Saturday, February 23, 2013

Chasing cars

I have mentioned before that I have been without a car since the end of October. Donna has been driving me to work and home, shopping and occasionally to church.

It's all been very inconvenient for everyone concerned.

I got my tax refund on Feb. 15 and went car shopping. I had checked out various dealer websites, but wasn't having much luck in my price range. I'm not willing to get into a loan situation and don't want to give my friends' contact information for the application in any case, so my search was limited to what I could do with the cash on hand.

One dealership had a car that was okay, but I only drove it around the lot a little because the brakes seemed a little squishy and it didn't move for a few seconds when I pressed on the gas - leading me to think there might be a transmission problem.

Another dealer didn't want me to test drive the car further than "around the block." The belt was screaming, so it needs to be replaced, which I could live with, but there was no way I would buy the car without driving it at highway speed. His suggestion that I drive it at 55 behind Walmart (speed limit 35 mph) was laughable. I had nearly all the money with me and would have gladly bought the car if I liked how it drove on the highway. But I told it I would be stupid to buy it without a thorough test drive.

On Saturday, Donna and I went to look at a minivan. The owner, Belinda, had posted on her Facebook about it. Donna is Facebook friends with her daughter. I drove it to Otho, where my friend Tonya gave it a quick once-over. I turned it off and it didn't start right away. I also drive it to Jim's service station, to put some gas in it and ask them what they thought about what Tonya had told me. (She said don't buy it.)

I ended up buying it. I know the belt needs to be replaced (yes, just like the other one). And now the starter has given me problems a couple more times. I'm hoping that can wait 3 weeks, but if not, I'll manage. But it has just under 147k miles - the least of any car I've owned. So I hope I can keep this one for awhile.

It's an adjustment driving a minivan after a car for so long. It's significantly higher up, so coming out of the driveway at our apartment building it's easier to see oncoming traffic.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Why I'm voting yes to PPEL today

School vote today for increase to PPEL in Fort Dodge.

Why I will vote yes and what could happen if it fails: My daughter has orchestra, and FDSH is the only school in the area that offers it. It's a big reason why I don't open enroll her elsewhere (like MNW where they have school-issued laptops, for example). Orchestra is frequently at risk of being cut for budget reasons.

If the physical needs of the schools are taken out of the general fund, orchestra may go away. There goes my main reason for keeping her at FDSH. So maybe I open enroll her at a different school and FD schools lose the money for her, making it more difficult to pay for things. Or maybe I decide that we'll move out of the area - to Ames or DM or somewhere else with an orchestra program. That would mean that all the money I spend here for rent, shopping, etc., now goes somewhere else. Now imagine if 50 or 100 parents do this.

Maybe I don't have the math right, but I think it means if you have a $100,000 house, your property tax would increase by $34 a year. Is that $34 worth it to you to put the schools in a bind? Currently 81% of the general fund goes to salaries. Imagine how many teaching jobs will be at risk if the PPEL fails and the maintenance, school bus purchases, technology and all that is covered by the PPEL has to come out of the general fund. And if your kids go to a different school - is it a school that is bused by FD buses?

People are always complaining about taxes, and I understand that. But taxes are necessary to have the kind of place you would want to live in. Imagine if you could say "my taxes will help to keep this road in repair, but not that road." And think if you lived on the road that people didn't want to pay for.

I haven't done the research for a really well-thought-out blog post, but I am sure that I am more aware of the issue than people who just look at this and say "no more taxes." There is already a PPEL. The current funding amount is due to expire. The current PPEL doesn't cover the current needs, and honestly, neither will the increase. But if we don't get the increase, the situation will be a lot worse. The amount that the increase will cost homeowners is so small, really. I could cut that amount out of my monthly budget just by not drinking pop. If I can do that on my small salary, it's possible for pretty much anybody.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

An engaging conversation

Before I start this, here's some background information:

  • I've been separated from my husband since September 2008 and we have no plan to get back together.
  • I have no plan to marry anyone at this stage. It would be premature to even entertain the notion, as I am still married.
  • I love Doctor Who.
  • I have a friend Veronica who is a bit sad that she is not in a romantic relationship.
  • She also loves Doctor Who.
  • We both live in Iowa, which has legalized gay marriage.
  • We are both LDS, and heterosexual, so there's no chance we would take advantage of gay marriage being legal.
  • The conversation is not verbatim, as it was several hours ago, but I think I have the gist of it.
Conversation in the car today after hearing a radio ad about a jewelry store where they went on and on about their engagement rings (the driver declined to be identified for reasons that baffle me):

(There was an extremely detailed radio commercial for a jewelry store in Des Moines, detailing how they have the largest selection of engagement rings in the state, how couples take about an hour and half to pick an engagement ring, etc.)

Carol: If I ever got married again, I think I know what I would want for an engagement ring. There's at least one TARDIS engagement ring.

Driver: Okay.

Carol: I would want someone who is as geeky as I am. Someone who appreciates the same things I do.

Driver: You should marry Veronica.

Carol: It is legal in this state.

Carol: However, there's a tiny hitch. (meaning the hetero part)

Driver: I know. (also meaning the hetero part)

Carol: She's too young for me. (Gotcha!)

Now, I thought that was quite funny. I guess the driver didn't appreciate it as much, as she didn't want me to mention her name. But it kind of shows the type of conversation I like - where there's a bit of back and forth and goofiness.

Oh, and Veronica? Nothing personal ...