6-29-12 Friday (Stairs Are Good For You)

So the car shopping experience continues.  You can refresh your memory here if you’d like.  We’ll have to move on without you though.

Last I told you:  “…We finally said $150 a month, $1500 down.  Final offer.  They said no, we left.  We weren’t really looking for a car that day.  We told them to call us if they need that extra sale for the end of the month at our price.”

I received an email from the salesman we were dealing with who also happened to be the sales manager: “… I've got some great news for you.  I can do the lease on your terms.  Let me know when you would like to pick the vehicle up.”

Short, simple and to the point.  I guess they need the sale for the end of month numbers.  Working in the car business for so long I know that sometimes taking a loss on 1 vehicle will increase revenue on the others.  Many manufacturers pay the dealers “stair step money”.  An excerpt from Edmunds:

“What's a stair-step incentive? In simple terms, it's a manufacturer-to-dealer incentive that's tied to sales volume. For instance, an automaker might pay a dealership $500 if they sell 10 vehicles while a stair-step program is in effect. However, if that dealership sells 20 units, it might earn $1,000 per unit. More aggressive programs will even compensate dealers retroactively, such that the aforementioned $500 could be paid out even for the first 10 vehicles sold, not just those sold after the quota is reached.”

The great thing is they’ve also offered us a 24 month or 36 month lease for the same.  I think we’ll go with the 24 month.

After work we picked up the RV, parked it in our drive way (won’t the neighbors be thrilled).  We’re starting the process of dewinterizing, cleaning it, reorganizing it, etc.  I’d like to thoroughly vacuum, steam clean the carpets, and clean it top to bottom.  We removed some clothes we stored in there (they shrunk and we don’t fit into them anymore).  We had a lot of repairs and maintenance done.  Reseal the roof, generator muffler repair, carpet repair, fuel filter, etc. 

You might remember that back in April we went to the RV to get it ready for repairs but it wouldn’t start.  We also spotted a water leak.  I had mentioned that we were over it and wanted to sell it.  One of the big reasons was a windshield repair.  I hadn’t blogged about it previously due to possible insurance reasons but both windshields actually popped out at the top.  You could see frickin’ daylight shining through.  Jim found it by seeing mold and water spots all over the dashboard.  That’s what had pushed us over the edge.

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Tonight we went to The Scorpio.  It’s a huge gay bar in Charlotte.

We’re RuPaul Drag Race fans and we loved Pandora Boxx.  The Scorpio has had many of the contestants from the show.  The show was supposed to start at 11.  As typical, it didn’t start till midnight.  I hated the “dance music”.  It seemed to have been mostly rap with heavy beats.  I miss dance music.  The show was good but when it was over, I was ready to get out of there.  It was 1am.  I had 4 Amaretto Sours.  I was pretty lit.  On the way home Jim suggested Waffle House.  It was very busy so we went to McDonald’s.  This really capped off the night to bringing back memories of going clubbing and eating bad foods at late hours. 

After we ate we went to bed.  First we made sure that the room would be as dark as possible.  Most of the time I can’t sleep passed 7am so I needed to do all I could to try. 

Tomorrow we’ll pick up the car.

6-24-12 Sunday (Flaming Onions)

This morning, the psychotic behavior known as New Car Fever took over Jim.  Every time I glanced at his computer screen there was yet another car manufacturers website.  Then it was used cars.  Then back to new.  At one point I saw airfare on the screen only to assume he had found some “deal of a century” in a far off land and wanted to see if it was worth while to fly there and get it.  Since he never brought it up to me I can only assume it wasn’t.  He was on other websites that gave lists of good vehicles to tow behind motorhomes. As I blogged about yesterday’s events and observations we decided not to do anything.  Yet… now at 6:30PM, Jim is looking at used cars online.

We met up with Jamie, Ruby and Beth for lunch at Nakato Japanese Restaurant.  It’s that prepared in front of you type place that we haven’t been too in a while.  They featured a VERY reasonably priced lunch menu that is still prepared in front of you with the typical Japanese showmanship.  Filet Mignon was $12.50 and chicken was $8.25.  Lunch Entrees are served with: Salad with Ginger Dressing, Hibachi Vegetables, Noodles, and Fried rice.  It was plenty of food and an awesome price.  There were only 5 of us at the table and we had some great conversation.  Jim and I will eat there more often for a Sunday lunch.  They even have a lunch club card. 

