Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Why are there inequalities in MD Tint laws?

I don't mind being limited to 35% transmissive tint on the front side windows of my cars, but why must I be limited to 35% on the rear and rear-side windows (even in the rabbit) where a PT Cruiser can have tint as dark as it wants on the back window? The body style is very similar to a 4-door rabbit. Or how about a Jetta Wagon vs a Dodge Magnum. Jetta Wagon, 35% all around. Magnum - 35% up front, whatever on the rest. Why? Because the PT Cruiser is a "Truck" and the Magnum is an "SUV" while the Rabbit and Jetta Wagon are Passenger cars. Confused yet?

I wrote an email to my Maryland State Senate Representative requesting that the laws regarding window tint be changed. Why? I am not trying to hide anything illegal or anything. I just want all drivers to be treated equally, and I enjoy how much cooler the interior of the car is when all of the back windows have 5% tint and the front have 35%. (In Germany, the 3-series had 5% back but no tint on the front because front side window tint was not allowed).

Below is the email that I wrote to Senator Pipkin in it's entirety. If you live in MD, and agree with me, email your local representative(s). I only contacted Senator Pipkin at this point, but there are also three members in the House of Representatives for my district as well. Oh, and yes, I REALLY did look up the exact regulations. If you have any questions about that let me know.
Senator Pipkin,

I am a fairly new constituent in your district, but I was hoping you could possibly address an issue that I view as an unnecessary inequality in regards to Maryland Motor Vehicle tint law. Per sub-section i, paragraph 1 of section 22-406 of the Transportation Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland, passenger cars may not be operated when "there is affixed to any window of the vehicle any tinting materials added to the window after manufacture of the vehicle that do not allow a light transmittance through the window of at least 35%". In comparison, multipurpose vehicles, trucks and Class B (for hire) vehicles may not be operated when "there is affixed to any window to the immediate right or left of the driver any window tinting materials added after manufacture of the vehicle that do not allow a light transmittance through the window of at least 35%."

While I have no problem with the restriction of 35% tint on the front driver and passenger windows for all vehicles; I feel that all vehicle classes should be required to follow the same regulations. The laws do not even apply as intended in several cases because manufacturers have changed the classification of their vehicles to be able to use the more lenient rules. Subaru changed the classification of their Outback wagon to a light truck in part because of customer demand for factory tinted windows. http://www.thecarconnection.com/article/1005582_subaru-outback-counts-as-a-truck. The PT-Cruiser is also classified as a truck. The truck designation of those brands also allows them to have lower fuel efficiency ratings than if they were cars. The Dodge Magnum, which exactly matches what used to be viewed as a station wagon, is classified as a sport utility vehicle (multi-purpose vehicle) even though it shares many of the same body panels and the same chassis as the Dodge Charger sedan.

By comparison, I own a 4-door diesel sedan that averages over 40 miles-per-gallon and a 3-door hatchback that averages around 30 mpg, but because I am driving "passenger" cars I am limited to 35% tint on all windows. All I am asking for is fair and equal treatment under the Maryland law. As can be seen in my choice of vehicles, I am very interested in using efficient vehicles. Unfortunately, the glass surfaces of these vehicles are rather large, which allows a substantial amount of sunlight into the vehicle that in turn warms the cabin. In the summer months, the efficiency of my vehicles is effected by the amount that I must use the air-conditioning in the car. While I know I won't be magically driving around without air-conditioning during the hottest days of the summer, I would like to be able to place tint with 5% light transmission around the back windows of the vehicle rather than 35%. From experience, I can say it made a large difference while we were stationed overseas in Germany where the tint laws allowed us to place 5% on the rear windows while we were there.

I can understand that an argument can be made for police officer safety during traffic stops. If police officer safety is the true motivation, then the laws affecting vehicles that are in the more lenient classification should be changed. Other measures could be enacted that would counteract any perceived danger to officers during a traffic stop such as a requirement to turn on interior lighting when pulled over by law enforcement. While it is a courtesy that all motorists should observe for the safety and comfort of the officer, my observations suggest that it is something that is not practiced widely. If the officer is concerned for their safety, they also have the option to have the occupants exit the vehicle, or roll down all of the windows in the vehicle. I am not trying to overlook officer safety, but if it were such an important issue, the laws in states such as Deleware and Utah wouldn't allow any type of tint on the rear side and rear facing windows.

