Monthly Archives: January 2007

Unpaid Advertising – the heartache of new shoes

30 Helens say you can't pay too much for a comfortable pair of shoes. I mostly agree. I think $165 is not too much, and I'm used to getting free shoes from my dentist.

Almost seven years ago I plunked down $165 for a pair of dressy shoes in anticipation of a formal law school event. Except for Nike Air, I knew nothing about shoes or shoe manufactures. But I do know what feels comfortable. And the square toe and shock absorbing sole of the ecco fit me just fine. Unbelievably, my fancy looking eccos were often more comfortable than my air cushioned Nikes.

My eccos have paid a heavy price for my comfort. The soles are worn through, the lining is pealing away, and the finish is scuffed up. I've tried polishing them and injecting the soles with epoxy, but these shoes have had it. It was time to buy new shoes. Actually, it was time to buy new shoes months ago. Finding just the right shoes is very, very hard.

I don't know why I don't just buy two pairs of the shoes I like. That way, when one wore out, I would have another pair to replace it. No shopping necessary. Oh yeah, I know why I don't do this: it costs twice as much. It still seems like a good idea in theory. Too bad I can't just get more freebies from my dentist.

In the last few months I have been to every shoe store within 50 miles and every shoe website. Life would be easier if shoe companies just stuck to one style. But, I suppose after six years or so I can't expect my style to still exist. And the shoe technology of today must be far superior to the clunky old technology of 2000. For example, I could have used another layer in the sole to keep water (and later snow) from leaking onto my socks while I searched for new shoes.

On my last shopping trip I was in the shoe buying zone, figuratively and literally (I was in the shoe department). I ran into another shoe shopper who loved Borns. I think he may have loved Borns as much as I love eccos. Had I not been so focused on getting new eccos, his infectious enthusiasm for Borns may have led me to buy a pair. We talked about the theoretical advantage of buying two pairs of shoes. Then we both noticed that when you are just browsing for shoes, the shoe salesman are all over you like flies on something disgusting but when you are ready to buy a show, the salesman are nowhere to be found. Finding this brethren in arms really boosted my shoe buying resolve.

Time was running out, i.e., the stores were closing. Fortunately, I had found my shoe, the ecco Arlanda tie. Thee are a reasonable facsimile to my old show only lighter and cushier due to the advances in shoe technology. The shoes cost $165, the same amount as my last pair. Considering inflation, that price is pretty good. Nevertheless, before I bought the shoe, I had to do the right thing. I called my wife. She gave me the thumbs up, figuratively speaking as I couldn't see her thumbs over the phone.

Triumphantly, I have new shoes. Thank goodness that's over. May I never need new to buy new shoes again.

Check out these bad boys. Wow, new shoes are really shiny and stiff. I sort of miss those lumpy wrinkles on my old shoes. I could even take them off and on without untying them. Oh well, I have six years to break in the new guys.

So huzaa to ecco!

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Rants – Cleaning is Editing and Editing is Cleaning

My wife has an impressive collection of decorative items. After we married and moved to my house, her prized possessions have sat in boxes in our dark, dank, poison gas filled basement. It has been this way for about two years. Then, a few months ago, we bought an antique cabinet to hold my wife's collection. It has sat empty until this very night.

The difference is striking. The cabinet went from empty to full. The boxes went from full to empty. Come recycling day, the boxes will go away forever. All in all my wife had a productive night.

(Note: the crock pot in the picture is not decorative. There just wasn't a better place to keep it.)

Although I helped my wife move some boxes, the arranging was all her. My night was already booked by a legal opinion I brought from the office. I was typing up some notes and editing as I went along. After some time of this, I instinctively fired up my blog and proceeded to edit old posts.

What better sense of satisfaction is there than reviewing your own blog and marveling at your own wittiness? Apparently the satisfaction of reviewing a well proofed blog or the aforementioned unpacking of the decorative items. My otherwise satisfying blog is chock full annoying errors: missing words, misspelled words, and sentences that make no sense. The devil is in the details. God is in the details. Either way I think my spell checker is an atheist.

I could let the errors be. Each blog entry is a moment in time that could be preserved for what it is. Yet, if the rapture does not come, my blog could taint future generations forever more.  So becomes my duty to laboriously fix every error I find. If I worked at a newspaper, I would have an editor. Then again, if I worked at a newspaper I couldn't publish my musings on unpacking. At least proofing my blog is good practice for my legal work, which I suppose I should get back to doing . . . after I check that last untimely review of two star movies.

