Oooh that’s brisk

So our hot water heater died on Friday. Or actually what I have since learned is called the thermal couple died.

We called our home warranty folks on Friday and a guy came out on Friday night. He (thought that) he had the part to do it so he got to work and it turns out that our thermal couple is left-threaded. According to the plumber, nearly all of them are right-threaded and pretty standard.

He tried to go find one but could not and then again yesterday tried to find one at a particular store but no dice. Yesterday we went to step aerobics at the Y but for some reason the teacher didn’t show up so Carolyn and I just went and worked out in the exercise room. I did some elliptical and then about 30-40 minutes of weight training so I am awful sore this morning.

Naturally, showering at the Y was called for. At this point we still thought he was going to hook us up yesterday but no, so now there is no hot water today either. We entertained notions of going to the Y again this morning just to shower (like good bums do), but it doesn’t open till 11 and there’s no childcare. So Carolyn washed her hair with a pot of water she heated up on the stove and I took a polar bear shower (hence the title of this post).

Yesterday I also went to FleetFeet to get a new pair of running shoes. They brought out a bunch of shoes and tried them on but they were all in the $90-95 range. I tried to deal with them but no dice. I was getting ready to leave when they said they might have a discontinued pair in the back. They did and I ended up getting them for $65.

FLEM Fantasy Baseball Draft 2008

Last night we had our annual fantasy baseball draft. This league originally started out in 1989 when we were all (mostly) in 7th grade. This would be our 20th year but nobody ran the league while I was on my mission.

The draft went pretty well. We used to run an online fantasy sports site called InsideCorner.com so we have our own custom league with a custom draft program. It works pretty well, though we occasionally have to restart the server because people don’t show up on time or have trouble getting access to it for whatever reason. Last night we had problems getting Dan No R in there.

But wait, you might say – Dan No r – that seems like a strange name? Why yes, gentle reader. It turns out that in addition to myself (Dan Miller), we have a league owner whose name is Dan Mille. Truthfully, I am only about 95% sure that another owner in our league didn’t make him up. I mean it definitely seems like the kind of name that you wouldn’t make up if you were trying to illegally run two teams, but I think that if there was one person I would think would think he could pull it off, it would be this particular owner.

Anyway, the draft didn’t go too long and the following is my team:

1B James Loney LAD
2B Brandon Phillips CIN
3B Garrett Atkins COL
SS Derek Jeter NYY
C Geovany Soto CHC
OF Matt Holliday COL
OF Curtis Granderson DET
OF Alexis Rios TOR
DH Torii Hunter LAA
1B Joey Votto CIN
1B/C Jarrod Saltalamacchia TEX
3B Troy Glaus STL
OF Josh Willingham FLA
SP Jake Peavy SDI
SP Danny Haren OAK
SP James Shields TAM
SP Dustin McGowan TOR
SP Bronson Arroyo CIN
SP Jeremy Accardo TOR
SP John Patterson TEX
SP Zack Greinke KCI
SP Mark Prior SDI
RP Francisco Cordero CIN
RP Matt Capps PIT
RP Rafael Soriano ATL

I’m fairly happy with it and we shall see how we do this year

In which National City caves (Satisfaction part 2)

Oh yes National City, you WILL be mine. Following up on the post from the other day, here are the updates on my saga with National City.

Attempt 7: Going back on what the lady in Attempt 6, I called up what is apparently my “home branch”, which is where I opened the account some 10 years ago, although I don’t think I’ve been back since. Spoke to the lady that answered the phone and explained my problem. Well actually I didn’t really explain my problem so much as just tell her I wanted these fees waived. She of course said she couldn’t do that and I’d have to talk to the manager, who was conveniently on vacation until Monday. I pulled out one of the good phrases from that blog I linked yesterday – “I see this fee here and I’d really like to get it waived. What else can you do to help me?” Turns out there is also an “office manager” who can do it. But she was with a customer, so I could call back in 10-15 minutes. I instead opted to leave my name and number and have her call me when she was free.