While the current economic situation combined with uncertainty over fuel prices has lead to a sharp decrease in the sale of true sport utility vehicles and pick-up trucks, as I pointed out before there are still other vehicles that are being placed in those categories that people think of as a station wagons. That can also lead to confusion with law enforcement pulling over a vehicle for "illegal" tint levels even though the levels are acceptable simply because of the class in which the manufacturer placed the vehicle. It can also lead to citizens assuming that darker tint is allowable for their vehicle because their neighbor has an almost identical vehicle, just with a hatch on the back rather than a trunk.

Thank you for taking the time to read my email and consider my request.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Damaged goods Part 33 1/3...

As I sit here listing to Fall Out Boy, I decided to write what should be the last part of the "Damaged Goods" series (at least I plan to catch you up till the present).

So, I last left off in Fall (if you could call it a fall) of 2001 right as Chrissy and I met. We were hitting it off really well, and we even went up to Jersey for Thanksgiving with her Family. That facet of things was going swimmingly. Other things, not so much. I was not a good roommate and consequently damaged some friendships. Despite always being told I have such a friendly personality (well, usually, push me to my breaking point and I WILL snap at you) there are certain traits about me that make me a bad person to live with (I am still not sure how Chrissy puts up with me).

I am selfish, lazy and inconsiderate, especially with people I spend a LOT of time with. I know where I picked up some of those traits, but regardless of where I picked them up, I shouldn't have let them become traits that define me. For that I am ashamed and sorry. College actually promoted my laziness because I managed to get good grades in most cases with little effort and attending very few classes. That helped contribute to my weight gain and made it even harder on me when I made the transition to the "real world". While I had routinely had summer jobs, I was used to the amoutn of free time I was able to have in College during the semester, so working through the summer wasn't a surprise, but rather working full-time through the rest of the year that was the surprise.

Anyway, I am getting ahead of myself. My relationship with Chrissy, and actually having a decent paying job coming out of College were two of the bright spots in my life at that time. I further continued to alienate roommates the first year after college when Chrissy and I shared an apartment with Jimmy and Steph. By the end of that time, we weren't that cordial, at least not in my mind, and there was at least a significant part of that that was my fault. The only roommate I am not in contact with from the Courtyards at all is Bryce, but I don't know where he ended up because he was still at UM when the rest of us graduated and haven't found him on facebook.

My job required regular (once a month on average) travel, usually to Tampa, Fl. There is where my weight became a significant problem, but also a constant source of depression due to airline seats. Chrissy and I tried LA Weightloss (albiet probably half-heartedly) and made no progress with that. The travel got to me anyway (although it did manage to get me to Hawaii, San Diego, and San Antonio and Chrissy came along to Hawaii and San Diego) and I changed jobs. Around that time is when Chrissy and I started doing Weight Watchers. I had made significant progress losing approximately 80lbs. My job was in turmoil at this point so I decided it was time for a change, and felt an overseas tour would do me good, so I applied for a couple jobs, one of which was in Germany.

I had cleared the potential locations with Chrissy before I applied and I knoew that if she was going to come with me we would have to be married (I was planning on getting to that in the near future anyway because we had been together for almost 4 years at that point.) Once I found out that I had gotten the job in Germany, I kept it a secret for ~2 weeks. With the cover of going with Matt to Dave and Busters, we hit up a jewelry store that lots of my relatives use. I found the perfect ring, and once I got it, I knew exactly what I was going to do.

Chrissy was taking me out for a nice dinner for my birthday at Windows on the Bay in Pasadena. I decided I would use that opportunity to propose (so I would have at least one good memory of that day). It rained during dinner and I was prepared to propose there, but it cleared up near the end of the meal, so I suggested we go for a walk down on the docks. I don't remember what I said leading up to it, but as I opened the box I said that there was no one I would rather take to Germany and spend the rest of my life with.

Dammit...these things keep pressing on much longer than I intend, but I AM going to finish it this time! tension

Back to finish this thing after a LONG time away from the computer.

