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5:30 am EST        27°F (–3°C) in South Rockwood, MI

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I am just over ten hours away from starting my first full week of work in the new year, and I figured I should stop in to bring my readers up to date on what has been going on for the last two weeks. Chronologically, the first big event was two days after my most recent update, on December 21: my sister’s graduation from the University of Michigan Law School. I went out to Ann Arbor to attend that, and also joined several family members for a reception and a rather expensive steak-house dinner. (It set my father back $360 for seven people.)

Later that same night, I had a few large items to run through the laundromat, so I went to the only 24-hour one I know, Mr. Stadium in Ann Arbor. By the time that was done, Marc was getting off work, so I stopped in at his place for poker, pizza, and resetting my car’s “Check Engine” light with his OBD-II scan tool. That had come on the previous night (Thursday, December 20) as I got home from work; in any event, we found out what code it was throwing and erased it, and it hasn’t come back yet.

(A later check of Hyundai’s service website,, revealed that the code in question — P0110, or “Intake Air Temperature Sensor Circuit Malfunction” — can be caused on about half of Hyundai’s entire vehicle lineup by buggy engine management software. Hyundai issued a Technical Service Bulletin to that effect in mid-November, saying that if the IAT sensor tests fine, the car needs updated software for the engine control module (ECM). I plan to take it in next Monday morning to have that done, as well as have a few annoying rattles investigated and fixed.)

We had a small, immediate-family gathering at my parents’ place on Christmas Eve, mostly for dinner and gift exchanging. I got all gift cards and cash — functional and useful, but not particularly interesting, I guess you can say. I think I was the one who showed the inventiveness: since my father seems to have an obsession with the marathon TV showings of the 1983 film A Christmas Story, I bought him a replica of the leg lamp from that movie. I even downloaded a PDF file that read “Major Award,” just as the lamp was called in the movie, and almost wrote it out to “The Old Man” as Ralphie’s father is referred to in the film, but instead I put my father’s name on it.

For some reason — I suspect food poisoning from three-day-old leftover potatoes from the steak house that I ate late Christmas Eve night — I fell ill most of Christmas Day, and had to cut a planned visit to my aunt’s house in the small Ingham County town of Stockbridge, MI. With nausea and diarrhea, I couldn’t really do much that day, so I slept way in and really got nothing accomplished. Thankfully, that only lasted maybe 36 hours, and it was gone entirely by last Thursday. What remained of my work week from there was mostly uneventful, though I did get to do a couple of loads I had never done before — like carrying two different products on the same trailer at the same time. (Usually, we deal in full loads of just one product at a time.)

Yesterday, I had to get up earlier than I normally would in order to watch the Capital One Bowl. Despite four turnovers, two of which almost certainly took 14 points off the board, Michigan held on to win 41-35 over Florida in Lloyd Carr’s final game as head coach. For all the shit I’ve given Lloyd here in the past, much of it well-deserved, I have to say I feel like he also deserved to go out with a victory, and I’m glad he got it. The results on the field have too often been disappointing, and hopefully Rich Rodriguez will fix that, but Lloyd kept the program free from even a hint of scandal for 13 years. Furthermore, Lloyd has been a great positive force for the Ann Arbor community, often flying completely under the radar with events such as the yearly “Carr’s Wash For Kids” for C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. Let’s just say that if Rich Rodriguez can combine Lloyd’s great community work and integrity with a few more wins per season, I’ll be giddy.

And finally, this quick note: my apartment is now Al Gore-approved. I had a light bulb burn out in my dining area the other night, and for lack of a 60-watt incandescent bulb to replace it, I had to use a 40-watt bathroom bulb I happened to have sitting around. This burn-out proved to be the impetus to change roughly half of the light bulbs in my apartment — the ones that are most commonly used for more than 10 minutes at a time — with compact fluorescent bulbs. For the most part, these are 60W-equivalent bulbs in ceiling fixtures, but I also got a few 100W-equivalent bulbs for use in two floor lamps I have in my living room.

I’ll try to be back in a few days, perhaps with a question on which I am seeking some advice.