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Less than a month ago Ruby and Jamie went to St. Lucia,  Jamie asked Ruby to marry her during a romantic on-the-beach dinner.  They plan to return there next year for a small wedding.  We may just try and go depending on costs, finances, etc.

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We did our grocery shopping and then returned to Monro to get the Jeep.  They replaced the brake pads with “high quality ceramic pads” and changed the front and rear differential fluid saying that it was gear chatter not a brake grind.  They didn’t charge me fore any of it.  So far, so good, we’ll see.

We picked up the remainder of our groceries at BJ’s, came home and made our week supply of salads.  We’ve been changing it up lately.  It now has romaine, tomatoes (for me), broccoli, a little fat free feta, black beans, corn, black olives, peas, 1 hard boiled egg, and grilled chicken.  It sounds good because it is.  Yum.  I use that balsamic vinaigrette that doesn’t have any oil in it.  Yet I’m still fat and I eat that 5 days a week.  Maybe it’s all those peanut bars and crap I snack on.

6-23-12 Saturday (No Zoom Zoom)

Saturday, it was my birthday!  Jim asked me what I wanted to do and as typical, I gave said “I don’t know.”   He then planned out part of the day.  First up, a trip to Monro Muffler and Brake but this time a different location.  The brakes are grinding so bad it’s ridiculous.  A few weeks ago I had called them and told them I moved to the area recently and wondered if they'd be able to see my history with another store.  They said “no”.  This is good for me; being my 8th trip/problem with the brakes I decided to play dirty.  We dropped off the Jeep telling them we were tired of “some other shop” and that we just needed resolution.   Later they said they couldn’t duplicate the problem and everything looked fine but they had suspected low quality brake pads.  Really?  I waited for them to put it back together and took a roadtest with an employee or manager or whatever he was.  Once I made a firm stop I got them to grind on every single stop thereafter.  He agreed they were bad.  I admitted all about the Concord location and he was going to research and get a hold of the District Manager who I’ve spoken with before.  He was apologetic and seemed helpful.  We’ll see.  (As of the time of this posting, I haven’t heard anything back.)  We left the Jeep there in the meantime.

We went to JCPenney to return that ruined shirt.  The cashier/clerk person joyfully allowed me to exchange it.  She said, “you shouldn’t wash pink and blue together.”  Normally I might have been offended but since she agreed to replace it first and say that after I joyfully accepted her feedback with a chuckling reply of “well, I’m 42 and have been doing laundry a long time and haven’t had any problems…”  I did thank her again for making the exchange.  Perhaps this was my first deep, deep blue shirt?

Next up over to Mellow Mushroom for pizza.  It was OK.  I like Tony’s and Revolution Pizza which are more local than chain.  Next door was a Kilwin’s Chocolates.  50% off everything closing sale.  “Lost our lease.” This is a franchised business.  Jim asked where they were moving to and she said they hadn’t found a place yet.   I thought that was strange.  Several of the things Jim got were stale but soooo cheap it wasn’t worth returning.  The small chocolate covered pretzels and Nilla Wafers were stale.  My selections were good.

Jim had heard a Mazda of South Charlotte dealership vehicle ad, “2012 Mazda 6 lease $1500 down, $125 a month”.  Too good to be true?  We thought we check it out.  The model was equipped, not stripped.  Power windows, keyless, A/C, automatic trans, cruise control.  Jim asked the sales guy what the catch was.  “No catch,”, he said, “payments are exactly $125 a month. 12,000 mile per year are included.  Turn in the lease, pay nothing unless you want to buy it out.”   We went for a long test drive.  Both Jim and I drove.  Not at the same time though as that would be awkward.  We wanted to know the payment on the the model that had a few extra bells and whistles like power seats, blue tooth, alloy wheels, fog lights, etc.  Payments would be $100 more a month.  Not worth it.  We negotiated.  In the meantime the original deal did indeed have a catch.  $1500 down plus tax, title, tag for an additional $1183.  Huh?  As we negotiated the 1183 went lower but the monthly payment went higher.  We finally said $150 a month, $1500 down.  Final offer.  They said no, we left.  We weren’t really looking for a car that day.  We told them to call us if they need that extra sale for the end of the month at our price.  Was the ad on their website fair?  Almost makes me want to report to Better Business Bureau.

