Friday, February 27, 2009

Putting My Tax Refund to Good Use

Now that the car is taken care of, I can do something completely impractical and fun with my tax refund. I decided to buy a new computer, to replace my 6 year old system.

The roommate helped me pick out a nicely priced machine from HP. On that advise of Yomper, I'm upgrading the video card and the power supply. It kind of defeats the purpose of buying a pre-built system, but it should be a pretty sweet system when it's all together. I just received the new monitor from Newegg. Holy quick shipping Batman! The rest of the computer should be here Wednesday or Thursday next week. So right now, I have a ginormous LCD monitor hooked up to my old system. All things considered, it looks really good. And it even fits on desk.

The Bad and the Good

First, the bad.

While I was in Wisconsin, someone hit my parked car at home in Vermont. I had left the car in my apartment complex's upper lot in case it snowed while I was gone. We have opposite side parking here. When it snows, they plow one side of our street at 8am and then the other at 1. Usually I move my car on my lunch break, as I live across the street from my office. If you won't be available to move your car for plowing, you're supposed to park in the overflow lot behind the complex. That is exactly what I did.

Saturday after I returned home, I found a pretty big scrape all down the driver's side, along with some denting of the front door. The estimate I got from the body shop said it will cost about $1700 to get the whole thing fixed.

And now for the good.

Vermont is one of only two states (the other being Virginia, I believe) that has a no fault accident law. Usually, if the accident is not your fault, your insurance company will go after the other driver, or, more likely, the other driver's insurance, to get the money. In the case of an unknown driver, such as a hit and run on your parked car, you're out of luck. In this situation, Vermont's law forces your insurance company to waive your deductible and provide a rental car for you while your car is being repaired.

This is not something that the insurance company will advertise or even offer. I was tipped off about the law by the helpful people at Autonahn body shop (a big thank you to Jon, who helped me with the insurance process). I had to argue with Geico. The person who took my claim over the phone was not aware of the law and refused to waive the deductible. In speaking with the local insurance adjuster, who was familiar with Vermont's laws, everything was straightened out. My car goes in on Monday morning. Hopefully, she'll be good as new.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

More Wisconsin Root Beer

I got a chance to try some more local Wisconsin root beer. Tonight's travels took me to The Great Dane, a pub and brewery located in Downtown Madison. In addition to a large selection of beer, they have a pretty decent menu; I had the Dane Burger and it was tasty. I had never considered putting artichoke dip on a burger before. As for my choice of beverage, I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to try their root beer brewed in house.

The root beer came to me in a big frosty mug (yay for frosty mugs!), so I can't give you a run down of the ingredients. The root beer itself had just enough vanilla to make it smooth. It definitely had anise (yay for anise!). This root beer was spicy compared to others that I've tasted. There was a very strong taste of something that I couldn't put my finger on. The overall flavor was strong, without being over whelming. It was a nice change of pace; most of the root beers I've tried have been good but not exciting. This one was exciting. (Side note - for those of you keeping track at home, that's a total of two uses of the semicolon in this use. Let's here it for under used punctuation!)

Compared to the Sprecher's that I tried yesterday, Great Dane is by far the superior Wisconsin root beer. I will definitely have this again the next time I find myself in the area.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Midwestern Root Beer

I've been in Madison, Wisconsin all week for work. I'm taking a week long training class at the General Electric plant here. My class only runs until 4 in the afternoon and I've had my evenings free to explore the area.

In my travels this evening, I came across a locally brewed root beer. Yeah, you know I can't pass that up. (For those keeping track, I am still on my self-imposed caffeine fast. March will be one complete year).

That brings me to Sprecher root beer. It gets bonus points for coming in a full pint sized bottle. That's a whole 16 ounces, as opposed to the normal 12 ounces we're used to seeing in soda/beer bottles. It gets even more bonus points for using honey as a sweetener. However, it loses some of that bonus since it still uses high fructose corn syrup. In fact, the corn syrup is the second ingredient listed (meaning that it's the 2nd most abundant), right after carbonated water.

On the plus side, the root beer is very smooth and creamy. The honey adds a very subtle taste. It's well balanced. On the flip side, nothing really stands out, taste wise. This doesn't make it bad, just not as exciting as Maine Root or Harpoon.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Off Topic

And the award, for most assinine question asked of a world leader, goes to...... Michael Fletcher from the Washington Post, for asking about A-Rod's use of steroids.

A little background: Obama gave the first prime time press conference of his presidency. The topic, of course, was the horrendous state of the economy and what needs to be done to remedy the situation. He did a good job explaining the importance of the stimulous package and some of its nuances. But that is really not what I wanted to comment on.

Keep in mind that this is a press conference about the dire state of our economy. About thress quartes of the way through the question and answer period, Fletcher sees fit to ask the president, "What is your reaction to Alex Rodriguez's admission that he used steroids as a member of the Texas Rangers?" Seriously. It was one of those surreal WTF moments.

Obama's response should have been "What the f*ck does that have to do with anything?". You know he was thinking it.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

When Bakeries Know No Bounds

It's a well known fact that supermarket bakeries tend to stock yummy baked goods decorated for whatever is the most recent upcoming holiday/event. Think pink frosting and hearts for Valentine's or spider webs for Halloweeen. Our most recent event was the Super Bowl and there was a whole host of football themed sugary treatsd around.
I guess the bakers down at the PriceChopper got a little over excited and decorated everything they could get their hands on.

Yep. Those are loaves of bread, decorated to look like footballs. To the baker's credit, I'm pretty sure that it's not actually chocolate icing, but rather a darker dough on top of the lighter loaf.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Hey, I Really Do Have a Facebook Page

I've been getting emails from people asking to be my friend on Facebook. My reaction so far has been, huh? I don't recall ever signing up for a Facebook page. Out of curiosity, I searched for myself and did, indeed, come up with my own profile.

Judging by the 2 messages on the page, I'm guessing that I signed up at the request of one of my friends, as a way to keep in touch, of course, and then promptly forgot about it. Thinking hard I vaguely recall doing this.

And, so, that brings me to my dilemma. Do I simply delete the page and disappear in the ethos? Or do I actually put some content on the damn thing and get back in touch with people who took the time to look me up? Decisions, decisions.