Archive for August, 2010

Pranking the assistant…

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

My assistant was out yesterday, so after I was done with my work, I decided to play a little prank.

His PC is a standard XP desktop, flush against the wall on his desk, wires neatly routed behind it.  He’s also a neat freak, so everything on his desk is where it needs to be.

I take an old laptop, install the latest release of Ubuntu Linux on it, configure the desktop to look like Windows XP.  I then punch a hole through an adjacent filing cabinet, put the laptop in the bottom drawer under a stack of papers, and run his video, mouse, and keyboard wires to the laptop.  After this in install dummy video, mouse, and keyboard wires on the back of his PC.  Lastly, I run a network cable under the floor molding to the laptop.  At this point, if you move the mouse – a strangely familiar desktop appears.

I then figure – ok, what will he do?  First, check the PC – maybe even reboot it manually.  I setup a shutdown script that reboots the laptop if the PC reboots via an ssh reboot command.  I also setup the Ubuntu box to reboot the Windows PC if it gets reset.   I then made sure to hide the wires, put the file cabinet up flush against the wall, and then make sure that everything on his desk was positioned exactly the way it was previously.

So he comes in today, I tell him that for some reason, a few of the desktops in the office got reset to the default theme *cough*.

He moves the mouse, desktop comes up – ‘WTF?’  Within a minute he starts to ask if I did anything to his PC, to which I reply ‘I swear on my mother I did nothing to your PC’ (technically, I didn’t!)

Pops open the CD drive looking for a boot CD, opens the computer case looking for a second hard drive…

Checks the wires in the back, they all look fine.

Reboots the Laptop, reboots the PC. keeps coming back to the Ubuntu desktop.

Then he grabs one of the dummy wires and pulls it out.  Starts looking at a few extra wires he sees.  Opens his desk drawers – nothing there.

Finally he sees that the extra wires are headed over to this little inconspicuous filing cabinet.  Checks the top drawer – nothing.  Checks the bottom drawer, finds the laptop, immediately starts cracking up.

Yep, I’m going to get punked in return at some point…. heh.

Psalm 112

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

 1[a] Praise the LORD. [b]
       Blessed is the man who fears the LORD,
       who finds great delight in his commands.
 2 His children will be mighty in the land;
       the generation of the upright will be blessed.
 3 Wealth and riches are in his house,
       and his righteousness endures forever.
 4 Even in darkness light dawns for the upright,
       for the gracious and compassionate and righteous man. [c]
 5 Good will come to him who is generous and lends freely, who conducts his affairs with justice.
 6 Surely he will never be shaken;
       a righteous man will be remembered forever.
 7 He will have no fear of bad news;
       his heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD.
 8 His heart is secure, he will have no fear;
       in the end he will look in triumph on his foes.
 9 He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor,
       his righteousness endures forever;
       his horn [d] will be lifted high in honor.
 10 The wicked man will see and be vexed,
       he will gnash his teeth and waste away;
       the longings of the wicked will come to nothing.

Ok, Bill – you got me.

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

Dropped the Legacy off at Bill Kolb Subaru this morning after speaking with the service manager.

I figured – big dealership – I’m going to get blown off.

They gave me a loaner (gas swilling Tribeca – stereo was HORRENDOUS) – sent me on my way.  Back at work, phone rings… salesman says that they normally ‘sell the car with the keys it came with, and the new owner has to pay to order extra.’  I explained that I bought a car with keyless entry – I paid for keyless entry, and only got a valet key.  I don’t have the master key or the code tags to create one, so it doesn’t make sense to me how every other car I’ve purchased has had at least 1 master key, and one valet.  He said he’d check with his manager.

Day goes by, phone rings around 5:30, service department calls to let me know they cut the rotors, the vibration is gone, and I didn’t need new brakes (for now).  I head down, drop the loaner off, get the keys for mine and decide to check into the master key.  My salesman is busy, so I track down the sales manager – Chris.  I tell him who I am, he says ‘for all the trouble you went through in bringing your new car back, we’re ordering you a new key, thank you for your business.’

Normally – that key would cost approximately $159.  Got the brakes taken care of, and hopefully before the end of the week – I’ll have a remote for the car.

All in all – good experience so far, they made up for my inconvenience by leaps and bounds, and I’m satisfied.

That and I blew the doors off some peckerhead in an AWD Volvo while making my way through Harriman State Park before.  Hey, it’s a Subaru, what do you expect me to do? 🙂

First Bill Kolb Service Experience

Monday, August 9th, 2010

Going to keep track of the life of my Scooby here, starting with its first service appointment.

