Friday, February 29, 2008

Jay: Check Out CotC

Here is this week’s Carnival of the Capitalists, which has some decent entries you might find of interest.  Skim on through and see.

12:32 PM | BloggingBusinessMoneyQuiz or Meme • (0) CommentsPermalink

Jay: Gout

Well,yay, I seem to be having another gout attack.  It’s been a while.  I felt it coming on and dismissed it as pain from the giant dry winter splits in my toes, but this is recentered mainly in the ball of my right foot and is undeniable.

I think I let myself be too dehydrated, and that was enough for minimal provocation to trigger it.

It’s more widespread than sometimes.  I mean, if you don’t count the time I was feeling it to some degree in most of my joints.  Luckily it’s not quite as intense as it’s been at worst before.

12:23 PM | Food & CookingMedical • (0) CommentsPermalink

Jay: American Idol Commentary

It irritates me that the best of the blond girls went home this week.  Alaina was off my radar until top 24, when I became a fan.  This week she was more than adequate.  She lost to demographics, the slow song effect, and perhaps a critical mass of people not liking that song to be covered.

Kady should have gone instead.  Kady knew it.  Unless she does something amazing, Kady is likely to be gone next week, based on how they said the voting went.

Sarah K. Jennifer Jason Leigh Kristy Lee Cook was okay, apart from the weird stance, and has enough appeal and pimpage to have stayed.  She and Brooke also stand out a bit in appearance compared to Kady and Alaina, who resemble each other more closely, except for Alaina being both more pleasant and more talented.

Oh well. 

I totally expected Amanda to be gone.  She would have deserved it.  In a way I’m glad she stayed, and I think it’s again a demographic factor at work, for now, above and beyond anything Vote for the Worst can throw her way.  There’s absolutely no confusing her with anyone else.  She’s not “one of the blonds.” She’s not one of the “black divas.” I’m no longer thinking she’s a female Daughtry, and at first I thought she was Gina but with more potential.  Now I don’t think she’ll get as far.  If she get it right next week, she’s in the top 12.  I think she’ll be lucky to make the top 10.

I had also become an Alexandrea fan, much as I had with Alaina.  Absolutely awful song choice this week, even if it was done well enough.  She made the mistake of doing a song about leaving, and this always seems to happen.

We were talking about generic black girl confusion (and generic blond girl confusion).  I’d kind of put Asia’h and Syesha as competing directly for votes, with Alexandrea being a bit different.  Deb tended to confuse Alexandrea and Asia’h, while thinking of Syesha as a different type.  To which, on reflection, I suggested it was more Syesha versus Ramiele, perhaps. despite the different ethnicity.  If that is so, then Asia’h is relatively safer, with her main vote splitter gone.

After the first week, I was sure Luke was gone and wouldn’t have missed him.  I’m glad he stayed.  What he did this week worked and showed why he’s there, so I am glad he stayed again.  He looks distinctive, too.  Not that the guys have something like the generic blond problem to the degree the girls do, but some have been either bland or people you can hardly bear to look at.

Jason Yeager was no surprise, and we were happy to see him go.  He has a wealthy future as a televangelist or slick motivational guru.  Well, if he has the charisma to go with the look, which the judges would seem to be saying he doesn’t.  Wedding singer, perhaps?  Why am I being so mean tonight?

Robbie was no surprise, and another happy one at that.  He’s good enough to have a future in some genre at some level somewhere, and if he hadn’t gone this week it’s not like I’d have been annoyed.  He probably just needs to be what he is, whatever that may be, or be convincing enough to act what he is not.

The best of the guys this week was David Hernandez, no contest.  David Archuleta can sing well and seems nice enough, but he butchered Imagine.  As Deb said, if she’d not been told ahead of time it would be a John Lennon song, she would have had trouble identifying what song it was.  I also tend to react badly to the blatant pimping by the judges, trying to make the final result, or who the final few standing will be, at least, come out the way the powers that be have in mind.  They are in big danger of a backlash with him.

Sadly, best of the girls was Carly, who finally showed why she’s there and being pimped to the point of backlash already having started, above and beyond any reservations people have about her recording history or proximity to Randy Jackson in the industry.  There was no contest, but Ramiele was excellent, arguably number two.  As well as the shameless promotion of who they want to come out in the top couple or so, they are blatant in tearing down unexpected challenges.  Thus the “were they even listening” critique.

