Anderson Has Issues

When Ben and I were pulling out of the carport to go to lunch yesterday, I noticed that something was “off” with Anderson’s clutch. At first I didn’t realize what it was, but as we drove out of the apartment complex, I realized there was no resistance as I pushed the pedal down. It was very odd. And while I could still shift gears, it required more force than usual.

I immediately pulled back into the complex and returned to my carport. Low clutch fluid? I thought the MINI had a hydraulic clutch, but I didn’t remember ever seeing a reservoir mentioned in the car’s documentation or seeing one anywhere in the engine compartment. Just to be sure, I popped the hood and looked around. Nope. Only the brake reservoir, and the fluid level in that was fine. (It turns out it’s a shared reservoir system.)

I waited as Ben went back inside to get his keys since he’d be the one driving us to lunch, and all sorts of horrible things started running through my head.  While it was hopefully something as simple as a broken linkage (or perhaps a leaking slave cylinder), what if it was something much, much worse? Anderson’s factory warranty ran out about 5,000 miles ago and visions of dumping all the money I’d put aside for the move to Denver into a very expensive car repair kept flashing before my eyes.  So much for it being a happy birthday.  Of course, on top of everything it was a holiday weekend, so I couldn’t even call the shop to make an appointment to bring it in.

When we got home I went online, and started searching for “MINI clutch pedal no resistance.” It didn’t help my anxiety level one bit. There were two schools of thought: one said bad slave cylinder (apparently they’re all plastic) or broken linkage (both relatively inexpensive to repair) and the other said complete clutch replacement (white knuckle panic attack).

I pulled up my auto insurance policy to verify that I at least had towing covered, so that wouldn’t be an out-of-pocket expense, and—praise be to the Flying Spaghetti Monster—discovered I had completely forgotten I was also carrying “mechanical breakdown” coverage.  I had added it to the policy a little over a year ago when I realized that Anderson’s factory warranty would be running out in short order and there was no way I was going to pay the outrageous amount quoted for an extended warranty.

I spoke with the insurance company today and I think can relax a bit. Supposedly no matter how bad it is, the most I will have to come up with is the $250 deductible. They said all I had to do was inform the shop I had the coverage, provide them with my insurance policy number and the direct phone line to claims and they’d take care of the rest.

So first thing tomorrow I’m calling for a tow and taking poor ol’ Anderson in to be looked over.

And in the overall scheme of things, it’s better that it happened now and not in two weeks, or—gods forbid—on the way to Denver.

It’s That Time of Year Again

Nothing planned, other than the weekly grocery shopping and a bit more packing.  I hope to get Dad’s photo albums scanned so I can return them before we leave for Denver.

Ben and I agreed that because of the move, this year there will be no gifts, although he is insisting on taking me to lunch or dinner…if I can decide where I’d like to go.

In 1980…

This is what approximately $2000 worth of stereo equipment looked like:

Sure, it doesn’t look like much now, but at the time (with the exception of the speakers) it was state-of-the-art stuff.

The only items I still have are—amazingly—the speakers (woofers refoamed and cabinets resurfaced several years ago), although I did pick up another 1300Mk2 off eBay about a decade ago and still use it to spin my vinyl.  I’ve also had several sets of the Micro Series components over the years, but always end up selling them because their general lack of inputs and outputs make them impractical for use as a main setup in this age of DVRs, DVDs, and the multitude of other tech that you might want to attach to your stereo.

Morning Soundtrack

Besides the iconic Bohemian Rhapsody, my other favorite cuts on this album are Prophet’s Song and ’39—which seems to be about a group of volunteers leaving earth on a mission to discover a new world, only to return and discover that while they’ve aged only a year, a century has passed on earth:

In the year of thirty-nine
Assembled here the volunteers
In the days when lands were few
Here the ship sailed out into the blue and sunny morn
The sweetest sight ever seen
And the night followed day
And the story tellers say
That the score brave souls inside
For many a lonely day
Sailed across the milky seas
Ne’er looked back never feared never cried

Don’t you hear my call
Though you’re many years away
Don’t you hear me calling you
Write your letters in the sand
For the day I’ll take your hand
In the land that our grand-children knew

In the year of thirty-nine
Came a ship in from the blue
The volunteers came home that day
And they bring good news
Of a world so newly born
Though their hearts so heavily weigh
For the earth is old and grey
Little darlin’ well away
But my love this cannot be
Oh so many years have gone
Though I’m older but a year
Your mother’s eyes from your eyes cry to me

Don’t you hear my call
Though you’re many years away
Don’t you hear me calling you
Write your letters in the sand
For the day I’ll take your hand
In the land that our grand-children knew

Don’t you hear my call
Though you’re many years away
Don’t you hear me calling you
All your letters in the sand
Cannot heal me like your hand
For my life’s still ahead, pity me.


