RBOC

  • Did I mention that one of my colleagues bought the house next to hers and uses it as a meeting space and office?
  • Near her houses there’s a street with a huge dip in it.  I took it at like 5 mph and still managed to scrape the bottom of my car, which turned out to be too much for my poor abused under cover which decided to finally separate from the car and drag on the road on my way home that day after a much smaller bump.  We ordered a new one along with the assembly package and put it in, $43.55, but it took a week to get the parts.
  • One of my other colleagues said that if I can’t decide what kind of car to get then maybe I should just go with the cheapest.  Which makes a lot of sense.  Another colleague impressed upon me the importance of safety ratings (her Prius got totaled last month).  And I’m really big on reliability these days.  So that leads me to the Honda Fit (slightly safer, slightly more expensive) vs. the Hyundai Accent (more reliable, worse mileage).  I may test-drive them!  Though while I’m there I might also try the Ioniq.  Update:  Tried to go to the Hyundai dealership to test-drive an accent and he JUST WANTED TO TALK, so we left when it became clear he wouldn’t let us test drive one without him doing his sales pitch and finding out about our lives first.  On the way home we stopped at the Honda place and quickly test-drove a Fit (from a very non-pushy salesperson which may be why we’ve bought two cars from this place), which… is not 14 years nicer than my current accent.  So I tried a low model Civic and liked it.  The Civic has better mileage than the Accent but is about 10 inches longer and has worse reliability.   The problem with DH having a Clarity is that I have discovered that I kind of like nice things.  So just being better than my 2005 Accent may not cut it.  Do I want to go with being spoiled or do I want to fight it?  ARGH.  I don’t know what to do!  And I hate pushy salespeople.
  • I think I have plantar fasciitis in my right foot.  I wish I trusted doctors around here more.  My GP is great for OB/GYN stuff but not so good at anything else (generally her answer to anything non-reproductive-system-related is: it will go away on its own and if it doesn’t then put lotion on it).
  • Now my car shuts off the pump right away instead of letting me pump gas.  I just barely got the new drip pad put back on!  Hadn’t even gotten gas since it happened.  That means that either something needs to be cleaned (for the cost of compressed air, which DH already has, but DH decided there were too many cables to try this on his own) or something needs to be replaced (which could cost as much as $600, though probably will be more like $300).   Part of me wants to just exchange it now, but one of my (not t-t) colleagues wants to buy it as a backup car for when his elderly truck is in the shop, which means it should be in working condition even if I give it to him super cheap (probably for $300….).  Deciding things is hard.
  • According to the hospital billing, they will send us a bill after DH’s health insurance sends them the remaining $2K for the second emergency room trip.  So the most that we could still be billed would be $2K.  So the costs for DH’s four rabies shots to us are:  $250 (first emergency room visit), $250 (second emergency room visit), $350 (first Walgreens shot), $350 (second Walgreens shot).  So… going to the emergency room for the third and fourth shots would have saved us $200, but cost his health insurance company quite a bit (I have no regrets– Walgreens seems so much more efficient).  Unless we get that bill for $2000, that means the total cost of his rabies shots is $1200 that has already been paid, so it won’t be dipping into my car fund.  (Still, I’m kind of used to the idea of getting a cheaper rather than more expensive car.)  DH’s elite coastal health insurance is so much better than my Southern university plan (with its 20% copay…).  It also has a better bargain with our hospital– they got the cost per ER visit down to 7K instead of 10K, which seems odd to me since you’d think my plan would have more bargaining power being the one everyone at the university has, but maybe the power goes both ways.  We’re thinking that when he called about whether or not they cover the rabies shot, the person on the phone must have looked at whether they cover the pre-travel rabies shot rather than the post-bite rabies shot?
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In which DH does not have rabies but we spend as if he does

Three weeks have passed and DH is still alive.  Hale and hearty even.  We are all grateful and relieved.

So….

Remember how DH helped break up a dog fight and had to get tetanus shots and I purposefully didn’t get the dog’s information because it was an intact pit bull and I didn’t want it to be put to death?  (Turns out that is not a thing in this state– they would have just quarantined it for 10 days.)

A month later, DH came back from a business trip feeling nauseated off and on, with a headache off and on, and chills off and on.  After reading on the internet about how the incubation period for rabies is 1-3 months but can last up to 6 years, and reading up on the symptoms of rabies, and how you die within 1-3 weeks once symptoms have started (so far only 10 people have survived after symptoms started, and 8 of them had been vaccinated prior to getting bitten), he also developed anxiety and insomnia.  Which are also symptoms of rabies.  On the fourth day he started getting muscle twitches.

