Saturday, June 24, 2017

Sticker-Price Shock

I bought my first new car in 1978... a Plymouth Arrow. It was an import. It was made by Mitsubishi and I absolutely loved it.

The car was run over by a 45 foot tractor-trailer and extensively damaged a month after I bought it, but, it was rebuilt and given a custom paint job. I chose Hugger Orange, the color of the 1969 GTO Judge. The Arrow cost me $4995.00 and it was a lot of car for the money.

I had a newer-used Mitsubishi before I bought the new Arrow. It was a Colt GT and I liked it so much that I stuck with Mitsubishi for my first new car.

After the Arrow was old and tired I bought another new car-- a Colt GTS. Yep, another Mitsubishi. That one cost a little more than the Arrow, but it was still a modest investment.

Years went by and I owned several other new cars. I finally returned to Mitsubishi in 2005 when I bought a Lancer (16,000 clams). It was not the worst car I ever owned; No, that dubious distinction goes to the beautiful ESCORT GT I bought in 1989 --the Mitsubishi has had the front-end replaced twice, the brakes replaced twice, and the up-stream O2 sensor replaced as well. I had $4000 in repairs in the last two years and, recently, the brakes started grinding again. The car only had 86,000 miles on it.

MITSUBISHI... you will never get another dime from me.

Holy Sticker-Price Batman!

With average new cars selling around twenty-five grand, I've been hesitant about replacing that crappy Lancer. Even used cars average sixteen to twenty grand these days.

Last weekend, I bought a used Honda Accord. It has a lot of miles on it, but, Honda cars often give you over 350,000 miles before they give up the ghost.

The car rides like a dream. It has a great sound system. It is comfortable. It has NO RUST and has never been in a collision. So, even though it is a 2007 model and this is 2017, I pulled the trigger. I bought it.

Here are some pictures:

I took the car to Darby Creek Metro Park to take a few pictures without a cluttered background.

This is the parking lot on Kuhlwein Road for those of you familiar with the Columbus area. There is a bike trail running alongside the parking lot.
The fields surrounding the parking area are filled with birds and an occasional white-tailed deer. It is a perfect place to take a few pictures.

The Accord has a 2.4 liter engine with hemispheric heads and a low restriction exhaust. It is quiet and feels as if you are driving on air. The engine purrs.

In the center console is a 6-CD changer and 120 watt amplifier. There are six speakers inside the passenger compartment. This is first-rate car audio. I am very happy with the sound quality and I am a professional musician with a passion for audio.

The car features cruise control, air conditioning, a leather steering wheel, comfortable bucket seats, vanity mirrors with lighting, reading lights, side-view mirror defrosters, rear defroster, electric windows and door locks, electric adjustable driver's seat, and a moon roof.

The transmission is a six-speed automatic. That is important since my wife cannot drive a stick-shift car. I've tried to teach her, but, it just ain't happening. This is a luxury sedan with tons of leg room. In short, after one week, my next new car will be a Honda Accord.

Reviews of this car are all favorable. Some people have reported getting 400,000 miles on their Accord. Once you drive one you'll understand why so many Honda owners are absolutely loyal to the brand.

I admit it. I am hooked. The Honda Accord is a keeper.

Monday, June 5, 2017

It's Been Crazy

It has been quite a while since my last post, but, it has been crazy around here lately. 

I attended an event at the Ohio Theater in down-town Columbus, Ohio. Due to very small and cramped seating at the theater my back was thrown out of alignment and I was in pain for two solid weeks. I stayed on schedule for the next issue of Ukulele Player Magazine even though I was in a lot of pain.
I had just released the latest issue of Ukulele Player Magazine and announced it on Facebook and ukulele forums when I received a phone call from my sister-in-law telling me that my younger brother was in a terrible accident and was in Mt. Carmel Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

My brother passed out while shopping in a Meijer Department store. The back of his head struck a metal rack as he fell cracking his skull and he was rushed to a local hospital where he remained on life-support for some time.

My brother's accident happened on a Sunday and the following Monday night and into Tuesday things were pretty severe and it was possible that they could lose him. My wife and I sat with him Tuesday.

By the end of the day my brother's condition had improved to the point where he was once again breathing on his own.

