The Big Think

May 29, 2009

Hour of the Wolf

Filed under: Disclosure — jasony @ 3:28 am

I think the “official” lycanthropic chime was 60 minutes ago at 3am, but whatever. That’s what happens when you’re caught in the maw of insomnia. What’s better, staring at the bedroom ceiling for two hours until you get bored, or getting up to at least do some blogging and RSS catching up? In my case I chose the former and then the latter. Yes! I can has it all!

I spent two hours today at the Toyota dealership test driving different Tacomas (Tacomai?). I’ve got it narrowed down to exactly one that fits my wants and needs (which, to be honest, are pretty far apart. The ‘wants’ includes an iPod interface, backup camera, shiatsu massage chair, and full time concierge service. The “needs” category includes: does not spontaneously explode when fed gasoline. As in all things, somewhere in the middle is a good compromise, I think).

Buying a car is such a drag. I’ve read all the consumer sites on car buying and spent hours and hours (and hours and hours) reading all the 10 rules every car buyer MUST KNOW articles until I want to scream. The one big takeaway is this: be a black body. What’s that mean? It means, in this reconnaissance today, I made it my goal not to give any information away. They profile, don’t you know. So it was funny to hear the hapless salesman trying to size me up by asking me what kind of car I drive, how old it is, what my hobbies are, where I was from, my age, my wife’s age, etc. It may be friendly conversation, but it’s also a subtle attempt to get a feel for what kind of buyer you are. If they know you’re an attorney who spends the summers in Aspen between trips to Aruba on your second yacht, they’re going to have a much different attitude when it comes time to hit the negotiating table than if you told him you were a fresh college graduate (third attempt) with a degree in the liberal arts. He asked me what kind of car I drove and I said “you know…. a car”. It was actually kind of hard to keep from laughing when I said it, the poor dear. When he told me that he’d never had a customer who asked so many questions before (what, customers don’t ask salesmen to explain the options packages?), he tried to get me to tell him why I was so curious. I got a HUGE kick out of Mobiusing the conversation around and seeing how much I could learn about him and his family.

Oh sure, he seemed like a decent enough fellow (3 years selling cars, grew up on the West coast, wife is a lawyer, no kids, attends church, drives a Tundra-replaced the Chevy-,used to work at a Ford dealership, doesn’t smoke, got pulled over last week but was let off with a warning), but I’ll be darned if he’s even going to know what I do for a living (if he presses I’ll tell him I’m a professional mercenary and see what he says).

Anyway, I spent two hours there deciding on a car and then took his card and left to put a bid together. I think I’ve got a fair bid (i.e. one that will no doubt wrench the next six months’ ration of Gerber strained peas from the manager’s offspring- here want to see a picture of the little doomed urchin?). Once the Air Check voucher gets in I’ll go in and Throw Down. I still am not sure if I will employ the time tested (and time wasting) process of Ongoing Negotiations (what is this, the Middle East?), or if I’ll just do the old one-bid-and-lash-myself-to-them-mast trick. In the meantime I plan on visiting the other Toyota dealerships and finding comparable models so I can pit them in a Bidding War to the Death. Or at least so they can conspire together to laugh at my bid while they quietly go bankrupt from the Current Troubles.

Ah, it’s good to be in the driver’s seat.

On tap for later today is the 10am showing of UP, if my brain decides to let me have a few hours of oblivion before then. If not, I’m sure I’ll want to re-title the movie DOWN. I hate this part of the night. Too late to take a Tylenol PM, too early to just say hang it all and pull an all-nighter. Not too late to blog, though. There’s always time for that.

May 28, 2009

Happy Birthday!

Filed under: Disclosure — jasony @ 10:02 pm

Happy birthday to my wonderful wife. I’m so happy to be with you! Hope you had a happy day.

