Life

Repairs

I’ve had my car for a little over six years now and I’m proud to say that it’s only been in “the shop” two or three times since I’ve had it. Now at 165K miles I’m surprised it’s still trucking along after all the hell I’ve put it through on the roads.

My little Echo has been in and out of the shop for the last week because of problems that should have been fixed a long time ago. About four years ago my check engine light came on and after spending close to $500 on it, and still nothing was resolved, I gave up. Aside from being a little sluggish when the engine began to warm up, there were no other problems that I experienced. I could live with that…

Before my trip to Japan, when my brother was driving me to the airport, he suggested that I get a tune up, and then I realized how long it’s been since it’s had a tune up. Never… Oops! Admittedly, I know nothing about cars except when to put gas in it and when my oil need to be changed.

The mechanic got started on my car last Wednesday and put new spark plugs in it, and he said something kept “missing.” After a couple days he figured out it was the fuel pump. He installed the new fuel pump but something else was still wrong. I knew my bill had to be racking up so I began stressing.

Fast forward to Wednesday when my car was picked up… To my surprise the bill only ended up being $327.65. I know he gave me one hell of a deal considering the amount of time he spent on it; he only charged $60 for labor! Apparently he figured out what else was wrong with it because I had a charge for the fuel pump and a mass airflow sensor.

I’ve only driven my car two days since the repairs but it is running so much smoother now. I don’t have any problems taking off when the engine is still warming up. The best part is after four years my check engine light is finally off! Let’s hope it just stays off and my car will last me until I graduate college. ha ha.

Life

Customer Service

As mentioned in the previous post I have my eyes set on a Blackberry Pearl, and I had a little extra time before going into work today so I stopped by Bluegrass Cellular to get a few questions I had answered. I walked in, and I was greeted and asked if I had any questions. I told her that I was just looking but then quickly added, “…Well I do have a few questions!” The middle-aged woman answered them, but not without acting as if I was an idiot and that she was being inconvenienced by actually having to help someone. It’s not as if I asked ignorant questions, I simply asked about the Blackberry models that they offered and what kind of monthly prices I should expect if I indeed bought one. After giving me the spiel (reluctantly) she handed, or shall I say “tossed”, me some brochures. Needless to say, I didn’t stay very long and left feeling annoyed.

I work at a “mom and pop” store and I know how hard it is for independents to make it these days, and if you don’t have good customer service you won’t make it. When you have potential customers come into your store you should be pleasant and not belittle them. Even if they don’t buy anything on their first visit they’ll be likely to return if they were treated well. If it wasn’t for the fact that Bluegrass Cellular is the only provider that offers service in my area I wouldn’t give any thought to going back. I realize everyone has their days but this isn’t the first complaint I’ve heard from this company; specifically this location.

As much as I want a new cell phone something keeps telling me just to wait a few more months, because I’m still a little apprehensive about going with this company. Because they’re not a nationwide company like AT&T, Verizon, and the like, they have quite a few restrictions. For example, if I ever make calls from Louisville or Lexington it’s considered roaming and you are only given a certain amount of roaming minutes a month. Granted, it would be rare that I went over the alloted roaming minutes, it’s the idea that it’s restrictions. My boss uses this company and I remember one month he ended up with a $700 bill because of roaming between him and his wife. Unfortunately, they had to pay it. Yet something else to fear.

Secondly, I’m not a huge fan of their prices. I’m looking at $150 for the phone, $39.99/month for unlimited email and internet, and around $49.99/month for a decent voice plan. I don’t mind spending a little extra money because I would actually get service at home, but that’s a little more than I want to pay. I’m going to be looking at $90-$100/month for service. I don’t think so…

I guess I’m back to waiting and hoping that AT&T puts up a tower nearby soon. I was talking to an AT&T rep a while back and she said the next tower is going to be put near my area and it was likely I would finally get service. She didn’t know a time frame but hopefully it’ll happen soon. I’m becoming impatient, can you tell?

This pales in comparison to other experiences but this is today’s feature. Feel free to post your tales of bad customer service or better yet – really good customer service.

Internet

Web 2.0

I first joined Twitter about a year ago and I deleted my account not long after signing up. It seemed like a silly concept and another website that I would have to keep track of. After joining again a few months ago it has become an addiction. I actually spend more time refreshing Twitterrific than I do on Flickr. I move from one addiction to another. It’s interesting to see what others are doing and a great place to meet new friends. Louisville has even began to have meet-ups for twitter members. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the first one, but apparently they had a huge turn out.

