Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Fascinated By Technology

I'm still amazed by technological changes and how fast they come. A couple of weeks ago we got Ty's new CX-9. The thing has BlueTooth built into it so that her phone works hands free with the car. The car knows when the phone is there and uses it to send and receive phone calls on the car's audio system. Today, I went to the dentist and they took digital X-rays. No more film. No more gagging on those cardboard things they used to jam in your mouth. No more waiting for the results. The X-rays popped up on the screen as the technician took them.

Today, my router died. The thing had to be 7 years old. I also had a wireless access point for my laptop. I was able to replace both of them for 100 bucks. I think that's less than I paid for either device. The new router is 9X faster for wireless, the same speed for wired networking and it's smaller than either device alone. That's it sitting on top of the two devices it replaced. The box on the top does the job of both boxes underneath it and does it faster and for less money. Wow!

New Router

Monday, September 24, 2007

Here We Go Again?

I have a bad feeling about this season. I get the sense Bengals fans are still hung over from the way we closed out last season. Even worse, I think the players are too. I hang out with some pretty dedicated fans and only three games into the campaign, there is a sense that our team is going to let us down again. This is the first time I've felt this since Marvin (the man we thought was going to be our savior) arrived.

Yesterday, we lost our second close game in a row. While we only lost 24-21 to a good team, on the road in a formidable place, it's the way we lost (again) that is so frustrating. The offense played a pretty good game. Carson lit it up, TJ lit it up, Chad lit it up. The defense played surprisingly well. But, just a few big plays tipped the game in Seattle's favor. This time it was the special teams that killed us. The 80 yard return of the opening kick off put us in a hole early. The decision to go for two after we scored our last touchdown and were up by 4 mystified me. Then, Shayne Graham kicks the ball out of bounds. For an NFL kicker, that is the absolute worst thing you can possibly do on a kick off. But, the decision to go for two ended up being a moot point since the special teams put the final nail in our coffin by fumbling the kick-off, taking the ball out of Carson's hands. Given the way Carson and the wide outs were playing, we had a good chance of driving down the field with 1:00 left and tying this thing up.

I feel for the coaching staff. How do you coach players to stop making bone-head plays? Some times it looks as if the Bengals just don't want to win. Seattle three just a few bombs that ended up being the difference in the game. The defense would play great for so long, then just take a play off. Guys, in the NFL, that's the difference between winning and losing.

So, now we're 1-2 having lost two close games. Squandered opportunities. One team we should have beaten soundly. And, one team we had a chance to steal a game from. Which hurts more? And, next it's New England on Monday night. As hard as it was to believe we had a prayer against Seattle, it's harder to believe we can beat New England.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


I missed the game against Cleveland. I was at Disney strolling the streets of the MGM when the Bengals apparently once again became the Bungles and the defense gave up 51 points to the Cleveland Browns (who had scored a total of 44 points over the previous five games).

So, once again, I ask which team is this? The defense apparently took a huge step backwards. I haven't seen any highlights. Haven't read any analysis. I'm not sure I want to.

So, how do I stack up against my preseason prognostication? After Monday night's win over the Ravens and with the Browns next on the schedule, I was confident I would be proven wrong over the course of the first two games. When I realized I had to miss a game of the first six, I thought for sure missing the Browns game was the safest. Surely, if there was a team in the NFL we could beat, it was the Browns. Oh, how it hurts to be proven right. At 1-1 and with a loss to the Browns, my 8-8 prediction is looking pretty strong.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Our Florence Nightingale