As I mentioned in a previous post, the brakes on this car (2009 Legacy 2.5i -w- 18k miles) are just about shot.  No more than 5 minutes after leaving the dealer on Saturday afternoon, the brake pedal was pulsing severely – indicating very low brakes.  I called my salesperson – Howard – who referred me to the service manager – Henry – and said that they would ‘take care of me.’  I’m hoping that means I’m not paying for these brakes, that’s what it should mean since I mentioned to Howard on more than one occasion that the brakes looked low.

Second issue, the radio reception is poor.  I can pick up a few stations, but generally speaking its hit or miss.  I don’t exactly listen to terrestrial anymore, I mainly rely on my Incredible and its Pandora app for driving music, but it *should* work.  At least talk radio still works, I need my daily Limbaugh fix. 🙂  Maybe its the solar flare from this week messing things up?  Who knows.

Last issue, I only got the valet key with the car.  Howard told me initially that it was the only key, and that a new keyless key would cost $159.  The ‘business manager’ who set up my loan was supposed to mention it – did not.  At this point I was getting a little overwhelmed with negotiating down my payment and interest rates, so I left the dealership with just the valet key.  I didn’t realize that this was the case until I read the manual, and saw that the car is supposed to have 2 ‘master’ keys with keyless entry remotes, as well as 2 tags which provide the serial number for cutting the key as well as the transponder code for programming it into the ‘immobilizer’ system.

I don’t believe I should pay for any of these issues to be resolved since I’ve only had the car since Saturday, we’ll have to wait and see.

I called the dealer at 7:54am and left a voicemail for their service manager, Henry.  I’ll be calling back again at 9am if nobody returns the call.  Fingers crossed.

New Car!

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

So after checking out at least 10 cars on the lot, I decided to suck it up and extend the loan term so I could get int something that wasn’t beat.  I”ll say this – the inventory at Bill Kolb Jr Subaru is VAST, a lot of the cars though – various body issues, interior issues – there are gems in the crowd but don’t expect one for under 16k.  My first choice, an ’08 Legacy Elite (dealer package with double-stitched leather interior and moon roof) ran for $15,8k – was driven by a manager, and from far away looked real nice.  Up close though, the front fender had visible BRUSH STROKES under the smooth buffed clear coat, further down the drivers side towards the rear quarter panel, again you had very nicely buffed pits in the paint.  Real shoddy cover up job, plus a bunch of dings.

The next 9 or so cars had various levels of body damage, from scratches, scuffs, to dints, and very ugly dents and deep gouges/scrapes.  These were all cars of varying mileage (15k to 50k) and ranged from 2007 to 2009.  Some were definitely owned by smokers, and had that musty smell that only comes from one thing.  None of the cloth interior cars were too good either.  At this point, I was pretty much ready to call it quits and head over to Mahwah to look at a batch of Ford Fusions.  We were going to check out one last car, a black ’08 with 40k miles when I walked past my car, an ’09 Elite with 17k (now 18k) miles on the odometer.  It was more than I was initially planning to spend, and in the end my monthly payment went up by $3 from what I was paying on the VW – but I have a lot more car that is much more family friendly.

I did good on the trade in, factoring the various accidents I had with it, and in the end also landed a very good interest rate as well as a 6/60k bumper to bumper warranty at cost.  You can’t really haggle at this dealer on the car itself – but you CAN haggle (and save a lot) when it comes to the trade-in as well as the loan terms and interest rates.

Funniest part of all of this – in the end I spent about 5k more than I planned to spend on the fusion, got a newer car with fewer miles.  I just need to have them redo the brakes, as well as track down some new keyless entry keys (for less than the $159 the dealer wanted).  The car’s handling is phenomenal, plenty of power (not a rocket like my old GTI, but for a big car it can move when you want it to). great reviews, great reliability – I’m hoping to get at least 300k miles out of this car – and by then, pass it on to one of my step kids. 🙂

A little prayer to St.Anthony… Oh you wacky Saint you…

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

So I lost my credit card 9 days ago.  I tell my fiancee, she says ‘pray to St.Anthony every day to help you find your card.  If you haven’t found it after 9 days, you never will.’  On Monday,  day 6 – I call my credit card company and report the card lost.  Still, I say my little prayer, and wonder where it went.  Yesterday, we had an appointment to keep – she was going to catch up in her car after I started off with the kids.

She calls me right after I get to the Church, ‘my car won’t start, I need you to jump it.’ So I drop the kids off, head home, wire her car up to mine, let it idle – and when she tries to start it – ‘clickety clickety click.’

