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1:21 pm EST        37°F (3°C) in Dearborn, MI

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I am waiting on the last of my laundry to finish up before I head back out to the road. I suspect I will be out for pretty close to four weeks; I need to be home next right after the Super Bowl.

Last Thursday, I spent much of the day in Ann Arbor. After my two regular appointments in the morning, I went to the Saturn dealership across Ann Arbor from there to have my car checked out. They suggested well over $1,400 worth of work, the vast majority of which was either (a) a rip-off or (b) unnecessary, and I ended up having them only do $350 of it: a new valve cover gasket and a coolant flush and fill. The following day, on Friday, I went to the same Midas that had checked the car out in December, and had them do the wheel cylinders for the rear drum brakes and a brake-fluid flush and fill for $195. Next up will be the front struts (I can tell the left front one is shot), four tires, and possibly some nice 16” alloy wheels instead of the cheap-o 15” steel ones with plastic wheel covers I have now. (Yes, I already know about the size change, I’m looking at P215/50R16 instead of the current P185/65R15.)

Friday night, it was back to Ann Arbor to play some NCAA Football 2005 on Marc’s Xbox. (He has the older model Xbox, not the Xbox 360.) I completely sucked as Wisconsin hosting Iowa, but then managed to play Marc (North Texas) pretty close (I was the Texas Longhorns), before playing against the computer in what became the greatest game ever played on Marc’s Xbox.

I decided to re-create the Tostitos™ Fiesta Bowl from a little over a week ago: Ohio State and Notre Dame. The only thing I really changed from the actual game last week is that I put Notre Dame in their special “lucky” green jerseys that they only seem to wear once every few years. I let the Irish get out to a 21-0 lead early in the third quarter before I settled down and really started trying to run the football. Eventually, I scored the go-ahead touchdown to make it 28-21 Ohio State with less than 20 seconds to go, capping off one hell of a comeback.

A few plays later, Notre Dame came up to a second-and-10 at its own 17-yard-line with :02 to play. All I had to do was prevent them from scoring a touchdown, and the game would be over, right? You can probably guess what happened: an 83-yard Hail Mary strike and the point-after tied the game at 28, causing overtime. I won the coin toss, and as anybody with any brains would do, I chose to go on defense first; the Irish tried and missed a 43-yard field goal on their possession. I could have just run the ball up the middle three times and set up All-American kicker Mike Nugent to win it with a field goal, but I figured I would take some shots at the end zone first; eventually, I hit Santonio Holmes with a touchdown strike to win the game 34-28. When I hit “quit game,” the system announced that I had played the #1 greatest game of all time.

I ended up using a couple Target store gift cards to buy Madden NFL 2005 for this computer, and last night, I finally completed my first game, using the Minnesota Vikings to destroy the Detroit Lions, 58-10. As you might have guessed if you have played against the Lions in that game, Joey Harrington sucks, and you can throw practically at will all day long on the Lions’ secondary. These games sure are getting close to mirroring real life, aren’t they? wink In addition to Madden NFL 2005, I picked up Detroit Free Press columnist Mitch Albom’s two books, Tuesdays with Morrie and The Five People You Meet in Heaven.

Well, it’s back off to my (fixed) truck to head out to the road.