Archive for Personal

Audience Participation Time II — Help Choose My New Car

Posted in Personal with tags , , , , on February 25, 2011 by thelasthonestman

So this is what my wife and I have been reduced to on the road.  My wife’s car, a Ford Escort bought back in 1999, has well over 200,000 miles on it.  The engine was replaced a couple of years ago on the relative cheap, and while the vehicle is still running well enough — for now — it’s evident that this car is on borrowed time.  My own car, a 1996 Ford Mustang, has only a little more than 73,000 miles showing on its dashboard — of course, that’s more a result of a broken odometer than it is a lack of use.

Which all means that it’s finally time for us to buy a new car.  With my wife driving an hour to work every day, and with gas prices continuing to rise to obscene levels, fuel economy is probably going to be the number one priority when we choose our new vehicle.  With that in mind, we have some choices that have come immediately to the forefront at we begin our search.

Chevrolet Cruze Eco

The Chevrolet Cruze Eco would be our first choice if we had to make it today, though it’s no slam dunk.  What we like about the car is the outstanding gas mileage (42 mpg on the highway), its top-ranked safety ratings, and the good reviews we’ve read on it.  Plus, my wife likes the way it looks.  Also on the radar is the Ford Fusion, which gives us a couple of options itself (the S version which gets slightly better mileage than what my wife’s current car does, or the Hybrid which gets even better).  And then there’s the Toyota Prius, which get the best mileage of all of them — but which has been described in some reviews I’ve read as handling like a “toaster” on the road.

We’re not locked into just these options, but they seem to be the best candidates so far.  So who out there has some suggestions for me?  Chime in with your opinions in the comments about these three options as well as any suggestions you might have.

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Flu 1, The Last Honest Man 0

Posted in Boxing, Personal, Sports with tags , , , , on February 22, 2011 by thelasthonestman

So it’s been a while — and so much for that Super Bowl pick from me you were doubtlessly waiting on (for the record, I was going with the Pack).  So what happened for the last couple of weeks?

The flu — and a terrible case of it.  I ran a fever for more than a week, a fever that got close to 105 at times and made me feel — well — pretty much as bad as I’ve felt in a long time.  At my worst, I felt like Marvis Frazier facing off against Mike Tyson back in the day.

What was worse, I tried to work through it at first — and let’s just say that my strategy didn’t work out so well.  It took me two weeks to feel anything close to better, and even now, I’m still coughing stuff up from my lungs.  Bleh.

Needless to say, I fell behind on everything — including updating here — as getting through each day while sick was about the only thing on my mind lately.  As I’m trying to catch up on everything else — work, home stuff, my upcoming fantasy baseball drafts, etc. — I’ll also try to catch up here as well, so thanks for being patient.   And stay away from the flu — you’ll be glad you did.

Showing A Complete Disregard For Safety Behind The Wheel

Posted in Personal, Rants with tags , , , on December 6, 2010 by thelasthonestman

Nothing good comes from a phone call at seven in the morning.

When the phone rang this morning at a little bit past seven this morning, I knew it was trouble.

No one calls me that early.  Frankly, no one calls anyone that early, usually — unless there’s a problem.  When I glanced to my cell phone and saw it was my wife, I was definitely concerned.  I had just talked to her when she’d left the house for work a half an hour or so earlier, and she normally doesn’t call to chat on the way to work so that she doesn’t run her cell phone battery down (and so she can keep it charged for her drive home).  So while I didn’t know what was wrong, I knew something was definitely amiss.

Unfortunately, I was right.  She was calling me to tell me she was in an auto accident, her second in less than a week.

Neither wreck was her fault — not that it matters much.  The first accident happened last week when she was rear-ended on the interstate driving home by a young woman who’d fallen asleep at the wheel. Thankfully, my wife had spotted the woman’s car coming up quickly in her rear view mirror, and she sped up as she approached.  Her quick reactions minimized the initial contact, and the jolt was enough to wake the sleeping driver.  Both my wife and the woman were able to control their cars, and neither were hurt, while the damage to both autos was minimal.

Gasoline trucks are EVIL.

