10 Things I Noticed About Getting A New Car

Old car next to new car
Upgrade!

My 2005 Dodge Neon, lovingly referred to as the “Reliant,” has been a pretty dependable vehicle since I bought it back in 2006.  Recently, the only issue I’ve had with it is that well, its a Neon.  As I’ve been taking more trips to Dallas and Houston going to conventions and events, I’m finding that a Neon isn’t a very comfortable place to be for an extended period of time.

Thus, I began looking for a new vehicle in earnest. I didn’t need a “urban assault vehicle” as I like to call them, instead I wanted something just a bit bigger and more comfortable than a compact car.  I ended up buying a new 2012 Honda CR-V (pictured at right next to the Reliant and dubbed the “Excelsior”) and noticed just a few things during the process:

  1. As I mentioned previously, car shopping has changed just a bit since I bought the Reliant in 2006, and I think for the better.
  2. “Base model” doesn’t mean what it used to.  The base model CR-V includes Bluetooth, USB, rear-view camera, and automatic transmission.  Wow.
  3. The hardest part of getting a CR-V was well…getting one, as they are quite popular.
  4. Used cars are also popular; the Reliant was worth quite a bit more than I had expected.
  5. Of course, all I was going to get for it on the trade-in was some magic beans.
  6. Its good to have a man on the inside, hopefully my friend that sold me the CR-V stays at the dealership for at least a few years 😉
  7. Actual conversation with my friend: “Its not my car yet.” “Of course not, you haven’t paid for it.” “No, I haven’t farted in it yet.”
  8. I’ve barely had the Excelsior a month and its already been called ‘cute’ a few times. Here we go again.
  9. Having a camera in the back that turns on while I’m in reverse makes backing into parking spots like a videogame.  If I ‘lose’ its going to cost me more than a quarter, though!
  10. Hooray for modern engineering: despite being larger, the Excelsior gets at least as good gas mileage as the Reliant did and over 30mpg on long trips.

Worst. Spammer. EVAR.

Spam.  If you’ve been on the Internets for more than say, a few minutes or have ever had an e-mail account, you should hate it in all its forms.  One particularly odious form of spam is blog spam, where people will post comments on blogs that serve no purpose other than to try to direct you to some skeevy website of questionable repute.

While Askimet is pretty darn good at catching spam comments, one occasionally slips through the net and has to be sent to Binary Hell the old-fashioned way.  I thought this one was HILARIOUS.  Click the picture to see the derp in all its glory.

I think you’re supposed to only post ONE of these…

Magic Can’t Do EVERYTHING

Magic is pretty cool stuff if you’re a writer because you can pretty much do anything with it.  Its almost a requirement in some respects, I can’t imagine writing a story in a fantasy setting without having a magician, wizard, or some kind of creature that uses magic.

Of course, just because you can do everything with magic doesn’t mean you should.

I am currently writing a series of furry short stories that take place in “The Enchanted Forest.”  The first one, titled “The Hunter,” may or may not have been printed in the Anthrocon 2012 conbook but that’s neither here nor there.  The Enchanted Forest is a magical place where, among other things, one can find a village called Aetherwood, where faeries live and grant wishes to those that can find it.  I am admittedly borrowing the idea from “Fantasy Island” TV show, but with more fantasy and more fur! :3

So this is a place where magic exists and the faeries throw lots of magic around to bring the wishes of their guests to life.  While the temptation is there to have everything happen with just the wave of a wand, I find that it is much more interesting to put limits on what can be done with magic in these stories.

I’m hoping that it helps prevent me from pulling the old ‘deus ex machina,’ too.  If magic has infinite capabilities, then it can be the solution to just about any problem that comes up.  This would make for some boring stories if at the end of each story, a character waved their hand and everything went back to normal, like in a TV show where everything seemingly ‘resets’ at the start of each episode.  It also means actions can ultimately have no consequences, and as The Enchanted Forest stories are essentially morality tales, there need to be consequences or else the protagonists won’t learn their lesson.

The question then becomes: what limits should be placed on magic?  I’ve got the following so far:

  • Magic can be used to manipulate the land, create plants and even animals, but not people.
  • While the faeries of Aetherwood can use potions and spells to change their appearance, the color of their eyes does not change.

Granted, that’s a pretty short list, but hopefully more ‘rules’ come to me as time goes on so I don’t pull too many things out of my posterior.

Or I could get off my rear and write a proper ‘bible’ for this world.   That’s a topic for another time, though.

RANDOMIZER’S REACTION: My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic

Resistance is Futile!
Resistance is Futile!

This is the second time I’ve written about My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, click here to read the first post.

I have friends, both male and female, that enjoy watching My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, and so I knew that I was going to have to eat those peas sooner or later.  I just didn’t think it was going to stem from a discussion about time travel.

