Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Step up to the mic

A busy schedule and the inevitable post-film fest fatigue have set in. I'm ready to zonk out for the night, so I'm going to keep it brief.

The last two days I've received the same comment about someone recommending my blog as a favorite and inviting me to submit my own interview. I suspect it's just comment spam, but if you did single me out for recognition, thank you for doing so, even though I highly doubt I'll choose to participate. (I have my suspicions about the site in question, and I don't know that I want to promote my blog anyway.)

I am willing to answer some inquiries in this space, so if you have any burning questions, feel free to leave them in the comments.

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Wrapping The K Factor

I got a little behind on linking the last K Factor segments, so here are the final two entries.

I'm in need of some recovery from all my recent travels and moviegoing. Hopefully I'll be back to more substantial blogging tomorrow.

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Monday, March 29, 2010

Road knits

Truckers and knitting (and other needle crafts).

Do you really need any more today?

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Sunday, March 28, 2010


The last few days I haven't had much time to get a good meal--read: not fast food from the food court--but since I had a slightly bigger window between the third and fourth films today, I decided to try and get a decent sit-down lunch/supper. I wanted to watch some NCAA basketball too. So I hoofed it from the cave-like atmosphere of the movie theater and ascended to the third floor to get something to eat and watch some hoops.

I'd eaten at this place the previous week. I wasn't overly impressed then, but it's not like there were many options at my disposal. I sat next to some folks who complained about their meal, but I'm not usually one to voice my dissatisfaction at a restaurant. So maybe I should have known better to go there, right?

It should have been a clue that I ought to turn around and leave when my request to have one of the TVs in the place tuned to the college game. (All of the TVs were on the Cleveland Cavaliers game.) The waiter said he would do it but promptly forgot. All right, fine, whatever. The next time I saw him was when he delivered my food, and he did change the channel then.

I ordered a stir fry. Can't be too difficult to mess up, right? The two main problems were apparent from the first forkful. The dish was excessively salty, and the rice was undercooked and crunchy. The dilemma is what to do. The waiter had pretty much disappeared--the place wasn't busy whatsoever--and I was up against the clock to eat. Keep in mind that all I'd had as of 4:00 p.m. was two doughnuts, a banana, a small coffee, and a hot fudge sundae from McDonald's. (I'm as appalled to admit that as you are to read it.)

I tried eating what was there anyway, but after a few more forkfuls I knew there was no way I'd come close to finishing. It may have been the worst meal I've ever been served at a restaurant. I composed the universal symbol for "done"--fork on the plate, napkin on the table--and waited for my server. I was still considering not saying anything about how bad it was. For shame, I know.

The waiter asked if I wanted a box. I told him the problems I had with it and that I didn't have time for a replacement dish. The meal, if you can call it that, was comped, which is what anyone in their right mind would have expected. Still, this wasn't exactly a win. I still hadn't eaten. I think it's safe to say I won't be patronizing this place at next year's festival.

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Saturday, March 27, 2010

The power of one

I have a preferred seat at the film festival no matter the auditorium. Most are split into three sections: two or four seats on the left side, an aisle, long central rows, an aisle, and two or four seats on the right side.

I go for the aisle seat in the last row on the small lefthand section. Why? I have more leg room and can make a quick escape from the theater once the credits hit. Leaving from that side also means I can get around whatever traffic may be coming from the other side of the auditorium. (Yes, I've thought this through extensively.)

One of the things I've found, especially if it's just a two-seat row, is that sitting there by myself will usually deter someone from sitting by me. Now, the festival is exceptionally well attended, so it isn't always the case that I get the added bonus of an extra seat for my belongings. That said, when given a choice, it's pretty rare that someone will decide to plant him or herself in the spare chair.

I want to clarify that I'm not being protective of that free seat. I know that it may be needed. I make an effort to get the seat I want, but I don't put claims on the other one by putting my things in it. If the film starts and it's unoccupied, then I'll put my coat and bag in the seat.

I don't think I'm giving off a hostile vibe, and while I may not always find time for sufficient sleep or food, I do bathe. It's not just me. I've noticed other people taking similar seats also tend to have the openings beside them be last options for the latecomers. For whatever reason, something about one person on their own seems to intimidate people, even if they are flying solo too.

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Friday, March 26, 2010

A breeze

Just checked off the 39th film I've seen in six days at the festival. I have eleven more to go over the last two days. In other words, it's a light schedule from here on out.

