Monday, December 28, 2009

Chrissy's Driver rant

drivers everywhere:
-- It actually takes some hardware and software changes to make the rear fog work on your cars. Knowing that, you made this edit consciously and you should at least know that unless you can barely see the lines on the road, you shouldn't use it!
-- Just because you have a headlight out, doesn't mean that you need to flip on your high beams.
-- Don't speed up to pass someone and then hit your brakes before you've even completed the lane change.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

New Content Schmu content

So, I said I was going to try to add some new content to my site this weekend, well, in a way this is new content (granted it is a real cop out). I planned on working on adding ACTUAL content, but the AT-AT Walker took up most of yesterday, and today, we ran to Best Buy, I am watching the Ravens rack up penalty yards, and I am backing up my computer (got a 1.5TB backup drive). Oh, I also got a new mouse, because the left mouse button on my mouse had started failing. I posted two bad videos of the AT-AT walker on Flickr. I will take some good pictures soon.

Well, I did add a bit of content, I updated the sites/links page and I updated the photos page to add a few more HDR images. Well, that is it for now I guess. I had some other things in mind, but I got distracted when the ravens lost Angry

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Walkin' in an Essex Wunderland

So, I figured I would post about what is goin on right now while I rock out to some Mashups (currently Beastie Boys vs Dandy Warhols). It turned out to be a very green Christmas, green as in money. I basically had told half of the family not to send stuff, to just send cash (well, check....can't really trust those postal workers devil) It actually worked out that all of the close family just sent cash. While that means less "stuff" to open on Christmas day, it really is what we needed this year to pay down some debts (the year of hellish car repairs + getting a back deck). Combine that with the fact that we are ahead on the mortgage, have cut down our electric bill in the last few months, now have a 15% discount applied to our cellphone service, we are getting in MUCH better shape financially. (BTW - I am now listing to "One Vision" by Queen and picturing part of the movie Iron Eagle in my head.....hell yeah!)

So, anyway, right now, my sis is in town from Cairo and is staying with us and borrowing Kl0pfer for a few days before she flies down to Fla and then after she gets back from Fla, which means we are tooling around in the Jetta. That's all fine and dandy (we hadn't been driving it much since the great blow-out back in July/August) except that the CEL went on on Monday....I mean seriously...WTF???? at wits end From the looks of it, it was just the misfire coming back again, and it cleared itself and didn't show and problems today when we were driving it. It currently has around 84,000 miles on it, and the rabbit has just under 50,000. It would be nice to trade in the Jetta on a MkVI Golf TDI in the next year or two, but I doubt that finances will support that as comfortably as we would like.

As with last year the Christmas card from Mom & George included the surprise of a new pup puppy dog eyes(this time, a 6yr old Swissy Rescue). They took him in so he wouldn't be put down at the shelter. Speaking of Christmas, this year we are hosting Chrissy's family at the house, so for once, we don't have to go anywhere...not Fla, not where. It will be a nice change. I think next year we will try to hit up Fla for Christmas (hopefully I will have more leave available next week).

I am going to try to put some time into adding more content to sometime in the next couple weeks. Not sure if I will get to it, but I will try. Need to think about what I want to add and where. I have thought about leveraging the server to have web cams in the house that I can monitor remotely for security reasons. It would be cool, and since the server is in the house, it wouldn't have to constantly be uploading images.

Well, this is an unusually long update for me (at least by normal recent trends). I am gonna jet for now, but if I get around to adding content to, I will blog about that here as well. For now, I will leave you with am image of a winter wonderland:


Sunday, December 6, 2009

The grain of salt with which to talk this blog

Like Yoda why am I speaking? Just felt like it. Anyway, I just felt I needed to add a little something to point out that I usually blog at certain times, mainly, when I am in a fowl mood. Why? Because that is just when I feel like sitting down to type usually. When I am distracted and keeping myself busy, I don;t usually sit down to type. Unfortunately, this leads to a very jaded view in the blog. It is all of the bad and none of the good.

For instance, I didn't blog about how Nick and Georgia came over last weekend, and Nick and I played hours of Rock Band (me on Guitar, him on drums) and that we met Chrissy and Georgia for dinner and then came back to the house, played some more Rock Band and then played Fact or Crap.

Sure, there is still a lot for me to be unhappy about right now. The holidays so far haven't been as enjoyable without Mom Mom. My weight is still an issue (which BTW, I am starting on Nutri-System after Christmas). Work is miserable right now (still). So much so, that it has me thinking about going Contractor for the first time since my career began (I am working on my Resume).

So, yes, right now, the lows outweigh the highs (no pun intended, but it was a pretty good one). As time passes, some of those things will improve. I figured I would throw up a blog post right now while I was in a good mood for a change. I just finished rocking out on the Guitar and Drums in Rock Band, we planned out where we are going to put the Christmas tree (now we just need to pick one up). And our finances are improving. That is it for now...gonna go.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Acquaintances I's friends I need

I KNOW a lot of people, but my list of true friends is very short. Of the 190 "Friends" on Facebook, three are true good friends. Unfortunately, one lives 2+ hours away, one is very occupied with his (VERY CUTE) kid, and the other lives half-way across the country. Back when we were in the states before (and we didn't live in bumfuck) Matt, Heather, Chrissy and I would often get together, or we would get together with Kirk & Sarah or occasionally Chris (when he wasn't TDY and didn't get lost....I joke I joke )

While we were in Germany, there weren't any issues in that regard because when I was feeling down, we would just drive to one of the tracks, and there were a few co-workers we would hang out with. We were also going on vacations regularly to other countries and I was enjoying doing photography as well. Then we came back.

Now we are back. There are a few people I talk to at work, but I sit in a spot separated from them. Because of how far we live out and that we work on an earlier schedule than most of our friends, we can't do we what used to do which is cruise home to the house and THEN figure out what we are going to do. We have to plan ahead for getting together with people. I don't drink so meeting up with people for drinks after work isn't really that fun for me (because it makes me want to drink, but after one drink I feel like total crap).

I miss it being convenient for people to just come over and hang for a few hours, not being required to devote an entire day to it. I also miss when I had the energy to do ANYTHING We used to go bowling, now I get winded waling down the f-ing hallway. Fuck....lost my train of thought...screw it...I will end the post here.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Windows 7 - How far we've come

Windows 7 is here, and after my time with the release candidate, I decided it was time to bring us forward from (mostly) XP and one Vista machine. Why? Not because of Microsoft's ads, not because of the press, but because of my experience with it. I had set it up on Chrissy's computer (which was a little underpowered for Aero) and my Macbook Pro in Bootcamp. Both ran good (although I knew I was going to upgrade Chrissy's hardware before I moved her to 7). I had been running Vista Ultimate 64bit on my primary machine for some time and ended up still having a clunky-feeling when using that machine at times, even after a RAM and graphics card update.

Windows 7 ran smooth all throughout the time with the Release candidate and hasn't disappointed since upgrading to the released edition. The new task-bar (while a copy of the OS X Doc) is very nice, as are the previews of running applications for Aero capable hardware. Even Windows 7 Starter edition which is on this Netbook I am using right now is not bad. Sure, there is no Aero, and it is limited in RAM capacity, etc... but for a Netbook, running on a 1ghz Atom processor (that only has a 30W power supply) this thing actually runs fairly smooth. I won't be gaming on here, or multi-tasking much, but it works.

The new Home Network features are nice, and it does a much better job of finding devices on the network (such as printers). The carry-overs from Vista (such as the new System tray) are welcome and Microsoft's decision to sell a Family pack of upgrade licenses is also a plus.

Even on my Macbook Pro running Leopard (which doesn't official support Windows 7 in bootcamp, and never will) is very happy with Windows 7. Now if only my battery were happy (that is a separate issue all together though).

So final tally: Windows 7 is much better than Windows Vista and might finally pry people away from Windows XP. In the line of consumer windows versions that were really solid, I think Windows 7 stands tall with Windows 98SE and Windows XP. Kudos!

Oh, and this isn't the post I said I was working on, just thought I would throw this out there too.

Missing my "rolling therapy"

While we were in Germany, whenever I was in a funk, we took a drive. That drive usually consisted of going 120mph+ on the autobahn ~ 1 hour north or south and ending up at a race track. Once there, I would put in some track time. That was the most cathartic "therapy" I had ever found for myself. After 3-4 rounds on the Nürburgring, I would be exhausted and happy. 15 minutes on Hockenheimring could have the same effect. Unfortunately, that isn't an option anymore.

Yes, driving is still helpful for me at times, but nearly as much as in Germany. Having gone as fast as 155 behind the wheel, driving over here feels like a hell (unlike the Green Hell, which was Heaven). Now, a thrilling drive is one where I don't get stuck behind a tractor. Wooo! So now I need to come up with an alternative to my "rolling therapy." Especially since there is so much involved in going to a track day here in the states.

So, where does that leave me? I am not really sure yet. I just wish going to the track was as easy here (and cheap) as it is in Germany.

