The Epilogue…

So today I went and purchased VW’s fuel system cleaner. Talked to the parts director and apparently I wasn’t doing poor Phoenix any favors either.

When I went to buy the fuel additive today, the parts specialist asked me what kind of fuel I was running (note: I run exclusively Chevron or Texaco fuel with Techron as it gets the best mileage in any car I’ve ever had). I told him that and it was good, but what he asked me next took me aback – “what grade of gasoline?”

Having never owned any VW car before, I didn’t know some of their cars call for premium fuel. I guess it makes sense with all that German engineerng and performance under the hood. The Jetta GLI is one such model (which is different from the regular Jetta by the way – it’s got a slightly longer wheelbase, higher performance brakes, an extra forward gear and a beefier, turbocharged engine). I looked it up in the owners manual just to make sure he wasn’t blowing smoke, and it said to check inside the fuel door for the correct grade to run in your car.

Guess what? He was right!!!

premium

Well that sucks. I had no idea Phoenix needed premium fuel to perform at her best. This could explain some of the residual running issues I’ve had even after having new coils installed. I’ll of course run the fuel cleaner through it with the next tank of gas, and switch to premium fuel even though that’s going to add quite a bit of additional cost to my fuel bill. Of course, I doubt the previous owner heeded this recommendation either.

It’s actually probably a good thing I didn’t know about this at the outset because it might have been a dealbreaker for me. I’d have passed up on an amazing car at an insane price. Alas, now I know and I’ll be sure to give her the fuel she needs, even if that means increased cost.

I just feel kinda bad now. Oh well, live and learn I guess. We’ll just go from here I suppose.

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On Being a Total Fireball

If it is one thing that’s so true of me, I’m a fireball. I have the temper of Satan incarnate. It takes me awhile to get to that point, but when I blow, run for fucking cover. That’s how I’ve always been, and as I now know, how I always will be.

For those curious, here is my True Sidereal Astrology (TSA) birth chart. Pay close attention to my 12th house (about the 9:30 position) to see what’s in there, and also follow the red dotted line to the other symbol it’s paired with:

mynatal

See that? The red male symbol is Mars, follow that along the red dotted line with the square (indicating a “square” aspect – a pi/2 [that’s 90 degrees for you non-mathy types] angle +/- a few) to the green female symbol, representing Venus.

Yep, that’s a total double whammy there. My fireball tendencies? There you have it. Mars in 12th by itself is a dangerous placement, and totally explains why I have the tendency toward intense, and often violent, anger. It can often happen abrputly and without warning, and depending on what else has been going on at that point in time, it can take very little to set me off. When I learned about that placement, everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, made sense. How I have never been arrested in my life I have no fucking clue. Truth be told I probably should have been a time or two in my life.

It made even more sense when paired not only with the constellation placement (Aries) but also when squared with Venus. When I do blow up? It’s usually at those who mean the most to me. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve blown up at close friends, parents, siblings. It also explains why what few of my romantic relationships I’ve had have been highly volatile and never lasted more than a few months.

If it *IS* one thing I can honestly say it’s I’ve never hit anyone or used a weapon against anyone in a fit of rage, even as violent as it gets. I sure have a lot of destroyed personal possessions and property in my wake though! I’ve punched holes through walls, broken various objects, even ones one wouldn’t think would be breakable. I will also say I’ve used pictures of exes for target practice, but who hasn’t?

Anyway, when you combine the astrological aspects with being on the autism spectrum, you can only imagine it’s led to some pretty epic meltdowns over the years. Yeah, I was dealt a bad hand for sure.

Luckily, all is not lost. It’s not like I’m predestined to become a serial killer or some shit like that. It’s one thing I’ll have to learn how to channel and harness, and one thing I knew for sure before I learned about this is that boredom is not my friend. I had always known that, but all this just confirms it. I need to be entertained and active, even as introverted as I am.

This is another thing that solidifies my decision to move. Abilene only has limited opportunities for me to “get out of my head” and do shit. A bigger city such as San Antonio is much more conducive to that, and though Dallas was a bigger city I still felt isolated and idle. That place was not a good fit for me. San Antonio is a better fit, especially when I’ve got my spiritual guide beside me to keep me on the straight and narrow and help me avoid these pitfalls.

So there’s that. If you’re just a casual acquaintance I woudln’t blame you if you ran for cover. If you’re a closer personal friend I only hope I’ve not left some of your shrapnel in my wake. If I have, I’m sorry. Really. I know I’ve not always been a very pleasant person to deal with. Please know if I ever do rip into you, it’s nothing personal. That doesn’t make it right but damn it’s hard sometimes.

Trust me, I wish I didn’t have this placement. If I could choose any other placement I would. My life would be so much easier, as well as the lives of those around me. Alas, we don’t get to choose our placements so I’m stuck. I guess I’ll just deal as best I can.

Foxtrot Mike Lima.

