Monday, July 11, 2011

A Kilted Travel Agent in Seattle is moving..................

I will soon be posting to a new blog over on Wordpress. My new blog title is kiltedinkworks. This new blog will continue to hold my personal views on life in general, and will also focus on my shift from a travel/tourism employee to my new direction of tattoo artist and film maker.

Enjoy the blog!!

Swedish Mafia

It's not what you think. I have not defected to Sweden. Although I would very much like to go there someday and see what I've been missing.

So back on track, back at the end of April the Paisley and I were on our way to work when she asks me "should that be coming from the front of the car?" pointing to the vaporous steam emanating from the grille.

"Uh no". "Shit".

As soon as the light was green I was out of there and made a beeline for the next street with no traffic and turned that car around and headed home with it. Good thing it was the morning commute and we were going against the traffic. I was breaking a few speed laws to keep that car as cool as possible.

We had known for a while now that the Subaru was on it's way out and just really wished we could have gotten more use out of it before this occurrence. We were literally expecting our federal tax return to be in our account the very next day so we could pay off this thing. FML.

Well we got it back and no issues, but man that thing smelled hot and it was sweating coolant from both heads much similar to the way booze sweats from a drunks pores. Not a pretty smell.

From there it was letting our offices know we wouldn't be in and then getting up to the credit union to secure a loan for a newer car. Done and done!! We were actually pretty well surprised with our credit scores (we knew they were good, but wow, they were better than we thought) and since we were only asking for a specific amount, we had instant approval.

Now the search was one. What would replace our now defunct green Sapporo can?


Stop groaning. I know all the acronyms. Shit I probably created a few myself.

Suckered Another American Buyer.

Sorry Ass Auto Builder

SOB story.

Anyway, back in my former life before being the Kilted Travel agent, I was a factory trained VW and SAAB parts dude. Hence my love for European autos.

Well the Paisley and I had gotten the Subaru home and walked to the park and ride and liberated our neighbours car and headed to our credit union to secure a car loan. About an hour later we were on our way out to head back home and begin the search for our next car.

We found several on line and narrowed them down to the ones we wanted to see and made calls and arrangements to see said SAABs or left messages.

Then Paisley ask me if I would consider one from a dealership.


A 2000 SAAB 9-5 with only 85,000 miles. It was a dream car. So off we went to view it.

It was a lovely clean car. I'd forgotten about the unique smell the leather of a SAAB has. It's very intoxicating! It was nice and soft as well for being 11 years old. This was a good looking car.

We spent  the next 3-4 hours at the dealership driving and talking about the car and then deciding that this was the one for us.

When all was said and done we finally left the dealership about 4 pm with our new to us SAAB 9-5. That was April 21st.

The original and often imitated Swedish Mafia.

Well from there, it got dicey. All was not well with the SAAB. Despite ownership papers, a CarFax report and the dealerships PDI (pre-delivery inspection) it was determined to trouble us for the next couple of months. 

We didn't have the car 48 hours and had barely driven it 30 miles when there was a smell similar to illegal tyre burning and smoke. Back to the dealership. The new car manager was all over this with his questions of "did you buy the extended warranty" shit to which I replied that having worked for 2 local dealerships in the past that I knew how that scam worked. Those things are not worth the paper they are written on. After his test drive he had a Honda tech look at it whose opinion was that there was nothing major and we could drive the car. Probably just oil or another fluid dripping onto the exhaust. The new car manager suggested that if we were really concerned to bring it back Monday and talk to the used car manager.

Monday came and we were at the dealership. Car dropped off and we were given a loaner car. A Subaru of all things. Talk about adding insult to injury! Fucker. Anyway he promised us that he would have a separate shop that deals with European cars look at it and it would be completely taken care of. 2 days later I received a call that the engine was dead. The smell and the smoke was the contents of the oil pan being dumped into the exhaust.

85,000 miles. Really? 85 fucking thousand miles. SAAB builds a much better car than this. WTF?

The following Monday I received a call that an engine with 80,000 miles had been located in Arizona and was to be shipped up and installed. We wouldn't see the Swedish Mafia for anther week and a half.