PS - I have already started another entry as well, but this one was the quickest to finish.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Random Musings

Figured I would post one big-ass-post regarding a bunch of recent thoughts and goings-on...I guess I will start with a brief commentary on Balloon-Boy:

I'm glad they plan on pressing charges. Even if it wasn't a hoax, those people are freaking idiots, but I am doubly glad that child protective services will also be taking a look into things. They reportedly have taken the kids out of school on multiple occasions to chase storms. Really, is that where you want to have 3 small kids following you. And that Rap video by the kids? Come on! Seriously. My opinion of that family....gile

Ugh...what next. Oh, well, it wouldn't be a blog post without mentioning the Nobel Peace Prize. Did you know it comes in Cracker Jack boxes now? lol....but seriously. MAYBE....and I mean MAYBE, Obama will do things during his term to warrant earning the peace prize. But, this isn't middle school, we don't give out medals for participation (Oh, that's another rant I need to start). I am not going to say Obama would never deserve it, and given the specific award, he might complete steps toward that, but that is for time to tell. (Even the Washington Post had an article pointing out that it might be unconstitutional for him to accept it while serving in office without the prior approval of Congress && the money isn't his to donate to charity, and get the tax write-off on, but rather it becomes the US Government's money). garupale

Ok, participation trophies....I mean, I know we want everyone to feel wanted, and valuable, etc... but I shouldn't get a trophy for coming in last place. You don't get a promotion when you are an adult if you are the worst person in the office, you get fired (unless you work in the government, and then you eventually do get promoted). We need to start weening kids off of these participation trophies and allow competition sports in middle schools (wasn't allowed in Howard County so you had to play in youth why did we have a mascot and if it is so evil, then why do youth leagues exist in the same county?). Don't get me wrong, I have trophies from little league, and they actually MEANT something. I made the All-Star team twice and my team one the league one year. But the trophy I got for being a shitty bowler in a father-son league, or a ribbon for participating in the turkey trot in middle school (3mile walk/run) I KNEW were utter bull-shit and don't hold any meaning. (I enjoyed the bowling league that one year, and didn't need a participation trophy to know that)

I guess I have a bit of diarrhea of the mouth right now, because I actually feel like typing more. There are aspects of living in Germany that I really miss. The Autobahn and the race tracks are two major components of that. Nothing is more relaxing for me than a quick run up to 120mph+. Unfortunately, that would get me arrested over here if I were caught, so I try to avoid that (I plead the 5th on whether it has happened or not back here). encem Anyway, that was like my own brand of therapy. Being back here, driving around just isn't as helpful as it used to be. It is still one of the things that helps me the most when I am strung out, but just doesn't cut it. I also miss the frequent photo opportunities of amazing sights. Castles, the Rhine, old architecture, cathedrals, and LOTS of really expensive cars (We passed/were passed by Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Lotuses, and Porches EVERY time we were on the road...and I am not talking Boxters here, 911GT2, 911GT3 and Carrera 4S models).

Work hasn't exactly been helping matters back here either. Yes, I hated my job there the second half of the tour, but back here, I went from a shitty job, to a job that was SUPPOSED to be amazing (and might be at some point). Right now, it just sucks ass because I have too little to do. If it weren't for the whole mortgage payment, bills, etc... I would quit and get a job that I enjoyed working part-time. Alas, that won't be happening any time soon.

Well, I guess I have rambled enough. I suppose I should change the title graphic of my site since we sold the 1er, but with the Jetta also driving like shit, I will wait till I can resolve that before making that the banner.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

New Server

Well, I moved my web hosting. It is now hosted in my basement. Ahh, they joys of high-speed internet access, a linux box and dyndns sengihnampakgigi

Monday, September 28, 2009

What's going on

I figured I would write a post about everything that has been going on in the last couple weeks. It hasn't been long since my last post, but a lot has happened. My grandmother passed away on September 16th after having suffered a severe stroke on September 14th. My Aunt made a video that was shown at the funeral home (I will try and get that up on YouTube within the week) and my step father delivered a beautiful eulogy.

Mom mom hadn't had it easy these last few years, having suffered from pulmonary hypertension for the last 4 years, followed by a battle with cancer that she beat. The stroke came on suddenly, she had been playing Freecell, and won her first two games ever. Chrissy and I were supposed to be heading there for dinner on Tuesday (Originally we were supposed to go on the 11th, but they had to reschedule because they had a viewing to go for for a friend's death). Pop pop was home and was able to quickly summon help, but it was a battle she just couldn't win.

Heather flew in from Cairo (and brought a cold with her) for the funeral. She spent most of her time staying at our house and it was good to see her, just not under the circumstances (nor was it nice catching the cold). It was nice to see everyone in the same room for the first time in ages..the normal holiday crew and the folks from the hill.

Well, that is all I want to post for now...I will be sure to follow up again before too long.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

It's been a while

I have been meaning to update, I just have managed to distract myself with other things. Facebook Apps, PS3, fetching things for Chrissy (she has a broken Fibula). So, the Jetta is still driving crappy, I meant to work on it this weekend, but did an oil change of the Rabbit instead (it was due) and we went Grocery shopping, the Ravens game and the NASCAR race were on, and I have been feeling a bit fried from work.

Things I will be checking on the Jetta include the EGR and anti-shutter valves for build-up of residue and the timing. I also have Diesel Kleane in the tank, but we aren't driving it much right now because it is misbehaving. The Rabbit is running great but it is now at 39,000 miles because it has been getting so much use with the Jetta being problematic.

I did manage to get the Rabbit working with Amber turn signals (and will eventually enable the rear fog once I feel like climbing under the dashboard). I want to put front fogs on the car too, but all of the OEM-style kits are expensive (and we have a lot of other things to pay down right now). I did manage to seel a bunch of old PS3 and X-Box 360 games though, and rather than buying any new games right now, I am back with the Game-fly 1 game membership (Think Netflix for video games). I have already rented 2 games I would have seriously considered buying to find out they wouldn't have lasted long (Ghostbusters and Wheelman). Ghostbusters was an awesome game, but too short, and Wheelman was too GTA feeling.

The Ravens' game was great to watch. Flacco had a great start although they were a little sloppy at times still. As for NASCAR, it is a shame that Dale Earnhardt Jr couldn't make the chase, but it is great to see Mark Martin riding on top. I am not going to even mention the other Baltimore based major sports team....sad...just sad.

On the movie front, Chrissy finally watched Crank (I had gotten that on iTunes while I was still in Germany) and we watched Crank 2 today. They are very strange in some of their filming angles, and the plots are WAAAAY out there, but it is a fun ride and very entertaining. A couple other recent movies I have watched is Echelon Conspiracy and Dragonball Evolution. Echelon Conspiracy was a good watch, but Dragonball, well, let's just say I enjoy the cartoons MUCH more (even if they are just as strange and cheesy).

As a side note, I am watching a fellow MD alumni, Shaun Hill, beating the Cards! GO TERPS!

Well, that was a very ADD-ish post, I guess that is all for now. Just wanted to say, hey...still here...even if I don't update much. Honest. Plan to update more though. Maybe I will post my opinions of socialized healthcare...I have a scar to prove I have dealt with it (in Germany) so I have more insight than many Americans do.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The car saga continues

"A long long time ago (4 weeks) in a car shop far away my auto(the Jetta) went in the shop. "tension

Ok, now I will elaborate. 5 weeks ago, the Check Engine Light came on. 4 weeks ago, I dropped off the car at a well-know shop for european auto enthusiasts (that for now shall remain nameless). We will call this 'Shop A.' My Cam shaft and followers were shot. COMPLETELY shot. It was almost time for a new timing belt, so they changed that and the water pump as well. They also changed the oil cooler because it was possible that some metal shavings had made their way in there as well. $3800 and 1 week later, I pick up the car. I get about 7 miles from the shop, and with a big white cloud of smoke, the car looses all power and I pull to the side of I-295. FUN!

They tow the car back to the shop. They change 2 fuel injectors, all four fuel injector seals, and the car still isn't running right. Through this time, they never mentioned one price, and they often proceeded without talking to me first. After 3 more weeks, they call in a Diesel specialist from a VW Dealership (also to remain nameless at this time). We will call this 'Shop B.' He saw some strange things and wanted to look at it at the dealership. Shop A has it towed to Shop B at their expense.

Two days later, having not heard anything, and after talking to Shop A, I call Shop B. The Service Adviser at Shop B sounds pissed off at the world to begin with, gets an attitude with me, tells me he isn't the actual SA for my car, but that SA is gone, but reads off my old phone and address (I have been there since the new address, but ok...) and I tell him that is wrong and ask him if I can update it. He only lets me give him the phone number (1 phone number, not even home/work), and is done with me.

Yesterday, after work...Chrissy calls Shop B from the car since we never heard anything from them. Our SA is already gone for the day. Since it is a simple request to find out what the status of our car is, and they are open for 3 more hours, it shouldn't be difficult for this other SA to provide a simple answer as to the status of our car. He finally takes our number and says someone will call us tomorrow and Chrissy tells them she would like someone to call us that night at which point he hung up on her.

