Monthly Archives: July 2009

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I hate snakes.No joke – this was the lead story all day yesterday and much of the day today in my neck of the woods…

A 20-year-old driver told police his baby pet snakes are to blame for a multi-car crash he caused on Main Street Monday morning.

Angel Rolon lost control of his SUV as he and a passenger scrambled to catch the two snakes, he told police. He said they escaped from his pants pockets and slithered down near the gas and brake pedals, police said.

Rolon is charged with reckless driving, failure to drive in proper lane, driving while being distracted and driving without a license.

At least three other cars were involved in the crash, reported to police at 10:20 a.m. Rolan’s SUV sustained heavy front end damage and rolled over onto the driver’s side.

Animal control responded to the scene but did not find the snakes, police said.

Okay, I’m not sure where to begin…

But on the subject of snakes in odd situations, has anyone else seen the safe-for-television re-dubbed version of Snakes on a Plane on USA or TNT?

“I’ve had it with these monkey-fightin’ snakes on this Monday-Friday plane!”

So, anyway, I hope the police inquired as to why anyone would put some monkey-fightin’ snakes in their Monday/Friday pockets and then go for a monkey-fightin’ drive during monkey-fightin’ rush hour?

Seriously…

And I thought driving while texting was dangerous…

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I’ve spent a lot of money so far this month.

In some ways, I suppose I feel like I’ve spent more than I actually have just based on the number of things, mostly inexpensive, that I’ve purchased in just the past week.

At the same time, at the start of the month (which feels like the distant past for some reason), I spent tons and tons of money having all of those trees taken down and at that hockey jersey convention that I attended.

But for all of the purchases that I’ve made and all of the huge checks that I’ve written in a relatively short span of time, well, I’m not carrying a single cent worth of debt as a result.

In fact, my net worth has actually risen despite the outpouring from my wallet and checking account.

Is this what it feels like to be rich?

I’d assume so.

Realistically, though, if my spending spree hadn’t come during a month where my investments had gained roughly 10% (so far), well, I think I’d be whistling a different tune.

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WalletOut of no where this morning I purchased three things that, if you’d asked me yesterday, I’d have said I don’t need.

The first purchase was a Canon NB-4L battery for my wife’s PowerShot SD200 camera. She’s had that little camera for a few years now and the battery just won’t hold a charge anymore.

While our household is overflowing with camera equipment, this is the only camera than can conveniently fit in a pocket so it probably gets the most use — you know, the day-to-day family stuff and the silly videos we’ve featured here on PIAC.

Problem is, we always seemed to run out of battery power just as Duncan starts reciting the entire script of the movie Space Balls. Okay, I exaggerate, but the dying battery routine has become very frustrating.

Total cost to remedy the battery issue? Just $14.95 (plus $7.74 for shipping) for a knock-off version.

Next, and still with cameras on the brain, I RSVP’d to a family reunion coming up in September.

Thinking that I’ve got all of this camera equipment collecting dust, I should probably volunteer to take a professional group photo with a wide angle lens, you know, like they did 100 years ago.

That's the actual Smurf family.  I can't name a single person though.

Problem is, I want to be in the photo too…

Hmmmmm…

There is a simple solution — it’s called a remote trigger.

I have one of those.

Somewhere.

I just can’t find it.

And I’ve looked for it, well, at least a dozen times.

I’ve turned entire closets upside down and inside out without any success.

My most recent attempt was just a few weeks ago for when I made that cool time-lapse tree cutting video.

For those that might have been wondering, no, I wasn’t behind the camera all day taking a photo every 20 seconds.

Ideally, if I could have found it, I would have been using a remote trigger programmed to take a photo every 20 seconds.

Instead, I used a bunch of extension cords and an old laptop to act as the trigger.

Took me forever to setup.

Took me just as long to break down.

And, don’t forget, I also spent a few hours hopelessly searching for that darn remote trigger. For the twelfth time.

