Friday, June 23, 2017

Why Have a Car

When I see commercials for new cars and they're talking about the monthly payments, they just don't make sense to me. It's like, ok, your monthly payment is less than $200. Great. But your down payment (on a rental?? I mean, they're not calling it a "deposit", presumably for a reason) works out to more than a year's worth of monthly payments ...and the lease-term on some of them is now down to only two years. Meaning that, to get that $200/month term, you're paying three years' worth of money and committing yourself to paying down-payments every other year.

Of course, the above ignores that the amount of mileage you're allowed to put on your rental is trifling (unless you commute the way I do)? And, if you live in a state like I do, just because you don't own the vehicle doesn't mean you're absolved of the tax-liability for the vehicle (VA has "personal property tax" that you have to pay whether you own or lease) Seriously: why do people lease any more?? I just don't understand the financial advantage of it.

Granted, the purchase options seem kind of silly, now, too. When I was first buying cars, typical notes were still three years long - though four-year notes were starting to become the norm. However, it seems like we're now into terms that are six years long ...and the typical warranties are lagging the notes' lifetimes even more than they used to.

And car-makers are wondering why those damned millennials have less interest in cars than previous generations. I mean, if I were forming my buying habits during the current market, I probably would have low interest in owning or leasing a car.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Pricing Complaints

With Whole Foods being in the news from the Amazon announcement, I'm seeing all of the old "Whole Foods is overpriced" rants being re-hashed. Maybe that's true in other areas of the country. Dunno. All I know is that at the ones closest to me, they're price competitive when you do actual apples-to-apples price-comparisons. What I've found, price-wise, is:
  • if they carry something that is sold elsewhere (e.g., a "regular" grocery store, they're price-competitive - often beating Giant or Safeway on those items).
  • if they carry a local product from, say, a farmer/producer that sells in the local farm market, their prices are the same (unless the seller at the farmers market intentionally undercuts Whole Foods' pricing
  • they're a skosh higher than, say, Total Beverage on same-item-pricing for wines and beers
  • they're about the same as Wegmans on items from the dairy-case, seafood counter and butcher's counter
  • You get positively KILLED on things like prepared foods (though, the ingredients on one of their sandwiches tends to be different than the ones you'll find a Potbelly's or Jimmy Johns ...and in a completely different class than your local Subway)
  • You get killed on vitamins/supplements ...but they're usually carrying brands/options for which there's no meaningful point of comparison
The problem ísn't that they're overcharging for what they carry, it's that their inventory tends to be weighted towards "premium" options. Complaining about Whole Foods' prices seems a lot like whining that the pair of hand-crafted full-grain leather shoes you saw at Nieman Marcus are so much more expensive than the machine-made "Genuine Leather" knockoffs at Payless.

Note: I made the shoe comparison b/c it's fair (see Leather Grades article)

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Freaking Campers

I only use the desk at my "official" work-site 1-2 days a week. On the days I do come in, I arrive early (before 0600) and leave early (by 14:00).Some people assume that, because they never see me here, I don't actually use this desk. So, if they don't have an assigned desk (or don't like the one they have) they'll start camping at my desk.

It's always kind of funny when some camper comes rolling to my desk first thing in the(ir) morning and find me sitting at the desk. They get this butt-hurt look on their face ...probably b/c they realize "shit, now I need to find some other workspace to borrow, today". It's really great when they ask, "is this desk going to be available soon." It's like, "uh, no fucker: this is my desk - I'll be using it for as long as I want to use it."

When it comes to spaces I use, I have spartan tendencies, to begin with. That it feels like we get moved every so often to accommodate the whims of "the powers that be," I don't feel especially compelled to violate those spartan tendencies.

My boss told me, "you need to make your space look a bit more lived in. That will discourage campers." I need to get a couple of my longer-haired, female friends - preferably ones with kids - and have them dress up "sister-wives" style - and then go for studio photos. It would be great to leave a "family" portrait in my cube that looked like I was a fundamentalist LDS.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Musical Memery...

For the past few days when I've logged into Facebook to see what friends are up to, there've been more and more people participating in a "10 bands" thing. As good as my memory is, it's hard for me to remember bands that I haven't seen:
  • First couple years after moving to DC, my one housemate was buddies with the staff at the old 930 club. Meant we saw bands a couple nights per week for 18 months - all for the price of bar-tab and tips.
  • After I moved out of there, I had a job with SGI that had me on the road most of the 22mo that I worked there. Saw bands in venues all over the US.
  • Somewhere late in my tenure with SGI, I met several event promoters in DC. In exchange for hosting their websites for them (I had an old SPARCserver co-located at a local ISP), I got into pretty much any show I'd want to see for free. As a result, much of my 20s was spent in rock bars, small nightclubs, larger indoor venues and the very occasional pavillion and arena shows. Only stadium shows I went to were festivals (several Lollapaloozas and couple Ozzfests - including the 2000 one in San Jose).
So, it's hard for me to pick bands I haven't seen ...that probably aren't immediately obvious. It's only further complicated by the fact that, in recent years, I've been making more of an effort to try to get out and see live acts, again. And the acts I'm seeing now are radically different than the ones of my pre-40s.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Opportunities in Loss