Cigar Review: Henry Clay Warhawk

This cigar features an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper over a Connecticut Broadleaf binder and Honduran long fillers. The size smoked for this review is a 6″ x 50RG Toro vitola.

First light reveals a slightly snug draw but producing plentiful creamy medium bodied smoke. Core flavors of a sweet nuttiness on the draw with a heavy oak and pepper finish and retrohale.

Getting into the first third the draw opens up to the perfect resistance and the smoke retains a medium body as the pepper diminishes somewhat allowing a hint of cocoa to enter the draw. I have to say not quite my expectations for a Connecticut wrapped cigar.

The 2nd third sees not so much a transition as an addition to the already complex flavor profile. Everything holding at medium body, but the finish adds a note of yeasty bread to the mix.

A slight shift in the final third as the nutty flavor transitions to a thick, creamy leather note and the pepper dropping off almost entirely. Ending at 1 hour 15 minutes for an impressive burn time and bringing in a surprising medium nicotine strength kick.

Construction was very good with a razor sharp burn line and high quality self-adhesive bands that removed effortlessly and did not damage the wrapper. Short, flowery ash so be aware of that though.

What a surprise. Definitely exceeded my expectations for a Connecticut blend. At about $8/stick it’s very reasonably priced too. Great morning or mid-day smoke with some great coffee spiked with Bailey’s, Chila or Rumchata. Rating: 4.5/5.

“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.

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.

Continuing the Gluten-Free Discovery

I spent yet another weekend in San Antonio hanging with Laina, sniffing out some other parts of town and visiting tourist locations (downtown, the missions, etc.) and of course food destinations, in which I jump in to gluten-free mode.

The more I get into the whole GF thing (with Laina practically holding my hand through it all), the more I discover so many new favorite flavors. Saturday mid-morning we ventured into the Pearl Brewery area (which is no longer a brewery by the way) for the farmers market, intending just to peruse for the time being but she spotted a stand making gluten-free crepes. Naturally we had to stop, for neither of us have had a crepe in years. We both ordered one to our tastes and they were absolutely delicious and filling. We totally skipped our planned lunch spot as it held us over until dinner. Like wow.

Also at the farmers market there was a winery with a stand (Bending Branch). I decided what the hell and got a glass of their Cabernet Sauvignon. It was delicious, so much in fact I went back and bought a bottle.

Over the course of the weekend we also visited two sushi places, and while I wasn’t able to order what I am accustomed to, I found other great, flavorful alternatives. Pitfalls to avoid include, but are not limited to, imitation crab, wasabi, soy sauce, eel sauce, none of which you would think have gluten but in fact do. That’s ok, with help I navigated to safe options, axing wasabi and doubling down on ginger instead. Oh, and GF soy sauce is a thing, and I cannot tell any difference between that and regular soy sauce. Why then do they add wheat to soy sauce I haven’t a clue. Oh, and I can still have sake too, which I love and will order with sushi when they have a hot sake option (I don’t care for cold sake, has to be hot for me, for that’s how my great-grandmother drank it and what I developed a taste for).

Sunday morning I munched on some GF crackers with roasted red pepper hummus while we ran some unexplored territory (at least on my account). Oh man that was delicious. We then stopped into a Mediterranean place. I considered a lentil soup appetizer but that was quickly shot down as I asked and it was in fact thickened with flour (dammit!!!), but afterward I was glad I forwent it as the entree was very filling indeed, with lots of very exotic flavors from the sauces used (which were totally safe).

So then the weekend comes to a close and I venture back to my dwelling place, where dad had grilled hamburgers. Not having any GF buns on hand, I grabbed a normal bun and had dinner. First bite of gluten since the Thursday evening prior to my trip. I also had a scotch with my cigar after (which is distilled from barley – and while there is no consensus as to whether or not it is GF, I would assume it at least contains traces of gluten). I had no ill effects at the outset, but I woke up this morning with terrible stomach cramps. OMG I hurt something fierce, and whereas I can’t tell for certain that the gluten was the cause, I can’t think of any other variable that would account for it.

At this point, given my own personal anecdotes and experiences it seems to be that the evidence is stacking up – I would say there is a higher chance that I am reactive than not. Again, I’m not jumping to conclusions and I will have the Array 3 run to verify, but it just seems that way to me. And if it is, I’ve decided I’m ok with that. I’m quickly discovering great new flavors that I love. My palate is morphing the more I consume GF foods, many of which I’m finding I like better than the mundane things I was eating day to day. Like this has gone from “well shit, this fucking sucks” to “oh wow, this is actually fun!”

I’ve learned that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I can still have many of my existing favorites, some with just a slight modification, and I’m exploring all sorts of uncharted territory and finding great new-to-me flavors. Whereas beer and probably whisk(e)y is a no-go, I can still have wine, hard cider and a variety of liquors I’ve yet to get into. I can still have sushi (while avoiding certain pitfalls) and sake.

I can totally do this. If my suspicions are confirmed, I’m ready to make the switch full time. I’ve proven to myself I can do it, and I will do it if my well being depends on it.

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!