Archive for the ‘Maintenance’ Category

The Last 24

Friday, June 21st, 2013

I’m excited to be a part of this year’s Seattle Art Car Blow-Out at the Fremont Fair this weekend!

But (there’s always a but) the events leading up to it have been busy and anything but smooth. Our fearless leader Kelly Lyles informed us that KING5 had invited the art cars to participate in an Evening Magazine segment about the fair. So yesterday, I went home for lunch, put on a dress, did my hair and makeup, and attempted to drive to Power House (fair-prep headquarters) in Fremont.

Since Westlake is closed and probably will be until I die, I decided to take 99. It should have been an easy straight shot. Nope! Everyone and their elderly mother was scuttling around Pioneer Square yesterday afternoon, despite the pouring rain. Bad weather also heightened the traffic on multi-lane roads even though we should be used to it by now.

I finally arrived at Power House and I saw some art cars lined up across the street. Parking hadn’t been reserved for us, so we were scattered among the regulars. I’m guessing some clever video-editing will make up for it.

At this point, I should mention that Fremont has things in every possible place you could put a thing. Some of them are cool, some of them are obnoxious, and some of them are just plain stupid. If you could model a neighborhood based on a six-year-old’s bedroom, you’d have Fremont.

Anyway, I wish I had dismissed the person who told me to back up and take the place of a recently departed “straight” car. Amid the trees, traffic, and… things… was a short 30-minute parking sign so close to the curb that I had the pleasure of scraping my rear quarter panel against it.

Just in time for TV appearances and the fair! Yay!

A few moments later, the people from Evening Magazine finally made it out to our little line-up and said they’d interview us one-by-one. The other cartists were awesome to let me do my interview first so I could escape the time-consuming embarrassment that the day had become. Here I am getting prepped:

While the reporter put a mic on me, I had the chance to catch up with Clea, Fremont Fair’s head of marketing. She is reason I was able to display the hearse in front of the SEAF Launch Party last year, and it was tons of fun.

My interview was pretty short. I tried to keep it short and sweet, but I know I have a tendency to ramble. (Looking at the length of this post, you’re thinking, “No shit, right?”) They didn’t ask me any awkward questions, which, given the recent events, was definitely a concern.

Phase 1 of interviewing was complete. Phase 2 never happened.

Today I was supposed to join some early-rising art cars at the KING5 morning show at 7am. I woke up and got ready on time, but my car battery needed a charge before I could go anywhere. In an effort to be helpful to the light-starved camera crew yesterday, I turned on my rear-cab headlamps. In a mundane failure of pedestrian proportions, I forgot to turn them off after the interview and caused myself problems.

After calling the event organizer and then Triple-A, I gave up and changed out of my dressy clothes, annoyed that I had worn makeup two days in a row for nothing. Who the hell has time for that? Oh yeah, about half the women in America.

The guy who jump-started my hearse was super-nice and more excited about its uniqueness than most people in his position. Like those before him, he got to my place sooner than predicted. I’m a little surprised I haven’t been visited by the same person twice by now.

I could have made it to KING5’s studio around 7:45, but the organizer made it sound like anything before 7:30 was an absolute no-go. Fuck it, I had scratches to buff out.

So I headed out to Kirkland to see Dave at L-M Body Shop. I linked their yelp page because all of those positive reviews are absolutely deserved. Every time something stupid happens to my car, I feel like I’ve been punched in the face… until I go see Dave, who welcomes me in, hands me an ice pack, and imparts some encouraging words.

Jeremy immediately buffed out the scratch, and Carl fixed my hood latch, which was fresh on my mind after having to muck with it to have my battery fixed. In the meantime, Dave and I chatted over doughnuts and coffee. As I was leaving, I had to admit that despite the state of my car, I had a good morning.

You want to know how bad the damage was, don’t you? Well, go ahead and look for yourself. L-M did a great job in what short time they had.

Since I was in the neighborhood, I paid a visit to Jody at JJ Graphics. He did my rear decals way back in the day, and I wanted to see if he could redo my rear quarter panel decals once I could give Dave’s team more time to properly fix it. We also did some catching up as we peeled the lettering of my now defunct website off my rear window. He’s staying busy, which never seemed to be a problem for him, and I appreciate that he dropped what he was doing for a bit to listen to my woeful tales of the universe being out to get me.