Today while driving to work this morning, my wife was hit again on the interstate — this time she was rear-ended by a large truck (one of those huge gas/flammable liquid trucks — think Stephen Spielberg’s Duel, just less dirty).  The truck pushed up behind her from her right, sliding into her lane and ramming her in the rear.  It crushed the back end of her car and then — the driver fucking sped off!  He didn’t stop to see if she was all right, he didn’t even so much as slow down apparently.  He certainly could have killed my wife if things had gone worse,  and he could have killed any number of other people on the highway with them if the accident had turned into something larger (my wife was able to somehow control her car enough to keep it from spinning while getting it off to the shoulder and out of further harm’s way).  But apparently he didn’t care one stinking iota about anything other than keeping his sorry carcass out of trouble or his time schedule from being delayed.  It’s possible that, due to the nature of the jobs, it’s possible that the truck driver, like the other woman in the first accident, may have been asleep at the wheel — while that might give him an excuse as to why the accident happened, it certainly doesn’t excuse his fleeing the scene.

Meanwhile, while my wife subsequently got a description of the truck and the driver to the police, she was unable to get the plate number (it’s hard to do when you’re fighting to keep your car from wiping out).   But at least there were people who stopped to help her when she was shaking — terrified — in her smashed-up vehicle, and there were people who called the police themselves when they saw the accident happen and reported the driver.   Oh, wait — I forgot — none of that happened either.  No one else stopped or called or anything.  What a wonderful world we live in.

At the end of the day — what’s most important is that my wife is safe (she’s suffering from a sore neck, but she’s otherwise okay — and it could have been a whole lot worse).   But I’m still ticked at that driver and the fact that he’s probably going to get away with what he did.   Maybe next time, the people whose lives he’s ignoring as he barrels on recklessly away from a wreck won’t be as lucky as she was.

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To My Computer …

Posted in Personal with tags on March 19, 2010 by thelasthonestman

… I got way too busy, and I had to sacrifice content this week.

The plan was to blog during the day during the first round of the NCAA Tournament, much as I had last year.  Obviously, that didn’t happen.  I’ve got a million things going on and just not enough time to do them in, unfortunately, and something had to be sacrificed — in this case, that was the site.

I blame the calendar for this one, as the fact that my main two fantasy baseball leagues are drafting a week earlier this year (due to the Easter holiday weekend) has pushed my entire schedule for this time of the year forward and crammed too much to do in a smaller window.  I’m prepping my house for the arrival of guests who come in from out of town, I’m still finishing up a number of remodeling projects before I get set to finalize the refinancing of  my home loan (an odyssey of its own that’s worthy of an article when it’s finally over), my wife is preparing for a trip of her own out of town … and there seems to be a thousand other things vying for my time.  It’s enough to make me want to pull my hair out of my head.

But not this much hair

So here’s the deal — just like last year, the site will soon be going on it’s fantasy baseball hiatus until after my drafts are over.  I may have an update in me on Monday or Tuesday, but maybe not — we’ll just have to wait and see.  What I will have in store for everyone once I return, however (which should be March 29 or so) will be my second annual fantasy baseball predictions (which will be up too late for the guys in my league who come here to use them against me).  After that, we’ll be back to normal — or as close as we can get to it around here.

Thanks for you patience and for reading what goes up here, and keep checking back in a little over a week for my grand return.

Watching Holmes On Holmes Might Save You A Lot Of Money

Posted in Entertainment, Personal, Television with tags , , , , , , , , on March 10, 2010 by thelasthonestman

Mike Holmes, star of the show about renovations gone wrong -- Holmes on Holmes

Since I started my home renovation almost three years ago, I’ve found myself watching a lot of programming on HGTV and their sister channel, DIY.  On a lot of these shows, I’ve seen ordinary people — not trained or licensed in home remodeling or repair — tackling a number of hefty projects around their houses and making it look (relatively) easy in the process.

But it’s not anywhere near that easy for people to do a lot of that kind of work – something I’ve found out numerous times during my own project.  In cases where the job was overly complex, or required skills beyond our capability — like the plumbing or our bathroom tiling jobs, for example — we hired out skilled contractors to handle the jobs for us.  When it’s something that’s crucially vital to the safety and security of your home, hiring a professional should be the safest way to go, right?

