28

April in the Rear View Mirror

I gotta say it: I’m not going to miss April. My father died in April. My mother died in April. A Facebook friend’s dog died, and a cousin’s dog died, too. And last week my favorite aunt, my father’s sister, also left us. We also finally completed refinancing our mortgage. And we cashed in our landline telephone and a bunch of TV channels we didn’t really watch so we are saving a tiny pile of money next month over what we spent in, say, March or February. But it all adds up. It’s been a lot of stress. I got to see my own sister again, which was terrific. But I also had to say goodbye to her again, which was awful, again. We had an out of state wedding to travel to which was really nice, but it was a long trip there and a long trip back and we couldn’t spend as much time as we’d have probably liked because of that. Somehow, I didn’t quite get our income taxes tuned-up, so I had to file an extension. Now I noodle a little bit every other day or so on them and hope to get them done in the next few days. When I was a kid, I somehow had this idea, maybe from fairy tales or something, […]

21

Why A Honda Fit, Mark?

So, Why A Honda Fit? I don’t get asked often, but from time to time people wonder how I came to choose a Honda Fit. “Gas prices are low… why don’t you get something bigger (or faster, or nicer, or what it turns out to be generally thirstier)? Well, I bought my Honda with the cash I had on hand. I haven’t made a car payment since 1997 and I didn’t feel like starting with this car. I just didn’t see the need. At around $22,000 the Fit was a comfortable, well, fit for my needs at the time as a commuter car for just myself with an occasional runabout for groceries or lunch some light shopping or something like that. More than a year on I have less than 7,000 miles on the little guy so fuel economy alone wasn’t going to be enough of a factor. If I’d bought a big V-12 engined luxury barge that got 9mpg the expenses would still be not all that different. But I am something of a tree-hugger. I was raised on that crying Indian, old Iron Eyes Cody, who was sad because people were littering. To me, it’s always been a good idea to do the most you can with the least you need. And besides, if I can spend $20 […]

14

Achoo!

It is Spring in Nebraska. That time of year when “…a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of…” well, Claritin, Zyrtec and Nasacort at my house, with apologies to Alfred, Lord Tennyson. Oh sure. A few of us are thinking of Harley-Davidsons, or Miatas or Mustangs, or road bicycles and so on. But with the kind of regularity a calendar cannot even afford, we find ourselves waking up with yucky eyes and cloggy noses and hacky coughs. Tiny little headaches and a host of other maladies. It’s allergy season in the land of the free and the home of the brave. It may be worse for me this year because this year I have a cat. I am allergic to cats. I have, for some months been taking all kinds of anti-cat-allergy dope and wondering at both the efficacy and the payoff for an animal that wanted nothing to do with me but about a month ago, I became a Cat Daddy. Kitty now walks toward me and appears to enjoy rather than tolerate my ear scratches, chin rubs and rib strokes. She will let me rest my hand upon her now when only a month ago she would have nothing to do with me. We play a curious game, now. I hold my finger out in front of […]

07

Our Little House on the Prairie

Every now and then we get something right, Kathie and me. When we were shopping for a house we were scared. We’d never done anything quite so grown-up before. We spent weeks and weeks getting our credit house in order. Making sure old, dead credit cards were canceled. Making sure everyone got paid a little more than necessary and on- or ahead of time. When the day came we were pushing a FICO score in the middle 700s but weren’t really sure that actually would mean for us. How Much Could We Really Afford? We went down to see the Money Lady that our real estate agent suggested. She was very kind and patient and answered all of our questions, sometimes twice. She took down all of our information and then suggested, with a straight face, that not only did we qualify for a mortgage, but we qualified for about 125% more than what we were really wanting to spend on a house. Kathie and I had gone to several mortgage calculator Web sites and punched in some preliminary numbers and we had a figure in mind that we were comfortable with. When we found out that we qualified for a mortgage we were overjoyed. When we found out we qualified for one quarter more than what we were looking […]

31

So How About That Honda?

As my Dad would ask in any lull in the conversation, “So, how’s that car runnin’?” My Honda Fit is running fine. I don’t drive it a lot—it has less than 6000 miles on it after a year, so it could conceivably last me forever at this rate. I have had it long enough by now to know what I really enjoy and to know what I wish they had spent a little more time on, so let’s talk about some of that. This is the third-generation Fit, and the first one to be radically restyled. The first one was a plain and simple, honest little econo-car. A wonderful hatchback praised by the motor press and by its owners all around the planet. The newer model, the second-generation version differed from the first seemingly only in little details. The first-gen car had one crease down the center of the hood, the follow-on car had two. Otherwise the family resemblance is strong and immediate. I loved the look of those first two cars. But my car? My car was designed to appeal to the same kids who need tennis shoes that make their feet look either reptilian or like some kind of a space man. The new car features all manner of faux air intakes and exhausts like you would see […]