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Thursday, March 25, 2010


Once again I was up before the sun was so I could head north for the film festival in Cleveland. It was a fairly uneventful drive, but as I got closer to downtown, my GPS informed me of some major slowdowns ahead. But what am I going to do, take an alternate route?

That's exactly what the GPS had in mind as it did something I didn't know it could do. Samantha, the default voice on the device, informed me of "severe traffic ahead" (or maybe it was "serious traffic ahead") and changed my route all on her own. Is my GPS becoming sentient?

It turns out that the route was a clever way to avoid interstate messes, although I would soon find that the GPS could have guided me to drive a couple more highway miles before exiting. Best of all, this route took me around the major detour needed to be taken to reach parking at the festival's location. I may take it again on the way in Friday morning.

Of course, who knows what the roads are going to look like. With most of my movies stacked more or less on top of one another--and me needing to deal with work issues that have dogged me for the last few months (and promptly ruined my evening)--I hadn't seen what was happening outside. I departed the last movie of the night to find a couple inches of snow on my car! Where did this come from?

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

On the bright side

Don't mistake this entry as me proclaiming my happiness to have been in a car accident that totaled my car a month ago. Although I came through it mostly unscathed, I would prefer not to have had the experience. The fact remains that I did, so why not look at the good that came from it?

I only had my last car seven months, and while I had some well-documented problems with it, I was generally happy with the Ford Focus. I would have been happy to get another, but circumstances led me to buy my first Korean-made automobile. You know what? I think this may be a better car. Here's why:

-Significantly improved gas mileage over the Focus, especially for city driving. (I was stunned how bad the Focus' city mileage was.) I'm getting mileage similar to what I got with my Saturn, if not a little better than that. This is a really important quality in a car to me.

-Better cupholder placement. In the old car they were almost underneath the dash. The new car has them to my side.

-The windshield wipers have been more effective than on any car I've ever owned. (Maybe that has nothing to do with the vehicle?) I'm not crazy about needing to move the bar down to adjust the wiper rate--everything else I've driven has required pushing the bar up--but I'm coming around.

-Electronic door locks that aren't as loud. The locks on the Focus sounded like they were too powerful.

-Two power outlets (or what used to be called cigarette lighters).

-A gas tank lock. The Focus was the first car I owned without a lock on the gas tank. (My first actually required putting the key in the gas tank door to open it.)

-A sunglasses holder. No more having to stash them in the glove compartment.

There are plenty of qualities that are essentially equal between the Focus and its Asian replacement. The Focus had a few advantages--brakes weren't as touchy, it probably sat slightly higher, electric mirror controls felt sturdier--but I do think I ended up with a better car. Let's hope that bears itself out in the months and years to come.

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

While you were out

When I'm out of town for a little bit I'll sometimes have this weird feeling as though home is now a mysterious, far-off place. What happens when I'm not around? Is the landlord going through my apartment unbeknownst to me?

This latter question might sound like something a paranoid person would wonder, but it is rooted in actual experiences. I had one landlord who went into my place from time to time without advance notice, which always felt like a violation. Of course, landlords do have a right to enter--with notice--but since I don't always keep my living quarters as tidy as I should, I fret about access needed at an unexpected time. Go figure, I got home tonight and found one such notice for furnace inspection on Thursday. Fear confirmed.

There are also times when I'm elsewhere that it seems like home ceases to exist because it isn't my current reality, as though I'm the author of all I can see. For all I know, my home could have burned to the ground and I'd be none the wiser. (This thought has crossed my mind on more than one occasion.)

Maybe this sense that something is afoot while I'm away goes back to one summer that I went to camp and returned to find that my family had purchased a new television. I don't know why in particular this incident made such an impression on me. It's not like getting a new TV was a negative development in the order of coming home to find a pet is no longer around. Whatever the reason--I think it has to do with feeling out of the loop--to this day it is strange to me to go away for a short while and come back to find things changed, even a little.

What I'm getting at is that I left town on Friday morning and got back home tonight to find that one of my neighbors has moved out. You mean stuff was going on while I wasn't present?

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Monday, March 22, 2010

Smart and safe

I am back in the hotel I checked out of this morning.