Ok, so we are now prepping to move to Germany (which was moved from June 06->April 06->February 06) and have to get married before that, sell our house, and do a bunch of other stuff. We settle on a simple civil service at the court hours in Annapolis with a reception afterwards at Windows on the Bay in Pasedena. In this time, both of us begin to gain weight again because we are packing, cleaning the house and eating out. We finally get to Germany and the weight gain continues (because we are in a hotel for 10 days eating out EVERY meal) and then frequently eating American comfort food on base once we had our house. That slowed down until things took a turn.

June 06 - Chrissy has a seizure for unknown reasons. Lots of stress over the next couple of months while we try to get her to see an American Neurologist because the Germans think she has MS. That diagnosis is confirmed by the Neuro at Landstuhl (but it was HELL getting an appointment).

~Sep 06 - I have severe pains in my side, taking to the hospital. Diagnosis - Gall Stones. By October I am flying back to the states to have surgery to have my gallbladder removed after numerous very painful attacks (including on our Anniversary in Belgium).

- Early 07 - I start having severe headaches. After going around and around and around, the apparent diagnosis is Migraines. (FUN)

- June 07 - After going to the hospital several times for severe abdominal pain, Die Germans finally deside my appendix must come out. This is 1 week before we are supposed to fly to London for Chrissy's birthday (Another vacation ruined by an illness that lead to surgery)

Most of our time in Germany, I have severe health anxiety issues, my weight far exceeds any amount that I had lost before, and I get into a habbit of spending money, because my salary is higher, and we don't have to pay a mortgage or rent while we are in Germany.

We come back to the states in March 08 to look at developments (we wanted new construction). To cope with the home prices, we decided we were willing to live across the bridge to get the house we wanted instead of settling for something that we kind of liked. We pick our plot, yada yada yada, our house will be built by end of July.

Now, in what can best be described as a manic state (you know, like manic->depressive) I decide we will trade in our COMPLETELY PAID OFF 2006 BMW 325i for a 2008 BMW 135i Convertible. So, now we are about to have a mortgage for the first time in 2 1/2 years AND we will have a car payment for a REALLY expensive car. Smart move dumbass. My spending habbits did not curtail either. Then we go to settlement. Things are still ok though because we will both be over seas for a while longer so payments seem like nothing. Then we move back here.

Combine our last few trips in Europe + stuff for new house + bad spending habbits = mounds of credit card debit that we are only able to gradually deal with because of Mortgage + Car payment + sudo car payment + bills + living expenses. That leads up to now and that describes why I am in such a horrible mood these days. I still have my up days and my down days, and we are gradually paying down all of the debt, but it will take time, and the fact that I let myself get in this state makes me very dissapointed in myself. And that, more so than much of the other stuff that has happened in my life, is why I feel I am "Damaged Goods" right now.

So, we will now return you to your normally scheduled programming of random posts about random crap. Hopefully cheerier ones at that. Time will tell.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Damaged goods....Part Deux

No, there won't be any arrows made of chickens or the highest body count in movie history in this post (referencing Hot Shots Part Deux). This is just the second part of my previous post, and I am starting to work on it during Half-time of the Maryland-Duke game. Maryland is down by two, and overall is playing decent, so the tone of the first part of the post might have a different tone than the last part of the post.

So picking up where I left off, it is now the Fall of my senior year at University of Maryland. I am living in University Courtyard apartments with Charlie Harris, Jimmy Trzyna and Bruce (who's last name I am blanking on). Shortly before school started we had Charlie's 21st birthday and then mine. Both parties kicked ass, I was plastered as hell, said some things that could have gotten me in serious trouble with certain people had anyone but Matt heard them, and went from having a future date with someone to then being told I was too "Fluffy" which supposedly wasn't in reference to my weight but that I was too, well, I am not exactly how to put it other than nice....lol

September 11th happened and like most I was in a bit of shock after that, and then the Tornado came. Well, actually, I skipped over a bit. In late summer I had started talking to someone on CollegeClub.com on a regular basis. We were really hitting it off and getting closer to meeting in person. There was also Tequilla chick and her friend and I tried to make a pass @ Tequila chick but was shot down) It probablly doesn't help that I can't remember her name...lol

Game has started back up, my typing may become a bit distracted...

