Tuesday, May 17, 2011

My Adventures with the Violin & Car Buying - An Update

So Saturday, May 14th was my 27th Birthday, and my gift from my ladyfriend made me realize (after I finished marveling in the detail) that I haven't posted anything about my adventures in the violin in a while.

But before that -- marvel in the detail (I think if you click the photo you should get the larger version) but this foot-tall violin playing robot is constructed entirely out of paper and has operating joints -- the violin is equipped with strings, tuning pegs and even actual F-holes cut through the top of the hollow violin. The torso has rivets along the front seam and a jet pack on his back... needless to say I'm impressed -- the more I stare at it the more subtle little details I notice.

Now as for my violin playing... my recent spate of near-incessant travel (seriously-- instead of blogging I should probably pack for my trip to Chicago tomorrow right now) has certainly not helped... I feel like I've basically been treading water since the end of March. But at least I'm not slipping backwards, and my teacher has been very understanding. Awhile ago I moved on to Suzuki Book Two and have been feeling generally pretty good about my progress. The piece that I've been stuck on for essentially the past month (but really only about 2 weeks once all of the travel is excluded) bothers me -- I feel like I'm making The Two Grenadiers more difficult for myself than it needs to be... playing some of the notation still doesn't feel quite right and I think my tempo is rather random, add in some wandering intonation and you have a recipe for frustration.

Needless to day, the professionals make it look much easier than it actually is. On that note, my ladyfriend and I were talking about future paper musicians-- we're thinking a paper Cleveland Orchestra may be a bit overwhelming (not to mention require a bit more space than I have!) but a quintet or septet may make for a nice grouping -- any votes for the next instrument to be represented? :)

Car Shopping
My travel hasn't allowed much time for real car shopping -- and I'll freely admit that in the free time I've had it hasn't been at the top of my list. Picking my dad up from the airport, though, an new urgency was imparted with "Has it always made that noise?" "Shouldn't you be concerned by that noise?" and similar questions forming the foundation of my dad's conversation.

I think, stylistically, I've narrowed it down to a Honda product, if for no other reason than Motorcars Honda is only about a five-minute walk from my home. Some of my early front-runners (the Subaru Outback in particular) got dropped both due to cost and EPA mileage estimates. Toyota was an early casualty on aesthetic grounds -- no matter how hard I tried I couldn't (and still can't) get myself excited about driving any of their models.

While I find myself attracted to the styling of more than a handful of hatchbacks (the previously-listed Subaru Outback, and from Honda the Accord Crosstour, CR-Z, and the Insight) I realize my vehicle-ownership style is probably a poor fit for a hatchback. I keep tools for work in my trunk the vast majority of the time -- out of sight and out of mind for anyone who might be thinking about breaking in -- a hatchback essentially leaves those out in the open.

Though my dad tried to to talk me into "big engine" V6 (instead of an inline 4 for what? To sacrifice fuel economy on my daily 16-mile round trip surface-street commute for a bit more power on the monthly-or-so long-distance freeway drive? Remember, I'm driving what is essentially a Ford Escort now) I've resisted that temptation.

All that said, I think I'm leaning toward the Accord Coupe LX-S in Belize Blue Pearl with an automatic transmission, MSRP $24,330. I'd like power seats, and despite my normal protestations against leather, I like the black leather interior... but to get power seats or leather you have to jump to the EX-L trim line, and with a $3,500 jump in MSRP I don't think it's worth it. Plus we go from That's a lot of money and I'm not really comfortable, but... ballpark* $25,000 -- $28,000 pushes me into the OMG! Have I lost my mind? Panic! ballpark.

Oh, and by the way my car -- with 182,000 miles -- has no trade in value whatsoever. I'm not surprised. But it still kind of hurts.

The two things that are left are figuring out the total cost of ownership, in this case, particularly, what it will do to my auto insurance rates, and monthly payment.

For the first, Allstate is making that difficult to figure out and I'm tempted to give Progressive a whirl since they are headquartered right across the street** from my office and see if they come up with anything competitive.

For the second, I had hoped to avoid the whole buy-a-car-thing until I had finished repaying my dad the money he lent me for the down payment on my house-- I'm really trying to avoid increasing the amount of my pay check each month that is pre-committed (mortgage+utilities+insurance+taxes), but if I cut my monthly payments to my dad--with his blessing--and make a substantial down payment, I think it can work.

But the prospect of debt scares the bejesus out of me. Aside from my mortgage (and parental loan) I have none, and I'd prefer to keep it that way. But I know I can't, realistically. Ugh. Plus the really great 2.9% financing offer that Honda is running on the Accord family ends on May 31st. I don't think I'm going to be in any position to actually buy a car by the 31st, but I'm afraid of what will happen after that -- some of the rates I surveyed from banks over the weekend are nearly double that.

I want to have my cake and eat it too. Sometimes I hate being an adult.


*- I know it's MSRP and no one pays MSRP, but psychologically...
**- If you include "Interstate 271" in the definition of "street". But, hey, they do lease space in our building for storage.

1 comment:

  1. He's cute - just like you :)

    Good luck with the car - things have a way of working out,