What's davintosh? Mostly just the random ramblings of a hopelessly distractible… Hey, what's that?

1994 Suzuki Sidekick For Sale

Filed under: Cars! — dave @ 12:46 pm 2009/01/30

Click the photo to go to a page with more info and photos. It’s a nice car that I’ve driven daily for the last four years and would probably keep driving for many more, but I bought a replacement vehicle already, so it needs to be sold. It’s a great little truck, and has never left me stranded in all the years I’ve driven it.

Click on the photo below to go to a gallery of photos.

Please take me home! I\'ll treat you very, very well!

The Sidekick is a small Jeep-like SUV that seats four. It’s compact & maneuverable & easy to park. It’s ruggedly built and well suited for off-road use (but this one has rarely seen anything but asphalt & concrete, with occasional snow & ice.) There are a lot of aftermarket offroad parts available for them; check out CalMini and Izook.com.

Suzuki built the Sidekick in a joint venture with Chevrolet, selling the vehicles under both the Suzuki and Chevrolet nameplates. The Chevy version was named the Tracker. In the Sioux Falls area, Graham Automotive at 41st Street & Norton Ave. is the servicing dealer, but service can also be done at a Chevy dealership, and most any other shop, as parts are readily available.

Click on the images below to see a larger version of each. Thanks for looking; and if you’re at all interested please call and arrange to see the vehicle. It really does look good, run nicely, and has a lot of life left in it.

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Jokes That Made Me Laugh Out Loud

Filed under: Fun! — dave @ 11:33 am 2009/01/29

What has four legs and one arm?
A very happy rottweiler.

What is brown & black and looks good on a lawyer?
A doberman.

What do you call a dairy cow with epilepsy?
A milkshake.

What do you call a bull with epilepsy?
Beef jerky.

And one for the 7th grade boy in me:
Why do girls wear makeup and perfume?
Cuz they’re ugly and they smell bad.

(more…)

BMWotD — MINE!

Filed under: BMW Of The Day,Cars!,Favorite Things — Tags: , , , — dave @ 12:41 am 2009/01/28

Well, I took the plunge today (yesterday actually, since it’s now past midnight…) and bought my first BMW. It’s a 1984 528e 5-speed I spotted on CraigsList late last month. I emailed the owner just before New Years Day, and was hoping to take a drive to see it (Slayton, MN) that weekend, but a snowstorm changed my plans. Then last night, on a whim, I emailed the guy again to see if it was still available, and it was! He had just about given up on selling it, and was planning to update the registration and get it insured, but now that’s my problem!

It’s not perfect by any means, but the basics are solid; a rust-free body, solid running engine, decent transmission, fairly new tires, good glass all around… It’s definitely a driver project car though, as the issues are many; shifter flops around badly and has trouble finding 2nd when downshifting, odometer doesn’t work, parking brake needs some help, carpets are filthy, driver’s seat is shot, seat belt buckle on driver’s seat doesn’t buckle, radio aerial is broken, missing some tools from the toolkit, doors need adjusting, weatherstripping is in rough shape, front bumper is bent… there’s more, but you get the picture. Definitely not perfect, but everything is definitely fixable. And what do you expect for $800?

I know I’ll get some funny looks from friends & relatives, but I think this thing is going to be great. I also know that it was a good deal; I could fix a few things on it and resell it and get another $1,000 out of it. But I’m not going to do that. This one’s sticking around for a while. Here’s hoping it doesn’t turn into my own Project Car Hell.

I’ll be sure to post some photos of the ‘chine as I get them, and updates on the progress.

A Tractor For A Rhythm Section?

Filed under: Fun! — dave @ 9:32 pm 2009/01/26

Not sure what country this is from, but it’s incredibly clever; using an old two-cylinder tractor in place of a drummer! Not much flexibility in tempo, but it makes for a unique sound.

I think the Groove needs to find an old Johnny Popper to use in one of their floor shows; now that would be cool.

Digital TV In Sioux Falls

Filed under: Cool Technology,Gadgets,Geek,Home Life — dave @ 12:24 am

I’m way too cheap to spend the $30-plus a month for cable or satellite TV services. Besides, the kids & I waste too much time watching TV with the dozen or so stations that are broadcast locally, so why would I want more choices? To waste more time? No thanks.

