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Hockey Loss

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The big C took another good one today. My hockey buddy and my friend Mike K passed away this morning after a long battle with pancreatic cancer and he will be sorely missed.

I started playing with Sunrise Hockey about 20 years ago, picking up the goalie pads after a long hiatus. It was, and still is, a great group of skaters who play twice a week, Tuesday and Friday mornings from 6:30am to 7:30am. They didn't seem to mind a goalie who was both rather a beginner and rather rusty. And Mike was the guy in charge, even well before I got there. You know, the guy that holds it all together - collects money, pays the rink, keeps the maintenance guys happy and runs a tight ship on the ice. The sort of guy that, without whom, these sorts of pick up leagues fade away after just a few years.

But Sunrise Hockey has been going strong for well over 30 years and Mike was a big reason why. His presence on the ice was impressive too. A big guy, not too smooth a skater but when you got hit, you stayed hit. Of course, we play a nominally non-checking game, but, as I like to say, it is non-checking, not non-contact. And Mike was solidly built and not afraid of contact. His shot always tended to fool me too. Not a hard one, but he was always looking down at his stick so I couldn't follow his eyes. And it was hard enough and on target enough, to always make it a tough save.

He also took full responsibility for keeping the ship running smoothly on the ice too. When one player began to take things a little too seriously, he formed a committee and brought it to that player's attention. That that player chose to leave instead of reforming was his loss, not ours. And everyone I ever invited to play with us always wanted to come back for more. It's a good, hard skating, fair group of guys, formed in Mike's image.

When he stepped down to fight his cancer 18 months ago, you know how well he had done his job, as it has continued to run smoothly since. We were all confident he would be back on the ice, and his visits over the past year gave some light to that hope. But we got word the other day that he had a relapse and so his final passing this morning wasn't a complete shock.

But our locker room will be a slightly darker place without him, his spirit and his humor. And while Sunrise Hockey lost a great player, the world lost a great guy and I lost a friend and a mentor. I know he is somewhere right now, throwing thunderous body checks and riding herd on a fractious group of hockey players, right where he should be.
big mike.jpg

Bruins Victory Parade Video

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Using kdenlive, I put together a video of the pictures and video I took while Adrienne and I were at the Bruins Stanley Cup Duck Boat parade last Saturday. Man, we had fun! Us and (literally) a million of our best friends screamed and hollered for hours. You'll have to forgive the poor video quality. I didn't set the video quality high enough when generating it to begin with, so it didn't come out nearly as well as it could have. Anyway, on with the show.



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Back from Disney World
Man, real life sure is hard work
Wish we could go back

We had a glorious time at Disney World! While it was an incredibly busy vacation (up at 6, to the parks before 8, up until 11, rinse repeat), it was fun and the weather was perfect, at least for these snow-weary New Englanders - upper 80s and 100% sun. I hope to have more travelogues coming up!
Hollywood Studios 2011.JPG

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Basketball Jones

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What a weekend. Both my girls play basketball - a lot of basketball. I'm actually not really much of a basketball fan myslef, as there's too much scoring for me, at least at the higher levels. But I surely enjoyed my girls being successful at basketball and actually help coach a couple of their teams. They both played on a 5th and 6th grade city basketball team as well as play together on the 5th & 6th grade CYO travel team. And they are also on their own teams in the "in house" league, which plays on Sunday afternoons. R11.8 plays on the 6th thru 8th grade team, for which I'm an assistant coach, and A10.6 plays on the 3rd thru 5th grade team, where I am the head coach.

They are both pretty tall for their ages. Not really extra tall, but tall enough for it to be a real benefit on the basketball court. It's been a long season but they have worked very hard for all 3 of the teams they are on and, while it makes for a very busy weekend, I have mostly enjoyed it. The refereeing has been all over the scorecard, from F to A+, and I try, generally unsuccessfully, to remain quiet about it. Generally, they do the best they can and that's that.