May 27, 2009

Holding Pattern

Filed under: Disclosure,Politics — jasony @ 10:47 am

Argh. The wait for the car continues. Texas Air Check has approved my application but is unable to send a voucher for my old truck because they haven’t received money from the state government yet. The lady from TxAirCheck called this morning to apologize. She said they’ll send vouchers as soon as they get money in, but it might be two weeks (or more!), which means our vacation is at the mercy of some bureaucrat at the state capital. If they don’t fund soon we’ll have to cancel our trip (we were going to travel in the new car). I’d say that I should have done it sooner, but I figured six weeks was enough!

Filed under: Technology — jasony @ 8:25 am

Good news on the cancer front.

May 25, 2009

Yes, this really happened to me

Filed under: Humor and Fun — jasony @ 10:38 am

kirkw-mt.jpg

original here.

Aww…isn’t he cute?

Filed under: Friends,Humor and Fun,Science — jasony @ 9:27 am

Just because he’s sitting here asking me not to, make SURE you go here to see newly minted Ph.D. Matt.

All that’s missing is the Dudley Do-Right music!

Happy Memorial Day

Filed under: Uncategorized — jasony @ 9:23 am

MemorialDay.jpg

May 22, 2009

Book

Filed under: Travel — jasony @ 7:46 pm

This book looks really good. I remember hearing about this project years ago.

May 21, 2009

Eulogy for an iPod

Filed under: Apple — jasony @ 12:54 pm

This sucker just won’t die. I’ve had my iPod for probably 4 years now and bought it used from a friend. It’s been a faithful companion.

The hard drive has been acting up so I’ve applied the known fix: holding it firmly and then whacking the corner of the unit on the table. This dislodges the little stuck arm in the hard drive and makes it work again, for a while.

Well, that while finally ended today. The drive just clicks and nothing happens. So now I can either replace the drive for fifty bucks and hope that the repeated whacks upside the head haven’t hurt anything else, or just pony up for a new one altogether. I think I’m going with option B and retire the old girl.

So long, Walkabout. You were great!

May 19, 2009

Sound Off

Filed under: Audio — jasony @ 11:47 pm

It’s funny how life works sometimes. Erin and I were watching some Scrubs behind the scenes footage two nights ago and I commented offhand “I’d like to get another film job soon”. I really enjoy booming a good project with fun people and Sing stuff has kept me busy the last few months. Lo and behold, less than 18 hours later I got a call from Storme, the director I met during the 48 hour film project several years ago, and he asked me to take part in his upcoming feature film debut. It’s a three week project and I”m really looking forward to it. It’s a low budget film where the sound department is me and…. me. The photography dept is one guy and Storme is directing, plus a small and mobile group of other professionals that will take care of everything that goes into making a film. The baker’s dozen of us will spend 19 days together putting the script onto film.

What I like about working on projects like this is that, when the cast and crew is fun and the director sets a good tone, the set can be a really great place to spend 10, 12, or 15 hours every day. When that’s not the case, it can be a REAL drag. Storme has always been fun and laid-back to work with, but still manages to keep things rolling along. I’m happy that he’s getting this break.

May 14, 2009

Keep on Truckin’

Filed under: Technology — jasony @ 11:11 pm

Okay that’s a dumb 70’s title, but whatever.

Approval for the car loan came in today with no problems at all. Now all we’re waiting for is the state to finish up some paperwork for the Texas Air Check program and send us a voucher. It kind of bums me out that they’ll be carting the old truck away for destruction, but it was a good beast and did its time well. I’ll get far more from it that way than if we sold it, plus it’ll be off the streets. Just wish I hadn’t had to put new tires on it four months ago.

The loan officer at the bank also mentioned that the credit union has a relationship with two of the local dealerships I’m looking at and if I ask for a certain guy they’ll give me the “no haggle” price. Riiiight. Actually, it may be worth a try. I’ve already decided what my walk-away number is and if they give me a no-haggle that’s below that then I’ll know they’re up front about it and not just using the deal as an excuse to screw over customers that come from that bank. I also know what the average selling price is for the model I want with the options I want, so again, if they come in under that then we’re in business. If they try and treat me like I haven’t done any research then I will walk. Turns out light truck sales are off almost 50% on the year so I’m definitely in the (ahem) driver’s seat.

