Tuesday, January 16, 2018

We had to get a new car

Our car was hit by another car a week or so ago. It wasn't our fault and no one was hurt but our car was pretty badly damaged. You can see it in the picture to the right. We could still use the car but the passenger door was hard to close and we worried that it might not stay closed. So, we were looking forward to having the insurance company inspect it so we could get it fixed quickly. But, instead, the insurance adjuster said that due to our car's age (12 years) and number of miles (over 170,000), it wasn't worth repairing and totaled it. We would have to turn in the car and get what they said it was worth. But the amount they gave us would not have allowed us to get a car that was comparable to what we had. So, we decided to bite the bullet and just get a newer car on our own.
It doesn't seem fair that we could be going along fine with an old car that ran well. It certainly had its problems and was costing more to repair but the problems were familiar and it was manageable. Now, out of the blue, we are forced to take a lot of time filling out reports, taking time to look for which new cars were available that we could afford, visiting places with cars, trying them out, comparing what we saw, bargaining for a fair price and going through the hassle of changing everything over to a new car.

We have gotten used to the room we had in the van but we found that there was no way we could afford a van of a decent age and in any kind of decent shape. So, something like a cross-over or SUV was more what we'd need to get. We still couldn't afford a new cross-over or SUV but we finally found this 2015 Ford Escape that you can see in the picture to the left. Moving from a 2005 vehicle to a 2015 vehicle was quite an eye opener. All the cars we looked at had video screens on the dashboard. They all had back-up cameras. They all had a lot of nice standard features. Even though we bought an older car with the least amount of features as we could afford, we feel like we've moved up in the world. Now, if we can just make the payments!

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Why are the old shows better than the new ones?

Well, my title is provocative and it's not necessarily true. Not all the old shows were better. There were a lot of bad ones but we tend to forget those. We only remember the good ones. And to consider a new show better, we have an accumulating list of really great shows for it to compete against. I like to read Earl Pomerantz's blog Just Thinking... and he brought up this point and I wrote an answer. I'll copy it below but I think I missed a few ideas so maybe I'll write some more about that in another post here. But for now, here is what I wrote:

Another thing about saying older movies and shows (and many other things) are better than recent attempts: Remember that each new entertainment or event must "compete" with a growing list of things that happened before. So, it gets harder and harder to be the best or the most memorable.

I thought about this during the recent cold spell when the weather man said it is harder to set new records in certain situations (like coldest high temperature) because of the accumulating range of temperatures in the past. Of course, we're doing our best to keep setting new high temperatures which leads to another thought on this whole "the older versions are better" idea. If humans can make new heat records by ignoring the past, we should be able to improve stories, movies and music by studying the past, learning from them and improving them.

So, maybe that's what helps make it harder to improving our movies, too. Fewer people are willing to study the past to learn what was done well and where the mistakes were made. How many musicians study the masters before going on with their own attempts? How many writers study the old stories and fables before writing their own? With film and TV, it's easier. The records are more clear and there is less history. And you're only going to see "the best movie ever" less often because it's still competing with The Epic of Gilgamesh, The Iliad and the Odyssey, The Bible and I Love Lucy.

Monday, January 08, 2018

Our 24th Anniversary

Getting back into writing my blog is more difficult than I thought. Not only do you have to remember to write, you have to remember how to write! Getting your thoughts into print is a skill and it is easy to get out of practice. And when something is hard (or harder than it used to be), it is hard to get started. Also, when you know something is going to take a lot of time, it is difficult to allow yourself the time to do it.

All of that is a preamble to why this article is late. My wife and I have been married for 24 years. We were married on January 8, 1994 and I am writing this on January 10, 2018. But I am post-dating it to January 8 because that is day what this is about. The sad part is, this should be an easy post to write but I'm spending more time thinking about it and writing excuses than I am writing about our anniversary.

Not only is this post late but my gift to my wife will be late, too. We did shop for and buy a new ring for her but it needs to be resized and it won't be ready for a couple of weeks. I should have started earlier. I did get her a nice card and a small rose bush (to be planted in the spring) on time. But I'm not going to be adding the picture of the rose bush until even later!

