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4:31 pm EDT        64°F (18°C) in Dearborn, MI

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Since getting back home on Monday, I’ve gotten quite a bit accomplished in my time off. For the most part, I just ran a few shopping errands on Monday and Tuesday, stocking up on those items I need to carry with me on the road; but I also had to make a trip down to the nearest Saturn dealership to purchase a part for my car. (More on that shortly.) Both Wednesday and yesterday saw some moderately long trips throughout southeastern Michigan.

On my last time off, I noticed that whenever I went to start my car or when I hit a sufficiently large bump in the road, I would hear a clunking sound coming from underneath the car. A bit of investigation led me to find that the exhaust hanger strap that wraps all the way around the muffler had broken, and a section of the piping in front of the muffler was clunking against a frame cross-member. It looked like an easy enough fix to attempt on my own, so I went to the dealership and bought the part for $32 on Tuesday. Yesterday, I finally got around to actually doing the repair; it wasn’t particularly easy to attach the new strap to the frame hanger, but after a while, I had that part figured out. Just as I was hoping to finish the job off, I noticed that the dealer’s parts department had failed to include a nut necessary to complete the job with the strap kit; at that point, I had to let the car down off the jack, drive it to the Home Depot with the old strap in hand to find the right size of nut, and spend all of 34¢ on one 8-mm nut. From there, all I needed to do was have my father hold the muffler up while I put the two ends of the strap together and then tightened the nut to secure the muffler.

On Wednesday, I had my court date for the speeding ticket I picked up on July 7. I had sent a letter to the court when I returned my ticket, asking if there was any possibility of a plea agreement which would result in a lesser charge being entered on my record. One of the assistant prosecutors proceeded to outline the deal they were willing to offer me: either I could attend a one-night, four-hour “driving school” and get the charge reduced to impeding traffic, or I could get the speeding charge reduced from 65 mph in a 55 mph zone to 60 mph. However, since I got the ticket on Interstate 94, instead of on a county-maintained road, the reduced speeding charge was still going to put two points on my license and cost me big bucks on auto insurance for a few years. (Apparently under Michigan law, five over the limit is zero points unless the violation occurred on a state highway.) Either way, I was going to have to pay the $210 fine for the speeding (yes, it’s fucking asinine that the fines for moving violations in trucks are DOUBLE those for cars), so I took the driving school deal.

In any case, I get to do that driving school on October 19, and then I have to make one more appearance at the Jackson County Courthouse on November 10, ostensibly to prove that I did in fact complete the driving school. Once that is complete, the offense will be reduced to impeding traffic, which won’t end up costing me anything on insurance; since state law mandates that impeding traffic is a zero-point violation, Jackson County doesn’t even bother reporting impeding- traffic citations to the Secretary of State. This will mean that nothing goes on my motor vehicle record, and my auto insurance company will never be the wiser.

Finally, after my pair of appointments yesterday morning in Ann Arbor, I decided to pay a visit to the new campus of Detroit Catholic Central High School, from which I graduated seven years ago. Compared to the converted middle-school building in which I attended CC, the new campus is a vast improvement on many fronts: most everything from the gymnasium to the Media Center to the chapel to the science lab rooms is bigger; each faculty member now has a dedicated classroom completely to him/herself, instead of having to swap rooms as many as three times a day; and the outdoor athletic facilities, of which we had basically none at the old campus, are top-notch. CC may be one of the few high schools that actually plays at least its football and soccer games on the synthetic surface FieldTurf, which is used at many NFL stadiums like the Detroit Lions’ Ford Field, and also at Michigan Stadium. I also got a chance to visit with a handful of faculty members who I had as teachers back in the day, as well as one of my 1998 classmates who is now a second-year math teacher at the school.

Later tonight, I’ll be heading back out to the truck, and taking that toward Ann Arbor to park overnight. I have a ticket to Michigan’s football game tomorrow against Eastern Michigan, courtesy of Marc, so I’ll be attending that before actually heading out for a load. I don’t have a trailer at the moment, though, so I’ll have to get dispatch to track one down for me.