Another website that has become popular among twitter members is BrightKite. BrightKite is a website similar to twitter where you can post notes, your current location, and post photos from your camera to their site. I’m a little hesitant to post too much information at this website. Is it really safe to post your home location? Who knows who will stumble across your page and decide to stalk you. There are settings to only disclose your locations to friends but it’s still a little unsettling. Until I get a fancier phone I doubt I’ll be using BrightKite frequently.

Speaking of fancier phones I’ve been eyeing Blackberries; particularly the Pearl. My birthday is a little less than seven weeks away and I think I’m going to switch over to another provider that actually offers service at my home as a gift to myself. My friends will be happy to know that they can finally reach me when I’m at home! ::gasp:: I’d love to get one of the new iPhones but I can’t justify $60-70/month for service, especially considering I’ll be working less this fall because of more class work. I’ve been wanting a new phone for a long time and these websites are making me want it even more. If I had a fancier phone I could update Twitter and/or BrightKite from my phone as well as my computer. I could really annoy people with updates. Yes! My plan to take over the internet is working. 😛

The internet is really changing, in fact, it’s been changing radically the last few years. 10-15 years ago websites like twitter or brightkite would have never taken off. I guess we’ve all become more comfortable with strangers reading about our lives, because it seems like everyone has a blog that they update regularly. I’ve met some great people because of the internet, in fact, a couple of my close friends I’ve met online. I’m grateful for that because I wouldn’t have met them otherwise. Thank you, internet. 🙂

Related Links
My twitter and brightkite account.

Photography

Holga

Mini-amusement park.

Mini-amusement park. Cave Hill Cemetery.

About a month ago I bought this beautiful toy camera called a “Holga.” These little cameras are very popular among flickr members because they make mundane photos look very interesting. Don’t believe me? Check these photos out. I thought that being a “toy camera” it would be easy to operate, but boy was I wrong. I should have took my friend, Jonas‘, advice and get the first roll developed as soon as possible to make sure I was doing everything correctly. I had three rolls developed and about three photos were salvageable. It’s no one’s fault but my own because I don’t like to read manuals. The recurring problem were photos overlapping one another. Sometimes it worked like for the first photo but most of the time it didn’t.

After getting a second opinion it was clear that I had the wrong mask in for the settings I had the camera on. I already had another roll of film in the camera but was only 3 photos into it so I decided to take it out. It wasn’t anything I couldn’t photograph again so I’m going to start with a new roll of film and see what happens.

I was surprised at how inexpensive it was to get three rolls of specialty film developed at Murphy’s Camera; only $22. Then again that was only for the negatives and three discs of photos. I’m glad I opted not to get the photos printed. I really would have been upset.

The moral of the story is: live and learn…and read the manual!

Life, Photography, Travel

Lost in Translation

Blooms.

My trip to Japan lasted almost two weeks and went by in a bit of a blur. It’s hard to believe that I’m back home and life is back to normal, well somewhat normal. I’ve been home almost two days now and of course my sleep schedule is completely whacked. It’s 8AM, I have yet to fall asleep, and I go back to work on Saturday. I’m going to do my best and keep myself busy today and hope that I can get to sleep early tonight.

4:30AM

It was nice seeing my sister, niece, and brother-in-law, who I haven’t seen since they moved there two years ago. However, Japan is not someplace that I would ever want to live. If you’ve grown up with that culture or if you’re highly adaptable to your surroundings you could enjoy it there. It’s a hard place to live. Living in America my entire life has spoiled me on such luxuries as my personal space, portion sizes*, and most importantly diet pepsi. Two weeks without a decent soda is enough to drive someone mad. They have Coca-Cola there but it tastes like a flat version of America’s Coca-Cola. *Probably a bad thing.

Chuu

Honestly, if it wasn’t for having family over there I doubt I would have a desire to return. I think I’ve deluded myself into believing that I like Japanese culture more than I really do. It’s a very hard place to visit if you haven’t mastered the language. According to my sister even if you have mastered the language it’s still a hard place to live. This is her second time living in Japan and she’s still trying to get used to their customs.

subway

I felt helpless throughout most of the trip because I would need my sister or brother-in-law to translate or ask questions for me. I came unprepared and it was no ones fault but my own. I knew there wouldn’t be English translations everywhere but assumed there would be some translations. Not at all.