We had a nice day. We went to our favorite Chinese buffet restaurant and got a great meal. Our kids came with us and enjoyed themselves, too. So January 8, 2018 was a nice day. And even two days later, I'm still feeling happy about it. And 24 years after marrying my wife, I'm even happier now than I was then - and I was very happy then. I highly recommend getting married if you find the right person to marry.

{Edit - I was going to add a picture of the miniature rose bush I bought my Sweetie for our anniversary but then I saw she had this picture from our wedding on her Facebook page. So, that's what you see here. It had snowed pretty heavily on the days before our wedding and a lot of people weren't able to make it. We ended up asking people at the last minute if they wanted to come to the reception due to so many people not being able to make it.]

Friday, January 05, 2018

Murder on the Orient Express was OK

I love trains. I love mysteries. I really like all of the actors and actresses in this movie. I should have really enjoyed Murder on the Orient Express but I only liked it. I knew how it was going to end (from seeing the 1974 version) but I've enjoyed other movies where I knew the ending so I figured that was no reason to not go. My family wanted to see it and I went with them.

The train was beautiful. The cinematography was wonderful. And there was an opening sequence (similar to the James Bond movies) that was really fun. I liked recognizing all the well-know actors and actresses as they entered but they just didn't seem to have any chemistry - with ANY of the other actors. I think I could have enjoyed this if some of the characters worked well together but it just seemed like each one was determined not to look less than the other characters so they didn't interact in a menacing or helpful or endearing way. They just said their lines and moved on. Johnny Depp was the biggest disappointment. He acted like a tough guy who was not tough at all. I wouldn't have been afraid of him and if I'm not scared, no one is scared.

Action scenes were added to try to make this more thrilling and I liked the idea of the train being stopped by an avalanche. If I would have just thought that there was real menace there, I might have bought into it but no one seemed like they really wanted to be the bad guy. Maybe they'll make another version sooner than 43 more years (I'll be 109 - maybe) and it will take a LOT more to get me excited about it then.

Monday, January 01, 2018

Let's make this a better year

I let myself get rattled by other events in 2017 and stopped updating this blog in January last year. I'm proposing to make a fresh start and write every few days this year.

I've learned a lot over the last year. I've seen a few good movies. I've read a few good books. I've grown in my journey to emulate Jesus Christ and the Spirit has given me insights into my failings, my strengths and what I should be doing. I've grown as a software engineer and I truly think I'm better at my job than I've ever been. I continue using the Java programming language for most of my work but I continue to learn and use Python and last year I found I will need to learn C# for one important project. I have some interesting projects to work on this coming year and, perhaps, I can write about what I learn (without being too specific and getting fired). There have been some terrific sermon series at our church this year and maybe I can write about some of those.

That's it for now. It's going to take some time to get back in the habit of writing here. I am very out-of-practice and it's surprising, to me, how much harder it is to put my thoughts into words now. Just like how my piano playing has declined because of my lack of practice. That's another thing I hope to do more this year. There is a chance for an open performance at a local library later this year and I'm going to try to work on a really nice arrangement of I'm Beginning to See the Light to perform there.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Just a quick note

Here it is - the last day of the year. I am going to start writing in this blog again in 2018. This past year has been a bad year in many ways but some good things happened, too. I hope to write about the good and the bad, the progress and the set-backs. I have learned a lot in the past year. I hope to write about that in the coming new year.

Happy New Year to anyone who happens to find this.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

How I'm going to get rich - part 3

I've had a few other ideas for getting rich (here's one and here's another)  but this one is a sure fire way to do it.

Yesterday, I noticed that the air freshener in the men's room at work is called Lavender Embrace (see the picture to the right - I'm not making this up). What a manly fragrance! What guy wants to walk into a small room and smell that?

My idea is to produce a line of room sprays for real men. I'd call one Greasy Garage for the man with grime under his fingernails. Or how about Winning Locker Room? Then there is Bacon in the Morning. Ah, I can smell it now.

Yes, I know. There are many women who like to work on their cars and women have winning locker rooms, too. But I'll bet the winning women's locker room doesn't smell like a men's locker room (not that I would know - but I can imagine). And yes, women like bacon too (just ask my daughter). But women could use these air fresheners, too - if they'd like. It's just that men have few choices. We've had manly colognes and after shave for a while (although none like I'm proposing). It's time for air fresheners to catch up.

Don't forget - you heard it here first.