Anyway, the Tornado comes and hits my apartment building. Fortunately for me, I was on Rt. 100 in Ellicott city at the time, blisfully unaware of the tornado until my mom called me and sounded very concerned. "Where are you?" "I'm on the road." "Will you be here soon?" "Yeah, I am on 100, why?" "There is a tornado that just hit college park and is following you up I-95" I made it home quickly after that call.

After the anger had passed, I said I had to get back to school because I had a program due that night for a class. That was when I found out I wasn't getting home that night because there was debry EVERYWHERE, no power and many closed roads in College Park. I tredged back up to MD. I spent the next two weeks sleeping on Chris's couch, and got the flu. Then I spent 2 weeks comuting from home while our apartment building was under repair. It was during that time that Chrissy (the person I had been talking to on college club) called me. We decided we would go out on the 5th, which also happened to be he day I could move back into my apartment. So that Friday, I backed up a my parents house, took all my crap to College Park, and then headed up to Baltimore City to a school who's name I would later found out had an acronym of CONDOM (College Of Notre Dame Of Maryland).

Well, we quickly hit it off in person and were officially dating on the 8th of October 2001. Things were actually looking up. How could they go wrong ad in what way? Well, I think I am gonna save that for a Part III and go back to concentrating on the MD game.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Damaged goods....Part1

***CAUTION: This post is full of self-reflection, pesimism, and self-pity. It is mostly for venting, and capturing thoughts. Don't bother to read it if you are then just gonna bash on me for self-pity..I am admitting that up front***

Seriously, what is wrong with me? Why am I such a damn pessimist? Why can't I ever see the good in things? Why can't I motivate myself to lose weight, to get things on track, to make my life better?

Now, I am not saying my life is bad, I am saying my life is so-so and would be significantly improved if I lost weight. How you ask? It won't cause horrible pain in my lower back to walk around the block. I won't sweat like a pig when it is 80 out, let-alone when it is 95 out. Clothes will be cheaper, I will be more comfortable in the car, in restaurants, hell, in my own skin. The problem is, I need to lose weight, a significant amount of weight, before I can have the gastric bypass surgery to let me lose the rest of the weight. Right now, I am stagnant, just kind of fluctuating up and down and not making any progress (or instantly erasing any progress I make). Part of the problem is I am an emotional eater. I get stressed, I eat. I get depressed, I eat. I get bored, I eat. The emotional eating, my pessimism and my job make the most evil tri-fecta ever.

Now, I guess I should rewind a bit. Well, more than a bit....lets rewind a lot. We can skip High School because well, overall I feel I was happy in highschool. I enjoyed Choir, musicals had a core of good friends and while I wasn't "popular" I was at least a blip on the radar because of the things I was involved in. College is where my pesimism took the biggest turn and has only been set aside for brief times.

I move into the dorm, it is the weekend before classes are supposed to start and its my birthday. My plan is to go out with the girl I was seeing at the time (we met @ Goddard and she was still a senior in HS) but she broke up with me on the phone. WOHOO! Another bad b-day memory. I won't mention the first because of potential readers, but some of you know what it is and it has been discussed over and over in other venues.

Ok, that was a bump in the road but things started to go along better, then blow #2 occured my my self-esteem of the semester (and this one was more thrown in my face). Another girl who I had met through Goddard (who was also still a HS senior) invited me to go to a dance with her. She knew I was interested in her, she invited me, and then she spent the entire night hanging out with another guy. Keep in mind, I had no idea who anyone else at this dance was. So, I left, went back to CP, and had my first intro to Goldschlager (thanks Jecko!)...mmm...Goldschlager.

At this point, I had gained a few of the Freshman fifteen, but Geoff Blain, Chris DeWeese, maybe Jeff Guy and myself were making a habbit of going to the Gym and that was helping me keep in similar shape as I had been in HS. Not exactly good shape, but better than I would become. Then, early in the second Semester I started dating Jenny, and thus began my downfall. I ended up spending most of my time with her and not enough with my friends. I stopped going to the Gym with the guys, I stopped hanging out with them on a regular basis, and started more frequently ordering carry-out.

