Monday, January 31, 2011

Buying a Car

pontiacLast week my eldest spawn passed her driver’s test.  This lead me to on the ever frustrating hunt for an affordable used car that would be halfway dependable and as safe as possible.

I started out shopping at is a nice website for car browsing.  However, unscrupulous dealerships (like Texas Nissan in Grapevine) put false advertising on to attract buyers.  Basically what they do is put pictures of cars that people want.  The selection and prices are almost too good to believe.

You get away from and go directly to the website owned and operated by Texas Nissan (the dealer from Hell).  Their website has the same cars pictured.  A 2008 Sentra with 80,000 miles for $3900.  It’s almost believable.  I mean, it could be your lucky day so you give them a call.

“Do you still have the 2008 Sentra for $3900?” I inquire.  “Of course, we do!” says they.  “When are you planning to come and look at it?”

I asked a friend at work if he’d take me out there, just in case I had to drive the car back to the office.  We arrive and the Sentra as well as the other 6 cars I had looked at are nowhere to be found.  I swear to you, a salesman came out who looked like Guido and talked like someone who learned English watching the Sopranos.  He wore the fake leather coat, walked with a swagger, didn’t look anyone in the eye, had the balding head with the comb over and the attempt at feathered sideburns that kind of made the side of his head look like a vertical ocean wave.  He shall henceforth be known as Guido.

Guido says, in his exaggerated gangster accent, “Oh ya know, we can’t keep that website updated.  We sell cars faster than anyone else in the nation.  Look it up.  If you just sit down for a few minutes and let me get some information from yas we can get you in exactly the car you need.  Now what are you looking for anyway?”

“Well, I’m looking for the 2008 Sentra on your website that I just called about.”

“Well, who did ya call?  If you talked to those Web guys, they don’t know.  You have to call us directly.  As soon as we get a trade, we take pictures and put them on our website, but then those cars are gone in hours or we have to send them off to auction.”

“Oh Guido, Guido, Guido.  You are pissing me off.  Amazon moves more product in 30 seconds than you do all year and they keep their inventory up to date.  Are you sure you’re not just a stupid ass?”  I just adlibbed a bit for dramatic purposes.

“Well, sirs, I’m not a stupid ass, but if you can tell me how much you are willing to invest in the safety of your daughter, I’ll find the perfect car for you.  We have this one over here.  Just came in today.  It only has 30,000 miles and you can drive it away for $10,000!”

“Okay, I’m outta here Guido, thanks for playing.”

“Hold on, hold on!”  proclaims Guido, “Let me go get my manager and see if he can find out what happened to the car you saw on our website.”

I kid you not.  His manager was a big burly black man who said the exact same thing Guido said only without the accent.  I swear they have this stuff written down somewhere to piss people off.

The moral of this story that wasn’t.  Don’t buy anything from Texas Nissan until they do something about this policy.  Or just don’t.  I went and asked around and heard the story about an older couple who were also trying to buy a used car for one of their grandchildren.  They, like I , called Texas Nissan to make sure the car was available.  This couple drove over an hour to come get the car only be told it wasn’t available.  Now, I can’t verify the truth of this, but after the run around I got, I can see where it could be true even if I can’t prove it.

I went to 4 other dealerships after I left Texas Nissan.  They all had accurate inventories on their websites and were all very helpful.  I went to Classic Chevrolet in Grapevine, Huffines Chevrolet in Lewisville, Carmax in Irving and Grapevine Motors.  I ended up getting her a car from Grapevine Motors which was at a good price because of some unrepaired hail damage.  Grapevine Motors is a small shop that specializes in affordable used cars.  I was quite pleased.  They may not have been the most “professional” bunch of folks, but they were friendly and their inventory was accurate.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Ghost Blogging (last Friday from a different perspective)

I’ve only allowed guest blogging once before and that was when a German friend of mine sent me a unique perspective on Obama

Today I got an email describing last Friday’s shenanigans.  I’ve received permission to share it.  I’ve edited it only for spacing and removing the parts I don’t want my kids to see :).



I’d ‘bout talked myself out of going down Friday.  I got home and was seriously considering just resting from the day, babying Gus (my dog), and heading down Saturday morning.  I’m so glad I was peer pressured into hitting the road! 