Early on in this process, we’d looked for places to get first of four rabies shots.  Walgreens has rabies vaccine, but not the first shot which has human blood in it and isn’t very shelf-stable.  None of the urgent care places in town had it.  No doctor we were recommended carried it.  Everyone said it had to be gotten at the emergency room.  DH’s insurance said they do not cover the rabies shot under any circumstances.  So to the emergency room it is.  This will be a minimum cost of 10K, and I would not be surprised if it tops out at 13K including the cost of the first shot.

At the emergency room they told DH he didn’t need to get the other three shots at the emergency room and recommended a couple of urgent care places or the department of public health.  Neither of the urgent care places would give DH the second shot.  The department of public health said the emergency room was smoking crack and they never give out rabies shots.  They said their protocol was to get the first shot at the real emergency room and to get the remaining three doses at the emergency room place without actually going into the emergency room and seeing a doctor in order to save $.

So I told DH to call the emergency room to make sure that things could work that way.  He called, but did not ask about the not seeing a doctor or the money stuff.  He just basically confirmed that they had the second shot.  Then he went and saw a doctor and had more unnecessary tests done.  So… >$20K so far.

I was not annoyed about the first emergency room shot, as I figured that was an unavoidable (albeit expensive) way to decrease DH’s anxiety, but I’m not that happy about the second shot given that he didn’t actually ask about the protocol the department of public health suggested.  He did talk to the emergency room billing again after, but they basically said they couldn’t talk to him about the bill until after it had been refused by his health insurance.  So there’s some hope he might be able to negotiate it down.  But who knows.

When he got his second shot, he got all the info about the shot (and the third and fourth shots) and it turns out those are exactly the same ones they give out at Walgreens as pre-rabies vaccines, so he could have just gone to Walgreens for the second shot and been done after paying $350.  Which he did for the third and fourth (and final) shots.  So $700 paid on credit card.

I don’t know when we’re going to get our actual insurance bill for the emergency room visits.  If we do end up paying more than $20K, that puts a really big bite into my car fund in addition to cutting into the emergency fund.  Which I guess makes the choice of cars easier as the options become much more limited.

So, you ask, why didn’t you just get the information for the pet owner?  It takes at most 11 days for an unvaccinated dog to die of rabies.  If the dog is still alive, then DH didn’t get rabies.

Well, we didn’t have the contact info for either of the dogs.  We posted on nextdoor (the neighborhood social media site) and on day 3 an anonymous neighbor pointed us in the direction of the golden retriever owners.  They were very nice about everything and gave us the contact information that night for the pitbull owner, but warned us that they thought the pitbull owner’s house was for sale.  And indeed it was.  For sale and empty of furniture.  DH tracked down the facebook page of the dog owner’s son which was blank, and then to the son’s wife which had lots of oversharing posts.  The posts mentioned the grandparents moving to the closest city (~2 hours) and it sounded like they were taking a dog with them, though no guarantee it was the dog in question.  But also no mention of sad dog deaths in the previous month.  The son’s wife did not respond to a FB friends request or any of DH’s queries.

We also called the agency that handles dog licensing in our county, since your rabies vaccines have to be up to date to be licensed.  But of course the dog wasn’t licensed.  So that, too, was a dead end.

On the morning of DH’s second shot, DC2 woke us up to let us know zie had thrown up in the night, the first of several throwing of ups.  As I groggily listened to hir, I realized I too felt nausea.  The nausea came and went.  So did a headache.  And chills.  All three symptoms would come and go randomly, seemingly completely unrelated to each other.  The chills were particularly disturbing.  I can understand how DH thought something out of the ordinary was happening.  (Though it turns out this weird virus has just been going around– it doesn’t last as long for most people because most people sleep instead of googling things that cause anxiety.  DC2 was better in a day and I was completely better by day 3.)

And that is our expensive and exasperating story.  My colleagues think it’s hilarious, and indeed, it is hilarious given that DH is still alive and we’re not going to have to go into major debt, just buy a cheaper car or sell some stocks.  Most insurance companies don’t cover rabies vaccines for people because they’re expensive and usually they’re just being given as anti-anxiety shots.  (Obviously if you’re bitten by a wild animal, you should get them if they can’t autopsy the animal in question.  But for pet dogs who are behaving nicely towards humans, not as clear.)

Morals:  If you’re breaking up a dog fight, use water, or lift the back legs of each animal.  Do not mess with their mouths.  If you get bitten by a pet dog, get the name and contact info for the @#$23ing dog so you can see if it dies in 11 days or not.  If you do get the series of four shots post-bite, get the first one in an emergency room and the remaining 3 at Walgreens (using a different schedule than the one that Walgreens will want to use– talk to the emergency room doctor about the schedule for all four shots).

