Category Archives: 50+

Why Car Sensors Make Me Jumpy

When I bought my car, it was with the intention of finding a new vehicle that wouldn’t be any trouble for my last couple of years of working and commuting.

My previous car was 7 years old, with just over 100,000 km on the odometer and starting to get to that point where it might need significant maintenance or even replacement. The problem is that with car issues, you’re never really sure when or where that will happen, often with little or no advance notice.

I didn’t want to be “that guy” stuck on the side of the highway, blocking traffic during rush hour traffic, annoying people and being on the receiving end of people showing me their middle fingers. For my own peace of mind, a newer car was the solution.

However, as much as I love the smooth ride and the peace of mind from knowing that the car is not likely to need fixing anytime soon, my car’s dashboard has seen the sight of my own middle finger (but not when I’m driving, of course).

The reason: the sensitive car sensors.

In the short time I have had the car, I have had the experience of several dashboard warning lights coming on, beeping loudly, to announce “issues”.

When a warning light comes on and beeps, I get an instant surge of adrenaline in my stomach and an “Oh crap!” refrain plays in my head. Until I can get the car to a safe stop, my mind starts to race: “What is it? Is it minor/major? Is it dangerous? Will I have to take time off work? How much will this cost me?”

I’m not a car mechanic nor a computer programmer, so the fear of the unknown can get pretty overwhelming.

To reclaim control, I routinely pull into the nearest parking lot and haul the car’s user manual out of the glove compartment to look up the interpretation. I have sometimes even resorted to Google when the book didn’t answer my question. And when that didn’t work, I have resorted to calling the dealer, sometimes resulting in a precautionary visit to check it out.

But this is the seriousness of my warnings so far:

One warning light was to tell me the radar wasn’t working properly, which actually turned out to mean that the windshield was dirty. The radar couldn’t see through the grimy window of the car, travelling in Ottawa in February, when road salt and winter dirt are at their peak.

Another loud warning came from a symbol to tell me that scheduled maintenance was coming up.

The tire pressure symbol that came on at a time when I was very busy. I bought a tire pressure monitor and noted a minute difference in pressure in one tire. A visit to the dealer dismissed it as a false alarm. Fortunately, that light hasn’t come back since.

For someone who has been prone to anxiety, these warnings have not been fully appreciated. They have made me jumpy. And this isn’t the first time.

With the car before, one warning was to tell me the gas cap wasn’t on properly, when in fact it was. It was just that the sensor had issues when outdoor temperatures were in the -20s or lower. I’m sorry, but that’s a typical winter day here.

Another occasion that had me running to the mechanic was the check engine light that came on and off at random intervals. The interpretation I was given from a diagnostics test was that it needed a software update because one line of code was out of date.

The bright side to car sensors is that friends and family have shared with me stories of legitimate warnings about actual problems, and their thankfulness for the advance warning from a sensor. I am grateful for them that they were able to deal with an issue when it was small and manageable, and therefore helpful for them to maintain their road safety.

I am sure one day I will be in the same position and greatly relieved that a sensor was there to warn me ahead of time of a more serious issue, something that older cars haven’t traditionally been able to do.

As much as I appreciate the peace of mind that a sensor can bring, I challenge car manufacturers to make the next generation of sensors and warning symbols a little smarter. Can we distinguish warnings as high priority/low priority? Can we turn off the scary beep for a low priority issue? Can we give a little more information on the panel? Can the car tell me clearly what is wrong rather than having me jump out of my skin and worrying about it?

It’s not in my nature to become Penny from “The Big Bang Theory” and drive around with a flashing check engine light. I take the warnings very seriously (as Sheldon did) and inevitably, I will look into it. I just wish the warnings didn’t scare the crap out of me every time.

Did you enjoy this post? If you haven’t already, please check out the rest of my blog at andrebegin.blog. From there, you can click on the “Follow” button to receive future posts directly in your inbox. Also, don’t be shy, feel free to tell a friend or to share the link.
Sincere thanks for reading!
Have a great day,
André

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Why Watching Paint Dry Can Be Fun

Much like most people, over the years, I have indeed used the expression “it’s like watching paint dry” to describe an event that might be considered boring. But based upon my recent experience, I might reconsider my use of the phrase. I just don’t agree with its accuracy anymore.