So I get down there, and we head out to a fantastic bar/pub in Plano called “The Holy Grail”.  Great food, awesome beer selection.  After a couple rounds I’d really buttered up this bartender, or he’d buttered me up; either way, we end up ordering a $30 bottle of beer, one of their “high end” selections (it’s about the size of a small champagne bottle, calm down).  $hit was AMAZING!  And also high on the alcohol content.  Score.  We sit and make jokes about some of the other patrons and have a large ole time.  I’m in such a good mood about everything, I even pick up the check. 

His current “lady friend” arrives after finishing up her Friday night bowling league meeting.  Yes, that’s right, I said she’s in a bowling league.  That being said, she was NOT what I’d pictured when he told me where she was.  She was actually adorable!  Petite little thing with beautifully “Farah Fawcett feathered” auburn hair.  “Lisa” grew up on a potato farm in Idaho so I had an appreciative audience for some “country” humor and insight.  She and I instantly hit it off and were fast friends.  Creepy side notes:  She and I share the exact same birthday, order our margaritas the same, and found ourselves with several of the same mannerisms (ie:  after getting a beer at the concert I noticed we were both wrapping the bottles with napkins the exact same way at the same was a little weird...)

The Holy Grail was a bit crowded, we’d racked up enough of a bill, and there was another bar closer to his house where he felt more like “NORM!” (“Cheers” reference, thankyouverymuch).  Just so happened that Friday is karaoke night.  Oooooohhhh....Mmmmyyyyyyyy....Ggggaaaaawwwwwdddd!!!  What a unique little watering hole it was!!  I knew I was getting drunk and wouldn’t remember enough details later to properly record them so I started texting observations.  Off the top of my head, I remember...

--A tiny little Asian fella starting meekly but ending strong on Tina Turner’s “Rollin’ on a River”...

--Two lesbians belting out various 80’s classic rock, always duets...

--Our hero actually doing one of the best versions of Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way” I’ve ever heard outside my pickup...   ;)

--Chubby old insurance-salesman-looking type holding a cigar and encouraging the entire bar to sing the “bom, bom, bom” parts of “Sweet Caroline”...

--6 foot tall neo-nazi biker dude performing a lovely performance of Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer”...

--The 300lb chick at our table drunkenly informing our hero that he should marry Lisa...

--“Pimp Daddy”....The ONLY black folk in the bar come to sit at our table.  Ring leader of the group was a tall, handsome piece of dark meat in a sharp looking sleeveless sweater over a crisp white long sleeve button down shirt, tie, and white pants (oh, and he kept sunglasses on the whole time too).  He swooned all the ladies in the bar with a beautiful rendition of an old Motown hit (couldn’t tell ya now what it was, just remember that I was impressed at the time).  Pimp Daddy’s baby-momma-cousin’s-wife (or however the h#ll she was introduced to me) was sitting on my left and spent an impressive amount of time convincing me that she doesn’t “normally drink this much”, but she’d had a bad day at work.  Apparently she spends her days collecting rent at some apartment complex and she “don’t care who yo baby-daddy is and how he not pay no child support”....Awesome.

We close down “Daddy Rabbits” and head home.  ‘twas a great night I thought, but little Lisa is not quite done yet.  She spots an expensive brand o tequila at the house and decides we should commemorate our new friendship.  Aye, says I.  By this point the world has become a very dangerous place to be standing, what with all the spinning and rocking it’s doing and all.  I decide to go outside for a smoke and some fresh air (which is ironic if you think about it).  Anyway, I come back in ready to call it a night and Lisa is trying to explain to me the specifics of some lemon liquor that she tried once.  As if by magic, a bottle of the stuff is brought forth from a secret cabinet.  We must take two more shots.  Fortunately everyone finally agrees we’re all sufficiently “cool” and call it a night.  I made it to bed and prayed I could just pass out before the alcohol demanded it be released.  Fortunately, it did not take long for me to slip into a nice comfortable coma.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Inconsequential Mutterings

If you look at my previous posting.  The one from last week immediately following this one in the blog roll I call Random Ramblings, you’ll see that I listed several topics in my chaotic little mind which I would like to write about.  I’m thinking this won’t cover any of those enticing possibilities.  I’ll let them lie there and fester for now.

