New things

Spring is a time for the new, and this first week of spring brought many new things to me.

Friday, we went downtown and bought our tickets for the second Thunderdome nostalgia party (here’s a link for you Facebookers). That’s not new, but I’m counting it as a renewal, so there.

After we collected the tickets, we went to Fossil so I could buy a new money clip. I likes the one I had, which did not fold but kept my cards and money in a slim package. The clip on that one had given out, though, so it needed to be replaced. Fossil is the only brick-and-mortar place I found these things being sold. I normally don’t mind shopping online but I like to handle or try out items of comfort in person.

Fossil didn’t have exactly what I wanted, which was a money clip whose clip had a low profile. I had to choose between a bifold with a low profile clip on the outside or a money clip with a high profile. I went with the bifold. It feels a bit large in my pocket but I hope it will compress with time.

New wallet in pocket, we headed to Laval to fetch the new car. It’s a copper red Mazda 3 Sport GS (Americans, that means a mid-trim hatchback) and I love it. It was dark, so I got to try out my optional high-intensity discharge (HID; Mazda calls them Bi-Xenon) headlights. Yowsa! And the Bluetooth audio connection to my iPod touch is about as good as one of those flying cars the 1960s promised us.

I love the way it drives. The manual transmission is smooth and forgiving, although the clutch may be a bit too precise. Best of all was out salesman, a young natively bilingual guy from the boonies named Alexander Mosseau. If anyone is interested in a Mazda, ask for him at Mazda de Laval. It’s worth the drive.

After deciding on a Mazda a few months ago, I sent an e-mail to the following dealerships: Bourassa Mazda; Brossard Mazda; Longueuil Mazda; Mazda Chateauguay; Mazda Fairview; Mazda Gabriel; Mazda de Laval; and Spinelli Mazda. Alexander at Mazda de Laval was the first to respond, Chateauguay was second by a few minutes, and Fairview was third a few days later. Even though we chose Alexander on the basis of his quickness, I can’t imagine a better choice.

The main fault of Mazdas is a tendency to rust, and dealer rustproofing means a check-up every six months to maintain the warranty. I prefer the standard yearly inspection and application offered by third parties. I’m down to two choices and I’m wondering if anyone has advice. Nelson Garage applies the popular Krown treatment, which is drippy and annual – and they drill holes in your car. It costs $110. My second option is Barry’s Rustproofing, which uses a thicker, non-dripping grease. It will cost $400 initially and then a less expensive underbody treatment every three years. I’ve heard good and bad about both treatments. Do you have any tales to share?

Great white shark teeth from AutoXpressions
My next consideration is the teeth. The 2011 Mazda 3 has a huge front grill. It looks like a giant smile. What good is a huge smile, I thought, without teeth? AutoXpressions in California makes teeth for Mazda MX-5 Miatas. I contacted them and asked if they would make anything for the 2001 Mazda 3. They weren’t sure, but they offered to ship me a set of teeth for free. If they fit my Nibbler (the new car’s name), we could pay them; if not, no charge. I’m going to try to fit the teeth (seen on a MX-5 in that tiny graphic) using masking tape as soon as it warms up. We’ll see. People are divided on the teeth. They either love them (Children Two and Three) or hate them (my JOUR 528 students this year, who say they look douchy).

That wasn’t all the new things we got Friday night. Saturday morning, Elvi went to look at January the chinchilla. January has occasional tooth spurs that need grinding and she’d been acting odd. Elvi yelped,”Oh my God!” (which is something she tells the children not to say). January had given birth to two babies! We had been trying to breed her for a year without success so this was a shock. Apparently, the only way you can tell a chinchilla is
pregnant is by her elongated nipples and that’s just not something we look for too often.

Unlike the young of many other rodents, newborn chinchillas hit the ground furred with eyes open, walking and climbing. Each is about four inches long. Baby mammals have relatively large heads but the body length of these things is about a third head. They resemble Triceratops in that regard. We’ve decided to name them Walrus (the white one) and Grommet (the one with the gray head).

There’s still more news! I have contracted a terrible cold, with a side dish of pink eye. I guess I’m off to the doctor in Nibbler tomorrow.

Bonus tangent:

Speaking of shopping online, I snagged the original Civilization board game on eBay, the first time I’ve owned a copy. I can’t wait to play it again.

Poor decisions in Web management

The Montreal Gazette’s Habs Inside/Out site has grown over a few short years into the de facto destination for English-speaking fans of the Montreal Canadiens. The word “Habs”, of course, is short for “habitants”, which is what the early French-Canadians – the Canadiens – were called in the 17th century.

The Club de Hockey Canadien Inc. asked the Gazette to stop using the word “Habs” in reference to its Web site. It’s arguable whether or not the Canadiens can uphold a trademark on the nickname, but the Gazette capitulated and renamed the site Hockey Inside/Out.

Notwithstanding some grumbling from the hoi polloi, such a change is easily accomplished. You register the new domain name,, and transfer the content of your site to the new domain. Sure, you may have to change a few links here or there with a global find and replace, but the site will remain robust.

Instead, the Gazette took the opportunity to move the entire site to WordPress. What a hellacious mistake. The site has lost all reader comments and much of contributor Mike Boone’s post-game analyses. I can’t even show you what the old site looked like because the Web team has trashed the CSS code it used to use. Even links to old stories no longer work.

Audiences are conservative. They don’t like change. In this case, the audience is right. Take a look at this malfunctioning page of crap. It used to have dozens of comments. Go ahead and try the link to Boone’s “Quick Hits/About Saturday afternoon…”. Or try the link to the unhappily formatted “Afternoon delight”.

I’ve just spent two weeks at my dad’s apartment while his wife was back home in the Bahamas taking care of affairs. I did pretty darned well without a newspaper. Missteps like this make it easier.

Bonus knee news:

I can walk at about 90% efficiency thanks to physio. I can’t run, skate, jump, etc. yet. I do know that jumping off a bench hurts.