R11.8 is a star. Even on her 6th to 8th grade in-house team, she's a major player (and isn't afraid to tell you!). She's a real coach's dream - hard worker, respectful, supportive, and pays attention. She has really come into her own this year and enjoys the pressure. On both the city (where she got the MVP award) and the travel CYO team, she is the go to player and takes the responsibility with both joy and eagerness. She seems unfazed by pressure and wants the ball, which is fun to watch. Every game she is asked to do something different and leaps to the challenge. The CYO travel team played in the state semi-finals this past Saturday, against a team they had lost to twice already, the last time a pretty bad loss.

Driving to the game, I just emphasized that I wanted them both to just play hard and not get pushed around like they had the previous game. They might lose, they might win, but if they gave their all, they could walk out of the gym with their heads held high.  While not a natural, board-banging forward (more of a big fast guard), she was pushed to be exactly that, as the opponents had crushed them on the boards the last game. And she went out and rebounded like a demon, fought like a tiger while sinking some huge baskets. She was in at crunch time, getting the ball, wanting the ball and even doing the wrong thing sometimes, getting yelled at by the coach. But she didn't hang her head, just did the right thing the next time, held onto the ball and they walked off the court with a 4 point victory. I couldn't have been prouder for her, or even her sister, who only played a few minutes but did an excellent job even then. I find it strangely satisfying that the coach picks them as the girls to throw the ball inbounds.

A10.6 isn't quite at the same level. She has some skills though, as demonstrated during the in-house All Star festivities the other night. The All Star game opened with an obstacle course, where the girls dribbled around a pretty tricky course and finished with a layup, low time winning. A10.6 was low time on Team Red, while K was low time (and slightly faster) on Team Blue, so they squared off in the finals and A walked off with the prize (a basketball!). So while she's not quite The Natural that R11.8 is, she works hard and is a very cerebral player.

Today we had the semi-finals of the in-house league. R11.8's team opened with a tough loss against a very similar team. R11.8 played well, even sinking a 3 pointer, but the game just never flowed for her team and they went down to a tough, but fair, 6 point loss.

A10.6's team, the one that I'm the head coach for, went into the playoffs as the favorites. We really came together as a team and ran off number of blow out wins going into the playoffs. But again, the game just never flowed for our team for some reason. But the one thing that really impressed me was just how hard A10.6 worked at it. I could see her grow as a team player this afternoon, despite our disheartening loss. She wanted the ball and she even tried to do too much, which I had never noticed before. I was very proud of her, both as a coach and, more importantly, as a dad. She took responsibility for the team, worked hard at winning the game and sank some really important baskets. While not the most points she has ever scored, and it was a very bitter loss against a team we should beat, it was the best game she has played and the one that I was most proud to see her play.

Sports are tough. I play hockey and have always felt playing goalie in my late 20s was an important step in my maturing as a person. Even in a pick up game, there is no place for a goalie to hide. While I have always felts like a stand up guy, it really toughened me as an adult. But that's nothing like watching your kids play sports. Even though I coach them in both soccer and basketball, I still feel like I have little affect on their game and yet I feel the agony and ecstasy as if I'm out there myself. I am blessed to have two kids who seem to really enjoy their sports and are pretty good at it. I was always a grinder in school - a started but never a star. I think these girls have the potential for far more and it will be an interesting ride to see it play out.

Beginning with the state finals next weekend on center court. Yikes!


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Snow Snow Snow

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Here's a view of Lake Shore Drive in Chicago the other day:


I am totally confused. What exactly would make you abandon your car in the middle of a busy road? I can see if you were in traffic that wasn't going anywhere, but someone had to be the first to put it in park and just walk away. Bizarre!

Here in Medford, we have a remarkable amount of snow on the ground. I don't think we've actually set any records, but I'm pretty sure it has been a long time since I have seen this much snow actually on the ground. Certainly not since we moved here over 10 years ago, and I probably since at least '95/'96, but maybe even going back to '78.

We live in a cul de sac, so the plowed snow mounds are getting immense. The neighbor threatens to get a flag, hire some Sherpas, and climb to the top of what we affectionately call "Mt. Rita" to claim it:

snow4.JPGAnd the picnic table out back is merely a bump in the yard at this point:

backyard.jpgUnfortunately, it looks like this next storm is going to be one of those ugly rain/snow mixes, like the one the other day that came through from Chicago. I'd much rather have snow than the "mix". We had some graupel come down the other day, which is some strange stuff. It's like it is raining sidewalk salt!

