Gimme : Automotive

I’ve decided to add a new category for “Gift Ideas”. This is more for my own personal tracking I guess as there are many times during the year that I think of something that would be good to add to a birthday / Christmas list … but when the time comes that people ask me, I’ve forgotten. This way I can keep track. :P

New keyring for my ’06 Mustang GT

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Dish Network or DirecTV?

I am about a week and a half away from closing on the house, meaning I am trying to arrange for all of my new services to start up when I move in. One of the questions I’ve been fighting with is what to choose for my television service. I originally had Comcast at my townhome but was quite frustrated with their service … there were more outages with cable than everyone I talked to who had Dish.

So I have been researching the channels and packages and they both appear fairly equal … the only channel I would be missing is DIY Network as Dish Network only offers it on the highest package (and the lowest, which doesn’t make sense … but whatever). I’ve talked with family and friends about their packages and all say they are good.

To get some sort of decision going, does anyone have a suggestion either way? If you have one of them, why you would recommend it or why you wouldn’t choose it again even if it were free … etc. Suggestions are welcome.

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Harry Potter & the Dis-Order of the Phoenix

If any of you Harry Potter fans have been one to make an evening out of the midnight first showing of a new Harry Potter film, you know exactly what I’m about to describe … utter chaos.

My girlfriend (Emily) has a tradition with her friends to go to the first showing of any new Harry Potter movie, and this year evidently it was my turn to be initiated into the cycle. Given that I haven’t read any of the books, I wouldn’t say I’m a die-hard Potter fan … though I have seen all the movies (mostly on DVD) and will admit they are decent. Evidently everyone else at the packed theater that night, however, was a die-hard Potter fan.

Boys young and old were walking around in their cloaks, wearing their round glasses and waving around sticks (evidently they were “wands”). :P Girls were dressed either in similar cloaks as the boys or sporting the uniform of the school (white shirt, maroon and gold tie and skirt) … but in a sluttier version. Any other location (like bars on Halloween) I would be all for outfits like those on a girl in her 20′s … but these are girls in their tweens (10-13)! Aside from the fact that no girl in the movies has an outfit quite like that … how can parents let their girls go out in public like that? Even worse … there were plenty there with their parents!! Did you not see what she was wearing when she hopped in the back of your mini-van?

Obviously this is starting to show my age … and that I’m probably transforming into “dad” mode instead of “guy” mode. Even though I’m years away from being a father (and many years from a tween-age daughter), it still boggles my mind what some parents allow with their children these days.

Even more showing of my age is that I just can’t stand being up till the wee hours of the morning anymore. The movie started 20 minutes late, thus not ending until nearly 3am. Add onto that the chaos that is trying to drive out of a jammed parking lot with hundreds of other vehicles and a 30 minute drive home … and I may need to be “busy” for the next Harry Potter opening night. :P

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Minnesota State University, Moorhead Going Smoke Free

My alma mater, MSUM (then called Moorhead State University) is going 100% smoke-free on January 1st, 2008. They will be banning smoking, tobacco use and tobacco sales on all university property. Evidently MSUM is among the first major universities in the country to officially go smoke free.

According to the university:

34% of MSUM students and 12% of MSUM employees are tobacco users; 13% of MSUM students and 7% of MSUM employees are “regular users” of tobacco.

And when asked if this change would affect enrollment, a survey of prospective students showed that (if anything) it would influence them to be more likely to attend if the campus was smoke-free:

  • 58% (33) – It would not influence their decision in any way
  • 39% (22) – Yes, I would be more likely to attend
  • 4% (2) – Yes, I would be less likely to attend

Should be interesting to see if these numbers hold true or not.

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Transformers the Movie

Seen it twice, kicks ass … that is all. :D

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Adventures of Moving Out

So this past weekend I had to move out of my townhome as I had to turn over the property by 5pm on Monday. In addition to the stress of just getting everything packed, life just couldn’t resist throwing some extra in the mix.

Saturday

  • Call friends to confirm they will be helping me … nearly all back out

  • Miss a call from Uhaul stating that they SHOULD have a truck for me on Sunday, but they’ll call me with what it is and where I need to pick it up (obviously not at the Cottage Grove location as I was originally told)
  • Arrange for my brother-in-law to help me load up the heavy stuff before he goes to the waterpark with the kids

