Life in the Slow Lane

Trackday 2009-10-18

October 22nd, 2009 · No Comments

The weather and riding were fantastic. The pictures are a bit disappointing though - they photographed us mostly from the outside of the turn and so you don’t really get a good view of us leaned over.

→ No CommentsTags: Motorcycles

Panther City Leather

September 9th, 2009 · 3 Comments

I had the worst e-commerce experience of my life and wanted to document it. This whole situation boils down to the first rule of Internet commerce: charge the customer and then ship the goods quickly.

Shannon Nelson runs Panther City Leather. I contracted her to add some additional perforation to my leather jacket based on a referral from a friend. She quoted me $137 to do the work. A timeline of relevant events:

  1. I mailed the jacket to her on 8/4.
  2. She sent me a PayPal money request on 8/11. At this point I figured she was following the rule above (charge the customer and ship quickly).
  3. I paid her on 8/12.
  4. I sent an email on 8/19 asking when I could expect the jacket.
  5. I disputed the transaction with PayPal on 8/21 since I have not heard from her.
  6. She refuses to ship my jacket until the dispute is closed, saying that she had been stung by a bee on the face and couldn’t see for several days. I close the dispute on 8/23, with the caveat “Please ship ASAP”.
  7. I reopen the dispute with PayPal on 8/27 when I still have not received anything.
  8. She again refuses to ship until the dispute is closed, stating my jacket is in a box, ready to go. I explain that PayPal explicitly told me not to close the dispute until she had put a tracking number in the dispute to prove she had shipped.
  9. She now refuses to use PayPal and won’t ship until she is paid in full via check or cash.
  10. I sent a friend to Dallas to pay her and pick up the jacket in person. She refused to turn over the jacket because “you didnt send the cash with her”.
  11. On 9/6 PayPal finally closed the dispute in my favor, returning the $137 I paid on 8/12.

Since she refuses to go through PayPal and I refuse to pay her in advance anymore, I’ve suggested delivery confirmation or even Collect-on-Delivery, where I would have to pay the full amount to the USPS to pick up the jacket. She refuses to do either. She won’t even send me a picture of the jacket to prove that she has done the work. I need something to regain trust in her and she will do nothing.

At this point, she has my jacket (which is $125 new) and I’m writing it off as a loss. I tried to pay her twice, both times she failed to ship in a timely manner and yet she still wants me to trust her to ship this time. She refuses to use COD, which would ensure that I can’t get the jacket without paying. Her mantra throughout this entire ordeal has been “I will not ship until I am paid in full”. Is this the behavior of a business owner who wants to make right with an unhappy customer? Is this a business with customer-friendly policies? I think it is safe to say the answer to both is no.

→ 3 CommentsTags: Motorcycles · Personal

Harris Hill Road Track Day

May 14th, 2009 · 4 Comments

Did another trackday at H2R. I’m really excited because this was the first trackday where I was dragging my knee consistently and predictably. I’m done for the summer but I’ll do two more trackdays later in the fall. I am thinking of upgrading my bike - the suspension is completely stock and I’m riding it pretty hard at this point. I’m thinking of selling the motard and buying an SV650. I loved that bike and basically I want it back.

Knee down in the Hairpin at H2R

Knee down in the Hairpin at H2R

→ 4 CommentsTags: General

Pest Control

April 18th, 2009 · No Comments

I’ve had a veritable wave of pests in my house recently and found myself learning plenty from attending the school of hard knocks. To wit:

  • Don’t ever use rat poison in your house. The rat eats it and dies in your walls. Your house smells like death for the next 2 months.
  • Avoid any pest control product that uses the words “kills on contact” or “barrier”. Killing on contact means you aren’t killing the nest but just killing the unlucky few that were around you at the time. A barrier just means the pest goes another route.
  • The pest control aisle at Lowes is near useless: the products are usually the cheap contact/barrier kind that you don’t want and quite often the products are not labeled with the species they target: I have carpenter ants and they are not targeted by most ant killing products. I did my research online and bought from a website that actually taught me about my problem and how to solve it. Imagine that.
  • A leaky sunroom is the source of the carpenter ants - they are nesting in the sunroom roof where there is water available due to the leaks. I’m not terribly happy with the quality of the sunroom - I definitely learned a few lessons there too.