With the impending conversion to digital TV looming, I finally bit the bullet, applied for my rebate card, and bought the converter box. Thankfully, I had submitted my application some time ago and beat the rush that caused the shortage of rebates earlier this month. The money for the program is gone, so until they get more appropriated, it’s a waiting list.

But I got mine, and after buying the converter box a couple of weeks ago, I wasn’t in a hurry to set it up because according to the clueless salesguy at Best Buy, there were only one or two stations in Sioux Falls that were broadcasting digital anyway. Why bother if that’s all there was? So the converter sat on a shelf, still in the box…

Until last week, that is. I got a burr under my saddle & decided to try it out, and it actually works very, very nicely! Add to that the surprise of finding 10 stations broadcasting locally in the digital spectrum. The expected local stations are there — KELO (CBS), KSFY (ABC), KDLT (FOX), KDLT (NBC) & three PBS stations (your tax dollars at work) — plus a few others that I hadn’t expected. UTV is one (broadcast on a KELO subchannel), KWSD (CW & RTN), and two bonus PBS stations, PBS World & PBS Create. Not a lot more channel-wise that we got on analog, but it’s an improvement. When I first hooked it up, a couple of the stations had good signal but were broadcasting absolutely nothing, and a couple others had very weak signals; I rewired things a little so that the antenna feed was going directly to the DTV box, and that gives us solid signal on all 10, and they all work!

Another thing I hadn’t expected was the picture; much better than standard broadcast TV! Many of the channels broadcast in HD, and although ours definitely is not a high-definition TV, it does make a noticeable difference. And the functionality of the little set-top box is pretty incredible. I got the Insignia brand box, and the remote that comes with it can be programmed to turn the TV on & off and control the volume; it only controls the volume of the audio signal going to the TV, so it’s still necessary to tweak the volume on the TV from time to time, especially when using the DVD player. The really neat feature with this box and digital TV is you can push a button on the remote to get TV-Guide-type info on the fly. You can scroll through the channels without leaving the one you’re watching and see what’s on now and what’s coming up next. If you see something you like, push another button (just one) on the remote, and you’re there! So cool!

So all in all, things are looking good for digital TV in Sioux Falls. Many who are already using cable and or satellite TV with newer TV’s probably are thinking, , but for someone like me with a 6-7 year old TV, and is too cheap to buy cable, it’s a great thing. My kids even like it!

One last thing; found a nice listing of broadcast TV info for the Sioux Falls area at RabbitEars.com. Not complete, but helpful.

My New Cars

Filed under: Cars! — dave @ 12:07 am 2009/01/23

I came across a couple of photos of two of the cars I once owned; both were purchased new off the lot. I’ve bought new exactly three times and regretted buying new exactly three times; here are two of those vehicles.

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This is a photo of my 1981 Mazda GLC Sport, in Toronado Silver. I bought it two years out of high school while still living at home and working at Litton Microwave earning about $5 an hour. Not exactly one of my smarter moves. Dad tried to talk me out of it, but it took another 5 years or so for me to recognize Dad’s intelligence in matters like this.

Six months or so after buying the car, I cracked it up a bit. While doing something I really shouldn’t have been doing in the first place (don’t need to go into specifics) I zipped through an uncontrolled intersection against and hit the side of a great big boat of a car — a mid-’70s Plymouth Grand Fury I think. The front bumper was ripped from the car and and went skittering down the street. Got the thing fixed and tried to sell it, but was never really happy with it after that. I ended up trading it in on my second big mistake new car purchase; a 1981 Jeep Scrambler.

I haven’t found any photos of that one yet — don’t remember taking any of that truck — but it was a fun ride. The ’81 model was pretty plain jane; had a 4-speed on a straight six, no A/C, removable hardtop & steel doors, and a very minimal radio. And again, six months or so after buying this one I had another accident… Driving to the Credit Union near Morrell’s during a snowstorm, I slid into a truck while trying to turn a corner. The truck was just sitting at a stop sign, and I hit it just perfectly on the corner and my bumper slid under his; the corner of the truck pushed the radiator into the motor. Crap. The thing that really gets me about that I had been driving in 4WD not long before the accident, and if I hadn’t switched to 2WD, the accident wouldn’t have happened. Double crap.

Well, I got that one fixed, drove it for a while, then while I had it in the shop getting a leaky valve cover gasket gasket fixed, I made the mistake of looking at a nifty white go-kart they had on the lot; a 1982 Dodge Charger 2.2.

