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in preparation for the acquisition of a granny car

Yesterday I strapped four brand new tires on my truck. Cost: $370. Spent too much? Probably. But it will be worth it if it will increase the chance of selling my truck for the price I want.

I mentioned selling the truck a while ago but have not be able to take action on it until now because I only acquired the title very recently. This doesn't mean the debt was paid off. It was simply moved, so I still owe the money. But technically I own my truck 100%.

My goal is to sell the truck so I can purchase a granny car. This is a debt reduction maneuver. The sale money acquired from selling the truck will knock my long-term debt down significantly, and allow me to purchase a granny car.

What is a granny car exactly? There's a bit of a story behind that.

In New England or any state that gets a significant amount of snow, there are only two types of vehicles worth owning, that being a front-wheel-drive or a 4x4. Having a rear-wheel-drive vehicle is just plain stupid. Of course, there will be those that say, "I can drive a RWD in snow, that's easy!" I know the type. Fools, all of them. It's FWD, 4x4 or nothin'. Anybody that drives a RWD in New England during the winter season has a death wish.

This is the entire reason I own a 4x4 in the first place. My truck was purchased new in '05 and I've owned it ever since.

In Florida on the other hand you can drive anything. Cars that would be considered summer-only in New England are all-year in Florida. If you wanted to drive a RWD land barge sized car here, go right ahead. It's not exactly the most economical, but totally do-able as a daily driver. Heck, you could even drive a dune buggy if you wanted to as long as it has all the parts to make it street legal.

Florida has a ton of old farts that live here, and that's no secret. As such they drive very specific cars. Cars that are the definition of basic transportation. Plain, unassuming, boring boxy cars. These are granny cars.

Granny cars live a very good life in Florida. They're never beat on, never redlined and are usually garaged most of their lives. It is "Florida car" defined.

I want one, and I'm going to buy one.

The granny car I have in mind is a very particular make and model made in a very particular five-year span. I won't mention what it is or what years it was made because I sincerely believe it's the ultimate sleeper car, and I want my pick of the litter, so to speak.

From my research, this is what I've found out:

  1. The engine used is basically bulletproof. I've read reviews of this car by people who have achieved as high as 275,000 miles on one - on a car nobody would ever think would be able to do that.
  2. One can be found easily for under $3,000.
  3. One can be found easily with under 60,000 original miles on it. I've even seen some with 26,000 original miles - for sale under the $3,000 mark. I'm not kidding.
  4. It's a very comfy car.
  5. Kids hate it - which is fantastic.
  6. You could leave it in a parking lot with the windows rolled down and the key in the ignition, and nobody would steal it.
  7. The cost to insure one is next to nothing.
  8. It usually is loaded with options. Power everything, A/C, the works.
  9. It costs next to nothing to maintain.

There's more but you get the idea.

The crazy part: This car must be within that five-year span I mentioned for model year, because anything outside of that span is a lemon and will be plagued with problems. Funny how that is, but it's true.

Once I get one, which will hopefully be soon, I'll give the scoop on what the car is, why it's so awesome, and why I'll probably be driving it for a good long time. Stay tuned for it.

a florida day, a new england mini-vacation

Today is the type of day that "feels like Florida", so to speak. It's the feeling you get right after stepping outside when you stop, look up at the trees and sky, take it all in and enjoy where you are.

I got this feeling back in New England during the Autumn months from mid-September until early November. Steel blue mornings following by vibrant blue afternoons with a bright-but-not-too-bright sun, then into cool blue evenings. Unfortunately this won't happen in New England for another seven months. And in fact the region where I used to live will probably get blasted with snow and/or sleet over the next 3 days. January and February are the two crappiest months to live in New England, after all.

Since moving to FL in '06 I said one of these years I was going to go back for a visit up north for a few days in October. Will I be able to do this in 2010? Possibly. There's fiscal crapola I have to get out of the way first, then decide whether I want to go there by car, by train, by flight or use a combination.

If I fly and opt to use a non-stop, the total travel time each way is around 6 hours. The flight itself is only 3, but of course you have to show up to board 2 hours in advance, and then after touchdown it takes forever to get off the frickin' plane.

By train, I can get from TPA (Tampa) to FOX (Foxwoods) for well under $200. The only problem is that it takes almost 22 hours to complete the trip.

By car, the total travel time is about a day and a half. Total driving time is 24 hours, but I'd obviously stop to sleep once which is where the extra time comes in.

I could opt to use car and train. I drive up to Sanford FL, park my car in the Auto Train, take a trip to Lorton VA and then drive the rest of the way to New England which takes about 7 hours. And if that sounds like a long time, trust me it isn't. It would take almost 24 hours if I drove all the way from Tampa to New England. The Auto Train trip is slow going (17 hours, 30 minutes) and adds time to the trip, but does so in a way that I don't mind. That train has private bedrooms, showers and all meals are included. It's more or less a rolling motel. Basically what I'm looking at is around 27-ish hours of travel each way. There's 2 from Tampa to Sanford, 17.5 from Sanford to Lorton, then 7 from Lorton to New England.

The fastest - and most expensive - way to get there is by plane.

The cheapest way to get there is by car, assuming the gas prices stay as they are right now.

The comfortable way is by train.

The most comfortable way is by car + train.

Interesting choices, to be sure.

I also have to figure out how many days I plan to spend there and moreover where I plan to stay once I arrive. I can go to my sister's place, or Ben's, or Kat's or rent a room at any number of hotels.

The problem here is that there are three places I want to go to, one of which is far off the beaten path.

The first place is, obviously, the stomping grounds in Killingly. I'd putt around there and snap many photos.

Second is Webster MA. I spent a lot of time there as a kid. There's not necessarily anything to see there as it's just a personal thing for me.

Third is Mt. Greylock State Reservation. This is the one that's out of the way over on the west side of Massachusetts, just north of Pittsfield. Even if I stayed with Kat (who is closest to it) and she wanted to head up there with me, it'd still take us over 2 hours to get there.

You gotta love those New England roads where it takes forever just to get anywhere.

Killingly and Webster are easy to do, but it's Greylock that's the pain in the ass. It's going to take some good planning to pull off this trip, that's for sure.

rays of sunshine, courtesy of icq

icqA few years back I started using ICQ again for nostalgic reasons. I didn't really think I'd use it that much, but it grew on me and now I use it as my primary instant messenger.

I do receive garbage from time to time, but something I haven't mentioned is the good communication I get from it. To date, I've made relationships with several people that graduated into friendships that include regular phone conversations, one of which occurred today. More on that in a moment.

ICQ as far as I'm concerned is the internet equivalent of a diamond in the rough. It doesn't have any of the b.s. Facebook has and hearkens back to the time when the internet was a whole lot simpler and friendlier. Those I communicate with on ICQ are genuinely friendly folks.

Due to an ICQ conversation, I was able to talk to a really nice girl today. It lasted several hours and she was awesome to chat with. Things like that never happen on any other messenger I've used, which is why I don't bother with the others anymore.

I honestly believe that what people don't realize about sites like Facebook is that they're nothing but big badly programmed forums. When you boil it all down, that's what a social media site is, and it's really not that good at all considering traditional forums work a million times better.

ICQ on the other hand is not a forum but still has roughly the same social interaction, done so in a way that makes sense.

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