Monday, March 29, 2010

A Man and His Truck...

In February of 2004, I bought a used 2002 Dodge Dakota Quad Cab 4X4, with 19,000 miles. A little over six years later, I crossed the 100,000 mile mark. After 80,000+ miles and six years of ownership, I love this truck as much as the day I bought it. The ONLY thing I'm not wild about is the gas mileage, but I knew that when I bought it.

A man and his truck... it's a beautiful thing.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Another Culinary Delight

I did my first grilled beer can chicken today. I won't reinvent the wheel and tell you how to do it... Google can do a far better job. What I WILL say though, is that beer can chicken is awesome and will quickly become part of my regular grilling rotation.

OMG... it was SO tasty!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Thank God for Backups

You've heard it time and time again... back up your computer!! Being a computer geek, I can't even count how many times I've run across situations where a full backup would have saved hours of labor and/or the loss of precious data (work documents, family photos and so forth). Following my own advice has just saved my bacon.

Yesterday, when I got home from work, I discovered that my internet browsers just wouldn't work on the family PC. We use Firefox as the main browser, but I also understand that sometimes Internet Explorer needs to be used. For whatever reason, both absolutely failed to work as expected. I spent the entire evening trying to get things to work, all to no avail. Eventually, I gave up and went to bed.

This morning, I figured that I'd start fresh. I did a clean backup of my family's documents and settings, so nobody would lose that precious picture, wiped the drive, and installed Windows from scratch. That's where my backups -- yes, multiple backups -- came in handy. Instead of having to reinstall everything from scratch after my new Windows installation, I simply restored from backup. And fortunately for me, I had two full system backups, because my most recent one choked. Luckily, the older one worked. In fact, I'm typing on the once-crashed computer while restoring the documents and settings that I backed up earlier this morning.

Yeah, I will have to re-run a couple of months worth of updates, but in the grand scheme of things, it couldn't have worked out much better... it's a kid-free weekend, and the wife is out of town on business. I will have spent several hours fixing things, but when the wife or kids next log on to the computer, they will find it exactly as they left it... and THAT is why I take the effort to back up my PC.

As you can imagine, once I have the PC back to how I want it, the FIRST thing I will do is a full backup.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Expanding My Horizons

You all know that I've been playing guitar in my church band... up to now, I've been playing only on Thursday evenings. This has allowed me to get comfortable with the other musicians in the group, offered a chance to learn the music, and provided me the opportunity to perform before a very small group of people (ten or so).

Over the last few weeks, I've noticed that the bass player hasn't been showing up. Unfortunately, I've also been seeing this too late in the game... about halfway through practice. Well, this last Thursday, I caught on right away, and I played bass that night. It was fun... I enjoyed the instant gratification of playing bass. (Hey, face it, after playing rhythm or lead guitar, bass is relatively easy.)

Fast-forward to this morning... it was Sunday, and once again the church band had no bass player. I was asked by the leader if I was ready to play, and I was. So, today, I've grown a bit as a musician. I played bass, and I played in front of a group of about 100 people. Heck, one of the kids even said that I did a good job. It was awesome! And, by the way, there was absolutely no nervousness whatsoever -- despite the fact that I made a few mistakes.

This is a lot of fun!!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Sometimes, There IS a Little Justice in the World

Back in the July timeframe, I was eligible for a review of my child support obligation. I make a lot less now than I did when child support was initially calculated, so financially I knew it was in my best interest to request a review and get my child support payments reduced. I informed the ex that I'd be doing this, so that she wouldn't be taken by surprise or think I was being sneaky.

A few days later, I told my wife that I was going to request the review. She actually recommended that I not do the review. She figured that the ex always makes waves when I do that kind of thing, and it was worth a little extra to keep the peace. "Besides," she said, "we both know that your ex can use the extra money." So I let it go.

My ex must have taken that as a sign that I determined a child support review would not be in my favor... a couple of months later, SHE requested the review. Well, folks, the results are in....

My new child support payment is 34% of the old payment. And where I formerly had to pay 100% of the medical deductibles and co-pays, I now only have to pay 50%. Effectively, I just got a fat raise.

Sometimes, there IS a little justice in the world.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Comparing Apples and Oranges - Which Would You Choose?

People are People. Period. That's the title for Paulius's blog post for today. And his post is a riff from RayRay, which is something he stole from Facebook. I'm writing up a new post, because I've got too much to say for a simple comment on Paulius's post... and he created an entire post because he had too much for a mere comment on RayRay's blog. I love it.

Paul made some reasonable points, but in the end, I don't agree with him. For those of you out there in blogland, take note... this doesn't mean I think he's an idiot. Quite the contrary, in fact. I think he's a pretty smart guy. One fact that many people overlook is that outside of the scientific realm, people can observe the same situation(s) and reach different conclusions.

In fact, there are areas of his post where we agree. If someone else wants to donate to a given charity or cause, it's not really my business. In the case of Haiti, I'll even go a step further and bring up a point Paulius never mentioned... a dollar given to Haitian relief efforts will have more impact than a dollar given to American homelessness (one example brought forth in these posts), because the cost of living is much lower in Haiti.

From here, however, our opinions -- and that's what we're talking about here - opinions -- diverge. And I think it all boils down to one core fallacy... the mistaken belief that all life is equally valuable. It's all well and good to say that every human life is sacred, but in real life, that's not how it works. I'll use myself as an example. It is my belief that my life, and the lives of my family are most important. Coming in a close second is the well-being of my friends. I also believe that productive members of society are more important than criminals and vagabonds, and that the needs my fellow countrymen come before the needs of others.

I'm not saying "don't help Haiti." What I am saying, though, is that our American family should come before our international friends. My position is not from the Utopian Paradox that Paul mentioned. It's based in the reality of economics... people have generally unlimited wants and needs, but there's a limited supply to fulfill these desires.

But there's another place where I agree with Paulius... if you're not giving to anyone -- and taxes don't count -- you don't really belong in this discussion.