We try again after a few more minutes, no luck.  We leave the car there, we make our appointment – I head off to Walmart to get a portable jump starter.  I get home after picking everyone up, and on my first attempt the car won’t start.  I then put the jump starter directly on the terminal clamps for the battery (after cleaning off a ton of corrosion) – car starts right up and stays running.  I let it idle for a good 20 minutes, come back out and the battery light is on.  The car is effectively running off the alternator.  I confirm this when I shut it off, and it won’t turn back on.

So my favorite yellow plaid shirt came back from the laundry yesterday, and I decide to wear it today.  Not sure why, I just felt like wearing it.  I take the battery out, head off to NAPA – they run a load test and its fully charged.  Second load test, it doesn’t work.  He squeezes down hard on the terminal clamps – and it works.  So I pick up a terminal cleaner brush, and head home.  I clean the terminals and terminal clamps off.  That’s when I notice that the terminal clamps are cheap, thin copper – and have been eaten away by the excess corrosion that has built up in the 2 years since the battery was installed.  By this point I”m sweating profusely.  It’s hot and humid, and I’m standing in direct sunlight.  I head back down to NAPA and buy a new pair of terminal clamps.  I install the clean clamps on the clean terminals, car starts right up.  I then put everything back together – still sweaty, covered in acid,  and generally feeling nasty.

Go inside, clean up – realize I should change my shirt since it is absolutely soaked in sweat.  I change my undershirt – go to put on the same yellow plaid shirt (my current favorite shirt) – and it is also soaked.  I look in my closet and grab my old favorite yellow plaid shirt, throw it on, and head out the door.  I haven’t worn the shirt in oh… 9 days or so.  Hop in the car, get to the office, and after awhile I need to run outside and make a phone call.  I throw my phone in the front pocket of the shirt and head out.

As I reach into my pocket to pull the phone out, a small blue plastic card falls out with it.  Yeah, it was my long lost credit card, found 9 days later.  Doy.

Dawsons – Addendum

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

So the salesperson I dealt with at Dawson called me back yesterday, apologized again for the deal going south.  I explained I didn’t blame him at all, he mentioned the car had sold 20 minutes after I left, was currently ‘waiting on financing’ – I mentioned just as passing conversation what my next offer would have been, he said if anything fell through he would be in touch and run my offer past the owner.  My ears perked up a bit on this one.  Could the car have sold?  Sure.  Was this maybe a little slight of hand to gauge my interest in the car,and perhaps get me to ‘up the ante’ – I kind of feel like that is the case.  I’d still buy that car if the opportunity arose.

He mentioned that he would keep an eye open for another Fusion with similar options *cough* – and is hoping he can find one before I do.  We’ll see.

On to bigger and better things I suppose…

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

So after the rather crappy experience I had at Dawson Motors yesterday, I decided to expand my search for a Ford Fusion AWD from model year 2007, as well as give Subaru another try.

Over the past 14 years that I have been driving, I’ve purchased 6 vehicles, 2 of them privately, and the other 4 were from large dealerships with a more established business. With exception to my current ride, I’ve used the same methodology from day one – start with an offer that’s well below what I’d actually pay, which is usually well below the asking price, and force the salesman to sell me the car.

Yesterday, after making my first offer – the price of the car immediately dropped by $900. Was I flexible? Yes. Was the first offer good enough? Nope. Was I going to raise my inital offer? Yep… until both my initial and their counter was laughed at by the owner. They were $500 away from making a deal, but I’m not going to get laughed at by someone who doesn’t know how to sell a car.  I’m giving you my money, I worked hard for it, and you’re going to EARN it.

Am I hard to deal with? Absolutely. I’m in the minority though. For every person out there who knows what they want, what they want to pay, and force the salesperson to make the deal – there are dozens of idiots who walk in and either pay asking price or take the first offer without question.  Could someone come along and make a better deal on that same car?  Sure.   Is it worth leaving a car out to rot for 6+ months in the hope that some rube will show up and pay asking?  For some dealers, I guess so.  I’m not going to hold any sympathy for a business that behaves in such a manner, if they can pull it off their way and stay profitable – God bless them.

In the time that they’ve had that car on the lot, I’ve seen Warwick Dodge unload at least 2 Fusion AWD’s, same model year and option package.  They’ve got one on the lot now with higher mileage and a lower asking price, but I’m willing to bet that will also leave their lot before the one I test drove leaves Dawson.

So far I’m communicating with 4 dealerships that hold various Subarus and Fords I’m interested in – I’m hoping by the end of the week to seal the deal with a more sensible outcome.  I’ll keep you all posted!

