Not To Be Trusted With Knives

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The Car Co-op

modo. the car co-op.And while I’m phoning in blog postings, I decided to tackle item #86 on my 101 list, which was to write a blog posting about the Car Co-op. Which, you know, made sense as something to do 995 days ago when I didn’t own a car and the Car Co-op was my ticket to ride. And if I hadn’t been so lazy, I could have written this posting back then, or shortly after I bought my car while my Car Co-op’ing experience was still fresh. But I didn’t. However, in the interest of knocking one more item off my list, and since Krista Lee’s recent comment reminded my that I can totally half-ass this blog posting, I’m writing it now.

For the uninitiated, the Car Co-op, officially known as Modo, is a car sharing organization. Basically, everyone who is a member is technically a part-owner of a few thousand cars, trucks, and vans that are parked all around Vancouver. When you want to use one of the vehicles, you book it, you use it and you return it to the place from whence you picked it up. You pay a usage fee – some combination of hours used and kilometres driven. The amounts have changed since I used it regularly, but you can go look at the rates on their website if you are interested1. It’s super convenient because someone else deals with insurance, maintenance, and all the other annoying things that go along with having a car. All you have to do is drive it and leave it in the condition you found it in.

Back when I lived just a quick bus ride from work (and didn’t have to drive all over hell’s half acre for my job), the Car Co-op was perfect for me. I really only need a car to get to hockey game and for the occasional hiking trip, so it was soooo much cheaper and more convenient to use a co-op car than to own a car. And even since I bought my car, which I needed for my job, I’ve kept my Car Co-op membership because it’s handy to have such ready access to a truck or a van if I need to move something big. Or even just to have access to a car with more than two seats in it! It only costs me $1 per year for my membership, which is totally worth it.

So there you have it – #86 on my 101 list, consider yourself checked off!

Image Credit: Posted by Christian Paul on Flickr.

  1. Also, since I last used it, they seem to have added a casual membership, where you don’t hold shares in the Co-op but you can use the cars under a different rate structure. []


How Often Do You Check Your Tire Pressure?

Under Pressure by ThenAndAgain.

One of the fancy pants things that my new car came with was a “Tire Pressure Monitoring System” – that is, an indicator light on the dashboard when the pressure in one of your tires is low1.  Now, I’m sure that most new cars probably come with such a thing, but the last car that I owned was a 1989 Honda Civic, so this feature, to me, constitutes “fancy pants.”  And yesterday, said fancy pants TPMS alerted me to the fact a tire – or tires – was a little low on the old pressurino.  So off I went to yee old Canadian Tire to buy me a tire pressure gauge.  Now, I realize that when you go to the gas station to fill up your tires, the air hose thingy has a tire pressure gauge attached.  But I decided that I really should be more pro-active and actually test my tires regularly, as I have some vague recollection of reading in the owner’s manual2 that you are supposed to not wait until the TPMS alerts you, as by then the tire pressure is already too low!

Long story short, I managed to lose two of my four tire valve caps inside my hubcaps3 and the digital tire pressure gauge I bought doesn’t work.  It will only give me readings of “0.0,” and my tires certainly contained *some* air.  Also, it was freezing and rainy and miserable as I tried to do all this.  Anyhoo, I went to a gas station first thing this morning and used their gauge and filled the tires up and all was right with the world.  Other than that I have to go back to Canadian Tire to return the crappy tire pressure gauge I bought and pick up two tire valve caps.

But all this got me thinking – how often do people check their tire pressure?  My owner’s manual says you should do so once a month or once every two weeks, depending on where in the manual you are reading.  So readers – how often do you check your tire pressure?

And for bonus points – how often do you check your oil, windshield washer fluid, brake fluid, antifreeze, etc.? My owner’s manual says you are supposed to check those every time you fill up your car with gas (!), but seriously, I don’t think I’ve *ever* seen anyone checking their oil at a gas station.

Image Credit: Posted by Then and Again on Flickr.