We were at Epcot wrappping up our last day at Disney. The plan was to hit the few things we had missed during our 1/2 day there on Thursday and to revisit a few highlights (like Space Mission and Test Track). As we were just walking in, I asked the girls and Ty to pose in front of the dome at Epcot. As I was taking their picture, I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around to find a little Disney employee asking if I wanted her to take the picture with me in it. This was one of the very nice things about Disney. Not only the employees volunteered to take pictures with our digital camera, other guests would volunteer as well. So, for this vacation, you’ll actually see some shots with me in them (Ty also took a few). Back to my story, Florence the Disney Employee, after taking the picture asked where we were headed. We said to The Land to check out Soarin’. We had missed Soarin’ (and The Land) on our first pass through and wanted to catch it before dinner. She asked if we had checked out the wait. I was a little taken aback because the park was pretty empty and we hadn’t waited any time for anything on Thursday. She took us a few steps over to the board where the wait times were posted. 45 minutes for Soarin’. We hadn’t waited 45 minutes for anything in the 4 days we had already spent at the parks. She said “Do you want me to take you to the ride with no wait?” My thinking was that she was going to steer us to another attraction that we could get on my more quickly. But, she then said that she was with the Year of Million Dreams team and that she was adopting our family to make our dream of getting on Soarin’ come true.

As Florence led us to the ride, she told us about how long she had worked for Disney and that she was actually a college math teacher who took this as her “fun job”. She alternated between handing out gifts, handing out Dream Passes (a group of six Fast Passes for the most popular attractions, randomly handed out during the day (we had gotten some on Star Wars the day before at MGM)) and handing out this special treat. She led us to The Land, gave us a walking tour on the way there, telling us the story of the handmade inlaid art work done by a guy and his daughter with over 155,000 pieces each (the two walls were identical except for one green stone, he added to commemorate his daughter’s birthday). Florence had been searching for years to find that one stone. As we walked up to Soarin’, I felt like a VIP. Florence walked up to the guy accepting Fast Passes and told him she needed five. He handed her five and we walked through, right past a 45 minute line and up to what Bob Euchre would call (and a line I had been repeating all week “The Front Row!”. Florence asked the girls what each of their favorite Disney characters were and asked if they had gotten into pin trading. They had not.

Kayla was a little nervous about the ride as she is afraid of heights. The ride is a simulated hang gliding experience where you are in a row with about 8 people and are raised up in the air and thrust into a screen that surrounds you on all sides, above and underneath. You really get the true sensation of flying as when you look anywhere in about 180 degrees peripherally and 360 vertically, you see hang gliding scenes taken from the California sky. When you fly over the orange groves, you smell oranges, when you fly over the trees, you smell the forest, etc. It was truly an amazing experience. I comforted Kayla by having her try to get out of the seat before we took off (so she could see it was impossible to fall). While we were flying, she because a little overwhelmed, so I had her look to her left to see the people beside us to get a little perspective and close her eyes when it became overwhelming. She did great. I was so proud of her!

After the ride, Florence gave each of the girls a pin. Donald Duck for Shayna and Minnie Mouse for Kayla. Then, we thanked her and she was off to do her next good deed. As she left I thought of a few things. Was this a life changing experience (aren’t they all)? If I had not stopped the girls and Ty (who were several feet ahead of me) and directed them back to take the picture in that spot, we would not have met Florence. Had we not met Florence, we would not have gotten the opportunity to walk right up onto one of the two most popular attractions at Epcot (unbeknownst to us at the time though). I We would have headed home never having experienced what was an amazing experience for all of us. As a Black man, in a White world, there’s always that little feeling in the back of your mind of how White people really perceive of you. When a 60 year old White lady who can adopt any family she chooses, chooses our family, and not only takes us to the ride, does it with us, talks to us before and afterwards and shows genuine caring and concern for us, it reinforces my faith in people. It was one of those little magical moments at Disney that I’ll always remember.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Disney Day 2- Animal Kingdom

Day Two at Disney World, we visited Animal Kingdom. The girls had a blast. Kayla and Shayna both love animals. Visiting brought back memories of a 6 year old Kayla at the zoo, giving us little known facts about every creature we encountered.

Animal Kingdom was not my favorite park. The rides were just OK. The biggest stand out was Expedition Everest, which we did twice at the park opening with no wait. The girls and Ty did Kali Rapids while I stayed dry. We loved the Harambe or Kilaminjaro Safari. But, overall, the park was not a whole lot different than visiting the Cincinnati Zoo.

