mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

A tale of two MP3 players..

Aside from a cheap 32mb mp3 player I owned in college, all my MP3 players have been iPods. In fact, an iPod was the first Apple product I owned. I've had a 10 gig second gen firewire iPod (clearanced from Target - I bought 5 of them, sold 4 on eBay and to coworkers, and kept the 5th), a 1 gig shuffle, and currently a nano.

I've been debating replacing the Nano. It's a 4 gig first gen and the battery is on it's way out. I've bought a replacement battery off eBay but haven't gotten around to installing it, so it barely makes it through my hour and a half daily cardio workout. It's also gotten too small for me - I keep having to delete music to put other songs in.

I'd love to replace it with a new 8 gig nano, but they are $249 new or $199 for a refurb.

Last Sunday morning, I was lurking on a deal site I sometimes lurk on and found an 8 gig Creative Zen MicroPhoto for $50 after rebate - it was $189 with $100 rebate. It was supposed to come with a free spare battery, but they were out of the stock on the battery and were giving $40 off instead. I made a quick check on eBay and discovered that dead ones went for $50, so I bought one.

I got it a few days ago and figured I'd give it a shot. Heck, even in open condition it would be worth more than I paid, and I might like it.

First of all, here's a pic of the Zen and my Nano. They are about the same size width and length wise (the nano looks bigger because I have it in a hard plastic case). However, the Nano is way thinner than the Micro, which is probably as thick as my old 2nd gen iPod firewire.

I loaded up the Zen last night with a bunch of music and took it to the gym today. So far, I have to say it's no iPod.

First of all, I use iTunes with the Nano, and have grown to like it. My original iPod shipped with MusicMatch, which was the suck, but once Apple wrote iTunes for the PC, things improved. It's a good music player, and it makes it very easy to move music from your playlist to your MP3 player. I can search for a song in iTunes and then drag it to a playlist on my 'Pod. The Zen, on the other hand, uses the "Creative ZenPhoto File Explorer", which is basically a file browser that you use to locate music on your machine and add folders and files to the Zen. Being able to add directories is nice, but the interface is kind of clunky, and not being able to play songs - and having to know where they are stored - is kind of a pain.

As far as the player itself, I'm not impressed either. The display on the Zen is way nicer than the Nano -it's OLED (organic light emiting diode) so it's bright, and it has a bunch of color schemes. However, that (and a working battery and 8 gigs of storage) are about the only things going for the Zen. The interface - 6 buttons, including a vertical scroll button for volume control and browsing playlists - doesn't feel nearly as natural or intuitive as the Nano's scroll wheel. I kept accidently bringing up submenus or skipping to another song when all I wanted to do was scroll down to a song and select it. The Zen does have a cool blue glow around the unit and the buttons also glow - the button glow is useful for dark areas, but the glow around the unit itself is kinda cheezy.

The Zen does have a couple features I'll never use, like an FM tuner. I've never gotten the appeal of an FM tuner. If I've got a large chunk of my music collection with me, why would I want to listen to other people's music, interupted by static, annoying DJ's, and ads? I guess if you are a news junkie, or if you go to a gym that broadcasts TV audio over FM (mine doesn't - it has direct plugs on the cardio equiptment) it could come in handy, but it's never seemed useful to me.

I'm going to try to stick with the Zen for a while, and maybe it will grow on me and I'll get used to it's size, interface, and software. And I'm guessing the Zen Software explorer won't be as bad when I'm just adding a song or two rather than filling up a virgin player. Still, if I use it for a while and it doesn't grow on me, it's going on eBay (or getting sold to a coworker who was looking for a cheap MP3 player).

How not to write a personal ad...

Rachel Lucas has tips on how to write a personal adfor men and women.

I've dipped a toe in the pool of online dating, posting a few ads on a few free sites. Nothing has come out of it so far, mostly because I haven't been too impressed with the ads I've seen so far - none of them have made me say "this sounds just like the kind of girl I'd want to date". I've been debating trying one of the paid sites like match, but I haven't yet. Maybe in the next month or so.

