Monday, August 17, 2009

A mid-August Update

So, haven't posted here lately. Summer doldrums perhaps. Things just seem to be kind of plodding along. Although work has been a little bit interesting. As mentioned last month, HUD came in and conducted a review of the agency. Needless to say, problems and areas for improvements were identified. That was preceded by an IRS audit and our annual independent audit. Between all the constant reviews and audits and the ensuing corrective action plans, it is very difficult to get any momentum going to actually make improvements or changes that would actually be beneficial. I guess that's government for ya'.

This past weekend I finally got some new tires for the MINI. Went with some Yokohama S.drives. They've gotten really good reviews and several members of the Tar Heel MINI Motoring Club have them. They are a summer tires, but supposedly will do ok in our winters here (which I suppose are mild relatively speaking). Still trying to get the feel for having non-runflats. Everyone swears they are better than the runflats that come standard on a MINI Cooper S.  Mine came with Goodyear Excellence RFs.  I managed to squeeze 38.5k miles out of them.  I thought they were pretty good tires.  Until I hit about the 30k mark, wet traction was excellent, but it fell off quite a bit after that.

Got the tires at the new Discount Tire that opened here in Burlington.  Managed to catch a special through them to get a $100 rebate on a set of four.  Once the local shop did some more discounting, I ended up getting the tires for $68 each.  Of course, by time you add all the services and stuff, it ended up at $115 per tire.  I was perhaps a sucker, but I did buy the replacement certificates so I can get a free replacement if something happens to one of the tires.  Now I suppose I need to find a good slime kit and compressor to keep in the MINI, especially if I go on a long motor.

The worst part was on the way home when my check engine light came on.  Swung by Advance Auto and had them read the code for me.  Came up as "Coolant Sensor Temp Low".  Didn't find much on-line about that, but looks like it is either a bad sensor or it really is low, apparently caused by the thermostat getting stuck in the open position.  This will cause the engine to run cool, which in turn will cause the ECU to try to run the fuel mixture rich.  Not sure whether it is really doing that.  Haven't detected a drop off in gas mileage yet.  I'm wondering whether it threw the code one time and will clear itself out after a few more starts?  In any case, I've scheduled the MINI to visit Flow MINI this Thursday to have it checked out.  While I'm there, I guess I'll go ahead and pick up all the consumables to perform the next scheduled maintenance service on my own.  Sadly, I am out of my "free" maintenance period.

On the motoring front, I did manage to get hooked up with the THMMC Sunday Sliders group about three weeks ago.  Tends to be a smaller, more informal group than some of the more organized runs.  We only had seven the Sunday I went for a run up to Apple Orchard Gap.  It was an extremely fun run and on the final leg back, I managed to get up to the front and was able to run with some of the big dogs in the club.

With the pending move to a new house scheduled for the last weekend in August and soccer matches and football games scheduled for most weekends, looks like my motoring opportunities are going to become quite limited for a while.  I do hope to make it to a St. Baldrick's event on September 19th with our MINI club.  Supposedly the Corvette club is planning to take us on.  Then after that I may finally get to go motoring on October 3rd for the Howl at the Moon Run I am leading.  Hopefully I'll have my new GPS by then - trying to navigate at night could be a challenge.  Don't want to lead my MINI followers through another U-turn maneuver.

Finally, the time draws nearer for me to start leading a Sunday School class at my church (Graham Friends Church).  Pastor Mark gave me a copy of If You Want To Walk On Water, You Have To Get Out Of The Boat to review.  We are thinking of doing a study series based on the book.  I hope to start reading it later this evening.

Speaking of reading, I took some time to read some non-fiction and gave Dan Brown's Digital Fortress a go.  It was average.  Very similar to the James Rollins books that I read.  I've also read The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown and thought it was pretty good.  Didn't really see what all the hullabaloo was about.  After reading The Da Vinci Code I read The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova.  I thought that was a very enjoyable read.  Really wish she would write something else.