Around 11:30 p.m. I walked out of the place hosting the film festival and saw that it was raining buckets. Hmm, that's not ideal driving conditions for someone who hasn't been getting full nights of sleep, is coming off of watching six films over the previous fourteen hours, and is looking to spend the next couple hours driving home. Water was pooling on the city streets and interstate. Highway speeds being observed by fellow drivers hovered around 35-40 mph.

I didn't have the option to wait out the storm. I've been in such a bubble since Friday that I have no idea if it is supposed to rain like this all night. So I decided to play it smart and safe rather than cheap and stupid. I would check back into the hotel I checked out of earlier today.

I wavered on the decision when I hit better stretches of the interstate, but ultimately I held firm to that gut impulse to suck it up and pay for another night's lodgings. I didn't need a couple hours of white knuckle driving, and while I felt pretty good, especially considering the ringer I've put myself through the last four days, I didn't know how long that would last under long, strenuous conditions.

And yes, my car accident a month ago weighed into tonight's decision. While I think I would have been fine, I felt like I didn't need to press my luck. The reason I stay where I do for the festival is because the hotel is at least half the cost compared to accommodations in downtown Cleveland near the event. Another night isn't going to break the bank, but really, what I was more concerned about not breaking was myself or my car.

Rain or not, this was probably the most sensible thing to do anyway.

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Sunday, March 21, 2010


I decided that I wouldn't go to the 9:00 a.m. session at the film festival this morning unless I happened to wake up in time. Since I'm averaging four to five hours of sleep the last three nights, I figured that was very unlikely. My cursed internal clock had me wide awake in plenty of time. (I'm guessing hotel hall corridor noise may be at the root of my early rising too.

Not that you're at the festival, but I've found one small thing that can make watching movies for twelve or sixteen hours on little sleep a smidgen more bearable. Finding time to eat is often a challenge. A mall food court is the primary source of dining opportunities, and even it shuts down with several hours left in the moviegoing day. What is one to do? McDonald's sells two pies, cherry or apple, for a dollar. Buy 'em, stash 'em in the bag, and break 'em out when emergency rations are needed.

I've also been bringing a banana each day, so there's a healthy option.

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Saturday, March 20, 2010


Two days, fourteen films, but just one knitting reference. It came in about the last film I would have expected one to pop up.

In No Crossover: The Trial of Allen Iverson, someone mentions that rather than letting Nike fly the high school basketball player to an all-star tournament during his trial, he should have done nothing more than stay home and knit.

Something tells me that never was (and never will be) The Answer's style.

I'll be getting back to the hotel at a halfway reasonable hour on Sunday, so hopefully I'll have a more effort-intensive entry then.

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Friday, March 19, 2010


Up at 6:00 a.m., in Cleveland by 8:45, and then watched seven movies over the next sixteen hours. That's a full day.

To top it off, the drive to the hotel featured watching a car in front of me drive all over his lane and the next on the interstate at 1:45 a.m. Yay?

Probably ought to be more dead tired than I am. Anyway, I'm not going to push it, so that's all for today. More of the same, except for the Columbus to Cleveland drive and hopefully no inebriated fellow drivers, for Saturday.

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

March madness

Tuesday's game aside, the NCAA Tournament really started today as far as most college basketball fans and amateur gamblers are concerned. The first four days of the tourney, especially Thursday and Friday, are one of my favorite sporting events of the year, and I've been glued to much of today's action.

The timing, though, also matches up with the film festival up in Cleveland. It hurts some to miss these games, but the film fest gives me a chance to get out of town and see some movies that may not pass my way again. It's a trade-off, although I can usually squeeze in some basketball viewing when scrambling to get something to eat.

If I think I've been busy, I'm about to get a whole lot busier. On Friday and Saturday I've blocked out times for seven films. Is it madness? Yes. Will it be fun? I hope so.

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Gem City hoops

Between keeping up with work and making trips on consecutive days to Dayton for college basketball games, I'm all tuckered out.

A column about Dayton's basketball appetite does an excellent job of explaining what compelled me to go back there for last night's game and why I still feel strongly about the Flyers despite not having lived in the area for a decade and a half.

In an ironic turn, attendance for tonight's NIT game was pretty terrible, although there are several possible explanations (fans disgruntled with the disappointing season, problems in the ticket selling process, short turnaround time after game's announcement, St. Patrick's Day).

