Thursday, January 30, 2014


First night skiing day for the season tonight at Alpental.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

picking up pennies

Is it worth the time and effort?  I just picked up two pennies while grabbing my laundry, so it got me thinking...

Each time I pick up a penny, I get one cent (which I put in a box and never use, but let's assume I'll use this penny).  Stooping down and picking up a penny takes a few seconds - three seconds if everything goes well, but it could take longer since pennies aren't all that easy to pick up.

Five seconds per penny means I the action "earns" me 20 cents a minute, or $7.20 an hour.  It's not terrible...  at least not until you consider how you should probably wash your hands afterwards.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

car or no car?

Let's look at the trips that I've taken this year.  Through the end of September I have used my car ~60 days, of which I really *needed* to drive ~20.

Days where a car was legitimately useful: ~20
5 days during ski season for night skiing after work
3 days during ski season for going skiing on non-work days
9 days due to friends in town
3 trip to some place in the boonies
1 trip for buying large items

Days of low value car trips: ~35
20 days for the sake of moving the car or fixing the car (no car, no need to do this)
5 days due to being nice and volunteering to drive (no car, can't)
3 days due to long work days (bus, or just leave!)
2 days due to picking up friends from the airpor (light rail)
1 days due to laziness
1 day due to being sick
1 day due to other reasons1 days to pick up free stuff

Now let's look at how much these trips cost me.  Looking at my costs so far this year, I project owning a car costs me about $1600/year
$120/year registration fees
$360/year insurance
~$160/year in tolls for gratuitously moving my car to/from work
~$130/year in parking tickets (for when I forget to move the car...  still cheaper than $1200/year for a spot in my building's garage)
~$300/year in maintenance
~$500/year in gas

By owning my own car, I have some flexibility to use my car whenever I want (assuming my car is in the right place), but I also need to do a large number of trips just for the sake of keeping my car functioning and avoiding parking tickets.  Owning a car costs me about $1600 a year.  Using a Zip car would cost me about the same amount of money.

Since costs are comparable, it comes down to ease.

Doing the Zip car would mean I would need to reserve a car in advance. I wonder how that would work for ski trips. It would probably be a bit more annoying when skiing, but not too much worse considering how nowadays I need to make sure my car isn't in the garage at work.  Perhaps it might even be easier!

On the flip side, I'll make less unnecessary trips, which means less time in traffic and more reading/sleeping.  It also means I don't have to worry about doing maintenance on my car, which would free up a few days on my weekends each year.  I think this balances out the days where I could have used to car for an easier commute for those long days in the office.

Overall, it's a wash.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


My philosophy on tipping...  excerpted from some comments made on Facebook.

General tipping policy:
Great service: 20-30% (fuzzy math)
Decent service: 20%
Passable service: 15-18%

Bad service: 5-10%
Criminally bad service: 0% or less (this has happened twice - once at Hard Rock Hollywood, FL; again at El Gaucho in Bellevue)

Bonus points if I was a pain in the butt or if the items on the bill are really cheap. Servers at cheap restaurants work just as hard as those in fancier places but get the shaft from this deal. Additional bonus if I'm a regular (generally repaid in the occasional free beer).

In response to the policy of tipping more at fancy places:
Servers at nice places already get the bonus built in because the food is expensive. There is no way the guy who brings out a $30 plate should deserves $5 tip while the guy who serves me a $6 dish deserves $1. They probably both deserve about $2.

El Gaucho earned $0 because she never got me my drink (among other reasons). After watching the bartender fill the drink order, I watched my drink wait at the bar for 5 minutes. Then I walked over, asked if it was for my table (it was), and picked it up myself.

Additional clarifications - defining "criminally bad" and some more tipping philosophy
I give people the benefit of the doubt. Criminally bad is when it's clear that the bad service is from willful incompetence, not accidental incompetence. Like manslaughter vs. murder. "Manslaughter" would get a 5-10% tip, murder gets nothing.

Somehow, this also helps even out income for good servers. A good server who's overwhelmed on a busy shift would commit "manslaughter", but still be compensated for suffering through the hellish shift because of the volume. A good server could also have an OK night when it's slow by delivering excellent service to fewer people. A server who doesn't do the basics like take and deliver orders (e.g. El Gaucho server) should not be a server and shouldn't be encouraged to continue in the trade.

Yes, I've thought about this a bit. (-:

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

fantasy 2012

Yellow Bellies Starting Lineup:
QB: Cam Newton (1)
RB: Michael Turner (4)
RB: Rashad Jennings (11)
WR: Percy Harvin (3)
WR: Miles Austin (6)
TE: Rob Gronkowski* (2)

K: Stephen Gostokowski (10)

DEF: SF (7)

Matt Schaub (9)
BenJarvus Green-Ellis* (5)
Lance Moore (13)
Justin Blackmon (8)
Doug Baldwin* (14)
Brent Celek (12)

*From Yellow Bellies 2011
(round drafted)

Saturday, August 04, 2012


After driving around quite a bit the last few weeks, I noticed some things with my car the warranted an inspection.  Notably, I heard some occasional squealing from the right side when braking and the occasional knock on rough roads coming from the suspension.

What I expected to discover:
I expected to find one of my rear calipers frozen and dead.  It's happened before.
I also expected to find some worn out bushing on the suspension on one of the wheels

What I actually discovered:
The rear brakes were functional and were wearing quite evenly.  Sweet.
The rear right rotor was warped by about 0.7mm.  The rotor has 90k miles on it, so I guess that's OK.  Nothing urgent.
One of the bushings on the rear left is cracked, but since I drive 3k miles a year, I don't really care (yet).
The rear left upper arm's seal is cracked. Since I don't drive much, I'll just wait for it to crack before replacing it.  I last replaced this 56k miles ago in 2006.  Lifetime warranty from AutoZone.
The front right brake was wearing uneven, but due to a misaligned shim that was getting in the way.  The caliper was still functioning smoothly.  Yay!
The front left caliper was a little stiff due to corrosion of the bolt.  Looks like it's time for the caliper bracket to be replaced.  I believe this is one of the few original brake parts still on the car.  206k miles, and it's due for a $40 replacement part.
The front right drive shaft bearing seal has started leaking gunk all over the place and needs to be replaced soon.  This was last replaced 26k miles ago and replacing it was a pain in the ass.

I expected to have to do quite a bit of work on the brake calipers, but it ended up being an easy job of just replacing the pads, at least for today.  I have a few other things to queue up for another weekend:
  1. *Regularly scheduled oil change
  2. Regularly scheduled coolant change and radiator cap
  3. *Front left caliper bracket
  4. *Front right driveshaft
  5. *Return front calipers
  6. Regularly scheduled brake fluid flush (although technically, it's scheduled for next year based on mileage)
*Things to do at the store.  Yes, this blog sometimes doubles as a shopping list.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

browsing a-z

The crystal ball of autocomplete tells all...