Today, I call Shop B and our SA is actually there (Wow, did I win the lotto?) and I am transferred to her. She pics up the phone and says "Can you hold please?" I say "Ok" and then the count begins. 30 minutes later, she finally takes me off hold (maybe she was hoping I would just hang up). When I finally talk to her, she says the car needs a new turbo, but that they aren't sure when they could get to it. (Grr...more waiting) Oh, and the turbo will cost $2000.00!!!!! Now, why Shop A couldn't figure out the Turbo was now blown, I don't know. But now, I have paid Shop A $3800, will be paying Shop B $2000, won't get the car back till at least late next week if not later, and consequently have driven the miles on the Rabbit to almost the end of it's bumper to bumper warranty (and will be beyond that soon enough).

Oh, and for some reason the owner of Shop A would like to talk to me on Monday. It will be interesting to see how that turns out. And Shop A said they could probably do the turbo replacement for less, but seriously, would YOU send your car back to Shop A for a new turbo when they couldn't even diagnose the problem?

I will try to post again once I have spoken to the owner of Shop A. Oh, and I submitted a complaint to VWOA regarding the level of customer service at Shop B.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Long time no post

I know, I know...I have become a blog slacker again. I update Facebook with small posts so often that I don't bother to come on here and write long posts. It is also a matter of convenience, I can write a quick Facebook post from my cellphone. When I am home, my time on the computer is usually consumed by Team Fortress 2 (At least it is a better addiction than WoW...."Hi, my name is Mike, and I have been WoW free for over 1 year now")

Anyway, where to begin. I guess with the Jetta...what a fucking fiasco that has been. So, back on June 19th, the Check Engine Light came on. I had taken it to the shop a few weeks prior because I knew it wasn't running right, but that shop said that everything looked fine. So, this time, I took it to a different shop, and their first comment to me about the engine was that the dipstick had shot most of the way out of the engine! dohTurns out that the camshaft wore down to the point that the exhaust valve didn't open enough and exhaust went backwards through the intake and down past the piston rings into the oil pan causing the dipstick to dislodge itself. Not only was the camshaft worn, but 2 of the followers had HOLES IN THEM.

So, camshaft + followers + oil cooler (because of metal flakes) + timing belt (it was about due) + water pump (came w/ timing belt kit) + oil change + labor = $3800 atwitshand Fine...get it fixed, pick it up on Thursday and go to take the Rabbit to my sis in B-more so she can borrow it till she leaves for Fla. The shop is near the time I get on 295 North-bound just inside the beltway, I am now broken down. Car lost all power, let out a huge cloud of smoke, and sounded awful. I got the car over to the shoulder and called the shop while they were still there. They towed it back and still have it (and never called/emailed this afternoon to give me the update like they were going to).

So my master plan to have all of the bills paid off once the BMW was sold is now shot to hell because of car repairs. Oh, and the day after I found out how much the Jetta was going to cost to get repaired, we got a huge rock chip in the windshield of the Rabbit so now need to put in a new one. cry Also, the front tires on the Rabbit are down to the wear bars (when we were taking it to VW for service they didn't rotate the tires) so I am getting tires for the Hufs, putting the Hufs on the Jetta and the Biolines (Jetta's rims) on the Rabbit. Bills are now doing better, though, now that the BMW is sold (to Carmax unfortunately b/c in this economy, no one will pay that much for a used car...not even a BMW dealership). We don't have that monthly car payment anymore + we got a good chunk of money to put towards bills.

There are more stories to tell, such as the new desks, Chrissy's b-day party, and our day-trip to Cape May, but I actually need to "wake up" soon to go to work. Joy! Thanks for listening to me rant.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Where to begin

The last week has been...well...shitty. At least from Wednesday on. So, let's recount the story:

Wednesday: Chrissy is driving the BMW and I the Rabbit. We are taking the BMW to CarMax to get their offer to buy the car and if it is good enough, we will sell it right off. On the way to work, I have to swerve sharply on 213 TWICE to avoid hitting Possums. The first time, I swerved one way only to have the Possum go the other way and I had to swerve back. The second time it only took some sharp breaking and a slight swerve to the side. Then we take the car to CARMAX after work and their offer sucks ass! So we leave with both cars. On the way home, the check engine light on the Rabbit goes on AND the BMW starts losing tire pressure. Seriously? So, we stop at a Mr. Tire to get the BMW tire checked/patched and I took the Rabbit home (hoping I would make it home without the car dying). Turns out the BMW just needed one of it's valve stem/tire pressure monitors reseated. The Rabbit made it home, but the Check Engine Light went out before I could VAGCOM it.

Thursday: Huge ass bridge backup coming home b/c of Cruisin' OC weekend + Cross winds meaning they couldn't open up the extra Eastbound lane.

Friday: Driving the Rabbit to work (Jetta got tinted Thursday after work so I couldn't roll down the windows Friday for the Gate @ Work). In Chestertown, a black cat crossed our path...we both laughed..."ha ha we will have back luck today". Then I got pulled over for doing 62 in a 55 by a cop who had been going the other direction and whipped around to come get me. Got a written warning. Then I ran over a dear carcass that was in the road and it scraped along the bottom of the Rabbit.

Saturday: Chrissy and I went to work to get in some credit time. After being there 2 hours, Chrissy was basically kicked out because she was interfering with testing that no one said was going to be happening. We are supposed to go get the Rabbit tinted, @ 1200 but get there at 9:30ish because we got kicked out of work. They can't take us till 12:30, so we had to kill 3 hours. Finally get back there at 12:30..Rabbit is tinted...moving on. Later Saturday we are mowing the lawn. I was weedwacking and tripped on the uneven curb and went to the ground gashing up my leg, banging my wrist, and landing very close to the still running weedwacker. Check engine light on the Rabbit is back on as well, so that is going in on Monday for service.

So, that has been my last few days, how about yours?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Das Autos...HDR

The more I do it, the more I love doing photography, especially things like HDR images and panoramics. Here is an HDR image of the two VWs after the both got a bath. Chrissy and I spent several hours cleaning both cars, but they came out looking great. The Jetta really could use a respray just from the number of chips in the paint though, and I will have to go at some of those to abate the rust. Other than that, both cars are looking great. Hopefully the Rabbit doesn't get any more unexplainable dents this summer though...
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Weekends go by WAAAY too fast

Why can't we be like the Germans and work 4 days a week? Weekends go by WAAY too fast. ARG. Well, I said I would get this post together, so off we go! Hmm, what to talk about first.

Bye-bye Pontiac, bye-bye Saturn, hello Fiat? Ok...let's look at GM's business. They can't get rid of Caddy. The CTS and XLR are the only two cars that I would personally consider, because they are both RWD (or optionally AWD with the CTS) and they are both amazing cars. The XLR is significantly different enough from the Corvette for them to both exist, and the CTS will be the only sporty rear-wheel drive sedan in the GM lineup once the G8 is gone. The CTS is the ONLY vehicle that can honestly compete with BMW. Don't get me started on the Escalade though. Buick still has an old man image (even if they have some nicer models now and Tiger pimping their wares) Pontiac has some unique models in it's price range for GM and some "Badge engineered" models. GM should find a way to keep the G6 line, the G8 platform (RWD Impala, Caprice, Chevelle?) And either the Pontiac Solstice or the Saturn Sky (since it is shared with Opel as the GT, the Sky would be more likely here). Ditch the Cobalt and move the Astra to Chevy to again keep that cost down by sharing the platform with Opel. The G5, G3 and the rest of the Pontiac line can go though. Same with the rest of Saturn.

Shut down GMC and merge the line with Chevy OR migrate chevy trucks to GMC. While there are some features that are unique to one or the other, does sales volume at this point really dictate a differentiation anymore. Stop pretending to be environmentally concious with things like the Tahoe hybrid. Bring some of the Euro diesels state-side and phase in working hybrid technology in lower-level models where it makes sense. You tried to put the cart before the horse by skipping straight to the Volt.

Fiat....well....that one we will have to wait and see for. I am on the fence about that one (assuming the merger goes through). Oh, and Chrysler....what small cars do you have? The Avenger, and Caliber and....umm......Bueller....Bueller? Even investors are told to diversify. Can't wait to see the 2010 Golf with a TDI in dealers though. Maybe they will finally bring a Tiguan TDI in a couple of years too. *I HOPE*

Well, lets see...what else. We went to IKEA Saturday in College Park....damn how things have changed there (and we only went to the IKEA and saw the area directly around that). We bought a new entertainment center and spent Saturday night and Sunday morning getting that swapped out and everything re-connected. We continue to hang more photos around the house too.

Dad & Cyndi dropped by today to see us out here in bumfuck. We went to lunch at the really good Italian place (which is actually in a strip-mall, but it is REALLY good) and then came back to the house for a few more hours and just chatted. They are going to meet us for lunch in Tampa when we are on our way down to Bradenton, Fl.

Hmm....that's all for now.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A full post is coming...honest

I am going to do a full-size feature length post this weekend if not sooner. In the mean time, enjoy the new design of I still have to do the 'Trips' page and I am going to add some more info to the Garage eventually, but for now, it replaces what used to be there.

In other news, I still hate my job.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Why the hell am I awake? Ramblings of a crazy person @ 1:30AM

Why am I awake? I can't sleep right now. This sucks....I am tired all f-ing day and can barely stay awake, and then night comes, I sleep for a couple of hours then I wake up...WHY????

