Linked: “Apple’s New High-End Watch Is Crazy Tough. “

via Wired:

APPLE’S USING A cool material in its latest stable of Watches: ceramic. The shiny white wearable is the new flagship model, and starting this Friday you can order one for $1,250. Yes, that’s nine grand cheaper than the $10,000, 18-karat gold Apple Watch Edition it replaces, but it’s still about twice the price of the stainless steel Series 2. What do you get for the extra dough, beyond a slick look?

I was very close to purchasing a ceramic Apple Watch this year but couldn’t swing the extra cash. I hope we see more devices in this material from Apple in the future.

Linked: “How to Inspire a New Generation of Writers Through Blogging”

via KQED:

However, because I also want my students to have ownership of their own blogs, I encourage them to write on topics that resonate with them personally. They are allowed to write about any topic as long as the content is appropriate for the educational space. It is through these self-directed writings that I learn wonderful details about my students. I discover that some have a passion for dancing or golfing. Others grapple with what it means to be a teenager or how to live up to their parents’ expectations. Some are quite opinionated and aren’t shy to tell you exactly what they think of the world. Others use their blogs to publish short stories that they have written. I love that some have found their own niches and that they find blogging to be a powerful form of self-expression.

There’s no lack of pressure on kids to read more in schools and at home but writing is not encouraged outside of assigned work. Being given a blank space to express yourself is something I personally have loved over the years. It’s my outlet and a place to have an unrestricted and uncensored voice that some people choose to read every day.

When most young people express themselves by liking a page on facebook or retweeting a celebrity’s thoughts on war, the written word is seriously lacking for our youth. I would love to see more schools encouraging this.

Life: Homeownership

June 22nd – October 7th (15 Weeks, 3.75 months). That’s how long it took from applying for a home-loan after seeing the house and getting the keys. I think this is in the higher-end of time-to-close for people but if you read my post about the FHA/203K process, you’ll see it wasn’t a straightforward process.

As the seller’s agent remarked on our closing-meeting, “I’m glad this is over.” It’s not something you really want to hear from a realtor but she said there were 5 offers pending for when my sale failed to go through and she said that she could have basically camped out there during the process because so many people were interested.

Now that I have the keys, it feels like nothing has really changed.

I sat down last week with my contractor who had me sign the permits requests that go to the town. This week, he and his crew will begin demolition of everything inside of the house removing walls, ceiling, floors, windows and doors. Even the propane and plumbing lines are being updated and relocated for efficiency and some additional support will be added to the roof in preparation for solar panels.

At this point, I probably won’t be moving in until the 2nd or 3rd week of December. This allows the contractor to wrap up everything and I’ll be out of the way. HUD legally requires the owner not take up residency until the rehab construction is fully completed. The advantage is that I don’t own any mortgage payments until I’m able to live in the home which is another nice thing bout the 203K program.

That didn’t stop me from going over yesterday to measure the yard for fencing and install a new mailbox, one that won’t be destroyed by the plow-trucks (knocked over, sure but not disintegrated) and the mailbox replaces one that was rusted and not water-proof. Like any typical DIY home-owner, I forgot to buy adhesive numbers so another trip to Home Depot had to happen 🙂 I think that people should buy homes based on how many miles from the hardware store they are.

In order to simplify things and save money, Heather and I are considering…well she’s certain this is fine and I’m on the fence that we’ll store all of our things in a U-Haul Pod and live in her parents’ house for 2-4 weeks while construction wraps up. This will save heating propane at the current house, rent, electricity and allow us to move in to the new place as soon as possible w/o delays. I have to fill a propane tank at the new house in a few weeks and turn on electricity so costs are already going to begin very soon.

  1. What is not in the remodeling scope? Here are a few things not included that I’d like to take up before this time next year. We’ll see how I do:
  2. Outdoor Rock Patio
  3. Outdoor Smoker + Grill hooked up to my Propane tank (none of these portable tanks anymore)
  4. Extra Parking spot w/ retaining wall against hill
  5. Asphalt poured making it easier to plow my drive-way and pull out (huge drop scrapes my Golf R front lip)
  6. 4 Raised Boxes for gardening
  7. Hop Vines planted along fencing
  8. Fencing to keep porter in so he can play w/o issues escaping
  9. Finish framing in the basement
  10. AC Unit for Beer/Wine Cellar separate from home central air
  11. Whole-Home AC Unit that will marry to existing duct work currently connected to heating furnace
  12. Herb Garden on Kitchen Window
  13. Outdoor motion cameras to assist with existing motion lighting
  14. Fire Pit at ground level (recessed)
  15. Brick-Oven Chimney (lots of DIY guides on this)
  16. Remove small shrubbery in back-yard
  17. Drainage installed at rear of house where water collects in spring-time (hill-slope)
  18. HomeKit Blinds w/ auto-blackout at sun-rise to save cooling costs
  19. Beer Glassware Display…not dorm room style but I want something elegant to display my growing (100+) glassware but w/o it falling and breaking

I think total cost for all of this will be about 10-15 grand doing almost all of it myself where possible. The parking area, propane work and asphalt poured will take some professional work and some special licensing because construction where I am on a lake requires environmental approvals from state of NH which takes some time. i was told to apply for permits this winter and expect 3 months of waiting before I can start.