Dinner tonight was at the Grand Floridian with Cinderella, Prince Charming and the rest of the Cinderella crew. The girls insisted on doing a character dinner even though we suspected they would not be into it. And, they were not. They only reluctantly asked for autographs and posed for pictures. They are old enough to realize these are just people dressed up. But, the dinner was good. Kayla, Shayna and I had prime rib (Kayla didn't like hers). The desserts were huge. Served family style, we had a plate of pastries and a huge slab of bread pudding. It was my first time actually having bread pudding (which sounds disgusting). But, I liked it.

If you haven't been there and seen this tree, check out the detail here:

View the photo set here:


On The Way to Disney

Today, we rose bright and early and left for our five day trip to visit The Mouse In Orlando. Shayna and Kayla were both out of bed with no problems. Shayna was a bundle of nerves and energy. I waited until the last possible moment to pack (as always and ran out of time). We hustled out of the door at 6AM (in spite of getting up 20 minutes earlier than planned) and had to make an unscheduled stop to pick up a smaller container of contact lens solution. So, we rolled into the parking lot at the Dayton airport at nearly 7AM with our flight scheduled to depart at 8AM. Fortunately, the Dayton airport is a morgue at 7 o'clock on a Thursday morning and we breezed through security.

I learned first hand what a great job airport security is doing of keeping us all safe. They confiscated my toothpaste, less than half an ounce of face cleanser (in a one ounce bottle) and my shave gel (in less than a 2 ounce tube). I was told if I had a ziplock plastic bag with me (because doesn't everyone carry one of those?), I could take my stuff. Otherwise, I had to place it in my checked bag (at this point making its way past the maze of conveyor belts behind the airport) or relinquish it. Good-bye toothpaste, hello Orlando.

We had a direct flight that went without a hitch. We were in Orlando airport at just after 10AM, boarded Disney's Magical Express and were at our hotel (French Quarter at Port Orleans before noon. Amazing. Unfortunately, the room wasn't ready. So, we had to hang out for a while. We had lunch in the hotel and walked around while they prepared our room. Our bags had been magically transported from the airport to our room (we didn't even have to claim them in Orland0). We had our park passes in our hands. So, by 3:15, we we were headed out for Epcot.

The girls were so excited. They were almost giddy as we headed for Epcot, which was a short bus ride (less than 15 minutes). The park was almost empty. We were able to visit Mission Space, The Seas with Nemo, Journey Into Imagination and Test Track less than three hours. The girls absolutely loved Test Track and Mission Space (we did the beginner's trainig- Green Level). They wanted to immediately go back and do the advanced training. We had dinner at the Rose Crown Pub & Dining Room. Ty thought I would enjoy fish and chips. She's right. I would have. But, the fish was the worst cod I have ever had. I think it was underdone. It was actually kind of tough rather than flaky. But, we had more than enough food as Ty got a lambshank that had to be every bit of 12 ounces of meat. Kayla decided she wanted a children's meal (pizza) even though she was on the adult meal plan. With the appLinketizers and desserts we each got as part of our meal plan (Ty and I), there was more than enough food. We did get out of there just in time for the fireworks and laser closing. It was amazing and with the VIP seats we had been comped, we had the best seats in the house. The girls were exhausted. We closed down the park, got back to the room before 10pm. But, they were so excited, they each got a second wind and we stayed up late talking about the day.

View the photo set here:


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Oh Me Of Little Faith

An open letter of apology to the Bengals' defense... Forcing six (that's a lot) turnovers. Two interceptions (by linemen at that). A secondary that covered people. Putting unending pressure on Steve McNair. A goal line stand to save the game (twice). Keeping Baltimore from running the ball down our throats. Holding the Ravens to 13 points (I can't count Ed Reed's punt return against the defense). And, everybody hitting hard for four quarters. Wow! This was the defense I expected to see when Marvin came here. This was not the defense I was expecting to see after all the injuries and suspensions over the last couple of years.

Last night's game was great. It was competitive. It was exciting. Beating a tough divisional opponent, on Monday night, in our season opener, at home was a huge statement for this Bengals team. The question was (is?) "Are we the playoff team of two years ago or still the Bungles of the closing stretch of last season?" Using this one game as an indicator, I am hopeful the answer is we are the team of two years ago. The offense will get better. We can only hope the defense sustains the level they set last night. Special teams (coverage) should improve also.