  1. someone, I believe it may have been Kalev, said that if my car was so “smart,” why doesn’t the indicator tell me *which* tire is low.  To which I said, “touché‘ []
  2. yes, I read the owner’s manual []
  3. seriously, I have tiny hands and I still found it nearly impossible to get the tire valve caps off and then even more nearly impossible to get the tire valve caps back on, because the hubcaps are designed in such a way that the valve is sort of inset in the hubcap such that there is almost no room to put your fingers in to unscrew the cap []


My First Tank o’ Gas

So, I fill up my tank with gas for the first time yesterday! And, because I’m a nerd, I’m going to be keeping a spreadsheet to track my fuel economy.  Here’s what the numbers look like:

  • Distance driven:   414 km1
  • Volume of gas at fill-up: 26.1 L
  • Cost of fill-up: $30.13
  • Cost per km: 7 cents
  • Fuel economy: 6.3 L/100 km

So, this first tank of gas didn’t quite get the fuel economy listed on the smart website (which lists 5.4 L/100 km for combined city & highway driving).  But I’ll keep a running spreadsheet and let you know how things progress when I can average out a few tanks of gas.

Also, I just noticed this evening that my rear window is leaking window washer fluid (!), so it looks like I will need to call the dealer to have that looked at. Thank the FSM for warranty!

1I spoke to my dad yesterday and he proudly informed me that he’d put more than 2000 km on his new truck, which he got the same day I got my car. And I thought I’d driven a lot!


A Not So Brief History Of Cars I’ve Owned

ZOMG, I love my new Smart Car.  I still can’t believe it’s mine mine mine!  It has new car smell.  And it’s shiny!  I’ve never understood before why people do things like wash their car or vacuum their car or not leaving their car full of empty coffee cups1 and various other pieces of garbage. Until now. I’m seriously thinking of places to drive to, just to have an excuse to drive it!

Of course, this is the first new car I’ve ever owned. I’ve owned cars before, but they’ve been of the decades-old-rust-bucket variety.  The kind that are so cheap that a starving student can buy them with the meagre bit of money they have and insurance for it is dirt cheap because why would you insure a decades-old-rust-bucket for more than the bare minimum anyway?  I’m of the philosophy that if you are gong to own a car, it should be something awesome (like, say,  a Ferrari) that you totally, totally love or it should be a most ridiculous piece of trash that anyone in their right mind would be embarassed to own and you totally, totally love it.  Either way, you get good stories out of it.

The first car I drove was my parents’ Jeep.  A silver ’86 Jeep Cherokee Pioneer.  And it was probably the worst car ever made.  It went through something like 3 engines and 8 transmissions.  God, that thing was a piece of crap.  On the plus side, my sister and I got to drive it when we were in high school and not everyone has a car in high school, right?  My mom never got a driver’s license, so as soon as my sister got hers, my dad bought the pick-up truck he’d always wanted but could never justify having because we needed at least one vehicle that fit our family of four and really, how could he justify having two vehicles with only one driver in the family?  After high school, my sister went to the Ontario College of Art and so moved to Toronto, where the transit system is very, very good.  When I was done high school, I went to McMaster, so I moved to Hamilton, where the transit system is very, very not good.  And so I got the Jeep.  This would have been around 1996.  The thing somehow lasted a couple more years and finally gave up the ghost around 1998.

scan by you.

It’s not a very good photo, but it’s the only one of the Jeep
that I can find.
That’s my sister, showing off a shirt
that she painted a picture on, but in the background is the Jeep!

And that was when I bought my beloved ’89 Honda Civic. It was 10 years old, had a manual transmission and I believe cost $2,000.  I had her for a few years in Ontario and then brought her out to Vancouver when I moved here.  In all that time, I never once had any engine problems.  The brakes had to be fixed after towing her from Ontario to BC (it was never really clear what happened, but when we took her off the towing trailer when we got here, the brakes just didn’t work anymore), but that was really the only mechanical issue we had.   It was an amazing little car – by the end, it had a 402,798 km on it, was more rust than car (too many Ontario winters did it in), the passenger door didn’t open (so passengers had to get in through the driver’s side door) and trunk didn’t close fully.  Oh yeah, and the gas gauge didn’t work – it always said the tank was full, regardless of how much gas was in it, so you pretty much just had to fill it up all the time, just in case. But I didn’t care, I still loved that car.

scan0012 by you.