Work is miserable. I am fighting against the "Not invented here" syndrome even though it means I will have one less project to work on, because, even if I work on it, it won't be used. Normally, it is the other way around, with the programmer saying "I can do this much better...see" but when the programmer is the voice of sanity...that's just not right. Add to that the constant stupid computer questions I get because I am the "computer guy" my cube quad, the lack of meaningful work, and the constant feeling that I chose the wrong job, and work is just downright depressing right now. That doesn't help my desire to stay awake, or even my desire to even go there.

I have complained about jobs in the past, but usually, I still felt like I was doing something worth-while. I may not of liked it, but at least I could get SOME job satisfaction out of it. Well, now, I don't even have a performance plan under our new system (even though the cycle ENDS at the end of July) and our pay increases will be directly tied to the score you receive on said performance plans if pay-banding actually goes though. FUUUUUUUUUUUUCK! (Where's an exploding head smiley when you need one, I will just have to settle for this one:angry)

I keep joking that we need to win the Mega-Millions jackpot so I can call in rich. I love the stability of being a govie, but I want to be able to work on my terms, money be damned. I would probably have more fun selling PCs at BestBuy than I would at my current job, I just can't afford to take the pay-cut.

All of this stress/depression caused by work makes it really hard to work on losing weight, because I am an emotional eater. I eat when I am bored (which is CONSTANTLY at work), I eat when I am depressed (which is CONSTANTLY at work AND follows me home) and my eating/weight contributes to that depression. I just can't win.

Once the alarm clock goes off this morning, I will check our Mega-Millions ticket (even though we didn't win, I'm sure) and then trudge off to work just as miserable as ever.

Oh, and I am going to start re-upping my meds..when they were perscribed, I was told I could ramp up to 4xday (2 morning, 2 night) as needed. Well, I had been doing fine on 1 for a while, but that just ain't cuttin' it no mo'. Yesterday, I added the first night pill (which might explain why I am awake since insomnia is a side-effect) and next week, I will ramp up to 2 in the morning and one at night.

Here's to hoping for better living through chemistry. sigh

Friday, April 10, 2009

Migraines - Day 2

UGH...Migraines. They started yesterday (along with the fun numbness on one side of my body) and today, they continue. I went to work yesterday, but felt utterly useless because the Fioricet (Tylenol + Barbiturates for those of you who don't know) made me an absolute zombie. Today will be more of the same...hopped up on Fioricet, trying to focus on my computer screen at work. In case you are wondering, I am typing this blog entry with my eyes closed (the good thing about being able to type without looking at the keyboard).

In other news, the Jetta has been running amazing since I changed the fue filter on Sunday. That old one was REALLY black, and since I made the change, the Jetta hasn't made any large soots in first gear and hasn't been vibrating as much. I think the sooting might have come from the engine running a little lean from a clogged filter and then some excess fuel being dumped into the chamber. Anyway, as it approaches 70,000 miles (it is over 68,000 now) I will probably do the oil change this weekend to get it done. The Rabbit is going to need an Oil change soon as well, but we don't drive that as much. Maybe we will take it today.

Today, much like yesterday, will be a day of chrissy driving. I managed to sleep most of the way to and from work yesterday (the migraine meds helped ensure that) and I feel like today will be much of the same.

Oh, while we were eating at Chevy's the other night, Chrissy saw an advertisement in the bathroom for mobile rim repair. That will be a good way to get the curb rash cleaned up on the 18" Hufs I have in the garage that are destined to go on the jetta. of course, there aren't actually any in our area, so I will have to get one of the people across the bridge to do it.

It is just going to be one of those days. I probably shouldn't go to work because all day I will just be having a hard time staying awake and staring at the computer screen. Writing programs with my eyes closed is doable, but not as easy as typing a blog entry (and coding has to be uch more precise) If I misspell a word here, or leave out a paranthesis, no big deal, but if you do it in a program...*BOOM*

Ugh..guess I need to decie what I am going to do today. Maybe if my migrain improves, I will post again later (and a post that makes more sense too).

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Fun with File Recovery

Chrissy's laptop died. Just died. It won't power on with either the battery or the power adapter anymore (even when the battery has a charge). I even shelled out for a new battery thinking that was the problem based on how it had been behaving. DOH! Dead laptop.

So anyway, I wanted to make sure I could recover any files from the drive so I bought one of these. It is a USB to IDE & SATA for 1.8"-5.25" drives. Great! it arrived today. I rip the hard drive out of the laptop plug it into my windows PC and Windows gets confused and says the drive has to be initialized before it can use it. will try something else. So I plug it into my Mac Mini, and low and behold, it works perfectly. Now I will take the time to point out that it was a WINDOWS laptop with Windows XP Home edition installed and for some reason VISTA had a problem reading the hard drive but OS X read it perfectly. Way to go Micro$0ft.

Anyway, the USB device works great. Windows on the other hand.marah

Google's April Fools Joke - Very Involved

As I continue to be sick and going to work yesterday only made me worse today, I am still home. I popped into GMail and noticed a new "Feature" that magically appeared today called "Google Autopilot". I am going to grab screen caps because this is too good an April Fool's joke to stick around.

First, let me mention Rampenfest. When BMW decided to launch the 1-series in the US, a fictional German town (Oberpfafflebachen) decided they would hold a "Launch" party and fly a BMW 1-Series "From here to San Francisco" BMW really wanted people to take the red pill and find out how deep the rabbit hole goes. Not only did they make the mock-u-mentary about the Ramp, the made the official website of the town of Oberpfaffelbachen, a cafe-press store that sells souvaneers, the website of the town bakery, the stuntman who was going to peform the stunt and the PR Firm that set all of this up. Unfortunately, Sepp's Stunts page has already disapeared sad

Back to Google Autopilot, and more specifically, CADIE (Cognitive Autoheuristic Distributed Intelligence Entity). CADIE has a blog, a YouTube channel (with a time-space continum problem - the videos were posted BEFORE CADIE was "turned on"), a Google Earth add-on, and a Google Chrome feature that allows you to view pages in 3-D by printing your own 3-D goggles. Wow...that rabbit hole went deep. I am kind of dissapointed that CADIE didn't add pandas to though.

Oh, and don't forget Youtube's new video viewing style.

Good ol' April Fools day. What next, The Onion reporting REAL news?

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Why are there inequalities in MD Tint laws?

I don't mind being limited to 35% transmissive tint on the front side windows of my cars, but why must I be limited to 35% on the rear and rear-side windows (even in the rabbit) where a PT Cruiser can have tint as dark as it wants on the back window? The body style is very similar to a 4-door rabbit. Or how about a Jetta Wagon vs a Dodge Magnum. Jetta Wagon, 35% all around. Magnum - 35% up front, whatever on the rest. Why? Because the PT Cruiser is a "Truck" and the Magnum is an "SUV" while the Rabbit and Jetta Wagon are Passenger cars. Confused yet?

I wrote an email to my Maryland State Senate Representative requesting that the laws regarding window tint be changed. Why? I am not trying to hide anything illegal or anything. I just want all drivers to be treated equally, and I enjoy how much cooler the interior of the car is when all of the back windows have 5% tint and the front have 35%. (In Germany, the 3-series had 5% back but no tint on the front because front side window tint was not allowed).

Below is the email that I wrote to Senator Pipkin in it's entirety. If you live in MD, and agree with me, email your local representative(s). I only contacted Senator Pipkin at this point, but there are also three members in the House of Representatives for my district as well. Oh, and yes, I REALLY did look up the exact regulations. If you have any questions about that let me know.
Senator Pipkin,

I am a fairly new constituent in your district, but I was hoping you could possibly address an issue that I view as an unnecessary inequality in regards to Maryland Motor Vehicle tint law. Per sub-section i, paragraph 1 of section 22-406 of the Transportation Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland, passenger cars may not be operated when "there is affixed to any window of the vehicle any tinting materials added to the window after manufacture of the vehicle that do not allow a light transmittance through the window of at least 35%". In comparison, multipurpose vehicles, trucks and Class B (for hire) vehicles may not be operated when "there is affixed to any window to the immediate right or left of the driver any window tinting materials added after manufacture of the vehicle that do not allow a light transmittance through the window of at least 35%."

While I have no problem with the restriction of 35% tint on the front driver and passenger windows for all vehicles; I feel that all vehicle classes should be required to follow the same regulations. The laws do not even apply as intended in several cases because manufacturers have changed the classification of their vehicles to be able to use the more lenient rules. Subaru changed the classification of their Outback wagon to a light truck in part because of customer demand for factory tinted windows. The PT-Cruiser is also classified as a truck. The truck designation of those brands also allows them to have lower fuel efficiency ratings than if they were cars. The Dodge Magnum, which exactly matches what used to be viewed as a station wagon, is classified as a sport utility vehicle (multi-purpose vehicle) even though it shares many of the same body panels and the same chassis as the Dodge Charger sedan.