Writing my own profile is one of the things I hate most, because I hate talking about myself. I don't really like myself that much, and I can't really think of any good reasons why anyone would want to date me. So it's pretty hard to sell myself.

I don't think I'm guilty of most of the stuff that Rachel says. I've never been a playboy and don't have kids to say how much I love. I don't have long list of activities - I have the opposite problem - I can't come up with anything. Most of my activities don't exactly set women's hearts atwitter - watching TV, blogging, looking for crap to sell on eBay, sweating myself into a tired damp mess on the Precor at the gym. I've probably used a few cliches here and there, but I think the biggest problem with my profile is that I'm trying to sell an inferior good... myself.

There are a few things that I've noticed that annoy me in ads I've looked at, though:

Ads that say no stalkers or nutjobs - no, I'm not saying that because I'm only looking for chicks who want nutjobs. But do you really think someone who has issues is going to be turned off by that? Not likely - but someone normal will wonder if you have some baggage.

pictures that are cropped around the person next to you - it's not as bad as a picture of you next to your previous boyfriend, but it's close. It suggests that you aren't over your last relationship, and that you can't be bothered to take the time to get a friend to take a picture of you. Or that you don't have any friends. Or that you can't figure out how to use a webcam or camera timer.

the giant list of activities - OK, that was one of Rachel's. Still, when I look at a list of 50 activities, 48 of which I don't do and 27 of which I have no desire to do, I figure it's probably not going to work. I always wonder when I see long lists of activities how many of them are things that the author enjoys doing on a regualr basis and how many are things that they either did once and kind of want to do again but haven't gotten a chance to or are things they never have done but would like to do.

any reference to how bad your last relationship was - that suggests either baggage, the fact that may have been part of the reason your last relationship was so difficult, or the fact that you may have a jealous ex-boyfriend who would key my truck and punch me in the jaw (and I kind of have a glass jaw).

References to how much of a sports fan you are - it seems like about 83% of personal ads in the Baltimore area have women who talk about how much they love watching the Ravens and the Orioles. I don't give a shit about sports. If watching sports is really something you enjoy, then it's good that you put that in your ad because you'd drive me nuts. However, if you are just putting that in because you figure that will snare a guy because guys like sports, don't. Not every guy is a sports nut - and some guys who are would probably rather spend time watching sports with their guy friends.

put at least some info in your ads - while I don't like ads with a life story and everything you've ever done, you have to give potential suitors more than 2 sentences. If you want to meet someone who has something in common, guys need to know what they might have in common with you. It also makes it way easier to reply to your ad if we know something more than that you are female and like watching TV.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Another hamfest post...

Today was the MaFM Hamfest at the scenic howard county fairgrounds.

It went pretty well. I grossed around $270, not bad for a morning's work. I bought a box of 20 pounds of seized airport pocket knives (196 knives) for $45 on eBay, and had good luck selling them for $2 each or 3 for $5.

Weather was decent - no rain, although it was warm and I got a bit of a sunburn. Got there around 6:15AM, left around 11:30.

I bought three things, all from the same women - a TI-82 calculator and two apple laptop power supplies (a hockey puck and a white cube one) $12 for all 3 items. I haven't tested them, and the power supplies are missing the cord part, but I figured it was worth the gamble.

One annoying thing, though. Evidently, during a brief period where I went to browse other vendors' tables, some cute nerdy chick stopped by our table and was talking to BSOM and Mike the Student. Women are fairly rare at hamfest - most people there are middle aged and elderly men - and single women even rarer. I spent almost the whole time at the table, and it figures that that was the only time I was gone. Didn't see her through the whole 'fest. Sometimes I feel like there is a cloud that follows around me - every time something could almost happen for me, something blocks me. Some minor decision, like buying a bacon egg and cheese sandwich, stands between me and lifelong happyness.

But at least I made some money.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Why I paid $3.04 a gallon for regular, but don't plan to drive any less...

I've written before about how gas prices tend not to be very elastic - that is, a large increase in price only causes a small drop in demand.