Sunday

  • Receive the call from Uhaul at 9am that a truck is available but I have to pick it up in Apple Valley (25 minute drive). Not too big of a deal since I am getting a storage garage there, so I can set it up when I get the truck
  • Wait forever to finally get the truck checked out and start setting up the storage information
  • Specifically ask if I get back after office hours (after 5pm on Sundays) that I will be able to get in, offload the truck into my storage and can leave the Uhaul truck on-site … he says YES
  • Get the truck back and bust my ass loading up everything I can fit
  • Attempt to secure the ramp but will not go in all the way. Call Uhaul, get hung up on twice, finally talk to someone and says that nobody can come out, so just drive with it and see what happens (yeah right)
  • After tying rope around the ramp to secure it, I luckily have 5 people willing to help me offload at the Uhaul storage location and drive there (now after-hours)
  • The moment I find the storage garage I see they have a padlock on it
  • After deciding I would get some cutters, cut it off and buy them a new lock after offloading, I swipe my security card to ensure the alarm won’t go off …
  • Immediately after swiping card, screen says “Sorry, area closed”
  • Calling the Uhaul hotline gets me nowhere as they say I need to talk to the local Uhaul (which is closed)
  • Find a maintenance guy to see if he can help but he instead insults us, slings threats at my parents and all-around presents more problems than we already have
  • Between the option of cutting the lock, opening the door with the alarms going off and the cops showing up or coming back the next morning … I chose the latter
  • I lock the truck, position it in front of a camera and leave it on-site
  • Back at the house, I load up my car with some items left (about 4 pick-up truck loads) and I drive them to my secondary storage location (my parent’s house)
  • Upon arrival I try to turn off the ignition but the key will not turn
  • After many neighbors look at it, I realize it’s the tumbler assembly again (something I had replaced 3 years ago, but obviously happened again
  • I drive it over to the shop near my parents house, pop the hood, un-hook the car battery and flip the lights on (finally, the car dies)
  • I get a ride back with my girlfriend to try to finish moving my belongings and clean the house

Monday

  • 7am I am at the Apple Valley location with most of my help gone (since it’s now a weekday morning)
  • Talking to the manager she informs me that the lock SHOULD have been taken off, the guy setting up the storage SHOULD have told me that the 24-hour access is an extra $10 (which he never even offered) and the maintenance guy SHOULD have called her as that is the main reason everyone has her phone number
  • The manager was actually quite nice and arranged for me to move the storage location to one under a canopy so we could pull right up to offload the truck … hopefully that doesn’t backfire when I have to load it all up again to move to the new house
  • After hauling ass to get everything off the truck and into the storage garage (a lot of Tetris-like figuring out to make it all fit) … I had to leave for my closing at 9am (back in Woodbury, a 20-minute drive not counting morning rush-hour traffic).
  • The closing goes well, I make it with 1 minute to spare
  • After, I make 3 more truck loads of my belongings to remove the remainder of my items from the house and can finally say I am “moved out”
  • I now live with my parents until July 31st

Tuesday

  • I get my car back with a new tumbler and a $275 bill to pay
  • I try to catch up on work but the parents only have dial-up internet, are out of town for the 4th of July and don’t remember the password to access (and of course nobody in the neighborhood has wireless I can mooch off of)
  • I collapse from exhaustion …

This is only half over, I have to do it all again July 31st when I move into the new house. I can only imagine what will happen during that time …

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TPS Reports

So if you are a fan of Office Space (like I am) … find out just how big of a fan you really are by taking the 100 question Office Space Quiz. Some are pretty basic but there are so toughies in there as well.

If you take the quiz, post your score in the comments and prove you truly are as big of an Office Space freak as I am.

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VR Design Firm


VR Design Firm is an idea I’ve had for a few years now but never had time to work on it. I still don’t have much time to work on it … but I’m going to try to fit it in here and there.

The basic premisis is that it will be a community-based “game” in which you will be able to run your own virtual design firm. It will not be a 3D or real-time game, more for entertainment purposes. It may flop or may flourish … it’s hard to say in these early stages.

I haven’t worked out all the details yet, but basically you’ll get a start-up fund to rent some office space, buy equipment, hire a staff, etc. Then every so often (maybe weekly or so) you’ll have “clients” requesting a proposal. Based on what you propose, the client may choose you or they may choose one of the other design firms out there. Who is chosen will be based on your decisions for the project, the skill level of your staff, productivity and other factors (to be determined later).

If you land the client, you will earn extra income to expand your business, buy better equipment, educate your staff, etc. Every improvement will help your chances of landing more clients. I am also envisioning some collaborations with other websites (basically advertising) who would provide some “referral” codes to increase your income by visiting their site, filling out a survey or other tasks.

Like I said, I haven’t worked everything out yet, but hopefully I can work on it here and there and have something basic by Spring of 2008! Stay tuned … ;)

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Server Hard Drive Failure

Unfortunately this past Saturday my server experienced a hard drive failure with the main boot drive. My support team acted promptly by removing the old drive, finding a replacement and installing the new one. Of course there was still a few hours of down time as we needed to re-install and secure the OS before we could copy all of the data over from the back-up drive. No data was lost and everything should be up and running smooth again.

I apologize for the inconvenience it may have caused to my clients and any others that may have been trying to access one of my other websites. Hopefully this won’t happen again!

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WWII Memorial at the State Capitol

WWII MemorialI added a few of the photographs I took during the WWII Memorial at the Minnesota State Capitol to my deviantART gallery. Check them out if you like.

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