A couple of weeks ago I went out with some friends who have moved to the other side of the Metromess.  I used to see them once or twice a week.  There were times when we’d spontaneously decide to attend harmless jazz concerts Tuesday after work and end up at some white trash bar in North Fort Worth doing karaoke until 3 AM.  Planning leads to expectations which leads to disappointment.  Indecisive spontaneity brings forth nothing but surprises.  I’d rather be surprised.  Therefore it’s my plan not to plan.

My friends who moved to Rowlett are predictably unpredictable and they are great because of it.  They came to visit a couple of weeks ago and we went and did Karaoke at Daddy Rabbit’s Market of Trepidatious Surprises.  Fun was had by all.  I coined the phrase, “confidence implies inferred consent”.  I coined it when I was watching this drunk bozo making his moves on women up and down the bar.  Think about it.  I’ll wait here.

Last Thursday I went to the Rockin’ Rodeo to see a concert.  Now, for me to set foot into a place called “Rockin Rodeo” is slightly less disconcerting than me walking into a Catholic Church for Sunday Mass.  Being that it’s in Denton there were lots of college women.  The eye candy was nice.  I went with Lisa and she helps out with that.  I think I’ve mentioned Lisa before.  You’ll have to look it up.  There’s a search box in the top left corner that searches through all my wonderfully chaotic cacophonic creativities.  You’ll never know who you might meet.

Last weekend I had a new friend drive in and visit from Vernon.  I say she’s a new friend, but I’ve known her now for a few months.  I guess when you get to be old and decrepit someone you’ve known for 2 years is a new friend.  If you don’t know where Vernon is, look it up.  You’ll have to use   

Anyway, we went to The Holy Grail Pub in Plano to have dinner, have some drinks and wait for Lisa.  We had some good dialoging including my new debate topic that I learned from The Russ Martin Show.  Last week he said that the only thing Americans excel at is complaining.  Quit complaining and start solving.  Complaining is not a solution.  I think he was talking about the people complaining about the fence that they’re building between us and Mexico.  I solved that one already.   image

The Holy Grail is a cool place.  I recommend getting there early and getting a seat at the bar.  There’s always at least one beer nerd behind the bar and if you pretend to know how to spell Hefeweizen, they’ll be sure and chat with you for, up until now, unknown lengths.  I had a Franconia Hefeweizen and then we split a bottle of Infinium which is what you’d get if you, for some reason, decided to mix a bottle of champagne with a hoppy pilsner (or something like that).  I’m not sure I liked it, but the bottle was really cool.  The bar maids are also a special brand of eye candy if that’s your kind of thing.

I think at one point I may have even mentioned how much I thought Durango might appreciate the ambiance.  There were more erudite Texans in my company than he could shake a stick at.  There may have been some Idaho blood in there somewhere.  I’m thinking for Durango’s next Blogworthy Epiphany of Madness he and I should tour all the breweries in a 100 mile radius and do live blogging onsite.  All those in favor?  Drunken Belligerent Brewery Blogging for the win!

Saturday night, we all went to The Granada Theater in Dallas in Lower Greenville.  Cool place and a nice area.  Parking was $8 directly behind the theater.  We saw Jason Eady.  His band wasn’t available so he did a solo acoustic set.  I was quite appreciative of his lyrics and his songwriting.  He said his birthday was coming up at midnight which would make him born on January 23.  My best friend was born on January 23.  It also makes him an Aquarius.  Yay Aquarians!  My friend from Vernon (we’ll call her Jen), Lisa and I are all Aquarians.  It was an Aquarian night, but I’m not allowed to talk about that without fear of reprimand from D’ango the Leo.

The headliner at the Granada was James McMurtry.  Jen had convinced me that I needed to see James.  He’s not an Aquarian, but he puts on a pretty good show I must admit.  He’s kind of Bob Dylan meets John Mellencamp?  His song called “Choctaw Bingo” reminds me of a Beatles song.  It’s not this one.  You’ll have to look it up.  I’ll give kudos to the victor.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Large Number of Complaints

Well, actually, there’s been only one.  With my trying to get rid of my house, work being abnormally busy and the weather being cold I simply haven’t had the time to allow the creative juices to warm to required levels.