News outlets are once again reporting that demand is high despite high prices. Via Instapundit, Ron Coleman blames wealth effects and the fact that, adjusted for inflation, gas is still cheap.

I think that's part of it, but I still think most of it has to do with the fact that people can't easily make major changes to their driving, especially in the short time. Sure, you can combine trips and maybe skip a trip here or there, but for the most part, you can only do so much. I've still got to go to work - I can't call off because gas prices are too high. I still need to run errands - buy food and the other stuff that keeps my household running. What little leisure driving I do is usually for hobbies that I enjoy, so I'm willing to spend the money.

Most memorial days I drive up to NJ to visit the parents. I didn't this time, because I wanted to go to the memorial day hamfest. I will be driving up to Jersey for the 4th of July, though - no matter how high gas prices are.

And the last time I mentioned something similar, someone pointed out that I could have taken public transportation. Except Greyhound or Amtrack would still cost me more than gas. Plus, I enjoy driving, and like having my car available while I'm in NJ. The fact is that gas is still a fairly small part of owning a car, compared to car payments, insurance, maintenance, ect. My insurance and car payment are the same if my truck is on I-78 or sitting in it's parking space in front of my townhouse.

Friday, May 25, 2007

MadAnthony goes to the state surplus depot...

It's a little-known fact that the State of Maryland sells excess state surplus inventory at the Maryland State Agency for Surplus Property. It's conviniently located in scenic Jessup, under the shadow of several state prisions and the Maryland Wastewater Treatment Agency. Since one of the perks of working for a college is getting days off that most people don't, and since I love digging through crap, bsom and I drove down to Jessup today.

It was everything I expected, and less. They had a bunch of old computers - mostly p3, some older. They had a cage with laptops in it, but most of the were 486 or older - I found an old Acer with a sticker reading NOT Y2K COMPLIANT DO NOT USE AFTER DECEMBER 31 1999. Most of the laptops were $30, most of the desktops were $60. They also had piles of old 60's desks and chairs, and some other random stuff. I've read that they sell boxes of airport-seized knives, but they didn't have any this time.

I made one purchase - a TTY phone device for deaf people. I got it for $10, they go on eBay for $25- $50. Unfortunatly, the one I bought seems to have some issues - when the printer is turned on, it displays "no power" and hangs up.

Still, it was interesting to dig through piles of crap, and since they probably get inventory pretty frequently, I'll probably go back the next time I have a day off. Still, I have to wonder how efficient it is to have several employees and a building dedicated to selling stuff that I doubt many people want to buy...

Friday, May 18, 2007

We don't need no vacation...

I saw this scrolling along the bottom of the screen on FoxNews on the Precor at the gym yesterday - evidently, some think tank has released a study lamenting that the United States is the only "rich" country that doesn't have government- guarenteed vacation days, while some EU countries have government guarenteed vacations.

Gee, I wonder if it's a coincidence that the US also has a higher GDP per hour worked than Europe, in addition to working more hours.

I think the current system we have for vacation is optimal. In the US, employers have the choice of how much vacation they offer, and potential employees can use that as one of the factors when they are looking for or deciding to take a job. Some people may prefer more vacation days to other benefits, such as better health insurance, a shorter commute, or a more enjoyable job, and pick their job accordingly.

Personally, I've never really liked vacation days. It doesn't make sense for me to sit at home doing nothing (which is what I'm doing now - I took the day off, because they are replacing the AC air exchanger in Casa De Mad). I enjoy my job for the most part, plus I worry that not being at work hurts my career - if I'm not there, I can't keep up my stats, plus management may realize that they function just as smoothly when I'm out than when I'm not. I suppose things might be different if I had kids or if my family was nearby, but holidays and a day off here or there are enough for me to travel to NJ to see them. I can't really afford to travel, so vacation days end up being me either sitting around the house or running errands - so I'd rather be at work. In an ideal world, I would be able to sell or trade my vacation days.