Carly seems to have sprouted a better personality, besides her performance, and besides endearing herself to me with her love of Crazy On You.  It’s a favorite of mine, and a song I always point to as a well written song with a concise, compelling story and vivid imagery.  I’ve used it as an example of writing well more generally, not just lyrically.

She and Ramiele seem to be the girls to beat.

Michael Johns seemed to be the guy to beat at first, and if he comes back strong next week, he could still be one of them, along with Archuletta and Hernandez.  And Jason Castro!  Speaking of resemblances, he has one to John Travolta and to a guy named Paul Selkirk.  The guys are just stronger than the girls this year overall.

Chikezie was another one I was sure was gone the first week, and he may have demographics in part to thank for staying.  This week, however, he showed why he was there.  I’d be surprised not to see him in the top 12 at this point, and perhaps much higher, given song choice, skill and luck.  He’s a pleasure to listen to, and I’m back to my original impression.  Which means I’ve basically just declared who I think should and likely will be 5 of the top 6 guys.  Who’s left?

Luke should probably be the 6th.  Depending on the power of Vote for the Worst and what happens next week, Danny may be instead.  I don’t see a future for David Cook beyond next week, unless he wows everyone.

Of the girls, Carly and Ramiele are essentially guaranteed to be in the 6 that get to the top 12.  Kady and Amanda probably won’t make it that far, which leaves Kristy, Brooke, Syesha, and Asia’h.  That’s an easier prediction than the guys, in that it’s easier to figure who’s likely to leave next week.  Upsets are always possible, and Amanda may have enough fans and worsters behind her to squeak through.  But if she does, it’s hard to say whether Brooke, Asia’h or Syesha will pay for it.  Kristy has been too pimped to be a surprise 13th place finisher.

While I don’t want another Taylor Hicks any more than the Idol powers that be, the degree of manipulation and pond stocking evident this year leaves me dying for an upset like the surprise elimination of Carly or Archuleta at 6th or 8th place.  And that would be fine all around, because many albums could still be sold by those people, or basically by anyone likely to make the top 12.  They’ve stocked the pond so well, they can withstand a result they didn’t beg the voting public for week to week.

So much for quick commentary.

03:19 AM | BusinessMusicTV • (2) CommentsPermalink

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Deb: I’m a teeny bit short on time today…

So for your Idol roundup, I’ll leave you in the capable hands of the following bloggers:

Venomous Kate
Radley Balko
Sarah K

Don’t be shocked if Jay adds to this list if he runs across another roundup or two, or adds his own commentary if he takes a break.

For what it’s worth, I missed a couple of them, hated Archuleta, loved Hernandez, and am feeling pretty *shrug* about the rest.  Apart from that I hate to look at Yeager and Cook.  They both bother me for some non-obvious reason I can’t put my finger on.  If I ever figure it out I’ll let you know.

06:07 PM | MusicTV • (2) CommentsPermalink

Deb: Cute baby tricks.

The little one has taken up clapping in approval at things.

There are no words to describe how cute this is.  The closest I might be able to come would be some tortured metaphor about my ovaries, and it really wouldn’t be worth it.  Just believe me, it really is that cute.

Now if the child would just take up sleeping alone as a hobby, we’d be set.

05:47 PM | Kids • (0) CommentsPermalink

Jay: Mmm… Coffee

I signed up for the Joffrey’s Beta Test, a clever promotional idea by Joffrey’s Coffee and Tea, which I found out about via Web Worker Daily.  It’ll be interesting to see what they send for a sample, and try it out. 

Free coffee is always good.  This morning we’re drinking the very last of the sample coffee my brother-in-law passed on to us from a restaurant he built.  We also plowed right through several pounds of Dunkin coffee we received for Christmas.

12:45 PM | BusinessFood & Cooking • (0) CommentsPermalink

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Jay: Rest In Peace

This morning a guy came from, as it turned out, Hank Zion’s to get the dead van after being the best offer from my Craigslist post.  Good riddance, yet I am also sad, because had I been able to spring as little as $200-odd shortly after it died, it would probably have been fine for an extended time.  We had finally gotten down to the root of what ailed it.  Which I still think shouldn’t have been so mysterious, since in retrospect I Googled the symptoms and the answer to what ailed it floated pretty unambiguously to the top.  Someone who knew cars ought have been able to say “hey, back pressure into the coolant, so it acts like a radiator problem but doesn’t overheat” and insist we do head gaskets.  For that matter, the guy who sold it, a mechanic of sorts, had apparently used radiator sealant to mask the problem long enough to sell it, even as he was being mostly honest about its condition.

