Showing posts from October, 2006

The weekend of car shopping. . .no luck yet.

We spent 12 hours yesterday and ~2 hours today looking over cars, and we found-out several things:

* Old Buicks. one can amortize production costs like General Motors. The Buick Century we looked at definitely felt like a quality buick from 1985, manufactured in 2002, right down to the front bench, column shifter, and coarse, powerless engine.

* Mazda 626, a very surprising, well-handling machine, but too small for our needs, we think. Whitney had a ball driving it, but it felt like a 'tween' car...between a civic/corolla and a decent family sedan. Also, CR doesn't like them too much

* Salespeople are highly variable in the used-car trade, and we saw the full gamut, from "Big John" at Swope (lied to us about everything...I barely believe 'John' was his real name..) to Danielle, the waif who looked 12-years-old. It think Whitney and I freaked-out Danielle.

* The Toyota Camry really is that good. It's like, they took everything that makes sen…



Still, I don’t really care. I want my ER doctor to understand anatomy, even if all she has to do is put the computerized defibrillator nodes on my chest and push the big red button, and I want programmers to know programming down to the CPU level, even if Ruby on Rails does read your mind and build a complete Web 2.0 social collaborative networking site for you with three clicks of the mouse.

Dang straight!

The end of 'Sharkey'

It's not final yet, but our Intrigue is junkyard bound. Whitney got a call from the 'State Farm Total Loss' department, which we assume implies it's totaled.

I went by this morning, and collected what few things I'd left last week--garage door opener, some CDs, lotion, hair brads/clips/scrunchees. The poor car looked so year, 25k relatively trouble-free miles, we're moving on.

Last night was narrowing the list...our requirements:

* Must be < 200" long (has to fit in our garage like Sharkey did).
* Within our budget
* Whitney must be able to drive it
* 4 doors
* Big enough to be a 'family car'--stroller, car seat, etc.
* Safe
* Reliable
* Low operating costs--regular gas, good mileage, cheap/easy to repair.

Here's what we have:

Buick Century
Another Intrigue (01 or 02 model)
Mazda 626
Honda Accord
Toyota Camry

Only downside to the Intrigue are the known mechanical/body issues--steering rack, strut tower bearings, window regulators (dumbest desig…

Finished a weird paperback...

Erik suckered me into reading another of his slightly-off books: Gil's All-Fright Diner

Pretty neat, little book, read over 2 hours in 2 days. The premise is essentially a folksy, redneck buddy tale, but these two buddys Duke and Earl (yeah, ask Erik says, "You gotta know something's up when the two main characters are named Duke and Earl"), they happen to be a Werewolf and a Vampire. Redneck Werewolf and Vamipire...

So, the story starts with their old pickup truck (naturally...) running out of gas in front of Gil's All Night Diner. Gil skipped town a few years ago, under mysterious circumstances, and the proprietress, Loretta, has two problems--she needs to run a new gas line, and she keeps getting attacked by Zombies from yon graveyard.

The premise holds-up pretty well, and the book is full of quotable quotes...overall, it was good to read ANYTHING. Distraction is good for one, it would seem...

ARRRGH!!! And me without a camera...

Further on the I need a small digicam front:

Driving home Monday, what should appear in my rear view mirror...silver with two blue-ish stripes?

Yep. Ford GT, Tailed by a bellicose Fox-bodied mustang with an exhaust, this guy wasn't having any of it. Right at the Northern I-64/I-75 split the GT driver put his foot down and it was like the Stang had thrown out an anchor. He was GONE, all this on a roll from about 85mph (at which point, the GT was probably only at the top of 2nd gear!)

* * *

At the other end of the spectrum, I saw one of these:

It's a Smart ForTwo, the smallest car on sale in the world (I think...) Tiny 1.0L engine, tucked underneath the floor. You 'parallel park' one by nosing it perpendicular to the curb.


Haven't slept very well since the excitement last week, and it's wearing on routine is off and I'm suddenly a very light sleeper. I still go to sleep easily, but I wake up very easily, too, and I'm having bad dreams.

And boy, have I just been a joy to be around--moody, sleepy, and quick tempered.

Everything's just in limbo at the moment--all 3 projects I'm on, my car's in the shop, Whitney's car. Total state of suspended animation.

Disturbing sign of the apocalypse #437

So, we picked Joey Actually-My-Name-is-Simon, and headed Team Combs over to McDonald's in Shelbyville. While in McD's, I noticed the fry assembly line: At one end, close to the drive-thru window is the holding area, where crisp, deep fried potatoes sit under a heat lamp in red McDonald's packages awaiting customers.

To the right of that is the deep fryer, the heart of America's burgeoning artereosclerotic crisis, where hyrdogenated vegetable oil at God-knows-how-hot fries the rather-uniform Taters as they sit in baskets. The fryer's apparently run by a digital timer, set each time a basket lowers into the oil.

All pretty mundane, the height of Fast food efficiency...

...and then, we see that efficiency, amp'd-up to eleven

To the right of the fryer was a machine that had a hopper at the top, a diagonal line of the fryer baskets below the hopper, and a mysterious empty space below the line above, perpendicular to the top. To my horror, I saw a girl dump 5 bags …

Wow :-)

Gotta love a good mechanic's vise:

Installed my birthday present from Stu on the orkbench today...felt like a crime drilling those 4 half-inch holes in that beautiful workbench, but it went pretty well.

