On November 22, my beloved Big Papi was rear ended. Four & a half months later, the insurance company & direct repair shop (who will remain nameless until a later post) finally arranged for me to take him to Mini myself to get his backup sensors & trunk latch fixed properly. I was told by the insurance company that “inconveniences are to be expected when you’re in an accident,” but this has been a total nightmare. Luckily, a trunk light that constantly turns the interior lights on & off is “not a safety hazard that prevents you from driving.”
Big Papi is a 2005 Mini Cooper convertible. He has some pretty big issues with his CVT transmission. Every 10,000 miles, he needs to have it adjusted. Unfortunately, due to poor timing & being poor, I let it get to the point where he could barely drive 45mph. Shifting into the manual mode, I could sometimes get up to higher speeds but downshifting was a 50/50 chance of a jolting trip to 6000+RPM. This leads to the only positive experience of the car accident – I was forced to take Big Papi to Mini of Monmouth. Since they opened, I had wanted to give them a try but it is often more important for me to be editing when I am not working & I could get by driving 45mph most of the time.
I was a little worried that Mini of Monmouth would not be as great as Princeton Mini. I thought maybe Mini stopped trying now that so many non-waving, boring people were driving Mini Coopers. Even their advertising is not as fun. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the staff at Mini of Monmouth was equally awesome. I dropped my car off around 9:30 & received a call less than four hours later to say that Big Papi was ready. Part of me was a little disappointed because I wanted to test the 2012, take nice pictures of it & write a review. Because I was working, the nice pictures didn’t really happen & I didn’t get to experience the Mini at night, but here are some mostly cosmetic notes on my six hour drive.
I loved the fun paint on the loaner & was really glad that the Countryman body has not become the only body style. I think it looks like a Subaru & lacks the charm of the regular Mini Cooper.
I love the orange eyeballs in the headlight eyes & the second set of eyes in the parking lights.
Super cute tail lights too.
I want one of these. Overall, I approve of the exterior.
The seat controls are still lacking a bit. I hate that the back adjustment faces the center console. It is really inconvenient to get your hand in there without jamming your knuckles. Maybe the non-base models have power seat controls?
The windows have a power down & power up which would be a decent feature if it wasn’t quite so difficult to get it to stay about 3/4 open. Also, while the location of the cup holders is a bit better than the 2006, there really isn’t much room for a big drink still. Anything taller than this would have made it really difficult to operate the windows. There is another cup holder behind the center console but I learned that it isn’t good for cans. Also, the side/door pockets don’t have as much room as the 2006. I could barely fit a few CDs in it. (Yeah, sorry, I don’t have an iPod.)
Ahhhhh, a defroster that doesn’t require super-loud high power defrosting only. In theory, since I didn’t actually need a defroster today, this is a huge improvement over the 2006.
The round key & push button start took a little getting used to. When I first tried to start it, I had no idea I needed to put my foot on the brake so I sat there basically turning the radio on & off. This criticism is for all car manufacturers who have opted to alter the wasn’t-broken-don’t-need-to-fix-it standard turnkey ignition. Who decided that the motion of turning a key was just too much work? Instead of letting your designers gadget up something like that, how about working on the mechanical aspects & improving fuel efficiency? Oh never mind, I saw “Who Killed the Electric Car?” It is much more important to have a key that doesn’t need to be in the ignition (Audi) or a car that parks itself (Lexus). If you can’t park your car, you shouldn’t be driving.
On to the slightly less cosmetic… I didn’t have nearly enough time on the highway but I made the most of my 2.8 miles of speeding. If the police ask, this was photoshopped. I was only trying to catch up with the car that passed me. I like the large speedometer & the 2012’s ability to kick some ass quickly but found the gas indicator a little distracting.
I nearly failed to mention that I hate the new turn signal/directional. It doesn’t stay clicked in position until you turn or turn it off yourself after a lane change. It was very hard to figure out if it was on. Turn signals too were fine the way they were.
Before I found out my car was ready, I was listening to NPR so I didn’t realize the radio displayed the song titles. I love that. If I knew it was there, I would have put on “There’s a Law” so that there’d be some irony in breaking the law. By the way, I was listening to The Disciplines. You should too. I don’t think this stereo was as good as the Harman-Kardon though. At loud volumes, there was quite a bit of distortion. At times, I felt a little like the people I make fun of for having a stereo so bass-y that it shakes the plastic aftermarket body kit. I also dislike that the radio buttons aren’t numbered & there was no quick way to switch between a CD & the radio.
None of these cosmetic issues I had outweighed the fact that it was indeed fun to drive. Add in the nice people at Ray Catena Mini of Monmouth & I found myself falling back in love with the Mini Cooper brand. When I picked up Big Papi, I was happy to see that they gave him a bath. Also, I can now back up without beeping, open & close my trunk without lights coming on AND, the best part, drive over 45mph! Separate from the insurance company’s bill, I had them adjust the transmission. My buddy is back!!!! Now, when people ask me how I like my Mini, I can once again tell them just good things.
This is the radio I love AND the super cool plastic window/lock overlay that they should reissue because mine is cracked. I prefer that new climate control though.
A very big thanks to Steve at Mini of Monmouth. I’ll be back for an oil change soon.
I would much rather sit and mess around with pictures or watch a movie than take the time to update this so here are some Jan/Feb driving shots mixed with some fixed shots from “the shore.”
I had a terrible headache the other night & didn’t feel like doing much so I decided to play with some pictures. This started off as a black & white photo. I was originally going to just paint color onto the sign. Then, I wanted to paint the car. Then, I got lost in my head & wound up with this. I wish my license plate really was a pair of lips.
