Cars: Choose Your Loss

2 station wagonsWhen you buy a car, you have a choice to make: fun or practical. Fun = expensive. Practical = saving money in the long or short run.

Case in point: these two wagons were for sale locally, for relatively low prices. When compared to the original prices, the BMW was an incredible steal. However, the BMW will end up costing way more than the Ford, in practically every way you can imagine. (Trust me on this; I had an old BMW for a few years.)

But every single minute behind the wheel of the 528 (when it is running OK, that is) will be way more enjoyable than every minute behind the wheel of the Escort.

You must pick your poison.

(And I dream of poison. When I saw that BMW, I thought a little too long on how fun it would be to have it. Alas, we will continue to drive one of the most boring — and practical — cars on the planet, the Toyota Corolla.)

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The Champs-Elysees

Alfa Romeo MitoLast summer we went to Paris.

I don’t say that to brag. It was part of our visit to my sister and her family, who live in Belgium.

Anyhow, one afternoon, my oldest son Jay and I decided to stroll along the Champs-Elysees, a famous avenue in the city known for its romantic cafes and luxury specialty shops.

Needless to say, we didn’t sip coffee at a sidewalk cafe. However, we thoroughly enjoyed visiting a Fiat/Lancia/Alfa Romeo shop/museum. (Jay is next to the wonderful Alfa Romeo Mito, a car that sadly won’t be making it to the USA.)

Arc De Triomphe wedding photoOne surreal moment was seeing scores of Chinese people getting wedding pictures taken in front of the Arc de Triomphe.

The point of this story? My romantic dream of experiencing The Champs-Elysees involved a leisurely brunch at one of those cafes. That didn’t happen. What did happen may have been even better — a fun afternoon with my son that we’ll probably both remember for the rest of our lives.

p.s. Heather and I did enjoy a romantic evening in Paris. We had dessert at a divey bar, not on the Champs-Elysees.

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Review: InkJoy Pens

InkJoy penI love writing. As in, taking a pen out and dragging it across a piece of paper. It’s a dying art.

Papermate recently released their InkJoy series of pens. I bought a 6-pack (well, 4) and love the writing pleasure this pen provides. It glides across the page unlike anything else I’ve tried.

It’s a ballpoint, so the ink is maybe more permanent than a gel pen’s. And it just glides more smoothly than a gel pen ever could.

The only problem is a bit of blobbing. The ink is so juicy that it does leave a few blobs, but regular pen-tip cleaning solves that problem. At the end of a few lines of writing, I wipe the tip on a scrap of paper. Problem solved.

Oh — my color of choice is blue. People are more prone to believe your writing is real. (This goes back to the xerox days, when black always meant a copy.)

Disclosure: I bought these with my own money. Office Depot advertized them, and the ad convinced me to give them a try. I’m glad I did.

Disclosure two: If you would like to buy these pens via Amazon, you’ll give my friend Jon a few cents by buying them through this link. Thanks.

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Cameras have come so far

Rickenbacker guitarI love digital cameras. I’ve owned something like eight different cameras over the course of roughly ten years. I keep upgrading, as they continue to get more powerful. My latest is a Sony DSC H70, which I’ve had since about June 2011. I made the switch from a beautiful little Canon, as I wanted to zoom while taking video. (We no longer use a traditional video camera for taking family videos.)

My Sony is a just few steps above a basic point-and-shoot, and yet it takes HD video and renders amazing sharpness in very low-light situations, such as when I shot this bass guitar. (This unretouched shot was taken while someone was playing this bass!)

A huge factor in my purchase of a digital camera is that it must fit in my pocket. If I have to carry around a huge honking camera, I guarantee I would take less photos than I take now. “In the ballpark” quality is better than no shot at all.

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Snow fun

We had a huge snowfall on December 22nd. The remnants are still melting away, in spite of a few days in the 60 degree range (fahrenheit, or 15–20 c).

Since that was before Christmas, our neighbor had his massive light display on — even though some of it got buried in snow.

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Woody Allen’s house

Woody Allen's Sleeper HouseOn Christmas afternoon, we went sledding near Genesee, Colorado. The hill we chose is about 20 minutes’ drive from our house. The sledding was in the shadow of the “Sleeper House” — named that after its appearance in the film “Sleeper” — that Woody Allen directed and starred in during 1973. It’s also known as the “Sculptured House” and has its own Wikipedia page.

You can easily see the house from I-70, the largest highway that goes from Denver through the mountains, over to Utah. But this was the closest I had been to the house.

This house has been for sale several times since we’ve lived in Denver — most recently last October. I remember one of those times, it was in a sad state. The newspaper article mentioned that it was falling apart. I think it has been refurbished a few times since then. The owner before the most recent sale had a $3.4 million mortgage on the home. It sold for $1.5 million. (Ouch!)

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