Here’s Jody, trying to realign my stars:

By the way, did I mention that I have a regular 9-5 job that I like with people I respect? I had to be there, too. Job or no, I prefer not to do so much running around before a big event. In spite of that, I’ve spent time with some of Seattle’s most wonderful people this last 24!

It’s All Abaht Customer Service

Sunday, December 11th, 2011

A letter I sent to the fine people at Brown Bear Car Wash:

Hi there, Brown Bear!

I visited your self-serve location on 15th Avenue last week to wash my hearse. I put $5 into the change machine to receive the equivalent amount in quarters, but instead I received $4.75 in US currency and the coin in this picture:

The coin was later identified by several of my more worldly friends as a Thai baht. It was so similar to the US quarter, I didn’t even notice it at first.

Baht wait, there’s more.

I attempted to insert it into the car wash machine and it was repeatedly returned to me. It was then that I realized what the mix-up was all a-baht. I was still able to wash my car thanks to your fine establishment, baht I would like inform you of the discrepancy between the scanner in your change machine and the scanner in your car wash machine.

Unfortunately, I did not fair too well from this error. According to the current exchange rate, 1 USD is approximately 31 baht. This means the non-quarter that I received from your change machine is worth roughly 16 cents.

In exchange for the 9 cents I was forced to give you, I am interested to know how one machine was able to read the foreign currency, baht the other wasn’t. If you can give me some insight abaht how this happened, I will drop my claim for monetary damages as well as the terrible puns.

Thank you!

Kat Taylor

Hearst World Problems

Monday, November 7th, 2011

Terrible injustices are taking place:

1. I found myself at the front of a four-car pile-up while driving my body shop’s loaner car. (I am not at fault.) Some say I was lucky not to have been driving the BDH when it happened. How is it lucky to be stuck in Everett for two hours while the police fill out paperwork?

2. I recently learned that the Russians sometimes transport their dead in buses. How do they decide who gets to sit up front?

3. I went to the Seattle Auto Show and there were no Cadillac Ciels for me to sit in. How have they not started building these damn cars?

4. It’s hearse, not hearst. How did you get through this post without calling, texting, and/or visiting me personally to tell me what a horrible mistake I made?

It’s Not a Moh-tah

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

This title should be read in a deep Arnold Schwarzenegger voice with the cadence of “It’s not a too-mah.” (Well, it’s funny to me.)

Recently my partition stopped working (the solid privacy shade that separates me from my passengers) and I’ve been running around the greater Seattle area trying to find someone who is even willing to look at it, let alone fix it. My regular body shop doesn’t do after-market electrical work, and the several other places I called weren’t interested in messing with it either.

I took it to Car Toys over the weekend, and they said it wasn’t a power issue and I would probably have to replace the motor. The friend I was with offered to look at it if it were a brush motor, but of course it was something more complicated. Making matters worse, there was no brand or descriptive text written on it so I couldn’t start the task of tracking down the part.

One of my awesome facebook fans recommended Brody’s in Lynnwood, so I trucked it up there taking 99 the whole way, which was sort of interesting. They were really nice there, and they seem to have more business than they could handle. They couldn’t take the motor out right then and there (and I learned later that was actually a good thing), so I made an appointment to have that done next month and continued on my merry way.

Since I went to work late that day, I had told my boss and some other folks in passing what I was doing. So of course it was anticlimactic and a little embarrassing when everyone asked me if I got the motor fixed and I had to tell them I couldn’t even get someone to take it out. My boss suggested I ask one of the engineers I work with. He spends half the day on the phone looking for parts, and he’s very much into electronics, so it was a sensible suggestion. I didn’t want to put him out, but when I asked he seemed intersted in the challenge. He told me to pull into the manufacturing area after 3:30 when most of the guys leave and he’d have a look at it.

The first thing he did was connect it to a power supply. I told him the people who have already looked at it said it wasn’t a power issue, and he replied, “I have very little faith in most people’s troubleshooting skills.”

It’s a fair and understandable statement. Plus, I didn’t watch anyone test the power, I just went by what they told me. I shouldn’t have done that, as it wasn’t entirely true. Connecting the power supply to the wires nearest the motor enabled my coworker to put the divider down, which was great, but then we still had to find the faulty connection between the motor and the switches. Even without that information though, we learned the problem wasn’t the motor. Removing and replacing it would have been time-consuming and expensive, so I’m glad my coworker took the time to manually power it to be sure and I wish the car shops had done the same. It literally took two minutes.