Can I revise my 8-8 prediction now? Who Dey!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Kayla Builds-A-Bear / Officially Quits Violin

Kayla is really enjoying sewing. Saturday, she made a bear for Brandon and Holly's unborn baby. She is so proud of that bear. I can't wait until she gets the chance to present it to them. Kayla is so thoughtful when it comes to others feelings that it's just great to watch her light up when she can do something for someone else.

Kayla's Bear

We took her violin back last week to turn it in. We weren't going to even tell Kayla she had quite (she hadn't noticed even though she hasn't had a lesson in about four months). We wanted to see if she ever mentioned it. We were talking about musical lessons just a couple of days before with her in the car and it never seemed to even cross her mind that the thing that had been "a part of me" just a few months before when we encouraged her to quit had completely slipped her mind.

Ty had to take Kayla with her to turn the violin in because she was headed that direction to run some other errands. So, Kayla caught on (duh!). She was not in the least bit upset. In fact, since we had been renting for 6 years, we had accumulated a nice credit we could use toward the purchase of a violin. But, Ty and I agreed that it was pointless to put any money into a new violin since Kayla had never (not once) picked up a violin without being told in the six years she was taking lessons. In the past four months, she hasn't even mentioned it. So, the odds of her playing again are pretty slim. If she does, we'll buy her a violin. The people at Antonio's did give us a free one that she could use if she get really violin-sick. But, I don't see that happening.

Shayna- what a trip!

Shayna came to me Friday evening asking why she might have a nosebleed. I explained to her these things happen sometimes and there was nothing to worry about. She seemed to have it under control, there was no blood anywhere (on her or her surroundings) and I was very busy. So, I asked her if it had stopped. She said yes and went away.

A few minutes later she came back with her "Dad, I have some very bad news." (the same line she used when she had a dream in Kayla's bed the other night and wet the bed in her sleep thinking she was in the bathroom.). She told me she had stuffed tissue up her nose and could not get it back out.

My first thought was "No big deal". Worst case, I can get it with some tweezers. But, then I remembered Shayna has the world's tiniest nostrils. She can't even get her own finger in her nose. I looked up her nose and the tissue was so far up, I knew there was no way I could reach it. I asked her how that happened and she said that while trying to pull it out, she had actually pushed it further up.

For a second, she looked like she was going to panic. I thought she was going to cry. But, she remained very composed.

Now, I'm envisioning an ER or urgent care visit and on the verge of panic. But, I thought I've got to try one thing first. I took her into the bathroom, had her close her mouth, put my finger over her other nostril and had her blow as hard as she could. The tissue came rocketing out. Disaster averted.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Dad Has Prostate Surgery

Dad had surgery to remove prostate cancer Friday, September 7. I am writing this post on Monday morning.

I woke up Friday morning and decided to meditate (a habit I had fallen out of). I'm not really sure why I decided to meditate on that particular day. While I was meditating, a verse came to me. "Perfect love casts out fear." Since overcoming the panic attacks (actually during the process which I am still in), this has become one of my favorite verses. But, I was wondering why this verse had come to me at this time. I wasn't feeling fearful about Dad's surgery or his cancer at all. They caught his cancer early (PSA screening) and he had done his homework on his options and had chosen the best laparascopic prostate surgery guy in the country to do his procedure. But, one thing about Dad that amazes me is during his by-pass surgery and during this time he has never shown one bit of fear. He completely trusts in G-d. During his by-pass surgery, I thought it was a front he was putting up for the rest of us. But, thinking about it during the six years since then, I no longer think that. I think the verse came to me because Dad has that love for G-d that does cast out fear. How it's possible with his image of G-d, I don't understand (I really don't understand). But, the evidence is there in his actions.

The surgery went great. Unfortunately, I got to Columbus too late to see him before he went in. Even though his surgery was scheduled for noon, they took him back into pre-op before 10:30am. Since it's a teaching hospital, the set-up takes longer as they have to explain things to the interns while they are doing them. The "live" update board turned out to be not so live as it told us he was still in pre-op at 11:45. But, then, an hour and a half later, it said he had gone into the OR at 11:15. It was after 3:30 before they got him to a room. Ty and I had to leave to get back to do shipping for Friday. So, it turns out I didn't see him at all. As I thought, the family reported, he was pretty much out of it Friday evening anyway. I don't think he would have remembered seeing me.

