Archive for April, 2009

Dream-0, Reality-1

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

I swear, by the time this hearse is done, they’ll have to start converting it back to its original state because I’ll be on my deathbed.

I went back to Francisco’s shop yesterday to meet with Admir about the A/C and to choose colors for the curtains and front of the dash.

Admir showed me how he was going to route the tubing to the back, and the air temperature felt sufficiently cool. I told him I’d like to leave the vent placement to his judgment based on where the seats are going to be.

Unfortunately, they’re not going to be anywhere for awhile. I didn’t end up making any progress with the curtains or dash because Francisco was in Santa Monica talking to the leather supplier. He’s been waiting for them to ship the material before he starts building the seats. We’ve waited almost three weeks just so they could send us the wrong color. This completely blows and there isn’t much I can do about it. And yet, I still feel like I could skin a cow and dye its hide faster than these people can get their act together.

How much longer before the Barbie Dream Hearse becomes PlatKat’s Nightmare Money-Sink?

Pretty Cool

Friday, April 24th, 2009

Today I went over to Francisco’s shop to see how the car was coming along and meet Andy the A/C guy. Although Admir and Frank mentioned splitting one of the A/C ducts and routing it to the back, I wanted to have a more in-depth (and in-person) conversation about my options, so Frank called Andy.

Andy told me that with the single-compressor system I have now, it takes about 4-5 minutes to cool the front of the car and it would take 15-20 to cool the back. His solution was to put another unit in the back, which would fit width-wise across the back of the car, hang down 6 inches, and stick out 12 inches. He would probably take a unit from a Suburban, Tahoe, or Escalade and fit it to my car.

Admir really doesn’t want to do this. I wish he could have been around while Andy was explaining all this to me, but he had another job run long and couldn’t make it. Admir thinks it’s going to require too much power in exchange for very little benefit. Since the weather in Seattle doesn’t get particularly hot or cold (just wet), I’m leaning toward splitting a duct.

So on Monday, Admir is going to head over to Francisco’s and split one of my car’s air ducts and route it to the back so I can see for myself how long it takes for the back of the car to get cold. Since a divider hasn’t been made yet (or even invoiced yet, which makes me kind of uneasy), he’s going to hang some kind of thick blanket between the two sections of the car as a mock divider.

From what I understand, no matter what I do, I’m going to need 7 pounds of freon to cool the entire car, versus the 3 pounds of freon in the average unit. I was also informed that I should change the type of freon I’m using from R12 to 134A, which is newer, cheaper, and better for the car. The more you know…

The car doesn’t look that different from last time. Francisco pulled out the dash so Georgie, the dash-decal guy, could measure the wood-paneled parts to make covers for them. I will probably only deal with him through Francisco, since the finished dash is contingent on his covering the rest of it with the pink vinyl. When I go back on Monday to test Admir’s hypothesis, I’ll also pick out a shade of black to cover the woody parts.

But right now, it’s just wiry and naked:

Full frontal nudity:

In other news, Admir is still researching how best to do the ceiling. He met with someone in Burbank who would put fiber optic lights on top of a board, but instead of covering them with a thin layer of plexiglass, he wanted to use some kind of clear paste. Admir said it looked cheesy and I said that reminded me of the popcorn spray they put on apartment ceilings in lieu of leveling the texture to make them look nice. A guy in Florida is sending us a catalog of home theater lighting options that Admir and I will go through together on Monday, I hope.

My head unit was delivered to Art at Central Auto Sound, so I need to call him and make sure it wasn’t lost or stolen.

It’s going to be cheap and easy to make armrests for the two rear doors. The door handles themselves will be cheap, but the labor will be expensive. I want to put curtains in the windows, so I’m thinking of foregoing the idea of windows rolling down and just concentrate on doors opening. You can only roll down the rear windows halfway in most cars anyway.

As some hearse enthusiasts know, a few models have suicide doors, where the rear doors open on the opposite side. My car doesn’t have suicide doors as you can see from the outside. However, since the two full rear seats face the back instead of the front, the rear doors will open as if they were suicide doors. It’s not good or bad, I was just thinking about it…

Here’s an example of a car with suicide doors from outside the Viva Car Show in Las Vegas earlier this month:

You Can Be Honest With Me

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

Am I this dorky?

Go ahead and watch the video. I’ll wait.

