introducing:  Liselotte

and to help pay for it i hope to win this contest…
Over at Ashwin’s blog, you will find one crazy blog owner!! You can win $2500!! To enter just copy this text and paste it in your blog!! But hurry, this competition will not last long! So get posting!


so, after three weeks of stress, stress and more stress, it’s mostly over.
my old car is gone. the insurance company gave me a cheque. i emptied my savings accounts. i looked at car after car. i asked the same questions dozens of times. i drove more cars in 15 days than i have in 15 years. i got advice. i read websites. i learned that people will screw you over, even if you’re a good person. i love my dad. i’m thankful for all my supportive friends.
i have a new car. well, it’s new to me.
it’s a 1991 VW Golf GL. it’s white, has four doors and an aftermarket CD player. it’s got some dings and rust spots. it’s got a squeak here and there. there’s half a page of little things which need fixing, but… it’s mine.
it doesn’t quite feel like mine, though. my license plate looks weird on a different car. really, really weird.
i love that it’s mine, though. i’ve always wanted a Golf. i used to wish i’d gotten one instead of my Geo, if you can imagine. i love that it’s got four doors, so i don’t have to feel bad when i have people to haul. the fact that it can actually accelerate up a hill is just amazing to me. i like that it’s German, even if it was built in Mexico.
now, i just have to get used to all its smells and sounds. i knew exactly what was going on with my Geo just by the vibration. this car… it’s a mystery to me. i wonder how long it will be until i understand it as i did my first.
i probably won’t really consider it mine until it’s been through the shop and had it’s insides bathed. i wish to get it to a certain point where i can say that from then on it’s all mine. my maintenance, my dirt, my car.
i’m glad i got this experience. i didn’t want it, but it definitely was good for me to go through. next time, though? next time i buy a car, i want to walk onto a lot, point and say “that one, in blue, with air” and be driving home half an hour later.

if the owner has to phone someone else to find out if the timing belt has ever been changed, you don’t want to buy that car.
bonus: if he answers “uhh…” when you ask if the car has an alarm – duh – you don’t want to buy that car.

always get your prospective purchase inspected by a mechanic you trust.
even though it’s nice to look at, drives really well, feels good and you talked the guy down to a reasonable price for your pocketbook doesn’t mean that bumper isn’t held on with chewing gum and the centre console isn’t about to explode.

for the fungus among us

i was sitting at the computer sunday morning, checking my email and catching up on my rss feeds when i started to read the story about Travis’ new kitten, Maggie. the poor little thing is only 11 weeks old and already she’s had to deal with a lot. which includes an infection which has caused one of her eyes to not develop properly, which turns out to be an incurable case of cat herpes. she’s an adorable little pure-bred Abyssinnian, bus she was deemed unsuitable for show and given away to the lovely Smith family.
unfortunately, they weren’t informed of two things before they brought Maggie home. first, was the cat herpes. second, was the case of ringworm she had and consequently shared with everyone in their house.
upon reading that, and Travis’ description of what ringworm looks like, i got up from my chair, picked up my camera, took a photo and emailed it to him with this message:

hi travis,
just curious, but does ringworm look anything like the attached photo?

an hour or so later, my phone rang. when i answered, it was Travis. a very apologetic Travis, too.
two weeks ago, i was over playing Magic with Travis and a few other friends. i was so happy to get to play with a kitten again, i was crazy for the little orange ball of fluff. i picked her up and nuzzled her a lot. she climbed all over me and i loved every second of her tiny, needle-sharp claws digging into my shoulder as she perched there.
sometime around the middle of last week, a small patch of skin on my neck started to get red and flaky. i thought maybe it was a pimple gone bad. then another spot started appearing beside it. i thought maybe i’d eaten something which didn’t like me. Sunday morning, there was another one. that’s when i read about the ringworm.
now, Travis is an extremely nice man. i like him a lot, and have done so since we first met. he’s funny and smart and generous. i just didn’t think he’d one day share with me his fungal infection.
during his phone call, he apologized. a lot. but, eventually we got to the point of laughter and talked about how in medieval times people didn’t have anti-fungal creams to treat things such as this. instead they slathered themselves with mustard poultices which didn’t really do anything except stink to high heaven. i hypothesized it was like a warning system:
Lady: oh, that Travis, he doth smell most offensively of mustard.
Knight: verily, that is a vile odor. he must have a pox.
Lady: aye. thou must avoideth him completely!
so, yeah. me’n’Travis (and Susie and Aimee and Maggie) are now fungus buddies. i’ve never felt so close to anyone before. thanks, Travis!

back in April, Jen wrote a piece comparing her experience with the Co-operative Auto Network (CAN) with the new kid on the car-sharing block, Zip Car. now that i’m in the unfamiliar position of being carless and my hunt for a replacement set of wheels is going less well than i would like, i’ve been giving serious consideration to the idea of not buying a car at all and becoming a car-sharer (or “Zipster” if you fall for marketing lingo).
after yet another disappointing experience looking at used cars last night, i went to bed with the blissful idea of calling up CAN and signing up asap. i had calculated all the money i could save each month just in gas and insurance premiums and it made me slightly giddy. it was also a lovely idea to think that i could put the few thousand dollars sitting in my chequing account back into my high-interest ING accounts and have it continue to grow. it was quite liberating to consider a life without a car. i live in a central area with two big grocery stores, two major drug stores, two butchers, three small produce markets, a fish monger and zillions of restaurants all within a 10-minute walk of my apartment. i could easily, with some changes to my current m.o., convert my habits into that of a non-driver. even the biggest obstacle to my relinquishing my vehicle, my commute, could be solved with a one-hour shift in my start time — which my boss has already mentioned would be totally doable.
it was like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. i didn’t HAVE to buy a car! i could almost hear the chorus of angels singing.
then i read the CAN website:

With your first call, we’ll ask about your driving history and establish whether your membership is a good fit with CAN criteria. These are:
– a good credit rating;
– at last 3 years’ driving history;
– 3 or fewer traffic violations in the last five years;
– a BC driver’s license;
– NO at-fault accidents in the last three years;
– NO criminal convictions under the Motor Vehicle Act.

yeah, see that fifth one? that’s where i’m screwed. even though i have 16 years of accident-free driving; even though i have had exactly ONE speeding ticket and ONE parking ticket in all of those 16 years; even though i will continue to argue that my accident wasn’t 100% my fault (despite what that stupid letter from ICBC says), that smoosh i had last week will impede me from being a responsible urbanite by becoming a car-sharer with CAN.
this brings me back to Jen’s post, in which she wisely stated “The biggest advantage to using Zipcar is the very low barrier to entry.”
proving that statement, Zip Car’s criteria is much more flexible:

To be eligible, you must:
– Be at least 21 years old
– Have a valid driver’s license (from any country) and have been licensed for at least one year
– Have had no more than two “incidents” (moving violations PLUS accidents) in the past three years and no more than one incident in the past 18 months
– Have had no major violations in the past three years
– Have had no alcohol violations in the past seven years

at least they allow membership to someone who has had one “oops” in the last year and a half. not all of us are reckless drivers who get into accidents and there’s no “i ran into an SUV because i couldn’t see through it” clause to negate an at-fault incident.
in addition, the lack of a $500 buy-in definitely opens more doors for people to start using Zip Car as opposed to CAN, not that that would have stopped me.
part of me is tempted to at least make a plea to CAN and hope they take pity on me, but i don’t have a lot of faith that there’s a chance they will capitulate. if any of you CAN members reading want to make a case for me with them, feel free, though!