The following Sunday, I was at the hospital twice. The first time, I tried to convince my brother to stay there and get a pace-maker that they discovered he needed. When that did not work, I called my older brother and had him try and talk sense into him. Unfortunately, my little brother is as stubborn as a mule— my older brother and I coordinated efforts, went to the hospital, and we took my younger brother to the home of my parents.

I talked with my parents yesterday and my brother is scheduled to meet with his doctor and OSU Hospital to discuss the pace-maker and installation procedure. That saga is almost over.

At this point, things are back to normal.

So what exactly is normal for me?

I have another issue of Ukulele Player Magazine coming your way. I have another book project in the making. I had another book that I was planning that will be on hold until this new book idea, and subsequent writing is completed— because timing is everything.

I won't say more about the new book idea for now, you'll hear more about it in a few weeks.

What all of these recent events serve to do is emphasize that life is precious and we should not squander a single minute of it. Every day is a blessing. We should make the most of the time we are given.

Enjoy time with friends and family. Enjoy your work. Enjoy your play-time, too. Life is SHORT. Don't let it slip through your fingers. Don't put off things you really want to do because time is fleeting. 

If you want to accomplish anything, plan for it and get it done when you can. You may not get another chance.

Live each day as if it were your last. Tell your family that you love them. embrace them. Be grateful for them. Be grateful for your friends and associates.

Count Your Blessings...

Monday, May 8, 2017

I Love My iPhone 5S

I already wrote about gadgets. If you read that blog post you know that I love gadgets, but to me, a cell phone is a tool, not a toy. I use my Palm to keep me on time. I use my laptop for work. I use one of my tablets for work on the go when I must travel light.

With that in mind, I retired my old Samsung smart phone in favor of a refurbished iPhone 5S running the newest Apple iOS (10.3.1 at the time of this post).

To keep this phone well-protected I turned to Amazon. I found the "O-Case" in brown leather. It has a classy look and feel to it. The leather is luxurious and the stitching shows great attention to detail. In short, I love the way it looks and feels. 

In order for me to buy a case it has to be well-made. While I definitely prefer the look and feel of leather, it must have a thoughtful design and the stitching has to be straight and even. I want a product that looks as though care went into its manufacture.

There is a lot of cheap leather out there. Just like shoes, you can find junk, like Nubuck, and you can find patent leather that will serve you for many years. This case is the latter, not the former.

Why the iPhone 5S rather than the 6S like my wife. I prefer the smaller phone because I really only use it for communication and checking the weather. I don't want it to entertain me. I don't want to listen to music. I just want to carry a phone for emergencies or when I need to contact someone.

As for the case, I love an elegant look, a luxurious feel, and adequate protection for the phone. I also want it to fit comfortably in my shirt pocket or in a sport coat or jacket. I don't need a pen holder or flaps to make it stand up for watching movies. I can watch movies on one of my tablets if I choose to do so. This is, after all, a telephone as far as I am concerned.

If you want a practical phone, consider the iPhone 5S. There are lots of refurbished units available. If you want a top-quality, executive leather phone case, check out the O-Case at Amazon.


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Meet the Real You

How well do you know yourself?

I always loved the outdoors. Every chance I had to run around in the wilderness, I took it. Every opportunity I had to hike, ride a bike, go fishing, or pursue some form or another of outdoor recreation I took it.

By the time I was twelve years old I knew that I wanted to specialize in the fly fishing business and make that my living. My plan was to tie flies, build fly rods, teach fly fishing and fly tying, guide, and write books and articles about it.

I was very lucky, it seems. I work with people every day who have no idea, whatsoever, what they would really LOVE to do if given the choice. How is that possible?

What Are Your Passions?

Do you have any passions-- things you truly love to do? What do you do for recreation? Do you have any hobbies? When you have "play time" what do you like to do? If you could turn one of those things into a way to make a living, would you do it?

Figuring out what it is that you would love to do for a living is the secret to life-long success. It helps you establish goals. It gives you direction. When you engage in something you truly love to do you have the highest probability of becoming successful in your field. Passion is the key. 

Passion makes all of your hard work worth it. When your work pays off and your goals have been met, your dream job has become a reality, then work is play. You don't hate waking up in the morning. Work doesn't feel like work at all.

If you could do anything you wanted, pick any occupation at all, leaving money out of the decision-making process, what would you choose?

Now, ask yourself, How can I turn this into money?

And Remember...