Mazda 6 Ad

I thought about it later.  Maybe it’s not so unfair to not include tax.  Everything we buy doesn’t have disclaimers of “plus tax”.  Restaurant menus.  Grocery stores.  So is it really that different?  NC vehicle purchase tax is 3% of the retail price (approximately $23000 X 3% = $690).  Is $690 more fair?  Obviously not the whole $1183.  We’ve just decided to put it off.  We don’t NEED a new vehicle.  The Jeep is also to tow behind the motorhome.  If we keep it as an additional vehicle then we need a place to keep it.  Then we have registration tax each year.  Insurance.  It just becomes more of an expense to have 3 vehicles.  Unless the deal is perfect, we’re done. 

Sometime ago, a local Bob Evans closed it’s doors.  Eventually after a few months of renovations, the location reopened at Jim N Nick’s Bar-B-Q.  It’s a chain.  We along with our friend Beth, gave it a try .  It was pretty good.  After dinner we came back to the house, chit chatted and then eventually went out to Cold Stone for my birthday BOGO deal.  Yes, even on my birthday, we try to get a deal.

6-22-12 Friday (Where’s The Tree?)

Saturday was fairly uneventful.  Jim decided to work some available overtime.  That will help me live in the manner to which I’m accustomed.  He said for some extra money so I hope he’ll buy me nice things.  My birthday is coming up. 

I did the grocery shopping while he worked.  It was kind of refreshing because I could just get it over with.  Jim likes to shop.  Me?  Not so much.  Get what’s needed and stay focused.  For the most part anyway.

After Jim got home we went to JCPenney’s.  They were having some $9 polo (as in style, not brand) shirt sale.  I wear polo shirts every day for the “business casual” look at work.  I pretty much wear them on weekends too.  OK, so I constantly wear the damn things, can we move on?  I bought 4 shirts.  When I washed them all the peach shirt came out of the wash with a blue spot on it.  It looks like it was from where the 2 shirts had touched one another while wet.  It was a 2”x2” area.  Having some Carbona color run remover on hand I threw it back into the machine.  When finished I pulled it out and discovered a tie-dye effect.  Unknowingly, the blue had tinted the entire shirt so the color run remover worked in some spots.  Ugh.  The last time something like this happened, Jim said, “it’s already ruined so try bleach”.  That resulted in the photo below.  It came out looking the same except that the blue on the color was now terribly faded.  We’ll try to exchange it at Penney’s.  Wish me luck.


Work has been uneventful which I suppose is good.  I’m pilot testing some new software.  I’m actually the pilot lead for the site but I don’t get any extra time off the phone to do it which is a bummer.   That’s adding a little to my work load but it’s OK.  It’s not for long and I like doing this sort of stuff.  It breaks up the monotony.

Our friend Jamie has the motorhome in his possession and is working on a list of issues.  Reseal the roof, fix the generator muffler, reinstall some carpet, etc.  Hopefully we can get it in shape for a weekend getaway place in Augusta.  I know, I know.  We’re always on the fence about selling it but as friends have pointed out (thanks John), it’s paid for and if we get rid of it we’ll probably not get another.  We decided to keep it for now, unless we get some phenomenal offer or something, put it in Augusta and see how much we do or don’t use it.

It’s been uneventful but I do have some miscellaneous photos and stories to share:

2012-06-14 001Above: I’m picky yet no where near perfect but this sign in the elevator at work was bothersome.  Why did they capitalize the First Letter of some of the words in the first Sentence?  It’s as annoying as inappropriate “quotes”.

2012-06-22 002Above: Someone help me to understand this strange phenomenon. 

