My supposed Midlife Crisis

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I was on the treadmill at the gym and for some reason thoughts of my car came to mind.  I don’t know why.

My car is pretty cool, very cool, when you consider who I am and the cars that I have driven in my lifetime.  Teaching in an affluent school is fun, especially when you drive up in a car that has more rust than any beater on the road.  Frankly, I didn’t care.  Didn’t care as well when we, as a family, were down to one car and I actually managed to walk to the bus stop, take a bus, and walk the rest of the way to school.  It was particularly funny since the kids recognized me on the local bus and questioned me consistently as to whether or not I was a “narc” paid to make sure they were behaving.

So, in 2005, in need of a car, I went online and found a great deal in Evanston, a bit south of me.  It was a Subaru Impreza WRX, a very cool car which is almost not cool in that I really don’t think most people would recognize it as such.  A Subaru, with all wheel drive, black interior and in the infamous Subaru blue, I bought this car at the boys’ recommendation.  They study vehicles and knew of it, knew that it was a rally car, usually known for the Paris-Dakar (Senegal in Africa) Rally.  Although it doesn’t look fast in my eyes, per se, it is turbo charged and moves swiftly.  I test drove it and bought it on the spot and we never had any regrets.

It turns out the blue color is cool and the car is amazing.  It is also stick shift, something I love in a car.  Forced at the age of eighteen to learn how to drive it, the only car I could borrow from my sister to get to my educational internship, I learned on the hilly part of Cleveland, of course.  I remember hating left hand turns and also that intersection in Parma where the light turns red right in the middle of a relatively large incline.

The car is the one everyone wants to borrow, black leather seats that are heated to keep you warm in the winter and damn it knows how to hold the road!

My pretty car has a story as well.  In 2008, one of the boys borrowed it to go to his warehouse.  It was December and weather was cold but uneventful, or so we thought.  We were waiting for his return in the evening .  We didn’t hear from him, he didn’t answer his phone.  I think it was around 11:00 pm and he walks in the house.  He seemed a bit out of it.  It turns out he had been going north on Route 41 and was in Park City, south of Waukegan.  He apparently hit “black ice” and lost control of the car.  He ended up in the ditch adjacent to the road, in the center after rolling twice.  The cop who stopped to see what was going on said later that he was really upset at having a rotten start to his evening, he was thinking the worst.  Lo and behold, he walks out of the car with nary a bruise.  The only somewhat substantial injury was a cut above his eye from where the rear view mirror tagged his after being detached.  The trunk had flown open and its contents dispersed (we picked them up the next day, included in its contents was my favorite, “Merde, il pleut” umbrella) all over, the only real loss there was a cell phone.  The interior of the car was seemingly untouched, the airbags didn’t even go off; the little impact from rolling wasn’t enough to cause airbag inflation (I called Subaru on this and that is their take). We did force Richie to go to the hospital to be checked, he was very sore for days, but overall, absolutely fine.

We dealt with the insurance issues, and within days I had the 2008 version of my 2005 so-called midlife crisis car.  I figure, not only is it one cool car, it had saved my son.  Koerners can get upset.  Usually it is for things that are unimportant.  With things like this, our thought is that cars and materials can be replaced but human life cannot.  The safety record of a Subaru is well known so another “Blue Demon” was added to our long list of cars we have had in our fleet.  I have certainly come a long way from my first car:  a yellow, stick shift, Ford Pinto!

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To rinse or not to rinse the dishes…

Every so often, we all experience a moment that seems to be the impetus for many more, a snowball effect of thoughts and research that go somewhere else.  As I reflect back, at the time you have no idea what is occurring.  A simple moment expands, morphs, evolves into something else.

Many years ago, I recall sitting in my good friend’s apartment in Strasbourg, France.  We had just had a great lunch in the kitchen, which is unusual in itself, dining being more of an experience than that, but this was a special treat since I was a close enough friend to be less formal than normal.  I remember being in shock that she was just taking the dishes and throwing them in the dishwasher without rinsing them.  I said to Christine in French, “You aren’t rinsing the dishes?”  She replied, “I have a dishwasher, why on earth would I do that, that is what a dishwasher is for.” That started a discussion that turned into a bit of Koerner research that changed our family ways for good.

Upon my return home, I discussed the situation with my wife.  We were in need of a dishwasher and the idea of not having to rinse the dishes sounded like a sound, practical, logical way of dealing with them.  We were also so tired of not being able to hear when the dishwasher was working.  Thus began the research.  We found out that the European dishwashers were less noisy when functioning because they had a system that didn’t require a food grinder.  The heat and pressure from their systems meant that it wasn’t necessary.  They did have a filter which needed periodic attention but that is truly a no brainer as it doesn’t require all that much from you.  We decided to pay a little more and we purchased a Miele, similar to that of my French friend.

The first time we used it we weren’t even sure it was running, it was so quiet.  So, the other day, when our dying Miele was emptying its last jets on the Koerner dinnerware, we went out and bought another.  Yes, it is possible to put your dishes straight into the dishwasher without rinsing, and we have now done it for years.