Monday, June 30, 2008

Time to lay some pipe, baby!

OK, more like sweat some pipe. I stumbled across a leak on our basement floor, that was coming from the hot water line that runs to our kitchen. Once again, the half assed work of the merry handy men that flipped our house, throws me a new project. I don't think either of those joints are supposed to be the same color as the Statue of Liberty, so time to cut 'em out and replace, before a tiny drip, floods my basement and burns out my 20 year old hot water heater... Sweating pipe isn't a huge deal. Just make sure surfaces are clean and smooth, dry fit the whole thing first, and then it's off to the races. Oh, and don't burn down your house at the same time. My best friend owns a plumbing supply shop in Mission (free plug: The Plumber's Friend) and he recommends some gizmo called the Shark Bite. I am usually the first to jump on the band wagon when it comes to new gizmos, but they can't be nearly as fun as standing on a step ladder, with a propane torch wondering why in the Hell the solder isn't taking. If the sweating is a bust, I'll break down and try the Shark Bite. Anyway, above is the before pic, and the after pic should be up in a day or two.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Subsidized Consumption or: Who exactly is Chrysler refueling?

I've had a rant about this building up inside of me for a while...

Since I first saw an ad for the Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep "Refuel America" program, I thought it was a strange idea. Then it clicked! Someone in the Chrysler family did the math and figured it would be cheaper to just cover part of consumers fuel cost, than it would be to come up with a more fuel efficient car that people would want to buy. Not one of the eligible vehicles gets better than 24 MPG (according to the program calculations). Plus, these numbers have to be somewhat suspect, because the only way a Jeep Commander gets 15 MPG, is if you drive it on the moon. According to my quick math, the Chrysler family of vehicles averages just over 18.5 mpg. In fairness, I don't have a way to compare to other manufacturers... but I'm pretty sure that most of the other big boys have at least one, non-hybrid that can sniff 30+ mpg.

Of course, there's a catch... By participating in the Refuel The Middle East program, you lose out on some rather hefty incentives. Like up to 7,900 smackers on a Dodge Ram pick up truck. So, assuming you are saving $500 a year on the fuel program for 3 years, you are actually leaving $6,400 on the table. Congratulations to Chrysler for coming up with a sham promotion that actually ends up screwing it customers.

I think it's odd that in a time of heightened sensitivity to the increased cost of living, as a result of a spike in fuel prices... that an American car manufacturer would go against the grain and encourage their customers to go ahead and buy a new car or truck. Even worse; buy a new car or truck that gets lousy mileage and will lose it's resale value faster than you can say "Kelley Blue Book".

Full disclosure - My Nissan Pathfinder gets rotten mileage, but the wife's Toyota sips gas. Not exactly an even trade off, but better than the alternative of having a Durango and a Chrysler 300...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Ahhhh... Flavor Country

Looks like Prairie Village has finally given in, and come up with a smoking ban that kicks in August 1st. I'm ok with this. It's nice to come home from a night out with friends, and not stink like a North Carolina outhouse.

Not Evil Enough?

I first stumbled across My Morning Jacket one night while watching a documentary on the 2004 Bonnaroo Music Festival. Included were two songs from the album It Still Moves. Golden and Steam Engine. I was intrigued enough to pick up the album and spent last summer getting in to it. About a month ago, I am came across their concert video, Okonokos. Fantastic DVD. I only wish I had a better sound system to pump it through!! So the new album, Evil Urges, came out about a week or so ago and I finally picked it up. I have to admit, based on the 2 singles Evil Urges and I'm Amazed, I was ready for a great album.

Instead, it's looking like a good album, w/ a few great tracks and some clunkers. It's safe to say that MMJ is exploring new territory on Evil Urges, and maybe trying to shed the alt-country/70's rock/jam band label... but it's just not working for me. The venture into Buddy Holly-esque pop and 70's soul just isn't clicking. Don't get me wrong, these guys are incredibly talented (the first 2-3 songs on Okonokos will set you straight), and I am looking forward to seeing them in KC this summer. But I get the feeling it's going to take me a while to warm up to Evil Urges.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Road trip!

Spent a quick weekend in Dallas for a wedding. We didn't get a chance to see much of the town, but the folks we came across all seemed quite nice. Anyway, here are a few observations made along the way...
  1. We decided to drive, so the 9 hours down and 9 hours back kind of cut in to our free time. I was surprised to see the difference in gas prices between Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas. Anywhere from $3.60 per gallon to $3.98. Maybe our 2006 Pathfinder wasn't the best car for a round trip of almost 1,100 miles... but still ended up being cheaper than flying (by about $9...).
  2. The Pathfinder holds up quite nicely with the cruise control set at 85 MPH.
  3. You think Kansas City is a fine example of urban sprawl? Check out Dallas. Even the side streets are 3 lanes wide. From the folks we talked to, a 1 hour drive to and from work is the norm. Makes the drive from the surrounding suburbs in KC seem like a leisurely stroll.
  4. Seemed like about every 8 blocks, there was a stretch of strip malls and shopping districts. Think of Leawood Town Center, and then repeat every 2 miles.
  5. Seeing what some of the folks in Dallas have to navigate just to get to the grocery store, makes me appreciate the Village even more. Sure, we are landlocked and don't have room to expand... but I can also get to the grocery store, gas station and liquor store in 4 minutes, 6 if there is traffic.
  6. Only recall seeing one person in a cowboy hat... and that was in Oklahoma.
  7. Garmin GPS systems are pretty cool. Ours got us to and from as well as around Dallas w/o issue. Also on the way home, it lead us directly to a small, rural Missouri town where my dad's parents used to live. It even found the street named after my grandfather. Of course, it was a dead end that lead to a nursing home...