Thursday, October 29, 2009

Help for the Auto Repair Challenged!

The CHECK ENGINE light – how man times has your car sent you that message? What does it mean? And what do you do about it?

What – you think I know? Silly reader. I don't know. But I know somebody (or some place) that does. The fact that it is located more miles away from me than I would care to drive but that it's also on the Internet makes it easy to get to. Houston Auto Repair is now my Repair Pal.

Before I go any further, let me explain to you what I know about cars: they provide transportation from point A to point B. I hate stereotypes, but I can't deny my complete lack of knowledge when it comes to cars and car repairs. I know NOTHING about cars.

In my defense, I've met guys who knew nothing about cars, too. Like the guy who told me that the problem with one of my cars was its Cadillac converter. And I thought, WOW, I didn't know it had that function. Silly guy. He was trying to impress me and even I knew he was talking about the catalytic converter. But that's it. I know my car has an engine, because I have had to replace those amazingly expensive parts not once, but TWICE. And I know about transmissions, because I have had to replace that extraordinarily expensive item once.

But let's go waaaay back to my first car. It blew. Completely. I was a teenager who knew less about cars then than I do now. And what did my father say? "When's the last time you put oil into it?"

"Oil? You have to put oil into it?" Apparently there are some things my father thought I was born knowing. The car maintenance gene, however, did not get transferred to me.

Having said that, I do know some things, and what I don't know, I usually depend on the experience of service techs to teach me when I take my car in for repairs and oil changes. Which makes me an easy target.

BUT I am smart, and I love to research, and, thanks to my love for research, I now have access to LOTS of technical support via my Repair Pal!

What's a Repair Pal, you want to know? Glad you asked.

When a repair tech tells me I need a tune up, I can consult my REPAIR PAL to get the information I need about what exactly is involved in a tune up.

And if I want ratings and reviews of cars made between 1990-2001 I can start by checking out this Acura Integra, where I can also read questions and answers about common problems and learn about which cars were recalled or issued TSBs (Technical Service Bulletins – and you thought I didn't know what that was).

I also know more about oil changes and filter changes. The Auto Repair Encyclopedia even lists the mileage at which you should check for scheduled maintenance, and in its "How To – Helpful Hints" section you can read about why your engine knocks or pings and why your brakes squeak.

Lots of recommendations and lots of questions answered. Ever wondered why your car leaks? Find information on how to recognize common and not so common leak problems. It even offers advice on how to replace your wiper blades.

Knowing what to say when I bring my car in for maintenance helps me look at least somewhat informed when it comes to auto repairs, so I can tell the technician what I THINK the problem is. And when the tech calls me over to show me what's under the hood, I can tell the difference between the oil receptacle and the place where the windshield washer fluid goes. This is a great resource for anybody who knows as little about cars as I do.

The next time you have to bring your auto in for repairs, don't allow unscrupulous repair techs to rip you off. Go to Houston Auto Repair first to educate yourself about YOUR car and to manage your maintenance ONLINE..

(Check Engine graphic above was borrowed from Houston Auto Repair's web site.)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

FUN and FUNNY games!

I had to tell my kids this year that we were going to have to cut back on gifts for Christmas. Money has been grim, so I've been looking online for family video games as gifts for my kids and grandkids. I used to give each person his or her own gift, but with four kids, three spouses, ten grandchildren, two more spouses, and two great grandchildren, I'm pretty much tapped out in the finance department, so this year, everybody gets a "family" gift. Well, except for the unmarried ones among the group.

Two of my kids have Wiis, so, not knowing which video games they already have, I thought I would let them pick out the one they want me to get for their family gifts, something that everybody in the family would enjoy playing. I found a great resource for VIDEO GAMES and this blog is my way of asking Greg (and his family) and Brittney (and her family) to click the link. Please tell me which game you want. They have lots of other games too, though, so if you want a Playstation III game or an XBox 360, I'll get you one of those instead.

And now a gift for Lindsey. I know, Linz, you already have my Christmas present, but this one is free and it's lots of fun. I think you'll enjoy it. And it fits in so well with why you're going to school.