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This is a slightly over-exposed photo of that car (I was into using antique cameras at that time, and am pretty sure this was shot using an old Brownie box camera) but the fond memories I have of the car give it a halo effect in my memories, so the glow is appropriate. That was one fun car. The engine only put out about 90 horsepower, but the gearing and a relatively stiff suspension made it a blast to drive. It had no muffler; only a catalytic converter and a resonator, so it sounded like a racer. No A/C. Simple AM/FM radio… Only the creature comforts inside. The build quality of the car was not wonderful, and you never see any survivors of this model anymore, so they were not built to last. But for the year or so I owned it, it was fun.

And yes, I had an accident with this one also. Driving home from my girlfriend’s house, some knothead from Minnesota came rolling off of I-90 and ran the stop sign at the end of the off-ramp. I just happened to be passing by on Cliff at just the wrong moment, and got broadsided. Boy was I mad. That got fixed up and I drove it for a while longer, but was looking to cut expenses so I could go back to school, so put it up for sale. It took a while but I finally found a cash buyer; paid off my loan and bought a used car (a 1976 Pontiac Bonneville).

Since then it’s been nothing but pre-owned iron for me. And you know, the incidence of fender benders dropped to nothing. Pretty much the right choice for me.

Do I Have To Go To Work?

Filed under: Family,Home Life — dave @ 11:37 pm 2009/01/22

I was listening to some talk radio last night while running some errands, and Dr. Laura came on. Dr. Laura Schlessinger is a psychologist with a call-in radio show, and is known for her sometimes hard-to-swallow advice on the problem situations people call about. I don’t listen often these days — there was a basketball game on the station I usually listen to — but find it sometimes entertaining and always interesting.

The second call she took while I was listening was from a young single mom, looking for advice on a job choice she was facing; she is currently in school and working at a coffee shop, and had an opportunity at a different job. Her toddler daughter was in daycare while she worked and was in class, and the dad wasn’t in the picture. Dr. Laura didn’t even let her describe the two jobs; she was told in no uncertain terms that her place was at home with the kid, and if she needed to work it should be at night when her daughter is sleeping. Her job at this critical time in her daughter’s life was with her daughter, being the Mom, teaching her about life, having lunch with her, playing with her… Just being a mom. Period. End of discussion. Without that, the child grows up without a mom or dad and knows nothing but being shuffled from daycare to grandma’s to home or whatever, and that can lead to far worse difficulties later on. The poor girl on the phone could say nothing but, “OK” in a resigned tone, and you could just tell that she thought that plan was totally unreasonable. Dr. Laura was coming across as the parent that this girl perhaps never had, and was not going to let this old bitty tell her what to do.

I couldn’t agree more with Dr. Laura; that girl needed to be home with her kid as much as possible. It won’t be easy for her to do, and the messages she gets from society tell her that she needs to be working.

But as I listened to Dr. Laura’s rant, I couldn’t help but think of my own kids, and how much I’ve missed… Sure, we’ve worked hard to have one of us home with the kids as much as possible, but what I wouldn’t give to have been able to be home with the kids full-time, even if it were only a year or two.

I guess that’s the older, wiser, more mature Me talking; I don’t know if I would’ve gone for it ten years ago, even if Yvonne had suggested it. I know I suggested something like that a number of times; as a nurse, Yvonne’s job has always paid more per hour than any job I’ve had, so it wouldn’t have made any difference for us financially. I still give her a hard time on occasion, asking her why it’s always me working full-time… but she’s pretty insistent on wanting to be home for the kids and to be the ‘glue’ that holds the family together. I dunno; I think I could be pretty sticky too. And I think I might know my kids a little better.

Windows Rant Of The Day — Outlook

Filed under: Computers,Work — dave @ 11:54 pm 2009/01/21

I’ve been using Microsoft Entourage — part of the Office for Mac suite — as my primary email client since about, oh, 1995 or so; it’s the one product out of Redmond that really made start to think that Microsoft products might not be so bad. But there seems to be a world of difference between Microsoft for Mac products and those for Windows, because Outlook — Entourage’s counterpart on the Windows side — isn’t nearly as refined.