My relationship with Jenny wasn't exactly healthy, and there were a couple times where I almost broke up with her but I had such bad self-esteem at that point, that I was afraid that if I broke up with her, I would end up alone through the rest of college. That relationship continued for a long time, my weight ballooned, and I think it was late Junior year when we broke up, but I can't say for sure. Some other things happened after that that REALLY fucked with my head, but I won't be going into that, at least not anytime soon.

Wow...this has gone on much longer than I thought it would, so I will pick up with Part 2 tomorrow. Part 2 will pick up just before Chrissy and I meet and probably bring things up to present day. I just don't feel like typing anymore right now.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Random thoughts about Tomorrow and the weekend

Well, first off, I have an appointment with the nutritionist tomorrow. I am not looking forward to that because I haven't been sticking to a diet as well as I had hoped. I had so much success the first time we were on weight watchers (before we moved to Germany) but now I am having a hard time getting started up again. I know I need to get motivated because unless I lose some weight, I can't get the gastric bypass to lose a TON of weight. (Well, not a Ton, I don't weight 2000lbs...but you get the point).

So that alone is a reason to not look forward to tomorrow, and I also have to go to work before that. One of my co-workers is driving me absolutely batty gileright now, asking me really stupid ass questions about basic computer stuff. I mean, this is stuff that she should have known for a while just from having to use a computer on a daily basis for her job, yet somehow, I keep getting asked. I will have my headphones on, merrily coding away and she will pop up behind me tap me on the shoulder or something and say she has a question, multiple times a day. Unfortunately, I don't have a bang my head on the desk emoticon, so I will just use this.bising

This weekend, I have a few things I have to do as well. First off, I need to finally do something to color the lenses for the turn signals on Kl0pfer (the rabbit) so that the turn signals are actually amber rather than blazing white. For those who aren't familiar with the new Rabbits, the rear turn signals are normally the brake light on that side. Not very safe, because
  1. That means the turn signal is red.
  2. That means if you turn it on as you are braking, there are now less lights indicating you are braking on the back of the car.
To remedy this, I installed the European bulb holders from a VW Golf and did some re-coding with my VagCom. Unfortunately, I didn't want to pay for the European housings and I could only find the bulbs in clear, so even with some stained glass paint, they are still showing up as white when I turn on the turn signals. tension Need to get that fixed.

I also need to install the last toggle post to hold down the floor mat on the drivers side in the Rabbit. The Rabbit came with straight up posts to hold the mat in place (which do NOTHING) but I bought the little rotating clips like the Jetta has. I have installed 3 of the 4, but I haven't installed the fourth. I also have the European Cup Holder to install in the car which has a closing lid and a place for a bottle opener (The German's love to drink things out of poptop bottles...coke, fanta, water, you name it.) That is going to be a very long job because we have to take apart the center consule to get underneith it and pull out the old cup holder.

Chrissy finally nagged me enough that I signed up for a Facebook account. I will keep posting my photos to Flickr and my videos to YouTube, and I will keep using Twitter and this blog as well, but you will probably notice my mobile "tweets" will also go to Facebook and I will reference everywhere else in my facebook profile (such as this huge-ass blog post). I eventually will redo mikecrutchfield.com and make it a portal for all things me (You Tube, Flickr, MySpace, Twitter, Facebook, this blog, and all of the car related stuff).

I need to try to catch up with some people sometime soon. Chris DeWeese, you are on that list. We will be seeing Kirk & Sarah soon for Sarah's b-day, and my boss from Germany will be in town at the end of March / early April beginning his house hunt for his PCS. I need to find out when Matt will next be in town from bumfuck...I mean, Kansas.

Other than all of that, not much is going on. Well, that is the longest post I have written in a while, and I think it's time to wrap things up. Hope you all enjoyed!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Elusive sleep

I've been tweeting more than I have been blogging, but isn't that the point anyway? I have been having some CPAP issues the last couple of nights where I take it off in he middle of the night (but don't remember. Tonight, I woke up w/o the CPAP and sweating like hell from the down comforter. Joy! Now I need to try to get back to sleep. Ugh..I will try to blog more again, bu tweeting is so much easier (including from my cell)