By comparison, I own a 4-door diesel sedan that averages over 40 miles-per-gallon and a 3-door hatchback that averages around 30 mpg, but because I am driving "passenger" cars I am limited to 35% tint on all windows. All I am asking for is fair and equal treatment under the Maryland law. As can be seen in my choice of vehicles, I am very interested in using efficient vehicles. Unfortunately, the glass surfaces of these vehicles are rather large, which allows a substantial amount of sunlight into the vehicle that in turn warms the cabin. In the summer months, the efficiency of my vehicles is effected by the amount that I must use the air-conditioning in the car. While I know I won't be magically driving around without air-conditioning during the hottest days of the summer, I would like to be able to place tint with 5% light transmission around the back windows of the vehicle rather than 35%. From experience, I can say it made a large difference while we were stationed overseas in Germany where the tint laws allowed us to place 5% on the rear windows while we were there.

I can understand that an argument can be made for police officer safety during traffic stops. If police officer safety is the true motivation, then the laws affecting vehicles that are in the more lenient classification should be changed. Other measures could be enacted that would counteract any perceived danger to officers during a traffic stop such as a requirement to turn on interior lighting when pulled over by law enforcement. While it is a courtesy that all motorists should observe for the safety and comfort of the officer, my observations suggest that it is something that is not practiced widely. If the officer is concerned for their safety, they also have the option to have the occupants exit the vehicle, or roll down all of the windows in the vehicle. I am not trying to overlook officer safety, but if it were such an important issue, the laws in states such as Deleware and Utah wouldn't allow any type of tint on the rear side and rear facing windows.

While the current economic situation combined with uncertainty over fuel prices has lead to a sharp decrease in the sale of true sport utility vehicles and pick-up trucks, as I pointed out before there are still other vehicles that are being placed in those categories that people think of as a station wagons. That can also lead to confusion with law enforcement pulling over a vehicle for "illegal" tint levels even though the levels are acceptable simply because of the class in which the manufacturer placed the vehicle. It can also lead to citizens assuming that darker tint is allowable for their vehicle because their neighbor has an almost identical vehicle, just with a hatch on the back rather than a trunk.

Thank you for taking the time to read my email and consider my request.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Damaged goods Part 33 1/3...

As I sit here listing to Fall Out Boy, I decided to write what should be the last part of the "Damaged Goods" series (at least I plan to catch you up till the present).

So, I last left off in Fall (if you could call it a fall) of 2001 right as Chrissy and I met. We were hitting it off really well, and we even went up to Jersey for Thanksgiving with her Family. That facet of things was going swimmingly. Other things, not so much. I was not a good roommate and consequently damaged some friendships. Despite always being told I have such a friendly personality (well, usually, push me to my breaking point and I WILL snap at you) there are certain traits about me that make me a bad person to live with (I am still not sure how Chrissy puts up with me).

I am selfish, lazy and inconsiderate, especially with people I spend a LOT of time with. I know where I picked up some of those traits, but regardless of where I picked them up, I shouldn't have let them become traits that define me. For that I am ashamed and sorry. College actually promoted my laziness because I managed to get good grades in most cases with little effort and attending very few classes. That helped contribute to my weight gain and made it even harder on me when I made the transition to the "real world". While I had routinely had summer jobs, I was used to the amoutn of free time I was able to have in College during the semester, so working through the summer wasn't a surprise, but rather working full-time through the rest of the year that was the surprise.

Anyway, I am getting ahead of myself. My relationship with Chrissy, and actually having a decent paying job coming out of College were two of the bright spots in my life at that time. I further continued to alienate roommates the first year after college when Chrissy and I shared an apartment with Jimmy and Steph. By the end of that time, we weren't that cordial, at least not in my mind, and there was at least a significant part of that that was my fault. The only roommate I am not in contact with from the Courtyards at all is Bryce, but I don't know where he ended up because he was still at UM when the rest of us graduated and haven't found him on facebook.

My job required regular (once a month on average) travel, usually to Tampa, Fl. There is where my weight became a significant problem, but also a constant source of depression due to airline seats. Chrissy and I tried LA Weightloss (albiet probably half-heartedly) and made no progress with that. The travel got to me anyway (although it did manage to get me to Hawaii, San Diego, and San Antonio and Chrissy came along to Hawaii and San Diego) and I changed jobs. Around that time is when Chrissy and I started doing Weight Watchers. I had made significant progress losing approximately 80lbs. My job was in turmoil at this point so I decided it was time for a change, and felt an overseas tour would do me good, so I applied for a couple jobs, one of which was in Germany.

I had cleared the potential locations with Chrissy before I applied and I knoew that if she was going to come with me we would have to be married (I was planning on getting to that in the near future anyway because we had been together for almost 4 years at that point.) Once I found out that I had gotten the job in Germany, I kept it a secret for ~2 weeks. With the cover of going with Matt to Dave and Busters, we hit up a jewelry store that lots of my relatives use. I found the perfect ring, and once I got it, I knew exactly what I was going to do.

Chrissy was taking me out for a nice dinner for my birthday at Windows on the Bay in Pasadena. I decided I would use that opportunity to propose (so I would have at least one good memory of that day). It rained during dinner and I was prepared to propose there, but it cleared up near the end of the meal, so I suggested we go for a walk down on the docks. I don't remember what I said leading up to it, but as I opened the box I said that there was no one I would rather take to Germany and spend the rest of my life with.

Dammit...these things keep pressing on much longer than I intend, but I AM going to finish it this time! tension

Back to finish this thing after a LONG time away from the computer.

Ok, so we are now prepping to move to Germany (which was moved from June 06->April 06->February 06) and have to get married before that, sell our house, and do a bunch of other stuff. We settle on a simple civil service at the court hours in Annapolis with a reception afterwards at Windows on the Bay in Pasedena. In this time, both of us begin to gain weight again because we are packing, cleaning the house and eating out. We finally get to Germany and the weight gain continues (because we are in a hotel for 10 days eating out EVERY meal) and then frequently eating American comfort food on base once we had our house. That slowed down until things took a turn.

June 06 - Chrissy has a seizure for unknown reasons. Lots of stress over the next couple of months while we try to get her to see an American Neurologist because the Germans think she has MS. That diagnosis is confirmed by the Neuro at Landstuhl (but it was HELL getting an appointment).

~Sep 06 - I have severe pains in my side, taking to the hospital. Diagnosis - Gall Stones. By October I am flying back to the states to have surgery to have my gallbladder removed after numerous very painful attacks (including on our Anniversary in Belgium).

- Early 07 - I start having severe headaches. After going around and around and around, the apparent diagnosis is Migraines. (FUN)

- June 07 - After going to the hospital several times for severe abdominal pain, Die Germans finally deside my appendix must come out. This is 1 week before we are supposed to fly to London for Chrissy's birthday (Another vacation ruined by an illness that lead to surgery)

Most of our time in Germany, I have severe health anxiety issues, my weight far exceeds any amount that I had lost before, and I get into a habbit of spending money, because my salary is higher, and we don't have to pay a mortgage or rent while we are in Germany.

We come back to the states in March 08 to look at developments (we wanted new construction). To cope with the home prices, we decided we were willing to live across the bridge to get the house we wanted instead of settling for something that we kind of liked. We pick our plot, yada yada yada, our house will be built by end of July.

Now, in what can best be described as a manic state (you know, like manic->depressive) I decide we will trade in our COMPLETELY PAID OFF 2006 BMW 325i for a 2008 BMW 135i Convertible. So, now we are about to have a mortgage for the first time in 2 1/2 years AND we will have a car payment for a REALLY expensive car. Smart move dumbass. My spending habbits did not curtail either. Then we go to settlement. Things are still ok though because we will both be over seas for a while longer so payments seem like nothing. Then we move back here.

Combine our last few trips in Europe + stuff for new house + bad spending habbits = mounds of credit card debit that we are only able to gradually deal with because of Mortgage + Car payment + sudo car payment + bills + living expenses. That leads up to now and that describes why I am in such a horrible mood these days. I still have my up days and my down days, and we are gradually paying down all of the debt, but it will take time, and the fact that I let myself get in this state makes me very dissapointed in myself. And that, more so than much of the other stuff that has happened in my life, is why I feel I am "Damaged Goods" right now.

So, we will now return you to your normally scheduled programming of random posts about random crap. Hopefully cheerier ones at that. Time will tell.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Damaged goods....Part Deux

No, there won't be any arrows made of chickens or the highest body count in movie history in this post (referencing Hot Shots Part Deux). This is just the second part of my previous post, and I am starting to work on it during Half-time of the Maryland-Duke game. Maryland is down by two, and overall is playing decent, so the tone of the first part of the post might have a different tone than the last part of the post.

So picking up where I left off, it is now the Fall of my senior year at University of Maryland. I am living in University Courtyard apartments with Charlie Harris, Jimmy Trzyna and Bruce (who's last name I am blanking on). Shortly before school started we had Charlie's 21st birthday and then mine. Both parties kicked ass, I was plastered as hell, said some things that could have gotten me in serious trouble with certain people had anyone but Matt heard them, and went from having a future date with someone to then being told I was too "Fluffy" which supposedly wasn't in reference to my weight but that I was too, well, I am not exactly how to put it other than

September 11th happened and like most I was in a bit of shock after that, and then the Tornado came. Well, actually, I skipped over a bit. In late summer I had started talking to someone on on a regular basis. We were really hitting it off and getting closer to meeting in person. There was also Tequilla chick and her friend and I tried to make a pass @ Tequila chick but was shot down) It probablly doesn't help that I can't remember her

Game has started back up, my typing may become a bit distracted...