I’m supporting Windows users pretty much full-time at work these days, so I figured I’d better use the software they use, to force myself to learn the ins & outs of it so I’m better able to answer the questions that come up. In the process of switching over to the Dark Side (yes, The Dark Side), I’m finding Outlook 2007 to be a huge disappointment. That probably shouldn’t be a surprise to me.

There are many things I don’t care for in Outlook, but one thing that really frosted my cookies a while back was trying to create a distribution list… In Entourage, it’s as easy as can be; you select the names in your address book that you’d like to add, create a new distribution list — or Group, as they’re called in Entourage — and POOF, your newly-created group is already populated with the contacts you had selected. What could be easier?

What could be easier? Certainly not Outlook… To create a Distribution List (DL) in Outlook, there is no possible way — at least none that I was able to find — for a selection in your Contacts list to be carried over to a new DL. None. Drag & drop doesn’t even work. The only way to add members to a DL is to tell Outlook to create the DL then click Select Members and scroll through the list to find the email addresses you want to add. (Notice I didn’t say you need to find the Contact you wanted to add; the only selection you can make is by email address; more on that a little later.) Sure you can use the dialog to narrow down the list, or search for a particular string in the Contacts list, but puts severe limits on your search.

For example, I wanted to create a DL that had email addresses from a particular domain. In the Contacts list you can use the Search Contacts field to narrow down the visible items to those that match what you type there; type in the domain name and your list is whittled down to those contacts containing email or web page addresses that match. But there is no way to get that into a DL! That flippin’ drives me crazy.

I think part of the reason that Entourage can pull off a trick so neatly when the same thing makes Outlook puke all over itself is that in an Entourage Address Book entry you can have a pile of email addresses for a given entry, but one of those addresses is set as the Default. That way you can select a bunch of contacts and it knows which address to use when you load them into a Group. Outlook… just don’t work that way. And that’s too bad.

I guess this is just another example of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing. Or an example of Microsoft being fat & lazy, not caring to make things easier for their user base.

Do The Math; It Isn’t That Difficult

Filed under: Computers,Gadgets,Geek — dave @ 11:35 pm

I got this email from several people a while back; you may have seen it too:

This makes sense to me…read and see if you agree…

OK…..here’s a plan I could live with. I’m against the $85,000,000,000.00 bailout of AIG. Instead, I’m in favor of giving $85,000,000,000 to America in a “We Deserve It Dividend”.

To make the math simple, let’s assume there are 200,000,000 bonafide U.S. Citizens over 18. Our population is about 301,000,000 +/- counting every man, woman and child. So 200,000,000 might be a fair stab at adults 18 and up.

So divide 200 million adults 18+ into $85 billon that equals $425,000.00. My plan is to give $425,000 to every person 18+ as a “We Deserve It Dividend”.

Of course, it would NOT be tax free. So let’s assume a tax rate of 30%. Every individual 18+ has to pay $127,500.00 in taxes. That sends $25,500,000,000 right back to Uncle Sam. But it means that every adult 18+ has $297,500.00 in their pocket. A husband and wife team has $595,000.00.

What would you do with $297,500.00 to $595,000.00 in your family? Pay off your mortgage – housing crisis solved. Repay college loans – what a great boost to new grads. Put away money for college – it’ll be there. Save in a bank — create money to loan to entrepreneurs. Buy a new car — create jobs. Invest in the market — capital drives growth. Pay for your parent’s medical insurance — health care improves. Enable Deadbeat Dads to come clean — or else. Remember this is for every adult U S Citizen 18+ including the folks who lost their jobs at Lehman Brothers and every other company that is cutting back and, of course, for those serving in our Armed Forces.

If we’re going to re-distribute wealth let’s really do it… instead of trickling out a puny $1000.00 (‘vote buy’) economic incentive that is being proposed by one of our candidates for President. If we’re going to do an $85 billion bailout, let’s bail out every adult U S Citizen 18+!

As for AIG — liquidate it. Sell off its parts. Let American General go back to being American General. Sell off the real estate. Let the private sector bargain hunters cut it up and clean it up. Here’s my rationale. We deserve it and AIG doesn’t.

Sure it’s a crazy idea that can ‘never work.’ But can you imagine the Coast-To-Coast Block Party! How do you spell Economic Boom?

I trust my fellow adult Americans to know how to use the $85 Billion “We Deserve It Dividend” more than do the geniuses at AIG or in Washington DC.