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tournament time

In 2001 the NCAA added a 65th team to Division I's annual basketball tournament in 2001. That also meant the need for a play-in game, now referred to as the Opening Round Game, to keep a workable number of teams in the brackets. Each year Dayton has served as the host for this game, probably because the University of Dayton Arena has plenty of experience with tourney games and local support for college basketball. I'd never attended but was feeling the itch to go this year.

I was going more out of a sense of curiosity about the event than a desire to see the teams playing. Let's face it: the two schools squaring off tonight were competing for the right to get drilled by their top-seeded opponent on Friday. No #16 seed, which is where these two teams are slotted, has ever beaten a #1 in tournament history, and based on what I saw this evening, Arkansas-Pine Bluff won't be the first. Congratulations on the win! Now get ready to lose by thirty or more in three days!

Although I was seated about half a section behind the Winthrop band, most everyone around me was probably from the area. A little over eight thousand people showed up for some post-season hoops, but there's no way that a significant percentage of them were from Arkansas or South Carolina.

As a kid I started attending games at UD Arena in the late 1970s or early 1980s. The closest I'd ever been to the court was when I had a seat on it during my high school graduation. We had season tickets in the third row of the upper arena, so that's where I'm most used to watching the action from. They were fairly good seats, but of course there's always a wish to be closer. I sat in the lower arena a few times at some high school tournament games. Tonight, though, I may have witnessed a game from the closest I ever have in the place. I admit that was part of my reason for wanting to be there. In that way the experience didn't disappoint.

Sure, the game was pretty much a dud. Both teams shot under 30% in the first half. Scoring didn't pick up much in the second half. But who cares? I cheered for both teams when they made good plays, and the score stayed relatively close until the last five minutes. All I was hoping for was a good view of a close game, and I got it, more or less. When I return tomorrow night to see the Flyers play Illinois State in the first round of the NIT, then I'll be more invested in the outcome.

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Monday, March 15, 2010


Isn't technology something?

You can take that as an expression of amazement or a criticism. Based on an experience I had today, I mean it both ways.

The task was simple enough. I wanted to purchase a ticket for the University of Dayton's first round NIT game against Illinois State on Wednesday.

According to the information I found, the arena box office would not be selling tickets over the phone to the general public. Nuts. I've preferred this option for the simple fact that it's a way to dodge most of the so-called convenience and service fees.

So I pulled up the page on the Ticketmaster website and kept refreshing until the time when tickets were to be released. 9 a.m. arrived and I put in for one "best available" ticket. Strangely, the computer could not locate a single seat. I tried a few more times and kept getting the same result. Using my criteria (one ticket, any price, best available), the system was unable to find a match.

Keep in mind that this game was scheduled just twelve hours earlier and had not been put on sale until this moment. Surely the season ticket holders hadn't gobbled up every seat. A call to the box office to confirm that this was the correct process produced what was likely be a lengthy wait (and probably a displeased ticket seller on the other end), so I turned to the other tool at my disposal: the telephone.

I looked up the local Ticketmaster number only to call it and discover that it was no longer in service. Instead a national toll-free line had taken its place. The initial prompts required voice commands, which was slow but so be it. Then I realized that the entire system operated on voice commands.

In one way, this is really amazing. I "spoke" with a computer that turned my verbal answers into a ticket order with my name, address, telephone number, credit card number, and confirmation number. It even took a reasonable but wrong stab at pronouncing my last name. Wow!

In another way, this is really annoying. I doubt that the process was faster than talking with an operator and may have been slower. For instance, it took a few tries to find the event I wanted. And oh yeah, the fees were more than the face value of the ticket--$5.70 in fees for a $5 ticket--but then again, the quoted ticket cost was less than what I read it would be.

I checked the website later in the day to see if available tickets were showing up. They were. I checked again a bit later after that out of curiosity of where the available seats were located. Now the ticket price was at $10 before fees.

So, in the battle with technology I won! Or at least I'm victorious until I go to pick up the ticket and they tell me that my order has been cancelled due to an error. This hasn't happened--and I'm not expecting it to--but I have just enough doubt about how this all went down that it wouldn't surprise me either.


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Status report

All right, so the blogging hasn't been all that compelling of late. It's been a rough winter that's kept me far busier than I would have preferred. Time or mental energy for knitting has been nearly nonexistent.

I'm about to embark on a stretch that, believe it or not, will be even more packed. I already have plans to attend the 2010 NCAA Opening Round basketball game in Dayton on Tuesday and may head back there on Wednesday to catch the hometown Flyers open the NIT. Then on Friday I'm off to Cleveland for a few days to attend the film festival, back home for a couple, and then returning to Cleveland for a few more days of gorging on movies.