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Personal Stories – How to get a cork floor for free

Want cork flooring for free? Here are three easy steps. 1. Plant cork trees. 2. Harvest the bark. 3. Lay down the floor. Or, you could do what we did. Have your installer screw up and and give a cork floor for free.

Back in June, we hired a local company to install our kitchen floor. We opted for linoleum. Not vinyl floring, but real linoleum. When you buy linoleum you have to say that to every floorer you meet because they will always think you are talking about vinyl. In fact, real linoleum is so rare that know one knows how to install it. This was especially true of our installer. The first thing he mentioned when he showed up was that he had never seen linoleum before. When an installer has never seen the product he or she is installing, that is a bad sign. He then proceeded to screw up.

No bones about it, The floor looked good. But there were lumps and bumps everywhere. Just look at our little guy's reaction to it! Seriously, the installer used too much glue and the excess hardened into its own topography. He unapologetically recommended that we buy some curtains so there wouldn't be so much light to show the imperfections. We do not like him.

The representative from the local flooring company was apologetic . . after six months of prodding. Although I called them weekly for five months or so, there was no resolution in sight. Then my wife called. She is a one woman consumer advocacy group. The next visit from the rep was the titular moment in getting our free cork floor.

I talked up the virtues of ripping up the entire floor and laying it down from scratch. Ripping up a floor is hard work. I know because my wife and I (and my parents and a few other people) had already done it. I even bought a special tool to pull up the 10,000 staples. Labor is expensive, more expensive than cork to be sure. We knew that we had a good bargaining position.

But it wasn't us who mentioned the cork floor. The repoff-hand said that he could put another floor over our imperfect floor. Perhaps cork he said. I was adamant about ripping up the old floor but my wife told the rep that she could convince me to go with cork (which she did). My wife is a big fan of all of the "Law and Order" shows, and she does an excellent good cop/bad cop routine. Her negotiating skills paid off and last week we received our free cork floors. Of course, we had to pay for the bad floor first. But it's like the old saying goes, you have to spend bad money to get good products. Or something like that. All I know is this: our cork floor is frickin' sweet.

Why linoleum or cork? Both are made of renewable materials, non-allergenic, non-toxic, and naturally resistant to water and pests. Linoleum has the added bonus of durability and is the same color throughout so it does not show scratches well. Cork has the added bonus of being warm and spongy underfoot. It is super great for work areas like  kitchens. Plus it looks really cool.

Huzaa to cork!

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Personas Stories – My bad tooth gets temp work

I learned two important lessons this week. Dentists don't work on Fridays but they do work on Saturdays. On Tuesday my dentist gave me a temporary tooth on my implant. This was a glorious day; no more would I suffer the temporary denture. No more scratches inside my mouth. No more inability to say "s" and "t". It was like a dream.

The dream ended on Friday when I was eating a sandwich and the temporary tooth came loose. I was lucky to be home during my lunch hour. There was no need to panic, I thought. I'll just call my dentist and he will glue it back on. I call the dentist and receive a recording letting me know they close at noon on Fridays. Dang. I call another dentist's office. Closed. I call a few more in my area. All closed. I call all dentist offices within 25 miles. Most were closed. The open offices did not accept "walk-ins". Necessity being the mother of shoddy workmanship, I shoved the temporary tooth into my mouth, hid in my office, and hoped for the best.

The loss of the temporary tooth was not just embarrassing because I was missing a tooth. There was also the danger it would fly out of my mouth. Plus, the implant sticking out of my gums was caked with glue. It was an ugly sight. Consequently, I prepared myself for a weekend of staying at home and hiding my disfigured tooth from the world. Besides, it was snowing. Then, a post Christmas miracle occurred: my dentist called me.

I had already considered my dentist to be a great man. But there he was on a Saturday, in the snow, opening his office just for me. He then proceeded to make a temporary tooth three times as strong. I know is stronger because it is three times as big. It is also shorter than my real teeth, as indicated in the above picture. I didn't ask why but I now assume it has something to do with preventing me from destroying it while eating sandwiches. As a last act of greatness, my dentist gave me something I will always cherish, his home phone number.

Huzaa to my dentist!

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Untimely Reviews of two star movies – “Man on Fire”

The man, the man, the man is on fire. We don't need no water, just let Denzel burn. Burn Denzel Washington, burn. That ditty may not be very catchy, but this is the home of the mediocre, a.k.a. two star movies, and an excellence is not an issue.