And for the record, my brother did not overtly and firmly advise us to buy it.  He’s all hysterical and revisionist, making sure all and sundry know that he told us in no uncertain terms not to buy it so dammit not his fault.  He gave us an honest, skeptical assessment of the risk we’d be taking.  However, he has spent the last several year drumming on me about owning the Sentra, and how it was going to fall apart on me, and I needed to replace it Right Now, with the crescendo reached right when the van came available.  He wasn’t entirely wrong, and we needed something bigger, but if he hadn’t scared the crap out of me about the Sentra at that point, I would probably have waited, and probably gotten a few relatively inexpensive additional months out of it.  We didn’t need a van until August, and obviously we can manage without something that size.  We’d just have managed better with two vehicles that could hold 6 people combined than with one that holds 2.

But I digress.

The van was, when it ran, a solid, comfortable ride.  If only the motor…

The guy picking up the van asked about the Sentra.  That led to my scrambling to empty it, after having put some of the van contents into it.  I got what I expected for it, but without having to make any further calls or arrangements.  In the course of taking part of it into the cellar and talking to the downstairs neighbor, I discovered the guy on the 3rd floor has an IP camera monitoring part of the cellar.  Cute.  That fits with his suddenly starting to lock the deadbolt on the back door.  That’s fine if you have a key.  I suspect it may be a case of his having a “friend” who can’t be trusted, or that sort of thing.

It was good the way it happened, because it was like yanking a tooth suddenly.  After it was empty and hooked to the back of the ramp truck, I ran upstairs to get the title and grabbed the camera.  When I got back down and started to take a picture, I remarked it might seem odd.  He said not at all, which sparked a conversation about beloved cars.  Some people cry when he takes them away, which he said just as I was trying not to.

It was parked for some overly long stretches, worst thing I ever did to it, but it’s awfully close to 12 years to the day since I bought the Sentra.  In that time, over 100,000 miles, I spent slightly more on repairs that I spent on the van in the course of maybe 7 months, less than 4000 miles.  It spoiled me - that’s how I came to expect cars to be, maintenance-wise.  Especially since the car before it, an Escort, had been decent as well.  That one worked great until it experienced total meltdown, and even then the guy I gave it to was able to drive it away.  His had a good motor but had been slammed in back by a drunk.  Mine had a good body.

It’s the end of an era.  It’s also kind of a slate cleaning.  We don’t have the dead cars staring us down in the driveway, needing to be dealt with.  Things that should have long since moved into the apartment or cellar are in.  It’s akin to my doing the partnership taxes for the last time this weekend, though that’s not done until I actually file them, and I’ll still be storing all that stuff for years because, well, someone has to and I paid me for the privilege.

Anyway, it made for an interesting morning, made all the earlier by my waking up at 5:30 when Valerie got in bed with us, and never going back to sleep.  I still need to put some stuff away in the aftermath.

Shoot!  I should have asked if they wanted the tires I have in the back of the truck.  At one point someone mysteriously swapped a wheel on the truck for one with an excellent snow tire that made it all mismatched.  I got two good used tires from my father, had those mounted, and was left with a still good original tire and the good snow tire.  Apparently the not inconsiderable cost of swapping the tires didn’t include disposal, or they assumed I’d want them, given their good condition (reasonable and safe assumption).  The salvage people could probably sell them to a happy customer.  Oh well.  There’s a spot in the yard where they can go if they get in the way in the truck bed.

So… bye 1994 Plymouth Voyager.  Good riddance, and couldn’t you have died gracefully without first costing a significant fraction of the year’s income?  I can’t imagine I’ll ever buy another Chrysler van.

Bye faithful 1988 Nissan Sentra.  You were the Best Car Ever.

03:07 PM | BusinessCarsMoney • (0) CommentsPermalink

Jay: Naturescape

I would like to point out another business in the family: Naturescape.  Based in Plympton and Middleboro, Massachusetts, they specialize in hardscape construction.  As you can seen in their landscape portfolio, they install walkways, patios, retaining walls, pool decks, driveways, and complement the hardscape services with landscape and irrigation installation.  Naturescape is small, friendly, and believes in high quality, guaranteed work.

If that’s not enough, Naturescape has also participated in Homes for Our Troops.  It impressed me that someone with a New England landscaping business would go all the way to North Carolina for one of those projects.

