30 December, 2009

Thus another year approaches its end

When the new year is approaching, we all have our own unique version of "looking back" or "looking ahead". Some of us do more of one and less of the other. We make resolutions, some of which we'll keep, and some of which we will abandon before the 1st of February.

The thing that stands out for me in this past year is that, more than any other year, I traveled a lot. In this calendar year alone, I visited:

Germany (twice)
New York
Arizona (5 times)
Portland (at least 3 times)

Combined, those trips amounted to somewhere in the ballpark of 55 days away from home. None of that traveling was work-related. For most of the flights, I traveled alone (except for Kauai). It was a lot of back and forth. Obviously I cannot complain, since not very many people have the luxury or opportunity to move around as much as I did this year.

But I guess I come out of this year tired. With the feeling like I have uprooted myself from the regular routine. To add to the uprooting, I decided to switch jobs, and spent large chunks of the year in pursuit of this new opportunity. There were several dead ends, and no small amount of effort put into trying to pursue those paths that ultimately bore no fruit. For a bit, I desperately tried to get myself on the "Westside", since the commute across the lake every day has a way of sapping the life out of anyone. And that commute means that I spend about a third of my waking hours in environs that I would rather avoid.

I sold my third car in 2 years, as you have heard the last few entries.

I am tired of change. But somehow I seem drawn to it. Every few years, I seem to have a full discard, shuffle, and re-dealing of the cards.

Anyway, this can't possibly be interesting to anyone but me. And it did not go in the direction I wanted it to go.

29 December, 2009

Guitars and Helicopters...

These things go hand-in-hand, right?

So, they must. I posted my 1970's Fender Champ amplifier to Craigslist because I am trying to unload it just to cut down on things I don't need. The contents of my ad are not integral to my story, but it was posted under Musical Instruments, and read in the standard fashion.

Today I received this email in response to my ad:


Blade1.jpg (65KB)

Would you be interested in a trade for an RC helicopter?

I have an E-flight Blade 400 RC Helicopter with many upgrades.
The blade 400 has the purple
CNC metal head and the spectrum transmitter.
It has one new Hyperion battery,
carbon fiber blades and extra wood blades.
I also have the original box for the helicopter.
battery charger and one new batteries (batteries are $40 each, and the charger $120).
HiTech gyro and servo combo ($180 new), which helps keep the tail in place (a major upgrade).
Everything you need for the perfect gift!!
This helicopter was recently serviced by Dale at RC Hobbies in Seattle.
Blade 400 helicopter, Spectrum transmitter and 1 battery $400
HiTech gyro and servo combo $90
Hyperion battery charger and 1 battery $100
Package deal: $525 cash.
Call Ron at
Ronald XXXXXXX, ND, PhD - Licensed Naturopathic Physician
E-mail: ron@xxxxxxx.com, Phone: (206) xxx-xxxx

The best part is that this sounds like it would be a 14-year old kid, and it's some sort of doctor dude. I don't know. Maybe I *should* get a helicopter. If it were powerful enough to put the cats in it, that would make it worthwhile.

Actually, I lied. The *best* part is that the so-called "helicopter" looks like a pile of electromechanical refuse in a heap all over his workbench.

28 December, 2009

Slemony Nicket's Series of Fortunate Events

I decided I wanted a new(er) car. My friend decides she also wants a new(er) car. Her car was newer than mine. I buy hers.

I decided I wanted to sell my old car cheap and fast. Initial avenue of sale (to a friend) falls through due to lack of interest. Friend who sells me her car finds a potential buyer at the dealership where she is buying her new car. What could be easier.


I take my car to get the tabs renewed. Find out that it needs an emissions test. Okay. No biggie.

Bring it for emissions. Car fails emissions. Pain in the ass.

Find out I need to spend *lots* of money ($400) to pass emissions. Go to dealer, which would normally be a bad idea, but I like this dealer, and wanted it done right and fast. Dealer asks me how much I am going to ask for my car. I tell them. They tell me I am crazy, and that my car is worth *far* more than I am asking.

I take their advice, and list my car for "far more".

Sell my car to the first person who sees it. Come out way ahead.

Moral of the story: Sometimes the shortest distance between two points is not the fastest.

Gaining Insight (Part I.5)

I am not sure I'm ready to go all the way to Part II yet, so you get Part I.5. I am not sure that's the proper notation of an interim data point, when one is using Roman numerals. Perhaps I am on to Part I.V. Or Part I.II.

As you probably recall, I've been a personality-test freak for a long time, and have written blogs about it, and encouraged all my friends to take surveys as well. My favorites are the Enneagram and the Myers-Briggs (Jung) tests. As with many of the tests out there, I tend to fall kind of close to the borderline on certain criteria, though for the most part, I have always assumed that I am either a 6 or a 3 on the Enneagram, and either an ENTJ or an ENTP on the Myers-Briggs. If I had to say what I most often tested, or what I have identified myself as being, it would be a 6/ENTJ.

However, on the Myers-Briggs there are always a lot of questions that I have a hard time answering, and on which I doubt my responses. I would read the question, and in many cases, answer what I think I should be, as opposed to how I actually am. In fact, on a few occasions, I have had my results come out as ESTJ or ENFP. All sorts of variations. The Enneagram, on the other hand, almost always says that 6 is my highest score, and I don't have much difficult answering those questions that result in me winding up there, much as I am not thrilled about that outcome.