My beloved Civic. Image credit: me! on Flickr

She died at Granville & W. 70th Avenue when my ex2 and I were driving back from the airport after dropping off my friend Kaede, who had been visiting.  She stalled at a couple of intersections, but we managed to get her started again, but when she stalled at Granville and W. 70th, there was no bringing her back.  My ex had been rear ended in it a few days before and I maintain that the car was being held together by rust and getting hit resulted in the rust getting knocked loose and so her insides fell apart.  A homeless person helped us push her off the road and into a parking lot3 and that was the end of my beloved Honda Civic.

Civic Odometer by you.

Image credit: me! on Flickr

After the Civic, we bought a little red Dodge Colt and it was OK, but I never loved it the way I loved my Civic.

Photo Not Available by you.

I know I have a picture of it somewhere, but I’ll be damned if I can find it.

Then my ex and I broke up and he took the car, but killed it shortly thereafter as it had an oil leak and he didn’t replace the oil and you know what’s not good for an engine? No oil, that’s what.

After the divorce, this became my main mode of transportation:

20070924-3 - Blurry cars, buses and trains by roland.

Image credit: roland on Flickr

As proof, here’s a photo of me and some friends on a bus.

IMG_0956 by you.

Image credit: me on Flickr

Oh, the good ole’ bus!

In 2007 I supplemented my bus pass with this:

car co-op by velkr0.

Image credit: velkr0 on Flickr

The bus served me well most of the time – I live one block from a bus stop and it’s only a 15 min bus ride to my current office and a 15 min bus ride in the other direction to UBC for teaching. But the one thing the bus couldn’t do was get me to hockey. In 2007, I joined a hockey team that plays in Coquitlam on Sundays and you can’t get there by bus. So the Car Co-op was the perfect solution – it allowed me access to a car for my once per week hockey games, but I didn’t have to pay for having a car the rest of the time, when I didn’t need it.  An average month of using the Car Co-op to get me to hockey once a week cost, all told4, about $130.  Which is less that you’d pay for insurance on a new car. And that has worked for me for the past two years.

Enter: the new job.  The new job, which I’m starting in just more than a week, requires me to use a car 5 days a week .  Well, unless I want to take the bus an hour and 40 minutes each way, which I most certainly do not. Plus, I’ll need to do some driving around for the job itself, which is difficult to do without a car.  And at that level of usage the Car Coop actually becomes more expensive than having your own car. And so, enter the Smart Car.  My first ever brand new car. And I love it so so so so much5.

IMG_4871 by you.

Look how cute it is! Cute cute cute!  And safe and fun to drive and ridiculously good on gas!  I have decided that I am, in fact, going to name her Zaphod Beeblebrox the Car6,7.

IMG_4797 by you.

Me and Zaphod.
Or “the Beeb” as I like to call her.

Anyone wanna go for a drive?

1As the last time I owned the car I wasn’t quite the travel-mug-using-hippie I am today and I used to get paper cups. *hangs head in shame* From Tim Horton’s. Which I now find to be very not good. Like undrinkably ungood. But I digress.
well, he wasn’t my “ex” at the time.
3A lot of people honked at us and yelled at us to get out of the intersection (as if we were just sitting in the intersection for fun!), but only the homeless guy offered to help us.
4That includes the use of the car, maintenance, gas, insurance, BCAA and tax.
5My friend Alicia used to work for a company that had Smart cars as their company cars and she *hated* them. We have agreed to disagree on this.
6“the Car” is to differentiate my Zaphod from Zaphod Beeblebrox the First, the Second, the Third, the Nothingth, etc.
7Kalev is loudly and vehemently protesting this name8, which he believes is horrid and, despite being on the brink of getting his British citizenship, he hates British humour. We have agreed to loudly and vehemently disagree about both of these issues.
8He is referring to Zaphod as “Dr. Car” instead.