Barbecue? Seriously? “Yay! The car doesn’t smell like dead people. It smells like barbecue!” Give me a fucking break. His car looked about the same age as mine, just nastier on the outside, and it probably never smelled like dead people. Mine didn’t. Even if it had, the smell would have been accompanied by a faint scent of formaldehyde, which would at least make it non-toxic. Nothing like rolling around town trailed by the scent of old meat and/or the ashes of a grilling adventure gone wrong.

Yeah, I’m hatin’. The car looks pretty cool on the outside. Somewhat cliche, but certainly well done. What remains is the guy driving it… what the fuck? What the hell is his deal? That is way too much car for not enough man.

That said, even my car’s spacious grill-free rear cab might not have enough room for my obnoxious burgeoning ego.

Twinkle Twinkle Little Head Unit, Send My Hot Pink Leather Now

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

I called Admir on Friday right before I got on a plane to New Orleans to attend a wedding. We’re still trying to figure out what to do about the lighting. He said the fiber optics guy is convinced we’re going to need two converter boxes to give the ceiling all the power it needs and minimize the start-up time. Having two extra boxes to supply energy for something I don’t even need did sound rather excessive. It turns out that with just one, I won’t be able to have shooting stars and twinkling stars. FINE! I just wanted stars anyway. I don’t care what they do. I mean, I care to some extent, but I don’t want to enter a spacial (har!) and logistical nightmare over it. Get the parts, make ’em twinkle, move on to the stereo.

The stereo! I finally bought a head unit, the Pioneer F90BT. (Thanks for the input, Joe and Eric.) The “price” is a rather cute suggestion, so take a second to gawk, laugh, and then check out all the features. I’m sure “does dishes” and “gives blowjobs” are in there somewhere. My favorites are the ipod adapter, voice controls, and sophisticated navigation.

I looked at a similar unit by Kenwood, but the navigation map looked dated and I didn’t see it having any redeeming features over the Pioneer. My curiosity about Kenwood sprang from a young man at Stereo Masters, a different car audio place from the one I’m working with. (LA is full of them!) Unlike Central Auto Sound, I thought I might be able to buy my head unit from them directly. But much like CAS, they don’t keep units in the store because of theft. The guy I talked to said they get their units from a nearby warehouse, so I could easily obtain a unit that day and just give it to Admir to install. But obviously, that would require my choosing one.

The young salesman was eager to tell me how great the Kenwood unit works in his show car. Although he seemed roused to drop what he was doing and let the rest of the store watch him talk to me about my project, he never offered to actually show me his car, so I didn’t ask.

He suggested I go to one of the big box stores with head units on display, so I went over to Best Buy. Anyone who has ever tried to buy anything there knows what happened next. I didn’t see what I was looking for. I spent way too long getting way too little help. I eventually decided that stealing the thing I want from somewhere else would be less of a hassle than simply buying something from Best Buy. So it goes.

I spent a little time looking at Kenwood models similar to the one I sought and was unimpressed. Admir drove the nail in the coffin when I told him I was considering a Kenwood over a Pioneer, and he told me he’d run into nothing but problems with Kenwoods. I may have a bit too much preemptive trust in Admir, but he knew no matter which head unit I chose, I wasn’t buying it from him. And I value his opinion, especially since he’s going to be the one installing it and making sure everything works.

So my Pioneer is being delivered and everything is okay on that end.

But (there’s always a but), I was starting to feel more troubled than usual because I hadn’t heard back from Francisco about the A/C, the rear door handles, and the wood paneling on the dash and armrest controls. In fact, I hadn’t heard from him at all. Although my rational mind knew there must be some explanation, I was still concerned about the time this is taking and whether or not I’d make it back to Seattle for any part of the summer or what its natives consider a correct interpretation of the season to be.

I finally got in touch with Francisco this morning/afternoon (I’m still in Baton Rouge as I write this). We made plans to meet with the A/C guy on Thursday, and he explained that his people haven’t started working on the upholstery yet because the leather for the seats had to be special-ordered. What, you mean the materials dealer doesn’t have a dozen yards of hot pink leather on hand?

Francisco wants to make sure the leather matches the vinyl that will go into the other parts of the car (like the door panels) before they construct anything. I wish I’d known it would take 10 to 12 days to get leather; at this point I know they mean business days instead of regular. But Francisco seems ready to work once he does have everything, so that’s good.

I believe some wiring for the effect of twinkling stars needs to take place first anyway. I left Admir a message today…

Status: Bad

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009

I met up with Admir before going to Vegas last week, gave him some money to get started on the lighting, and went along my merry way. Knowing that I returned last night, he conscientiously called this morning to let me know the status. The status is bad.