If I've thought there haven't been enough hours in the day--and there certainly weren't in this shortened Sunday--then I'm really going to be pinched over the next two weeks. So, for the remaining few, bear with me. I'll try as best as I can to write about things or link to stuff that's worth your time.


Saturday, March 13, 2010

Spring forward

So the clocks jump ahead one hour tonight. Lovely. I did not help my cause by taking a hard, much needed nap this afternoon.

The fine folk at Stanford have some tips for how not to lose sleep during daylight savings time. Knitting is mentioned as a way of getting oneself in a drowsy state if waking up or being awake in the middle of the night is an issue. Hmm. That might actually work.


Friday, March 12, 2010

Duck tale

I've been linking to The K Factor segments from a British television show, so I thought you might like to read a story about the guy who knitted the breakout star.

Whatever am I going to blog about when the program stops this "contest"?

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Thursday, March 11, 2010


Since I graduated from college I've earned additional money as an official scorekeeper for athletic events. Most of the games are at the college level, although I've landed a few paying gigs for high school tournament games. (While I've done unpaid spotting a couple times for Ohio State football, I almost worked my first NCAA Division I basketball game a couple weeks ago when Ohio State hosted Michigan, but it turned out I wasn't needed.)

It's the kind of detail-oriented work under pressure that I'm good at. I suppose all those years when I kept unofficial statistics in a small notebook as a kid attending University of Dayton basketball games helped me build a skill worthy of a few bucks after all.

I've done football and basketball for years and am comfortable enough with the programs that I can fix errors while the action continues. The spotters help a great deal--sometimes I don't see the action at all--but ultimately the pressure is on me to enter every bit of correct information in a timely manner. The worst thing one can do is get flustered and lose track of what's happening in front of you.

Tonight I did my first college lacrosse game. And? Here's the thing: I'd never seen a lacrosse game in person or watched a full one on television. (I recorded one that aired this week to try and get a sense of how the game is played, but what I watched of it wasn't terribly helpful in telling me how to determine what qualifies as a ground ball, for instance.) Not fully knowing how to interpret what I'm seeing on the field of play makes it intimidating to be responsible for keeping the official record.

One person from outside the school was brought in to help with spotting. She proved to be indispensable, primarily because she could speak with more authority than anyone else calling out the plays and results. If I was going to listen to anyone, it was her. In a case such as this one, the last thing I needed was several people providing their interpretations, a scenario pledged to be avoided but which occurred nonetheless. Imagine three people calling out the information, sometimes regarding plays in rapid succession, and trying to sort through it, especially if I didn't even see what took place.

On top of that, there were several other people in the press box yammering, oftentimes in their attempts to make sense of what they were seeing. The background chatter mixed in with multiple people chiming in with their firm opinions made for a challenging experience. I know I wasn't performing air traffic control, but it took a lot of intense concentration and patience to manage.

In the end I performed adequately, mostly due to being given the proper information in an expedient manner. I was just (mostly) pushing the correct buttons. I do feel like I have a better grasp on what I'm seeing during a lacrosse game, and I expect it will become second nature to me as this inaugural season progresses.

Having survived my first lacrosse game, I marveled that a moonlighting job that began as a way to pull in some much-needed extra money post-graduation has lasted as long as it has. Now I'm even doing it for a sport I don't completely understand. I've worked around a few hundred games and earned a few thousand dollars through the years, all from an ability to watch games and quickly key in codes relating to the actions. How crazy is that?

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Yesterday's news

I've been a loyal newspaper reader since I was a kid. I don't know what got me started, but I tended to read nearly anything and everything in it, whether it was reviews of movies I couldn't see or news stories about stuff that didn't make a lot of sense to me. I cut out some comic strips and pasted them in a spiral bound notebook. I loved a contest that the Dayton Daily News had in which one needed to scour the paper, or maybe just the classified ads, to find each day's special word or clue.

I moved off campus for my senior year of college, and that meant sharing a newspaper subscription with one of my roommates. After I graduated and moved into an apartment of my own I started my own subscription. Getting and reading the newspaper was important to me, and in a way having my own subscription was a mark of adulthood.