In order that there are no more complaints about my lack of blogging I have chosen to write a summary blog without the aid of warm creative juices.  It’ll be frightening.

The House

I owe too much on my house and the housing market is too crappy to get rid of it.  The investor who expressed interest didn’t pass my background check.  I’ve decided to try and pay down as much of the principal as possible in the next 6 months and see about a possible summer sale.

The Dating

I joined a while back (for the second time) and I’ve been meaning to write a review about it.  If you combine that with the fact that I’ve recently discovered my youngest spawn is reading my blog regularly and you see my dilemma.

The Birthday

I won a cruise for my birthday.  I’ll be leaving on February 10th and returning on February 14th.  It’s out of Jacksonville and hits the Bahamas.  I’ve never been to Jacksonville and I’ve never been to the Bahamas.  It should be fun!  I had enough frequent flyer miles saved up from my trips last year to Italy that the airfare was free.  Yay me!

The Android

About 8 months ago I purchased my first smart phone.  It’s an Android.  Mostly because I can’t stand Apple (and I don’t have AT&T).  I’ve been meaning to write a technical review of my Android, but I’m worried about scaring away my current cornucopia of readership.  My next money making venture will be along the lines of writing Android apps.  This requires a whole bucketful of warmed creative juices.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Unexpected Epiphany

imageIn case some of you are new to my Random Ramblings, which would make you highly unique indeed, I got divorced last August.

For those of you who already knew that and don’t know how my mind works, I don’t call it random for nothing.

My ex and I were on speaking terms until about a month ago when I decided it was time to cut off all communications.  I could no longer handle the lying, but that’s not what this story is about.

In my attempt to segregate myself from the poison, I had to eliminate its existence from my abode.  Mostly this was just going through books and hard drives to get rid of pictures. 

When I am forced to survive things like this, I benefit the economy as much as I can.  I tend to reinvent myself through purchases.  But, this isn’t part of the story either.  Except to say that I bought new furniture to try and make my home “different”.  I bought a new car too, but that’s really not important.

Every time I get a housing statement it has her name on it.  Last week, I decided it was time to remove her name while interest rates were still at an all time low (pun intended).  I went to some crazy Internet website called lowermybills or maybe it was lendingtree and put in my information.

I hit the submit button and two seconds later my phone started ringing.  It was almost obnoxious.  There were so many lenders offering so many different things it was unbelievable.  I couldn’t decide which one to go with so I just picked the prettiest broker and the nicest broker and let them haggle it out.  Too many options can be a bad thing.

Piece of advice here.  If you are thinking of refinancing, don’t work with just one lender.  There are lots of options out there.  Do some looking around to see what all options are available.  Who knows.  One might have exactly what you are looking for.  The interest rate is a small part of the package.

One offered me a savings of $200 per month for a while (eventually realizing a $500 per month savings), but increased my debt by $4000 and increased my loan by 2 years.  Another offered me $90 more per month, increased my debt by $5000, but reduced my loan by 8 years.  Another offered a savings of $300 per month, but increased my debt by $11000 and increased my loan by 2 years.  It all stressed me out to exhaustion.

Then, last Friday, I was having lunch and drinking a beer and was struck over the head with a two ton heavy thing.  The blinds were opened.  The light bulb came on. 

I was stressing out over refinancing because I needed to get out of my house.  Owning a home causes too much stress when you are a random man whose goal in life is to emulate his favorite form of combustion.  To be spontaneous.

I’m afraid I might actually lose money trying to sell my house in this market.  Plus, I hate living in a home that is for sale.  I’ve done it several times and it always irritates me in ways I can’t quite explain.  The question is: how do I get out without hurting my credit or losing money?

It you know of anyone that wants a nice house without having to pay realtor fees send them my way (it’s pictured above).  I’ve even got a lawyer who’ll draw up the papers for free.  Of course there’ll still be closing costs involved, but since I’m not looking to make any money, you’ll be getting  a heckuva deal.