No one wants to sell him the fiber optic lights to make the galaxy on my ceiling, reason being the vendors can’t give me a warranty on them if I’m not putting them in a stable structure like a home theater. Much like the LEDs, they could go out if I hit a bump in the road or thump my bass too much. Plus, Admir measured the cargo space in my car to be about 4.5 by 9 feet. These guys usually sell this stuff in bundles of strands that cover 20 square feet, since it’s meant to go in rooms, not cars.

Another issue is the heat. There was talk of getting an inverter and a separate cooling fan just for this unit. Admir doesn’t think we’re going to need as much power as these guys do, who again are using to working with larger quantities of this stuff. I said I wasn’t against adding stuff if that’s what we need to do, but he thinks it’s going to make the startup procedure long and annoying, and it will be an even bigger bitch to fix if something breaks.

However, Admir may have a potential seller in Simi Valley, about an hour northwest of here. We’re going to do a conference call tomorrow, but I’d like to meet with him face-to-face. Scratch that. It is imperative that I meet with him face-to-face. Art didn’t want to deal with me at all until he saw me and the hearse in the flesh and metal. This is an even bigger challenge. I need people to talk candidly with me about this stuff and being on the phone adds a layer of uncertainty. Even as Admir talked to me this morning, he seemed a little unsure of why I was asking for so much clarification. I had to explain that I wasn’t doubting his expertise, but that I was writing everything down so I understand exactly what we are doing and why.

Barbie was a doctor, a nurse, a pilot, a flight attendant, a model, a photographer, a Nascar driver, and a backseat whore. And now in addition to being some kind of scientist (what, are you saying computer programming isn’t fun and sexy?), she’s also a hardcore CYA tech writer.

This afternoon I went to see how Francisco and his people are doing. When I arrived, one of his guys was ripping out the rug up front. The back is nearly bare, but they still need to cut out the frame that the casket deck was resting on. This was my first real sight of the giant metal hump in the middle of the back that encases the rear axle. I was forewarned it would be huge and no one was lying. It’s fine. I’ll put a table with some cupholders in the middle or something.

My one-track (yet somehow aimless) thoughts of the hearse coupled with my talking to Admir this morning had me thinking about some other big issues: rear A/C, rear doors that open, and rear windows that roll down. In all the excitement of buying and taking apart the car, I neglected to consider that I now have more than one rear to think about.

The A/C issue is manageable, Admir assured me. Francisco later confirmed that we could reroute the ventilation by putting a fork in the air duct so one tube goes to the front and the other to the back. This method would save me from having to get a separate compressor for the back, but I would have to control everything from the front. I was a little worried about passengers not having air controls, but I figure anyone I’d be driving around should be comfortable enough to talk to me, so asking me to turn on the A/C shouldn’t be a big deal.

What worries me a little more are the lack of handles on the rear doors. That seems like a safety issue that could make someone mad enough to sue me if they wanted to be a dick. Same with the windows. It’s not even a lawsuit issue, but I’m not sure I’d be comfortable riding in a car where I didn’t at least believe I had the ability to escape. Having ridden with enough drivers who don’t know how to disable backdoor child locks, I am familiar with the annoyance of not being able to simply exit a car myself once it stops. Even though I want my passengers to ride like they’re in a limo, meaning I open the door for them, I still don’t want people feeling claustrophobic.

One thing that is clearer than it was before I left is where to put the subwoofers. Having torn out all of the back panels, it’s apparent that we have enough room to put two 8-by-10-inch subwoofers directly inside the body of the car, right next to the two rear doors. I won’t need to get special boxes for them; we’ll just insulate them with sound-deadening material. At some point, someone had mentioned the idea of putting them in little caskets. That would be cute, but a spacial nightmare, so I’m cool with this idea.

Another thing I had to discuss with Francisco is the plastic wood-paneling (yeah, I know) in the dash. Appearing alongside black and pink, that’s gonna look like shit. He said he’d have to special order some custom stickers to put over it, but I said go for it. Dashboards aren’t made of wood. Save the wood-looking stuff my dream hearse’s bastard cousin, the station wagon.

So now it’s on Francisco to get estimates for the new additions to the dash and front armrest controls, adding new armrests to the rear and wiring them, and rerouting the A/C ducts to the rear. Sheesh. Glad I gave myself some wiggle-room on finances. I’m just hoping these are the last of the big surprises.

I was probably counting on them more than I should have when discussing what I wanted done. Of course, very few people have done this, so it’s hard to think of everything. But since it’s my car, they’re working for me, and I need to communicate what I want, I’m literally and figuratively in the driver’s seat (har).