Measure success by accomplishment, not by money. Money buys convenience, but accomplishment buys satisfaction.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Music In the Air

When I was teaching fly fishing for a living I started every morning with a cup or two of freshly brewed coffee and quietly finger-picked my guitar while watching meandering eddies in the West Branch of the Delaware River.

Since returning to Ohio my mornings still include coffee and music, but, most of the time, the instrument of choice is a little ukulele.

I have had the pleasure of playing just about every brand of ukulele available today. I guess that's one of the advantages of publishing Ukulele Player Magazine. We were the first ukulele periodical to last more than a handful of issues since the instrument once again became popular in recent years.

Due to health issues, I had to take a break for a little while, but, the magazine is back in action and we had a great kick-off with feature artist Ronin Wong.

The next issue is just around the corner and will feature Spats White, an amazing performer with fifty-plus years in the entertainment business. Spats is a true artist and a troubadour. He sings, he tells stories, and he plays his little Martin ukulele with passion. Zealous, you betcha. Spats is one of New York City's best entertainers and he's a friend, besides.

This morning, I am enjoying the sweet tone of an Oscar Schmidt OU250SWK "Bell" ukulele. It is a vintage reissue of the old Lyon and Healy bell. Lyon and Healy became Washburn. US Music owns both Washburn and Oscar Schmidt (along with other popular music brands). So, this bell is the genuine article.

This Oscar Schmidt bell ukulele is a professional quality, solid wood instrument that is a joy to play and sounds as sweet as it looks. I confess, I did lower the action to suit my own preferences.

Music is one of my many passions. A little finger-picking, a little strumming, and a little coffee-- not a bad way to start the day.

Thursday, April 20, 2017


Time never stops. April is more than half over and before you know it summer will be here.

I am mindful of the fact that every day in spring brings different weather conditions. One day the temperature is near eighty degrees and the next it's fifty. Today, it's raining and tomorrow, it's sunny, but the wind is really ripping.

This brings me to my next point. Don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today.

I have a passion for cycling. I always have. I'd much rather ride my bicycle outside, enjoying the rolling farmland around Mid Ohio-- it is much more exciting than riding on a trainer in my den. If given the choice a country road or a paved bike path wins every time. 

If you always find yourself waiting for perfect conditions before riding your bicycle, you will not ride much. My motto is ride when you can. I do skip outdoor riding when it is below fifty degrees or raining outside. But, at those times, I am on the trainer for at least twenty minutes or so before getting ready for work.

Life is too short to put off things you should do today. Just DO IT.

Procrastination is habit forming. Remember the immortal words of W. Clement Stone:

The best way to get something done is to DO IT NOW.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Missing A Day's Work is Never Fun

I've never been one for Ferris Bueller's Day Off. For me, missing a day's work is never really fun. If I am not at work, it means that I am really sick.

I worked at the corporate offices of MEI/Micro Center years ago. Four years-- I never missed a day of work. Even in the worst weather, I was always there. In fact, co-workers used to joke around about me sitting in my cubicle in the midst of a nuclear war.

Well, yesterday, I found myself calling in sick for my day-job. Believe me, I did not like doing so, but a cold hit me hard and fast and I wanted to get heavily medicated and sleep as much as possible in order to knock this bad boy out of me in time for planned weekend bike rides.

I am an avid cyclist. It is what I do to stay in shape. I've been hooked on cycling for fifty-four years. I started riding when I was four-years-old and never looked back.

Cycling is one of my passions. It's the gears, the road, the sights and sounds. It's the rolling hills and farmland. I get my kicks on two wheels, plain and simple. I love riding my bicycle and I feel great afterward.

It's Friday morning (1:50 AM) and I plan to be at work at 5:00 AM. I'll be pulling down a ten-hour day. It's my hope that I can work by myself as much as possible and not infect anyone. Simply put, this is a world in which corporations expect employees to show up and be productive regardless of medical issues. It would be great if we were all told to stay home until we are healthy and won't pass our germs around the workplace; alas, that is not likely to happen.

So, in a short time, I will be in the shower and getting dressed for a day at the office. I hope that working and staying busy will help me recover quickly. I also hope that nobody else comes down with this cold, but, that would most likely take divine intervention.

And so it is that I will go to work as usual and just hope for the best for everyone else.

Spring colds are no fun.