Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Good news! Bad news :-(

Way behind in my posts - meant to post this weeks ago, but it's still important news so here goes.

First the good (awesome! exciting!) news:

Finally, after many months and years, car sharing is coming to Minneapolis! See the HourCar website for details.

How's it work? HourCar will have a bank of Toyota Prius available to HourCar members. For a fee (see fee struture online) members can check out a vehicle for personal use. The reservation system will be online, and the cars themselves will be networked, so only the user who has reserved a vehicle will be able to enter that vehicle - all other users will be locked out.

The systems sounds well-thought-out. This could be just the ticket for those who either don't own a car, want to get rid of their car, or want to avoid purchasing a second car. My only caveat is it would be nice if they had a variety of vehicles - like pickup trucks, for instance. Would be nice for the occasion times a person needs to haul something, especially for people like myself who have a car that is more like a go-cart.

Now, for the bad news:

In the past five years, the U.S. Census Bureau reported, Minnesota shot from 18th place to fourth in SUVs. No other state experienced a climb that sharp, and landed so high.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Projects are good.

Well, after roughly 10 hours of slaving away, I have an entertainment center. A small one. My previous setup was a 20 yr old console TV - one of those big jobbers with the fake woodgrain plastic. It was courtesy of my old roommate Glenn - he and I lived in a duplex on James Ave, and when he moved out he offered the TV to me. It was kind of hideous, but it worked, and it was big enough so I could set my VCR, amp, and DVD player on top of it.

Well, it up and died on me a month or so ago. Actually, it was a slow and painful death, filled with sporadic bouts of the "snow screen of death" and an audio section that had cut out a long time ago. But I loved that faux woodgrain monster, and it served me well for several years.

When it died, I figured I'd press my 19" TV into service (it had been doing office duty up til now.) Problem was, where to put the other equipment (since the 19" is too small to set the VCR or anything on top of it.

My first *brilliant* idea: Gut the console TV, and put the 19" inside of it. So I gutted it last weekend, being extra careful with the vacuum tube. The 19" fit inside it just fine. The only problem? It looked like total shite. My standards are pretty low, but even I thought it looked a little weird. A TV within the cabinet of what should have been another TV.

So on to plan B. I already had the console gutted, so maybe I could chop it down and turn it into a coffee-table sized entertainment rack. So I started this Sunday afternoon. First I had to pull all the plastic cladding off, to see what the wood structure underneath was like, and figure out how much I had to disassemble in order to chop it down. Also had to figure out what plastic cladding to salvage. Biked over to Menards off 394 to get a dremel tool, since some of the plastic needed to be ground down. About 5 miles each was, and it was freaking freezing outside, but both out and back I got indoors just as my feet started freezing. Not too shabby. CB loaned me his jigsaw for the actual cut work, which went fine.

Had some black paint left over from when I painted a lamp last year, so I painted the inside black to camoflage all the blemishes. Made a run to Home Depot after work, and found a piece of MDF in their discount scrap bin, so I had them cut it down to size for an interior shelf. Painted that, screwed it in to place from both sides. The top drops right into place on top, making it easy to take it off whenever something inside needs rearranging.

Racked everything up late tonight, put the TV and my snakeplant on top of it, and it actually looks pretty OK. Pretty darn OK, considering I wasn't sure it would work at all. WAY BETTER than the TV within a TV, and even better than the old console itself. Total cost, about $5 and 10 hours of my time (counting the trips to Menards and Home Depot.) I could have easily bought something similar from Ikea for like $100, but this way I saved most of that console from the scrap heap, and have the satisfaction of making something with my hands, which is something I feel like I've been missing lately. Actually, I felt the same way after I made my halloween costume and dressed up my scooter. Projects are good.

By the way, I also got in a 20 mile ride Saturday, which along with the ride to Menards and a visit to Brian's place Sunday night, I think I rode about 35 mi this weekend - not too shabby considering the temps. This is by far the latest into the season I've ever ridden my road bike. Gotta like that.

What to get Mum/Dad for Xmas? Discuss.

OK, I'm opening this thread so the siblings can discuss what to get Mum/Dad for Xmas. True to form, we're way late in thinking about this AGAIN this year. Mum/Dad don't know about this blog, so we're safe here. Post your thoughts/comments using the "Comments" link, and we can have all our thoughts in one place without sifting through email.

To get those synapses reconnected and firing again, here are gifts from past years, with commentary:

2003 - massage/heat backrest. Not sure if they ever used this, since the box is still sitting in the corner in the living room. Maybe they took it out of the box and are using it elsewhere.?.

2002 - under-cabinet radio/CD player. They probably get a little more use out of this.

2001 - I think we gave them the PC this year? Probably the most useful of the gifts, even if it was an enabler to Mum's ebay fanaticism and her purchasing of more corn pottery.

OK, any thoughts anyone?