Archive for the 'Life' Category

100% Free Digital Converter Boxes at Amazon

Friday, June 5th, 2009

I just bought two Zinwell ZAT-970A Digital to Analog TV Converter Boxes at and I didn’t have to pay shipping or tax! They didn’t even ask for a credit card. I used my two TV Converter Box coupons for $40 each off the purchase of qualifying boxes. Since the price of the box on Amazon is exactly $40 and it qualifies for free shipping and no tax for Arizona residents the grand total was $0.00.

Now all I have to do is wait, and when they finally get here that old TV I’ve had since I was a kid will work like a charm! These are great to have on hand in case of an emergency if all you can find is an analog TV and you need to get TV reception.

Consumer Reports has excellent Digital to Analog TV Converter Box ratings.

New Site Migration Successful

Saturday, January 17th, 2009

As Godaddy economy hosting was rather slow, albeit inexpensive at only $3.95/month, I was eager to find a faster service, if it were economical. Alex called me up near the beginning of the year with news that DreamHost was doing a major deal on 2 years of hosting. For about $20 I got two years unlimited everything! One of the biggest advantages other than speed on DreamHost is that I have SSH access to my site. Another great addition is that I can now use scripting languages other than PHP.

There may still be some rough edges on the blog now that I’ve got it moved. Please let me know if you find any broken links or other problems.

Speech-to-Blog Technology

Thursday, December 18th, 2008

I know it’s been a long time since I wrote anything but I just realized that I can blog anywhere just by talking into the phone. Gasoline prices have come down quite a bit and now the price next to my house is $1.51, amazingly enough. It’s been a long time since the last time I blogged so I’m glad I’m starting up again.

Powered by Dial2Do. Mp3

Ten Cents in One Day

Friday, June 6th, 2008

When I hopped in the truck this morning to drive to work I saw the amber low fuel light staring me in the face. I keep hoping the gas will get cheaper before I have to fill up again, so I tend to wait until the light comes on recently. On my way to work I stopped to fill the tank at $4.059 per gallon. I was just staring at the numbers that seemed to go faster and faster as I watched. For the first time ever I spent over $70 for a single tank of gas.

I thought this was amazing until, on my way home I drove past the same gas station and the gas was now $4.159, a full ten cents more than this morning! I guess I should be happy that I bought gas this morning saving over $1.70, but I can’t bring myself to be happy about 4-dollar/gallon gasoline.

On the way home the news report indicated that crude oil had reached a new high today jumping $11/barrel in only one day! That breaks two records: the highest crude oil price in dollars and the largest increase in oil prices in a single day. At lunch with a coworker I was just saying that I thought the price of gas was contingent not on the current price of crude oil, but rather on the price of crude oil at the time the gasoline refinery bought it. That may still be the case, but now I’m not so sure. My coworker suggested that the price goes up when oil prices rise, but doesn’t fall when the oil prices fall. All I know is that I never really believed that the gasoline would reach $4/gallon this year, but it’s not even summer yet and we’re shattering that. Now I’m afraid to believe that $5/gallon is not going to happen.

Feeding Ducks & The Signmaker’s Plight

Friday, October 12th, 2007

The vast majority of people ignore signs with more than two words on them. Ideally, signs shouldn’t have any words on them. There were no ducks near this sign. At first I thought that maybe the sign was placed improperly where no one would see it. Another possibility is that the ducks were there until they put up this sign and people stopped feeding them. People near the edges of other parts of the lake were unaware of the sign and fed the ducks there, where they can now be found in abundance. In any case, I thought it was common knowledge by now that you’re not supposed to throw bread at the ducks.

Ducks being fed bread and a useless sign forbidding it.

Hooray for the Police!

Friday, August 31st, 2007

I was waiting for my wife to get off work like I do almost every day. She works at a bank. I was sitting in the car for awhile, but after 15 minutes of waiting I decided to relax a little bit. I put the seat into a reclined position and laid back, still waiting. I kept looking up every minute or so to see if she had come out yet. After about 10 more minutes of laying down I looked up and saw a police car facing the drivers side of the car. I thought to myself, “Oh great. They’re here because I look suspicious.” This was the latest my wife had been getting off work for a long long time. I usually only wait 10-15 minutes at the most. The other thing I noticed, which was strange, was that he had a passenger with him in the front seat that looked like an LDS missionary. He was wearing a white shirt and looked to be about 19 years old. He also wore glasses and had a passively curious and non-judgmental expression.

Sure enough, the officer started walking toward the car. I rolled down the window and looked out trying not to look as annoyed as I was. “What are you doing sleeping in a car outside of a bank?” the officer asked smugly.

“I’m just waiting for my wife to get off work,” I said. I thought right after, “…like I do every day.”