May 13. We finally get to pick up the Swedish Mafia. We are told that there will probably be some residual oil in the exhaust to burn out, but to just drive it up and down the highway a bit to blow it out. Seriously, the shop should have done that! Lazy fucks.

All seems well until the next morning when I start it up and there is smoke out the ass! Now what!!!??? I remember what the shop said about the oil and blah blah blah. Ok so there are a few drives up and down the highway. No luck. Still continues to smoke at start up only for the next 2 weeks.

Meanwhile elsewhere under the hood, there is a coolant smell and on the dash the temperature gauge is reading to low. The later is a thermostat stuck open. The former could be anything. Loose hose. Leaking hose. Over flow cap is not pressurised. Leaking head gasket. You get the idea. I call the dealership right away and leave a message for the used car manager. No reply at all. Good thing I had also contacted the shop that did the work. They got back to me the next day.

Swedish Mafia was dropped off with the shop that Thursday and returned to me the following Tuesday. The thermostat was replaced (and paid for by the dealership) and the coolant smell was the freeze plugs on the side of the block. The dealership was unwilling to pay for that. The shop also informed me that the smoke on start up was due to bad valve guide seals. The dealership was also unwilling to pay for that as well. So much for "taking care of everything" like they said they would.

So now all is going well with the Swedish Mafia and we've had it back for a week and a half. We're out on a nice (finally) sunny Saturday having lunch with friends when Karen notices an odd noise. About the time I let my foot off the gas, that little Swedish Bastard is smoking more than the Smoking Man from  X-Files. FUCK.

So on the way to take it home I call the dealership and knowing the used car manager is not working on a Saturday and leave him a message that the car is now smoking all the time and that if he can't make good on fixing it then it will go back to the dealership and we will buy elsewhere. I've had more than enough. At that point we've had the car almost 2 months and only been able to drive it barley 3 weeks. I"m pissed at this point.

Not more than 10 minutes later I actually get a call back from him. Seems he's actually at work on a Saturday. He assures me that even if the car needs a new engine he will take care of it and ask me to drop it off on Monday. So  with that the SAAB is left with the dealership again. Next day I get a call that the turbo has gone out. Initially they were going to look at a rebuilt turbo, but opted against it and decided to get new one so that there wouldn't be any more issues. Smart move. If I had been told a used or rebuilt turbo had been put in I was seriously going to have a brain aneurysm.

So we have now to this date had our Swedish Mafia back for almost 3 weeks and so far all is well. I  still love the car. Being a factory trained SAAB parts guy I have always liked the way they perform. I like that SAAB puts things on cars as factory equipment that other manufacturers would have as optional equipment. I love the way the inside of a SAAB smells. I know that is kind of fucked up, but no other car out there smells like one and the smell never fades. Swedish Mafia is 11 years old and still has that new SAAB smell.

I would even consider selling Jake for a SAAB 9-3.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Purging: It's not just for personal belongings anymore

Some of you that read this post or the Paisley's blog know that we have been taking on a minimalist twist to our home and our lives. We have made some noticeable headway in the amount of belongings we have in our home and in our on site storage. We both feel good about the progress made, but we still realise that there is still more work to do. It's not easy to just start eliminating things out of your life without some sort of mental trauma.

Yes I've certainly gone through the phases of "gee this *enter any non descript item here* has some emotional value to me and I'm not sure if I can part with it" dilemma in my head. The Paisley has been there with me as well. We've been on the opposite side of that factor as well with the "I'm really sick of just knowing that all that useless crap is taking up space in our storage and I"m taking it to donate know" angry no guilt purge.

Well I've been doing some other purging as well. I've been purging my Facebook friend's list. I know, how could I?

Well it's easy goddamn it!!! I know I'm not the model of cheerfulness and I am working on clearing the spaces in my head that have allowed negativity to take up residence and with that I have come to realise that I have some friends in my life that are really not good for me mentally. Not that these people are bad by any means. They have been in my life for a reason and I have appreciated and enjoyed their friendships for the most part.

Now onto the bad. I did have one person in particular that I eliminated after further consideration of our "friendship". I came to realise that this person is a user. I will call this person H for the purpose of anonymity.