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Things On Tuesday, Jan. 25

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This is supposed to be a Things On Tuesday, a long time Vox tradition, but hey, better late than never (which is what I added to our Christmas cards as we send them out now). Anyway:

Things I Loathe

  • Tension in the morning. Some days, things just go smoothly as we all try to get ready for the day, but most times, they don't. All it takes is one lollygagger and everyone is behind the 8 ball and tension rises. Ugh.
  • Snow packed, entombed roads with high snow banks. Can't see, can't maneuver, can't get around. Traffic has been a beast for several weeks now. And I don't even commute!
  • Forgetting to mail in rebate forms. Easy money, and yet I'm always dropping the ball on them. Sigh.
  • Cars running stop signs. I was nearly sideswiped for the second time in 2 months. Just rolling along a Cambridge side street when a car came flying out from my right, never even slowing down for the stop sign. I jammed on my brakes and came to a stop literally inches from his front bumper, as he slammed to a stop too. Crazy, I tell you.

Things I Love

  • My new Subaru. Picked a pretty good winter to get a classic New England winter car, as this AWD Subaru really handles well in the snow. I've had it about a month now, and still haven't found any of those minor annoyances you usually uncover.
  • My girls doing great in school. R11.6 was named "Student Of The Month" for January, and she earned it. She works hard, is smart and gets along great. And A10.4's teacher called last night to rave about her "Sharing Project", a book report they read in front of the class as well as an art project they do. She did a "quadrama" with 4 scenes from the book and the teacher just had to call and say how spectacular it all was.
  • Paying off credit cards. Always a good thing, right?
  • Watching the dog cavort in the snow. There's really no other word that accurately describes how much fun he has in the snow. Cavort is the word.

Favorite Sound

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Answering The Daily Post of the day, What is your favorite sound?

That one is easy - my favorite sound is my girls' laugh. When either of them get a good, honest, belly laugh, it gives me a warm 'n' tingly feeling, and tells me that all is right with the world. Whether it's me that generates the laugh, or if they are playing together and one of them gets on a roll, it is a sound I will never girls.jpgforget and always yearn for. Sometimes we as parents get so wrapped up on making sure they "do the right thing" or get their homework done, or get dressed, or practice their piano, we forget to have fun with them. I'm going to make it my quest this week to be sure and have some fun with the kids.

One thing I'd really love to do is to go skiing. Nothing we do together gives me more pleasure than hitting the slopes with them. They surprise me with just how good they are, and how they can attack the mountain. They are both pretty good athletes in general, but not really the aggressive or risk taking sorts. That all changes on skis for some reason, and we have a great time. But despite the wonderfully snowy weather this winter, we haven't been able to get out yet. But we will!


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New Car High

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SubaruForester2.jpgYay, the new Subaru Forester is here! Today is the first day I've seen it during the daylight hours and I have to admit, it looks grand. Even my wife, who didn't want to get the "Camellia Red Pearl", said it is a very nice color. On the Subaru website, the red looked much brighter, although looking at it on my monitor, it doesn't look that different.

Still getting the seat adjusted. While having a bunch of adjustments is nice, it can be tough to get it set up just so. Luckily, I'm the one that will be driving it 90% of the time (maybe even more), although I guess that was for the Mazda, and my wife hasn't tried the Forester yet. A couple early impressions:

  • Getting the key in and out of the ignition is more of a pain than I would like. It's tucked underneath a bit and can be tough to see. Yet another reason to have wanted the keyless ignition.
  • The Bluetooth phone is just too cool. Not having to fumbled around with the phone to talk on it is really nice. I still have to set up the voice dialing, but even still, it works great.
  • But the Bluetooth insists on starting up the media on my G1 when I use it, which is a pain.
  • I create a music MP3 USB thumbdrive and that's pretty great. Just plug it into the USB jack and it plays! Slight disappointment that it doesn't read the MP3 tags, unlike the MP3 player in the Honda Accord rental.
  • The moonroof is huge! It goes almost all the way over the backseat. It doesn't have the tilt option, like the Mazda one did, though.
  • Still find it a little strange I needed to add the fog lamps extra, but they work fine.