I think he kind of answered his question next saying something like, “It sure is suspicious to be sleeping in a car right outside of a bank.” But by this time my adrenaline had started pumping. Not like when you’re being chased by an angry lion, but more like just before you have to deliver a speech in front of a large audience. This made my hands a little bit shaky when he asked, “Can I see your driver license?”

“Sure!” I said in as confident a voice as I could muster. I pulled out my wallet and flipped up the pocket enveloping my license.

“Can you take it out for me?”

“No, probably not,” I thought to myself. “All right,” I politely replied and began to wrestle the plastic card from its plastic sleeve. Just as I had known, the plastic in the sleeve had adhered itself to the plastic license card. I jiggled and tugged at the card attempting not to look like a dufus. I handed him the card and he stepped behind my car.

I don’t know why he decided that behind the car is a good place to stand. I was parked backwards in a parking space, and was facing the bank. I could see silhouettes through the tinted windows. It was getting darker outside and the lights were still on inside. I could hear the officer talking into his radio, “Sierra, Hotel, Alpha…” It was at about this time that I started hoping that my wife would come out and confirm my story. I don’t know if her word would have actually been worth enough in the suspicious officer’s mind to let me go, but I thought it would be pretty good anyway to have someone inside the bank vouch for me. That didn’t happen, though.

The officer handed me back my card after a minute or so. As he handed it to me he wished me a good weekend, walked back to his squad car, and drove away. It was about this time that I started running through my rights in my head. Did I have to give the officer my license? Did he have the right to approach me because he thought what I was doing was suspicious even though I do the same thing nearly every day? When Krissy first got this job I came to pick her up after work on the first day. I thought to myself that it seemed a little suspicious that I was sitting out in my car waiting for her to come out the employee entrance. I guess I started to feel like it was less suspicious looking the longer I had been doing it and the more people I saw that did the same thing. For the record, there were at least two other people that had been waiting to pick people up when I first arrived, but none by the time the officer arrived.

After another five-minute wait Krissy emerged with her manager. They both looked a little surprised, and they both started to walk toward the car. I did not want to talk to anyone besides my wife and was a little bit upset that they had both come over. The manager asked something about what had happened, and I said, “He said it was suspicious to be waiting in a car outside the bank.” I then made some snide remark that was supposed to sound like a joke, but came out with all of the frustration in my voice that I was truly feeling, “I was waiting for my wife who is 30 minutes late getting off work.” It was obviously awkward for both my wife and her manager. I ended up shaking her hand as she introduced herself, and then we came home.

The more I thought about what had happened, the more angry I got. I don’t know what really made me angry about the whole thing, though. Part of it was that my frustrated snide remark had made my wife a little bit upset and now I was mad that I felt like I was being blamed for the whole incident. It may not have been the managers fault that the police came to visit me, but I still kind of felt like it was. What good are schedules, anyway, if they aren’t going to be followed. After all, it wouldn’t have been suspicious to arrive, wait for five minutes, and then leave.

All I wanted to do was to be alone and to vent my frustrations. I came into the bedroom and started writing. Now that I’ve had a chance to cool-down thanks to the twin heat sinks of time and writing down my thoughts, I am much more calm, though I am still unsettled about the whole incident. What is going to happen in the future when I have to wait for thirty minutes? Can I get an indemnity card that says the bank has authorized me to hang out in my car for a half an hour? Was it the laying down that made the officer suspicious? Was there some other suspicious activity in the area that I don’t know about? So many unanswered questions. The officer probably wouldn’t even remember the incident a week from now, but I can guarantee you that my first time being questioned by the police will not be an experience that I will soon forget.

Free Money from Cafepress

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2007

I got an email today that said I had over $300 in “CafeCash” to use at At first I thought that CafeCash was some form of fake money credit where each CafeCash “point” was worth, like, one cent or something. I figured it was a coupon deal of some kind. I decided I better log in and check it out, though.

It just so happens that I made a few designs for t-shirts sometime close to October of 2006. I intended to make the designs and have a few t-shirts printed for myself. Part of the process on CafePress is any design you upload is added to a store of its own. I made a store for each of my designs. I guess more people liked my design for a Linux t-shirt than I ever would have imagined. When I logged in it showed that I had sold over 100 of these t-shirts in the last 10 months! At the $3.00 markup rate for each shirt, I had made over three hundred dollars! The only reason why they had never cut me a check was because I hadn’t bothered to add in my address or social security number (for taxes). I’m starting to think that I had better hurry up and make some more of these designs for t-shirts.

Buddy the Turtle

Monday, August 6th, 2007

Last Saturday Krissy was driving into the alley behind our house when she saw a moving lump in the road. When she realized that it was a turtle she called me. I was making dinner, so she grabbed a bucket and saved its life. She took it over to a pet store and asked if they knew what kind of turtle it was and how we should take care of it. After the employee took the turtle in the back for a second opinion, she identified it as a Desert Tortoise. As it turns out, it is illegal to harass or touch a wild Desert Tortoise, because they are considered a threatened species in the wild. In order to keep one as a pet you have to have a permit, and once they have lived with people, they won’t survive in the wild.

