I remember in high school somebody had an HP calculator and I thought it was the craziest thing that there was a calculator without an = button. As I was entering engineering school I was told that there was some calculator we would eventually need to buy that was $500. At Christmas Mom and Dad bought me my first HP, a model 10C (which was *not* $500). This series of calculators became such an icon that they still sell the financial version, the 12C.
I’m a little over halfway through my 100 free songs from Dockers and eMusic (see first post). It’s been a challenge to find things I want and also a lot of work researching groups that I might like. Because they have so few artists you’ve heard of you pretty much have to stumble across them by finding a few bands and then seeing the recommendations based on what other people have downloaded who downloaded songs from that band. Then I go to AllMusic.com and see what they say about them and which albums they like and which are the best tracks from those albums. Then back to eMusic to see if they have that album. Sometimes they will only have early or later albums when the band wasn’t as marketable and was on a smaller label. For instance they have some very new Rickie Lee Jones but not her famous stuff from the 70’s and 80’s. Still, I downloaded a nice cover she does of The Beatles’ “For No One,” which I’d never heard of but sounds better than the original.
With my birthday coming up next month, I mailed in my car registration on Thursday. Today (Saturday) I got my new Wildflower tag. That means the post office delivered the registration and plate in one day each and Dekalb County processed my tag order the same day they got it.
Buying this plate gives money to the DOT to plant decorative weeds in the median, looks better than the regular Georgia tag, and matches my black car.
The battery on my cordless phone hasn’t been lasting very long lately, so it is time for new one. I knew Best Buy had them but for some reason I looked around on the internet and found batteries.com. They sell the battery I need for $5 less than Best Buy ($9 vs $14) and there is free shipping. As I was registering with them and placing the order they asked where I had heard about them. Then I remembered that I think they were one of the AdSense advertisers on my iPod battery pack page. So I thought I should click through from there and get the battery. I’m glad I did because the advertisement had a code that gave me 10% off my purchase!
Geeky stuff: I wound up upgrading to the NiMH battery instead of the standard NiCad battery after seeing that it offered 1500 milliamp-hours instead of 700 for the NiCad, has no memory effect, and is better for the environment. However it cost me $17 instead of $9. I found a website that said it wouldn’t be a problem substituting NiMH and in fact it was recommended.
BTW: Last month my AdSense account racked up $3.42. My all-time revenue is $15.89. Not bad for nothing. See first entry.
I bought some Dockers this weekend and it included “100 free music downloads” which turns out just to be a trial month with eMusic, a subscription download service. Previously McDonald’s had given away a free song on Sony’s download service, but I investigated that and found out that they used some proprietary music format that only Sony players would recognize. So I never bothered. But 100 free songs sounded pretty good since on iTunes that would be worth $99!
So I looked into it to make sure it was worth it. Interesting. They let you download true MP3 formatted songs with no copyright restrictions and recorded at high variable bitrates for best quality. They don’t have as many songs as iTunes, only 250,000. So what’s the catch?
Susan’s dog, Beacon, invented a game they play when they go on walks. Beacon will find a pine cone, pick it up, walk with it for a little while, and then drop it. In a few steps Susan will catch up to it and kick it. By that time Beacon has stopped and, facing Susan, is set up like hockey goalie to try and stop the pine cone. Whether it gets past Beacon or not she gets the pine cone in her mouth again and walks with it. The game starts again as she carries it for a few seconds and then drops it on the street for Susan to kick again. Beacon only plays this game (or with pine cones) while they are on walks because really it only works on walks. And her other dog, Belle, never plays the game. If a pine cone isn’t available sometimes Beacon will use a magnolia pod. After she does the game five times or so, she will stop playing and that’s the end of the game. This didn’t take any training, it’s just something Beacon does. It’s a great adpatation of fetch except that Beacon knows she doesn’t have to bring the pine cone back, just drop it and Susan will catch up.
No man is complete without a chainsaw. Dad had to wait until his 60’s before he got one. Jeb was in his 40’s when he got his. But this weekend I made the move. Given that Dad’s Craftsman is horrible (I think maybe a new chain would do wonders for his, which mostly just polishes tree trunks) and Jeb has some problems with his Husqvarna, I opted for a Stihl MS 250. Stihl is always rated higly and I haven’t had much trouble with my Stihl trimmer, so it made sense for me to get a Stihl chainsaw which uses the same 50:1 fuel mix. A guy at work also swears by his Stihl chainsaw and when it broke he went out and bought another one, a little bit larger. The funny thing about that is he then also went out and got his old chainsaw repaired and continues to use it because it is lighter. He has had the newer one for a couple of years and has yet to use it.
Anyway, I took the chainsaw to Susan’s and went to town on one of several trees that blew down during Hurricane Ivan. I think maybe she had a microburst or tornado at her house because she had a cluster of pretty tall trees snapped off at their trunks and one large tree was knocked completely over and landed on her house (causing remarkably little damage, but crushing the eave completely in that spot).
The Stihl went through everything easily. What a perfect tool for that job! But just as hard was moving all the pieces out to the street. I’m pretty happy with the purchase and still have plenty of trees to work on at Susan’s (but not the one on the house which will require a crane and $3,000 to remove).
Today I took the last of the Estonians to the airport for his flight home. It has been an interesting summer watching them struggle and cope with their situation. I think it has been more of a struggle than any of them thought. I was talking to Arni about why he wasn’t doing any work. He said that last year in Idaho he had a similar experience where he had a hard time staying motivated and wound up not doing anything most of the summer. It really bothered him that the job had gotten the better of him and he wanted to do it again to prove that he could be successful at it. He stayed confident and tried to keep himself motivated through the training, but on the first day of selling after he dropped the other two guys off he said he was just shaking from anxiety. Though he sold some books and enjoyed selling in the Avondale area, he started getting a more hostile reception in other neighborhoods around here. He quickly lost his motivation. At the same time he had invested a lot of money in the plane flight, the van, and rent. There’s no way he broke even. He said that even though he couldn’t make himself work he focused on keeping the other two guys motivated and enforcing the schedule. He said they never got going late and were always up at the same time. He had talked at one point about coming back again as a team leader because he likes managing people more than selling. I told him it was definitely easier to work with people than do work on your own, because people will always ask questions and need stuff so you stay pretty busy. But before he left he said he won’t do the book selling again. Part of growing up is learning that you have limitations and Arni has had to accept that he has some.