The article has two rather contradictory quotes:

"The United States is the only advanced economy in the world that does not guarantee its workers paid vacation days and paid holidays," said economist John Schmitt.... "Relying on businesses to voluntarily provide paid leave just hasn't worked," he added. "It's a national embarrassment that 28 million Americans don't get any paid vacation or paid holidays."

but at the same time:

Despite the lack of government guarantees, 90 percent of U.S. employers offered vacation, the study found. Workers received an average of nine days of paid vacation and six paid holidays, a total of 15 days off per year.

That would suggest that the market is working - that even though companies don't HAVE to offer paid vacation time, they do - because they know that some workers place a high value on vacation days, and won't take a job that doesn't offer them, or doesn't offer enough of them. And I wonder how many of those who don't get paid vacations or holidays are part-time employees.

Vacation days are a form of payment. They are a price born by the hiring organization given to workers as compensation. Requiring a minimum amount by law reduces the flexibility of the job market, and makes some people - those who would prefer a higher wage or other benefits to additional vacation days - worse off. If the European economy, which typically underperforms the US, is any indication, it would also make our economy worse off.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The flaw-o-matic, or why MadAnthony is still single...

A while ago, I came across two interesting articles on the NYTimes I meant to blog about but didn't. They were on a subject very relevant to me - online dating.

The first article talks about how online dating makes it easy to be picky. People essentially come up with their ideal mate - the dream person, with every positive quality and no negative qualities - and go online shopping for a person with those qualities. But much like you can look at a thousand real estate ads online and not find an 8 bedroom mansion with 10 car garage on 12 acres for $250,000, you probably aren't going to find a millionaire nymphomaniac supermodel who enjoys going to yard sales and fixing computers.

I've signed up with several dating sites - OKCupid,,, and most recently with Plenty Of Fish. I have yet to contact anyone or have anyone contact me.

I tend to be picky when I read ads - there are certain big things, like having kids, but I've also found myself worrying about women who like sports or the outdoors or have cats or any number of things. I've even held off on women who seemed too out of my reach.

I'm guessing that women reading ads are probably the same way. PlentyOfFish actually has a feature that lets you see who viewed your ad, so you can know who rejected you. I signed up a couple days ago, and I've only gotten two views - I don't know if that's my bad title, my bad picture (taken with the iSight camera on my MacBook), or just because women don't need to look at ads - they can just post a profile and the men come to them.

And to further turn the knife into MadAnthony, the Tierney article also cites research that found that one of the primary things chicks look for is height - and that if you are really short, the only way you can compensate is by being really rich. Since MadAnthony works in higher ed and is towered over by many 12 year olds, I don't have a lot of hope.

Tierney sees much more hope for speed dating, because people tend to be a lot less picky in in-person meetings than they do online. But the research also seems to indicate that it's the more selective people who suceed in speed dating - in person, you evidently can smell the despiration on a potential mate, and it's a turn off.

My own despiration, and the fact that I'm tend to be shy around new people, suggests that speed dating isn't really going to work for me. Although I don't get the despiration thing - speed dating seems like something that is inherently going to appeal to people who are a little bit desprite, at least to people who have already exhausted all other avenues.

Ahh, other avenues. The places other people seem to meet women, but not MadAnthony.
Places like:

Bars: - besides my weekly trips to Field's, which probably falls more into the "family resturant" catagory than a bar, I can count the number of times I've been to a bar in the last couple years on one hand. Part of it is because I don't really have any single friends who go to bars to go with, and I'm not the kind of person who goes to bars alone. Part of it is because, when I started losing weight, I pretty much stopped drinking. I have a beer or two every now and again, but lack of drinking and being about 100 pounds lighter have turned me into a lightweight. Not that I ever could drink anyone under the table, but now after about 2 beers I find myself getting slightly silly for a few minutes, then having to repress a strong urge to curl up and go to sleep. Even though alcohol is supposed to losen inabitions, it doesn't help one to work up the courage to talk to someone you otherwise wouldn't when instead of trying to get them into bed, you just want to pass out in bed.