→ No CommentsTags: Personal

April Notes

April 11th, 2009 · No Comments

  • I changed the oil in my Porsche this morning. It took an hour and it was really messy so I doubt I will do it myself again. Since the Boxster only needs an oil change every 15k miles, that’s every two years for me so it’s not worth the savings. The oil + filter cost me $80 and the Porsche dealer wanted $210.
  • Tammy discovered sawdust in the sunroom and I discovered carpenter/wood ants. They were there two years ago and I guess they are back for seconds. Pest control guy has been called.
  • I changed the rear tire on my bike last weekend. I decided to buy a Craftsman motorcycle jack to pick up the bike. It’s complete overkill for the job but it worked awesome and worked great as a jack for the car when doing the oil change.
  • I just finished some contract work for FiveRuns, polishing some of the features I wrote in Dash. Nice to earn a little spending money. Of course, Tammy has decided it will be spent on our honeymoon and not on Apple hardware, as I suggested. There’s only two of us and she has the tie-breaking vote. :-)
  • Looks like we’re heading out for drinks with Nik tonight and brunch at Chateau Perham with Jen and Christopher tomorrow.
  • I fixed a bug where I wasn’t receiving email notifications of new comments here, so that’s why I wasn’t responding to your comments. Sorry about that!

→ No CommentsTags: Personal

Dell G2410t review

March 27th, 2009 · 12 Comments

I haven’t seen a single review of the new G2410 / G2410t monitor from Dell on the web. I bought one for my new job and thought I would post some notes after using it for the last week for the benefit of other Internetizens.

This model is pitched as low power and eco-friendly. And it is. The problem is that the picture quality is terrible. I’m running it hooked up to a new MacBook Pro. When I initially got it and hooked it up, it looked horrible but I figured that calibration would help. I ran OSX’s display calibration in normal and expert modes. Normal helped a bit and expert helped a lot. But in the end, it’s still nowhere near as nice as the MBP’s built in LCD panel. The Dell’s image is dark and colors washed out. The MBP LCD is bright and colors ‘pop’.

Note that I have a Dell 2005FPW at home (as the model number implies, it’s a 20″ from 2005) and the picture quality is very much acceptable next to the MBP. The image is a little grainier but not something I would notice if I wasn’t looking for something negative. I’m using DVI with both - the exact same set up.

I like the 2005FPW, I hate the G2410t; the G2410t is cheap junk. It’s a rock bottom monitor with a rock bottom price. In this case, the old maxim is very much true: you get what you pay for. You’d be advised to avoid it at all costs.

Update: since I’m within the 21 day window, I’m going to return it. No way I’m going to live with this thing for the next few years. I’ll probably check out the Apple 24″ and if it looks good, buy it. It’s expensive but should last me for years to come.

→ 12 CommentsTags: General

The New Prohibition

March 19th, 2009 · 6 Comments

Guess what happened in 1980?

→ 6 CommentsTags: Politics

LET IT DIE: On the economy

March 18th, 2009 · No Comments

Douglas Rushkoff makes the case for a slight tweak (!) to our current economy:

But this changed the shape of business fundamentally. Instead of thriving on innovation and progress, corporate monopolies simply sought to extract wealth from the regions they controlled. They didn’t need to compete, anymore, so they just sucked resources from places and people. Meanwhile, people living and working in the real world lost the ability to generate value by or for themselves.

The reality is that most of my circle are several steps removed from jobs generating physical value. A “knowledge worker” class is leading indicator of a first world nation. Scientists, engineers, teachers: all produce nothing of physical value but are critical for modern civilization. While I tend to agree with him that modern corporations are given way too much latitude in the US (they are NOT people!), I don’t see him offering an alternative system or a path to get there. It’s easy to call for revolution; much harder to plan one.

LET IT DIE: Rushkoff on the economy.

→ No CommentsTags: Business · Politics


March 12th, 2009 · 1 Comment

If you are reading this, welcome aboard the shiny, new! I’ve decided to ditch my shared web host of the last 10 years,, and move onto a dedicated slice at Shared web hosting means that your site shares hardware, the operating system and system software with many other customers, and can often times be slow. Slices share hardware but don’t share software so I can run anything I want on my slice. It does require a bit of know-how to run your own slice but know-how is what I’m paid to have.

I’m also saving a bit of money by consolidating all my domains onto one system., and are all running on this slice.

For now, you shouldn’t notice much of a difference. I’ve upgraded my blog software and I’ll do the same for the photo gallery software shortly. Please let me know if you see any problems.

→ 1 CommentTags: Personal

Next Generation AV

February 8th, 2009 · 1 Comment

My AV system is getting a bit long in the tooth. I bought the system when I bought my house 7 years ago and no self-respecting technophile can be seen without a flat panel TV these days. So I’m considering mounting an LCD TV to the wall, embedding speakers in the wall and moving the components into a closet to regain most of the floor space currently taken.

What I’d really like to do is make my system more Internet friendly. I’ve got Ethernet right there and I want to be able to view material on the TV that I download, stream from Hulu or watch on a DVD or BluRay disc. I’ve already got a NAS device, TiVo and laptop and the last thing I want is another computer running 24/7. It’s too bad the manufacturers and content providers can’t do more to converge these devices so they work better together. The reality is that none of these companies wants to give an inch to the others so something like MythTV running on a SFF computer might be my best choice to control my own entertainment destiny. An Apple TV or hacked Mac mini might also be a possibility. We shall see.

→ 1 CommentTags: General · Personal