Lindsey is my second oldest daughter who loved playing dress up games even when she was a baby. Every morning she went into my closet, examined my little scattering of shoes, and always picked out the same pair (I had only two classy shoe styles – she preferred the brown straps to my decade old black and gold 70's platform shoes). She would then gather her bracelets, necklaces, crown, and rings, and parade around the house in her pajama top and diaper. Very cute. Well, I just found the perfect online dress up game for her.

This online dress up game is fun and FUNNY! Well, funny for me – fun for Lindsey. You see, I have no fashion sense whatsoever, so when I tried to play dress up games, I lost miserably. Lindsey is going into fashion merchandising (she didn't get that talent from me obviously), so I'm sure she will do much better than I did. And it won't cost me a penny, because this Dress Up Game is free (click the link). She can even play it at work during down time (don't show this to your boss, Lindsey).

I even found a game I like to play (I love skills games and brain games – they have both, and LOTS more). You can find so many games on this site.

Keeley and her family don't have a computer, so I'm saving this blog for her when she makes trips to the library (do they let you play games at the library?) – if so try any of those links above.

While I wasn't necessarily looking for anything specific for my parents or siblings, I came across something I know one of my sisters will LOVE. I can't tell you why. No, I'm not trying to be evasive. Let's just say that Cindy has been setting up a web site that concerns beauty, and I found something she may want to use to connect to her site that offers beauty information for her visitors. Cindy, check out this BEAUTY INFORMATION site – they offer skin care analysis, hair care consultation, a fragrance finder, and even (you know I love this) a beauty horoscope. Plus they offer expert advice, so I think it will make a great link for the site. I promise to tell everybody the name of her site when it is up and running. For now, though, it's a secret.

That was my "hook" to get you to come back to my blog. Will it work? I hope so.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Halloween TRICK or Treat? (Don't Try This At Home)

When I was growing up, Halloween at our house was great fun, not just because it was Halloween, and not because we threw Halloween parties, but because my father handed out bags of treats – and tricks.

I would stand behind my father when he opened the door to welcome the little masked goblins, and wait to see the looks on their faces as Dad commanded them to say, "trick or treat" if they hadn't already said it. He refused to give anybody candy until they said those magic Halloween words.

What my dad did from that point on, though, probably scared the little trick or treaters and frightened their parents as well, because what Dad did was grab their hoard of candy from them – bag, plastic pumpkin and all – and just before he slammed the door in their faces, yell, "TRICK!"

Of course he always opened the door immediately and returned their treats, but the looks on the faces of those innocent little children was priceless. Their bodies never moved. They looked like a photograph frozen in time – in exactly the same position as when Dad first closed the door. Their parents stood at the end of the sidewalk in shock – another still photograph framed by the doorway – and Dad and whoever was standing at the door with him would bend over in hysterics.

I am always tempted to follow my father's lead and grab the bag of candy from some poor unsuspecting child, but these days you never know what awaits you at the end of the sidewalk. And so I just say, Happy Halloween and hand out treats.

Monday, October 12, 2009

As Promised – Breast Cancer Diagnosis Article

As I promised in a previous post, here is a link to the article I wrote about my experience with Breast Cancer:

Saturday, October 3, 2009

It's Been Awhile

As usual, I've been very busy, but this time I've been busy with something a little more dramatic than usual. Thursday I begin chemotherapy for breast cancer. I am writing a diary of sorts about my experiences and I will link to that article later.

But for now, I'd rather not focus on BC, because as I write this blog, my son, his wife, and two of their children are driving across the country from Oceanside, California to Quantico, Virgina, and they're stopping here at my home in Illinois tonight! They will be here in less than an hour.

As I await their arrival (very excited about them coming), I would like to link you to a few articles I've written lately. This first article has to do with cheating spouses of best friends – Cheating – Do You Tell Your Best Friend?

These next two articles were written for the paranormal section of Xomba. Both are interviews.

Neil Tobin performs at the Excalibur in Chicago every Friday night.

Leslie Rule is Ann Rule's daughter. Ann Rule writes true crime stories. Leslie Rule writes true ghost stories.

I have written more, but I don't want to inundate you with links, so enjoy! And if you are the type who believes in the power of prayer, please say one for me. Thank you.