Showing posts from August, 2008

Quickie: "Frugal" is...

...going into Williams-Sonoma expecting there to be free food, just like Saturday afternoon at Sam's Club.

Alas, it was not to be.

We did get out of the mall with a brisk walk, some family time, and $4 under budget. w00t!

Quickie: One Family, under Allergies, with sniffles and Kleenex for All

Among Joey, Maria, Whitney, and myself, we must have every allergy going. Nuts, milk, pet dander, pollen, mold, cigarette smoke, dust. If it's a biggie, we have it.

And we live in the allergy capital of the world. Arizona keeps looking like a good second option.

Trying out 'Jott'

Something caught my eye on TechCrunch the other day: Jott

Jott is a free voice-to-text transcription service. You sign-up, confirm your email address, then pair it to your cell phone. After that, you can dial the Jott Number (1-866-JOTT-321) then dictate an up to 15 second note. It then emails that note to you (well, a link to it in the free version). You can also schedule that note to be forwarded via SMS as a reminder to you.

Very slick little service. I had a couple of ideas for blogs yesterday while Bella, Maria, and I were shopping and I just hit my Jott speed-dial, said "Jott Notes" and then dictated the topic reminder. Simple and very useful.

They're just out of Beta...I'd look for these guys to get acquired by one of the big dogs (Google?) any second now. The technology and user experience is that good.

Quote of the day

"Geeze...I can barely walk."

Quote of the Day

"Hey, I may be an asshole, but at least I was on time for my interview."
-- Jamie

I Can' a Troll anymore

"I can't" is the hardest phrase for me to deal with.

"You can't" is much easier; it's someone else telling me what's not possible or not allowed. You heart it from infancy onwards. You become accustomed to its boundaries and its structure.

"I can't," though, is the phrase of capitulation, self-limitation, and self-doubt. It is at once the hallmark of maturity and wisdom and the harbinger of mediocrity and decline.

I can't; I'm broke
I can't; it's wrong
I can't; it's too far
I can't; my knees won't take it
I can't; it's too dangerous
I can't; it's too risky
I can't; I'm afraid

There's a mishmash of both wisdom and mediocrity in those phrases.

* * *

Phew...on a brighter note, I find the more I move "I can't" from "someone told me I can't" to "I told myself I can't", the better I deal with it. The latter is self-control, and that's a fruit …

Bucket List

Watched the morbid, buddy-comedy The Bucket List last night. I enjoyed it...literally one of those "I laughed, I cried" kinda films, but for weird reasons. There are some genuinely good one-liners in the film, particularly the running gag about "The world's most expensive coffee. Worth watching, but not if you're in a bad mood. This movie is DEPRESSING.

I was sad much of the time I watched this film, for lots of personal reasons. My family's on intimate terms with cancer. I hate hospitals. I haven't travelled and seen as much as I'd like in my life. I've got alot of broken relationships and estranged friends in my past. The memory of Maria's dramatic birth via C-Section is still with me, so any scene where a couple says "goodbye" and operating room doors close is tough for me to watch.

Yeah, I'm a softie. Sue me.

I'd love to take a pass at my own bucket list:

Hold my first grandchild and know s/he is a blessing from Go…

Guest Editorial -- Enter Pampered Chev

Welcome back to school! Time to start the process of turning impressionable youngsters into marketing machines. Thankfully, we don't participate in that as I COMPLETELY disagree with it.

But wait! This year marks a first. The legislature slashed the budget for public schools so THIS year even tho Joey's attending a public school, there are classroom fees, art fees, etc that have to be paid.

Enter Pampered Chef. Everybody LOVES pampered chef (tho I'm personally sick of it - mostly because I lust after it badly and can't afford most of it). However, if you happen to have disposable income:

Joey is selling Pampered Chef. 20% of what he sells goes directly to cover HIS PERSONAL fees and classroom costs. So....if you can help us out, please see us directly before Labor Day. You can pay by check, cash, or credit card when you place the order and then we will deliver it to you once it's received from the school (approximately the middle of September). However, if you don'…

Not so Jazzed--135i Convertible

First things first, let me say--my wife's Skyline Chili recipie is DELICIOUS.