I’ve been wanting to get a USB hub to use with my Mac while I’m at work.  It’s not something I absolutely needed, but between my cell modem, external hard drive, various thumb drives, and printer, I often ran out of available ports. About six weeks ago while trawling the interwebs I ran across this and had to get one. I got my order in the day before Apple sicced its lawyers on the manufacturer and since I never received a confirmation email I was beginning to wonder if I was ever going to receive it. So imagine my surprise when it showed up in my mailbox last Friday.

It’s understandable while Apple went after the company. It looks (right down to the packaging) like something Apple would make—if they made stuff like this.  But despite the superficial resemblance to a genuine Apple product, once I got it out of the box it was obvious this was not made by Cupertino.

The fit and finish was a bit off. The small USB cable that came with it had bits of excess plastic still attached, and the light-up logo (while cute) was not evenly illuminated (even though it appears that way in photos) as you’d expect from a genuine Apple product.  On the whole, kind of cheesy.  But then, what do you expect from a company that produced not one, but two Steve Jobs action figures?

I was even more disappointed when I actually plugged it in and attempted to use my peripherals. Maybe it’s a problem endemic to non-externally powered USB hubs, but my modem wouldn’t work. It would show up on the Mac, but would stay stuck at “initializing.” My external hard drive wasn’t recognized. Hell, even the printer kept telling me it was offline. And it wasn’t like I tried to plug everything into it at once; this behavior was exhibited when only a single item was attached to it.

To its credit, It did work fine with thumb drives, however, as well as powering and syncing my iPhone, so I guess it wasn’t a total loss. And I’m sure I could easily double what I spent for it by putting it up on eBay…

Morning Soundtrack

A few years ago, while still working at the hospital, the subject of classic rock came up in discussion with a dear friend.  I was telling her how shocked my mother was when I brought home my first Bob Dylan record.

“That’s nothing,” she said. “You should have seen how shocked my mother was when I brought home Bob Dylan.”

True story.

Oh To Hell With It…

While it is true that I’ve been wanting to refresh this blog for several months, it’s not entirely true that it was done just because we’re moving to Colorado.  It’s because I did something very stupid (proving I am not immune).  I sent off emails to a couple headhunters I’d been working with in Denver that had a link to this blog embedded in the signature line.

Oh shit.

While I’m not ashamed of anything I’ve posted here over the years, much of it was definitely NSFW and considering the amount of ranting I’ve done about work lately it probably wouldn’t make the best impression on someone trying to present me as a potential employee to one of their clients.

That led to the knee-jerk reaction of blasting away all my previous posts.

But as we all know, anything posted on the internet lives forever.  And anyone with the slightest bit of curiosity and know-how can find it. Some rather snarky comments I left on a discussion board nearly a decade ago about people stealing images for use in their eBay postings from a long-gone hi-fi website I used to run are still available just by Googling my name. Scary.

This made me realize that—for better or worse—Voenix Rising has become my brand and merely deleting a few years worth of blog posts is not going erase my presence from cyberspace. Not even close to it.

And you know, that’s okay.

If someone doesn’t want to represent me to a prospective employer because of my sexual orientation, political views, or the fact that I (like every other working person on the planet) occasionally bitch about my job, it’s better to know it up front.  Because for every headhunter out there who takes issue with these things, there will be another who will not.

I am reminded of an interview I had about a dozen years ago with a placement firm in Palo Alto for a position the company had been having trouble filling.  The headhunter really liked me and thought with my experience I’d be a great fit, but she had an issue with my pierced ear.  She said that the company she wanted to send me to was extremely conservative and I would be advised to remove the stud before the interview.  I looked at her and said, “Seriously? This is 1997, the Bay Area and you’re asking me to take out an earring? If they’re that uptight, why would I want to work there?”

Honesty—something decidedly lacking in public discourse these days—is always best.

And the blog really did need to be cleaned out…


I’ve thought about growing mine back out, but I fear it would be more ironic than iconic…

The Phoenix Apple Stores

One of the things I wanted to do before leaving Phoenix was visit and get a photo of each of the local Apple Stores.

Yes, I am an Über Geek.

SanTan Village

Arrowhead Town Center

Biltmore Fashion Park

Scottsdale Quarter

Chandler Fashion Center—where photography is not permitted!


Starting Fresh

In honor of our impending move to Denver, I thought it might be a good time to wipe everything away and start fresh.

I may also be taking the blog in a different…direction.  Stay tuned.