One more step and I'll be done with this whole "totaled" car thing - return the rental. Oh, I guess actually the final step will be to submit the rental bill to the other driver's insurance company. But most of the hard work is done and I'm looking forward to some snow this weekend!

SubaruForester1.jpg

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Monday Morning Haiku - Car Buying

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For Ross' Monday Morning Haiku:

Test drove Subaru
Fine car, fun car, zippy car
Signing dotted line!

Nearly Car Done

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Well, you're probably as tired of hearing about it as I have been of doing it, but it looks like the long national nightmare is just about over - I've finally put down money on a new car. I would have bought the Sorento I mentioned earlier, but by the time I could get down there on Friday, it had been sold and there really weren't any Sorento EX, 2 wheel drive models out there any more. So it was practically back to square one, which was very depressing.

R11.5 and I went over to the Hyundai dealer and test drove an Elantra Touring, and liked it just fine. It has a remarkably long list of standard equipment, including leather heated front seats, XM radio, and a moonroof. We once again forgot to bring the hockey bag, but the back seemed to have more than enough room for the bag and the back seats were plenty spacious enough. But, as I had worried, the 4 speed automatic just worked too hard to be that fun to drive, and it didn't have the shifting capability I have come to enjoy in my Mazda. R11.5 did really like the blue it came in though.

So on Saturday I thought we would head up to the Mazda dealership. I wasn't sure it would be big enough (it seemed to be smaller than my old Mazda3 when I looked at it at the auto show), but given my disappointment driving most of the other cars so far, with their buzzy, hard working 4s, I wanted to drive something fun again. R11.5 even knew what I was talking about when I complained about the Hyundai - she's become quite the new car expert! But I decided we would swing by the Subaru dealer, which was on the way, and check out the Forester.

Subaru hadn't been on my radar because it seemed like they were just outside my price range of the lower 20s. And with MSRP of over $26,000, the roomy, well-equipped Forester seemed like an unlikely match. But we took one out for a test drive and man, what a blast it was! I was surprised to hear it had 170hp, and combined with the Subaru standard all wheel drive, it really picked up speed and handled well. R11.5 got a kick out of it when I interrupted the salesguy's pitch as we merged onto the highway to say that I really loved how it could accelerate to highway speeds without the buzzing and hard work of other 4 cylinders we had been testing.

myforester.jpgI liked it so much that when we came back I agreed to begin the haggling. It really was, by far, the best driving car we had tested and the idea of going up and down our big hill in the winter with ease had an real attraction. But their first offer was way too high and when I explained my ceiling, they were aghast. But much back and forth and we finally got to a price just a tad up from my budget - something that always seems to happen when you are car shopping. I could have settled for the 2.5X model, but the equipment list for the 2.5 Premium level (which oddly enough is a lower level than the Limited trim level!) was just too appealing. They also threw in the first service, which is worth a couple hundred bucks as well. We made them work, as I insisted on my ceiling, exchanged texts with my wife and negotiated hard. They ended up coming down over $1,500 from their first offering, so I felt like we did a good job and got a fair deal.

So now comes the worst part - the waiting. I still need to get the check from the insurance company, transfer plates, apply for a loan, etc. But the end is in sight and hopefully by this weekend I'll be driving my new car!

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Auto Shuffle

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Mitsubishi Outlander SportStill searching for a new car. Got some final numbers from the insurance company and they look pretty good. Almost $12,000 for my 4.5 year old Mazda3 - that's pretty nice for a car I only paid about $19,000 for, I think. Now I just await the check. Man I just want to move on from this!

Went and test drove the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport again yesterday. It seems to slot in between the Kia Sorento and the Sportage. Better ride than the Sportage, but certainly not up to Sorento standards. But it gets about 5mpg more, and costs a few thousand less, although it is smaller (but probably big enough for my hockey bag, which I keep forgetting to bring it with me), with a rougher ride and a 4 cylinder that works hard to get up to speed on the highway. That's the thing with cars - there are always tradeoffs, usually between apples and oranges. Maybe I should never have drove the Sorento, as it really spoiled me.