Attempt 8: No call for an hour or two. So I called back – ended up speaking to the same lady. I introduced myself again and the lady explained that the manager lady was in with a different customer. I said nothing and eventually she put me on hold. After a moment or two, the manager lady answered. I again said I wanted the fee waived. Actually I said I got 2 of these overdraft charges and I’d like one of them waived, but she saw my trick and said that one of them was already waived, so I had to restate that I wanted the OTHER one waived too. She asked me if this is the first time my balance has been negative. I danced around the question since the answer is no and I didn’t want to lie about it. And then she said “Okay I’ll do it”. We talked about various other overdraft options (none free :-/) and that was that.


And there’s the proof! I’m kind of glad because I was totally going to drop National City if they didn’t cave on this. And that would have been annoying.

Practice Triathlon

So with my upcoming triathlon (April 19th), I thought I’d do a practice triathlon. With not a ton of time before work, I opted for a half distance. Yes that’s right, half of the shortest triathlon out there.

Got up bright and early and headed out to the Y. First up was the swim. Of course, the metric system strikes again. The pool is in yards and my race is in meters. I decided that 9 laps would do the trick. Google Calculator tells me that is 205.74 meters, so a little longer than half way. Close enough. I was shooting to be able to do it in 5 minutes (to go with my goal of getting the triathlon swim done in 10 minutes) – ended up at 5:09. I tried somewhat to go faster, since I knew I was only going to be doing 9 laps, but I think that actually may have hurt me because I noticed that in my need for speed my form may have suffered a bit.

Transition 1 was 3:28 as I went back to the locker room and changed into shorts as well as put on a shirt and my socks and shoes. In the actual triathlon I will bike and run in my swim trunks but I didn’t want to get the exercise bike all wet. Time was 3:28.

Got on the bike and since they’ve removed all but two of the upright bikes (which were both in use) I had to use a recumbent. I wanted to go with an upright for authenticity but hey oh well. Bike seemed a little harder than usual – In the past, I’ve been able to get up to close to 20 mph – this time 17.6 mph – total time of 21.49 for the 6.4 miles. The course last year was 20K (12.4 miles) but they’ve changed it and slightly increased the distance

Transition 2 was a brisk 36 seconds as I got a towel, wiped off the bike and hopped on the treadmill.

I opted for no incline and set off. I started it at a 6.1 mph clip and gradually worked my way up to 7.5 mph. The run was pretty hard but I was able to push through it and not stop. About the last half of the run I could feel my left shoelace was loose but I didn’t want to screw up my timing by stopping and fixing it. Luckily it held out until the last 20 seconds, at which point I just ignored it till I hit the 1.55 mile (2.5K) mark. Time was 14:14

Overall, my time was 45:16 for this half triathlon. I kind of had 45 minutes in mind for a goal time. During the run I was doing some calculations in my head and it looked like I wouldn’t be able to hit 45 minutes (that I’d be closer to 46:30 or 47). Had I known I was going to be this close, I think I could have pushed it a bit harder at the end to shave those 16 seconds (well 17 to get 44:59).

So, does this mean that I will snag a 1:30:00 time for the actual triathlon. Ummmmmmmmmmmmmmm no. Well, maybe.

You may remember from last time (results here – scroll down, down, down – I’m 306th, 26 seconds after the 13 year old girl and a brisk 15 seconds ahead of the 77 year old man) that I got a time of 1:38:45. Here is a comparison of today’s trial run versus the real deal.

Things that will help me in the real triathlon compared to today’s
1. My swim time is pretty accurate I think. I think it’s reasonable to look for a swim about twice today’s time – so 10:18. Although I haven’t yet swum 400m that fast even in practice, and you would think that I might slow down over the longer distance, I think the adrenaline of the race coupled with lots of people to pass (or try to avoid BEING passed) will even things out
2. And the run I think was also about right. Doubling today’s time gives a 5K time of 28:28. Last year my time was 27:22. So I might be able to gain a minute or two (hopefully I won’t repeat my 5K time of the 3 pigs triathlon which was a very wussy 34:15.
3. Transition times. Doubling my 2 transition times from today gives me a total transition time of 8:08. As I like to joke, although I am not very fast at swimming (369th out of 396 finishers), biking (313th) or running (265th), I can do NOTHING very well (my combined transition time last year of 2:47 was 81st). So I think it’s reasonable to say I can shave 5 minutes off my pace there.