He then removed the switch box. No loose connections there. Tracing back the wires got kind of tricky, and we ended up having to pull back a good portion of the carpet, where he found a poorly grounded connection. Depending on the rattle and hum of the car at any given moment, a loose screw could break the circuitry or close it again, which explains why the divider was going up and down sometimes but not others. He reconnected the wiring and it works now, but I may need to revisit this issue again and find something to stabilize that screw.

At any rate, I learned a lot that day. I learned a little more about my car’s electrical wiring, the aptitude of my continuously kind and talented coworkers, and the places I should avoid taking my car. I’m not surprised the average body shop wouldn’t take on this project, but it’s pretty crazy that somewhere like Car Toys, who specializes in electronics couldn’t be bothered to troubleshoot a wiring issue. Oh well, I’m just happy it’s fixed, and Barbie will live to drive another day.

Detached switch box:

Wires under the carpet:

BDH after hours on the manufacturing floor:

Auto Service that Doesn’t Suck

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

Posted in Yelp: Ever since I bought my ’92 Cadillac Brougham hearse, doing mechanical maintenance has been a nightmare, expensive at best. I definitely signed up for some of it, but an oil change should be no sweat, right? I don’t normally sit around writing Yelp reviews, but I was in and out of the downtown Jiffy Lube so fast, I thought this would be a nice way to spend some of the saved time.

Usually places that don’t take appointments are packed by 9:00, so I came armed with a laptop and plenty of reading material, expecting to spend a good chunk of my day there. There was virtually no wait when I arrived on a sunny Friday morning. The waiting room was clean and comfortable, although I didn’t spend much time in it.

They changed my oil, refilled my windshield cleaner fluid, put air in my tires, washed my windows, replaced a gasket, and even vacuumed my car. It may seem like a small thing, but when you drive a giant custom car with lots of floor space in the back, it’s really nice to get a break from having to vacuum it yourself!

In addition to the quick, thorough service and convenient location, I also appreciated the professionalism of the staff. The way they’re set up is such that the customer can view everything the representative is typing on the computer, so you can see exactly what you are (or aren’t) being charged for. They alerted me to routine maintenance that should be done in about 7,000 miles or so, but didn’t pressure me into having any extra services done that day, which was a refreshing change.

I didn’t have any coupons and they didn’t have any specials running, so I paid about $45. True, there are cheaper places in town. But for me, it would mean driving further from home, a longer wait, and questionable service. I’m glad I gave this place a shot. I was pleasantly surprised!

Friday Roundup

Friday, March 18th, 2011

It’s a busy day in Barbieland. After a short drive to the Olympic Fairmont downtown, I tumbled down Jefferson Street to pay my tabs (and my tickets) and order my new personalized plates. Yes, I’m taking the plunge. After a year of indecision, I decided just about anything is better than blah-blah-blah-numbers followed by blah-blah-blah-letters. Shall I spoil the surprise? REALGRL. Go ahead, ask me about Lars.

And yes, I said tickets. Actually, it was just one ticket incurred almost right after I drove the hearse to Seattle and started my business. I parked on First Ave between 3 and 6pm, not noticing the sign amidst the 800 other signs gracing the central portion of the street. And then I put it off because I hate the idea of paying to take up space (which is why I don’t pay cover at clubs). But after a year of rolling up to dozens of parkways and loading zones and camping out for several hours (example forthcoming), 67 bucks is a deal. I really hope I didn’t just jinx myself.

I’ve also been meeting various home repair people lately, and it seems like experience with auto repair is a common precursor to fixing porcelain and plumbing. I don’t usually mention the hearse unless someone asks what I do, but since I tend to be home five days a week, just about everyone asks what I do.

This afternoon I did a brief photoshoot with Chris and his buddy Frogfrog. Chris created a website for Frogfrog, chronicling their adventures around the world. This kid-friendly site includes a “ribbitting” dragging cursor… don’t say I didn’t warn you!

The complete set of pictures is in my web album. Here’s a shot of Frogfrog enjoying the first-class service you would expect to receive in Seattle’s only girlie limo-hearse:

For the two or three of you who read this site but don’t follow me on facebook, I was at the Girl Talk show earlier this week. In addition to taking shitty pictures of the car out front and even shittier pictures of the stage, I wrote a good review of the show. Well, it’s good if you consider the fact I was writing it at 1am, and it’s good in that I enjoyed the show. I managed to drum up some business, dance like my inner raver-kid, and not get towed. Talk about a good night!