Work: supposedly, something like 58% of people have dated something they work with. I wish I worked at one of those places. I work in IT for a college, which means that my department is male-dominated. The women who do work for my department tend to be middle-aged and married. There is exactly, as far as I know, one single women near my age in my department, and I don't thnk she likes me very much. Even in other departments, most of the women - secreataries and the like - tend to be older and married.

Working for a college is kind of weird - I'm surrounded by 1600 attractive co-eds - who are strictly off-limits. We have a very explicit no-humping-the-undergrads policy, so that's out. And while we are allowed to date grad students if we aren't in a "position of power" (something I don't think I'll be in for a long time), almost all the women in my grad classes were either married, engaged, or in a relationship. I guess the outgoing, career-oriented, get-what-they-want kind of women who are going to be sucessful in business are also going to be sucessful in dating.

hobbies: - I don't really have any that get me in contact with people of the opposite sex. I tend to gravitate towards solitary activities - eBay, reading, ect. The things I do that put me in contact with other people - like Hamfests - tend to put me around lots of guys.

Church: - people always talk about what a great place church is to meet people. Heck, my parents met at a church dance. But the church I usually go to big and anonymous (which I kind of like). They have had a few Theology on Tap things in the past, but they were always on nights I either had to work or had grad classes.
Most of the women my age who I see at church seem to be married with kids by now. Even when you see someone who appears single, how do you start a conversation - walk up to them on the way out and ask them if they thing good works or faith are more important?

Grocery stores and other public places - once again, it takes guts to walk up to someone you don't know and try to start a conversation. And guts are something I don't have.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Scenes from work, what's an all hands meeting edition...

Student worker 1: So you guys have an all hands meeting today?

Mad Anthony: yup.

Student worker 2: What's an all hands meeting?

Student worker 1: Basically, everyone in the department gets together and eats cookies and jerks each other off.

Mad Anthony: Wow, that's possibly the best, most accurate description I've ever heard.

So not cool...

Last year, just after buying my townhouse, I discovered that my air conditioner leaked. I tried to run it sparingly last year, and held off on having carpet put in the hallway where the water was flowing.

I had bsom's fiance's cousin look at it, and he suspected that it was because the inside air exchanger was rated at 10 seer, while the part outside was rated 13. He felt it was too big a job for him to take on, though.

So I set aside my tax refund and finally called an AC place this week. Verdict - he was right, and I need a new air exchanger. Which will set me back $2475.

So friday I'm off from work and instead will be having this done. It will be nice not to have a leaking AC, and to finally get carpet in the hallway. But replacing an air conditioner isn't a very fun home improvement project - you spend a bunch of money just to get to baseline, to where you thought you would be in the first place - with a functioning air conditioner. It's not like adding a deck or something that you can see and enjoy.

As my old landlord liked to say, the joys of home ownership are unending.

Should I be happier?

I've been feeling a little down the last couple months. I've found myself getting frustrated over small things. I've gotten somewhat paranoid about the security of my job, thanks to a few joking remarks from management. I know it's stupid - nobody gets fired where I work - ahh, academia - and I've had good performance reviews and stats. I've also been kind of disappointed with myself - my inability to lose a couple more pounds, the fact that I don't make more money, the fact that I'm almost 27 and still single.

There's been times I've been pretty down in the past - fall of '04 comes to mind. What happened then is I started getting busy with grad classes and started focusing on losing weight and didn't really have time to think about stuff. I was also working 6 days a week, which cut into my time to sit and reflect on life and where I was and where I felt I should be. Classes and the jobs I worked in - answering phones and doing in-person classroom support - also forced me to get out and talk to people.

And in that lies my problem. I don't like people. At least, I don't like most people, or I don't really feel comfortable around them, especially if I don't know them. I have a small group of people, mostly coworkers, who I enjoy talking to, but mostly I just don't want to deal with people, not even to say hi or make small talk. I don't know why - I enjoy talking to the people I know well, but I don't know why I don't want to get to know more people.