I mentioned it was in the family?  Indeed.  Bob Whyte is married to my oldest niece, is the proud father of one of my four grandnieces and my only grandnephew so far, and is an all around nice guy.  If you’re in the region and in the market, Naturescape is the one.  Tell them Jay and Deb sent you.

12:23 PM | BusinessTotally Random • (0) CommentsPermalink

Monday, February 25, 2008

Jay: Special Day

This is a very special day in other ways, especially given the traditional significance ascribed to each five year increment, but it’s the first day of one of the longest birthday-free stretches of the year, six days, until a couple days ago, 7 days.  I’d forgotten the other thing until I looked at the calendar to confirm the birthday drought.  One of us will probably post about it later.

Tax-related stuff proceeds apace.  That needs to be done today, even though I am sending the results to the former partners in PDF form so not depending on something mailed today getting there tomorrow.  I also need to work on my own pretty promptly afterward.

Sounds like the ad people we’re waiting on may pay us today.  Apparently they were affected by snow.

I’ll be getting back to people who made offers for the van today, starting with the larger offer, then working temporally through the ones that were identically smaller if that doesn’t fly.  That’ll invoke urgency about clearing it out the rest of the way.

I need to reply to a family member about promoting the site of a brick and mortar (almost literally) business online.

There’s stuff related to job hunting, prospective jobs, the business, and the always present need to clean and organize and file and so forth.

There’s Carnival of the Capitalists for the week.  Not to mention I’ve been wanting to post some content over there.  Other stuff comes before it, even if it’s delayed until Wednesday, and I can work on it late at night if needed.

It’ll be a busy day.  And the kids are all bursting into tears if you so much as think something negative in their general vicinity, which always helps.  Or ask them to answer a demanding question like “is that Valerie’s cup?”

02:31 PM | BloggingBusinessCarsJob HuntingKids • (0) CommentsPermalink

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Jay: Exciting Day

Today I need to download and print tax forms, plug in and double-check numbers, scan and copy and such when done, and in the midst of this take Valerie over to my grandmother’s for dinner and cake and guilt.  Meanwhile, Sadie has gotten Deb’s cold she got from my brother’s airport germs.  She seems downright unpathetic at the moment, painting at my other computer, right behind me.  Tylenol must be helping, and I think I managed to teach her how to blow her nose.  It’s a surprisingly difficult thing for the extremely young to grasp, somehow.

I was awake most of the way to 3:00, so up at 8:30 and awake before that when Sadie crawled in was on the early side.  Valerie is still asleep, as far as I know.

Between tax stuff, emptying and selling the van, billing for web work, other business and job seeking related stuff, and the day to day, it’s going to be a busy next few days.  Thus it has to be purely my imagination that I feel the aforementioned cold coming on…

02:32 PM | BusinessCarsJob HuntingKidsMedicalMoney • (0) CommentsPermalink

Jay: Happy Birthday

To blogger Sarah Dwyer.

02:29 PM | Birthdays • (0) CommentsPermalink

Jay: Happy Birthday

To blogger Dennis the Peasant, who is 51 today.

02:27 PM | Birthdays • (0) CommentsPermalink

Jay: Happy Birthday

To attorney and sales guy Marty Adams.

02:14 PM | Birthdays • (0) CommentsPermalink

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Jay: It’s that Time

Besides taking Valerie to see my mother and grandmother at some point, I will be focused mainly on tax stuff for the weekend.  Have an invoice to do, too, which is no big deal apart from being the point at which I have to create said invoice’s format, even if I don’t use a tool more sophisticated than Word.

Not much else to say today, offhand.

It’s rather cool that Gmail spam filtered the scam-sounding e-mail responses to my Craigslist van for sale post.  I saw all that in the spam folder and thought I might have missed a better offer, but no.

Yeah, that’s about it.  Probably something I meant to post but am forgetting.  Heck, I don’t think I posted American Idol reaction.  Maybe at some point before Tuesday…

04:17 PM | BloggingBusinessCarsGeekeryJob HuntingKidsMoneyMusicTotally RandomTV • (0) CommentsPermalink

Friday, February 22, 2008

Jay: Welcome Maggie!

Congratulations to Rob May on the arrival of Maggie, and hooray for an easy delivery.  She looks like a cute little pixie.

Someday the kids will all have to meet each other, even if we don’t eventually move to the area.

09:25 PM | BirthdaysKidsNews • (0) CommentsPermalink
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