Why do disabled cars have something wedged in their driver’s side windows?  It’s typically white and seems to be fabric when available.  If not then maybe it’s a white grocery bag.  Is it an indication that they didn’t just park there and that it’s broken down?  Is this the universal symbol for “don’t tow me”?  Is it that they surrendered during an alien abduction?   What does it mean?  No one is there with it so it surely can’t mean to call for help.  Typically law enforcement doesn’t tow cars broken down on the side of the road.  They sticker it to keep track of how long it’s been there and then tow at the end of a few days.  The only time I think they’d immediately have it towed is if it was in a handicapped space (then assumed you just parked there) or probably obstructing traffic.  Am I missing something?

On Friday (22nd), we came home and saw our replacement tree.  You know… all I could do is laugh.

2012-06-22 003Above: The new tree.

2012-06-22 004Above: The other remaining maple tree.

So there’s the new magnolia.  It was communicated during this Adams Homes warranty mess:   I am so sorry, Chris does have your file and we talked about it in depth yesterday and they have at least agreed to plant what ever tree you want being similar in size in the same spot.     I’m burned out.

That’s all I got.

6-9-12 Saturday (Indestructible Ribs)

In the early afternoon Jamie and Ruby picked us up.  We drove to Shelby, NC, a very rural town about an hour away.   We ate dinner, using a Restaurant.com certificate at Smoke on the Square.   What a nice place.  Being early it was empty.  Ready for the review?

Terrible.  Ruby ordered a cheese and grape plate to compliment her wine.  Jim and I went with a crab/cheese dip.  The cheese plate said 3 kinds of cheeses.  It arrived.  It was off the stem grapes which didn’t present itself very well and had cubed cheese.  The cheeses all looked the same so Ruby asked what kind each was and the server said she didn’t know, it was a new menu.  She left, came back and said only Gouda because “catering took the others”.  Ruby said, the menu said 3 types though.  I said send it back.  The server offered a discount, Ruby accept the offer.  I’m skipping to the end on this but we never asked what the discount would be.  The end result?  They took off 10% which was 60 cents.  Pitiful. That was more of a slap in the face than not offering a discount.

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Ruby ordered a pork tenderloin dish with a peach BBQ sauce.  The portion was very tiny.  We all chuckled about it and felt the need to offer up some of our food.  Oy.  She didn’t like the flavor.  I didn’t either.  It had a smoke flavor.  Yes, the name of the place is Smoke on the Square BUT that doesn’t mean everything is smoked and it’s kind of important to mention that on the description of this item.  Jim and Jamie thought her smoked pork was OK.

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I ordered a half rack ribs.  It came with a dinner roll which I thought was odd since Texas Toast would be a better accompaniment.  The menu didn’t say baby back ribs BUT it did say fall off the bone tender.  I couldn’t cut that crap with a butter knife.  I was trying not to use my fingers.  People, this wasn’t fall off the bone tender at all.  Jim described as needing a tractor pull to get these apart.  Using my hands I still had trouble separating each rib.  I’m being honest.  It was very tough.

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Jamie ordered a chopped steak which came nearly burnt.  He said he didn’t mind it.  In NC burgers and other processed beef must be cooked at 155 degrees or higher. 

Jim ordered a shredded BBQ pork plate that he said was OK.  He didn’t care for the slaw side dish.

With alcohol, our 60 cent discount and then the $25 off certificate, the bill was still $82.  What a shame.  No we didn’t ask to speak to anyone.  We didn’t complain to the server. I was tempted but didn’t.  I think we may all have been tempted but maybe didn’t want to “be the one”.

Sometimes I think experiences like that are worth it in the end.  We’ll always have Smoke on the Square is what we said.  Something to look back and laugh about.

Let’s move on to the demolition derby, shall we?  This was at the Cleveland County Fairgrounds and put on by Ultimate Destruction Demolition Derby.  We got there a little early but were able to get grandstand seats that we wanted rather than what was left over.  The show was supposed to start at 7 but nothing happened until 7:15.  The “characters” that attend these things was quite entertaining.  A fantastic event to go to for people watching.  There was no lack of mullets here.  Here’s some photos:

2012-06-09 0342012-06-09 0052012-06-09 0092012-06-09 0102012-06-09 0132012-06-09 0152012-06-09 0252012-06-09 008Above: And no Jim, that’s not a booger up my nose.  Click on the photo to biggerize it and you’ll see it’s cartilage.  Thanks for asking.  =)

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Ya just never know what we’ll do next.  We’re crazy like that!  It was actually kinda fun.