Things that will hurt me in the real triathlon compared to today’s
1. The bike. If you think I’m going to finish this bike segment in 43:38, well, I don’t think so Tim. Last year I did the 12.4 mile course in 54:44, which is a 13.6 mph clip. Biking on an exercise bike is just not even close to the same as doing it in the real world. And now the course is 0.4 miles longer. Looking again at my 3 Pigs report, there I did 26.8K in 1:10:13, which is a 14.3 mph pace. So let’s say that I can do the 20.5K in 15.0 mph. That would give me a time of about 51 minutes.

So. 10 minute swim, 51 minute bike, 28 minute run and 3 minutes transition is 92 minutes. So, I am setting my stretch goal as 1:30 and I will be happy if I beat my last year’s time of 1:38:45.

I’ll keep you posted

Froot Loops update

So, longtime readers of this blog will remember back on oh, say, April 30, 2005 when I posted a picture of a massive quantity of Froot Loops that I had acquired over the preceding days and weeks.

For those of you too lazy to click through, here is the picture

Anyway I would just like to report that those Froot Loops are now gone.

“But why Dan, those Froot Loops must have been awful stale by now, nearly 3 years later?”

“But of course – but luckily 3 year olds eat stale Froot Loops”

PS – that ketchup is still here, at least some of it. It’s still usable though definitely starting to show its age.

I will not GIVE you the satisfaction

So a friend of ours was talking to Carolyn the other day. She was telling us a story from a few years ago. Apparently she got upset that she was the only one doing the dishes and that her husband never did them. So one day she decided to go “on strike” (i.e. not wash the dishes). As soon as I heard this part of the story I knew it was a bad idea.

Sure enough, as expected, nobody did the dishes forever, they both got angry at each other and the problem was not solved. This must be a guy thing, because as soon as I heard the story I told Carolyn “Man if you did that to me, I wouldn’t do the dishes because I would not give you the satisfaction” For me that kind of passive-aggressive behavior would make it not only about the dishes but just about the principle.

Recently the cafeteria at work decided to (once again) nickel and dime us. You are now charged 21 cents if you want to use a cup (like for water). Also, if you take a to go container – ooh that’s 25 cents. Errr wait. I mean if you DON’T use a to-go container, you get a 25 cent discount. But… conveniently, the price with discount is exactly the same as the old price. Hmmmm… The other day I forgot my water cup upstairs but I instead opted to just have no beverage with my meal. ARAMARK I WILL NOT GIVE YOU THE SATISFACTION!!!!!!

And now, fast forward to a week or so ago. I get a notice from National City about 2 overdraft charges. This is not the first time this has happened to me. I have money at National City, but in various accounts. And so sometimes the money just is not in the right place at the right time. I have fought these before with pretty good success (just this once). As this dude points out, a bank’s cost to attract new customers can be up to $3500. So they have an incentive to bend over backwards to keep their existing customers.

This time though it’s complete crap. I transferred enough money on March 11th to cover 2 transactions I knew were coming in on the 12th. They cleared, leaving me with a couple hundred bucks in the account. But due to “holds” on the card of $671.80 that triggered 2 over draft notices. Even though my account statement never shows me going negative. And oddly enough none of the future transactions (from the 12th to the 17th) add up to $671.80, no matter what combination you try

Added to that is that I have an alert set up that is supposed to email me any time that my balance goes below $250. Never got an email, despite supposedly having a negative balance.

But I WILL NOT GIVE NATIONAL CITY THE SATISFACTION

Here is my saga:

Attempt 1: Called up the customer service number on my overdraft notice. Spoke to a guy who was pretty rude. Got nowhere.

