Author Archive

mixed feelings about daylight savings time

Today we got an extra hour of sleep, and by midnight last night I had already wasted it by staying up late reading a book (of all things).

I have mixed feelings about the ol’ daylight savings time thing. After a little Wikipedia research I now realize that summertime is actual daylight savings time, and now here in the fall / winter we’re on standard time.

I guess I wish we could be on daylight savings time all year long without this fall back in fall business. It’s in the wintertime that I wish we had more daylight in the afternoon (right when the sun is setting at 4:00 on a January afternoon). Of course I realize that by doing this, we’d be celebrating sunrise at 9:00 AM. Hmph.

The flip side of all this though is that falling back in fall is a nice signaling of the seasons for me. Beginning now – the next two months – is my favorite time of year, what with Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and all that goes with it. I can’t wait!!

So as it’s now 4:30 in the afternoon, and the sun is beginning to set, I’m thinking ahead to a giant roast turkey on our dining room table, and that somehow makes it worth it.

i voted

Tim Ferriss pointed out today – while early-voting in San Jose – that no one checked his ID before he exercised his Constitutional right.

“Interesting,” I thought… “no one really checked my ID either”. I mean, I showed up at the polling place and handed them my voter registration card, but my card is basically a piece of paper with my name and address printed on it. Easily forged with any inkjet printer and cardstock paper.

So what gives? Why didn’t they cross-check my voter card with my picture ID? It just seemed to me that there wasn’t a lot of diligence in that regard.

But the touchscreen voting machines worked very well. And there was no line. Overall, my Nashville voting experience went extremely well.

how not to buy a used car

As you now know, I’ve gotten myself a new job. As such, the wonderful carpooling arrangement Steph and I have had for the last 3 years is being disrupted and we need to get a car so she can get to work. Unfortunately, the vast majority of my time off so far has been dedicated towards this end, and if I’m honest, this has been the most awful car buying experience I’ve ever had.

I’m now going to offer you a detailed case study on how not to buy a used car:

This is the story of how Steph and I purchased a lemon bomb of a terrible car and then blew $600 extra dollars on a car I never truly owned.

We started out two weeks ago with your typical internet searches and used car lot shopping. Our goal was something truly inexpensive – cash only – reliable enough to get Steph through for the next year, 10 miles of driving a day. We had some decent leads, but nothing remarkable. But then we stumbled upon a ’97 Infiniti i30.

The price was right: $2,500. The car looked good on the outside and according to the owner – a private seller – had been an extremely reliable car for the past two years. Now hear me through. Regardless of the debacle about to unfold, I still have no ill feelings toward the seller… he’s a good, honest guy and I think we both got sucker punched.

The Ill Fated Purchase
After a couple test drives we decided to buy the car. We were both comfortable with it, were aware of it’s known quirks, and were anxious to make a purchase because I was leaving town for the week.

Now it’s important to know that I, a fool from Minnesota, bought a car with the ‘check engine’ light on. Um, OOPS!! In my naivety I didn’t think that a ‘check engine’ light was a big deal, and in Minnesota it’s not. We don’t perform emissions tests in Minnesota and growing up it seems my family has always owned a car with that silly light on. It’s not a big deal – usually some obscure electrical fluke.

Well, in Davidson County, Tennessee they don’t treat the little orange light as obscure. As soon as we bought the car we took it to the testing facility where it promptly failed. The $10 test indicated that our Knock Sensor and Speed Sensor were failing.

Flailing Attempts To Fix Our Failing Car
We figured we should take it to the closest mechanic shop to see what was up, so off to Christian Brothers Auto. They charged us $85 for a diagnostics test – likely used a piece of equipment that cost little more than that – and told us our Knock Sensor and Speed Sensor were failing, and causing the ‘check engine’ indicator.

Estimated cost to replace both sensors: $938.

After gathering the bits of shattered bone lying on the floor from our jaws dropping, we hightailed it out of there.

May I Have A Second Opinion?
Since the car was in fair working condition I left town for my road trip, leaving Steph with the new Infiniti for the week. Miraculously it worked ok while I was gone.

Then on Friday when I got back we took the car to a local mechanic, recommended by a friend whom we knew could be trusted. He again charged us $75 for a diagnostics test and told us that the Knock Sensor and Speed Sensor were failing. Thank you for the insight.

But this particular mechanic did offer some helpful advice and cautioned us that these error codes we were seeing were likely the result of other hidden issues impossible to detect, most likely an imminent car computer failure ($800+ to fix). Our $2500 car was quickly becoming a $5000 money pit, just to pass the emissions test, and I guarantee this car was NOT worth $5000.

