Teeth

Earlier this week my daughter had all four of her wisdom teeth removed.  My wife and I could tell she was nervous, but she knew it had to be done.

The first few hours after the teeth were removed were a haze for her due the anesthetic and later, the hydrocodone-actaminophen tablets to control the pain.

After two days, except for eating soft foods, she’s pretty much back to normal.  It’s been 24 hours since she’s needed any of the prescription pain meds, so in a few hours she’ll probably drive back to her apartment.

 

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Annoyed

At the insistence of my daughter, the 20 year old friend of hers that bought my mom’s car called and asked my opinion on the cost of some maintenance that was recommended by a repair shop…..

The problem was “the car runs badly, but only when I’m in a parking lot or stopped at a traffic light.  The rest of the time, it’s OK.”

The shop recommended

  • Replacing the spark plugs  $240 labor, $60 parts.
  • Replacing the spark plug wires, $240 labor and $70 parts.
  • Replacing the weak battery, $50 labor and $300 parts.

The shop also recommended some optional preventative maintenance items.

  • A transmission system “flush”, $200
  • A power steering system “flush”, $100.
  • A cooling system flush, $100.
  • A fuel system flush,  $100.

 

The lady said she gave my maintenance records to the shop.  I made those records and they show that

  • The battery was replaced four months ago.
  • The transmission was serviced four months ago.
  • The power steering system was flushed four months ago.
  • I had to replace the radiator in July 2017, and I flushed out the cooling system at that time.
  • The fuel system was checked and the fuel filter was replaced ‘just because’ in July 2017.

 

I told her to drive away from that repair shop, to never set foot in there again and to bring the car over to my house.

 

I went ahead a replaced the spark plugs and wires.  Since the back three spark plugs and wires are difficult to access (requires removing a bunch of hoses, components and wires), I went ahead and used the more expensive platinum electrode spark plug wires and very high quality spark plug wires so this won’t need to be done again for many years.

Once all the stuff to access the spark plugs is removed, putting in new spark plug wires only added 10 minutes of time when compared to reusing the old wires.   My guess is they quoted her a price to, “take it apart, replace the spark plugs, put it all back together, take the same stuff apart again, replace the spark plug wires and then put it all back together again.”   That is something only an idiot would do.

In reality, the spark plug wires and spark plugs were in decent (but not perfect) condition and this could have been deferred for another few years.

I checked the battery under full load and it is as good as a new battery.  It was not “weak”.

 

Oh, yes.  The poor idle problem.  It was none of the stuff they recommended.  It was a cracked PCV (emission) hose.  The PCV hose for a 1994 Buick is a weird custom “thing” that is not easily replaceable with generic components.  However,  General Motors used that same part in many different cars, over many different years, and the part is both easily available and very cheap.   The first auto parts place I called had one in stock for under $9.00.  Since the “rubber” sections in that part had degraded, I went ahead and replaced all the other “rubber” parts in the other vacuum lines.   It took just 15 minutes to do this and considering the low cost of vacuum lines, it’s worth the time to do this to prevent future vacuum leaks.

So, here is what it cost:

  • Slightly more than 3 leisurely hours, including getting the parts.
  • $29 for the spark plugs.  I used the more expensive platinum ones that should last “forever”
  • $31 for the spark plug wires.
  • $9 for the PCV hose.
  • $3 for some vacuum hose

Since she had given the shop person the maintenance records, my guess is that they saw a 20 year old college girl with a 24 year old car and went from there.  That annoys me and I called the repair shop to let them know this.  I was not rude, nor did I talk loudly, but I was very clear in expressing my annoyance.

 

This is why I insisted my daughter understand how to do the work and what it takes to do it.  Even though she doesn’t have the tools (or the room) to do the work, she still knows when “something isn’t right”.

 

Seven Cars

Today, I sold my mother’s car to a good friend of my daughter.  It is a mid 1990s  Buick that has only been driven 66,000 miles.   She only paid $600 for it and the car is in as perfect condition as possible, both physically (no dents or scratches) and in its preventative maintenance.