Over the weekend Krissy took good care of our new friend. She started calling the turtle Buddy. We had no idea whether it was a male or a female, but since the name Buddy stuck, we started calling it a him. She placed him in the bottom of a large, empty plastic storage container. She set out water and some small pieces of cabbage and lettuce in the enclosure. Buddy did not like being cooped up in such a small space and spent a good hour trying to climb out. The turtle was completely unsuccessful and would come down with a thud over and over with his nails scratching the plastic walls as he fell. He seemed scared for the first day or so, but by Sunday evening he was willing to stay out of his shell and just sit there.

Early today Krissy contacted Arizona Fish and Game to ask what we should do with the turtle. She drove out to the site, nearly an hour away, and they identified the turtle as a female Desert Tortoise. They said she was in very good health, which lead them to believe that she is someone’s pet. Since Krissy had to leave the turtle with them, we won’t see her again, but Krissy and I will be putting up signs around the neighborhood with the wildlife shelter’s number in case the turtle belongs to anyone nearby. We are going to leave the signs intentionally vague so they have to identify their turtle in order to get it back. Krissy and I were sad to see Buddy go. She was a good turtle. Now we are considering possibly getting licensed and adopting a captive Desert Tortoise. All you really need is a basic shelter, a 6×6 foot plot of land, and an understanding of what the turtle needs to eat to be healthy. Make sure its shelter doesn’t flood, and you’re there!

Desert Tortoises are adapted to living in the desert and can, therefore live outdoors with minimal human interaction for 80 to 100 years! This would be the perfect pet for people who work and can’t spend a lot of time interacting with their animals.

Take care, Buddy, and I hope everything works out for you!

Signal Surfing and the Daily Commute

Friday, August 3rd, 2007

For the last couple of weeks I have been listening to the 7th Harry Potter book on an MP3 player in the car. I am using an FM modulator to get the signal from the MP3 player to the car’s speakers. I can choose to have the modulator broadcast on any frequency in the FM band, but it works best if it doesn’t have to compete with other, possibly stronger, signals. The default for an unset preset on the car radio is 87.9 FM, the very low end of the FM band. It just so happens that no local stations use this frequency, so I figured I’d use it.

While driving around, I would experience interference and static sometimes. After a few days of the commute I determined that it wasn’t in any particular location; the static seemed to happen whenever it wanted to. During on of the times when there was static, I tuned my transmitter to another frequency, just to rule out that it wasn’t part of the recording or a defect with the MP3 player. When I tuned my transmitter away I was blown away by crystal clear &em; and very loud &em; heavy metal music. I thought this was an isolated event at first.

I started turning off the transmitter any time I heard static, and in every single case, there was another signal coming from another car! I was astonished. I know there are FM modulators available that work with iPods, but I was amazed by how many people were doing the same thing I was. I wouldn’t think it would be very popular. After a while I deduced that most of the signals came from satellite radio. I guess the little boxes for cars that receive satellite radio come with FM transmitters to make car installation easier. I’m guessing that most of them default to using 87.9 FM.

If you want to try this yourself but don’t want to listen to minutes of noise in between hits (the whooshing sound makes me sleepy) try just switching over to 87.9 FM at intersections. The more cars you can get close together, the greater your chances of picking up on a signal will be. If you get lucky, then the signal will be coming from one of the cars traveling the same direction as you, then you can listen to it until you get too far apart. It can be fun trying to figure out which car is listening to the Howard Stern show. I’m usually wrong, though. I think I know which car it is, then the actual car will turn off the road and the signal fades away.

Have fun, but be safe. Don’t let the random transmissions distract you from your primary driving responsibility.

Freecyling is like Gambling Without Consequences

Sunday, July 8th, 2007

Today I was going to get a stationary exercise bike. Everything was all set. A woman named Julie said she would be picking one up from her mother-in-law today and that she would contact me about it. I didn’t check my email until 6:30pm. She had already got the bike and tried to contact me to get me to come and get it. Unfortunately, when I called the bike had already been given to someone else. That’s the thing about freecycling. You have to be fast.

I have never ever gotten anything through freecycling, because I’m never fast enough. Whenever I contact people they say that the item is already gone. It’s a great concept if you are looking to get something for nothing, but it’s even better for the one who is trying to give their items away. You can generally expect someone to be by in less than 24 hours to pick up whatever you might have to give away.

I must admit that I was more than a little bummed that I didn’t get the bike I had been waiting for, but at least it didn’t cost me anything anyway.