4th Down And 9: Punt
By this point we are quite angry and beyond frustrated. It’s clear we have to unload this worthless piece of junk – this ridiculous lemon of a car. So we went to CarMax to get a quote for dumping it.

$1200 is what they offered.

But that was before the alternator failed on our way out of the parking lot.

On A Search For Grace
Please understand the fury I am trying to restrain within myself at this point on a cold Friday night.

The long and short is I’ve got nearly $3000 sunk into a car that I’ve purchased and desperately need to get rid of. But I cannot even sell it!! I cannot sell the car because I technically don’t “own” it. I don’t own it because I can’t get a clean title. I can’t get a clean title because I can’t get it registered. I can’t get it registered because I can’t pass the emissions test. And I can’t pass the emissions test because total repairs will cost me well in excess of $2500. And this I can’t afford.

Reluctantly I call the previous owner who sold me this time bomb on wheels and explain my awful plight. I present a scenario where either he buys the car back from us at a reduced price, or he helps us sell it at CarMax (because we need his signature).

He requests some time to think about it. Steph and I go to bed stressed out of our ever-loving minds.

Meanwhile we begin shopping for another new car for Steph, knowing that one way or another the Infiniti is going bye-bye. We spend a better portion of Saturday traipsing all over Southern Tennessee used car dealerships.

And then somehow, in an act of charity I’m still trying to comprehend, the previous owner of the ill fated Infiniti calls and offers a full $2500 buyback of the car. Talk about dodging a bullet. In a moment of gracious weakness I offer to help him split the cost of fixing the alternator since it “happened on my watch”.

Adding Insult To Injury
My act of charity involves getting the car to an affordable mechanic to fix the alternator, so after some phone calls Monday morning I get the thing hauled to Firestone. $400 repair on the way.

I spend the rest of Monday and then Tuesday (today) shopping for cars (this time from dealers… no more private sellers). And I’ve learned my lesson here as well: demand that the car be taken to a mechanic for review.

Adding insult to injury, on my way back from a mechanic reviewing a car, I get pulled over by Nashville’s finest on Old Hickory Boulevard. This particular cop is unhappy that I am driving 50 in a 45, and is also curious if I can show the registration and proof of insurance for the car… which I explain that I cannot because it’s obviously a dealer’s car (hence dealer plates on the back). He is not all that amused and proceeds to cite me for all three offenses.

Total cost of the moving and non-moving violations: $162

Oh, then Firestone called and said the alternator on the Infiniti was fixed, but the battery is now dead.

New battery: $80.

Infiniti = Infinite Problems
I’m sure many people own Infiniti’s and don’t have a problem, but my two week experience was excruciatingly painful.

Finally this evening we made a purchase on a new car for Steph (an Acura), and we unloaded the Infiniti on the previous owner (which I feel bad about, but it was necessary).

So here’s a tally of the total damage…

Lessons Learned
I’ll leave you with these final tidbits of advice…

  • Never buy a car with the check engine light on; it will fail emissions test
  • Never buy a car without first having it checked out by a mechanic you trust
  • Don’t speed while test driving a car
  • Ask the dealer where they keep the registration and proof of insurance before you leave the lot
  • Kelley Blue Book and are your friend
  • Make friends with a mechanic – I highly recommend Tom Chubb at American Tire (Antioch) or Blake Sellars at Firestone (Brentwood)
  • Don’t buy a used ’97 Infiniti i30

why i quit my job and got a new one

Assuming there’s an outside chance that one of my few diligent readers hasn’t heard yet, a couple weeks ago I resigned my position with EMI and accepted a new job with Word Entertainment as their Director of Digital Sales & Marketing.

This is a good thing! (People always ask me that… I tell them I switched jobs and they give me that, ‘oh, really?’ as though my dog died or something). So I have to sound excited when I say it, because I am excited!

Anyways, after nearly 5 years at EMI, switching companies is a big deal – it was an incredibly hard decision to make, and didn’t come easily. I have a ton of great friends at EMI, and not working with them everyday is going to be sad. EMI had become home, just like highschool had become home, and then college. Additionally, I really respect a lot of people at EMI – they have great and supportive leadership, and from the top down some brilliant minds that I have learned a lot from. But now it’s onto something new.

