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Sundar Narayanan's Travelog

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It is an interesting life

After coming into 2019, writing all those posts on Belize, trying to get back into the routine.. got some bug from somewhere that had me down for most of the previous week.

Everytime I tried to rest, do yoga, drink fluids and recover, it kind of knocked me back. Even San was sick for a day or two.. to a point where both of us could not get up in the morning and the kid missed first period in school! 

That has not happened in our parenting history.. 

My colleagues were not exactly happy to see me at work every morning and understandably so. I would barely make it to a little post lunch before deciding to come back home. 

The funny thing was that a lot of folks kept honking at me while driving. Given I was not taking any medication that would make me drowsy and I was fully conscious.. and drive slowly.. was really suprised by all that honking.

Then San tells me that the indicator lights are flashing different. Yesterday got honked again but it was raining and in the reflections saw that my turn indicator lights were not flashing!!

That explained all the honking. Promptly took the car to get it checked.  Thought it would be a bad bulb but then the guy tells me to pop the hood to see what is going on and this is what we saw!

The guy is like "what bird nest is that? it has chewed through the insulation and is there for the warmth".. 

Me : I know what did that! It is a squirrel. Recently my neighbor has put some squirrel repellent electronic gizmo around their oak tree and all of them are in our front yard looking for a new home.. we were travelling during the break and the car was parked outside.. guess it made a perfect nesting spot

The top foam is a noise reduction insulation which is something that has to be ordered.

With squirrels come insects.. was scratching my feet yesterday and was wondering why would something bite me in the car.. it is pretty well insulated.. well, now everything is explained.

Now we need to squirrel proof the car. 

Even before this was having a conversation with Jr. when we detected the indicator issue. 

Jr.: can we sell this car and get a small Prius instead? I can drive it

Me : you can drive this car till it can no longer drive. what is wrong with that

Jr. : it is dirty! 

Me: I will wash it

Jr.: you only wash the outside. You have to clean the inside

Me: okay

Jr.: That yogurt stain has been there in the back seat for three years. You don't sit in the back seat okay? I do.. all the time. If you don't get that stain off, you better sell that car and buy another one.

Me: your mom is lobbying for a Tesla. We cannot afford it right now. You want me to replace a car for a Yogurt stain.. Where have I gone wrong?  

Jr.: I am not getting between you, Amma and the Tesla. All I am saying is I don't want to drive the Leaf or this Prius. The Leaf brakes I don't like. The Prius brakes hard and I like it, but I would be more comfortable in a smaller Prius. 

So basically she wants to buy a Leaf sized Prius. I think she also knows that she cannot go far in the Leaf other than school, target, whole foods, trader joes, safeway or one of the local classes she or her sister go to. The prospect of becoming a replacement chauffer for her sister is weighing heavily.. guess she wants to be able to drive "farther".. 

Meanwhile the "Tesla debate" is continuing. The red carpool sticker is still valid only for 3 years. When your commute becomes 2 hours a day.. time to rethink everything. 

My idea of a green car is any fully electric car.

My idea of a commuter car is something that can take me to local places fast. The carpool sticker is more valuable than the car.

My idea of a self driving vehicle is a public transport bus. ( I am not driving !)

Given that logic, the Leaf seems as good as a Tesla given we don't really "need" all those fancy features.  However, people tell me the "feeling" and "experience" part.. etc. 

Many years ago, I was fortunate to work with a Maintenance Manager by the name of Ray Romero. He passed away after fighting cancer. One day in his typical style he called me and said "Sundar, I want to have a chat with you".

So we go to an office and Ray has some popcorn and water melons waiting for me. He goes "you know, I love working with you. You had no experience working with direct labor, but were willing to listen and learn from us. you also have a good sense of where money is wasted"

I knew there was a "but" somewhere in the conversation that was coming... and it did. You know that part you are negotiating? We waited three days and got it down from 5000 to 4000.. but now we are waiting another three days to get it from 4000 to 3800.. The first move was smart. The second one not so. I know when someone called you a "cheap bastard" you told him it will be taken as a compliment. But you should know when there is a diminshing return for time vs money.

It was an important lesson that he taught me. Still use it everyday at work and outside. You should know when to stop haggling.

Where were we? Squirrels, car, one more reason to find fault with the current car to say "let's get a Tesla!"

Forget the car. What do we do about the squirrels?

Might have to buy one of those gizmos and put it inside the hood of the car.. and also try to build them an alternate nesting site of some kind... 


Bringing things up to.. 

Let us say that a forty year old person gets sick and goes to the hospital. The doctors admit the person in the hospital and they bring him/her out of sickness to a recovery point after working very hard on the patient.

Then the patient's relatives tell the doctor "it is not enough if you bring him/her to this level or even to the same level of health before the person was sick. The new requirement for a healthy forty year old has now been set. So please keep him/her in the hospital till the person is able to run a marathon, have 20/20 vision and also meets these new list of requirements" and they hand the doctor a list.. 

Would that make sense?

Let us now take another simpler case. Your car tail lights stop working. You find out that it is a fused bulb after taking it to the local auto repair shop. You ask that person to replace the bulb and hand you back the car. The repairman goes "whoa whoa whoa.. stop it right there! you cannot just replace that bulb with a another filament bulb. The energy standards have changed now in the last ten years. you have to put in an LED lamp that meets the lastest energy rating.  Also, the bulb housing in the car is only for a filament lamp. You have to gut part of the insides of the car just to make this lamp change, as that is the only way to meet the current standard"

Would that make sense? 

Maybe it does to some people. It does not to me!

Yesterday I made grand plans to come home a little early and write something for work, go to yoga, take a nice shower (since the previous night the shower had turned cold midway) only to find out that our water heater had started leaking and it was pretty much broken. We had to replace it in short notice. 

Just going into that area to shut off the inlet water and drain the tank, cost me a nights sleep thanks to all that dust that had accumulated in that closet over the last 8 years! 

Here was how the typical conversation went with the plumbers :

Can you replace the heater?

P: yes we can within 24 hours. but they dont sell the 40 gallons any more. they sell 38 or 48 gallons. 

What is the difference ?

P: not much. you get the same pressure etc. some government requirement to save the 2 gallons somewhere!

How much is the heater and install ?

P: (quotes us a number that is way more than what the cost of heater at home depot is + a normal labor rate for install, given it is a 3 hour job)

Why so much?

P: you see these connecting hoses, braces, etc. etc. We have to bring all these upto code. Looks like this was done 8 years ago. The codes are different now. Let me show you this book. you have to cut this piping, weld this tubing, go underground, above ground, blah blah blah.. and that is why it is an extra grand

But it was working fine till yesterday and it was installed 10 years ago by the previous house owner. We had to change the connects when we upgraded the house. All I want is to get the same thing back. 

P: Sorry Sir. We have to bring this up to code! It is the law. we are licensed and this is how we will do it so it will pass the permitting.

Given the "Law", we had no choice but to go with the cheapest quote that still did the new tubing, piping stuff. That pretty much took out the saturday morning routine. 

On the bright side, we now have hot water again.

On the dark side, I went into a rage on hearing about this "bringing up to code.." stuff. At this rate we have to tear down the whole house again every 10 years in the name of "bringing it up"