A quick trip to the used car lot…

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

For the past several months I have been doing gobs of research on my next car. It has to be a sedan, have all wheel drive, great reliability, and be within a certain dollar amount so my payments are actually less on the new car than on my current.

I tend to research big purchases, exhaustively. Whether it is a car, a computer, etc… If I am going to invest a large portion of my income to something – I’m going to make sure it is worth it. About a week ago I decided to settle on a 2007 Ford Fusion AWD with the V6. Once I made that choice, I did my research.

First I checked the ‘black book auction price’ for the car, took the number down and tucked it away. Then I asked the dealer how much it cost to refresh the car I was looking at (new tires, a good detail, etc…) and cut that number in half. Then I add $2k to that price, and make it my initial offer.

So I took it for a test drive, two in fact. The second one, I showed it to the fiancee as well as my folks. Very nice car, great ride, good power, but the asking price was a little too high. NADA guides listed it at the price they were asking – but we all know the only people who use that book are the consumers, so they can believe that the asking price is fair (when it is actually inflated by a minimum of $5,000).

So I get to the dealer today, title is in the glovebox, checkbook is in my pocket. I’ve already had them appraise my trade-in (they were willing to pay about 800 less than I owed, but I was going to negotiate that up). I also made my initial offer (the aforementioned price which covers the dealer costs and also allows them some profit). Immediately my offer was shot down as too low – that’s fine. I do have an actual price in my head which was about halfway between their asking price and my offer.

I make sure to point out that the car hasn’t moved off their lot for over 6 months, that there’s some cosmetic damage on the vehicle, etc… That’s when the salesman breaks out the NADA guide price (which I immediately pointed out that I don’t use, then quote the black book wholesale auction price to him). We’re still fairly jovial at this point, and he makes his first counter offer (900 off the asking price) but he reinforces that he must ‘check with his manager on that.’ I say flat out that the price still is not low enough (he’s actually getting close to where I *really* want to be) and that I am minimally flexible. He crunches some numbers and quotes me the monthly payment at his new price – which is also still well off of what I’m looking for.

This is when things get downright silly. Manager comes out, salesman tells him what I’m looking to spend on the car, and he laughingly says ‘no way.’ Salesman mentions his counter offer – still getting push back from the manager. He wants his asking price, no less, stating that the current price has been active for two weeks (which is when I remind him that the car has been on the lot since February). That was pretty much it – no further counter offers, I effectively had the door slammed in my face and the manager walked off.

The salesman was pretty flustered as well, as his hands were tied by the manager, he couldn’t budge – and I wasn’t about to go on the defensive and increase my offer after being dismissed so quickly. I got up, the salesman apologized for not being able to help me out, and I walked out of the dealership.

I didn’t even get to the trade-in negotiation, in fact negotiations broke down so quick my head spun, I’ve never had the sales door slammed in my face that hard before. Still, there are ’07 Fusions on other local lots (every single other local lot) so I’m going to talk to a few other dealers in the mean time and see if I can land a similarly equipped model and hope I get some more flexible people to talk with.

Next week though, I may just stop back at the small lot and add another $500 to my initial offer if the car is still there.


Monday, August 2nd, 2010

I tell you, nothing pisses me off more than those idiotic SOB’s who don’t pull over for an emergency vehicle. I’m on the way in today, I see a State Trooper, then I hear a siren. I look around and see an ambulance headed towards me. I’m already in the intersection, so once I clear it I pull off the road and let it pass. Really simple thing to do, right?

Continuing on my way, I’ve got this gray Mazda wagon behind me driven by the aforementioned moron. Behind him, I see a Mercury SUV with the blue flashing light on the dash approaching. What can I say, after 4 rear end collisions, I pay attention to my mirrors. Anyhow, I see the SUV coming up on the wagon, and pull over. The wagon starts to pull over too, then proceeds to pull out and pass me with the SUV close behind.

All the way up into Goshen, the SUV is still behind the Mazda, who is either willfully ignorant or voted for Obama (wait… nm) and eventually the SUV pulls off towards the fire house while the Mazda continues on its merry.

Now I’ve dealt with both ends of the spectrum – the emergency worker who is conscious that they may not drive like a tool just because they have a light on their dash and somewhere to go – and then I’ve got the redneck trailer trash SOB’s that will fly up on my rear bumper with more flashing lights than a Vegas casino, high beams on, and just about force me out of the way to proceed on their merry.

Both cases, even though the latter generally TICKS ME OFF, I get out of the way. Is it REALLY that hard to do?