So, why did I leave? There are a few reasons…

  • At Word I’ll be working for a record label instead of a distribution company. This means instead of working nearly 250 releases in a year, it will be more like 20 – if that. Ideally this means that I’ll have the opportunity to create a closer relationship with the artists I work with, and dig deeper into each release – spending the time on each one that they deserve.
  • At Word I’ll be working with all digital download, streaming, and mobile accounts. Previously I had 95% of my focus on iTunes, which was necessary, primarily because of the amount of titles I had running through the system. Ideally now I’ll be able to dig a little deeper with each one – there’s some cool new accounts doing some great things, and I’m excited to have the opportunity to spend some time with them.
  • Word has a different perspective on approaching digital music and internet marketing. Not to say that Word has the ‘right’ way, and EMI the ‘wrong’ – it’s just different and I need that fresh perspective. Like I said, I’ll be working within the label, and they’re putting a lot of focus on 360 degree artist deals, direct-to-consumer commerce, and fully integrated internet marketing teams. I’m looking forward to being part of a bigger team, and in a position to have more open discussion with radio, A&R, and so forth.

So that’s the brief run down. My last day with EMI was October 8th, and I don’t start with Word until November 3rd (which means I’ve been enjoying the most amazing fall break ever). This is my last week on my own, which I am doing my best to dedicate towards completely refreshing myself. I’ve been reading some good books, enjoying some good coffee, taking some nice trips, and trying to refrain from anything that reminds me too much of corporate gobbledigook.

imperfect post

I haven’t posted for a long time, and every day I think of something I want to write about.

It dawned on me why I don’t do it though. I’m too obsessed with being a perfectionist (especially when it comes to writing). I want it to cover everything, and not lack anything.

I create grand plans of writing a 7 post series on this, and a step-by-step analysis of that. And in the end I don’t think anyone really cares, but I feel like that’s what I need to do.

So I end up not writing. And therefore, no post in weeks.

To that end, I’m purposely writing this little tidbit in less than two minutes, and then I’m going to publish it without so much as a proofread. This is me pushing my horizons.

PS: I lied… I proofread this, but I think I’m still within two minutes.

Collegiate Peaks Wilderness: Day 6

I’ll be writing a few posts on our 2008 backpacking trip to the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness in Colorado. You can see a Google Map of our hike and all of the pictures of from our trip on Flickr.

August 1, 2008

Our hiking today was relatively short, and all downhill… a first for us on this trip. Steph, Josh, Rachel, and I started out early right after breakfast. The hike down to the Piney Creek trail-head went fairly fast – almost a relaxing walk.

Josh and I made it down to the parking lot first, and our job was to drive my car to Cottonwood Pass to pick up our parent’s car. That process took 30 minutes and by the time we got back Rachel and Steph had just finished packing out. Mom and Dad arrived a short time later and then it was time for the drive to Colorado Springs.

After a long drive we checked into our hotel, showered up, and then went looking for food. This is my second favorite part of a backpacking trip: prime rib following the trip. We went to Outback and ate way too much.

So that’s it. Collegiate Peaks Wilderness backpacking trip done and in the bag… er, the backpack.

Collegiate Peaks Wilderness: Day 5

I’ll be writing a few posts on our 2008 backpacking trip to the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness in Colorado. You can see a Google Map of our hike and all of the pictures of from our trip on Flickr.

July 31, 2008

I don’t think any of us realized just how difficult climbing Mt. Yale would be – oh my gosh…. We woke up at 6:30 and made an early breakfast. We did not have to break camp, so we just packed up day packs with a minimal amount of food. The hike up Mt. Yale was a 3.6 mile trek from our base-camp that rose over 3,200 feet. Mt. Yale is 14,192 feet high.

There was not one part of the trip that was easy. In the first part the path was tree-covered, but the path was still steep with a lot of switchbacks. Once we broke tree line (at 12,000 feet) the trail got immensely more difficult. Josh broke head and did not stop until he reached the top. Mom, Dad and Rachel hung behind – Rachel was feeling a little sick at times, but she stuck it out. Steph and I were in the middle, and Steph was amazingly strong.

In the lower part, just above tree line, the trail was wide and almost all gravel. It then turned to a scattered boulder field, and finally near the saddle a long string of rocky switchbacks. Every step up was painful and required tremendous effort. Most of the time the trail was at a 45-degree angle, and sometimes even steeper. There was no break or flat part – it was always up. Steph tended to climb for quick intervals and then take short breaks often. I tended to be more slow (really slow), but tried to climb for longer periods. In the end we were climbing at about the same pace.

The saddle was a flat gravely area just below the last 100 feet of large boulder mass (the summit). When we reached the saddle we could finally see the other sde – Mt. Harvard and the town of Buena Vista were ahead of us. A small airplane was actually flying below us! At this point a guy name Doug made it up to the saddle with his awesome dog Charlie Brown. Doug has climbed eight 14ers and Charlie Brown has climbed 4! Coolest dog ever with a lot of energy at 14,000 feet… he even chased a marmot around the saddle.

