Tuesday, October 31, 2006

We'll be moving soon...

Where? I don't know.

When? Couldn't tell you.

Then why, Eddie, have you said you're moving? How can you know this?

Well, I'll tell you: We just ordered two boxes of checks and a couple rolls of return address labels. Over the course of our marriage, purchasing checks has always seemed to prompt a move.

We bought checks when we were first married, though we only stayed in our first apartment for a few months. We stayed in our second apartment for a year, and just as we finished off the original checks, we ordered more. And moved at the drop of a hat three weeks later when we found a much better place.

But, we had just ordered those new checks, and why put them to waste? So, we used those for the next year and a half. Then we ordered new checks, and within another two or three months we bought our house.

The equation is simple. New checks = move to new address.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Back in Time

When I was a kid, I had a clock that kept time by moving chrome ball bearings along various tracks. I've tried explaining it to people, but to no avail. I found it recently in a box in the garage. The plastic cover cracked years ago (it somehow fell off of my dresser), and many of the ball bearings were lost over the years.

Basically, the thing worked by picking up a ball bearing every minute and dropping it on the top of a track. The balls would fill up slots and by adding them up you could tell the time. I loved this thing when I was a kid, but the last time I saw one of these "new" was when I got mine some 22 years ago.

Today I was cleaning out my physical inbox, when I saw a catalog which billed itself as "fun gifts for computer enthusiasts." I don't really consider myself enthusiastic about computers, but it was a welcome change from the normal mail I get at the office.

So I leafed through the thing, saw a couple of interesting things, when all of the sudden... yes, yes, you knew it, didn't you?

The "Kinetic Motion Clock".

$40?? I guarantee you mine didn't cost that much, plus mine was operated off of A/C, not batteries. And they've added the nifty "seconds" meter at the top. You can tell the time by looking at the hours (bottom row) and adding the minute rows together (top two).

Other than the batteries and the seconds counter, it looks precisely the same as the one I had/have. Now they make it in neon, too. Such heresy.

I'm convinced my kids need one of these.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Don't Listen to the Car Dealer

Website endorsement: StreetKeys.com

About a year ago, we lost one of the keys to our van. In today's day and age, most new cars have ID chips embedded in the key as an added security measure. So, any old key won't start your car.

Basically, the chip inside the key has to be programmed into your car's computer. That means that someone who makes a mechanical copy of your key can't start your car without the right chip inside. I called the dealer and they informed me a new key would cost $150, which included programming the onboard computer.

The owner's manual informed me that if I had two existing keys, I could program a new one by myself. Fortunately, we found the missing key. By then we realized we needed to have a spare in addition to the two copies that Anne and I carry around with us.

I called the dealer back and asked how much it would be for just the key. They told me they only sell the keys with programming, since "end users" can't program the keys by themselves. I relayed what I had read in the owners manual, but they insisted they needed their expensive hourly technicians to do the very complicated and intricate computer programming. $150.

Instead, I spent 2 minutes on Google and found the above mentioned website that sells replacement RFID keys. They even give you instructions on how to program the key to the car. If you don't have the existing keys, or need the computer reprogrammed, they'll even hook you up with someone who will come to YOU.

The total price for the key? $15. Plus shipping.

Now, what about the programming? Back to the owner's manual. This car can remember up to 4 keys, then after that the computer has to be reset. If you don't have two existing keys, you need someone to program the computer for you.

First I went to a locksmith who cut the new key to match the mechanical cuts on the old keys. Then I went home, and tried to start the car with the new, unprogrammed key. The "THEFT" light blinked on the dashboard, and nothing else happened, so I guess it really isn't a hoax after all!

The programming was easy. You put in one of the existing keys, turn the ignition on, then turn it off. Then within 10 seconds, you put in the next existing key, turn the ignition on, then off. Then you put the new key in. After that? VROOOM.

$15 vs. $150. And I didn't have to spend an hour in the dealer's waiting room smelling stale coffee and listening to Judge Judy. Hey, dealer? Take a hike.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Conference Weekend

Apparently we have a tradition in our home. When Anne announced to our children that it was conference weekend, one of the kids said, "Yay! That means you're making cinnamon rolls!"

I admit, I think the same thing every time conference time comes around.

Conference was great. I missed the first session but have just loaded it onto my iPod so I can listen to the words of our inspired church leaders while I fight traffic for the next day or two.