The surgery went completely as expected. The doctor was out of there in an hour (it used to take him 5-6 hours to do the procedure). There was minimal bleeding. Dad is very comfortable now. I spoke with the family Friday night and I called Mom on Saturday to get a report. Dad was sitting right there and she was relaying messages from me to him and vice-versa. But, I didn't speak with him. Yesterday, Mom called and she did put Dad on the phone. He said he is having no pain (or even any discomfort). He's got a pump installed for pain medication and a catheter. He removes the tube for the pain medication himself on Tuesday (has a prescription for pills if the needs them then). And, he sees the doctor on Wednesday to have the catheter removed. His only "fear" (and it's really more of a slight concern) is making sure he doesn't overdo things because he's not feeling any pain. He doesn't want to be sore when the pump is removed.

For a long time, I wished Dad and I were more like "buddies". But, I've accepted that will never happen. He is who he is and while I'm changing, I can't change enough for both of us. When I expressed dissatisfaction about our relationship, it was like I was speaking a foreign tongue. It only created discomfort for him. Discomfort which apparently is not there now. So, it is what it is. I'm grateful the surgery went well and he is doing great.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Who Dey!

Before I read what the experts have to say or the season starts I have to go on record with my best guess of how the Bengals will turn out this season. For the first time in a while (since Marvin arrived), I actually hope I am wrong.

I am concerned about the Bengals. I'm afraid they peaked two seasons ago when Carson's knee injury in the first playoff game against Pittsburgh ended our hopes. Last season, we played way below our potential; squandering a golden opportunity at making the playoffs. I'm afraid all the suspensions and injuries are going to catch up to us this year. I think our defense will let us down again (and again). I think the offense can put up points. But, without Chris Henry for at least half of the season, I'm not sure they can put up enough points (I'm not sure any offense can). The Bengals defense proved they can give up a bunch of points, in a hurry. I was there for the collapse against San Diego last season. 42 points in a half! Given that Marvin's background has been as a defensive specialist, I find our defense especially troubling. Defense is what makes for consistent play week in and week out. Defense is what wins championships (in any sport).

My prediction for this year is 8-8 and another missed playoff opportunity. I think then the honeymoon with Marvin will be officially over.

Let's hope I'm wrong. Who Dey!

The Wanting

Look at it. Isn't it sweet? Just looking at it again makes me WANT one. Yesterday, Apple launched their 6th Generation iPod and yes, I WANT one. I have absolutely no need for one. But, I found myself yesterday spending time on the Mac Rumors message boards picking up tidbits on the announcement even as the live event was going on trying to figure out how I could talk me into allowing myself to have one. It was a fascinating event to observe (the internal struggle within me, not the iPod launch).

Last night, I was reading Ethan Nichtern's (my favorite Buddhist teacher) One City book and I was on the chapter concerning rampant consumerism. Ethan revealed that even though he is a long time Buddhist and meditator he still wants a new iPod every time one is announced. Ethan talks about iPods a lot. I think Ethan shares my problem. There was a guy who started a thread titled "Just Kill Me". His wife, after forbidding him to buy a new iPod to replace his that had died presented him with a brand new 5.5 Generation iPod on the very day Apple announced the 6G iPod. He was on the board to vent a little because she had it engraved, rendering it unreturnable. He was miserable. Even as I consoled him giving him all the reasons he really didn't need a 6G iPod, I found myself starting to whisper to myself as I read about the new features "Oh that would be so cool to be able to do that! I could use that!"

