Friday, September 28, 2007

How do I fit in a Miata

In researching a new car I also looked at getting a Mini, VW cabrio, Saab 9-3 convertible. I ended up deciding on the Miata because I could buy a hardtop for the winter and I could buy it outright without needing to get a loan. I really liked the outside feel on the motorcycle. (The mini felt cramped even with the sunroof all the way open.
But a miata? I know, I am 6'5". Why would I drive a Miata. Well... it was not easy. When I test drove the car the guy saw my knees hitting the steering wheel and said I needed to move the seat back and looked kind of scared when I explained it already was. The arm rest pinched my leg to the steering wheel so I removed it and put in a smaller one. I took out the extra padding out of the back of the seat so my legs would fit under the dash. Now I fit.
I bought the car for $2200. So far $200 for a working radio, $800 for a hardtop, $250 for a new soft top, $300 for tires, $600 for new struts, $100 for brakes, and $300 for an engine sensor. I have no problem putting money into a car I know I can't sell for more than $2500. I figure as long as it is less then $300 a month then it is on par with financing a car. More importantly though: It is fun to drive.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Selling motorcycle

Commuting on a motorcycle is different than cross country trips. It had rained a few times when I was riding to work. New York roads are awful compared to Oregon. Potholes are normal and the way they fix them is to fill it with asphalt and let the cars pack it down. The problem is it does not do it in the middle where a motorcycle rides, so basically freeway speed bumps. Those are all annoyances but the thing that scares me is deer. They are everywhere here. I am surrounded my a state park and forest. I see a new dead deer on the way to work at least two or three times a week. The main reason though is convenience. I refuse to ride without gear on. Putting on and adjusting boots, pants, jacket, and helmet along with safety check take 5-10 minutes in the morning. Then when running errands I have a helmet and jacket to carry in one arm all the time.
My solution is I bought a Mazda Miata. It provides the open air riding but I will admit that the acceleration is not as good.
To sell my motorcycle I had to find the title. Hidden in one of the many packed boxes. I finally gave up and ordered another. It ticked me off because every week that passed and I would get less money for the motorcycle as the season came to an end. I finally got the title and sold the motorcycle for $2400. So owning it for a year and a half and a whole lot of miles had cost me $400. That seems reasonable to me. I may get a motorcycle again later. Probably a more of a touring bike, but drivers here are to aggressive and take all the fun out of it. I did ride through all five boroughs and would recommend a Sunday ride through Manhattan to everyone. Without the traffic it is fun.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Looking for a house

We had made sure that the lease on our apartment was as short as possible (4 months.) when we signed it because 1) We had to sign the lease site unseen and had no desire to be stuck and 2) We really wanted to get on with our lives and buy a house.
I had hated dealing with Real Estate Agents when here for Spring Break. My view of them had not really changed. I found a way around them though. I found a real estate website that gave a map of the area of the house. If you looked at the HTML code it listed the address of the house. With that info I could punch it into webpages such as google maps to see satellite pictures and zillow to get an idea on the range of neighborhood values. We had no problem getting financing and then went to a buyers agent to sign up. They had us rate what we wanted in a house. We had some ideas but had never listed them, this is what we came up with after we got home.
High Priority:
1)price of house (School had wiped out most of our savings.)
2)sidewalks around house (not being able to go for walks at the apartment was driving me crazy)
3)low commute time (I had had enough of traffic when living in California.)
4)2 bedroom+ (Resale value, office space, future kids, we are pack-rats)
5)off street parking (I did not want to deal with alternate side parking or snow plows)
medium priority:
1)cooking sized kitchen (I missed being able to cook.)
2)convenient to city center/shopping (We don't want to live in the middle of nowhere.)
3)storage-garage or attic (kayaks, bikes, camping, snorkeling... I guess we are outdoors people)
4)walk to train (Driving into NYC is a pain.)
Low Priority:
1)space to add on to house (Resale value.)

After crunching the numbers for what we still had to pay off, house fixing up funds, and income we decided to wait a few more months to make sure we would be able to swing everything. We could not be more glad we did. The market started sliding, then the prime mortgage scandal. Now the bottom has totally dropped out. I am glad we were cautious but it looks like apartment living for a while.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

11th of September 2007

This year living in New York gave me a different take on September 11th. I'm not a big fan of all the changes that have been allowed in government in name of higher safety lest another September 11th happen. So this was the 6th anniversary, and there was a protest for not being able to protest at the building site at ground zero. Between all the radio coverage, vigils, and what not I was surprised at the level of dedication still being shown by the local people as it is much higher, understandably, then what it is where I used to live. To me the concern level seems so much higher then say Hurricane Katrina that killed a similar number of people and caused much higher devastation but gets much less attention and money to make sure something similar does not happen. (If you don't believe me, what was the date that Hurricane Katrina killed thousands of people? For the record I can only remember the month and year.)
I just happened to be headed into NYC that day for a project with a co-worker that was from Scotland. On the long drive it gave us a chance to talk. She likened it to soccer hooligans. A whole lot of flag waving to appear to be a bigger fan. She is frustrated when talking to people how the statement September 11th was used as an unarguable response as justification to most arguments. Any questioning of authority was responded by questioning that person patriotism. She was told she couldn't understand since she wasn't American. Both of us were maddened by the people that say September 11th changes everything when just about every other country has been dealing with this stuff forever.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Things to do Before They are Gone

When we moved here we heard they were going to be replacing Yankee Stadium with a new one already being built. We decided that we should go see a game in "The House that Babe built" (i.e. the old stadium) before it was torn down. This being said neither of us is very much of a baseball fan. (I've been to two baseball games before this, both company sponsored events.) We looked it up online and found some cheapish tickets that were not that bad then thought to invite friends. Of course for us all to sit together we needed to buy them at the same time. My friends wanted to go but had friends staying with them so they call them to see if they want to go. Long story short: lots of calling to coordinate, they end up not going, we end up buying bad seats for more money since to much time passed. Moral: Do not try to plan spontaneous things with friends on a deadline.
The game was fun to watch. We got to see all the plaques and trophies before the game. During the game the dirt sweepers danced while doing their job. Everyone around us got plenty drunk and yelling. Cops were regularly pulling people out and arresting them for trowing things on the field. You know, a good family event.
Sorry, but professional sports teams are smart to convince people to get into contests of who can buy more stuff to show they are the biggest fan. We got suckered as they will be having the stadium open another season so next year will be the last year.

The other thing they were tearing out was all the rides at Coney Island. We wanted to go try that out while we could so Labor day weekend we headed down and rode the rides. Well L. and I were pretty wiped out money wise from the move so we looked at most of them. We did ride the Psyclone. That thing is so jittery I had a headache at the end from my brain knocking around in my head. I guess it is one of those one time experiences kind of things. We ate Nathan's hot dogs and walked the boardwalk. It was a really fun day but we found out, due to popular demand, and trouble getting building permits they would have the rides open one more year. Yeah I know, suckered again. But it was fun, and I we can now cross it off our list of things to do while living here.