Next we tackled the summit which was a large, rocky boulder mass, the trail marked by kairns. This took some delicate scrambling, but a welcome change from the hiking. Finally we reached the peak, and the view was magnificent. We could see in 360 degrees for up to 100 miles. We could see Pikes Peak and the Texas Creek Reservoir. After an hour spent on the summit we began the trek down. This was hard too and wore badly on my feet. It took half as long to go down as it did to go up (which took 5.5 hours), but felt like an eternity longer. The worst part was once we got down from the Yale trail we had to hike up another 300 feet to our campsite. Torture. But the pain was worth it and the view from the top, incredible.

Tomorrow we pack out, then hotels, showers, and prime rib.

Collegiate Peaks Wilderness: Day 4

I’ll be writing a few posts on our 2008 backpacking trip to the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness in Colorado. You can see a Google Map of our hike and all of the pictures of from our trip on Flickr.

July 30, 2008

Today was definitely the hardest and most difficult day yet, but the most rewarding. We left Texas Creek at 9:30 this morning and started hiking towards Brown’s Pass – a full 1,000 feet climb in elevation. Not gonna lie – it was pretty difficult at times.

Saw some great scenery today on the way up including a couple boulder fields which were a nice backdrop against the canyons below. Near the top was an old gold miner’s cabin that had been destroyed – the roof caved in and house sunken below the foundation. Finally around noon the low valley of the pass came into view… my favorite part of any backpacking trip. I love watching the next mountain range come into view from across the pass, and you can always see for miles and miles. I was the first one to the top, so I set up my camera to take pictures of each person in our group as they approach the pass.

Once everyone was on top we grabbed a quick lunch and took some photographs. We also met a couple other groups at the top, including a youth group from Austin, MN. Going down the pass was 10 times easier and faster. We found a really nice campsite where we met the stream again and spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing there. Steph and I made supper tonight – well really it was Steph – minestrone soup and beef stew.

Tomorrow we go up Mt. Yale, sans packs thank goodness.

Collegiate Peaks Wilderness: Day 3

I’ll be writing a few posts on our 2008 backpacking trip to the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness in Colorado. You can see a Google Map of our hike and all of the pictures of from our trip on Flickr.

July 29, 2008

It’s Steph’s birthday today!

Definitely lighter day today – only 2.5miles – and slightly uphill. It didn’t rain anymore last night, but it was extremely cold, to the point that Steph and I both had trouble sleeping. Our camp last night was a nice open pine setting with some cool boulder formations in the back part sitting at the base of a mountain.

We reached a fork in the trail around noon (which was our destination), but required a river crossing to get to the campsite. The girls all waded through the river, but Josh got in his head that we wanted to do some Indiana Jones-style feat by jumping rocks. He also wanted to build a pulley to pass the packs across the river which was entirely unnecessary, but well, why not. Unfortunately the line snapped and Josh snagged his pack just before it went in the river. No harm though – we all just ended up hopping across the rocks and getting over fine.

We spent the bulk of the day just walking around the area, taking pictures, and spending time at the creek. We celebrated Steph’s birthday with some dehydrated ice cream sandwiches. Yum. :o)

Difficult day tomorrow – our hardest yet, must go up the pass.

Collegiate Peaks Wilderness: Day 2

I’ll be writing a few posts on our 2008 backpacking trip to the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness in Colorado. You can see a Google Map of our hike and all of the pictures of from our trip on Flickr.

July 28, 2008

Today was a difficult day, our first real day of hiking. We began at the Continental Divide and headed north from Cottonwood Pass. Of course, we made a mistake about 20 minutes into our hike and ascended a peak that we didn’t at all need to climb because we lost our trail. Even still, the view from the needless peak was good and we could see down into both sides of the Divide valley, and we could also see our correct trail again from up there.

As I suspected, it was quickly apparent that my pack was way too heavy, meaning too much food and too much camera gear. We hiked down from the Divide all day, dropping nearly 1,000 feet or more in elevation. We ate lunch on a ridge right before the major descent began, and we saw the storm clouds starting to roll in. We covered our packs and kept the rain gear handy. The first storm ended up missing us, but we got hit by the second one below tree line. Put the rain gear on quickly and waited it out beneath a grove of trees.

The last couple hours of hiking were more hard on my feet and knees. We arrive to camp around 4:00 PM but had to cross Texas Creek first, which was extremely cold, and I had to go across three times. We hurried to set up camp and got everything moved in just before a 3rd rain storm came. no hail this time though as it did during the afternoon.

Mom made supper and somehow we got a fire going with wet wood and insect repellent.