Interior

Despite saying all of these negative things I did enjoy the time I had with my family. The mountains in Kamikochi were my favorite, we went to Kamikochi for a weekend and spent our nights at the Pension TengallonHat which was surprisingly nice after all. My sister and I relaxed in an outdoor hot tub (not the correct term), which was right next to a loud stream coming from the mountains. When we visited the Japan Alps it was cool and rainy so it left a nice fog on the mountains. Sadly I haven’t mastered photography enough to capture it really well.

Krill

Other than that we did a lot of (window) shopping, went to the aquarium, Nagoya Castle, visited with my brother-in-law’s parents, and more shopping… Did I mention shopping? Yeah, we did that too! Oh and I watched about 12 Japanese people try to fit into a very small elevator. After pressing several buttons and the elevator door still wasn’t closing two of them ran off to the escalator to catch their train. That was pretty amusing.

Bicycle

I’m pretty happy with the way my photos turned out. I have about three rolls from my Holga that will be developed this weekend so you should see more photos soon. Unfortunately, my supersampler* broke near the end of the trip. ::tear:: However, I’m hoping lomography will replace it, as it’s not even been three months. Cross your fingers for me…

Click below to view a slideshow of photos from this trip!



Life, Travel

Sayonara

I’m leaving for the airport in about an hour and I’ve been doing a good job of not getting worked up about it. I’m not a nervous flier like some, but being in a confined space; in the air, for many hours may end up taking a toll on me. I’m bringing a journal with me and hopefully I’ll utilize it. Instead of blogging about the entire trip I thought I might just blog about really interesting parts of the trip in detail. We’ll see how that works out.

We’re flying out to Chicago tonight where we have an 11-hour layover, needless to say we’ve reserved a hotel room near O’Hare. (Thanks, Roy!) At 7:30 tomorrow morning we fly to San Francisco and reach our final destination (Nagoya) 17.5 hours later. I think we arrive in Japan at about 2:30pm their time; they’re 13 hours ahead which would make it 1:30AM on Wednesday EST. I’m sure I’ll be fine once we’re getting on the plane in San Francisco and en route to Japan. I’ll have books, an ipod, my laptop, and camera with me on board so I should be entertained for a while.

I suppose this will be the last you hear from me until I return on June 3rd. Most likely I’ll be updating my twitter account sporadically. Keep an eye out! 🙂

Music

Narrow Stairs

death_cab_for_cutie_narrow_stairs_cover

I think Death Cab for Cutie’s (DCFC) new album Narrow Stairs is going to be one that has to grow on me. I took the time to sit down and listen to the album with no interruptions and it’s different. It’s not that I hate it by any means, however, a few songs on the album are very different from their normal style. If it wasn’t for Ben Gibbard’s familiar voice I would have never guessed “You Can Do Better Than Me” or “Your New Twin Sized Bed” was a DCFC song.

In saying that, the album has redeemable qualities. “I Will Possess Your Heart” is 8:45 of pure joy, and I especially love the video that came with my iTunes purchase. “Cath…” is also a favorite of mine. “Bixby Canyon Bridge” has been on repeat today. I can’t help but to be lured in by this beautiful song.

“All the way from San Francisco
As I chased the end of your road
‘Cause I’ve still got miles to go.
And I want to know my fate
If I keep up this way.
And it’s hard to want to stay awake
When everyone you need, they all seem to be asleep.
And you wonder if you missed your dream.”
Bixby Canyon Bridge

While this album is nothing compared to their previous album “Plans,” it certainly isn’t the worst. I’ll be honest I wasn’t a huge fan of “Plans” until after it had been out about a year. I suppose it was one of those albums that had to catch you in the right mood. I’m happy that it did because three years later it’s still one that I listen to frequently. Hopefully this album will be similar.

Life

New beginnings

I’m starting this blog with a fresh slate. Partly because the entries that were here were meaningless, but mostly because I’m too lazy to back things up correctly. I’m not sure what I plan to blog about here, I suppose it will be whatever pops into my head and seems worthwhile.

This time next week my Mom and I will be packing for our trip to Japan to visit my sister. I’ve been planning this for close to six months, if not longer, and it’s hard to believe it’s finally happening. I’m excited but equally nervous. I don’t have a fear of flying but being on a plane that long would be enough to mess with someones nerves. We’re leaving out Monday (19th), arriving in Nagoya on Wednesday (21st), and coming back June 3rd. We’ve planned a few things to do but I hope we’ll have some downtime to rest and relax. I’m actually going to be missing three weeks of work. I’d hate to feel like I need a vacation after my vacation. ha. 🙂

I suppose that is it for the time being…