Monday, August 31, 2009

Contemplating a new week from 3am

The week woke me up. It's Monday Morning at 3, and the week came knocking at my unconscious brain - so here I am. I seem to have a lot jammed into the schedule this week. Some things are merely errands like going to the bank, filling the 'fridge, getting cat food, having the oil changed in the van - or chores like laundry, vacuuming and mowing. There is the mind-numbing route of taxi-driving that eats up the hours but seems only to fill the time with boredom and lack of accomplishment. Then there are the dozen or so tasks that I feel qualified to complete - but that take focus or talent, or some special know-how. I have to finish a small piece of an outfit on a sewing machine, I have to clean, repair and lubricate the lawn sweeper, I have to write a test that will assess a basic knowledge of critical reading skills and vocabulary, I have to pack for a weekend away at a Pow wow. But on top of that are the seemingly small, things that must be in place by a certain time or place that I must do that I have little idea how to accomplish. Those are the juggling balls that are most likely to bounce along the floor and make me give chase. The ones that make me feel stupid, incompetent in advance. Completely daunted. These little jokers might fall into place in 5 minutes, or might be major hurtles - you just never know. If I were a wage slave, I'd have a boss and a routine or some such 'job' with the paycheck to let me know that what I did was worthwhile and how well. But I don't. I am both COO and scullery slave, and sometimes it keeps me awake. I'm going to make a grocery list now. Sweet dreams to all you sleepers. ~M.E.

Monday, August 24, 2009


We just returned from a little summer jaunt to our Nation's Capitol. Washington D.C. is one of my favorite places - perhaps because it is easily accessible, I've gotten familiar with the city over the last couple of trips - or perhaps because there is always more to see, do, and experience even after several visits. The public transportation is easy to navigate and relatively inexpensive, and all of the Smithsonian museums and government buildings that you can visit are free. This visit was a little different from the last two, since we had a little trouble with the weather. Not surprising for August, I know, but it was HOT. Also HUMID. It was mid-90's thereabouts every day. I spent a week with sweat dripping, red-faced, guzzling water. Many of my well planned activities were ditched because we just didn't want to spend much time outdoors.

Harry managed to get no less than 25 geocaches while we were there. Mostly he hunted them alone in between his meetings because after the first afternoon where I followed him on the cross-mall caching death march I wasn't a good sport any more. Here's Hannah claiming the virtual cache in the fountain in front of the Library of Congress' Jefferson Building.

It did blessedly cool off a bit in the evenings. We were able to walk the west end of the Mall then. The west end of the National Mall, that mile-long space between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial isn't easily accesses by Metro or the Curculator Busses. So, unless you are willing to spring for a taxi, buy into the exhorbatantly priced tourist busses, or try and figure out the convoluted Metro Busses - you and your feet are on your own. Once the sun went down and it cooled to a balmy mid-80's we enjoyed seeing the monuments at night. The WWII monument was especially nice, since if you remained well behaved and respectful the guards didn't mind letting people put their feet into the pool of the fountain. Aaaahhhh!

We spent a morning visiting the Washington National Cathedral. I had wanted to do this since my first visit, but since it takes a combination of Metro and city bus to get there, we just hadn't wedged it in. Pity, since it is now one of my very favorite places in the area. It is a lovely Gothic cathedral that is also distinctly American. It is evident that it is no museum, like many of the great churches I've visited in Europe, but houses a thriving congregation while continuing it's mission of being a 'place of prayer for Americans of all faiths'. I love all of the chapels, big and small. This picture is of a cross made fron the rubble of the Pentagon after the 9-11 attack. It is in the Veterans Chapel.
I found it interesting that a few weeks back we visited Bloomington IN, and passed a large limestone quarry with the slogan -"Builders of America's Monuments" on the signs, and in Washington DC were able to see that many of those lovely buildings, including the Washington National Cathedral were indeed built from Indiana limestone.

I took this snapshot in the Smithsonian American Art museum. I wish it had better lighting, since it kind of distills the effect of art, and the atmosphere of creativity. The extra large abstracts and the open gallery space - along with the music running through her head inspired a little spontanious dancing - posing really - as she enjoyed art. I'd have been doing it too, if I weren't such a stodgy mom-type person.

We're back in good ol' springfield now. The weather is cool and the acedemic year started today. We figured it might as well since all of H Girl's PS friends went back to school this week or last. We'll get to Washington again, I'm sure. I still have too many things unchecked on my "A" list not to.

Cheers! ~M.E.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Crunching some Confusing Numbers in the "Cash for Clunkers" Game

My old van, a 2001 Dodge Caravan w/ 195,000 miles and an '18' on the government scale is on the top ten list of most traded in 'clunkers'. Worth $3500.00 on the purchase of a new vehicle with at least 22 mpg rating.

One of the vehicles I'm considering is the Honda CR-V. The semi-tricked out version runs about $27,500.00, after a skinny deal of about $1000.00 off the sticker price given by the dealer. (Plus TTL, but those remain the same, so I'll leave those figures out.) No other trade in money or deals will be offered.

This brings my van/CR-V trade deal to $24,000.00 with a 2010 model and the government cash-for-clunkers deal.

Lets look at something slightly different:

Looking at the Car Max site - with I typically use for real world used car values since I'm a Dave Ramsey fan, and have a hard time not letting someone else take the new car devaluation hit.

Here's a 2008 Honda CR-V that is tricked out like the new one I asked the dealer about. It's two model years old, and has 20K miles. ( History shows it was a 'fleet vehicle', which means a rental) The Car Max price is $20,998.00 Plus a drive to Indianapolis, where this example currently is parked. The website calculator says that I would get a $1250.00 trade in on the van.

This brings my van/CR-V deal to $19798.00 with the straight-up trade my old van for a newish CR-V.

One more comparison:

We looked at a Mazda RX-7 a couple of weeks back. Sticker price on that vehicle was about $27,800.00. The first 'deal' I was offered was $1,000.00 off the sticker price and $3000.00 trade-in for the van. That brings that comparable vehicle - brand new w/o the government program to $23,800.00.


New Honda CR-V with $3,500.00 government money $24,000.00

New Mazda CX-7 straight-up w/ trade in allowance $23,800.00

Slightly used Honda CR-V without government assistance $19,798.00

To me, this sounds like one of those screwed up math story problems where you 'lose' a dollar while seeming to be getting the best deal. Can you see where the dealer is getting $3,500.00 from the government, yet I'm paying about the same price for the vehicle? Maybe the 'cash for clunkers' program works better when you think of trading a Ford F250 for a Prius, or something - but the math just isn't working for me.

PS: I still want a Volkswagon Tiguan. But it's the same kind of 'want' as when a little girl says she 'wants' to be a princess. Ain't in the cards.