In Ethan's book he talks about the general feeling of WANT that so many of us experience. It's not focused on any specific object. It's just that non-specific need to acquire. I definitely see that in myself. I wish I had discovered Buddhism 20 years ago. Because, in spite of knowing this about myself for a while, before discovering Buddhism and meditation it hadn't really been in focus for me and it was much more difficult to identify. Now when it rears it's ugly head, at least I can see it coming. Ethan also talks about how we can become addicted to a certain lifestyle or even a brand so that all an advertiser has to do is push that button and we're off to the store to buy the latest widget. I used to laugh at the Apple freaks that thought Steve Jobs was the Messiah and who spent hours, days and weeks discussing all things Apple. But, I periodically find myself attracted to those rumor boards and while we have five iPods in the house (and 4 people) and I rarely even leave the house, I found myself wanting a new iPod just because it was available. I was thinking how cool it would be to be the first kid on the block with the touch iPod. How I could use the WiFi when I'm at Panera waiting for Jon to show up. How sweet it would be to have CoverFlow (even though I hardly ever even glance at my iPod screen now. I never watch video on it. I have pictures on it that I think I've shown to one person. And I bought the one I have now simply because I got a great deal on it. I had a 20 GB one before that that I knew I would fill some day. So, I got the 30 GB when the deal was available.

It's not just Apple that has me in their grips, I realized. We got a new car for Ty last Saturday. Until then, I was perfectly happy with my 7 year old car. But, every time I take my car in for service, they give me a brand new Lexus loaner. "Ooh, that new car smell!" "How can I live without a GPS system?" All the justifications start rolling through my brain and I find myself having to fight getting that next fix of something new.

I love the rush that comes from bringing home something new. Pulling it out of the box, putting it together. It's better than cocaine (I guess- I wouldn't know from personal experience). Just typing this gets my heart beating a little faster. I can imagine unpacking that new iPod. Apple packages things so nicely, I almost hate to pull them out of the box and mess it up. But, it's such a transient high. Usually it lasts a few days, a couple of weeks at most. Then, I need that next new thing. Buyer's remorse always quickly follows any major purchase. It's never perfect. Even if I got the biggest, best and baddest, I think maybe I could have gotten by with the next model down and saved a few bucks. If I get the cheaper one, I wish I had spent the extra money to get the biggest, best and baddest. After all, it's only a few bucks.

The good news is I am a cheap son-of-a-gun. I make myself justify every purchase to myself. So, there is a pretty good governor on my spending. I WANT an iPhone. But, I've forbid myself to buy one. I WANT the new square Nike driver on the market. But, that has to wait at least two years I've been told. No new car for you until the Mazda is paid off, Mister! But, just observing this has been fascinating for me. And, now Buddhism has given me the tools to deal with it. As Ethan points out, Buddhism (meditation) is not an instant cure (or even a long term cure). But, the first step to defeating any problem is realizing you have it and the second step is admitting it to yourself. "Hi everyone, my name is Brian and I am a WANTaholic".

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

An Armchair Quarterback Needs The Right Gear

I literally wore out my last office chair. I kept wondering why I'd be sore in the rear area at the end of the day. And, I was having some numbness in my legs. I finally figured out that the chair I had had for the last who knows how many years (I'm guessing at least 7) was just worn out. When I sat in it and thought about it, I could feel the padding was completely gone and it was like I was sitting on a board.

As I was bringing the chair into the house, it occurred to me that I often play Monday Morning Quarterback, blogging about things that happened the day before and how I would have done them differently.

This morning I had breakfast with Scott, where we discussed "church" again. I never thought I would say this about Scott. But, I think Scott's pretty burned out on church and struggling with seeing the purpose of the effort. I'll probably blog more of my thoughts on my other blog continuing the theme I started last week.

New Chair For Office

p.s.- on a photography note, this is one of the only pictures I've ever taken where the color with the flash was richer than the color without the flash. This is the flash version.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Shayna- Last Day At The Pool

Who knows what goes through Shayna's mind? While Ty was getting ready to go to the pool, Shayna got bored (Shayna always gets bored). She took Ty's cover-up and fashioned this headgear.

Yesterday was the last day for the neighborhood pool to be open. I was compelled to go hang out for while before coming back to watch Tiger play a lackluster round of golf and Phil Mickelson pull off the amazing by not choking in the last few holes.

Shayna Getting Ready For the Pool

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Chuck's Weekend Off

Chuck and Deb had a much deserved rest this weekend (from the band and Early Explorers' duties). Gregg and Cydney sang and we had a guest bass player (Brent).