Any comments on the photos?  I didn’t caption them.

6-8-12 Friday (Shipping And Handling)

Sunday is a blur so I’m guessing we didn’t do much.  If it weren’t for the date/time stamp on the photos I would have forgotten that I had ironed the “Twin Room” drapes and Jim hung them.  I think this room is also complete!

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We bought some new stuff for the dining room table.  We got these candle thingies (2 packages) on clearance at Kirkland’s.  We got the table runner a couple of weeks ago from Pier One.

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Monday: So I run out of stamps and think to myself, "self", because I often call myself that, "I can just order them online and then they'll leave them in my mailbox." Genius. I go to USPS.com, set up a user name and password, click on my stamps, checkout and they want $1.25 to ship them. What? You come to my house almost everyday. You want me to pay $1.25 to ship them. I don't even pay shipping on Amazon.com. You suck.


After work on Tuesday I stopped at local grocery store Harris Teeter for the stamps.  Not only did they sell stamps but they had a special.  Buy a book of stamps and get prefabbed peanut butter cookie dough at regular price.  What a deal, I couldn’t resist.  I bought some.  I came home, we ate dinner and had fresh baked cookies.  Why am I over weight again?  Strictly rhetorical.

Thursday, Jim spotted a deer in the back yard.  Naturally I squealed, grabbed the camera and snapped photos as if it were Bigfoot or something.  I can’t help it; I just love this stuff!

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There, now you saw it too!

Friday night, wait for it…  We used a restaurant.com certificate for Mexican food with Deanna and David.  Afterwards, another certificate of sorts for bowling.

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Above/Below: David

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Above/Below: Jim

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Above/Below: Deanna

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Above/Below: Garret (me)

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2012-06-08 018Above: Me and Jim

It’s not important who won (obviously I didn’t) so we’ll leave it be.  OK?  Oh… I drank beer.  Only the second time in my life.  The first time was during my visit to Pompano to see childhood friends.  I didn’t get drunk; I had a glass.

We knew we were in trouble when David showed up with his own bowling ball and shoes.  Oy.

6-2-12 Saturday (When It’s Best NOT To Find Waldo)

On Saturday we met up with Beth and her sister Anne for brunch at Mimi’s.  Anne got a promotion and was going to be leaving the area soon.  It was a celebration!  We’re sad to see her go but she won’t be that far away.  I think she’ll be about 2 hours away.

2012-06-02 002Above: Garret with a Bloody Mary.  Mmmmmm.

2012-06-02 001Above: Anne

We spent some time at home and then went to ConCarolinas.  There were so many more people there today and definitely a lot more costumed people.  It was cool.  We went to several events including:

Sci-Fi Whose Line Is It?: This was a fun version of the TV show. 

Whedonmania: Once More with Feeling and Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-Long Blog: If you’re a Buffy TV show fan then the “Once More With Feeling” segment will make sense to you.  This was so fun.  It was done in Rocky Horror shadow casting style.  The scenes were acted out by cast and we were provided a bag of props (for $3).  It was so much fun!

2012-06-02 008Above: Getting the show started.

2012-06-02 006Above: The prop list and instructions.

2012-06-02 007Above: Jim doesn’t “sparkle” but he’s mine and Edward can kiss my ass.

LGBT in Fandom: Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Transgender.  How geekdom has or hasn’t accepted different lifestyles.  One of the panelists was author Betty Cross who has changed gender to female.  She was Steve Cross. 

Mon Frere Comedy: This was a comedic play about “the real story of Harry Potter”.  Funny.

I have to say this has been more fun than the horror genre con we went to recently.  It’s also organized better but I think most of the rooms the various panel discussions were held in were a little too small.  Luckily we always got to each event 10 minutes earlier and was able to get a seat.

Here’s some other photos:

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2012-06-02 005Above: Where’s the family?  The kids were VERY annoying during the performance.  We got up and moved.  The parents were rude and selfish.

2012-06-02 009Above: In this particular photo, if you missed it, look again.  This guy is carrying a penguin statue.  We’re not sure why but it was funny.

Those were only a fraction of the cool stuff walking around.