmed this morning when I had the diagnostic trouble code read and it came back as P0304 (misfire in cylinder 4).

So yeah. Car is undrivable for now. Driving with a misfire is never a good thing as you risk serious damage to the cat doing that.

Man, what sins am I paying for that I committed in a past life such that I’m being punished dearly for it in this one? Seriously, what did I do to deserve this?

OMG. It just seems like my life will always suck. Like what the actual fuck?

Excuse me while I go fucking cry my eyes, lungs, heart and brains out.

FML.

When It Rains It Pours…

Rough idling? Check. Flashing check engine light? Also check.

Yeah, that’s bad news alright. Rough idling isn’t good obviously (and to be fair I had noticed a vibration on initial start every driving cycle, but didn’t see anything lighting up until tonight so I dismissed it) but a flashing check engine light? Well, anyone who knows the first thing about cars knows that’s about as bad as it gets. A flashing check engine light is a sign of the dreaded P03XX diagnostic trouble code, which indicates a cylinder misfire.

Of course, this is a highly dangerous situation and one that might not be correctible without sinking a shit ton of money into it and of course being car-less for another couple of weeks probably.

It seems what started off dreamy is quickly turning nightmare-ish. Why a German engineered technolgical marvel of a car is having major problems at only 47,000 miles when my old Ford (with the old backronyms “Found On Road Dead,” “Fix Or Repair Daily,” etc.) had almost 87,000 on it the day it was written off, and not once did I *EVER* see a check engine light on that thing. I mean *NEVER.*

Honestly, I just kind of had a sick feeling about that car over the weekend after what someone told me about VWs not lasting in the heat of southern US climate. My dad was quick to dismiss it and say I should look at it anyway. My gut told me to run, but I had my arm twisted into it by dad who took it for a test drive on Saturday while I was at the IndyCar race. Of course at the moment I test drove it and then subsequently drove it off the lot I was absolutely delighted that I had my arm twisted into it but now I’m not so delightful about it. I knew I should have gone for the 2017 Honda Fit I was looking at and had in my mind as the right choice – with only 3,000 miles on it at less than $15,000!!!! I guess I let the “fun factor” of the beefier and sportier yet four model years older Jetta GLI eclipse pure practicality in my mind and now I’m paying for it. Hard.

Hopefully there’s a way out of this. If it’s a simple fix, as per my extended service plan it’s a $100 deductible and the rest is covered. If it’s something serious and not really worth fixing, maybe I can convince them to take the car back? Who knows, but it looks like my relationship with this car could be very short-lived.

Oh well. I guess I was just meant to drive slow-ass boring cars. Bleh. Just one more shit-tastic piece of my shit-tastic life.

And people wonder why I wish I had never been born…

The Phoenix Rises

Out of the ashes of the tragedy that was the untimely demise of my Fiesta, the Phoenix rises and I am blessed with this gem:

VW3VW4VW1VW2

I went backward two model years but way up in bells and whistles and driving experience. Sure it doesn’t have the same fuel mileage but damn it’s got some guts and is just a much more fun drive.

Really, you should have seen the look on my face the first time I gave it the juice and just took off. The clutch is super smooth, very easy on the leg, and engages at just the right point – not too high or too low. Responsive throttle, but the accelerator is floor mounted so you actually press the top of the pedal instead of the bottom. The only thing I don’t like about the car? No blind spot mirrors. I’m sure I can purchase those without too much cost though.

I guess everything does happen for a reason. I cried tears of anguish when I went to collect my things out of the Fiesta and say goodbye one last time. I’m crying as I write this post, but for the total opposite reason. This is a far nicer car than I ever thought I’d be driving in this life.

Sure, there’s still a grieving process, but having this will definitely ease it along and in due time I will be back to normal. In the meantime, I’m going cruising for a bit. Catch you soon.