For the past few days, I’ve been in the New York and New Jersey area for a family event. I usually don’t really take many identifying photographs or share specific details about my family because I feel somewhat of an obligation to protect their privacy—obviously not all of them live in high-rise condominiums with dedicated security staff like I do, so I don’t really want to do anything that may put them in any sort of remote danger. So, I don’t really have too many photos from this trip like I do for my work-related trips. With that being said, I do have a small collection, most of which are from New York City, which is where I spent my final day before flying back home to Las Vegas. On the way to the East Coast, I noticed that we had flown over the very edge of Canada on our way to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. Of course, I pointed at Canada and proudly took a picture of the flight map, then sent it to one of my Canadian friends. Now, if you’ve ever spoken with me in-person about real estate (or about just life in general), you will know that there are three places that I regularly flame as being terrible places to live: San Francisco, Los Angeles, and… New York City. I’ve been to New York before, but my past encounters haven’t really been too memorable or eventful, so I didn’t really have many personal anecdotes to back up my hatred for New York City, just the statistics of how expensive it is… and how impossible it is to find parking. I am concerned to announce that the New York portion of my trip seems to have gone just a little bit too well, and now I feel weird continuing to flame NYC when it seems to have treated me quite well. For lunch, I met up with one of our broadcast personalities, and out of sheer luck, there was street parking available DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF THE RESTAURANT where we were meeting. Better yet, it wasn’t just a normal street parking spot… it was a street parking spot that would normally fit 1.5 regular cars, which meant it was absolutely perfect in length for my RAM 1500 rental (yes, I rented a full-size pickup truck again). To top it all off, apparently street parking was free in that area on Sundays. Due to my loyalty to Marriott, I stayed at the Courtyard New York JFK Airport. There was no self parking lot, and valet parking was $25 per day, but street parking around the hotel was free. Miraculously, I ended up finding a street parking spot for my truck by taking only two laps around the block, when I very literally expected to be hunting for a good 15 minutes. Upon check-in, I got a complimentary upgrade to the 11th floor and received a little gift baggie with a bottle of water, two cookies, and a discount coupon for the convenience shop in the lobby. Now, being in management is great and all, but one of the things that gets old fast is having to take care of your employees and contractors’ travel logistics. Luckily, we have mid-level managers now who take care of that for me, but I spent a long time doing most of it myself, so I’m “burnt out” of planning events at this point (if that can even be a thing), and always seize every opportunity I can for other people to plan my day for me. (Yes, this does indeed mean that, sometimes, your boss might appreciate it when you think on his behalf tell him what to do so he doesn’t have to worry about it.) Anyway, dinner ended up being an absolute dream come true, because the person I went with literally selected the restaurant, picked me up from my hotel (which she offered to do without me even asking), whisked me through New York City traffic like an absolute god, did all the ordering from the menu, and even cooked most of the meat. The restaurant was similar to one of those all-you-can-eat restaurants where the grill is in the center of the table, except this restaurant wasn’t actually all-you-can-eat, so I was able to turn off the “get the most value for your money” switch in my brain, take it slow, and actually enjoy all the food. … I actually enjoyed it so much that I forgot to take a picture until I was done and the busboy had already cleared off our table. Now if my trip had just ended there, I would’ve probably just wanted to stay in New York City forever, but luckily, my airport experience was just barely bad enough that my signature phrase of “the best part of traveling is coming back home” still applied. Upon arriving in Terminal 4 at JFK, I couldn’t find the Wingtips Lounge (the instructions were to “turn right out of security and walk forward 100 meters,” but doing so would have just walked me straight through the information desk), so instead, I went to the Air India Maharaja Lounge, which was unusually and uncomfortably colorful, and only had Indian food and a mountain of alcohol. As I was preparing to get out of the lounge, I got a notification that my flight had been delayed by an hour and a half. I had actually been getting amazing travel luck lately, so I think this might have broken about a 20-or-so streak of on-time flights for me. Apparently, something had happened to the pilot and they had to fly someone else in from Baltimore, Maryland to operate our aircraft. After an almost six-hour flight, I made it back home to McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas just before 7:30 PM PST, stopped by the Club at LAS on my way out for some non-Indian food, and made it back home about an hour later.
Only three days to rest—my next trip is on February 14.
I’m in New Jersey at my cousin’s house for a family event, and when I arrived, I was greeted quite aggressively by their dog, Tinkerbell. She had quite the ferocious yip-yap, but you could easily tell that she was an old dog who had already lived a long life. When I asked my aunt how old Tinkerbell was, my aunt said that when she moved in with my cousins in New Jersey about ten years ago, Tinkerbell was already about ten, so she suspects Tinkerbell to be about 20 now. I think there might be a miscalculation somewhere in there, because 20 in dog years is astronomically high, but Tinkerbell also looks like she has a good amount of chihuahua in her, and healthy chihuahuas can live to get pretty old. As you might be able to tell, she wasn’t really the biggest fan of having a camera in her face.