The latest movie to hit my DVR is Denzel Washington's movie "Man on Fire". For all you spoiler haters, this is what happens in the "Man on Fire": Denzel gets mad and kills a bunch of people. Now this movies is totally ruined for you, hahaha!

"Man on Fire" is not to be confused with other guys who get mad and kill people movies, like "The Punisher", "Death Wish" 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, all Steven Segal movies, and Star Wars Episode III. This one is different because in almost half of the movie the man is not on fire. Perhaps more than two stars could have been garnered if Denzel had gone ape sh*t after the first 10 minutes. Then again, those other revenge movies are not exactly Oscar material.

Nevertheless, "Man on Fire" would have been tons more fun if the movie let us assume that Denzel had a good reason for torturing, slashing, shooting, and exploding lots and lots of bad guys. Instead the movies rubs it in our face. "Man on Fire" also offers many, many memorable quotes, such as "Forgiveness is between them and God. It's my job to arrange the meeting." and "[Denzel]'s art is death. He's about to paint his masterpiece.", etc. This makes for a great preview but lousy dialogue.

Yet, despite the painful set-up and abuse of one-lines, "Man on Fire" is impregnated with fresh visuals. The subtitles are not imprisoned at the bottom of the screen but instead become part of each image. The subtitles are also not limited to foreign dialects. Important names and numbers appear on the screen as do difficult to hear dialogue. I found this approach to subtitles to be easy on the eyes, i.e. I liked it. The flashy quick cuts and snippets of flashbacks are also engaging without being too annoying. Was this movie flashy enough to break two stars? Maybe, if you fast forward through the first forty five minutes.   

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Untimely Reviews – Shopgirl

Some movies are simple character studies where nothing much happens. My wife calls these movies "all talk and no rock" movies. You can also call these movies boring. Except, many of these "all talk and no rock" movies are exquisitely interesting. "Shopgirl" falls into the latter category. So, I admit it. there are "all talk and no rock" movies that I like. Believe me, that is a big step toward enlightenment from a guy who once considered "Robocop" to be his favorite movie.

The story of how much I like "Shopgirl" despite myself runs even deeper. My wife has listened to the audio book version of "Shopgirl". (The visual book version was written by Steve Martin and he reads the audio book). I have never heard or read the book, but I do remember my wife telling me that it was odd to hear Steve Martin, a comedian, read lurid descriptions of sex. I also knew that the book/audio book/movie is about an old guy who dates a young woman. There are therefore four things I therefore despised about "Shopgirl": (1) it was a book first; (2) my wife knew the whole story and I didn't; (3) it has sex scenes with Steve Martin; and (4) it is about an old guy dating a young woman.

My wife really wanted to see "Shopgirl" in a timely manner, but with all the pre-baby planning we never got around to it. Then we had the opportunity to watch it during preview weekend for the Showtime movie channel. With my lackluster attitude toward watching it, the movie instead sat on our DVR.  After a few months, I gave in. I figured that cuddling to watch "Shopgirl" would be better than no cuddling at all.

I was wrong, cuddling to watch "Shopgirl" is way, way, better than no cuddling at all. "Shopgirl" is not a romantic comedy or even that romantic. It is "dark" as my wife would say; I would say it is "faux uplifting". The movie has a lot of talk, but it also has a little rock or at least a measurable amount of rock. The score and visuals are awe inspiring.  This is not a movie where the actors re-read dialogue from a book, or play. This movie a cinematic spectacle. I recommend easing into this movie with the confidence that you will be entertained for 104 minutes. 

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Missed the Boat – mp3 players

It turns out that I love old technology. For instance, right now I am enjoying the ten year old technology of mp3s players. Not to gloat, but my wife gave me an engraved I-pod Shuffle for Christmas. Okay, I'm gloating now. It holds a gigabyte of data, which in terms of music equals about 240 songs (assuming an average of 4 minutes per song). That is enough room to hold all of the Jayhawks. It is pretty darn sweet.

The I-Pod Shuffle is wearableThe I-Pod Shuffle has bite

The music player is so small that I feel like I'm on Star Trek. I used to lug around a tape player and then a CD player. The Shuffle is smaller than their belt clips. Did I mention how sweet this is?

So why have I shunned this great technology for such a long time? Frugalness? Maybe, but I've had an income for a few years now. Perhaps I am truly afraid of technology. Or maybe I'm just not very trendy. Thank goodness my wife is.

Huzaa to my wife and Huzaa to the I-pod!

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