One of my friends suggested I should talk to a doctor about this. Which might not be a bad idea, except that I don't really have a doctor - the last guy I went to retired, and I haven't bothered to find a new one. Talking to a person I don't know about how much I don't like talking to people I don't know doesn't exactly sound like my idea of fun. But I've looked at the list of signs of social anxiety disorder and there are quite a few I fit into - avoiding social situations, not wanting to talk in front of people, hates talking on the phone, ect.

But I'm not as extreme as many of them. I have given plenty of presentations in my MBA career, and while they didn't always go as well as I would have liked, and while I've developed a bad habit of talking way too fast, I did them, and I didn't shake violently. I don't abuse drugs, nor have I considered suicide (if anything, death scares me - I don't want to die alone, not having left any kind of positive mark on the world).

So I'm thinking I should at least give myself a couple months to see if I can snap myself out of it, like I have in the past. I'm also trying to force myself to go out more, to talk to people, to hopefully realize that they won't bite and that it can enjoyable. I know that clinical depression isn't the kind of thing you snap out of, but I'm not so sure that I am clinically depressed.

On the other hand, I hate that this is supposed to be the time I've been waiting for - it's summer, the weather's nice, work is quieting down, I'm done with the MBA program and don't have classes hanging over my head, I've got my own house and a truck visible from space - and I feel like I'm not enjoying it.

The candidate with the best answers...

I haven't really been following much of the Republican presidential candidate debates. Maryland's primary is so late that it's not like I'll have a choice of who becomes the candidate, and the field is too big right now for me to really get a handle on everyone.

One name that hasn't gotten a whole lot of press is Tom Tancredo. I agree with some of his views (taxes, gun control, ending farm subsidies) but I don't know if his views on things like gay marriage will make him unelectable.

But I do have to admit, the dude comes up with some great answers to questions.

When asked what he would want if he was stranded on a desert island, he had the best answer - a boat (scroll down to "Richardson for President").

And when asked what the most recent work of fiction he had read was, he answered Al Gore's An Inconvinient Truth.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The horrors of a living wage.. you need to eat spagetti...

The Baltimore Sun, always one to find the cloud in any silver lining, has an article about living on the living wage. Maryland has passed a law requiring that government contractors in the Baltimore/Washington corridor pay employees at least a "living wage" of $11.30 an hour.

I think the whole idea of the living wage is silly. Wages should be determined by how much a worker is willing to work for and how much an employer is willing to pay them. When those points come together, a transaction can occur. The fact that this is for government contractors makes it little more than a really inefficient tax program, a transfer from taxpayers to those lucky enough to work for government contractors in Maryland. It's a welfare program, but it's the worst kind of welfare program - instead of finding those most in need, it just pays whoever happens to have a job with a government contractor.

But the Sun wants to show how tough it is to live on a living wage - a wage several dollars above the minimum. Their prime example is the Johns, a family who in order to make ends meet has to budget, and live with their parents. Another family mentioned eats "stews and spagetti".

But that doesn't strike me as poverty. Everyone should budget. I eat cheaply - including lots of pasta - and I make more than the living wage. And lots of people live with their parents.

But the thing about the article that really strikes me is almost everyone sees more money coming to them in the future. Johns' is an apprentice electrician - he isn't making much now, but he's learning a skill that will probably pay off in the future. His wife, now a stay-at-home mom, is hoping to open her own catering business. Other people in the article are going to college or nursing school. Most of them, if sucessful, will make more than they do now.

Whenever the minimum wage comes up, and how you can't live on it, my first thought is that many of the people who make minimum wage don't live on it - they get suplimental income - they are high school students working for gas or the elderly getting something to do and a few bucks to supplement social security. But even at the living wage level, people are there temporarily. They are at that level, but they can and do move up. It's a job, not a career. And if you want to give people an incentive to move up in their careers - to learn skills, to go to school - the best thing you can do is not pay them too much, so that they have a reason to learn those skills and move up.

One other thing that I noticed is that Johns is wearing a rather nice Tommy Hillfiger polo shirt in the pics. Maybe it's his only good shirt, maybe it was a gift or he bought it at the Goodwill... but it doesn't strike me as something that someone hardly getting by would wear.