All this questioning, prioritizing, and pushing-back makes me feel like I’m becoming like some of the managers I’ve encountered in the corporate world. You know, those managers: the ones that come out of nowhere, having no idea what you do or how things work, and still take it upon themselves to control every single aspect of every task. They don’t give anyone else any credit or leeway to accomplish things on their own. So then everyone feels crusty and undervalued, but instead of resolving things or leaving, they usually slack because they know someone will be riding their ass at every opportunity anyway.

I DON’T want to be that guy!

It’s a different situation, I know. I’m a customer who’s paying them. Word on the street (or at least in this apartment) is that I’m being a little hard on myself. That may be, but I also need to take some responsibility here; I don’t want to be the reason something isn’t done correctly. I’m sure I’ll strike a balance by the time the project ends. Sooner would be nice.

Viva!

Sunday, April 12th, 2009

Under the guise of doing some “work-related” research, I opted to leave the comfort of the Rio cardroom and check out the Viva car show. Ever since I arrived in Vegas on Wednesday, I’ve been telling everyone who would listen about my car. In addition to a hearse, I also have black hair and a dry sense of humor. Therefore it was assumed by everyone who met me that I must be in town for the big rockabilly convention that weekend.

Wrong.

One thing I’ve noticed since I started going out and paying attention is that rockabilly has been one big scene. Sure, there’s music, and it’s not even that bad. But while the rockabilly schtick is much enjoyed by thousands in my former homes of Austin and Seattle, the whole thing just doesn’t do it for me. I don’t have the commitment to buy the right clothes, cover myself in tats, spend hours applying thick lashes and red lipstick, style my hair in tricky up-do’s, pretend to be poor enough to like PBR…

Despite all that, I went to the damn car show. And like I halfway expected, it was more of a fashion show than a car show. Although chicks resembling Kat Von D outnumbered cars 4-to-1, I scoured the small gated parking lot for decorating ideas. There were more dropped hotrods than souped-up old caddies, but I think I made the most of it. I drank a couple of New Castles, listened to an upbeat performance by Los Benders, and took some picures for the Barbie Dream Hearse Picasa Web Album.

Toward the end of my short tour, I sat down next to a couple of middle-aged men in lawn chairs. I was tired of looking at outfits and wanted to talk to someone. I asked them about their car and told them about mine. They drove down from California in a rusty hotrod they displayed in exchange for admission.

“How much was admission anyway?” they asked.

“Five bucks,” I answered. Awkward…

I ended up meeting a handful of car-people at the poker table over the weekend. One guy owned a 1949 Bentley, one of 10 in the US. Another guy who happened to be from my neighborhood in Seattle said he’s owned six Cadillacs over the years. Generally speaking, if I just wanted to spend the weekend shooting the shit about cars, this was the place to do it. I’m still nowhere near getting it out of my system though.

Waiting for Admir

Wednesday, April 8th, 2009

I spent the last couple of days playing phone tag with my sound and lighting guy, Admir. Yesterday was 100 percent my fault, since I was in the Mojave Desert playing Jack’s lovely assistant as he caught and photographed snakes and lizards. We drove through quite a few mountains to get there, so cell service was spotty at best.

Admir and I finally had a conversation today, and he’s supposed to come see me before my flight to Vegas this afternoon. He’s doing a job near Pasadena so he should be in the area now. I’ve been blowing up his phone this week because I want him to get started on the ceiling galaxy we talked about, and this needs to happen before Francisco puts in seats and carpeting. I’m going to be out of town for five days and don’t want them to stop working just because I’m not here to pay for something.

Admir now wants to install fiber optics instead of the LEDs we talked about. He said he’d installed LEDs for a similar purpose in Justin Timberlake’s SUV. Since his sound system was awesome like mine will be (once I finally decide on one), he cranked the bass every now and then, which would blow out some of his LEDs. Replacing LEDs sucks because you have to remove the plexiglass panel covering them every time you want to do it. With fiber optic lights, there will be a control box that I (or someone who knows what the hell they’re doing) can access to make repairs. Also, I’m going to have a ceiling that is more badass than Justin Timberlake’s.

He said we could do multicolored lights and I’ll be able to control different sections at different times, which is pretty cool. I’m not sure if I want any colors besides white and pink though. I know it’s not a big deal if they can be turned to other colors, but I really just want pink and white to keep with the style of the car, which is a giant, slick vagina that can comfortably seat eight people.