I should have just bought a new remote the first day that I realized I’d lost the original. So much wasted time. So much frustration.

So, after a little online research, I purchased a knock-off version of what I needed from a company in China.

It cost me $23.99 (plus $8.00 for shipping).

(That’s a SUPER bargain considering the original trigger set me back a couple of hundred dollars. I just hope it works.)

The third purchase of the morning also relates to photography…

I’ve got studio lights and strobes and all that sort of thing in my arsenal. If you know a little about photography, you know that it’s all about lighting and controlling it.

While setting up to take some shots of Duncan, I ran into a problem that I’ve run into, well, dozens of times since I stopped working as a professional photographer.

All of those lights and strobes need power.

Somewhere along the way, I lost all of my power cords. I have no idea where they are.

The good news is that the strobes take the same kind of power cord that a standard computer monitor takes so I was able to work around the issue by “borrowing” from my computers and using a bunch of extension cords to make them long enough to reach an outlet.

I’ve done a few portraits using this method and it’s annoyed me each time.

Deep down, I know those 25-foot power cords are neatly coiled somewhere right next to my remote trigger. I just know it.

So $23.90 (plus $8.96 for shipping) later, I’ll have the proper cords again.

Putting it all together, I solved three issues that I’ve been dealing with for almost 2 years for $62.84 (plus $24.70 for shipping).

Had I known that I could have avoided all of the headaches and frantic attic searches over that time for under $100, well, I would never have put these purchases off at all.

Now the only thing left that I’ve been telling myself to do, but still haven’t, is upgrade my version of Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, and Flash to CS4…

At $199.99 each, well, I’m going to put my wallet back in my pocket…

For now.

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21-inch Dell Trinitron MonitorI’ve mentioned a few times that one of the monitors that I’ve been using to type up these posts was one that I bought way back in 1997.

It was a 21″ Dell Triniton which, at the time, was the top of the line. You couldn’t get a monitor bigger than that back then. I paid around $2500 for it.

It was almost a status symbol to have the giant thing overpowering my desk. Of course, at the time, I was living in my parents and I had it set up where I’d had a 13-inch television hooked up to a Nintendo years before.

Yep, it was a status symbol that I could hardly flaunt. Yep, it was a DUMB purchase.

Anyway, I remember when it arrived — the damn thing weighed around 80 pounds, way heavier than a comparable sized television.

It was one of those awkward sizes too where it was tough just to get out of the box. Too deep to get your arms all the way around or navigate through a doorway, you know?

And then when I hooked it up and turned it on, my excitement quickly turned to disappointment. What the hell were those two slightly darker horizontal lines running across my desktop?

I spent over 10% of my salary for this thing — it should be perfect!

An A/V minded friend pointed out that those lines were how you could tell that it was a Trinitron.

Gotta love it — somehow the folks at Sony convinced the buying public that a terrible flaw was really a feature. Pure genius on their part.

Any how, last night, after 12 years of loyal service, I disconnected it and took it off of my desk and replaced it with a $189 Samsung.

I’ve been using a two-monitor set-up for years now — one 17″ LCD and the big 21″ CRT — and, lately, I’ve found that I’d much prefer to have two identical monitors rather than a mismatched pair.

It’s funny, barely cold and still carrying a mighty static charge, that old monitor already looks like a junky old relic as it sits on the floor.

And to think, just yesterday, it was my beloved workhorse.

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Well, we’re back from our weekend away and I’m going to exercise the ability to plead the Fifth when it comes to how much I ended up spending and on what.

It’s embarrassing.

Don’t worry, though, I’ll spill the beans when it comes time to list out my expenses for the month — I’m just hoping the recent surge in the market keeps up and bails me out of the “negative” month I’m currently lining myself up for…

Anyway, Duncan refused to do a traditional blog post today (at 8 weeks, he feels that he’s too old for that sort of thing) so, instead, here’s a video post:

Does anyone know what he’s talking about?