While I was on my most recent California trip, I had my pickup truck dropped off at the dealership for some more warranty repairs. If you’ve been following this story for a while, you know that my GMC Canyon has a storied past of issues with the transmission, even though it has just barely over 12,000 miles on it. As a reminder, just under a year ago, I did an owner’s review where I listed off all the problems I had encountered during my half year of ownership, one of which was a lurching and jerking transmission. The worst part about this was that all the dealerships I brought it to said that the transmission was working as intended, and everything was in fantastic shape. AutoNation Buick GMC Henderson sent it back to me twice saying that my transmission had no problems, and when I asked a Cadillac dealership that was fixing my flat tire, they said they did an inspection and found nothing wrong either. Not long after my issues with AutoNation Buick GMC Henderson, I discovered that there’s actually a class-action lawsuit against General Motors for their 8-speed automatic transmission that’s currently in my GMC Canyon. After figuring this out, it all “made sense,” and it was clear why my truck was just being sent right back to me with the claim that everything is fine—General Motors was allegedly telling the dealerships to do exactly that. I enrolled as a contributor for the class action lawsuit and worked with a lawyer initially, but haven’t heard back with anything more. I did a bit of digging recently, and apparently the latest in the case is that General Motors filed a motion to dismiss the case. Eventually, the transmission lurches got so bad that I felt like I still had to keep trying and take it back to a dealership. Even if they wouldn’t fix it, I still needed to have all this logged in the vehicle’s history so if I do pursue legal action, I have plenty of evidence demonstrating that I attempted to get it fixed. Seeing as AutoNation Buick GMC Henderson’s technicians were wildly unhelpful and disconnected my dash cam, which made me suspicious of them, I decided to go with a different GMC dealership, AutoNation Buick GMC West Sahara. Now, I already wasn’t really a fan of AutoNation Buick GMC West Sahara, because I actually initially tried to purchase my vehicle from them, but my salesperson stopped responding to me, so I went and bought the vehicle from AutoNation Buick GMC Henderson instead. Regardless, I went online and set up an appointment with West Sahara, then followed up with a phone call to let them know that I would need a loaner vehicle while my truck was dropped off. Aaron said that he would call me back and let me know when a loaner would be available, but he didn’t call me back for a month. Literally a month later, I called them back and spoke with Aaron, asking him what was going on. Apparently, they had zero loaners come through for the past entire month. Now obviously, that could mean one of two things: either Aaron was lying and he just forgot to call me back, or they are actually literally so bad at fixing vehicles that they have been keeping people’s cars and trucks in the shop for over a month at a time, which in the latter case, I wouldn’t want them to be the ones fixing my truck anyway. At this point, I just wanted answers, so I went to a highly-rated private mechanic in southwest Las Vegas. I asked them to do an oil change, and while they had my truck, I also requested a multi-point comprehensive inspection. Within an hour or so, they had everything done and said that there was severe damage to the transmission, and that the problem had not been addressed for so long that the transmission had irreparable damage that would cost about US$8,000.00 to fix. Now at this point, I was a little conflicted as to how to feel. I was relieved that at least someone acknowledged I wasn’t going absolutely insane and that there was indeed a problem… but the repair cost that they quoted me was unusually high—higher than what I would estimate it would cost to replace my current transmission with a brand new one. So did that imply that the transmission had damaged other parts of my truck too? Regardless, the repair cost didn’t matter, because the private dealership refused to service my transmission. They said they would not make me pay several thousand dollars to fix a transmission that is still under warranty, and the service manager helped me schedule an appointment with another different dealership so they could actually look at my truck. I didn’t want to go through the hassle of coordinating and waiting for a loaner, but the timing was fortunate enough that I could drop it off before my two-week California trip, so that’s what I did. Fast forward to now, and I picked up my truck at Fairway Buick GMC. My service advisor was surprisingly competent and professional, and he realized that what he was about to tell me wasn’t something that I wanted to hear, but he said that the problem with my transmission wasn’t actually as severe as I may have thought. He is unsure why the private mechanic thought there was $8,000 worth of damage, but he said that the mechanics were able to fix the transmission’s shifting problems. According to the service report, my guess is that they took the steps covered by this service bulletin:
Well… It worked. I’m not sure if they pretended like all they did was a recalibration, but they actually replaced the transmission or something, and they’re not allowed to tell me because of General Motors’ orders. It’s very possible that the private mechanic was just telling me what I wanted to hear to make me a happy customer. I’m not an expert with the inner workings of automobiles, so I may never know. But my truck’s transmission is buttery smooth now. It drives like the day I bought it. I feel like, after this, I think I might have even more questions than answers, but at this point, I’m just thankful that my truck doesn’t jerk backwards like it crashed into something every time I accelerate from low speeds.