Audio/Video/Navigation/iPod/Kitchen Sink

Monday, April 6th, 2009

There are way, WAY too many car audio companies. WAY too many.

I’m looking for a head unit that can pull a few main tricks, but anything that can play DVDs and be used for navigation has way too many features for me to use all at once. Pretty much everything has specific iPod connections, so I should upgrade my shuffle. If I can find it. I think Dan’s maid threw away the charger, and buying a new one would cost half of what the shuffle is worth. But I love my shuffles

I’m just rambling because I’m tired of researching this. A few friends have given me their ideas. When I can understand them, they’ve been helpful, but no matter what I get, there’s going to be something better out there. I don’t even need the best, I just need something that will last awhile so I don’t have to go through all this again. Everything in my car is going to be unique, so I don’t want to let people rip into it and then bitch about the craftsmanship because it’s not what they would have done.

I’m also rambling because I hate this blogger template that I have to use until I can make time to create an original Barbie Dream Hearse website. It will probably look eerily similar to PlatKat.com. Spooky like a hearse.

I should be able to buy a head unit from someone in town. I can probably get a better price online. Okay, I’m buying the Pioneer F90BT from Amazon. Wait, maybe I should read just a few more articles…

All Tore Up

Monday, April 6th, 2009

My hearse spent its first night with me closeby in the LA Times garage. I parked it at an angle to at least give the appearance that I wasn’t trying to be obnoxious. It still stuck out a little, but hey, it’s 22 feet long.

While I’m in LA, I need to have three main things done to the hearse: upholstery, audio/video, and exterior decals. Once I’m settled somewhere, I might add smaller items like spinners, much to the chagrin of some of my buddies. But they’ll be classy spinners, I swear.

Frank’s Auto Upholstery
Frank is actually named Francisco, and I went to see him before I purchased my car. Doug (who sold me the hearse) uses his services to restore some of his older cars, and he definitely knew his way around a hearse. He gave me rough estimates for everything from flooring to covering seats to creating new side panels. As I mentioned, everything on the inside is navy blue and it all has to go. The dash and window control housings are a brown wooden finish, which I’m not crazy about but they’re not prominent enough for me to vehemently hate them.

Central Auto Sound
Francisco recommended I get my audio and video wiring done here and called to let them know I was coming. When I called to follow up and explain what I wanted to do, Art, the owner, wasn’t appropriately enthused. “Well, come on by so I can see what the job is before I turn it down.” Ouch. But all I had to lose was a little time, so I paid him and his two assistants a visit. As I gave them the grand tour of the car, Art softened up and one of his assistants, Admir, got really excited. I brought up the idea of recessed lighting in the ceiling and he exclaimed, “Yeah! We could do a galaxy!” Hell YEAH, I want a galaxy. As an aside, I was originally thinking I’d put a sunroof up front. They’re not that expensive to cut and install, but hearse tops are slightly rounded and the one I have is brand new, so I just don’t want to mess with it right now.

D Only Son
I told Admir I needed some custom paint done, so he called his buddy Francis and told him I was coming. When I arrived the next day, there were a lot of people around because a car magazine was doing a photoshoot of Francis’ work. When Francis, a short, hispanic man with long hair, saw me pull in, he did the sign of the cross on his chest and said, “Oh my gosh it’s real!” He showed me some of the cars he’s worked on, mostly sports cars. Impressive. I told Francis I just need logos on each side and the back. He suggested making decals instead of painting because they’re cheaper, easier to remove, and won’t scratch as easily. Sold! He said it would take about two days, so I probably won’t bother with it until the inside is done. I’m going to have to meet with an artist though, since my days of trying to design anything are long gone.

Right now, my car is with Francisco. One of his employees, Pablo, has been driving me to and from my hotel in Downtown LA. Since it’s a good 15 or 20 minutes, I chatted him up in Spanish because I need the practice. I don’t think my Spanish is great, but Pablo thinks it is because we talked about the weather, my family, places I’ve visited, and stuff I like to eat, all of which are covered by the high school Spanish cirriculum.

As for the hearse, most of the side panels are gone and they’re starting to pull out the rollerboard. Francisco (slightly) lamented that the rollerboard is in great shape, but very securely placed (as it should be) so they may not be able to salvage it. I told Doug I’d have Francisco hang on to all the parts I didn’t use, so I’m hoping they find a way. Art suggested keeping the rollerboard in there to maintain the effect of riding in a hearse. Although there appears to be a lot of space back there, I still need to provide the extra inches of legroom for it to be comfortable.