I have a hunch that it has something to do with his dad spending so much money on silly things…

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The minute we found out that we’d be having a baby in May, we realized that our monster road trip last year would likely be the last of its kind until around 2015.

But just because we have a baby now doesn’t mean that we can’t go on vacation — it just means that we need to scale it back a bit.

Okay… A lot.

So instead of 10 hours in the car on day one, followed by an epic baseball game, we’re only going 4 hours from home.

And just for two nights. Starting tomorrow.

We’re headed for central New Jersey. Exotic, huh?

You’d think that by chosing a destination as unpoplar as central New Jersey, you know, accomodations would be cheap. They are, no question.

Now I know what you financially-minded folks might be thinking… “Hey, at least Brainy’s vacation won’t cost him so much this year…”

But there’s a catch, see…

We’re going to a game worn hockey jersey expo.

I know, I know, it sounds preposterous.

But for me, it’s like being able to go the hall of fame and actually touch the stuff behind the glass.

It’s really just like any other expo or conference though, you know, with a bunch of people with similar interests getting together. They’re not as dorky as a sci-fi or comic book convention and they’re not so glitzy that their held in Caribbean either…
The Habs jersey on the left is a game worn Maurice Richard jersey...  For the basebal fans out there, that's the equivalent of a game worn Mickey Mantle jersey.

This is my only hobby (photography is work, not a hobby) and this is the Super Bowl for the game worn hockey jersey collecting community.

But seriously, I wouldn’t be surprised if I still drop $2500 (around the amount we spent last year on vacation) this weekend.

I’m going to try my best not to — even made a list of things I’m looking for so as to avoid any spontaneous purchases — but I’m not making any promises.

Truth be told, I’ve got 30 twenty dollar bills in my wallet ready for anyone that won’t take a check…

Based on that, I’m already embarrassed by what this month’s spending report is going to look like…

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Just a little update on that tree project that got started up on Monday…

The logging truck showed up this afternoon and took away the big stuff.
I think these are called logging trucks but I'm not an expert

Sorry — no time-lapse video today.

(If you haven’t seen the video yet, it’s pretty cool and it’s less than 1 minute long… In a nut shell, it’s worth watching.)

Really, this guy was in and out in less than 15 minutes. It’s amazing what one person can do with the right equipment.

Hopefully they’ll finish things up tomorrow.

I can’t wait until the stumps are gone too…

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DuncanNo, we’re not disputing the amount.

Prior to that incredibly inconsiderate and premature collections call from the hospital, our insurance company hinted at what the damage to our wallets would be.

The insurance company’s explanation of benefits from a couple of weeks ago indicated that we’d be on the hook for around $1890.68.

That’s fine and exactly the amount that today’s bill indicated.

The thing is, I was really interested in seeing a detailed statement with all of the services we received, like, broken down and itemized.

You know, seeing that the fee for having that old lady escort us out was an astounding $75. Or that that horrible bowl of pudding cost us $16.99. That sort of thing.

Something to get me fired up about the ludicrous cost of health care…

Well, this is what we recieved:

Not much to look at, huh?

No joke. It was this and a return envelope. That’s it.

I dunno. Was it wrong to expect more?

I want to know what all that money went towards!

Can you imagine if something like your long distance phone bill came like this? Without an explanation of how they reached the amount due?

I know that it says that we can call to ask questions but I doubt a third party call center in Colorado (that isn’t the hospital’s number) will be able to break down a bill for a service provided at a hospital in Connecticut.

And I wonder what the reaction would be at the information desk just inside the hospital’s main entrance would be if I asked them to explain the bill to me…

In the end, we’ll just write a check and mail it off but I’ll always wonder how much that epidural cost, how much the anesthesiologist’s services cost, how much that little hat that they put on him cost, and, yes, even how much that terrible bowl of pudding set us back…

Can You Dig It?

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