A car tale and a gymnastics story

I have a busted headlight. Moisture somehow got into the plastic headlight assembly and apparently the teardrop of a mosquito means doom for the bulb. I tried last week to replace the bulb myself, but I drive a Nissan, which means you must remove the fender well from the bumper to access the headlights. Even then, there would be problems. That wouldn’t remove the moisture, so we’d be right back here in two days.

So I bit the bullet to see about getting it done professionally. (The next time you are on the market for a car, add this to your list of things to investigate.)

After a few conversations with Rick, the nice manager of one of the local service centers I learned that I had picked up the wrong bulb. So, you know, good thing I didn’t replace it myself.

“The bulb you need” the moisture hating xenon bulb, “would cost $180” he said.

He offered to install an after market bulb, but estimated those would run about $120. But there was still the moisture problem. He found a place where I’d been dinged in a parking lot. It was his considered professional opinion that perhaps that introduced the moisture. He suggested I take a repair estimate to my insurance agent and get them to fix it. I’d be out the deductible — which is not cheap — but if I bought the new headlight assembly it would be around $800, he said.

So I talked with Rick’s colleague Jerry. He asked who my insurance is with and said he’d write it and I could fight it. That’s all you can do, right? To fix the damage that Rick pointed out, which was small and simply an means to the end of getting the headlight repaired, he estimated it at $1,700 or so of work.

They should make sure you’re sitting down, have a loved one with you and a complimentary nitro pill for such news.

I came home and did what I do best: I found brand new after market parts online. I called Jerry who said he’d put my parts on for a minimal fee if I brought them to the shop. Returning to the computer I bought all new moisture-fearing xenon bulbs and a driver’s side headlight assembly. It still wasn’t cheap, but it is going to cost around half of my deductible.

I long for the days of removing two bolts, removing and installing a new bulb in 10 minutes for about $7 of bulb. And this is why you should ask about the headlights when you are car shopping.

And now a gymnastics story.

Auburn gymnastics

I started going to gymnastics meets with my lovely bride when we first met, so that’s about six years of season tickets. We watched the great Alabama gymnastics team for four years, while we were both in grad school at UAB and then while in the PhD program at Alabama. During that time we also caught an SEC championship meet and the national championship one year. This is our second year attending meets at Auburn.

There’s never been a more exciting meet than tonight’s.

Look at the ladies in the background of that picture. They shared a giddy, explosive, relevatory feeling running throughout Auburn Arena where the 16th-ranked Tigers had Alabama on the ropes. The Tide has beaten Auburn in their last 103 meets, which may be the entire history of gymnastics at the two schools. Tonight the juggernaut Alabama squad was fighting for their life. The announced crowd of 7,299, a gymnastics attendance record for Auburn, was electric as the tension and energy grew through the last routines.

Alabama was Alabama, but one more slip from the defending national champions and Auburn would claim a huge upset. That Auburn team is young and talented — a true freshman is anchoring the floor routines — and they’ve won the crowd. They’re so, so close. Tonight they were 196.325-196.250, close. It was a great thrill to see.

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