Last week I took the car in to get fixed by a local mechanic. He’s a 3 minute walk from where I work and my coworkers all trust him. I had taken our 1996 Toyota Corolla (the husband and I share a car) to him before for an oil change and I was not happy. I walked in with a negative attitude and felt as if I had been cheated. The check engine light had been on in the car for about 3 months now and we had noticed a significant decline in gas mileage. Due to convenience I decided to try the mechanic again. Plus I had looked up his reviews on Car Talk and they were all good. So this time around I went in with a positive attitude and came out happy. The mechanic changed the O2 sensor (we barely passed the smog test back in August so this made sense), replaced the battery (it was leaking acid and had been for at least a year now), and changed the oil (it was time). We had debated how much we wanted to spend on fixing the car. While it’s a good car, it does have ~140K miles on it and it is over 10 years old. We spent about $450 which is close to our upper limit. The mechanic is sure it will run for another 100K miles since it is a Toyota. So I’m torn. I’m glad we don’t have to buy a new car now and spend money on that but it would be nice to have a new car (we’re thinking a Prius). The car sharing thing works just fine for us and since we are trying to save money for a house one day (we need about $150K just for a down payment), I guess that’s a good thing. We (and our guests that visit) will be riding around in our junker for another few years (in contrast to all the BMW’s, Mercedes, SUV’s, Hummers, and shiny Hybrids you see in the area). Oh, but we also got new tires. Tires are expensive! We spent about $70/tire. Unfortunately we had just missed the Costco “$60 off a set of four tires” coupon.
I’m wondering why I didn’t hear about this until after the fact (late last week): The Mia and Nomar Celebrity Soccer Challenge. It was a fundraiser for the LA Children’s Hospital and the Mia Hamm Foundation, which focuses on bone marrow disease. Some of the soccer celebrities included Landon Donovan, Alexi Lalas, and Julie Foudy, and the non-soccer celebrity list included Tony Hawk, Seth Meyers, and Andy Samberg. I think this is a great thing they did and if I were famous, I would want to do events like this all the time. My causes would be animals and children. Probably mostly animals and prevention of cruelty towards them. And I mean all animals, including farm animals that are raised for slaughter, not just cute, cuddly puppies and kittens.
We had a very nice weekend. On Saturday night we had dinner with my mother-in-law. She’s in San Francisco for a work conference and so we met up with her and her boss for tacos and ice cream. We went to some really good places: La Taqueria (Zagat rated) in the Mission District and Mitchell’s ice cream (featured on the Food Network). If you are in the area, I definitely recommend a stop at both of these places.
On Sunday we had lunch with my coworker and her husband and two daughters, 4 and 2 years old. We went to Sneakerz Sports Bar in San Mateo. The place was pretty cool. Every table had it’s own small tv and since we sat in a corner booth, we got our own medium-sized flat screen tv. The girls kept us very occupied so we barely glanced up at the tv. At one point in time, I was explaining to the 4 year old that my hair is not actually black because once I had “colored, I mean dyed my hair black and people had noticed.” She thought for a few seconds and then said “when you painted your hair and it died….” The husband and I couldn’t stop laughing. Kids say the cutest things. The husband had a habanero burger which he was unable to finish because it was so spicy. I think a spice diet would be a good one. Ever notice how when you eat really spicy things (and I mean really spicy with your ears feeling like they are going to explode and your face getting moist from the heat), you usually can’t finish? You would probably eat half your food and end up losing a lot of weight.
I also coached indoor for my girls under-14 spring select team. We played against an under-12 club team that had moved up because they wanted more competition. We got killed. The score was probably 12-0 (they stop keeping score after 5 goals). It was quite embarrassing. The girls on the other team were smaller but super aggressive. They did not flinch when the ball was coming at them. I told my girls to take a shot from kickoff and the other team figured it out. Instead of ducking out of the way, they got in the path of the ball and got nailed with the shot. They didn’t complain at all.
My concuño had posted this article on his blog previously but I wanted to post it here so that I would be able to find it again. It’s about a sports writer father who takes his 2.5 year old daughter to watch a pro basketball game. It’s a cute article. The indoor place where my girls played last weekend had soccer for little tots (18 mo. – 4 years old) and they were soooo adorable. Too bad you can’t take you cats to soccer camp. Although we did take our white kitty Sluggo on a hike one day in a Whole Foods reusable grocery bag. Right before we left the house he had climbed in the bag so we just picked it up and left. We were gone for about 1 hour and he was totally fine. He would poke his head out to see and towards the end he did get fidgety and jumped out of the bag a couple of times.
Here’s another good read, especially if you are thinking about graduate school (or have gone through the process): A Graduate School Survival Guide. I haven’t finished reading the piece but so far it’s quite funny and very accurate. I do wish I had read this before I quit the PhD program and headed out with my Masters. I may have decided differently.
Yesterday’s word of the day (from www.dictionary.com) is sine qua non. It means “An essential condition or element; an indispensable thing.” It’s obviously Latin and literally translates to “without which not”. I had not seen the phrase before. This is the new thing I’m learning today so I may as well go to sleep for the rest of the day.