Kia SorentoSpeaking of the Sorento, I had a great experience "shopping" for it. First off, the web site Edmunds.com is really great, although it seems to have changed quite a bit while I was using it just yesterday. I much preferred the earlier layout, but the information is still solid. They write a very good review, have some nice guides and have a great feature where you pick the car you want and select a bunch of local dealerships. This sends out an email to the "Internet Manager" at each of these dealers, explaining what you want.

So I did it for the Sorento, although it isn't 100% final. I still need to get the okay from everyone else, but right now, that sure seems the way to go. It's a little bit bigger than I probably need, but the space sure is appreciated. And it's a little bit more money than I had planned, being in the low to mid 20s, instead of up to 20. And it doesn't get quite as good gas mileage as I want - low 20s, instead of mid 20s. But the size is well nigh Goldilocks perfect - not too big, not too small. The 4 cylinder didn't seem to work that hard getting up to highway speeds, which has bugged me with all the other test drives I've done.

So 5 emails were sent out. 1 never got back to me (unfortunately, the local dealership). 1 got back to me with a canned response and I haven't heard back from yet. 1 got back to me with a listing of lower end models but my email reply bounced. 2 called me back. I wasn't real happy with one of them, as they just wanted me to come into the showroom and pushed a 2010 Sorento, which is, for all practical purposes, a completely different car (more like an old fashioned truck-body SUV).

But one dealership really shined. The salesguy from Quirk Kia in Braintree who called asked a couple very specific questions, quickly narrowing down what kind of car I was looking for, as opposed to what kind of car they wanted to sell me. A few quick taps on the calculator and he gave me a price on a pretty loaded Sorento that just blew me away. If it was the local dealership, I probably would have drove over then and bought it! Unfortunately, it's the dealership on the other side of Boston, which requires much more planning to get down to. But wow, that's just the way it should happen.

HyundayElantraTouring.jpgBut I'm trying to be strong and practical, so I really need to get over for a Hyundai Elantra Touring test drive. That car should be plenty big enough, albeit with only a 4 speed automatic, I'm a little wary, as the cars that I have least liked have had that (the Kia Soul, for instance). My Mazda3 spoiled me - it has a sweet engine that easily gets to highway speeds, even if it is a little noisy once there. I should also probably go check out the new Mazda3, which looks pretty nice. But I think the Sorento has really spoiled me as far as size goes and the Mazda3 is cramped for backseat room, something I think even the Elantra Touring has over it.

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Test Driving My Life Away

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Saturday was "Test Drive A Kia" day. R11.5 and I went over to the local Kia dealership, which is only a few miles away, and took a look at their pretty impressive lineup of cars. As I mentioned earlier, they have two, maybe three cars, that are interesting to me (who wants a hatcback with some room, mid-20s gas mileage and low 20s price) - the Soul, Sportage and possibly the Sorento.

KiaSoul2.jpgFirst up was a black (oh, excuse me, "Shadow") Kia Soul ! (yes, that trim level is called the Exclaim, as opposed to the + (Plus) and the Sport). R11.5 was very concerned we test drove the right color (she wanted the Titanium), but I explained to her that it wasn't too important, although our salesguy, Adam, tried his best to accommodate her in later drives. Adam came along with us and we settled in for a short jaunt. Saturday mornings are good for test drives, as the traffic is light and the road choices plentiful.

Visibility was excellent and the driving position okay, a little low maybe. I took it up the street and on to the highway. The 4 speed automatic had a hard time getting the little 4 cylinder up to speed and was pretty noisy doing it. Handling was fine, but overall, not really all that impressive. I liked my Mazda3 better. And later, when we brought back my hockey bag, we found it wouldn't store without folding down the backseat - not a deal breaker but inconvenient nonetheless.