My biggest issue right now is finding a head unit to put in the dash. This is going to display all the stereo, DVD, and navigation controls, so I want it to look slick and you know, work. I’ve been researching Pioneer and Eclipse units, with Pioneer being a clear winner. I also need to look at Infinity too. Art doesn’t keep a lot of stock around, so I’m better off buying the one I want and letting his folks install it. I showed him a few I’m considering to get a feel for the limitations of installing it, but I couldn’t get much information. They’re making it sound like whatever head unit I get, they’ll find a way to install it. Of course, everyone has been nice to me, but I knew this question was coming: “Do you think you’ll be able to learn to use something this complex?” Heh, I may look like just another stupid woman, but the money to pay for this didn’t come from Daddy.

One last shop I might have to visit is LKQ Auto, a modern wrecking yard with all its parts listed in a database. Admir told me about them because we discussed the idea of getting a new dashboard and steering wheel. Francisco advises against it, since making a new dash would cost the same and a new wheel may not be compatible. I’ll call them tomorrow, but I’m thinking of siding with Francisco on this one.

My car is going to eat your car.

My New Baby

Thursday, April 2nd, 2009

After four years of thinking, shopping, and occasional mocking, I finally purchased my Barbie Dream Hearse.

It’s a ’92 Cadillac Superior, all white with blue interior, which I will be ripping out shortly. I spent yesterday and today getting estimates on the upholstery and wiring. I plan to visit a nearby body shop to see about paint tomorrow.

I don’t have pictures just now. It’s not that amazing right now anyway—it could use a bath, but there’s no point in messing with the exterior when it’ll be out of a commission for a few weeks while we work on the interior. Doug Scott, the man who sold me the car, didn’t post this one on his site, but it looks similar to the white ’91 on there.

I came out to Los Angeles to look at the ’91, but the ’92 has 25,000 fewer miles and runs a little better. It also has a raised top with custom windows and windshield. I wasn’t originally seeking that, but it will provide more passenger headroom in the back.

All of this guy’s cars were great, and most of the hearses I inquired about online appeared very well cared-for. My initial plan was to get a later model, but something drew me to the ’91 on Doug’s site. Then I got to thinking about how some of these older cars still have quite a bit of life in them, and the rounded body style that they adopted in the late ’90s looks rather plain. Once I get this baby souped up, she’ll be a real looker!

Although I’ve finally chosen and purchased the vehicle, the process is just beginning. The amount of work I plan to have done will run me at least double the cost of the car. I guess I could have started tracking my progress a little sooner (I’ve been wanting to do this since 2005!), but I still feel like I just got back from Asia.

I’ve been without a car for a couple years now and lived cheaply in Seattle for the sole purpose of raising capital to create the best hearse evar. I’m really excited about all the possibilities and things I’m already learning about customizing cars.

It was only in the last year or so that I began opening up and telling friends, coworkers, and even total strangers what I wanted to do. Part of the reason was out of worry that the idea would be stolen by an attention whore richer and better connected than I. But mostly, I was protecting myself from the unavoidable ridicule one faces when she wants to do something that few people have done.

As I began cautiously mentioning it to very close friends and the rare person who seemed like they might be able to help, I was delighted by the amount of support I received. I don’t take for granted that I have so many kind, open-minded people in my life. It’s just as easy to say “Sounds great!” as it is to say “That’s stupid,” but the choice to use either phrase says more about the person saying it than what he’s talking about. I honestly take to heart the positive words from all the folks who know what it took to get me here (a hotel in downtown LA?!), whether they’re from my inner circle or a bar stool in one of the 800 towns I’ve passed through this year. It’s great to know so many people believe in my ability to follow through with my plans.

Okay, so I bought a car. I didn’t cure world hunger. But you know if I had, there would be a blog about it.

Sidenote: During my last few days of wheeling and dealing, I’ve had a nonstop loop of the funniest Yo Dawg memes going through my head. For the uninitiated, Pimp My Ride is an old MTV show hosted by rap artist Xzibit. Like most rappers, he puts his own spin on the English language, and like most Internet geeks, I’m totally cool with making fun of it. The whole time I’ve been talking to mechanics and salespeople about car parts and procedures, part of my brain was thinking, “Yo dawg, I heard you like death and Barbies so we killed some Barbies and put ’em in your hearse so you can play while you play.”

Anyway, it’s getting late and I’m exhausted. There will be lots more in the coming weeks. I can’t remember the last time I was so excited about a project!