RBOC

  • Can I say again how much I hate it when people mess with kerning on grant applications?
  • My (recently retired) FIL called DH to tell him to be sure to put money in IRA Roths.  DH told him we’ve got that covered.
  • DH helped break up a dog fight that happened across the street from our house (intact pitbull being walked by a ~10 year old girl slipped its halter going after a Labrador) and got bitten.  :(  He had to get a tetanus booster and 3 days worth of topical antibiotics. The dog was super friendly to humans, but accidentally got DH’s finger as DH was trying to help the laborador’s owner separate them.  The woman who owns the Labrador stopped by our house to say her dog had to undergo ear surgery and that the pitbull’s owner (the grandfather in this scenario) was a total jerk and wanted to know if we’d seen how the fight had started, which we hadn’t.
  • My January conference reimbursement for doing job interviews for a position in our department was audited because I bought $21 of folding chairs and left them there instead of flying them back to the university.  (The chairs were because the hotel ran out and we didn’t want the job candidate sitting on a bed with the interviewers(!))  Fortunately I didn’t believe the hotel when they said that getting extra chairs wouldn’t be a problem (hence neither reservation nor wait list) and got advance permission from both the department head and the dean in case of emergency.
  • We got a big tax refund this year, even after paying next year’s estimated taxes, not unexpected given we had a $7,500 credit from buying the Honda Clarity last year.  In terms of how the Republican tax bill affected us:  we’re paying slightly less tax but not a huge difference.  This is mainly because we live in a Red State with low state income etc. taxes (high property taxes, but low property values) and we’ve finished paying our mortgage so we weren’t getting big federal deductions anyway (some of the self-employment tax changes also helped, I think, and we weren’t deducting business expenses which would have hurt).  People in blue states with high income taxes and high property values are going to be hurt much more.  We didn’t bother adding up our charitable donations this year for the first time because there was no way we were going to hit the limit, so I guess it was a bit less paperwork.
  • Strongly considering using a slightly different specification in this graph because it currently looks like a condom.
  • My car is gradually succumbing to plastic fatigue.  Another door handle broke this week, this time the part that you open from the inside rather than the part from the outside.  $45 to replace ($35 part plus $10 s/h), and easier to replace than the other part (in that it doesn’t require as much strength to unscrew all the necessary bolts).  I really should just get a new car.  Maybe this summer.  I will miss it.
  • My mom is retiring!  At age 72 it will cost her retirement money to keep working based on how her public pension is structured.  (They don’t structure them like that much anymore.)  They’re planning on staying put for a while.  Part of me is surprised because they are West-Coasters at heart, not midwesterners (despite having lived there, as my mother has pointed out, for 34 years).  Part of me is not surprised because their inertia is very strong and anything that takes planning can take a decade to actually happen if they’re not given an external deadline.  My mom hopes to devote her time to politics and research, which are both good things.
  • In case you’re wondering what’s happening with the kitchen renovation… we’ve paid for most of it so far (months ago), our dining room is full of appliances in boxes, and we are stuck on the step in which someone removes our ice maker and replaces it with cabinets.  Home Depot is like, we can do drawers there but we can’t do cabinets that look like your current cabinets.  The place the cabinets came from is like, yeah, we don’t make those anymore but you can get them custom-copied from this other local business.  But the other local business is only open M-F, 9-5 and has been playing a lot of phone tag with DH.  And so we wait…
  • My BIL is getting a full back and shoulders tattoo.  It’s a reminder of the generation gap between X and millennial about how normal that is for someone just a little bit younger than us and how unusual for us.  (How daring and hidden most Gen X tattoos are/were.  How expressive they are for younger folks.  I don’t think I know a single millennial other than my sister who doesn’t have at least an ankle tattoo.)

What car should I buy this summer?

I currently have a 2005 Hyundai Accent that I like very much.  I would keep it forever except that I am getting really tired of having to take breaks from it for little repairs.  3 days without the car waiting for a door handle replacement was the final straw.  (I could have driven around anyway and opened the door from the outside via the window, but we would have had to put the door back together for me to do that.)

The car landscape has changed a lot since I last looked for me.  Last time I looked for me, there was one very obvious only choice.  The Prius was at the top of every list and nothing else compared in the compact/sub-compact range.  If I didn’t want to go hybrid, then the Toyota Corolla was the top of every sub-compact list.  (And the Honda Civic if I wanted to go bigger.)

Things have changed quite a bit since then.  The Hyundai Accent, which we bought in 2005 because it was literally the only car we could afford to buy with cash, is now as high as #3 on some lists!  The hybrid landscape has changed dramatically.  Honda has the Insight, Hyundai has the Ioniq.  And there are plug-ins with tax discounts!  (I briefly toyed with the idea of buying a bolt the weekend before the April 1st deadline for the $7.5K discount, but opted not to.)