* * *

I got Jeff to come with me to the event ("I need an adult. I NEED AN ADULT!!") to ...ahem...keep me grounded. Plus I figured he'd enjoy it.

So we headed down there, and I got right into a 135i convertible, including iDrive. We tooled around Lexington on the prescribed course for a half-hour, then returned.


What an engine. That twin-turbo 300hp power from 1500rpm all the way to redline
The cockpit has that snug feeling of an E30, right down to the instrument panel.
Initial turn-in is astounding. I believe my E30 has perfect steering, but when this little beast is given steering input, it changes directions RIGHT NOW. No weight transfer. No suspension loading of any kind--it's like the car knew where you were thinking of going and had predetermined the fastest way to get there.


Too much crap: iDrive, automatic transmission, Sirius radio, display scre…

Dave Ramsey: Down in the Valley

Anyone who's known me for more than a week knows I'm a Dave Ramsey fan. In 2001, I discovered Dave's book Financial Peace in the bargain bin of a remaindered-book store and bought it for $4. (Appropriate, given Dave says "Never pay retail"!)

At the time, I had an awesome job right out of college and no student loan debt. I had a 2 year note on my yuppie-mobile Volkswagen (but hey, I *deserved* that car, right?) I did pretty much anything I wanted, anytime, by simply swiping a credit card. However, I kept wondering where all my money went. I didn't have a budget, and I had nary a wisp of a financial plan. Money just flowed like water into, then out of, my hands.

Dave set me straight. I got on a budget, still had plenty of money to play with, but I started saving. I paid off the VW, then bought my next car with cash.

* * *

Fast forward 7 years. I see some of the darker, more difficult sides of the Dave Ramsey plan, and I'd like to talk about them. The…


Well, today's the day. At 11am, I have an appointment to drive a BMW 135i in the Susan Komen Drive for the Cure at Don Jacobs BMW.

Let's hope for my sake it doesn't turn out like last year

I've never even *sat* in a 1-series, but it's supposedly the reincarnation of the E30...

...though, no E30 came from the factory with a twin-turbo 300hp engine. Tee-hee.

* * *

In other news, Maria decided that 4:30 was the proper time to get up this morning, and refused to go back to sleep. Whitney took her from 4:30->5:30 and I got her from then on. Nothing quite like your daughter smiling at you, looking out the door and going, "Slide?" when it's 5:45 am.

Thought: Beach vacations with Re-Re are going to be FUN. "MommyDaddyItsAlmostDawn...canwegodowntothebeach'n'lookfershells? Huh?! Canwecanwecanwe? huh?! How 'bout now?!"

:-) Oh well, I'm a morning person, too.

Lunch Hour

I sit beside Toner Creek on a bench, regarding building 082, or as I call it, The Crystal Palace. It's chilly (!) in the shade today. A light Northerly breeze combined with a persistent cold front--we had a record low of 53 degrees this morning.

Lunch today is a banana and some ABC-123's...yep I'm on the Dave Ramsey diet again.

Decided last night to plow some more money into the E30. As Whitney said, "It's something you love. Enjoy it!" So, I've planned:

A new set of Powerflex Control Arms
Some offset Control Arm Bushings (CABs)
A set of Team Dynamics Pro Race 15x7 wheels:
Some sticky performance rubber of some sort...haven't decided.
A new set of springs & shocks all round

Whitney reports the Beamer's running very rich at startup...need to look over the diagnostics in the Bentley manual again. I've had a niggling suspicion the coolant temp sensor's not telling the ECU the engine's warm.