And remember, the plan only really costs $59.5 Billion because $25.5 Billion is returned instantly in taxes to Uncle Sam.

What do you think?

What do I think? I think someone needs to check the math. Dividing $85 Billion amongst 200 million people yields $425.00, not 1,000 times that. I think somebody put the decimal point in the wrong place.

You know, passing an email like this along is understandable — on its face it sounds pretty good, and because it sounds good, certainly whoever originally wrote it had a calculator or computer or something to check the figures, so it must be right, right?

The funny thing was this; not long after seeing that message, a talk radio host brought it up on the air. Someone else on the show later pointed out that he might want to check the math; he said he tried, but his calculator couldn’t hold that many digits! I’m not a betting man, but I’d bet a large amount of money that he had a computer on his desk with a copy of Excel installed. And in the unlikely case that he didn’t have Excel, he most certainly has a calculator that was installed along with the OS. Surely people know that software tools can do the same thing as a desk calculator, only better; don’t they?

That made me think of something that has bugged me for a long time; how many people have a computer on their desk, and a desk calculator right next to it? Every operating system I’ve seen installs a calculator application by default. That calculator is far more capable than most any desk calculator; that combined with the fact that most desktop computers have full-size keyboards with numeric pads, why would anyone want a desk calculator? I don’t know about you, but my desk is cluttered enough without adding another gadget to it. I’ve used nothing but the calculator in the computer since, oh, about 1993. What’s so difficult about it?

I think it goes back to the age-old problem that people are basically technophobic, and they learn only what they think they need to know to do their jobs. It’s a rare individual who will stretch beyond what they need to know to understand the capabilities of the tools their employers provide. But since so many are averse to change of any kind, I guess I can’t expect too much.

History Schmistory

Filed under: About This Site,Politics — dave @ 5:44 pm 2009/01/20

Barack Hussein Obama was crowned inaugurated as President of the United States today. Many in the news media, who should be a little more objective about the event, breathlessly talk of this “historic event” and gush over how wonderful it is. Sure, it’s historic in that we have a black skinned man in the highest office in the land, just a few short decades out of some of the ugly history of racism…

But what makes this presidency so wonderful?

Wonderful that so many people cast uninformed votes and elected a man largely because of the color of his skin? Wonderful that Obama has so many questionable associations that still get ignored by the fawning media? Wonderful that Obama still hasn’t provided solid proof of his purported US citizenship, driving us toward a potential Constitutional crisis? Wonderful that Obama has a radically socialist agenda for our country, and wonderful that when parts of his agenda fail miserably he’ll have a scapegoat at the ready in President Bush and the economic troubles inherited from his Presidency?

Wonderful that we’re blowing $170 million on a big party to swear him in, and there’s hardly a peep in the news complaining about it (in stark contrast to the fallout over Bush’s $40-something million ceremony four years ago)? Wonderful that before taking the oath of office he’s already talking about pushing another $700 Billion economic stimulus plan through Congress?

I could go on, but it’s just too depressing. So depressing that it’s spread to the visual theme for davintosh.com; yes, things got a little darker around here today, and I think the somber mood might have to stick around for the duration of the Obama Administration (if you find yourself offended by that, maybe you can just think of it as being dark in homage to Obama’s skin color.) I won’t be throwing shoes at effigies of Obama like the overgrown children did to a Bush balloon in DC yesterday, but I won’t be throwing any parties either. I will, however, respect the man and the office he holds, and will not take cheap shots at him. How many on the other side could have said that about someone they so vehemently disagree with?

The only thing I can be hopeful for in the next four years is that the strength and resiliency and perseverance of the American people will overcome any damage brought on by changes in economic and social policies effected by the Obama Administration. More importantly, I have hope in life eternal through Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior; with that I am content. I have no need for the savior so many see in President Obama.

The hype surrounding this inauguration — and the afterglow of the campaign hype — is building some great expectations for the Obama Administration. How long will it be before some of Obama’s ardent followers become disenchanted by his failure to live up to their expectations? Following the transition period, I have a feeling that President Obama has a few more insights into some of the things President Bush has done during his administration, and perhaps a more realistic respect for the man. Whether that lasts at all… Well, I’m not very hopeful about that. But I’m ready to change my mind if proven wrong.

You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life. Winston Churchill

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