Runcible Blog

making friends

Sometimes the people most alive are the ones inches away from death.

Tabblo: Central Square's Residents

Tom's wife, Wanda, died a few months ago from alcohol poisoning.

Although he's traveled around the country and lived in Colorado and Vermont, he loves Central Square, even in the winter.

The only problem, he says, is that "everybody dies here."
... See my Tabblo>

my neighbors are pod-people

When the fire alarm sounded at 6:30 this morning, I was the only person in my building to exit (or notice, it seems) before the fire department arrived.  The boiler in the basement overheated, causing steam to set off the alarm.  The firemen asked if I was "in charge."  No, I'm just the only one who woke up.

Even though I've lived here for about a year, I haven't really spoken to my neighbors, and the only one whose name I know is Larry, an older guy who plays the drums, I think.  I'm not even sure I can recall seeing all of the people who live here (there are at least 15 others).  On the rare occasion when I run into a neighbor, if I say hello, I'm usually met with a blank stare or a meek response.  Despite never talking to anyone else in the building, I have gathered some information about my mysterious neighbors.

Larry smokes, hangs out at 1369 a lot, wears a cool hat, and had a young girlfriend for a while.  The neighbors closest to me, Asian girl and Irish guy, suddenly moved out this month without leaving much trace.  One time, while I was sitting on the steps, they were walking by with some friends, and the guy walked into his apartment, puked for a minute, and strolled back out to his friends.  Hmm.  I haven't seen the new tenant, but he plays "South Park" and "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor" at a loud volume.

Then there's a surly, bearded, middle-aged guy.  He seems annoyed often.  Another neighbor is the quiet saxophone player.  He has intense eyes but looks depressed, lost, or insane.  I can't tell which, but I've tried to say hi a few times.  Dark-haired, scraggily-bearded guy wears mostly black clothes, rides a fix gear bike, has a dark-clothed girlfriend, and isn't friendly.  There's a generic 20-something couple living on the other side of my wall.  They seem nice.

The Chinese couple in their 30's strike me as cold and distant.  They must be doctors or something.  He often smells like alcohol.

Another couple seems to share a love for crazy, curly, black hair.  They are short, quiet and strange-looking.

My neighbors directly above me scare me a little.  One has a nervous, maniacal laugh that penetrates through the walls and down the pipes.  The other has similarly jarring whooping cough fits from time to time.  I have not identified these people visually.

There are a couple of fresh-faced girls who live in the building – probably busy grad students.  I never hear a peep out of most of the other apartments here.

Ok, maybe my neighbors aren't pod-people, but one year in, I'm still perplexed about who exactly lives here.  Is there a common thread among us besides a willingness to pay exorbitant rent?  Perhaps I'll get to the bottom of this mystery some time this year.  At the very least, I'll try to say hello a little more forcefully, and, as a last resort, I may even smile at my neighbors.

I'd like a hybrid, but they still suck

Hybrid cars still aren't good enough! I have a 1998 Honda Civic LX that I bought in 2004 for $6000. I've driven it about 55,000 miles since then. Does it make sense to buy a new Civic Hybrid instead of another used Civic? Let's see.

A new hybrid costs about $17,000 more than a ~2005 Civic LX. My current car gets about 33mpg (and fading), so we'll assume that a newer one will get about the same mileage. At what point would I break even on the hybrid?

$17,000 x 1gal/$4 x 33mpg = 140,000 miles

That means, at my current driving level, it would take 10 years to pay back the difference of the hybrid. If gas goes to $8/gallon, then it's still 5 years (and besides, I think I'd be using my car much less at that point).

Not only is the cost too high, but the technology is still advancing enough that it's probably smart to wait for 50mpg or better technology. Also, I'm guessing that it'd be a bad idea to buy any used hybrid in the next few years until we start to see the technology plateau. There's not much fuel-economy difference between a 1998 Civic and a 2005, but I'm hoping the 2015 Civic will be much improved over today's hybrid (hell, I thought we were supposed to be driving hover cars by 2000!).

Sure, if you've got a gas-guzzling SUV or just about any American car of the past 20 years, it may be a good idea to replace it with a new hybrid, but for me, it just doesn't make sense yet. I wish that weren't the case, and I hope I have better options when I look to replace my car someday. Come on, Honda and Toyota! Get to work!