Sunday, May 24, 2009

Before you buy

True Car gives you values of what people are paying for cars in your zip code. It allows you to customize the car and then shows the bell curve of what a good price is, what a great price is, and you can deduce from that information when you're being taken for a ride. Just another tool to go along with the Kelly Blue Book, CarFax, Edmunds, and Consumer Reports, but this one really helps demystify what a good deal for a car is.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

My left foot

I went to the doctor today. In addition to Achilles tendinitis, which has been plaguing me for the past three years in both legs (especially bad in the left), I also have plantar fasciitis in my left foot. No word yet on the status of the knee as I still need to get some x-rays. It could be fine -- just irritated/swollen still from my fall in January -- or I could have actually torn/strained something or there might be something -- bone chip, maybe -- floating around in there, which might account for the intermittent pain and the locking-up in a prone position.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


The Honda Insight is so not made of buy. Just tiny and cramped inside -- my head nearly skimmed the ceiling -- with a dashboard that looks like a video arcade. The rear window is hard to see out of and then there's a random little icon that tells you if you are driving efficiently or not; it's hard to see the point when it's really the job of the hybrid to manage the fuel efficiency, yes? The car handled roughly and the model we test drove -- at 250 miles only -- was making a funky rattling noise already. Anyway, not liking the Honda Insight a whole lot. Only the price has something going for it, but it's only a couple grand removed from the Prius' base model. And oh -- the lifetime warranty that they're offering on Hondas -- could be a good selling point. Even so, if you're looking, I say go for the Prius.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The best of times

I've spent the last few months worrying a lot. It's like every little thing that happens seems to be 1000 times worse than it probably actually is. I don't know if it's the overload of the bad economic news that I translate and take personally. As a result, it's been difficult to make simple decisions like, should I buy a new computer?

This computer still works very well but is slow as heck and makes it difficult to really get much done; even with DSL, it's like being on dial-up again. But then I think about the $300 to $400 investment for a new PC and I shudder at the expense. Is it really the time to go out and buy something? What if we are indeed sliding towards the Great Depression and we reach 30 percent unemployment? A new PC won't help put food on the table. What if I needed that $300-$400 and it's wrapped up in a more technological advanced but depreciable item?

It's the dilemma. We need to spend to get this economy going but even those of us who are still employed (knock on wood) and should be spending are pulling way back. Two-edged sword. Don't know how to get out of this mindset and the media doesn't help with its constant barrage of reminders on just how bad things are. It makes harder to get to the point where you understand that it's the best time to buy certain items (car, house etc), but it's hard to part with that money. Having a monthly note for a new car or new house antes up the stress level if indeed you lose your job and then can't find another one for months.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Happy Milestone!

I've been remiss in acknowledging that my beloved Corolla hit 100,000 miles this week. We're currently sitting at 100,160. We've driven a long way together, baby.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Where do I know you from again?

I admit it: I Facebook for the word games.

When I first joined Facebook, it was a novelty -- all these people I hadn't seen or talked or thought of in years were at my fingertips. I was going through lists of people thinking, "I know you, what have you been up to?" The emails started going fast and furious. It was amazing to find out that some people were married, had a baby or two or three, and then to find out where they live. I don't know what I was thinking -- that as my life progressed, was everyone else right where I left them? It's disconcerting to say the least.

I've stopped actively looking for people to friend on Facebook. Part of it is because I've found everyone that I do want to be in touch with. Some of them are people I'm regularly in touch already (Hi Liz!), but others we haven't had any contact -- not even a Christmas card -- in years. In two cases, I knew I knew the person, but couldn't remember from where: high school? college? camp? Somewhere else entirely? It was mystifying to me. It then occurred to me that I have three groups of friends on Facebook.

The first group are the people I actively keep in touch with and even see in person regularly. The second group are people I don't keep in as close of touch anymore, maybe a Christmas card here and there, or an IM chat/email exchange every now and then, but we haven't seen each other in years. However, with this second group, there's still an active fondness and a definite desire to hang out if ever we're in the same geographic region again. And finally, the third group - people I have met/spent time with during the high school/college years, but never developed close enough relationships with to keep in touch later. Most of the people in this group are from high school.

Then there's the fourth group: people on whom I once spent time with but don't have any desire to renew any kind of acquaintance with them for whatever reason. I always feel bad when I ignore those requests/emails, but my thoughts have been lately, "What happens if I renew my friendship/acquaintance with this person?" Would it add to my life? Would I be happy that this person is back? Clearly there was a reason why I made a choice to minimize contact, so why would I start up again, knowing that no good could come out of it?

To me, that's the ultimate dilemma. I like using Facebook to send quick messages to my RL friends and planning meet-ups etc., and I like looking at the pictures and news from people who are in the second group. The third group is moderately amusing and nostalgic. The fourth group just plain out stresses me out because my instinct to do right and be polite is mitigated by the fact that sometimes people are oil and water and no good can come out of an attempt to stir the pot and come up with something new and equally unappetizing. Or something.

Facebook for the word games is a whole lot less complicated and less fraught with emotional social issues.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Tech note

I didn't want to enable comment moderation, but the first comment spam showed up in the previous post. I'm still not requiring login, but I am requiring the letter code picture thingy to deter further spammage. I apologize for the inconvenience. The offending comment has been removed from this blog.

Sunday, May 03, 2009


Going Dutch -- How I Learned to Love the European Welfare State.

"... does the cartoon image of it — encapsulated in the dread slur 'socialism,' which is being lobbed in American political circles like a bomb — match reality? Is there, maybe, a significant upside that is worth exploring?"