In this year’s round of spring cleaning and home projects, I decided to get some painting done.

As much as I love the whole ceremony of painting, in recent years, time and energy have been in short supply.

Plus, my body just doesn’t seem to respond well to weekend paint jobs without complaining in the days that follow. Between working muscles that don’t usually get used in that way and with arthritis starting to drop in unexpectedly, it was time for me to (reluctantly) look into hiring a painting company.

Upon finding a highly recommended team of painters, I decided to put their professional expertise to the best possible use. The first project was one set of walls I haven’t done since I moved in: the walls around the staircase.

I don’t know what the actual height of that area is but I do recall that the few times I tried to dust the lighting fixture or to try to grab the cobwebs in the corners, I felt like the Roadrunner’s archenemy, Wile E Coyote, trying device after device to extend my reach to get the job done.

When I was finally successful in completing the task, it was usually followed by a visit to the medicine cabinet for some internal and/or external approaches to pain relief.

I decided that for this paint job, the extent of my involvement would be to tidy up before, to remove my personal effects from the painting area, to set up the cat in another part of the house with food, water, litter and favourite toys, and then for me to sit and relax.

I admit that it felt like I was going against nature to be sitting, sipping coffee and clearing content off the PVR, while the painters were hard at work. I truly had to supress my natural impulses to pick up a brush and to help them.

But when the aroma of the ceiling paint starting wafting toward the living room, I knew I had made the right decision.

When they invited me to check in on the progress, my heart was pounding with joy to see the wall starting to get restored to its original beauty. That was when I knew I had made the right decision and that my investment in professional painters was money well spent.

A few hours later, it was time for the big reveal. I felt like I was on one of those HGTV shows, as all I could say was “Oh my God”, staring at the walls in disbelief, marveling at the beauty of their work.

When they had left, I parked myself on the top step of the staircase and sat there, literally, watching the paint dry.

As I breathed in the aroma of fresh paint and stared at the walls, I felt a range of emotions. Boredom was definitely not on the radar.

I felt a sense of accomplishment. The task which got consistently pushed down the to-do list over the years was finally done, even though I didn’t do it myself.

I felt amazement that the bumps and scuffs left behind by 33 years of home owners and renters were completely erased as the walls were restored to their unblemished beauty.

I felt gratitude in thinking that whenever I decide to put the house up for sale, this monstrous task won’t need to be done again.

I felt relief in thinking of the physical pain I spared myself by having a team of experienced painters (who probably know better how to avoid the strains I would have experienced) take care of the walls and ceilings in areas I could not easily reach.

I felt pure joy in seeing how one coat of “Cloud White” paint in one highly visible area makes the whole house look better and fresher.

After this wonderful experience, I also felt encouragement that I have found a painting company I can trust for future painting jobs.

While some people might think that watching paint dry might be boring, I think they need to look a little harder to find the joy, the satisfaction and the gratitude that comes with freshly painted walls.

Did you enjoy this post? If you haven’t already, please check out the rest of my blog at andrebegin.blog. From there, you can click on the “Follow” button to receive future posts directly in your inbox.
Also, don’t be shy, feel free to tell a friend or to share the link.
Sincere thanks for reading!
Have a great day,
André

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Goldilocks and the White Socks

Regular readers of my blog are probably familiar with my adventures in shopping that involve a lot of research, testing, comparison and disappointment that often sound like a story about Goldilocks.

When some products are too big, others are too small, and over the course of multiple shopping trips, I hope to find the one that is just right.

One such situation these days is my hunt for white socks. All I am looking for is plain, white, mostly cotton, athletic-style socks for very casual situations. Sounds simple, right?

For some reason, manufacturers and buyers for stores don’t seem to be on the same wave length. Plain white socks are hard to find.

For years I was able to find them here in Canada at a well-known store (that shall remain nameless). One day, I bought a pack of three pairs that left me with the impression that they had changed. The answer came a few washings later when the elastics completely gave out and the socks were falling repeatedly. This didn’t happen before. Someone must have changed the “recipe”.

