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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

08

I Loves Me Some John Henry

I loves me some John Henry. That’s an unusual thing to read, or to write, about your plumber. I know. But they have been a great comfort, pardon the pun, to me and my family through the years. When Kathie and I first bought Castle Pretentious, five years ago as I write this, we were scared. We had both lived in some kind of rental housing the whole of our adult lives. If anything ever broke, we sent a note to the landlord or called the manager and it got fixed within a day or so. We went on vacation and found our refrigerator had given up when we walked in the door with our luggage. One phone call and we had a new one—with an ice maker that worked, too! The semi-convenient laundry facilities would cash-out from time to time and a quick call would bring a trained professional with a box full of tools and ideas to monkey with it for a while and then it would be fixed. But we had no idea how to do most everything involved in home ownership. How much is a toilet seat, anyway? How much is a really good one? How much is a, pardon me, crappy one? What if we needed a new window, or a new water heater? How […]

28

Class Reunion

Or, How Did We Get So Damned Old? So, I went to my high school reunion a couple of weeks ago. I never saw so many damned old people. Bald heads and bellies and wrinkles and old hair styles as far as the eye could see. I fit right in. One thing I noticed right away was the hotties back in high school are hot grammas, now. I see the gray hair. I see the wrinkles. But when I look at these ladies, I still them as seventeen years old! It was great to reconnect with old friends. Some of them I keep up with almost daily, via Facebook. But some I hadn’t seen for years and years. We picked up like we’d never been apart. I love that. I love them. Someone once told me that you don’t go to reunions for yourself. You go for the others. Someone there will be glad to see you; they’ll come up and tell you something about a time you shared, something you said that meant a lot to them through the years, they’ll want to apologize for something they said or did. I’m always glad I went, when I get home. One thing that struck me was the list of classmates who were gone. I came from a big school, and […]

18

I Want A Car, Damnit!

For as long as I can remember, I have wanted a cool car. And for as long as I can remember, the definition of cool car has shifted (pardon the expression) and changed depending upon what I have seen last. One of my earliest memories is of riding with my Dad in an Austin-Healey BugEyed Sprite. I can remember “helping” Dad work on this little car out in the garage one evening, holding and handing him tools. It was a cool car, no doubt. But Dad sold it when it was modernized with sleek new headlights and roll-up windows and… well, things were never the same after that. The first I remember falling in love with was a Triumph Spitfire. There was one on Michigan Avenue in Norfolk and when I would be out riding my bike I always made a point to cruise past. It was so low, and the whole front end lifted up from the windshield like one of those LeMans racers. You could see nearly every mechanical component and work on all of it if you had to (and you had to, given the state of the British car building art in that day). I considered the MGB for a good long while. It was slightly bigger (safer?) and the originals had that perfect proportion and […]

18

Martin’s New Nails

This is what has been taking up so much of my time, recently. I never really knew that having a dog would be so fun, so rewarding, so much work, or so much comfort. But it is and I am glad for all of that, and more. About the time that we start to call Martin “Stink Dog!” we start thinking of taking him in for a shower and a pedi-pedi. I clipped a dog’s toenails as a child and hurt the animal and scared myself to death. I clipped my own nails short—right up at the finger. So that must be the way you do a dog’s nails, too, right? Uh, no. So since I am deathly afraid of hurting Martin, we take him to PetSmart and have Alysson or Nathan work him over.  A pedi-pedi is about $10 or $12, I think. For that kind of money, I’d just as soon not have to worry about it. I mean, even when you’re dead broke you have $12, so let a professional do it. Share This:

23

I Loves Me Some Dog

I have wanted a dog for years. Dozens of years. I always knew that one day I would have an animal of my own. I never knew it would be so fun, so rewarding or so much work. Share This: