Saturday, March 16, 2013

Tree Saga, 2013

So, last week at this time we had a 40-50 foot split oak in our yard. Looked something like this:

This 50' split oak was about 2 feet from the fence, 20-30 feet from the above ground pool, and basically dead. Tonight, it looks more like this:

And all that happened with $10 worth of 2x4s, a hand saw (pretty awesome saw, this one - highly recommended!), $10 worth of 100' nylon braided rope, and risk loving teenage boys. We built a ladder onto the tree, then cut it down in pieces, with rope attached to the pieces we were cutting in order to guide the pieces down without hitting anything.

Guess what? We did it! Without breaking anything (or anyone) in the process. (OK, I did break a hammer attempting to remove one of the two-by-four steps - well, the nail from one of those, and there was a slight gouge on the fence post in that picture, but you can't really see it.) You can see the whole "tree saga" in photos here, but as a summary, here's a few from the album:

Cool, huh? But I'm worn out. Thanks to Justin, Ronnie, and Alex for the help taking down the tree (and splitting the resulting logs), and to Lydia and Ninfa for their assistance during and after the process (cleaning up the debris, for instance). And to God for making sure we didn't break anything or anyone in the process of saving a few bucks by not calling a tree service. Tomorrow (maybe) I'll write about the absolute silliness of our income taxes, but for now, this will have to do. Took a tree down in less than a week, from "just a tree" to a stack of firewood (too bad I don't have a wood-burning fireplace!).

OK, night, all!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Positives and Negatives

It was the best of days, it was the worst of days...

Positive: I got to play in Lydia's Junior Jury Recital today! I was very pleased to have this opportunity, that she shared it with me, and that she even asked. Of course, the real star today was Lydia (and her "full" accompanist, Bekah, whose piano skills are quite covetable; now, I'd say the same "covetable" thing about Lydia's voice, but people might consider it a bit odd if I was a powerful first soprano). The piece I got to play with her on was "All of Me" - like the one below (Billie Holiday), but up four half steps (or two whole steps, if you prefer). It was a lot of fun, and an experience that I imagine not a lot of dads get to enjoy, which I did! Thanks, Lydia! (Note: I'm not quite as good as the sax player in the Billie Holiday version - might could be, if it were my profession, but I'm just an amateur.) We'll be doing it again April 4th, if you're interested in the rest of the concert. Oh, and yes, she passed the jury!

Negative: car dealerships. Whether incompetent or unscrupulous, don't tell me "we're close; bring your car in for us to take a look" when we're not even close. I have a 2006 Kia Sedona (LX) that I asked if they'd be able to trade for a couple of vehicles on their lot, a 2002 Isuzu Rodeo (S, 2wd, V6) and a 91 Olds 88. "I think we're close" he says. I think we should be - the Isuzu has a trade value of 2350-2850 or so (NADA), and the Olds - well, you can't even get trade values for it from NADA or KBB online.  My Sedona has a trade value, even with its "excessive" mileage (137k or so) of 3050-3800 (NADA). So, I figure, we're close, let's go see. (Why two? 'Cause Ronnie just turned 16, and a "big" minivan isn't quite a great teen vehicle, and it would be convenient to have something for him as well as something for me to run around in as well.) Of course, I can't get to the dealership before they sell the Olds, but the guy assures me, "I have a few more in mind that should work." So this evening, on the way back from a great day in Jackson, MS (where Lydia goes to school), I stop by. Long story short: they offer me $1,500 for the Sedona and want me to pay over $4k to trade the 06 Sedona for just the 02 Isuzu. Um, no. 1) My van is worth at least twice what you're offering (based on the fact that they were claiming the Isuzu was wholesale value at the price they were listing it - they were way off there); 2) that's not "close" - that's "way far apart"; 3) I'm not going to pay money to trade my "old" car - on which everything works - for your older car, on which not even everything works (the rear wiper doesn't work and the button on the rear door to open the glass portion is loose and falls out). And why are you wasting my time? I spent an hour or so at the dealer for "we're close" when you aren't even in the same ballpark - what you told me was either incompetent (you didn't know what you were talking about, or you failed to check on what you were saying prior to saying it) or unscrupulous (you flat out lied, or you failed to check on what you were saying prior to saying it). Either way, you're wasting my time. (If you want to know what dealer, it's Springhill Toyota in Mobile.)

So, anyway, positives and negatives today... but the positives definitely outweighed the negatives! And if you're interested in Lydia's recital (9 songs or so), let me know and I'll get you the details. And if you're interested in buying a well-cared-for 2006 Kia Sedona (so I can buy a couple of older, cheaper cars), let me know...