KiaSorento2.jpgNext, Adam brought us the Kia Sorento. The 2011 Sorento is a complete redesign, as the previous model used a more truck-like body-on-frame and the new one a more car-like unibody construction. This one came in "Pacific Blue/Gray" - to be honest, I didn't even see the blueness of it, although R11.5 picked up on it immediately. This time, he let us just take it out ourselves, which was real nice. We took it back up the highway, on a few twisty roads and tried out the "Downhill Brake Control", an interesting feature which, when engaged, keeps the car at a steady state 5mph. I can't imagine it having too many applications, but our house is at the top of a pretty steep hill, with a stop sign at the bottom on a very busy street, so it would actually come in handy for us. And it works pretty cool - turn it on and the traction, engine and ABS all work together to keep it going slow and steady.

The Sorento also has a couple of other neat little features. The back seats, which have plenty of room, recline slightly. And when folded flat, their headrests tuck underneath and out of the way. There's tons of standard features like Bluetooth, Sirius radio, CD/MP3 player, iPod control, etc. I really liked it. It had plenty of power, even in the 4 cylinder (I bet the V6 would be really sweet), handled nicely and rode smoothly. The hockey bag, even fully loaded with goalie gear, would fit just fine with the seats up. We both hated to give it up.

KiaSportage2.jpgThen Adam brought around a "Bright Silver" Kia Sportage, which is Kia's new entry in the hot "compact crossover" class. With an MSRP slightly lower than the Sorento, it is slightly smaller and more sporty. This one came pretty tricked out, with heated mirrors and the like. Adam said he found one with plenty of gas in it, so have fun - that was pretty cool! So off we went.

I noticed two things immediately - the ride was nowhere near as smooth as the Sorento and the side mirrors were awful. Looking at some pictures, I don't see the same nearly triangular mirrors on the car we drive - maybe it's because they were heated - but they really didn't show enough and had some weird optical effects. But R11.5 and I both noticed the ride was much more bouncy. I hate to think I'm turning into an old man who likes to have a cushiony ride, but after the butter smooth ride of the Sorento, the stiff ride of the Sportage was a little jarring. It perhaps is just more tightly strung, as it dealt with the curves a small bit better.

But it just felt a little more cramped and just not quite as pleasant as the Sorento. All in all, the Sorento is our favorite car so far. I had hoped to test drive the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport right after that, so we would get a true head-to-head feel, but I was all "new car"ed out, so we gave up. The Sorento, while its MSRP is higher than the Sportage, has some "incentives" that actually bring its price down below the Sportage, and has better EPA mileage even (although Consumer Reports got some pretty disappointing "real world" MPG out of it, around 20, instead of the 21/29 EPA).

Of course, the Consumer Reports web site is invaluable when researching new cars on the web, but the AAA web site has a really cool feature called "TrueCar Price Report", which tells you exactly what prices others have paid in your area. So it looks like for a Sorento EX (the higher end) 2WD, I should pay around $23,000. Not bad, really, considering all the car it is.

Although pretty happy with the Sorento, I feel I really should also check out the Hyundai Elantra Touring. It really impressed at the auto show with its value and size. And we need to try the Outlander Sport again.

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Car Crazies

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So last Saturday, I headed over to a friend's house to play the new Sid Meier's Civilization: The Board Game (the Fantasy Flight 2010 edition, not any of the earlier Sid Meier games, or even the classic Avalon Hill Civilization). Seemed like a good way to spend an afternoon, after getting plenty of food and family for our American Thanksgiving. A clear, cool, sunny day, heading down a neighberhood street on my way across town when I caught a brief sight of a big ol' Mercedes Benz SUV coming flying thru a stop sign on my right. I had barely enough time to say "Holy Shit!" when BAM!, the car slammed into my passenger side rear door / tire, spun me around 180 degrees, and we both slid to a halt.

To cut a long boring story short, I'm fine but the poor Mazda3 is totaled. Surprisingly, I failed to get a picture of it! It doesn't look all that bad, but given the age of the car (2006) and the cost of auto repairs these days, I wasn't suprised when the insurance company told me to clean it out. Of course, I had just finished paying it off about 6 months ago and it only had about 30,000 miles on it. So it's back into the shark filled waters of new car shopping...

So I have started to research new cars. I like a hatchback, as the biggest limit I have is my hockey bag filled with goalie equipment. So a big hatchback or one of the new compact SUVs is the way to go. I'm trying to keep to around US$20,000 but it is so easy for "feature-creep" to occur, jacking the price up.