Gregg & Cydney Sing

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Shrimp Salad

I had a taste for something light for dinner tonight (after having wings for dinner last night and a steak last week). And because of this ridiculous heat wave we've been in. So, I decided to try a shrimp salad. Ty thought I meant the mayonnaise based version when I meant a marinated shrimp. But, we decided to try it.

It as extremely simple to make. I just thawed some salad shrimp, threw some mayonnaise and lemon juice together, chopped some celery and then tasted it. I thought it need to be a little sweet so I added a tablespoon of honey. I also threw just a smidgen of cayenne pepper (I sprinkled more on top of mine). We served it over cherry tomatoes, avocados and baby spring mix.

Kayla thought it was so-so. Shayna didn't like it because there were too many ingredients mixed together. But, it was a very refreshing dinner on a hot day.

Shrimp Salad

New Mazda CX-9

We finally did it. After about a month and a half of negotiations (probably split evenly between intra-marriage negotiations and negotiations with several dealerships), we bought a Mazda CX-9. For someone who used to buy a new car every 2-3 years, it was a long time between purchases this time (almost exactly 10 years in Ty's old car).

We battled it out on the 7 passenger versus 5 passenger issue. Given that we only have two children (and will only have two children), I saw zero need for driving a school bus 100% of the time. A nice-to-have on occasion? Sure. But, not a need. Ty, OTOH, thought we needed to have a vehicle to haul the children's friends and cousins around in. This was a very interesting thing for us. In almost 20 years together we haven't disagreed on anything as much as this. We liked the same type of house, the same type of furniture, the same colors, etc. Timing has been an issue before (like when do we need new furniture). Deciding to have children was one where we had several discussions. But, on this car thing, whoo!

Ty tried to convince me that this should be her decision (and solely her decision) since she is going to drive it most of the time. I disagreed since we're both paying for it (and the 7 passengers are more expensive to acquire and to operate) and since it barely fits in the garage and caused us to do some major rearranging. I don't like the idea of people who don't need them driving over-sized gas hogs. If you need a truck or a 7 passenger vehicle, fine. But, just driving one because you can just irks me. I find them a prime example of American waste and rugged independence. Just because you can afford to waste a resource (gasoline and clean air) doesn't mean you should).

I finally had to come to grips with the fact that what we need versus what we want is subjective. When I got the new iMac, did I need it? I say yes because I was ready to shoot the old one. But, the reality is the old one still produced documents, uploaded my pictures and did all the functions required of it. When I bought the larger TV versus the smaller one, did I need those extra inches? Well, in my mind, yes. But, honestly, no. I could not, in fairness, force Ty to prove the need to have a school bus. She wanted it and that had to be good enough.

We considered the Hyundai Veracruz (a very nice vehicle and one that came in almost in a tie with the CX-9 in my opinion). At the last minute, we drove a Hyundai Santa Fe with the optional third row. Ty hated it. Since the price was less than $1,000 (with the options we wanted) different from the Veracrauz, we eliminated it. The Veracruz's advantages were a back-up warning system, overall length of 9" shorter (with the same interior passenger room) and the 5 year warranty. The advantages of the Mazda were a nicer interior and the fact we had owned two before and loved them. The thing that pushed the Mazda over the top was the zero percent financing deal for three years. The price came out to be just a little more than the Veracruz (once we had made our best deals on both). The financing actually made the Mazda cheaper. So, done deal.

We did the negotiations almost solely via the Internet. That is a story in itself. As a former sales guy I am amazed at the level of incompetence by most people in sales. One guy took a couple of days off in the middle of our negotiations. He's the guy we bought our Mazda from 10 years ago and we really wanted to give him the business. But, after sending me an email saying he would do crazy things to get our business, he disappeared for three full business days (and a weekend). During that time, we got a great deal from the other Mazda dealer in town and closed the deal. I have several other stories of incompetence. But, they're not worth telling. Costco let us down. They advertise this auto-buying program. But, they didn't have a single Mazda or Hyundai dealer in Ohio, Kentucky or Indiana.

Here's a picture of the new car. (Do you call these things cars?). Here we are giving the old car up. Trading In the Old Car

The CX-9 Comes Home