I used my blog to help me work through the process of loss. Being a pet owner - particularly when you tend to get pets via rescues - means that dealing with loss is an inevitability. It sucks. It's like a kick in the guts that keeps on giving long after pet's final breath has been drawn.

That said, I have been quite fortunate. Thus far, I've generally been in the position to open my home to a new pet when one of the incumbents has died. While we opted not to replace the cats I'd had for seventeen years, we've replaced each of the prior dogs that has passed. Most recently, after Cira's passing, we got Kaiya — the black dog in the video, below:

Lady (the white-headed dog) has displayed some iffiness with new dogs - at least while we've had her out walking on-leash. Kaiya was described to us by her rescue organization as being a mostly chill dog, but had some on-leash iffiness of her own. Fortunately, we were able to meet her in a scenario where both dogs were able to be introduced and monitored off-leash (they were leashed, but the leashes were dropped ...available for use if something went sideways). The introduction was promising, so, we returned the following week to make her ours.

As you can see in the video, the two dogs seem to be getting on well. They rough-house, but that's bullie play-style. If you knew Lady's barks, you'd be able to hear that she's play-barking throughout the entire video. As I write this, both dogs are laying curled up with each other on the couch-pillow next to me. It's very warm. It's also very happy-making.

18 Springs

Eighteen springs ago, I selected two kittens from this bundle to be my companions for 17 years. The kitten at the far left came to us as and remaind "Bella" - she was the breeder's pick of the litter. The kitten to the far right became known to us a "Grumbles" - a name that his actions and demeanor demanded (I don't even remember what the breeder had named him as he name changed the first time I fed him, it changed to Grumbles).

I do wonder if either of the siblings outlived my pair or even lasted as long as my pair. I know that Jagger - the one crawling on top of the pile - was the last adopted because he had some early health issues. Never knew the name of the fourth kitten as she was already promised to another before I selected Bella (and came back for Grumbles).

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Candy Nightmare

With Easter looming, a local veterinary service sent out a notice to remind people, "don't let your pets have chocolate"

Picture Not Directly Related
We've never intentionally given any of our pets candy - particularly not chocolate - Easter or otherwise. That said ...We'd once had a candy incident with our first pair of bullies.

We'd had to go run a quick errand and had penned the dogs up like we usually did for such absences. We were gone maybe twenty minutes. This time, however, the female decided to break them out of their pen and go after some "low-hanging fruits". We came home to find both dogs sitting happily on the couch, looking at us like, "you forgot to lock us up - we figured it was cool to sit here on the couch."

Then we found the shredded, empty box that had previously been filled with dark-chocolate truffles. A small distance away, we found the remnants of the bag that had about 1.5lbs of a mixed-assortment of jelly beans. Closish to that, we found the remnants of a bag that had been full of dried apricots. All three had been up on the counters. Amusingly, the bag of bison jerky that had been sitting on the ottoman had been left untouched.

Called the vet to get the opinion on whether to bring the dogs down (had to bring both since neither dog had obvious signs of having consumed the goodies and bother were scampering about happily). Vet said that because they were dark chocolate, we needed to bring them down for ipecac, charcoal and sedatives.

Turns out - after a *very* colorful purge - that only one of the dogs had been bad. Even so, both dogs had to suffer the purge-protocol because there wasn't a good way to ensure that both hadn't partaken without the purge.

Both dogs were unscathed by the experience (purging was less than 45 minutes after food-consumption). I always felt bad for the innocent dog, though.

Saturday, April 8, 2017


Down-side to having bought my wife a new phone, today: she is/was wanting me to reinstall the wallpaper from her old phone to her new phone. That wallpaper was a picture of our 2016-deceased cats, our March-deceased staffie and my white apb/boxer all laying together in a fur-knot. It's a nice picture, but, it apparently only existed on her phone wherever Android stores wallpapers (and not in the generic "Pictures" folder). It took me digging through nearly 1900 pictures to discover this frustrating Android storage-quirk.

So, I went to my laptop to see if I could find a copy. I've dug through a couple years worth of pet pictures stored on my laptop. Have yet to find the exact picture, but found many other nice ones.

Also found the realization that, each time you invite life into your life, you frequently also invite death.