I love reading the newspaper, and working for one was a career path I considered. It happened that electronic media is where I ended up, perhaps because I had those college classes first, but there was still a certain mystique about having one's work in print. In 2008 I was paid for a hundred-word movie capsule published in a Nashville, Tennessee alternative weekly. It's the only time I've been a paid writer. I never saw a physical copy of the publication, but knowing that my name was in black and white was a point of pride.

Needless to say, I'm a publisher's dream subscriber. I remain on the younger end of the readership spectrum, and I've been getting the daily paper on my own for nearly fifteen years.

I've now gone a week without having the local newspaper delivered to my home Sunday through Saturday. The last bill I received showed an enormous price increase--it had essentially doubled from a year earlier--and I balked at paying that price. A call to subscriber services got me a reduced rate, but even that discount reflected a hefty raise in the cost. I decided to hold off on making a decision whether to accept this lesser, but by no means insignificant, rate boost.

Then I got distracted by the aftereffects of the car accident and taking care of more immediate matters. The subscription lapsed last Thursday, and no one was answering the subscriber hotline when I called on Wednesday afternoon to suck up the higher cost for another few months.

No paper was on my doorstep the next day. While I did miss seeing it and thought I should follow up and restore my subscription, I decided to give the situation some time. Would I really miss getting the newspaper every morning?

The answer is not a good one for an already struggling industry. Starting the day I have a nostalgic ache for the newspaper. It just doesn't seem right to open the door in the morning and not see it there. Nevertheless, I haven't felt like it's been necessary to renew. There were plenty of days when I never ended up with the time to read it, and the content I do want is accessible online, which I can easily pull up on my computer or iPhone. The time I miss it most is if I'm eating a meal alone somewhere, but in a pinch the smart phone will suffice.

I realize that subscription costs were raised because readers and advertisers are disappearing at an alarming rate, but in this instance the necessity or greed of doubling the subscriber price let me acknowledge what the daily newspaper was worth to me, even on those days I never actually consumed what I purchased.

Yes, I love reading the paper, and I won't hasten to pick one up if having a physical copy is more convenient in a given situation. Still, like so many others, I have a feeling I'm lost as a subscriber and doubt I'll spring for an online subscription if the local paper goes behind a paywall. I'm sad it has come to this, but the information remains accessible. It's just not arriving like a precious gift dropped on the doorstep in the early morning hours anymore.

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Tuesday, March 09, 2010


It's time for the sixth edition of The K Factor. Here's all that needs to be said about it: rioting knitted ducks.

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Monday, March 08, 2010

A must read

This story of a man who was attacked and nearly died may not immediately reveal any connection to what this site's focus is supposed to be, but stick with it. Plus, it's far more worthwhile reading than anything I might try to write today.

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Sunday, March 07, 2010

At the scene

I've been even more careful behind the wheel since my February 20 car accident. It's never a bad idea to be a defensive driver, but if you think about it, my sensitivity to being on the road is misplaced. By being an alert driver, I avoided hitting another car, but for all of my carefulness, there was nothing in my power to keep from being struck from behind.

I've done very little night driving since the accident, mainly because it hasn't been necessary. I admit, though, that I've been a little nervous about doing it. I haven't driven through the accident scene since, although that's not been due to conscious avoidance. I just haven't had reason to be on that stretch of highway.

Tonight I went to an Academy Awards party, so I would have to engage in the most nighttime driving I've done in two weeks. If I chose, my path could take me through where the accident occurred.

Greeted by rain upon my 12:30 a.m. return home--I've backdated this entry's publishing time--I almost reconsidered taking an alternate route, but I felt like I needed to get it over with. Drive through where the accident took place and be done with any hang-ups that might be lingering.

Obviously there wasn't another major obstacle in the roadway this time. There was practically no one on the road at all. Passing through the scene made me realize that I had been an observant and careful driver that evening and that I probably gave the kid who hit me a bigger break than he deserved. Yes, it happened on a bend in the highway, but for him not to have slowed down at all means he mustn't have been paying attention. An accident still might have taken place, but it wouldn't have been such a significant collision.

The other driver is fortunate the police didn't ticket him and that I didn't insist he be charged. (They asked me if I thought he should be. I said no.) I'm not concerned with the degree of blame he should have received, though. That's over and done with.

For me, driving through the scene provided reassurance that I had done all I could do to dodge an accident, even though I ended up being in one. It may be all I need to feel a bit more at ease when driving. If I remain unhurried and watchful, I should be fine. I haven't exactly felt that way the past couple weeks. It will be good to return to that state.

