Monday, August 27, 2012

DIY: Replacing the Taillight Bulbs on a VW Beetle

I recently wrote that the turn signal bulb in my taillight had gone out.  I first noticed something was wrong when the clicking noise that I hear when I activate my turn signal started running double time.  Honestly, I had no idea what this meant at the time, but found it irritating enough to mention it to a family member who clued me in.

The absence of an obvious turn signal seemed like a safety issue, so I did what I do whenever my car has problems: I called the dealership.  The dealership quoted me more than $50 to replace the light bulb.  That didn't bother me (bulbs must be expensive, right?), but getting my car to the dealership during the available appointment times wasn't going to be possible due to the secondment.  So, I took to Google to see whether this was a project I might be able to do on my own.

I found the below helpful how-to video by A1 Auto:

This looked like something that I could manage, so I priced replacement light bulbs.  Just $5 for a pair!  That's all the encouragement I need to roll up my sleeves, grab a flashlight and a screwdriver, and do it myself.

I drive a 2005 VW Beetle Convertible, which has a plastic grate (instead of the plastic disc shown on the hard top model used in the video) that you need to pop out to access the thumb screw that bolts the taillight to the body of the car.  It took some serious effort to pop out my taillight, but swapping the bulbs out was otherwise as easy as A1 Auto made it look!

Thank you A1 Auto for saving me about $45 and the hassle of getting my car to the dealership!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Wheels Coming Off

The post-secondment to do list keeps growing!  One of my turn signal lights just went out.  The dishwasher has been broken for weeks.  The refrigerator is making a strange rattle.  The kitchen sink is leaking.  Pants need mending.  Puppy needs a haircut.  Heck, I need a haircut.  I'm overdue for dentist and doctor appointments.  Exhausting just thinking about it.

Just a few more days!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Polos and Pearls Team Match

I've been out of the loop at the dance studio since my secondment started, which is why it was particularly fun to participate in our team match over the weekend and get to spend some time chatting with the other students and teachers. (A "team match" is an informal mini competition with another studio.) It was also a great opportunity to practice dancing with one of the studio's new teachers.

The host studio was beautiful.

I wasn't expecting my three quick heats at the beginning of the day to be memorable (there were 131 heats of latin, smooth, standard and rhythm throughout the day), but I walked away with some very nice comments from other students and this:

Saturday, August 11, 2012

In a Pinch

It's been a long time since I've felt fit.  A long time.  I'm not going to bother to draft a list of excuses as they are overly familiar to many of us and, frankly, irrelevant.  It's enough to say that I haven't been taking care of my body, i.e., simultaneously exercising and eating well, for ages.  (Looking back, it's possible that I haven't done this since I left my parents care.)

There is no time better than the present to start taking better care of the vessel that I hope, hope, hope will carry me into old age.  Why?  Because I've finished grad school.  Because I've settled into my job. Because I should establish better habits before I have children to care for.  Because it would be nice to look and feel my best.

Would I like to lose weight?  Sure.  I would like to lose 15 lbs.  I currently weigh 130 lbs.  More than five of those pounds have been put on during the last three months that I've been on secondment.  But I care more about how I feel, how my clothes fit (I refuse to buy a new set of suits), and whether I have muscle tone than the exact number on the scale.

Will I diet?  Not really.  I want to change what I'm feeding myself.  Right now, I eat whatever I feel like eating or, more specifically, whatever my employer orders in for lunch.  Yup, for the last three months I haven't eaten breakfast, but I have eaten whatever we order in, and then I either skip dinner or stop by In-n-Out during my hour-long commute home.  I don't have any fresh fruits or vegetables in my refrigerator.  It's bad and it won't take much effort to make at least an incremental improvement.  My short-term goal is to start eating breakfast and to eat at least one piece of fresh produce each day.  When the secondment ends I will be able to start cooking again.  That should help things.

What I really need to give up is regular, full-leaded Coca-Cola.  I drink a lot of it (2-3 cans a day) and, recently, I had a nightmare where I used up my lifetime supply of insulin on Coca-Cola and ended up with diabetes.  I've tried to quit it numerous times in the past without success.  It's my worst habit and I need to do better.  My short-term goal is to reduce my intake to one can a day.

Will I join a gym?  Yes, I joined a gym with the help of a discount through the firm a couple of weeks ago.  I joined mainly for the group exercise classes and because I anticipate that I won't spend as much time dancing during the week as I once did when I return from my secondment (more on that later).  Until the secondment ends I won't be able to do all that I hope to do.  My short-term goal is to take a pilates class on the reformer each week and to come in for a workout on both weekend days.  I've also been taking one or two ballroom classes a week.  So far, this has been manageable, but all of it has been happening on the weekends.

My new member package included a fitness assessment.  This is the part where some obnoxiously fit gym employee takes out the calipers, pinches your stomach, arm and leg fat and crunches the numbers. My body fat percentage is 27%.  According to the folks at the gym, I need to get that number below 24% to be "average."  (Average as in the average gym member? the average American?  It wasn't clear.)  Okay, well at least we have a target.

The secondment ends at the end of the month.  That's when I'll set some more ambitious goals.