Anyway, the Tornado comes and hits my apartment building. Fortunately for me, I was on Rt. 100 in Ellicott city at the time, blisfully unaware of the tornado until my mom called me and sounded very concerned. "Where are you?" "I'm on the road." "Will you be here soon?" "Yeah, I am on 100, why?" "There is a tornado that just hit college park and is following you up I-95" I made it home quickly after that call.

After the anger had passed, I said I had to get back to school because I had a program due that night for a class. That was when I found out I wasn't getting home that night because there was debry EVERYWHERE, no power and many closed roads in College Park. I tredged back up to MD. I spent the next two weeks sleeping on Chris's couch, and got the flu. Then I spent 2 weeks comuting from home while our apartment building was under repair. It was during that time that Chrissy (the person I had been talking to on college club) called me. We decided we would go out on the 5th, which also happened to be he day I could move back into my apartment. So that Friday, I backed up a my parents house, took all my crap to College Park, and then headed up to Baltimore City to a school who's name I would later found out had an acronym of CONDOM (College Of Notre Dame Of Maryland).

Well, we quickly hit it off in person and were officially dating on the 8th of October 2001. Things were actually looking up. How could they go wrong ad in what way? Well, I think I am gonna save that for a Part III and go back to concentrating on the MD game.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Damaged goods....Part1

***CAUTION: This post is full of self-reflection, pesimism, and self-pity. It is mostly for venting, and capturing thoughts. Don't bother to read it if you are then just gonna bash on me for self-pity..I am admitting that up front***

Seriously, what is wrong with me? Why am I such a damn pessimist? Why can't I ever see the good in things? Why can't I motivate myself to lose weight, to get things on track, to make my life better?

Now, I am not saying my life is bad, I am saying my life is so-so and would be significantly improved if I lost weight. How you ask? It won't cause horrible pain in my lower back to walk around the block. I won't sweat like a pig when it is 80 out, let-alone when it is 95 out. Clothes will be cheaper, I will be more comfortable in the car, in restaurants, hell, in my own skin. The problem is, I need to lose weight, a significant amount of weight, before I can have the gastric bypass surgery to let me lose the rest of the weight. Right now, I am stagnant, just kind of fluctuating up and down and not making any progress (or instantly erasing any progress I make). Part of the problem is I am an emotional eater. I get stressed, I eat. I get depressed, I eat. I get bored, I eat. The emotional eating, my pessimism and my job make the most evil tri-fecta ever.

Now, I guess I should rewind a bit. Well, more than a bit....lets rewind a lot. We can skip High School because well, overall I feel I was happy in highschool. I enjoyed Choir, musicals had a core of good friends and while I wasn't "popular" I was at least a blip on the radar because of the things I was involved in. College is where my pesimism took the biggest turn and has only been set aside for brief times.

I move into the dorm, it is the weekend before classes are supposed to start and its my birthday. My plan is to go out with the girl I was seeing at the time (we met @ Goddard and she was still a senior in HS) but she broke up with me on the phone. WOHOO! Another bad b-day memory. I won't mention the first because of potential readers, but some of you know what it is and it has been discussed over and over in other venues.

Ok, that was a bump in the road but things started to go along better, then blow #2 occured my my self-esteem of the semester (and this one was more thrown in my face). Another girl who I had met through Goddard (who was also still a HS senior) invited me to go to a dance with her. She knew I was interested in her, she invited me, and then she spent the entire night hanging out with another guy. Keep in mind, I had no idea who anyone else at this dance was. So, I left, went back to CP, and had my first intro to Goldschlager (thanks Jecko!)...mmm...Goldschlager.

At this point, I had gained a few of the Freshman fifteen, but Geoff Blain, Chris DeWeese, maybe Jeff Guy and myself were making a habbit of going to the Gym and that was helping me keep in similar shape as I had been in HS. Not exactly good shape, but better than I would become. Then, early in the second Semester I started dating Jenny, and thus began my downfall. I ended up spending most of my time with her and not enough with my friends. I stopped going to the Gym with the guys, I stopped hanging out with them on a regular basis, and started more frequently ordering carry-out.

My relationship with Jenny wasn't exactly healthy, and there were a couple times where I almost broke up with her but I had such bad self-esteem at that point, that I was afraid that if I broke up with her, I would end up alone through the rest of college. That relationship continued for a long time, my weight ballooned, and I think it was late Junior year when we broke up, but I can't say for sure. Some other things happened after that that REALLY fucked with my head, but I won't be going into that, at least not anytime soon.

Wow...this has gone on much longer than I thought it would, so I will pick up with Part 2 tomorrow. Part 2 will pick up just before Chrissy and I meet and probably bring things up to present day. I just don't feel like typing anymore right now.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Random thoughts about Tomorrow and the weekend

Well, first off, I have an appointment with the nutritionist tomorrow. I am not looking forward to that because I haven't been sticking to a diet as well as I had hoped. I had so much success the first time we were on weight watchers (before we moved to Germany) but now I am having a hard time getting started up again. I know I need to get motivated because unless I lose some weight, I can't get the gastric bypass to lose a TON of weight. (Well, not a Ton, I don't weight 2000lbs...but you get the point).

So that alone is a reason to not look forward to tomorrow, and I also have to go to work before that. One of my co-workers is driving me absolutely batty gileright now, asking me really stupid ass questions about basic computer stuff. I mean, this is stuff that she should have known for a while just from having to use a computer on a daily basis for her job, yet somehow, I keep getting asked. I will have my headphones on, merrily coding away and she will pop up behind me tap me on the shoulder or something and say she has a question, multiple times a day. Unfortunately, I don't have a bang my head on the desk emoticon, so I will just use this.bising

This weekend, I have a few things I have to do as well. First off, I need to finally do something to color the lenses for the turn signals on Kl0pfer (the rabbit) so that the turn signals are actually amber rather than blazing white. For those who aren't familiar with the new Rabbits, the rear turn signals are normally the brake light on that side. Not very safe, because
  1. That means the turn signal is red.
  2. That means if you turn it on as you are braking, there are now less lights indicating you are braking on the back of the car.
To remedy this, I installed the European bulb holders from a VW Golf and did some re-coding with my VagCom. Unfortunately, I didn't want to pay for the European housings and I could only find the bulbs in clear, so even with some stained glass paint, they are still showing up as white when I turn on the turn signals. tension Need to get that fixed.

I also need to install the last toggle post to hold down the floor mat on the drivers side in the Rabbit. The Rabbit came with straight up posts to hold the mat in place (which do NOTHING) but I bought the little rotating clips like the Jetta has. I have installed 3 of the 4, but I haven't installed the fourth. I also have the European Cup Holder to install in the car which has a closing lid and a place for a bottle opener (The German's love to drink things out of poptop bottles...coke, fanta, water, you name it.) That is going to be a very long job because we have to take apart the center consule to get underneith it and pull out the old cup holder.

Chrissy finally nagged me enough that I signed up for a Facebook account. I will keep posting my photos to Flickr and my videos to YouTube, and I will keep using Twitter and this blog as well, but you will probably notice my mobile "tweets" will also go to Facebook and I will reference everywhere else in my facebook profile (such as this huge-ass blog post). I eventually will redo and make it a portal for all things me (You Tube, Flickr, MySpace, Twitter, Facebook, this blog, and all of the car related stuff).

I need to try to catch up with some people sometime soon. Chris DeWeese, you are on that list. We will be seeing Kirk & Sarah soon for Sarah's b-day, and my boss from Germany will be in town at the end of March / early April beginning his house hunt for his PCS. I need to find out when Matt will next be in town from bumfuck...I mean, Kansas.

Other than all of that, not much is going on. Well, that is the longest post I have written in a while, and I think it's time to wrap things up. Hope you all enjoyed!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Elusive sleep

I've been tweeting more than I have been blogging, but isn't that the point anyway? I have been having some CPAP issues the last couple of nights where I take it off in he middle of the night (but don't remember. Tonight, I woke up w/o the CPAP and sweating like hell from the down comforter. Joy! Now I need to try to get back to sleep. Ugh..I will try to blog more again, bu tweeting is so much easier (including from my cell)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Operation "Prep the PC for the Grandparents" Nearly Complete

Well, to start with, I had my Mom's old P4 IBM Desktop machine. She hasn't used it as her primary machine in years but recently her backup drive died that had the only copy of the files from the old machine. When I couldn't recover the files from her backup drive, I did the easier thing, which is pull them off the machine again.

So, with those files backed up in 2 places, I proceeded to uninstall most of the crap programs that were on there, including 2 expired versions of Norton (one was upgraded over the other to be precise) Palm software, Logitech Pen software (for one of those pens with memory) and a host of other applications.