Maria's 18 months and 1 day old today, and…

Reflections: Second Grade

Today, Whitney and I await reports from Joey's new school and his new teacher. He's moving into the 2nd grade at his new school, and we're hoping this is a new beginning. Joe didn't have a banner 1st grade year--by Christmas break, he'd been branded a troublemaker by his teacher, and by Spring Break, he was living up to that moniker. He seemed bored, unengaged, and lethargic.

In other words, it sounded just like me when I was in 1st grade. My teacher, Mrs. Moore was a stern woman with a round face, a rounder body, and a beat-the-drum teaching style. We sat for 2 hours straight everyday learning phonics. Mrs. Moore had this peculiar style of using a white and red piece of chalk in the same hand. I can still see her writing on the (green) board, showing us how the 'e' on the ends of words like 'pale' and 'sale' made the vowel a long sound.

So yeah, 1st grade was painful. I didn't get into trouble like Joey; I practiced nonviolent res…

:-) Joyous day

10:45 am: Remark that things look like vaporware, and that functionality and scope has been cut enough that HALF THE ROOM questions the usefulness of the thing we're discussing.

But hey, so long as we're on time and under budget, right?

Thank Heaven I only have 1 of these turdly meetings today.

Quote of the Day--Harold Repellant

Mark: Hey if you guys need me to get rid of Harold, I can do it in 3 minutes flat. Just let me show up and start talking.

Well, that was special....

[Life] is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

(Macbeth V:5)

I'm not buying a motorcycle.

Those of you who had "He Comes to His Senses" and "Aug 4th" in the pool, congratulations.

On Responsibility

This is not a rant. This is simply a question:

Aside from Jeff, and my Mom & Dad, people hate the idea of me getting a motorcycle:

"Do you know how stupid you'd look on a motorcycle. Poooooo-ser!"
"You don't strike me as the motorcycle type."
"You really ought to let this motorcycle thing slide."
"What does your WIFE think of all this?"
"Harold, I really think a man should do what he wants, but I really hope you don't get a motorcycle. We like you an awful lot."
Insert sound of MIL biting her tongue

Well, point of fact, my wife is a study in dichotomy: She loves to talk with me ABOUT motorcycles--different styles, how the ride, pros/cons, etc. She just won't consider me on one as a practical matter. Loves the idea; hates the thought.

Then there's the other group, encouraging me the same way you might encourage a snipe hunt: Simply for the trainwreck factor. They want to see me fail, spectacularly, preferably wit…

Three hundred miles, 3 dealers, 1 awesome tiring day

I was up at 7 at Dad's house with one mission for the day--Bike shopping. So, Joey, Dad, and I piled into his 2008 GMC truck and headed for Gateway Cycles in Mt. Sterling.

As I'd learned earlier in the week, Dealers just don't give Test rides. Well, pish-tosh--Gateway DOES. Worked with Robert and he set me up with three very interesting cycles that I tooled around the parking lot for the better part of an hour.

First up was the Kawasaki Versys:

This bike was a real sweetheart--lithe, responsive, fuel-injected, and balanced. It's a 650, so there's enough oomph there. Dad hated it after his test-ride, but I thought it was GREAT. Great to the tune of $7000. Yay.

Next up was the 650 Ninja. Same engine, just wrapped in a true sportbike chassis and tuned for more high-up power:

I liked it, but I didn't like the sportbike positioning much, and Dad DEFINITELY didn't care for it.

The Ninja 500 felt like I was riding a toy--no torque down low and the bike was ju…

GM: Functionally bankrupt?

GM Loses $15.5 Billion in 2Q

...or "What does it look like to lose about $2000 per second?"

Alfred P. Sloan is rolling in his grave somewhere. GM has the financial equivalent of flesh-eating bacteria, cannibalizing its own funds to stay afloat, mortgaging its own brands and capital to operate.

The estimates I saw yesterday were in the $7 Billion to $9 Billion range. Wow.

We need some moniker besides "The Perfect Storm" for this automotive maelstrom...this is more like that 200 ft Tsunami at the end of Deep Impact