I also spent some time tonight looking at GPS’s for the new car on Amazon. We’d like to get a decent little wide-screen GPS for a good price (they’re running in the $100-$200 range right now). Something that would work well in the car as well as for walking around. Oh, and with text-to-speech. We don’t really need many more gee whiz features (Photos, Bluetooth, MP3 player) Any recommendations?

I’ll be glad when this car stuff is over.

May 13, 2009

The Coming Zombie Apocalypse

Filed under: Friends,Humor and Fun — jasony @ 10:42 pm

Quite possibly the funniest post ever over at Sean’s blog. And it’s got a lot of good competition.

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 2:11 pm

Live Free or Die. A sobering reminder.

Rule of Law

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 9:21 am

This is frustrating. Law enforcement should, if anything, be held to a higher standard.

May 11, 2009

Test Post!

Filed under: Computing — jasony @ 10:42 pm

Thanks to Sean’s friend Jeff Snyder, thebigthink now has a new home. I can now Link to other sites! I can even post pictures!

Thanks, Jeff!

IMG_4892.jpg

May 7, 2009

New Shop Project- Filing Cabinet

Filed under: Woodworking — jasony @ 12:16 pm

Erin and I just got back from the lumberyard where we picked out the quartersawn red oak for my next project. (sidenote: my wife loves to go the lumberyard with me. AWESOME).

I did the entertainment center for us, then followed it up with a set of cabinets in the shoppe for me, now it’s time to build something for her. It’ll be a nice two drawer filing cabinet from solid wood that has the same style as the music cabinet and entertainment center. I’m getting much better at building this style and working out the kinks of the design. It’ll be nice that it’s so small. I told her on the way home that I’m mentally gearing up for a 6 month project because the last two have been so huge. But since this is only 30″x18″x15″ it shouldn’t take me nearly as much time.

I am, however, suffering from the standard affliction of quality creep. I could build it for about fifty bucks if I used cheap plywood and hardware, but for only a little bit more you can use the nice hardware. But then, if you’re using the nice hardware it sure is a shame to put it on crummy plywood, so why not use hardwood? End result is that this filing cabinet will top out around 3x the cost of a cheap ugly metal one from Target. And it’ll last forever. And it’ll match our other furniture. And I get to spend 40 hours building it (which, to me, is fun). Updates as I go.

Speaking of updates, Sean and I have finally gotten fed up with the crummy service this site is hosted on so he’s volunteered to move it to a better server. Sometime in the next few weeks (days?) it’ll go offline for a bit, then it’ll be back in glorious splendor. So if you try and hit the site and it’s not here, it’s only the DNS servers that haven’t updated. It won’t be gone long.

Now…. down to the shop!

May 2, 2009

Lego Bunratty

Filed under: Games,Hobbies — jasony @ 9:44 am

A neat site by a Lego fiend who specializes in building reproductions of European castles. Kinda nifty to see some of the castles we saw in Ireland reproduced here.

http://www.carneycastle.com/index.htm

Original Castle (being attacked by a dragon)
img src=”http://thebigthink.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/bunratty-attacked.jpg” border=”0″ height=”192″ width=”256″ alt=”Bunratty Attacked!.jpg” align=”” />

Lego version (no dragon, unfortunately):
img src=”http://thebigthink.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/south.jpg” border=”0″ height=”297″ width=”230″ alt=”south.jpg” align=”” />

Neat stuff! Check it out:

http://www.carneycastle.com/index.htm

**Just checked this after posting. I’m really sorry, everybody. The company that hosts this knows that there are issues but they’re really dragging their feet fixing things. Knowing that nothing I post will display correctly has taken most of the joy out of blogging for me, which is why you haven’t seen many posts the past few months. They’ve been saying it’ll be fixed “soon” or “next week” or “within the week” since early March. I think fixing this is so low on their list of priorities that they’re not going to ever really get around to it. Sigh. Really sorry you have to come here only to see messed up code, but it really is out of my hands. Drat.

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