It's an awesome vise: Two positions, two work anvils, and it swivels through 360 degrees.

Other random photos:

Team Combs will be riding in style, yo

Joey, da ninja!

Whitney's accident

Not much funny about this one.

Whitney's fine, the baby's fine, and the car (at first blush) looks repairable. Joey's up with his dad in Louisville, so he's good too.

Whitney was pulling across North Broadway in front of our church, from the Buzz Cafe to the church, and ran the right front of the car into the left side of a northbound Lexus GX470

They bumped at about a 45 degree angle.

* * *

State Farm had everything in hand, and Collision Care in Lexington has the car, so all seems to be okay...

New leaves in the fall

Fall is often the time I turn over a new leaf. Surmounting my annual September insanity, October and November are often times of rededication and renewal. Weird, I know, because for everything else in the Northern Hemisphere, these are times of dormancy and decay.

So, yesterday, I did it again: For personal reasons, and after much consideration, I gave-up unbounded use of the internet at home. My wife is my accountability partner, guardian of the (changed) passwords to all accounts on our computer. It's a pretty drastic step, but the last 10 years of so of my life have left me with little other choice.

So, this morning, I was irritable and almost had the shakes--I couldn't check my gmail,, or look at headlines. I don't know how long 'detox' will last, but I hope it inspires other, positive things in my life.

Sad, weak people

This guy came and spoke at Georgetown College when I was taking religion classes there.

Sad, sad story, if it's true.

Eye candy


The New Cardinal workshop

:-) Making things is fun.

My father-in-law, Stu, is a former shop teacher. He likes making things, and probably likes teaching others how to make things even more. He's made me a fabulous workbench, and decided it was high time I learned about power tools.

Now, I've spent years watching Norm Abrams's New Yankee Workhop, marveling at the things Norm can do with his keen eye, instincts, and...uh...$100k of power tools.

So, Stu had a project for us: Build some peg-boards to mount tools on. Sounds simple enough, but for a guy who's never used a table saw, it was pretty neat!

First, we ripped 4 pine two-by-fours on the table saw to make eight 1.5" pieces, then we ran the milled edges across a joiner to even-up the edges. If you've never seen a joiner, imagine a steel 'L', only the L is 3D and about 2.5 feet long with a steel blade in the middle at the bottom of the L. The whole works reminded me of an angry beaver, trying to rip off my fingers as we used it…


Let's see...

word-processor: Check.
spreadsheet: Check.

Google's edging closer to having an Online office suite

Neat, go-anywhere technology.


Me: Man, I wish they'd create invisible fence for PEOPLE to keep them out of your dang yard!

E: They have.

Me: Really?

E: It's just so hard getting people to wear the collars!

Happy unnecessary, decried holiday!

Yep. It's Columbus Day

Celebrate the greatest conquest & associated genocide in recorded history? No thanks.

"Fun with Dick and Jane"

This was a waste of time: A premise that can't sustain a feature-film, combined with Jim Carrey's hammy performance had Whitney and I surfing the web during the DVD.

Lone bright spot: David Duchovny is one VERY lucky man. Tea Leoni, as in "Spanglish," was a lift to every scene she was in.

Randomness. . .

You know, seems like I could use Marty Brenneman to narrate my last few days of build agony

"It's Harold up to bat now...the offering. SWIINNNNNNG and a miss. Oh he forgot to include the 33rd build file from the install team."

"Harold again, he's 0-for-101 at this point in the game...Gets a piece of this one, fouling it back to the test lab."

"That's a high fly ball and this one belongs to the MVP team"

Looks like the build will go off today. Yay.

* * *

True to form, the opening day of Keeneland's fall meet gave us the first crisp morning (42 deg F), allowing me to sport my new Columbia 3-in-1 coat

I'm gonna be one of THOSE dads....

So I get an email from Wal-Mart with "This weeks deals" or whatever.

Inside was a little pink doll.

and I'm like, "AWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW! Maria would love that!"



Got to be really good friends with vimdiff today as I tried to kick-start the build for our "End of Lifed, never need anything else but a plugin" product.

Yeah, well. We need it again, and she's not so happy to build this time. We played with the build significantly for the last product, pseudo-integrating Ant, while leaving around lots of makefiles, an arcane language of rules, predicates and suffixes

...and, it's still not working. I'm most of the way there, but its bailing-wire-and-twine at best.

Moment of clarity of the day: The Byzantine build scripts (the PERL scripts that wrap our hellacious make/ant/maven/thingamagigger files) started to make tremendous sense. Trad is the man. Trust in the Trad. Trad is good. Love is war. Peace is...

okay, I'm going home.

freaky dreams

So, I had a dream last night that I was having an operation on my bad knee, but I was under local anesthesia (or else, I just couldn't feel the's a DREAM!).

So, the docs get in there and I have not one but TWO ligaments on the right side of my knee. One's cut and the other is so badly cut the doctors cut it and repair it, rather like a Symphysiotomy (in my head thanks to Whitney's midwife...ugh!)

So, anyway, the docs repair the ligaments with what looks like a cross between bubble-gum and ear wax.

As promised...ultrasound!

Told ya...look at that cute nose!