Thursday, April 5, 2018

On the Condition of my Car, >1 Month After the Accident

I was in a car accident on March 1st (tl;dr: while stopped in construction traffic on I-35, I was rear ended by a distracted driver travelling at highway speed). Ever since, I've been in a protracted battle with Allstate, my auto insurer, and Service King, their recommended body shop. It's been more than a month and Service King has tried to deliver my vehicle to me as "finished" twice, but the following issues are still outstanding:
  1. Front passenger door, when closed, does not seal because either the door or the body of the car is still bent out of shape.   This is a new issue that has emerged since the vehicle was delivered to Service King on March 5th.
  2. Surface of back quarter panel of car is covered with fine scratches. It appears that there was a rock or other abrasive material on the buffer when they buffed out this panel.  This is a new issue that has emerged since the vehicle was delivered to Service King on March 5th.
  3. There are still deep scratches on the edge of one of the panels from the accident that have not been resolved.
  4. There are two new rattling sounds when the vehicle is driven at highway speed. This is a new issue that has emerged since the vehicle was delivered to Service King on March 5th.
  5. The "new" rear bumper that Service King has attached to my car is scuffed and scratched and clearly not new.
  6. There is an unknown material or adhesive that is a pale yellow in color that can be seen in the crack between panels that Service King has attached to the vehicle. This is a new issue that has emerged since the vehicle was delivered to Service King on March 5th.
The first time Service King tried to deliver my vehicle as finished, the muffler was still dangling from the vehicle, there were numerous scratched and imperfections remaining in the paint job, the "new" bumper was crooked, various "new" body panels were misaligned, and there was a new, big grease stain on the cream colored interior of the car.

All of this is only the surface-level damage that I can observe as a layperson that knows very little about automotive repairs. I hate to think what an independent third party expert might find upon inspection of the vehicle.

You might be wondering why I took my vehicle, which I had purchase new from the dealer less than six months prior to the accident, to Service King in the first place. Good question!

Here's the answer:

Service King is a member of the Allstate All Hands Network. When I called in my claim, I was put in touch with the nearest Service King. Because I had never had an accident requiring body work before, I didn't know that, under Texas law, I had the right to select my own collision center (for example, a collision center certified to repair my specific brand of vehicle). Allstate did send me a notice explaining that I was entitled to select a collision center, but that notice arrived by mail after my vehicle was in Allstate's possession and repairs were underway. Upon receipt of that notice, I reached out to a collision center certified to repair my specific brand of vehicle, but they refused to work on my vehicle now that Service King has touched it due to liability concerns.

What a nightmare.

Normally, I'm the sort of person that does a lot of independent research before taking action, but I was shell shocked from this accident, and from another accident three weeks earlier when I was hit by a SUV while walking across the street. Overwhelmed, I just wanted to get my car repaired as soon as possible. This was a mistake. When in doubt, slow down and do your research!

I'm posting this because, if you're in an auto accident here in Texas, I hope that:
  1. You'll remember someone saying that you have the right to choose your own collision center.
  2. You'll think twice before taking your vehicle to Service King for repair. No doubt that certain Service King locations perform better work than others.
  3. You'll explore a diminished value claim. It is possible to make such a claim against the insurer of the at-fault driver.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Costco Roses

The bare root rose I bought at Costco last year continues to produce. Here's its first bloom of the season:


I've largely given up my efforts in the garden on account of my work schedule, but last weekend I took some time outdoors to appreciate the remnants and make a few additions. Currently, herbs and snap peas are going strong. The lemon sapling bloomed. I've added some more ornamental plants and flowers, and this lavender plant in the hopes of bringing some bees to the yard.


I'm always dreaming of what this yard could look like "some day." It sure hasn't changed much since I moved in.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

New Entree Recipes (Part 1)

Life has been a bit glum what with a chronically achy hip from getting hit by that SUV, my new car still in the body shop after having been rear ended, and three of the senior associates in my group having quit. There is a lot of turmoil that can't be described here, but life experience has taught me the dust will soon settle and we'll all move on. In the interim, I'm trying to focus on the simple things I can control.

For example, my 2018 goal to try 12 new entree recipes is on track. I set this goal because without it the only new recipes I try are desserts. Here are the first four recipes for 2018:

1. Strata with Sausage, Gruyere and Thyme


I had leftover hot Italian sausage and sourdough from my family's visit over the holidays, so this seemed like a perfect choice. The recipe was straightforward. Preparation was quick. Results were hearty. I'll make this again.

This recipe can be found in America's Test Kitchen's Complete Cooking for Two Cookbook. This cookbook is incredibly reliable and has been a great help in reducing food waste for my small household. It's available at Costco from time to time, but currently even cheaper at Barnes and Noble.

As an aside, I discovered another fantastic use for leftover sourdough: homemade croutons. I added a little butter and pepper before toasting under the broiler. Why did it take me so long to try this!?!

2. Whole Roast Chicken


This was my boyfriend's idea. He found the recipe in one of his cookbooks (something related to manly cast iron skillet cooking) and I took him up on it right away because I want to encourage him to get more involved in the kitchen. I'd never roasted a whole chicken at home before and we were impressed by how great it tasted. At our grocery store, a whole chicken was cheaper than two chicken breasts, so it was economical too.  The vegetables in the pan are carrots and yukon gold potatoes. Red potatoes would have been better, but we had leftover yukon golds we needed to use.

3. Pulled Pork Sandwiches


This recipe provided me with my first opportunity to use my small crockpot. I rubbed some pork ribs down with spices, placed the meat in the crockpot with some broth and two pieces of bacon (you remove this bacon before shredding) and about five hours later shredded the meat and combined it with a semi-homemade sauce. I loved this and the pulled pork made truly great leftovers. I'll make this again.

This recipe can be found in America's Test Kitchen's Complete Cooking for Two Cookbook.

4. Southwestern-Style Chicken and Biscuits


I went ahead and made the full recipe so that we'd have some leftovers. The base included shredded chicken thighs, red pepper, corn, onion, celery and thyme, but didn't have enough kick. The biscuits included cheddar, cayenne and pepper. I liked this dish, but it wasn't good enough to justify the two hours I spent making all of the components from scratch.

The recipe can be found in Cook's Country's Cook it in Cast Iron. Cook's Country is affiliated with America's Test Kitchen, which is why I snagged this cookbook when I found it at Costco a few months ago.