I recently read this article on CNBC about a company called Beepi.  It’s middleman company that helps you buy a used car from across the country.  It will inspect and take photos of the car you want to buy, and help with delivering it directly to your home.  We recently purchased a vehicle from Alabama (from Pennsylvania) without the use of a 3rd party service like Beepi, and I had a great experience with it, so I figured I would write an article to share my experience and provide some pointers.

These steps and ideas are relevant whether you’re buying from a dealer, or from a private party.  For our purchase, we were looking for a full-size pickup truck; our requirements were a diesel motor, no rust, manual transmission, extended cab, and 8 foot bed.  (Good luck finding a rust-free truck up north.)  We found one on AutoTrader or Cars.com but it was down in Alabama.  Not exactly close enough to go test drive it!

I find it ironic that humans are the only animal ‘lucky’ enough to walk upright, when so many suffer from lower back pain. I’ve got a slightly bulged disc in my lower back that was diagnosed in 2007. I've been through the whole process: X-Ray, MRI, pain medication, and physical therapy.

Some people suffer from lower back pain due to an injury or accident, I believe mine is mainly due to bad posture and lack of exercise. I seem to go through cycles; one week, I’m doing push-ups and sit-ups, my back feels great, and I start slacking on the exercise. I get lazy. Then the pain comes back and I start doing push-ups again. Rinse, lather, repeat.

To the right, you’ll see the chicken coop that my wife and I built ourselves. We’ve been working on it over the last year or so, making adjustments and enhancements, so I want to write about what we’ve learned. We refused to spend hundreds of dollars on just their coop so we got some free pallets from down the street and scavenged for scrap wood.

I’ve suffered from seasonal allergies for over 15 years. When I was a teenager, I had prescription-strength nasal spray, eye drops, and pills (Zyrtec, Claritin, Allegra). All of these were somewhat helpful in addressing the symptoms I encountered: sneezing, itchy, puffy, watery eyes. When it got bad, I would rub my eyes so much that they would swell shut.

On Health, Honey:

A few years ago I started paying attention to eating healthy foods (non-GMO, organic, that sort of thing) and one of the topics that came up was that of eating local, raw honey to combat seasonal allergies.

Friday, 05 December 2014 17:34

Product Review: Berkey Water Filter

We have been using our Royal Berkey Water Filter for 10 months now, and I wanted to post some quick feedback.

Where we live, most of our neighbors have well water.  Our place is one of the "lucky few" to have city water.  So, when people used to come over and drink our tap water, they usually made "that face."  They tasted the chlorine right away.

Friday, 05 December 2014 17:03

Why I Switched to Prepaid Cell Phone Service

I recently switched my cell phone plan over to a prepaid plan after learning that standard cell phone contracts in the US (post-paid) are extremely common, while in Europe, prepaid plans dominate.  

I did some math to find out why all the fuss...

Wednesday, 11 June 2014 14:33

My PGP Key

Background:
In order to allow for safer electronic communication, I've finally set up my own PGP encryption for sending email. 

Don't ask for your privacy. Take it back.
"Mass surveillance is illegitimate. I'm taking steps to take my freedoms back and I expect governments and corporations to follow in my footsteps and take steps to stop all mass government surveillance."

Below is my PGP Key...

I've been using this particular setup for a while now, I've had the GeekDesk for over a year, and the Aeron chair for 5 months.  My favorite part is, as you can imagine, using them together.  I've got a bulging disc in my lower back, so I figured there'd probably be a lot of people who are looking for relief for similar types of issues.

Update Summer 2016: If you are researching a standing desk to alleviate lower back pain, please read my recent article describing my initial chiropractic visits!

Update 9/19/16: I recently helped a client get their Geek Desk set up and rearrange their office, and I have another testimonial to share:
"I just wanted to send you a note to thank you for telling Michael about your desk, and for helping him to get his new desk, and all the computer stuff hooked up!  Without you, he would not have this new chance at less back pain."

We have been using our Napoleon 1402 wood-burning insert in our home for over 1 year and 7 cords of wood.  The stove is able to heat our entire home (~1800 square feet) down to about 30 degrees (F); below this, and the propane needs to kick in to help out.  The stove typically runs at between 300 and 500 degrees (F), and we leave the blowers on high at all times.

Overall, very happy with the stove.  We had it cleaned and the flue liner did not have any "bad" creosote in it, meaning that the insert kept burning at a high temperature and stayed fairly clean.  About once a week, I open up the damper and let it get nice and hot for an hour or so... just as a maintenance thing.  Here is a photo of inside the firebox, after removing the baffles.  You'll also see that some of the bricks were cracked, probably from trying to cram logs in that were a little too large (16" firewood is what you want with this particular stove).

I'm a firm believer that you can learn something from anyone.  So last week, when I had the opportunity to discuss a web site project with someone, I decided to hear him out.  After talking with him for 15 minutes, I realized that this was a startup that I simply wanted nothing to do with.  Here are a few "common sense" things to keep in mind when trying to raise capital through venture capitalists (aka angel investors):

Thursday, 23 September 2010 15:10

Ode to my Jeeps (off topic)

[Edit: This content used to be up on my old site, but I sold the domain and took the site down.  Just found the old content on my hard drive...]

This page is dedicated to my Jeep addiction.  I'm not much of a Wrangler guy, I prefer the cherokee because it uses the renowned engine and drivetrain from the wrangler but it is more functional to me, with more cargo space and a longer wheelbase.  My first jeep was a '90XJ with a 3" rusty's suspension lift that you can read all about on this site.  I sold her when she needed to much work to keep street legal, then about a year later i picked up the red one you see above.  I have been very busy picking away at her, she needed a new floor welded in just to pass inspection and i have since added the roof-top tire carrier and a new radiator and a few other odds and ends you can check out on this site.  Enjoy your stay!

Thursday, 23 September 2010 14:58

Ode to my first car: 1990 Honda CRX

[Editor's Note: This was on my old web site, which I sold the domain name a few years back.  Re-posting]

This is my 1990 Honda CRX si.  Originally y-49 Barbados Yellow, I had her painted black and proceeded to get addicted to everything about it - the size, economy, power, and handling.  I had to sell it because the rear wheel-wells were rusting out and had already been "fixed" twice.

  • "Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes ... the ones who see things differently -- they're not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo. ... You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change things. ... They push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the people who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do."

    - Steve Jobs