I switched to another brand that was available at that time, which lasted a few years until they discontinued the men’s small size and carried only “one size fits all”. Continue reading

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When My Retirement and Writing Dreams Got More Vivid

In February, there were two news items that hit the airwaves that made me feel goose bumps all over:

On February 19, 2019, it was the headline “Netflix to Open Dedicated Production Hub” followed closely on February 28, 2019, with the article “And, action! Filmmaking complex gets go-ahead”.

Regular readers and close friends know that my big plan for retirement is to write. The form of writing I might consider has yet to be determined. But I am convinced that once I have developed a few of my story ideas into outlines and then into drafts, the most appropriate format might become self-evident.

But if I listen to my gut now, something tells me it might be more along the lines of television, plays or movies, more than novels, just given the time I have spent studying television, as opposed to just watching it.

Plus I have always been fascinated by the process of making stories come to life in the television or cinematic medium, to the point of volunteering for my local community television station 20 years ago, and staying with it for 3 years.

Working in a creative medium with other like-minded people was an experience I will always fondly remember. At that point in my life, I didn’t realize the extent to which I was missing a creative component. When I found community TV, things really came together. Continue reading

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Filed under 50+, Inspiring, TV, Writing

Which Book to Read Next?

Over the last couple of years, I have been making time to enjoy one of life’s sweet yet simple pleasures: I have reconnected with my love for books.

Where I used to reserve books for bedtime reading, I have since rejigged my schedule to allow time in the morning to slowly sip my coffee, to listen to some relaxing music, to read for a bit and to gently ease into my day.

After decades of going from 0 to 60, hitting the ground running as soon as my feet swung out of bed and hit the floor, this new routine has become a welcome and preferred approach to start the day off right.

It offers me the time to slowly wake up, to breathe and to reconnect with my positive energy. It seems to gently nudge the brainwaves into action rather than a speedy immersion into worrying about what the day ahead holds.

In making reading part of my morning routine, rather than taking six months to finish a book, I have been averaging one book per month, although I have impressed myself by finishing some in a matter of days when I just couldn’t put them down.

In the last couple of years, I have filled my mind, my heart and my soul with fascinating biographies, I have read some classics that I missed, I have explored some books on personal growth and new ways of thinking, and I have devoured books that will help me grow as a writer and as an artist. Continue reading

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My Progressive Journey Toward Progressive Lenses

Eye GlassesAs someone who has been wearing glasses since grade 10, it was no shock to hear over the years that at some point in time, I might need progressives or bifocals.

What was more difficult was admitting when that point in time was here. I knew it was time when my arms were officially not long enough to hold something at the right distance to read it. And unfortunately, getting longer arms was not the answer.

Technically, I do not need glasses to see things at close range, but I do need them for distance. The smaller, rectangular framed glasses I wore for years allowed me to get the correction I needed for distances, as well as the freedom to look below the frame to see things at close range. From that perspective, everything was pretty sharp.

But as styles changed and I chose larger framed glasses, I couldn’t peek under the frame anymore. I was seeing things at close range through corrective lenses, which made close items blurry. The solution was to hold the item away from me. Continue reading

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The Hunt for the Perfect Reading Light

During a recent power outage, as much as I was counting on getting a few things accomplished that night, I had to put my plans on the shelf because they all depended on electricity.

An attempt at cleaning the house in the dark became a time consuming exercise with the added step of redirecting the flashlight at different angles to keep checking to see if I hit the right spots. True enough, I had all the time in the world, but the brewing frustration wasn’t worth it.

I instantly saw the bright side, so to speak, in deciding that this would be a perfect opportunity to catch up on my reading. With stacks of books that awaited, I relished the thought of an evening in quiet serenity, enjoying a good read.

I went to the basement and pulled out my lantern-style LED flashlight. I poured myself a glass of wine and along the way, I picked up the book I was reading at the time.

When I found my comfy spot in the living room for Ivy the Wonder Cat and me to chill out, I put my glass down next to me, I set up the lantern and opened my book.

One minute later, I moved my lantern to a different spot because I couldn’t see half of the page, as my shoulder was causing a shadow. One minute after that, I moved the lantern again, this time a little closer, to give the light more intensity because the light was too weak to comfortably illuminate my page. Continue reading

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