Then I was poking around online, and found some mappings of Myers-Briggs to Enneagram, which stated the most common Myers-Briggs associated with each Enneagram (I recognize that this represents an extremely self-absorbed, narcissistic expenditure of time and energy, but I am going to think of it as "introspection" rather than those ugly traits). And what I found was the people who are 6's are always F on the Myers-Briggs. There are a few different types that map to the 6, but they always contain F. And this made me wonder... maybe those times that I came out F on the test were not "flukes" but were actually the only accurate readings of my type?

All this time I have been assuming that I am a T and that there was simply no question about it.

Then I thought about it some more and realized that, although I do analyze everything, and I do spend massive amounts of time "applying logic", in the end, when it comes time to make a decision, I am very likely to discard my findings if they do not support what my gut feeling is telling me. In the end, I often abandon all of the analysis, and make a choice. It's better, of course, if my gut maps to what the data told me. But when it hasn't, I have readily discarded it. And to top it off, after I make this "gut" decision, I will then commence another round of analysis and logic, designed to rationalize or justify my decision! So, to an outsider (who doesn't pay that close attention), it looks like I am logic, logic, logic. But not really.

I don't know what this means. I think it might be relevant to my happiness and my understanding of self, though. Not sure how. But it seems that if I've been operating with an incorrect model of "self", that it might be difficult for me to get where I need to be. Because I continually try to fit all of my experiences into an understanding that does not take into account key facets of my inner workings. So, I'm trying to sit with this, and "recast" myself as the ENFP or ESFP (or ENFJ or ESFJ, though I don't think so on those). I don't want to dwell in this to the point of mental masturbation, but I feel like I should at least try it on for size, and see if my behavior and my internal workings are more consistent with this understanding of self.

21 December, 2009

Gaining Insight (Part I)

It seems like during the past several months, when I have not been writing at all, I have perhaps been lacking more than just the attention that comes with "publishing" to my tiny readership. I've also been lacking in introspection. And it seems that whenever I stop looking inward, it's usually because I don't want to see, deal with, or face what's going on inside.

What I really have been needing was more insight.

So I decided to buy a 2005 Honda Insight. I'm only half joking. Actually, less than half, since both of my above statements are absolutely true. I did, in fact, purchase a 2005 Honda Insight. And I have, in fact, as you have witnessed, not been writing here for many moons (well, for 3 moons, anyway).

I'll start with the Insight Part I (the car) because that's easier.

As you may recall, I went through a fiasco about 2 years ago, where I bought a brand-new Mazda 3, and then became completely disenchanted with it, because of the miserable gas mileage that it got. And I cannot fault the EPA, since their estimates turned out to be exactly correct. Thing is, I could not believe that their estimates would possibly be correct, and I operated on the assumption that I would do much better. But sadly, over the life of that ownership (about 6 months), I netted about 24 miles per gallon. And that was Mazda's most fuel efficient vehicle. That's another story altogether. And it is an utterly disgusting one. That a Japanese automaker, in the 21st century, does not sell one car in the United States that averages better than 24 miles per gallon.

Stop and think about that for a moment...

So I bought the Civic, opportunistically, because a friend had it to offer. After about a year of owning the Civic, I started to feel like, while I like the vehicle, I wanted something just a little nicer. Not a fancy car.  Not a luxury car. But perhaps a car with power locks, so my passenger doesn't need to wait in the rain, while I get in to open the door for them (or vice versa). Maybe a car that has power windows. Maybe a car with power-assisted steering, so that I could get in and out of parking spaces without feeling like I am opening one of those hatches between the decks of a submarine. But most importantly, one that still gets as good, or better gas mileage.

So, of course, the most logical, sensible, cost-effective way of pursuing that goal would be to purchase... what? I know what you think I'm going to say: a hybrid.

Well, actually, nope. That's not what I wanted.

What I wanted to find was a Civic model that is called the HX. That car was rated at 40mpg on the highway, running entirely on gasoline. I am pretty sure I have ranted about this before. My search of Craigslist, and discussions with mechanics, revealed a sad reality: if you can even find an HX out there (they were discontinued around 2003), it will either be overpriced, or have extremely high mileage on it. This is because nobody wants to get rid of these cars.

So, I was wallowing in sadness, and beginning to consider "sucking-it-up" and just buying another Civic, a little bit newer, with a higher "trim" (meaning, it has all the bells and whistles), either the DX or the EX models. There are a billion of those out there. Of course, there are probably a lot of sketchy deals out there too. So it was fixing to be an unpleasant process.

Then, coincidentally, a friend of mine texts me: "You still wanna buy my car" (we'd been semi-joking about the idea for over a year). A 2005 Honda Insight. Now, 2 weeks later, the car is mine (and she's now driving a 2010 Honda Insight - which, I should note, weighs fifty percent more than the original Insight - but that's also a topic for another rant).

I picked up the car yesterday, and was excited to immediately see that one can easily get 55+ mpg on the highway, with "proper" hybrid driving technique (if not higher).

Now I just need to sell my Civic.