I’m looking forward to finally getting moved in!

For those of you who missed it, here are a few photos. There will be more over the course of remodeling.

Linked: “iPhone 7 Lines Start Growing Ahead of Friday’s Launch”

via MacRumors:

Old post (I’m a little behind on this linked stuff) but the comments on this post just go to show how different the Apple community is from 10 years ago. Lining up for a Mac OS X Software release every 18 months used to be what you did and today, people who do this get made fun of. Better yet, most people lined up are just doing it to sell their spot on craigslist an hour before the device goes on sale.

Properly Maintaining your Car / Motorcycle Costs Money

This is probably the most ‘duh’ blog-title ever but I’ve had a few recent experiences that have lead me to see that people really don’t properly maintain their vehicles. While I’m the kind of person who does more than I should, most of the Americans I meet simply do what is required some of the time.

I’m the kind of car-lover who sees a V8 and thinks, “that’s an expensive spark-plug change”.

It costs me $38 every 5,000 miles to change my spark plugs. If I had a V8 Camaro or Mustang, that’s $76 every 3 months just to keep all of the pistons firing reliably. Most economy cars don’t need plugs until you’re at 50 or 75,000 miles but the tuning company that has my turbocharger pushing double the amount of boost as stock recommends very often intervals. When you pair this with the fact I put 20K miles a year on my car and 12K on my motorcycle, wear & tear are huge factors.

Which is why when I see a kid dreaming about owning a V12 Ferrari or V8 Shelby GT350, I want to grab them by the shoulders and say, “I hope you’re pulling in 300 grand a year one day”

This morning, I road past the local gas station. They sell unbranded econo-gas that’s low-tier w/o any added detergents with 10-15% ethanol. My local buddy who drives a 2-door Candy White Volkswagen Golf R (2012) was there filling up. I’m sure he uses 91 octane since that’s what VW recommends but I wanted to pull off and tell him to either stop 2 miles up the road and use the ethanol free gas or go into town and get Shell 93 w/ Nitrogen or he’s going to gum up his injectors and intake manifold with disgusting carbon. The TSI and TFSI Engines VAG uses are direct-injection in the states, not multi-port like the Europeans get so carbon buildup is a horrible issue. When you pair it with low-tier gasoline, he’s just asking for $800 walnut blasting every 50,000 miles or else he’s going to suffer mis-fires, false-starts, power-loss and MPG economy going out the window.

He’s not alone though.

I saw another Golf R, a 4-door Candy White at the local Co-Op the other day. I was on my bike and I noticed the guy was running P-Zero tires which are an enthusiast set of rubber and the owner came out and the only reason I struck up a conversation was because of the tires. Most Golf R owners up here (about 8 of them) are people who don’t know what they’re driving. I wave, they never wave back. The only person that does is my buddy who I see on my commute every morning as we go opposite directions. The two people (now three) that I’ve spoken to locally in person say they just wanted an All-Wheel-Drive hatchback. That’s it. They just think of it as a GTI with AWD. Sigh.

Anyway, I mentioned the tires and the guy, in short, said, “Oh, I just bought it. I didn’t know those were special tires. I guess the previous owner had them on there. I just got it because this is good in the winter and I won’t need winter tires with all wheel drive.”


Running high-performance summer tires on this car where our winter is 6 months long simply because all 4 of your wheels get power is incredibly stupid.

I should get back to the point of this post.

The point is, owning a machine that needs to last you 100,000 miles is important. Unfortunately, when the majority of people don’t do even basic maintenance and put altimax General tires on their car and run their brakes down to the calipers, the used-car market suffers to the point where only someone who is an enthusiast will pay me extra for the money I spent on doing extra. The used car market will set a Honda Accord that’s 5 years old at 12,000 USD with 60K miles (just guessing here). If the owner changed the oil every 3,000 miles with full synthetic, continually oiled and conditioned the leather seats, had a ceramic CQuartz or Opti-Coat applied, used ceramic brakes, had a full carbon cleanup at 50,000 miles only using top-tier gasoline and no pets, kids and used WeatherTech floor mats to keep the carpet looking great…oh and took off the stock wheels running aftermarkets and putting basically 0-mile stock wheels back on the car w/o any wear or dings before the sale with twice a year professional detailing, that car won’t make any more than the guy who literally never did anything to his car except change the oil once a year.

….and this to me is quite sad. We should be rewarded for loving and caring for our machines. I may find a Golf R buyer who appreciates that I’ve only hand-washed my car and that I spent $1800 getting a ceramic paint protection applied and that I clean my air filter monthly, oil changes every 5K and new spark plugs 3 times a year but the guy who doesn’t even know Pzero tires are good will simply see a good looking AWD hatchback and haggle me down to 15% less than the car is worth because there are surface scratches on the piano black interior trim.

I think everyone should buy the car they can afford to properly care for. If you can’t spend a thousand bucks a year in maintenance on the Civic, don’t buy a 3-Series and run it into the ground. Or if you do, lease it.

Leases are great for inconsiderate jerks who don’t care about their cars. You should still feel bad because when you turn that car in, it’ll be someone else’s problem and you’re making their life worse by never caring for the vehicle.