Lucky for me, the New England Auto Show opened on Wednesday. Actually, I blame my friend for the accident, as he asked a few weeks ago if I wanted to go and I said sure, which almost certainly jinxed me and my car!-) So we walked around for about 3 hours - man, there are a lot of cars! I came away with three surprises:

  1. Kia sure has a lot of cars! I asked the saleswoman at the show to differentiate between the Sorento and the Sportage, but I'm not sure I got a satisfactory answer, besides the fact the Sorento is made in Georgia and the Sportage in Korea. I'm leaning towards the Sportage, as it is smaller, although I think the Sorento, is some guises gets better gas mileage and is cheaper. I also liked the Soul, although it may be too small.
  2. The Hundai Elantra Touring sure is one tricked out hatchback, with heated leather seats, moonroof and everything for less than US$20,000. And it looks plenty big enough. And it is in the "electric" blue that R11.5 has become so fond of.
  3. I scratched th e Nissan Rogue and Juke off my list. They both felt cramped, dark and as a Twitter-bud called it, cumbersome. And they didn't even have a Versa hatchback at the show.

KiaSoul.jpg KiaSorrento.jpg KiaSportage.jpg Mazda3.jpg HyundaiElantraTouring.jpg

R11.5, who has become my new car shopper bud, and I have test drove a couple of cars so far. We went to the Honda dealership (we own and love our Odyssey) and looked at

the Fit and the Insight. The Fit is also a remarkable value for the money, but I'm not sure it really "fits" (ha!) what I'm looking for. R11.5 talked me into test driving the Insight, which was fun, but again probably too small.

The other day we test drove the new for 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, which is a very sharp looking compact "crossover". That's where R11.5 became enamoured with the electric (or Laguna, as Mitsubishi calls it) blue, although both the Odyssey and the Mazda are blue, so I was kinda hoping for a new color. We test drove the AWD version, although for as little as I actaully drive, all-wheel drive is probably just a $2,000 affectation. I loved it, including the little shifter paddles (my Mazda had the manually shifting automatic too).

So we are off to the local Kia dealer to try out some cars. Wish us luck!

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I'm Baaack

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My server is finally back online - yay! It was having some serious hard drive and/or memory errors, so I'm using a nice "new" hand me down server. I moved from FreeBSD 6 to Arch Linux and think I have everything (or everything I need, anyway), back up and running. Hope to get some more posts up soon.

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Back In The Saddle Again?

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Well, I'm back to Jiggle The Handle after a couple years absence. Actually, it looks like it has been about 3 1/2 years since my last Jiggle post, as I went over to the ill-fated Vox. Mind you, it was fun while it lasted. I really enjoyed the community that built up and, even though I had sort of stepped away from even that, it was a shock to hear of Six Apart pulling the plug. I hemmed and hawed about what to do next. There were a few tools for saving my Trifle One Sided blog and importing it into a few places. I did do the Wordpress thing, as well as the Typepad thing. I did the Multiply.com thing and even the Blogger thing (on TrifleOneSided.com even). But it wasn't the same.

And my MovableType installed on my server had grown stale and out of date. I was running MovableType v3.02 (I think) and MovableType v5.0 had just been released. And my FreeBSD ports system had completely mucked with the installed version, so the MovableType control panel didn't even work. On top of that, I really wasn't feeling very predisposed towards working with MovableType at all.

But I bit the bullet and did the tortuous upgrades, one version at a time, until I made it all the way to v5.031. And, especially with the addition of web sites, I hate to admit it, but I really like it. Darn it all.

So I've just imported all my old Trifle One Sided posts into my Jiggle blog and let's see what happens. I'm going to try and use this one the way I used to use it - Jiggle will be my general blog platform, Daemon Dancing is my Linux / Techie / Nerdly blog and Incredible Brightness of Seeing will be my movie blog again. Heck, I've been tempted to restart my From Here To Oblivion blog again, which chronicles my Elder Scrolls 4: Obilivion gameplay. You can follow them all from the main sites - http://anaze.us for the non-tech blogs and http://linux.amazingdev.com/ for the techie talk.

Woo hoo!

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