If you haven’t heard Girl Talk’s new album, All Day, stop reading this and go get it now! It’s on heavy rotation in the BDH and has something for everyone. Depending on your aural processing abilities, you may want to listen to this in installments.

Lastly, in honor of Barbie’s birthday earlier this month someone posted the age-old graphic of absurd proportions for us to enjoy. As I’ve said before, I can appreciate that Barbie is a toy, and we must suspend our level of disbelief to play in the fantasy world Mattel so generously bestowed upon us. However, due to Barbie’s momentous popularity, the tall, blond image has been ingrained in our minds as being synonymous with beautiful. For shame, America! In my opinion, a fat barbie is not the answer. There’s so much more than fat and thin at play here. For instance, how about a life-sized doll with bangs and a mouth that opens? You don’t have to sacrifice sexiness to get your point across. Besides, HAPPY 2B ME was too long for a Washington state license place.

Santa Barbie!

Friday, January 7th, 2011

Or, if you prefer, Barbie New Year!

The holiday season was full of magic and wonder, and the Barbie Dream Hearse was full of elves and party-goers celebrating Christmas and NYE. Driving the Sugarplum Elves was a great way to enjoy yet another Santacon, this time from the comfort of my living room on wheels. I dressed up as a santa girl, and all the elves were adorable. I took some fantastic dark, out-of-focus pictures on my Sidebrick, which is now probably sitting at the bottom of a lake because no pawn shop would take it. RIP, old phone. We will always remember the good times.

For Christmas, my website got a new navigation bar. Big thanks to Greg at Live Dog Productions for making my site more user-friendly while staying true to my logo and theme. If you’re reading this post on Facebook and haven’t taken a look yet, go now!

For New Year’s, I received a hand-me-down Crackberry to answer your calls and emails. Now I can officially call myself a busy business lady whose life is missing something but she doesn’t realize it because she’s so busy with business. Take the internet, for example. It’s serious business.

For Betweenodays*, I finally fixed the iPod connector on my jack-of-all-trades head unit. Although my taste in music is so excellent that you shouldn’t even want to play your iPod through my stereo, you are of course more than welcome to, especially now that it’s plug-and-play.

For January Afterburn*, I installed my fancy new(ish) air filter and got my oil changed. Econo Lube is now one of my favorite places in Everett, alongside Sam’s Gun Shop, Northway Aviation, and Water Tectonics. The guys there were friendly and knowledgeable, and (this is key) they were actually ready to do the work at the time of my scheduled appointment. I know this is a real shocker, but no matter how pretty you or your car may be, if a shop is busy, you have to wait.

So far, Barbie is rolling through the beginning of 2011 looking as fine as the day she arrived in Emerald City. Here’s to another year of wild rides!

*These are days I made up and probably don’t warrant gifts or celebrations from anyone’s perspective but mine, but I’m still pretty stoked.

Big Barbie Birthday

Monday, December 13th, 2010

Yes, Seattle’s favorite girlie hearse-haulin’ heifer has hit the big three-oh-no-it’s-really-not-so-bad. I still can’t believe how hard everyone rallied on a Tuesday. We even had the cops show up! But unlike my younger years, it wasn’t to say, “Shut down the PA. Everyone leave,” instead it was to hold up traffic on Pike Street just to say, “Your car is really awesome!” Multiple times!

I parked the BDH in what has become my signature spot-that-isn’t a spot in front of the Comet and handed out some new Barbie stuff, which I’ll have up on the site shortly. It was really great to see everyone, and enjoy a special birthday set from Sounds in Your Sleep.

Big shout out to Josh, who helped make my birthday special even from way down in Dallas. Southern boys clearly know what bitches like:

Now if only I could get someone to install the thing.

The Resurrection

Friday, October 29th, 2010

Last night I was back at Haunted Nightmare in Bothell for more screamy mayhem. I had already been through the haunted house the week before, and it was really, really scary. It was so scary, in fact, that I’m okay with admitting that I couldn’t handle a second helping. It’s a true compliment to the actors, who all did a great job of freaking out a girl who drives a car that’s supposedly full of ghosts.

The outside activities with other vendors proved to be much tamer. I managed to snap a photo of two lovely vampires before they tried to suck my blood:

Then I popped in one of my new DVDs and enjoyed some quality time in the back of Barbie while greeting passersby. I also turned on the undercarriage lights. And the LED strips in the back. And I was charging my phone. And my headlights were on.