So I was shooting the breeze with my friend Chris while we were at a pizza joint and I started talking about a story idea I had that involved time travel.  As expected, we started talking about media we’d watched or read that involved time travel and the “rules” that they had followed, so the conversation turned to Doctor Who, the Terminator series, Back to the Future, TimeWalker…and then out of the blue Chris suddenly says: “This reminds me of an episode of My Little Pony!”

I did a facepalm, much to Chris’ delight.  Chris is a brony, you see, and so he likes to insert My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic into virtually ANY conversation we’re having…or at least it seems that way to me.  Much to his chagrin, I still haven’t seen the show but figured what the hey, it was finally time to eat my peas.  So we went to my place, fired up Netflix and saw not only the episode in question (“Its About Time”), but I also figured we’d also watch the first two so could get introduced to the show and the characters.

I have to say its pretty good.  In terms of quality, I thought that the show was very well done.  The characters and scenery were pleasant to look at, if not downright cute.  The animation was pretty good, though I could see little instances here and there where it had that ‘Flash look’ to it.  I felt the voice acting was very good, and the music fit the action well, with various variations on the main theme throughout.

While it does have some kid’s show trappings, like the ‘moral of the story’ bit, that’s okay.  I liked what I saw, I found it entertaining to watch and thought it would be fun for everyone.  So it has a nearly all-female cast?  Big deal, so did Golden Girls.  So its bright and colorful?  Big deal, so are Super Mario games.  Do some of the bronies need to simmer down and stop shoving it down everyone’s throats?  Yes they do, but obsessive fanboys are present in EVERY fandom so you can’t really hold that against the majority of fans who aren’t screaming their love of it from the mountaintops.

Based on the few episodes I saw, MLP:FiM is a fun show for everyone to watch that is deserving of the attention it has been getting, even if the more overzealous members of the fandom tend to ‘squick the mundanes.’

Is it good enough to be deserving of that level of obsession?  I can’t say based on having only seen three episodes, so I guess I’ll have to see some more in order to find out…

Uh-oh.  This is how it starts, isn’t it?

Facebook Ads are Funny

I don't want to go tto school with Grant, he's creepy!
I don't want to return to school with Grant, he's creepy!

I obviously read the ad wrong, but hey, at least I read the ad.

Booze? Well, that explains how Wall Street lost all that money

I don’t know what they’re selling but what were they THINKING?

Sick? Wild? I'll stick to Pac-Man

I still can’t get used to the word ‘sick’ being used in a good context.

In Defense of “Old Media”

Sony Transistor Radio Model S10MK2
Someone still loves you, radio!

I usually make my weekly run to the grocery store sometime during the weekend, which is probably not the smartest thing to do because everyone else does the same thing.  Of course, life often gets in the way of that plan and I end up going on Monday instead, which is also annoying because it means I have to burn precious after-work-before-bed time.  As I am one of those oddball men that actually likes to shop, it really isn’t that big of a deal because  I can easily spend an entire hour at HEB buying groceries for the week.  It also isn’t unusual for me to show up with a list of five items and leave with twenty…I’m thinking the two are related somehow.

In any event, it was time to go to the grocery store again, but this Monday introduced a new wrinkle: the Spurs were playing and it was an important game.  Like most folks, I don’t pay much attention to basketball until the playoffs arrive, and the Spurs had lost two in a row and so they were in a ‘must-win situation.’  While I would have loved to just sit and watch the game, I had groceries to buy and laundry to do after that, so I made my list, checked it twice, and headed out the door.

Now I have a problem: I can’t keep tabs on the game while I am in the store.  I do have a smartphone, though, so I figured I would open up a web browser and keep tabs on the game via  a sports website.  At the time I left my apartment, it was a close game and waiting for the browser to reload and update the score was agonizing.  It then occurred to me that for all the 4G-dual-core-Flash-touchscreen-whiz-bang technology my smartphone had, I would have been better off with a cheap transistor radio tuned to a local sports station.  Much to my chagrin, the last update came fifteen seconds before the game ended, and I ended up having to visit a different website to get the final score because the page stopped updating.

As great and wonderful as the Internet is, radio and television (aka “the old media”) still outdo the ‘net by leaps and bounds when it comes to things that are happening live.  I am certain many of us remember refreshing our browsers at work every few minutes on 9/11, only to be stuck with pages that loaded slowly, or not at all.  Meanwhile, at the same time TV and radio stations were providing a steady stream of information that kept going independent of how many viewers were watching.  Sure, it wasn’t all ‘interactive’ and ‘social’ and all those things we expect nowadays, but when something is happening right now, give me a radio or a TV set anyday.