Barring that, there are “investor” companies that specialize in turning homes at a profit.  I called one today and he said they would take over payments for me until it was sold, but then they’d keep any “equity” from the sale.  Of course, they have to come out and have a look first.  The whole idea of someone taking over payments for me kind of scares me.  But, my lawyer can look over those papers as well.

So there you have it.  I plan to be living in an apartment in 3 months.  I knew you’d be excited.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Late Christmas Presents

Today I got home from work and had a DVD of Glee waiting in the mailbox.  I had dinner, watched 2 hours of Glee and was finishing off my second glass of Unfiltered Wheat from the Boulevard Brewing Company when I decided to open a late Christmas present which I just received from my darling little sister.

It was a t-shirt and although Durango disapproves of any shirt with text on it, this one made me smile.  I'll have to wear it on Friday.  It was a quote from my great, great, great, great uncle and it was apropos so I thought I'd share.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Dart Rail Schedules and Happy New Year 2011

A while back I blogged a bit about "The Green Line".  It's the new DART rail between North Carrollton and Buckner (Southeast Dallas).

One thing I planted in my head to complain about but never got around to is the fact that the trains don't run from 12:30 AM until 3:30 AM (or there abouts).  If I'm to understand all the highway signs and media blitz correctly, drinking and driving will land your ass in jail no questions asked.  However, who the hell made up this schedule?  You don't want people to drink and drive in Dallas.  You have the infrastructure in place to get them safely home without driving.  But you conveniently shut it down when people are getting ready to leave the bar?  Which genius thought this up?

But, enough of that.  On New Year's Eve, I took the Green Line to West End to celebrate New Years.  I'm usually not one for celebrating New Years, but 2010 sucked in a rather adequate kind of way so I figured I should celebrate the coming in of 2011 in a manner that didn't see me sitting at home or sleeping.

I was irritated at first because I thought I'd end up having to bar hop until 3 AM and then try and catch the first train at 3:30.  However, Dallas fixed their train schedule for New Years.  They ran every 20 minutes from midnight until about 2:30.  Yay for Dallas!  Now, if they'd just see fit to do that every weekend (at least Friday and Saturday).  I'd even be willing to pay an extra $5 for the tickets.

I arrived at Dick's Last Resort at about 6:30 PM.  The waitress was great.  She was full of attitude and insanity as she sniffed from her small paper bag marked Glue.  She even handed out party favors with noise makers, hats, Alka-Seltzer and condoms.  Who could ask for more?  At around 9 PM they had a Beatle's Tribute band come on and I decided that I didn't want to bring in the New Years with a Beatle's Tribute Band.  I went to Gator's Croc & Roc.

Now, I did my research and I was fairly certain that I read that Gator's was going to have a band there to bring in the New Year.  I had picked up some shameless lady at Dick's and she went with me to Gator's with the promise of a better band than the one at Dick's.

Gator's was packed.  I had to flirt with Miguel, the bartender, to get him to bring us two barstools to sit on: one for her and one for me.  She wasn't that shameless.  To my horror, there was no live band playing.  I'm not entirely sure why the place was so packed.  They were having (shudder) karaoke.

In order that my lady friend did not run away I agreed to liven the place up by singing some rock 'n roll.  I could tell the country music was bringing her down and she was thinking about heading back to Dick's.

So, I sang and the people were proud of my singing and jumped up and made happy clapping noises when I was done.  There was even a request or two for me to keep it going.  I suspect too much sappy country music is bad for the festivities.  Even my lady friend was feeling less shameless and more happy.  Can you feel less shameless?

As midnight rolled around, we went up to the roof of Gator's and watched the fireworks at Victory Park while screaming Happy New Year to people walking down the street below.  Basically kicking 2010 in the ass with a bunch of strangers on the roof of a bar in downtown Dallas.  There was great camaraderie and laughter and drinking and I was proud to be part of the downtown Dallas New Year's environment.  My heart grew two sizes.

And at about 1 AM, I got on the Green Line and road the train back home.  Yay Dallas!

* the fine print:  She wasn't a random shameless lady and I didn't meet her at Dick's.  But it made the story funnier.  At least in my head