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Saturday, March 06, 2010

Some might say

Keep in mind that I don't necessarily put any stock in what Esquire has to say. (I just found this via a news search.) With that clarified, here's one of their "essential truths" in regard to men's style:
5. Learn to sew a button. It's a life-changing skill that teaches you patience and the value of self-sufficiency. We cannot say the same about knitting.
So says you.

I still wouldn't kill me to know how to sew a button.

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Friday, March 05, 2010

Loose threads

Stuff I've collected that doesn't fit anywhere on its own but makes for a nice, eclectic entry...

-During one of my test drives, the car had stickers and such plastered all over the windshield. I wouldn't be surprised if half of the viewing area, mostly on the passenger side, was blocked by the price and whatever else was affixed to the glass. How is this legal? It's insanely dangerous, especially if you're also being distracted by the car salesperson trying to talk to you while you're behind the wheel.

-I've noticed the resurgence of '80s pop culture, whether it's in fashion, music, or the movies being made, remade, or adapted for the screen. I made a playlist alternating new music with '80s sounds and the vintage stuff and was compelled to look up some of the decade's hits. While I'll argue that one of my favorite songs when it was filling the airwaves is well-crafted pop, it's also unabashedly sincere and cornball.

-Have you come across the Trololololo meme? I find it weirdly compelling and catchy and hilarious. I'm tempted to rip the audio into my iTunes. Even better, here's the clip explained in context.

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Thursday, March 04, 2010


The fifth part of The K Factor is up. I don't know who the one stringy hair judge is supposed to be, but I like to think it's Tommy Wiseau.

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Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Key to a new car

The car purchase was completed, my old radio was installed, and insurance updating was handled. I have my own transportation again.

And then I went to the car to leave work and saw that someone had keyed it.

I've been told that there are ways of filling in scratches oneself, although this is on the black area next to the driver's window. Is that paint?

It's aggravating enough that this happened, doubly irritating that it's mere hours after I acquired the car, and triply annoying that it looks to be a deliberate action. Even worse, it's on the driver's side, which means I'll see it every time I get into the car.

I'm not hypersensitive about the appearance of the car I drive, but this really riles me up. I want to be better than that but ugh...

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Tuesday, March 02, 2010


Life has been a blur since the car accident ten days ago. In one sense it feels as though it was ages ago. Although not much has happened in between then and now, it seems like there have been a zillion things keeping me busy. If I wasn't attempting to stay on top of everything, I was trying to restore myself to a normal state of being. It's been crazy, yet I wasn't seriously hurt, which would have really created chaos.

Tomorrow I take ownership of the new-to-me car, which largely brings this intensive period of telephone calls, research, and form completion to an end. The process has been tiring enough. I wouldn't be surprised if I'm due for a bit of a collapse once the stress of the situation dissipates.

Despite the pains, both literal and metaphorical, I am reminded that there are things big and small for which I should be grateful. Let's begin:

-Kind words and helping hands

Whether expressions of concern came from people I know or those I "know", I've appreciated them, especially when they were coupled with advice to get thee to a doctor to make sure I was all right. Considering that I was wobbly for a week or so after the crash, my judgment that I was fine wasn't entirely accurate. Assistance in the form of a needed ride or advice on navigating this process may not seem like much, but from my end these things were valuable to receive.

-A job that permitted me to handle all this with minimal interruption

If I had a regular job, I don't know how I would have been able to take care of everything in such a timely manner. I've definitely put in my time trying to keep up with work, but I am fortunate that I wasn't in a deeper hole or had a boss on my case about being absent physically or mentally.

-My dad

OK, so he was being a little aggravating in wanting to keep exploring potential car purchase options after I knew I had exhausted them all, but it was helpful to have another perspective on the decisions I was making as I searched for another vehicle.

-The Winter Olympics

For those times when I was able to lay down and rest, I took solace in vegging out to the various international athletic competitions. Hooray for unchallenging, enjoyable, and worthwhile viewing.


Monday, March 01, 2010

Please, please, please, let me get what I want

Buying a used car today was a different experience from last time, which was unfortunately just a mere seven or so months ago. I was armed with my information and, well, not ready to fight but prepared for the lengthy negotiating that is part and parcel of this miserable experience. I was dreading the process but steeled against it. The funny thing is that no one wanted to do much deal-making.