Except it’s not.  I’m thankful that the people we hired were tremendously professional and did the jobs they were hired for in a timely fashion and correctly (according to the codes and standards required by the state), but it’s a fact that there are a lot of contractors out there who don’t know what they’re doing at all, or who bite off jobs that are well beyond the scope of what they’re capable of doing — and the homeowners who hire them often find themselves in situations that leave them with structural problems, unfinished jobs, and safety issues — all while costing them ungodly amounts of money in the process.

My education as to how prevalent these situations actually are has been coming lately from the HGTV show Holmes on Holmes, the current season premiere of which will air on HGTV Sunday night at 9:00 ET.  The show, which originated in Canada, follows around contractor Mike Holmes as he attempts to repair and fix botched jobs by contractors who range from the inept to the flat-out unethical.  The show has been one of the highest-rated shows on HGTV Canada during its run, and it’s been running almost daily in the afternoon on HGTV the last couple of weeks, where I’ve been able to catch it.

Needless to say, the show has been a complete eye-opener.  In episode after episode, I’ve watched families whose lives had been driven almost to ruin, whose finances had been all but wiped out, by contractors who either couldn’t — or wouldn’t — do the job properly.  There have been examples of contractors who literally stole tens of thousands of dollars from helpless homeowners, often leaving them with houses that were in ruin and — in some cases — unsafe to live in.  In every one of those cases, it was left up to Holmes and his crew of workers to fix the problems, with the price tag largely being absorbed by the show and on more than one occasion, Holmes himself.

In every one of these cases, the family afflicted hired a contractor who seemed to be the right person for the job.  But what I’ve learned over the course of watching the show is that there are far too many people out there who aren’t doing quality work the way it should be done — and that it’s really easy to find yourself a victim of a botched job if you’re not careful.  For anyone attempting to embark upon a renovation project who’s looking to hire someone for the job, just watching a few of these episodes could save you thousands of dollars and countless headaches.

MY spider-sense was immediately tingling when the contractor dodged the question of permits for our renovation project

How easy could it be to fall for a one of these con artists depicted on the show?  When my home renovation project was started, the first contractor my wife and I talked to about doing the framing on our extension seemed eager enough to take the job — but he wasn’t able to give specifics on budgeting for material or labor, he wasn’t able to give a clear and concise plan for how the project would unfold, and he was evasive when it came to discussing the needs for permits or adhering to code — all red flags according to Holmes (and to me at the time).  We thankfully passed on doing business with this guy, but I had a relative who did hire him for a much smaller job — and who got taken when he took money from her and never did the work.   I remember hearing about it and thinking “That could have been us — but far worse”.   As thankful as I am that we apparently avoided any mishaps along the way of our renovation, I wish we had known then what we’ve learned since — and that I’d seen a show like Holmes on Holmes way back then.

Holmes deserves tremendous credit for shining a light on some of the problems in the building industry, in which the contractors have all kinds of protection within the law, but homeowners have far fewer.  His show is well worth checking out if you have the time — and if you’re thinking of doing a remodeling project.  You just may end up saving yourself a lot of money down the road if you do.

Back On Monday

Posted in Personal with tags on March 7, 2010 by thelasthonestman

Thankfully, my aunt is faring far better today than she was a week ago at this time.  What that — and a little more free time on my hands — means is that I’ll have something up for your perusal later on Monday.  Thanks for your patience, and we’ll see you back here then.

Asking For Your Prayers

Posted in Personal with tags on March 2, 2010 by thelasthonestman

As you may have realized, the site has been quiet since Friday.   One of my aunts — my closest aunt (who has been almost like a second mother to me) was taken to the hospital late on Saturday evening.  Tests revealed a 95% blockage in one of the main arteries that supplies the heart.  She’s receiving treatment currently, and we’re hoping that everything was caught in time.  I still ask that any of you who read here keep her in mind and add a prayer for her recovery.

Obviously, I’m a little distracted right now, so I’ll probably not be back until later in the week.  Until then, thanks fore keeping us in mind.