I was hoping it would be Ham-tastic, but it kind of ham-sucked...

I had high hopes for the Hagerstown Hamfest last Sunday. Sure, it's in left bumblefark, but I figured it would be worth the hour and a half drive to the middle of nowhere. After all, I kind of like driving, and I hadn't sold since February, so I had some inventory and little cash. Plus this hamfest featured an auction, covered tailgating, and the possibility of a different group of buyers and sellers than the closer ones.

BSOM didn't have anything to sell, so at 4:30 in the morning on Sunday I picked him up in the Ranger, bed full of Rubbermaid containers full of random computer parts (and some airport-seized leatherman tools I bought on eBay), I drove RT 70 to the middle of nowhere.

Covered tailgating turned out to be a large pavillion. I backed the truck up at the edge and set up my table of crap inside the pavillion. This seemed like a great idea - I'd keep dry if it rained.

Except it didn't rain. There wasn't a cloud in the sky. What there was, however, was a mighty wind, to the point that I dug out a pair of gloves from the Ranger. I didn't have a lot of customers. Most of the other sellers set outside, which was a wise idea - they at least got some sun. All I got was wind, to the point that I ended up sitting 4 feet away outside so I would at least get some sun.

I didn't buy anything (except a pork sandwich and a really weak cup of coffee). BSOM, on the other hand, bought a Commadore, some Radio Shack chips, and about 50 9 volt power supplies.

I ended up grossing $196. I also ended up with a sore nose and a slight case of windburn.

We did end up stopping at the Prime Outlet Mall. I bought a couple shirts - and a $25 refurbished Black and Decker electric weed wacker, something I actually needed to trim around Casa De Mad - and a lunch of mediocre Chinese food. In the food court, BSOM found a stacker machine, threw in a couple bucks - and won a Nintendo Advanced. Lucky bastard.

I did take my camera, but didn't take any pics - I was too busy curled into a fetal position wimpering about the wind.

Friday, May 04, 2007

That would be a SMART car to have...

Like most 20-something males, MadAnthony tends to occasionally dream about owning certain cars (and to occasionally refer to himself in the third person). Most of these tend to be of the large luxury-truck variety (Lexus LX470, Mercedes G-Wagen, Ford F250 Harley Davidson Edition, ect) or the sleek impractical sports car variety (Lotus Eclipse, Corvette, Viper, Gallardo, ect).

But there is one vehicle I would love to have that's coming on the market - the smart, the tiny two passenger car that Mercedes and Swatch designed, and that's coming to the US soon (it's already here as a gray-market car, available from some local dealers, but the new model will soon be sold domestically, and quite a bit cheaper than the grey-markets.

Most dream cars are appealing because of the way they drive, the speed and handling while your behind the wheel. But while Popular Science showed that you can drive a smart crosscountry, I want it for it's parking ability.

See, while I may now rock the suburbs, I still work in the city, and since unlike some of my coworkers I haven't convinced my employer that I'm a service vehicle and need to park in service spots, I have to find a spot on the street. Lately, it's been next to impossible to find a spot, to the point that I either have to 1)get to work 45 minutes early or 2)park about a quarter mile away (next to the all-girls college next to us, which always seems to have plenty of street parking nearby) and walk. But quite often while I'm looking for a spot, I'll pass half a spot - where someone has parked in a way just big enough that a car could almost fit in, but not quite. The smart, being tiny, could fit - it supposedly can fit head-in to a parallel spot (although I do wonder how the Baltimore parking authorities, who rarely applaud creativity when it comes to parking, will look on this).

In an ideal world, I would have my Ranger for weekends and a smart for commuting. I like owning a truck because once a month or so, I make some large purchase or I load everything in my basement in the back and go to a hamfest to sell or it's snowing and I need 4wd. For the rest of the time - when I'm just driving to and from work or to the gym or the grocery store - I don't need a 6 foot bed. The smart would be great for that. If I had the money, I'd buy one for that purpose - and I wonder how many other households, with a commuter who has to park on the street and enough money to buy an additional car - will go this route. My guess is more than has been predicted.