I had identified the kind of car I wanted and found a few that fit (or were close to) the price range, mileage, and manufacturing year I was aiming for. There weren't many available, but I had a plan of attack and plotted a course to hit three dealerships all within a reasonable drive of one another.

My dad and I went to the first place to see the car that I deeply wished was the one I wanted. It was the most expensive, but it was three model years newer than what I previously owned and looked practically the same. (It was the exact same color.) There were things I wasn't thrilled with--primarily the tinted glass--but these aspects weren't deal breakers.

Having been through the ringer of used car negotiations last July, I held certain expectations as to how much the listed price would drop. Boy was I wrong this time. The first offer was sticker price plus tax, title, and the other BS fees that car sellers tack on. This was significantly more than I was willing to pay. I had done my research and threw out a couple numbers on the low yet still (in my opinion) thoroughly reasonable side. The saleswoman went to check with the sales manager and came back with a second offer that was not even $200 less than the first. That was the end of that negotiation.

The same car with more miles and a different color was just a mile up the road at another dealership, so we checked it out. It was listed at a thousand dollars less than the previous one, so I held out hope that it might be a winner. Nope. It featured more nicks, dings, and general wear and tear than I found acceptable. It seemed kind of loud too. The tires were worn, and one had a cut in it. Here are the keys back. I'm not interested.

Next up was a car with a different make and model on my list. Since it was relatively nearby, I figured we might as well check it out. The price was right, more or less, and the mileage was close to what I bought my previous car at. It wasn't flawless in appearance but looked pretty good overall, especially the exterior. I felt comfortable driving it, so hey, let's make a deal.

As was the case at the other dealerships, this salesman wanted to know where I had seen the car. He said that I must have seen x price. In truth, I had seen y price, which was $400 more, but apparently they had reduced it that morning. Bonus!

At this point I assumed I might get a really good deal. The dealership had purchased the car at auction. Looking at the Carfax told me that it had been on their lot for about fifty days and that it hadn't had many test drives. (My guess: one other person took it for a spin in all that time as the odometer reading was shockingly close to when they took ownership of it.)

The first offer was made with tax, title, and fees added to the price I saw online. I said that I was looking for an out the door price closer to slightly less than or equal to the online price. He went to see the sales manager, who came back with him. I was told that they didn't have much room to maneuver because they already had it priced to move. They agreed to knock $200 off--hello, document fees--but insisted they couldn't go lower.

The offer was more than I thought I would have to pay, but it was at the low end of what I realistically expected to buy a car for. Still, it seemed slightly high for this make, model, and year, and I wasn't buying their line that they were losing money at this price. We parted ways, although I said I would keep it in mind.

On the way to get lunch, I talked about it with my dad and sort of convinced myself that this might be the best I could do. Yes, I might want to "win" the negotiation, of which there had been very little, but if winning equaled not buying the car, I would still be without a vehicle and a rapidly depleting supply of viable options. (It does have a transferable warranty, which upped the attractiveness of this particular car.)

After lunch I did some research and found that their final offer might not be as out of line as I suspected, although Consumer Reports would beg to differ. (Edmunds and Kelley Blue Book revealed that I was probably getting a deal...or at least that I wasn't being fed a line of bull.) More online searches produced a used car void.

I returned my rental car and dropped by four dealerships on the way home just to see what they had. Obviously they had nothing that wasn't, in my opinion, grossly overpriced. So car #3, from negotiation #2, looked better and better. A little more research reinforced that I may have stumbled upon a rarity, so I made the call to close the deal.

After getting some final questions answered, I made one last failed pitch to get a couple hundred more knocked off. The sales manager explained that the car was a price leader--in other words, it was listed low to get people on the lot--told me what they had done to the car, and said he could show me that they were losing money on it. True or not, it didn't matter. I said I wanted to buy it, gave the financial institution information for securing the pre-approved loan, and made a deposit.

I don't know if these negotiations were so brief because I didn't have a trade-in, which made beating around the bush a dangerous way of doing things. (I could get up and leave whenever I wished rather than waiting to get keys back.) Maybe it's because of the market, which clearly values used cars with low or respectable mileage from the past few years. These cars are hard for dealers to get and easy to sell. Whatever the case, I feel like I paid the going rate and should be happy with the car.

Please, please, please, let me not have to do this again for years, though.

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