Problem: One of the more common 8L transmission problems is excessively hard or abrupt gear changes.Solution: The TCM may need to be recalibrated with the latest control software. It could also be caused by one or more of the clutch fill times not being learned by the TCM. In which case, the Service Fast Learn (SFL) procedure will have to be performed. Should the problems persist, the valve body will need to be replaced.
It probably comes as no surprise that I’m back in California again… this time to close down Tempo Storm’s Redondo Beach team house. That house is the one for the PUBG team that I set up last year, and now that the National PUBG League is dissolving, we no longer have a need for that house. Ever since Tempo’s recent staffing changes and undertaking of new projects, I’ve been pretty overwhelmed with work, so I contracted one of my friends to help me out with some of the tougher labor. If you’re a long-time follower of my blog, you may recognize him—it’s Ed Lam, known online as Grainyrice. We both flew into Los Angeles because my truck is in the shop for, yet again, another transmission repair. Ed’s flight was scheduled to land at about 2:30 PM PST, while mine was scheduled to land at 2:51 PM PST. I told Ed to deplane and wait for me so we could take a shuttle together to Enterprise Rent-a-Car. Naturally, I beat him to Los Angeles, and I was the one who ended up having to wait for him. Thus ensued the immediate difficult work of trying to clear out the disastrous mess that was what the players left behind in the Redondo Beach team house, as well as driving all over Southern California from Beach Cities to Beverly Hills to Hollywood to transport valuables from the team house to our other properties. On our way back from Los Angeles to Beach Cities, Ed and I stopped by the Santa Monica Pier. I had visited the Santa Monica Pier once before during the night with Jordan Kelly and Jordan King, but this was my first time seeing it during the day. The deadline for complete shut-down completion is January 28, 2020, and we’re just now starting. … It’s going to be a long two weeks.
That question was obviously a result of my recent blog post about my Indonesian stingray rowstone belt, in which I also referenced my white smoke hornback saltwater crocodile belt, both belts being made out of unusually exotic leathers. Now I definitely think that stingray and crocodile fall in the realm of “normal” when considering types of belts, but when other people say “normal,” I imagine they’re thinking about less exotic leathers, like cowhide. I have an Italian full grain leather belt hand-crafted in Rutland, England by the British Belt Company, which they designed as part of a partnership with Massdrop. I actually got this belt for free because Massdrop (today known as just “Drop”) used to be partnered with Tempo Storm, and as part of the partnership, they sent me a care package with a bunch of Massdrop goodies. Back when they first sent me my samples, I did an unboxing and review of the Jessica GMK Plum custom keycap set and GMK Carbon add-on keycap kit, as well as a photoshoot and review of the NuForce EDC in-ear monitors. I was planning on doing a review of this belt as well, but Massdrop ended up not renewing their partnership with Tempo Storm, so I never actually got around to doing it. I used to wear this belt a lot when jeans were my pants of choice a few years ago—I would throw on this natural brown leather belt and wear brown leather boots to match. Nowadays, I’ve gotten quite a liking for slim-fit, ultra stretchy, Asian-made biker pants. They look slightly stiff and bulky on the outside, which makes them seem uncomfortable considering how tight they fit, but they’re actually the most comfortable and flexible pants I’ve ever worn. A vegetable-tanned, natural brown leather belt doesn’t really match too well with those kinds of pants, which is why I opted for black and white exotic skins. Regardless, the Italian leather belt is actually really nice. One of my favorite features about leather products is when the clean cuts are shown on the sides and aren’t covered up in any kind of glazing or edge paint; this belt by the British Belt Company shows those raw cuts. It also has an everlasting aroma of leather (I got this belt over two years ago and it still has the rich, pleasant leather smell), and it’s one of those leathers that develops a gorgeous patina over time. I believe you can snag one of these for less than $50, which makes it one of the most affordable leather products in my wardrobe, and if you’re a new leather goods enthusiast (or one on a tight budget), this is definitely a great starter item. Although I don’t actively wear mine anymore, I’ll be keeping it safely stored in my closet, because my dress preferences will almost certainly change as time goes on, and this belt may compliment some of my preferred outfits again in the future.