Huffty – First Impressions

I picked up Huffty from Beechdale, the Alfa dealers in Derby at lunchtime on Tuesday. She looked absolutely gorgeous in the showroom and I was very happy when I drove her away. The first trip was a little under 2 miles, back to the office. And then the heavens opened. And they seem to have stayed open ever since. So even with less than 200 miles on the clock she’s filthy. She needs a good wash so I can take pictures of her before someone runs a supermarket trolley into her!

So something else to do this weekend along with working on my ED209 chosen topic, finishing TMA06, starting to figure out what and how to revise for the exam in October, sorting the gardening out (hedge needs cutting, lawn needs cutting again if it’s dry, vegetable garden at Mum’s needs sorting), other chores … sigh. At some point I’ll hopefully get the chance to enjoy driving her somewhere nice! At the moment, it looks like Bracknell will have to do on Monday morning for work. Definitely not nice.

I did get to drive her to Telford and back this afternoon and I’ve finally just about figured out the Blue&Me system in the car tonight (it looks after the audio system and the hands-free bluetooth connection for my ‘phone) and all the buttons to press to make it do things or the commands to shout at it. Yes, Huffty takes orders from me and talks back to me to let me know that she can’t understand what I’m trying to say. A bit like the wife really, except the part about taking orders that is. (I take the orders round here). The command ‘Settings’ seems to give her particular difficulties (Huffty that is, not my wife) – unless I pronounce it as ‘Sett….tinggs’ with a noticeable pause between the two syllables.

If the weather’s decent this weekend I’ll have to take some photographs of her. This is, after all, the first brand new car I’ve bought in more than 20 years, so you’ll have to forgive me my excitement.

Right, I’m off to read the manual a bit more. Parts of it remind me of  and have me all nostalgic for the manual of my first computer, a Sharp MZ80K. That appeared to have been translated from Japanese into English by someone who only understood German. The MiTo manuals seem to have gone through a similar route – except this time it looks like they been translated from Italian into English by someone who only understands Japanese.

Huffty arrives on Tuesday

Now that I know the registration mark of my new car, it has to have a name based on it. So it’s going to be called Huffty – despite pleas from the women of the house to name it something a little more Italian.

There’s a heartwarming story in the Crewe and Nantwich Guardian about a MiTo and a bride to be. Either that, or it’s a very cleverly placed piece of advertising for the Mangoletsi dealership and her husband to be’s business The Leather Suite Warehouse.

The stress of waiting for GCSE results is finally over in our house now as well – Jess passed all 10 she took with flying colours – two being at A*. Now if only I could manage to get TMA06 finished I could concentrate on revising for the ED209 exam in October. I’ve got a lot to live up to following the success of my daughters this year!

Car woes

I drive a lot. Probably around 25,000 miles a year and in the days I worked from offices in Manchester it was closer to 35,000 miles a year. Since 1998, I’ve relied on three different VW Passats to get me to where I want to go. I need a car that works. Reliably. All of the time. Those of you that read my ramblings on a regular basis will know that I’m just about (well, on 1st September) to give up all of this supposedly solid German engineering for a flighty, Italian, impractical but gorgeous Alfa MiTo.

However, this last Passat that I have owned since 2004 has been anything but solid. It’s let me down, far, far too much, which was part of my rationale in deciding not to have a mid-life crisis with a Golf GTI (the other car I seriously considered this time around). I figured if I wasn’t going to get reliability from a VW, I might as well buy an Alfa. Look, I know that last statement is not even half logical, but I am sooooo disappointed with this lemon of a VW that I’ve been driving for the past 5 years that it’s sent me a little bit strange. That and studying ED209 this year.

This afternoon, the ESP warning light came on. That’s the Electronic Stability Programme rather than Extra Sensory Perception, though I’m convinced old Herman Fluffy Felix knows his time is nearly up (Herman was the name of my second Passat, d’oh!). Five minutes later, the glow plug warning lights start flashing with an ominous sounding Engine Workshop! message appearing on the display. I’m on holiday tomorrow (that car just *knows* when to be a pain) and it looks as if I’ll be spending at least part of my day off at the local VW dealer.

Fortunately, the wonders of the interweb means that I know what the problem is and that it should be a quick fix. This is beacuse my brake lights aren’t working as well. This indicates, according to other VW owners, that the problem is simply a broken switch which should only take a few minutes (and large quantities of money) to sort out.

Only 50 days to go until Alfa day … it can’t come soon enough.

Update 15/07/2009: Fluffy Felix is all better now and at a bargain price of £19.99. Now, if he can just limp through without major expense for another month or so that would be perfect.

ED209 TMA02 – Finished at last!

This has been a much more difficult TMA to sort out that I thought it was going to be and despite what I said about essay writing after I’d finished TMA01, I’m almost relieved that the next one is an essay question. As I’m ahead in the reading for the course, the coming week will see me make a start on it so I don’t get too far ahead and forget all I’ve read in the first three chapters of book 2.

The first part of TMA02, five 200 word short answer questions on methodological terms such as correlation coefficients, experimental design and reliability were fairly straightforward (I think!) and I’m happy with the answers I’ve given.

Part 2, on the ethics of  a replication of Bandura’s classic 1965 study on the ability of children to learn aggression by watching films of a man hitting a Bobo doll took much longer to do. I’m also far less happy with what I’ve produced, particularly for the second and third sections of the question.

I’ve now got to the point where it’s probably not going to get any better. It’s ‘good enough’, I hope, so I’ll be firing up the eTMA system in a couple of evening’s time to make sure I hit the Friday deadline. I also struggled to get in under the word count. My answer to Part 2 has ended up at 999 words (there was a 1,000 word hard limit), but I started off with a draft at nearly 1,600 words to prune from. I just hope I’ve pruned the right bits (unlike some of my recent attempts in the garden).

The first task for TMA03 is to decide which of the two essay questions to tackle. At the moment, I’m drawn to the second option on how children’s development is influenced by play with siblings and peers as the first option would mean reading the disgusting book 2, chapter 2 text again on disturbed and disturbing behaviour (see my thoughts in an earlier post on that particular gem).

For the rest of the evening, I intend finishing a nice bottle of Rioja that was opened earlier on today when my mother came for lunch, which I was unable to sample properly then as I had to drive her home and then take daughter Emily out for driving practice.

It’s Em’s third attempt at passing the practical test on Friday, so if you’re in and around Derby that day stay off the roads, or at least, don’t give any learner drivers you see a hard time!

Garages – they just aren’t, anymore

I needed some de-icer for our cars this afternoon and was too late to get to Asda before it shut. No problem, there’s a garage just down the road. With a shop. I could have bought a whole range of groceries, sweets, chocolate, valentine’s day cards (what kind of person buys valentine’s day cards from a petrol station?), cuddly toys … but no de-icer. In fact, the only car related stuff was half a shelf of oil and the type of air fresheners only taxi drivers would buy. So I tried the next garage – and a similar story. Probably three times the floor area of the other shop, fresh coffee on sale, vegetables, nappies, more valentine cards … and the same paltry half shelf of oil and a bottle of de-ionised water. No de-icer. “We don’t stock it pet”, the cashier said, “no call for it. Asda sell it cheaper than we can”. Sigh.