After work, I picked up “Big Whiskey and The Groogrux King” wondering when I would be able to give it a first listen. You only get one chance to hear a song for the first time so I like to make it memorable whenever possible. For instance, I remember hearing Queen’s “Who Wants to Live Forever” & Freddie’s “Barcelona” right near work on a cold day. Before work? No good. I didn’t give the new Green Day nearly the attention it deserved. I kept it on in the car but still haven’t dropped the top & loved it up the right way so, for the new DMB, I loved it up the right way. I picked up a burger at Wendy’s, popped open a bottle of water, dropped the top, turned the heated seats on & kept driving. While driving, I saw a sign that needed to be photographed. This led me to complete the monthly challenge – assorted signs & sites from the Jersey shore, all taken without me getting out of the car.
I think I am going to practice guitar now. Check out these assorted photos from SAPCC participants:
In order to remember the theme each week, I usually think of a song lyric or quote. This week, for “comfort,” I cannot get “Happiness is a warm gun” out of my head. I do not own a warm gun & I do not feel like looking for my cap guns because I am sick. I feel lethargic, quite uncomfortable. I slept over 12 hours Monday. While I am often plagued by headaches, tiredness is not something that I will accept. I have been loading up on the vitamins to no avail. I am pretty convinced they are bull shit but I keep taking them anyway. My default subjects for this theme are, of course, my buddies at the animal shelter. I had other pictures that were better & I hate subjecting the same four or five of you to these heart breaking images, but I really liked the newspaper in the corner of this picture.
Comfort food… French Onion Pot Roast & Mashed Potatoes from IHOP
I went searching for “comfort” yesterday, still with “happiness is a warm gun” stuck in my head. I skipped out on working because I had the chills. It was 67 degrees & I was wearing a long sleeved shirt & a sweatshirt AND I didn’t even put the top down. I hate being sick. Did I mention that? Anyway, there is a street that runs along the beach through two affluent small towns. My father used to do the towing for one of them & I would accompany him on wrecker calls. I saw quite a few stupid drunks crash their Mercedes into poles. While those images stayed in my memory, the images of the enormous houses forged a deeper image in my mind. These were old money houses. When I read “The Great Gatsby,” I imagined them living in houses like this. When I finally saw the parts of Long Island mentioned in the book, I was not disillusioned. Those houses had more property, but they had the same ocean worn shingles & timeless multi-level build that I loved to admire. I would take great comfort in coming from an old money family that summers in a house like this. I would live there year round though.
I would take great comfort in knowing this was the view from my uber cute patio.
Take comfort in these images
When I left to take pictures, the sun was brightly shining. As I got closer to the beach, not so much. I had to put the top up & I thought about calling it quits until I remembered Pat’s foggy shot & how much I loved it. This does not compare but I did finally take a picture of strangers without fear of being caught.
When I was done at the beach, I went to drop off some movies about two miles away. Half way there, the weather returned to its prior sunny state & I was able to take this:
This is not my cat. I just happened to notice it sitting there.
After seeing how sunny it was once again, I returned to the beach only to find that it was still gloomy out. Somewhere in between all of that, I snapped this. While I do not go to the beach often, I like knowing it is there and I need to see it every now & then.
If only I catch up with “Frames,” I will be all caught up with the Super Awesome Photo Challenge Club or is it Club Challenge? Any which way. Here is a shot I took last night because I thought it was cool. I did not think about it in terms of “double” until I was editing it tonight along with my intentional “double” shots.
Last time we went to Graceland, my honey & I each bought a pair of Elvis sunglasses. My honey wears glasses & would need prescription lenses to wear his regularly so when mine broke, he let me have his. The second pair probably lasted a few months. When we stopped in Memphis this time, I had two needs – a new Sun Records necklace (because my first one broke while putting up sheet rock) & a new pair of Elvis glasses. My honey told me I would break them and I knew that I would. However, I thought they might last longer than nine days. They did not. I am going to try glueing them (even though it will probably not work) so the broken glasses were sitting near the computer. Before I left for work, it hit me – “double.”
The first thing that came to mind is the absence of my dad. Besides his empty Lazy Boy, there’s the empty garage. Well, it’s not technically empty yet, but were he still here, there would NEVER be shit on his King Midget. “What Absence Means To Me”
The next one is from two weeks ago. It’s from a friend’s funeral. There are other images that go along with it… I will make a separate post for it & stay on topic.
Were I to be political, I would have tried harder to capture this “Absence of Good Judgement.” Please note the “private beach.” Let’s privatize everything. Things work better that way.
Had I remembered to take home a cocktail glass, I would have added some green food coloring to some water & made some drips of “absinthe.” Since I did not, you are left with this… “No Absence of Absinthe.”
What’s a photo challenge without a shot I took whilst driving? This prime spot of realty has been devoid of business for years now.
I took some Monday to intentionally shoot for “absence.” It felt good. I went down to the beach and boardwalk. Once Labor Day has passed, the setting is a little depressing. There are still people who stroll the boards and some of the stands are still open, but the rides are gated up, the hotels are vacant, and there is an overall absence of vitality and Seasonal Affect Disorder starts setting in.
As I was taking this picture, an old couple stopped to stare. Finally, the old man asked if I was taking a picture of the clouds. It was easier to say yes than explain that I was shooting for the absence of a cover on these umbrella like stems. The clouds were pretty cool though.
The aforementioned empty boardwalk.
Another missing tarp. Why do they call it “golden hour?” This amazing light lasted about four minutes but when it was good, oh it was good 🙂
I was on my way to the beach when I passed dueling “Do Not Enter” signs.
That sign under the colored sign really hurt other versions of the two signs so my preference lies with “Absence of Color” below.
That was almost my choice until I got home and started editing. The light was decreasing quickly when I saw this lone chair propped up in the middle of the beach. The more “absence” I thought of, the more I felt someone there with me.