A couple of hours later, I got a call from a friend in town for ZomBcon, so I decided to head over to Seattle Center to say hey. I hung up the phone, made a big production of announcing my departure, put the key in the ignition, and—And then NOTHING! Because my car wouldn’t start!

Like a total rube, I had drained my battery. Knowing I’d be running a bunch of electronics at once, I bought an Optima deep-cycle battery, so I was surprised it ran out so quickly. As I watched several of the living dead hit it with the jumper cables, I made a mental note to run the engine at least every hour when I’m hanging out.

Jody, the organizer of Haunted Night, commented on how funny it was for a hearse to die on the premises. Still worried about my battery, I much later realized the haunted house is inside an unused room at Planet Jump, a mini-mecca of inflatable bouncy houses. There’s so much in a name… this time, too much!

A trip to Midas after my regular stop at the Seattle Center Elephant Car Wash confirmed the battery was low, but nearly charged since I’d been running the engine so diligently henceforth. Another happy Halloween ending to what I hope will be my scariest true story about this coming holiday weekend.

Happy Birthday, BDH!

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

It has been exactly one year since the Barbie Dream Hearse began her transformation from a plain old funeral coach to heavenly cute girlie taxi. I decided to celebrate with a much-needed bath (for both of us!), a lightning speed photoshoot, and a trip to Norwescon, a scifi/fantasy convention.

The day went as planned… sort of. Someone must have told the sinister weather gods I was planning to wash my car. Just as I finished making plans to meet my friend Josef at the car wash, the rain began rolling through. We opted to meet at Top Pot Doughnuts instead, where we watched camera crews from the Food Network battle the weather, disruptive parked cars, and ugly patrons to capture the perfect 20 seconds of scene-setting footage for the TV show, Chef Vs. City.

After chugging 20 ounces of coffee, I decided it was time to make my own magic and clean my car. Although Pink Elephant down the street will do something to your car for reasonable price, I opted to haul it out to the DIY Brown Bear. My two favorite chores in the world are walking the dog and washing the car. My dog is in Austin, so I’ve got plenty of steam to spare.

There’s something about covering every square inch of my largest, most prized possession that requires my full attention and permits me to shut out the rest of the world for all the precious time my quarters can provide. I think washing your car should be fun. If it’s not, get a new car.

Yes, this car wash picture finds me fully clothed and makeup-free. Winter in Seattle lasts until at least May, so if you’re holding your breath for something more “traditional,” I suggest you exhale and wait a couple more months.

After washing my car and cursing at the drizzling clouds all the way home, I loaded up on mid-afternoon snacks and makeup and drove out to Volunteer Park for a quick photoshoot with Josef. The overcast sky forced me to rush through a blitzkrieg of poses all around the car until resistance was futile and the expected showers began once more.

Here’s another whoop, painstakingly paint-shooped:

For the amount of time we had, there are a large number of photos, which I’ll be combing over and hopefully adding to in the near future. (Big thanks to Josef for making the effort to come out and shoot me. Many are willing, few manage to take the plunge!)

As the rain died down (of course), I cruised through Capitol Hill and headed down south to collect a couple for an impromptu date at Norwescon. He was dressed for the Zombie Walk, she was in it for nostalgia’s sake, and I heard there was a poker tournament.

So, decked out in a skull-covered party dress, I played cards with a bunch of people dressed like zombies and scifi characters. This was by no means a serious game, but all the fake blood might have outsiders believing otherwise.

What began as a good-spirited effort to promote the Barbie Dream Hearse ended with me placing second in the satellite game and moving on to the big tournament Saturday. I mentioned the car at the table, but no one seemed interested in discussing cars so I dropped it. I don’t see the point in becoming one of those LOOK-AT-ME-I’M-SO-UNIQUE-WHY-AREN’T-YOU-RUBBING-ONE-OUT-AT-THE-MERE-THOUGHT-OF-ME-GODDAMMIT people, since the result would probably be the same. I think my car is pretty awesome, but everyone’s got their tastes. Check it out or don’t, whatever.

Thanks to everyone who wished her a happy birthday, though. I appreciate all the support and positive wishes while I dealt with the ups and downs of this crazy project, and I’m looking forward to many more fun-filled years going wherever this morbid party bus takes me!