25

Job-Killing Regulations

We hear a lot about those pesky damned job-killing regulations these days. We’re constantly told that mean old gubmint is messing up everything when it comes to business in this country and getting in the way of honest people making an honest dollar. I don’t believe much of it, myself. I think people are looking for shortcuts again, and hoping we will all just look the other way when the inevitable happens. Water Crisis in Detroit Let’s ask the good people of Detroit what they think of the regulations surrounding the water that comes out of the tap, eh? Come in after mowing the lawn and pour yourself a good long glass with a few ice cubes in it and look forward to sitting back and relaxing for a moment or two, considering the job you’ve done and watching the rivulets of condensation join and run down the side of the glass. Refreshing? Could be… But what if the glass was full of brown water? Green water? Yellow water? It makes a difference, doesn’t it? Long after the Detroit water crisis left the headlines and the national TV news, it remains a problem. And it’s a problem a few Britta filters are not going to be able to solve. We used to have rules about this kind of thing. And […]

22

Uncle Frank…

The first experience with Death that I can remember was when my uncle Frank died. He’d been sick for a long time with some kind of a kidney ailment. The state of the medical arts was not as good back then as it is today. Today, they might have put him on a list for a transplant, or maybe by now there are medicines that would help, I don’t know—I was about seven or eight, I think. He’d gone from hospital to hospital, from doctor to doctor to specialist and specialist. Frank had a bit of money, but it didn’t help him. At some point, the medical people told his wife to take him home and make him as comfortable as she could and to… wait. We’d gone to visit him a couple of times. The first time he was just sleeping. He looked like Uncle Frank, only a little sallow, and a little thinner than I’d remembered him. He looked tired. The second time we went he scared me. He got out of bed and was hallucinating and yelling and cussing and wanted to pull at the various tubes and hoses. His wife and kids calmed him down and got him back into bed and made sure that everything was still connected. They scolded him for his outburst and he […]

06

And Again With the Losing

This week, I am wearing pants 4 inches smaller in the waist than I was a year ago. This keeps washing over me. Even my pants are lighter now, because there is less fabric in them! A little here, a little there. It all adds up. Or more properly, it all subtracts. Now I still enjoy a Jamocha shake now and then. I still enjoy a lot of things that made what I am today, or what I was yesterday, or however that best parses. But I’m a firm believer in the saying: Moderation in all things. Including Moderation.  I’m sure there will be setbacks. I’m sure there will be plateaus. I’m okay with that. I didn’t get here overnight. I’m not going to get back in a weekend or a week, either. But for now, I’m wearing pants that are 4″ tinier in the waistband than last week! Share This:

01

That One Magic… Thing

You have seen the ad, I’m sure, for Prevnar, that makes fun of people who might think a single sit-up or a single piece of kale is going to help them to live forever, right? There are a couple running now, here’s one: But I’ve always been impressed by this kind of thing because there is a magic sit-up. There is a magic piece of salad. There has to be. Think about it for a minute. Of course if you roll out your mat and do a single sit-up and then roll the mat up and never do another you are not going to get any healthier. But if you roll out your mat and do a hundred sit-ups a day, every day, for ten years, it’s going to have to have some kind of an effect on you, right? Well, somewhere between that first sit-up and that 365,000th one, is the one that’s going to make the difference. Twelve today? Thirty? Seventy? Hey, you’ve still got diabetes. You’ve still got all of the signs of heart trouble. You’ve still got a sixty-inch waist or whatever. And then somewhere along the line you pass that one individual sit-up that actually does make the difference. If you had quit that morning, at 357, or 1126, or 26417, you would still be […]

21

Mark Justifies a New Car

So I bought a new car a while back. It’s not a big deal—it’s actually the smallest car Honda imports into America, pardon the pun. But in keeping with my Hiatt-ness, I got the loaded-uped-est version I could find. I bought a 2016 Honda Fit, sight unseen, having never driven one, on the strength of the reputation of the brand, the dealership and the salesman and the recommendation of friends. Take that, Consumer Reports! The dealership had to trade with a dealer in another city to get it here because with gasoline trending comfortably under $1.70 at the time nobody was interested in a car that got 45 miles per gallon except for me and they had only two on the lot, neither of which I was interested in. Constant Lurker will remember I was embarked upon a journey to keep a 1995 Honda Accord forever. It had 176,000 miles on it and all of the old timers kept telling me, with a chuckle, it was just getting broken in. It was a simple car with automatic transmission, cruise control, electric windows that pissed me off, electric door locks that the original owner installed that pissed me off and anti-lock brakes that had given up a couple of years ago, reverting to, well, just brakes. I had always repaired and […]