By summer I should have up to 35K saved to play with for this new car purchase.  I do not *want* to spend $35K, but I will be able to if necessary.  (The money will find another home if not spent on this car.)

Here’s what I want:

I want a small car.  Sub-compact preferred, Compact as a second choice.  I like small cars because I am small and because they are easy to park.

This car will drive me 7 miles to work and 7 miles back 5 days a week (occasionally stopping at DC2’s school on the way home).  My current 14 year old car has just a little over 50K miles on it.  I just don’t drive much.

I do not care about “performance”.  I do not want a sports car.  I do not need vim or vigor.

I want a new car.  Dealing with the used car market is not something I want to do.  I will keep this car until it, too, starts succumbing to plastic fatigue or otherwise dies.

I want a four door automatic with air conditioning.  I’m not sure if it is possible to get a new car that doesn’t have those attributes, but that was something that was really important when we bought the accent.  The back needs space for two kids including one in a booster seat.

I am really not a mini-cooper kind of person.  I am a boring middle-aged female.  I do think the new lines on current models are sexy, but how the vehicle looks is really not a priority.  Except I would prefer not to have something with a personality.  Nondescript is where I’m at.

I want at least 28 C/35H mpg.  Those are arbitrary.  My current Accent still gets something in the 30-33mph range (I guess because my commute is partly highway?)  If I go hybrid, then I want at least 50mpg.  I know that given how little I drive my mileage isn’t that important, but I dislike stopping to get gas (especially during election season when I avoid places advertising evil people).  I currently do it about once every 2 weeks.  I don’t hate it enough to go completely electric though.   I can afford an electric, but it seems like they’re more than I need given the higher price-tag (which is why I didn’t buy the Bolt before the subsidy got cut).  Plus with DH having the Clarity we might need to get an actual charger if we went electric.  Still, something like the Leaf, which still has the $7,500 credit, might be reasonable, except that I would not be able to make it to the city and back without recharging if something happened to DH’s car.  So… I guess I don’t see any all-electric vehicles that I like enough to buy.

I don’t want a luxury car.

I don’t care about electronic bells and whistles.

The beep beep beep beep that the Prius does when reversing DRIVES ME CRAZY.  (Two of my colleagues have Priuses.)  (#2 notes that you can turn it off.  We had a link in Link Love, I think.)  (Yep, that’s why I put it in link love.  But I do worry that somehow that ability will get disabled.)

What should I test drive?  What am I forgetting?  What sub-compacts and compacts do you love or hate?

 

 

Sometimes the dealer isn’t the best place for repairs: How I finally got a new starter for my car

My 2005 Hyundai Accent has been having trouble starting for a while now.  Back when I had to get the last big set of repairs, the dealer quoted a new starter at $800, and we forwent that.

So, DH left for a multiple day business trip.  While running late to get DC1 to hir violin lesson because it took longer than expected to get DC2 out of daycamp and into the car, I tried to start the car.  And I tried again.  And again.  Usually at the third again the engine turns over and all is well.  This time it wasn’t.  After several more false starts, a couple in a tow truck came by and offered to jump it for me, though I didn’t think that was the problem.  Then they grabbed a guy from a repair shop (he noted the shop was already closed for the day, but he was being helpful anyway).  That guy said that it was probably the starter (I agreed, since I’ve known it’s been a problem) and if I waited until the sun went down and the car cooled down I could probably get it to start again.  He said that replacing a starter on my kind of car usually runs around $400.  The tow people offered to tow me for free over to his shop, so I let them.   The kids then had cupcakes for dinner in the airconditioned cupcake place on the other side of the daycamp while we waited for an uber.  (Our town doesn’t usually have uber/lyft drivers in the summer when the university is out and cab drivers you usually have to book at least 24 hours in advance, but I got lucky.)

When DH got back from his trip, we went to pick up my car.  Total cost:  $369.  Waaaay less than what the dealer was going to charge.  And no nasty comments about how old my car was.  Since this repair shop was technically in the lower SES town next to ours, most of the cars on the lot were older than mine.  My car starts beautifully on the first try now no matter how hot the engine is.  It’s pretty amazing.

While DH was out and my car was in the shop, I did get to spend quite a bit of time driving his Clarity.  It is a really nice car.  Extremely smooth drive, easy acceleration, nice bells and whistles (I could get used to not having to even press a button to open the car door).  I see why he likes it so much.  But I’m not yet ready to trade in my Accent for a Prius Prime, so there we are.

And hopefully we have a new mechanic!  The reason we’d been taking my car to the dealer in the first place was because our previous mechanic screwed up an oil change (and then recently screwed one up again when DH decided to give them another chance).

Where do you take your car for repairs (if you have a car)?  How did you choose the mechanic?