I met H in 1983. *Fuck I'm old* We seemed to hit it off and had common interest. Over the years we would have lunches or go to movies or school events. We had common friends that we would do things with. The only problem I had with H was the type A personality. H was definitely the Alpha Dog.

Yes it's hard to believe that I was not always the cynical and verbally opinionated bastard I am now. I was very introverted and in my own world. I did not like to go outside my comfort zones. Look at me now!!!

Back to the purging!! H had a way of manipulating people and getting what H wanted even if someone got hurt (mentally) in the process. I stood by and watched H emotionally manipulate another person into an intimate relationship that the other party just didn't want. It took me 6 years to realise just how hurtful H really was. My experience was the discovery of items stolen from my car in H's house and confronting H about them.

H denied everything of course. What H didn't know was that I would mark my belongings with a specific design that wasn't my name. Why? Well duh, if you put your name on something then that will make the thief file it off or erase it somehow. If it looks like a cool design, then you can pretty much guarantee that it will still be on there if found thereby making the item(s) easily identifiable. The designs were still there. Then there was lying about how H had obtained said items and where and when. H had quite the little web of cover up going on. That was the last time I saw or spoke to H.

Moving forward to 2010 and H pops up on my FB page requesting to be my friend. Ugh really? Well I decided that I could give it a try and see how it goes. It had been 21 years and H had to have grown up and was surely not the person that I had walked away from. Wow was I ever wrong. This time it's lies about H's life and all the drama associated with it.

In the last few months I've been getting repeated phone and FB messages: My SO has kicked me out. My SO is holding my dog hostage. I'm living in my truck and need a safe place. Can I borrow some money and your laptop?

It goes on. There are the stories about what H has been doing for the last 21 years that just don't add up. There is the growing list of friends that are coming to same conclusion I have about H.

It's not just about the lying and the made up stories. It's also about the lack of respect for my property. H had come to my house with their dog a couple of times and the dog just flat out peed on my hardwood floors and H did nothing to stop it, nothing to correct the dog after the fact and nothing to clean up after the dog!!!

H may need help, but I'm pretty sure that I'm not professionally qualified to provide the kind of help that H requires and with that I have eliminated H from my life. FB, phone number, email.Fortunately H does not remember where I live.

Then I started thinking about how many people are on my FB friends list and really looking at what kind of person that individual really is.

Like everyone I want to be the best person I can without compromising who I am for a facade of someone that I'm not. After all I'm pretty sure that I can still be my opinionated cynical self and be someone that is healthy to be around while continuing to be a complete bastard. It's possible.

I'm grateful for the people that I've met in the last few years IRL and virtually that have brought an aura of positive vibes to my life. I believe it's wearing off on me. I'm grateful for the people that I didn't know so well 20+ years ago that I've reconnected with that have brought all sorts of positive goodness to my life as well.

Belongings and friends: if they haven't been seen and utilised in the past year or more and it's not healthy for you, then it's probably time for them to go.

*Please note that the above rule is not applicable in every situation. Use your best judgment and common sense when purging belongings and unhealthy relationships*

Yes of course I have been the victem of a purging by more than one person. To quote Happy Harry Hardon: So Be It!!! I realise that as friendship develope and grow sometimes that means they grow apart. Don't be offended. It's not personal. Really it's not. As an example, I received a phone call 2 weeks ago from my oldest friend in life that I have not spoken to in 6 years. Guess what? I had deleted him from my life a few years ago. Sure it was hard at first. He was one of the first people I had purged. Not that I didn't care about him, but our lives grew apart. We didn't have anything in common anymore. Realistically his not ever contacting me may be his method of purging now that I think about it, I just hadn't caught on.

Or he could just be a self involved fuck that only thinks of himself.

I say that becuase when he called he had told me that he was only doing so becuase his just-a-biscuit-over-21 girlfriend thought that he should contact his longest known friend after questioning him one evening about his past and friends and how long he had known them all. I don't need a pitty call from him Anorexic Annie!!

I get to call her that becuase I know my friend and I know the type of trophy girl he likes.

Where was I? I continue to purge my physical belongings and my emotional space. Sometimes they do go hand in hand. I believe that having less emotional attachment to things that I receive now and in the future will mean easier purging when it's required.

What have you purged lately?

Sunday, April 3, 2011