Toyota Floormat Recall

This is a pretty serious problem: Toyota plans huge U.S. recall for dangerous floormats
It sounds more like a headline from the Onion, but it seems like it’s responsible for deaths. I can attest to the dangers of certain types of floor mats because they caused problems in my car last year a few times.
I was using an aftermarket rubber floor mat on the driver’s side of our Cefiro and the mass of the raised lip made the front edge heavy. The mat was naturally pushed forward when I moved my feet around while driving, and once in a while it would get pushed up onto the accelerator. When this happened, I immediately noticed that the pedal wasn’t responding so I shifted to neutral and instinctively kicked the pedal a few times to work the problem loose. This caveman solution worked well enough, but it was pretty surprising to say the least. I dreaded the day when this would happen with my wife driving.
The thing is, I had no idea what was causing the problem at the time. I suspected a mechanical problem with the throttle, so I took it in to the dealer and “rush” ordered a new throttle cable and assembly. Meanwhile, I had the current assembly taken apart, examined, and lubricated. I also had the return spring on the accelerator pedal stalk changed for good measure. It took forever for the new part to come in and a couple weeks into waiting, the accelerator got stuck once again. This time, it took several rounds of furious kicking to get the pedal free. I’d had enough. I ordered the part through a specialty store in town and they got it for me in one day (fucking dealers!). The dealer changed it out. I was happy… Of course, a week later, the accelerator got stuck again.
This time when it happened, I was on a wide open road with nobody around, so after I shifted into neutral, I put my seat all the way back and took a careful look down at the pedals. Lo and behold, the floor mat had shifted forward and was holding down the accelerator part way. I went by my homeboy Ot’s accessory shop and bought a nice set of lower profile mats that fit my car’s floor design much better and don’t shift forward. I haven’t had problems since.
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The thing is, if you have one of the cars described in the recall, what you could do to prevent problems is IMMEDIATELY REMOVE THE DRIVER’S SIDE FLOOR MAT(S).

A Visa Crawl

Long-term foreign residents of Thailand not fortunate (unfortunate?) enough to have a permanent residency or Thailand Elite card must apply for visa extensions, usually every year. It’s pretty much expected to be a long and drawn-out process. This year proved to be no exception. We left Mahasarakham at 6:15 AM and arrived at Mukdahan immigration shortly after 9.
Because the idiots in our personnel department couldn’t get our documents together, our trip had been delayed until one of the busiest days of the year – just a couple days before many people’s contracts (and hence visas) end.
The whole day was long and tiring; I spent most of it standing at the application window watching our stack of applications not moving on the counter for about 5 hours straight and joking with the immigration official, fellow teachers, and other random applicants. Let’s just cut to the chase and say that we left the immigration office after 7 PM, nearly three hours after official closing time.
I have to give props where they’re due and say that the two officials working the window really worked hard and got everybody through with a minimum of fuss, all things considered. They were also very nice, patient, and understanding, which hasn’t been the case in the past at either Muk or Nong Khai immigration.
The next and final step in this process is getting our work permits renewed, and since the aforementioned idiots in Personnel managed to delay our paperwork for this as well, we were unable to go today and are forced to go tomorrow. It has to get done tomorrow, or we have to leave the country and our visas will be canceled. That might cause a bit of a stir, even by the low standards of Personnel, so I’m pretty sure they’ll be ready. I just hope they’re done in the morning like we’ve been promised, because I’m teaching a community learning class in the afternoon…
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UPDATE 9/30: I FINISHED! I FINISHED! I FINISHED! No more of this bullshit for another year (except for reports every 90 days)!!!

Pinky's still still alive

I really should take a photo because he (He may very well be a she, but who can tell? He acts like a he. Then again, he was smart enough not to go over the fence and get eaten by the doberman next door like his siblings, so maybe he’s a she…) is now about four times bigger than when we got him and it’s getting very cramped in his sleeping box. He started acting like a pet a week or so after he became the last chick standing, coming back to the box every day when it got dark and running around our legs for food… Now he’s Max’s first pet.
He loves to eat crabs. Who knows why, but these little marsh crabs sometimes wander into our yard from the pond across the street. When Pinkie sees one, he picks off all their legs and arms, then pecks out the eyes. If I catch him doing it, I’ll usually smash the crab’s carapace and then Pinkie gets to eat a fine kanimiso. It’s his favorite treat. Today I ran over a fairly large one on the way out of the driveway. I took it to Pinkie and realized that at some point he must have gotten pinched, because he was a lot more cautious than he was the first couple of times I saw him go at it. This crab was already dead and smashed, though. Pinkie started to chow down and I left for work a second time.
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Related: Pinky’s still alive and Five jive colors of haplessness
Also: Here’s a photo of the kind of crab mentioned above that I took a couple years ago, before our house was complete.