Next steps,
  • upgrade FF to version 3
  • reinstall the broken Skype
  • install AVG Free Antivirus
  • update Windows to XP SP3
  • install SpyBot and immunize the machine
  • delete all of the documents off of the machine
  • set up a remote access account with a long, random password (no phonetic or anything for this password)
  • Make a bookmark in Firefox to a page that will tell them what their external IP is if they need me to remote in
  • Run a HD Sanitization program to clean up the empty space
  • Change the user account name
  • Demote the normal user to a limited user (so even if they get something, they can't get too screwed up)
  • Install Pidgin and set up an AIM account for them.
  • Upgrade IE to Version 7 (In case they do open it)
  • Try and find some Office disks, or just install Open Office since the MS Office on the machine appears to be brokennangih
  • Installed the latest Adobe Flash, Reader, and Shockwave.
  • Upgraded iTunes (in case they use it)
I think that about covers it fikir I might be forgetting SOMETHING, but I'm not sure.

Anyway, that is all from your friendly computer nerd.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

I feel the need

The Need for speed. I found out where I am going to fulfill my track-time needs: biggrin

I guess I will work some credit time so I don't have to take leave for the events. I won't be going to all of them obviously due to the cost, but it will be a blast I am sure.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Car work done for the day

We have finished working on the rabbit for the day. It now has separate turn signals instead of using the brake lights for turn signals, and it has the dash cubby like the Jetta has. It turns out it didn't need new brake pads (must have just been some bad glazing) and the pads actually have a TON of life still left on them, but we kept the pads because the Jetta and Rabbit have the same pads.

The only part we haven't installed on the Rabbit is the European cub holder which will be about a 4 hour job. We still need to get the driver's door checked out (there is something wrong with the electric stuff in the door) but that can wait for now. I will take photos once everything is finished.

That's it for now. L8r!

Running out of storage

It's official, I need more HD Space. My 1TB NAS is >75% full, and my 500 and 250GB disks with music and movies are <150GB free (and quickly shrinking). What I REALLY need to do is buy a few 1.5TB Drives (2 for internal as RAID 1, 1 for external for extra assurance). What will I REALLY do? Hopefully in a few months (or for my birthday....early B-Day hint) get 2 1.5TB or 2TB (if they are mainstream and the price has dropped) HD's and make one internal and one external (with plain copy of data every x days rather than this Norton crap that I would have a hell of a time recovering from if I wasn't running norton).

Oh well, the things I find out when I sit down at my computer in the early morning.

Oh, doing a break job on the Rabbit this morning (for a couple of reasons, we have been putting the miles on that lately instead of the TDI, so the TDI has 60K and the rabbit has 25k (rear brakes are wearing fast on the MkV VW's) and the BMW has around 18,500.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Car shows of 2009 - a year in review

Well, this weekend we went to our third and final (planned) car show of 2009. First we went to the Philadelphia Auto Show, then Washington D.C. and then Baltimore. Keep in mind, we went to the Frankfurt, Geneva and Paris auto shows in 2008 so we have become somewhat of Car-show snobs, and we saw most of what was new already.

I had never been into Phili, just driven past it, so the auto show served as a good reason to go there. Also,we knew the new Nissan 370Z was going to be shown there so we decided to go. Out of the three auto shows we went to, this was by far the best. The 370Z was a little strange looking (as I mentioned in an earlier post) but overall, I like it and think it is a general improvement. We were able to see the 2010 Mustang in person (we had previously seen it on Motor Week) and I will admit it is much nicer in person than my initial impressions.

Chevy had a significant showing in Phili with the ZR-1 and 4 new Camaros making an appearance. Best of all, the LS7 Camaro was there (in addition to an SS and two RS Camaros). The biggest deal was that they had an RS Camaro that was on the floor (Not behind a rope) WITH THE DOORS UNLOCKED. Pontiac had a 4-cyl Pontiac Solstice Coupe with 300hp surprise (that is as much as our twin-turbo inline-6 BMW 135i).

Dodge had the new Viper ACR (which just set the record for fastest lap by a production car) on display along with a list of comparison lap times. Not as big an "FU" as Nissan having the GTR Video on display opposite the Porche display in Paris, but still a nice touch.

The biggest surprise was the Subaru Legacy Concept. WOW....amazing. The Chrome paint just made the car "pop" and the design was incredible. The LED Headlights, the camera side-view mirrors, the crisp lines. It looked amazing.

Washington, D.C.

There was one reason to go to the Washington, D.C. auto show. The VW Blue Sport Concept car. VW also had a TDI Cup Race car, and "Max" from the VW Commercials (the black VW Bug). In the area dedicated to the LeMans series, they had the Audi V10 TDI LeMans car and the Chevy Corvette E85 Race car.

Electrics and Hybrids had a huge presence at the show, with Tesla making an appearance (our first sighting), GM had the Volt and the Saturn Flextreme on display (and some hybrid SUVs), Toyota had the new Prius and their prototype electric city car based on the IQ Concept from the european auto shows, Honda had their Hydrogen car and the new hybrid Insight, and Fisker had their two $100k+ electric sports cars (that look amazing).

The display in D.C. wasn't quite as large as Phili, and the distance from the metro entrance to where we could enter the show was laughable (even though the entrance exit was right next to us, we had to make a lap of the conference center basically to get to the entrance).

The high point was when we came across the rep from Summit Point Raceway in West Virginia. We are now on their email list once they release their schedule for their open track days (because that is the thing I miss the most about Germany).

Motor Trend Internation Auto Show in Baltimore, MD
HA! Oh, how the mighty have fallen (at least in our eyes). We used to love going to the Baltimore auto show, and it was certainly much smaller than it used to be (Yes, I know, the economy is in the toilet, but still, it was sad). Chevy had ONE Camaro RS behind ropes, 1 ZR-1 and 1 Z06 Corvette. Eh...seen them all (in high quantities). Chrissy sat in the Z06 (the ZR-1 was locked). Ford introduced the new Ford Taurus (and also had the 2010 Mustang on the floor but still locked). They had some robot there for some kind of demonstration, but, meh..

VW had a VW GTI with the Thunder Bunny body kit in is that hot! I love that body kit. Subaru had a few WRXs but nothing special. BMW didn't even have a 1 convertible (and their 1 was a 128i). Buick had the new LaCross (which I thought was on hold)

The biggest bright spot of the show was actually from Hyundai with their 2011 Genesis Coupe
applause. Not only is the car hot to begin with, the paint job on there was AWSOME. It was grey camouflage with "Danger Intake" and "Danger Exhaust" stickers like a fighter jet. It looked AMAZING!
Maybe sometime I will recap Frankfurt, Geneva and Paris.

Web Design Motivation

I really want to work on my personal site. I also really want to work on a design for this blog, I just can't seem to keep motivated to work on pages at home ever since it started being my full-time job. It is really hard because I can't sit at my desk at home too long because for some reason that makes my knee hurt much more than sitting at my desk at work. Typing on my laptop gets tedious after a while and I lean forward to do that so that also hurts my knee. Add on top of that that I can't seem to load the configuration control panel for my website, and it makes it much harder to want to work on stuff. I am going to start trying though.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Taxes are done!!

We got the last piece of bank documentation and we finished up the taxes. What a relief! I hate letting that stuff sit and I know Mike does too.

We have a long weekend because of the presidents day holiday. Tomorrow, we are planning to go to the Baltimore Auto Show for Valentine's day. It's really short this year... only four days. I guess this is the last area auto show for the year. We need to start booking our flights for a European Auto Show! :-P

Sunday, the Daytona 500 is on TV. NASCAR is Mike's religion, sadly. So we have to shift some of our plans. Georgia and Nick may come over or we'll find a way to catch up with them somehow.

I'm sure that either Mike or I will update later! Have a wonderful and safe weekend, Blogger readers.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Egg Roll Arms Race

Chrissy and I had Chinese food tonight. We had Egg Rolls to start. These were the biggest Egg Rolls we have had state-side (we had bigger in Germany). So, first I thought about how some Chinese restaurant probably touts themselves as having the Biggest Egg Roll in town, and how that would invariably cause an Egg Roll Arms Race where the Chinese places try to out-do each other with bigger and bigger Egg Rolls. If the train of thought had stopped there, it would have been humorous, but of course, my train of thought when even further.

People say that eventually the Chinese will rule the world, and I figured out how. First you have to keep in mind two facts: 1 - Chinese food always make you feel hungry again much sooner than other food (for an unknown reason) and 2 - MSG can screw with your sleep patterns.

Step 1 - Have Chinese food supplant all other types of cuisine. It will take time, but they are willing to wait.
Step 2 - Heavily dose all Chinese food (except for in China obviously) with extremely large doses of MSG.

Now, everyone is having screwed up sleep patterns and they are always hungry since the Chinese food doesn't fill them up, leaving the Chinese army an opening to take over the world. Our only hope is to come up with something to combat the Egg Roll offensive!

Monday, February 2, 2009

1 more seafood item off the list

Well, so far I have had hives after eating Rock Fish, Tillapia and now Cod. I have had them once or twice after Crab too, but one of those times it was combined with Rock Fish and the other time, there might have been other seafood involved. THIS SUCKS...I am developing food allergies (or apparent ones anyone) I guess it is time to schedule an allergy test so I can know for sure.

I HATE ADULT ONSET ALLERGIES! So help me, if I get a full blown crab allergy I will go ballistic! I am from MD for Christ's sake!