I would have had no worries if my daughter had wanted to drive, alone, the car across the country, so it should be great car for its new owner.

The car was certainly worth more money than $600, but the car didn’t cost me anything, I wanted to get rid of it and I didn’t mind giving a friend a good deal on a car.

I now own “only” seven cars, including the one my daughter drives.  My goal is to sell one more car. The next one I want to sell has been driven almost 300,000 miles and really needs a complete drive train overhaul before I would want to drive it across the country.  So, it will most likely be sold to a scrap yard.

Then I will be at 6 cars–3 antique ones and 3 modern ones.

 

Something Not So Dreary

Yesterday our daughter came home from college.  It’s not a huge thing as it’s only about 45 minutes (2 hours during rush hour) driving time to get home.  But still, it’s nice seeing her.

I did the stereotypical guy thing yesterday; cook meat on a grill.  Perhaps not so stereotypical, I also made up a fruit salad, a pasta salad and twice baked potatoes.

Our daughter is not a huge meat eater.  She likes a good steak, but like me, she wouldn’t want to eat that every day.  She loves the fruit and pasta salads, but the twice baked potatoes are special.  This morning, I got a text message from her,   “Dad.  I really wouldn’t mind if you made more twice baked potatoes.  I’d come home to get them.”

I have a red 3 ring binder that is full of my favorite recipes that I’ve found, created , heard about, or adapted to my own use.  I’d guess there are 50 pages in the book and they date back to my college days.  The twice baked potatoes recipe is among them.

I will need to make copies for her.

Rambling

Our daughter seems to be adjusting to dorm life very nicely.  The arrangement is 2 girls in one room and two girls in the adjacent room with common bathroom for both rooms.  So far the only issue has been one girl in the adjoining room that is running a bit wild and annoying the other three girls.  When everyone was moving in, I met “wild child” and her parents.  My guess is that it’s a case of her never being allowed any freedom at home and now she’s not sure how to live without a parent keeping things under control.  Everyone is hoping she settles down.  I think she will settle down once she realizes the hangovers and people making fun of her drunkenness are not as fun as it seemed a few weeks ago.


This summer was the final year of a lady’s 27 years of driving the school bus.  Since then, the school has been looking, without success, for a new driver.  Until they find a regular driver, I’m driving the bus every morning.

This means the alarm clock rings at 4:45am instead of 5:30am and the day ends, as usual, with me getting home around 7pm.

They have someone that has stepped up to the challenge and is studying for their class B commercial driver license with the P and S endorsements.   While driving the bus is a lot of fun, I will be glad to get the extra 45 minutes “sack time” each morning.


The old Volvo I drive to work had a slight oil leak that I fixed.  The oil from the leak contaminated the insulators on the spark plugs and that was causing a misfire–the engine was running rough and getting worse than normal gas mileage.  After cleaning things, the engine is now running perfectly.  This isn’t bad for a car with close to 400,000 miles on it.

 

Today is the Day.

In about 2 hours, we will be leaving with our daughter to move her into the college dorm.

It’s hard to believe the time has gone by so quickly.

I can remember lots of things.  The evening before our daughter was born, we stopped by a grilled chicken place and had a light dinner.  It was  the last time we ate out as a couple.  At midnight, labor started.  Just before 5:30am we left for the hospital.  Seven hours later, we were a family.

I remember the feeling of awe looking at her in the little plastic basket on the scale.  I remember looking at her tiny fingers, toes, nose, eyes and ears.  I remember her cry sounding like a tiny kitten.  I remember the excitement of all four brand new grandparents.

We have a picture of our daughter getting on  the bus for the first day of kindergarten.  The last day of 8th grade, we have a picture of her getting off of the same bus.  This time, my wife was driving the bus.

Driving lessons. Driving test.  First car crash..thankfully a very minor one.  Prom. boyfriend.   High school graduation.

And now, a bit more than 18-1/2 years after it started, college.  We raised her to be a hard worker, unafraid of showing her intelligence, capabilities and confidence and I hope it carries her far .  While we will still be offering “life lessons”, we will no longer be center stage.

This is how it always has been and how it should be.