Something's not quite right

Nissan 370Z, originally uploaded by MikeCCrutchfield.

Overall, I like the look of the new 370Z, but something about the front is just off. Most people would probably say the headlights, but I don't mind the headlights. I will admit they are an acquired taste, but that isn't what bothers me about the front. The front grill opening is what I don't like. It's like a robotic smile with dimples or something. It is just odd looking to me.

It looks like they tried to keep the overall rectangular shape of the opening but still give it some not-so-boxish lines, but it made it look really weird.

Wait..just found a picture that illustrates why I think it is weird. It reminds me of this:

So, Nissan now has a bulldog as their lower-level sports car.

Sunday, February 1, 2009


Ok, so I lied, we hadn't see this one. This is the Camaro LS7. I also like the paint scheme on the SS in the background (the Silver one with the racing stripes)
Posted by Picasa

Phili Auto Show

We went to the Philadelphia Auto Show yesterday, and while it was an OK auto show, we were spoiled by overseas auto shows. Paris, Geneva, and Frankfurt all spanned 5+ buildings and took 4+ hours to see. The Phili Auto Show (including about 20 minute break) took about an hour and 1/2. Granted, we skipped over some brands (Lincoln, Honda, Toyota, Jeep, Hummer) but we weren't at all interested in them. The only "new to us" vehicle we saw was the Nissan 370Z. Everything else, we had either seen at on the of the auto shows, or seen in person on the streets.

The pictures will be up on my flickr page very shortly, and I am sure we will still go to the Baltimore auto show when it comes to town, but it just isn't the same. On a side note, the VW booth people were actually knowledgable! I asked them if there was any word on the MkVI golf chassis for the US and they said "They are working on it, but they have already stopped producing the MkV, so they should be here later this year." Kudos!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Carsrst off, they

First off, here are the new parts in Kl0pfer (The Rabbit). The Dash cubby and the OEM Six-Disc changer.

They ordered the tool for the Jetta and it should be there tomorrow. Hopefully I will get the Jetta tomorrow or Monday...but time will tell.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Jetta Update

Forgot that I wanted to post an update on the status of the Jetta.

Got a call from the mechanic last night. He said that they received the docs from All Data that they needed to know how to put the flywheel seal back in the transmission (all 45 PAGES OF IT) but then they found out that they need a special tool to install it. T10135 I think was the tool number. Without that tool, they can't finish the car, and non of the local VW dealerships had ever had to change that seal so they didn't have the tool. The only place I could find it online (with a bit of help from TDIClub) was in Washington State. Hopefully the shop was able to order the tool.

This was all caused by my flywheel spinning itself apart. Apparently it can happen when the flywheel isn't replaced with the clutch because of something with the dual-mass flywheel. I won't have that problem anymore (once I FINALLY have the car back) because I am going with a single mass flywheel, but the rabbit is getting a ton of miles on it while this is going on. It is already over 22,000. surprise


Well, I downloaded Greasemonkey, and started looking around on Not only did I find some good gmail scripts, I found a cool emoticon script for blogger. biggrin

Anyway, we installed a 6-disc OEM stereo in the rabbit this evening and the dash tray. I will take pics tomorrow, but it is the same stereo and dash tray that are in my Jetta.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Scattered thought

This post is going to have lots of smaller discreet thoughts that I didn't feel like making full posts about.

1) It is really a shame that the Ravens couldn't pull out a win against the Steelers last night. 3 Losses in one season to the same team is depressing. At least they had an amazing season with a Rookie QB and rookie head coach. There's always next season when Flacko is a little more seasoned. Hopefully we can keep Ray around too. Best of luck to McGahee on his recovery.

2) We finally installed the ceiling fan in the office. It looks really nice and I need to shoot some photos of it. Still have to take photos of the garage door opener installed as well.

3) We are still without the TDI. It has been in the shop over a week, first waiting for the new clutch, now because the shop doesn't have the info they need for 05.5-06 TDI's and the CD they need hasn't arrived yet. I can't wait to have the TDI back though, because it is supposed to be our daily commute car for a reason, actually 40+

4) The Rabbit won't bother us for an oil change every 5,000 miles anymore. It is now set to 10,000 miles like it should be (and that is according to the manual even). I am also working on doing the hatch-pop mod outlined on I just need to get a bigger spring so it will work.

5) The house behind us has a complete foundation. It certainly isn't a rancher though (the footprint is too small). My guess is it is either the Hathaway or the Savoy: Coventry Farms

That's all for this evening I suppose. I will have a full write-up of my experience with Windows 7 in probably around a week or two. So far, I am very impressed. It seems to run MUCH quicker than Vista. But, like I said, more on that another time.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Got pulled over

Well, we took Matt out for a spin in Der Bimmer last night since he didn't get to drive with us around the ring. Well, I was being a bit of a show-off, doing some burnouts (with 300hp and 300lb-ft of torque it is effortless) and zipping down some back country roads. Well, when I was pretty much done with my fun, we were just cruising along and the speed limit dropped from 50 to 40 to 30 pretty quickly. I didn't slow down fast enough, and then nearly in unison, Matt and Chrissy say "There was a cop in that parking lot back there" I look up in my rearview JUST as the red & blue lights start flashing.

I find the largest part of the shoulder and pull over before the cop has even caught up to me. Cut the engine, roll down the window, get all of the proper paperwork out and turn on all of the interior lights. (I am already getting blinded by the spotlight on the cruiser at this point).

Once the officer comes up to the window, she introduces herself as working for the sherrif's office and says she clocked me at 46 in a 30. I honestly didn't think I was going that fast, but I knew I was a bit over 10 over, so it wasn't worth arguing that point, so I just said "Really? huh." I handed her my licnse, reg, change of address card and insurance info. No excuses, no "I'm sorry officer" nothing. It is 20 something out and I figure she wants this to be done quickly, I won't hold her up at all. She hands me the insurance card "You can keep that" and says "I'll be back in a few minutes"
Warning for speeding
So a couple minutes later, she returns, handing me my license, reg, etc.. but I also see something in her other hand, so I hand Matt the reg for the glovebox and sheepishly put my license away. I look back up, and she hands me the slip of paper with some of the most wonderful words ever. "This is just a warning. No points, no fine, no courtdate. Have a nice evening."

I say thank you and am on my way.

1 down 1 to go

Well, the Cards/Eagles game is over and now we just need to watch the Ravens' game to find out if we have another trip to the Super Bowl ahead of us. All we can hope for is the best possible play from the team, but with Rolle out of the game, Rothlesberger will have a bit of an easier time.

Go Ravens!

Tomorrow I will post about the Written Warning I got last night.

The tail of two halves

I am watching the NFC Championship game, and man it has been the tail of two halves. In the first half, it was all Arizona. They had a strong lead, and it looked like they were going to walk away with the game. Now the second half, the Eagles have taken the lead by one point. What a difference a half makes. Of course, my biggest interest is the Ravens/Steelers game, but I am somewhat routing for Arizona, so it will be interesting to see how this game continues.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Still updating

Man, even with a decent internet connection, it takes forever to update an old laptop that hasn't been turned on for a year! lol

Old laptops don't die

They just relocate into the garage to use VAGCOM! Finally resurrected my old laptop so I can stick it in the garage. Now I need to update EVERYTHING on this laptop. XP SP3, FF3, etc... Luckily it runs XP Home so it still

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


I still don't know the verdict on the TDI (the clutch should make it to the shop tomorrow). In the mean time, we had cleared out the garage so we now fit two cars in there (yay!). Well, now that we can park two cars, we need an easy way to open and close the garage, so I took my last day of home leave to install a garage door opener (better than paying $119 to have it done). So, now we can park two cars in the garage, and go in and out of the front door to make sure that the garage door is locked! And we have a keypad to get in from he outside too. The install was a bit of a pain in the ass, but it was worth it.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Clutch go boom

The Clutch in the TDI went "Boom"...sorta. The car was driving weird, having weird vibrations, and a little slow on the uptake. I thought I had broken engine mount. I took the car to the local VW-Only mechanic (been in business 42 years), Dick's Autohaus. When we stoppe by on the way home to see what was the deal, we got an unpleasant surprise....lots of metal shavings and transmission fluid all over the bottom of the engine that had been hidden by the plastic cover underneith the car. Oh, and there were bits of clutch that came out too.

So, I have a single mass flywheel and clutch on the way, but there is a story there too. I had tried to use that when I had my clutch replaced a while ago (which begs the question, why did it blow up, but I digress). Anyway, the parts I got in went with me to the VW Dealership in Germany and when I showed up to pick up the car, it was still sitting there apart because the flywheel wouldn't fit. It turned out it was because the distributor had received two flywheels that were incorrectly machined, and I had received one of! So apparently, that problem has been fixed now, so I am going with the single mass flywheel again which costs a total of $389 for the flywheel and clutch, as opposed to over $900 for the dual mass flywheel that is prone to fail.

On the up-note, did an oil change on the Rabbit in the garage tonight. I love having a garage. No wind, can work at night, it is wonderful. And thanks to the old cardboard box from our bigscreen, no oil on the garage floor!

Anyway, it had been a long time, but I will try to post more frequently, but that's all I have for now.