Attempt 2: Following the SlickDeals mantra – I immediately hung up with him and called the same number and spoke to someone else. She went on and on about those holds, and I countered by going on and on about where does this $671.80 come from – show me the transactions. Finally she offered to refunded me $34 (the cost of one of those overdraft fees) “as a courtesy”. I told her hey that was nice, but I want them both. She wouldn’t do it. I asked to speak to someone else. She said there was nobody else. I kept at it. Finally she said she’d take my name and number and have her manager call me.

Attempt 3: The next day I talked to the manager. I again wanted to know where this $671.80 came from. She said she couldn’t tell me. I said I’d accept the $34 if and only if she could tell me where this money supposedly came from. Again we go on and on. Finally she tells me that I can get that information if I go into my branch. I say fine.

Attempt 4: I go in this afternoon to my local National City branch. I go up to the desk and say “Yes I have 2 things here – first I’d like to deposit this check for $35,000″ and then I have this overdraft charges that they told me you could take care of. I figured if they saw what a high roller I was maybe I’d get better treatment. Of course, they don’t know that I’m not REALLY a high roller (the check was the latest draw on the new house and has to be deposited so I can pay off the sub contractors) but hey :-) . She couldn’t do it and had me wait to talk to some other lady.

Attempt 5: A few minutes later I got called back into the office of said lady. Did the whole thing with flashing her my bling. She again gave me the whole rigmarole about holds and all that. I countered with talking about how much money I have (ha!) and how much business I do with them and how I don’t want to have to go to 5/3 or PNC or wherever. She says there is nothing she can do unless it’s a bank error. I say well to me it IS a bank error. I ask if there is anyone else that can do it. She says her manager will be in tomorrow. I leave it at that. Seriously folks – what is the interest they’d get in even ONE day on $35K? Not to mention that thanks to the wacked out Federal Reserve laws in the US, deposits of $35K mean that National City can make loans of I believe $350K!

Attempt 6: After reading those finance blog posts I linked to above (I had them in my memory but had to search for them), I decided I’d use the tips he had in his post and looked up National City’s number off their website, which, oddly enough, was different than the number that I had called before (from my letter). This time instead of asking about these fees that I got, I straight out said “I see these fees and I’d like them waived”. I thought she was going to do it but in the end gave me the excuse that the only place that could do that was my “home” branch, which is the branch where I opened the account up 10 years ago (down in Clifton). I suspect that is bogus but I will give them a call tomorrow and if that doesn’t work I will keep calling. It just takes one person.

NATIONAL CITY I WILL NOT GIVE YOU THE SATISFACTION. I will seriously close down all my accounts over this $34. Just ask UC who will get ZIPPO of my millions until they apologize for screwing me on health insurance in summer 2000.

UPDATE – See part 2 for the thrilling conclusion

One of those people

Get ready for a plethora of posts from me today. I have a few in mind that I’ve been meaning to post. So yeah, I’m going to temporarily turn into one of “those” people that don’t post for awhile and then post like 40 things at once.

Logic puzzles

So I’ve been doing some logic puzzles lately. It started off with a visit over to our friend Shanna’s. She had one of those Dell Logic Puzzle magazines, and so I started doing one of the puzzles in there. She let me take it home where I’m sure I violated several laws by making copies of the harder logic puzzles. I only like the harder ones because I find the easier ones too easy. To me, essentially all of the easier puzzles are the same puzzle, just with different words. But that’s because I’m a nerd like that.

Anyways, one of the things I’ve done over the past year or so is create my own logic puzzles. I did a bit of research and found the submission guidelines for Dell Magazines as well as for Penny Press, who, oddly enough, happen to be run by the same company. So I submitted one of the puzzles that I had created and we shall see. Their rates are $30 for an easy puzzle up to $125 for the hardest (5-star) puzzle. I’m not sure how they determine that but I think the one that I sent was a 5-star one. Though frankly I expect it would take me less time to do 4 easy puzzles than create one hard one.

But it would be a fun way to earn a bit of extra income.

Saturday Problems

Wanted to recap my Saturday excursions (last Saturday – the 15th). We had decided to go up to the Y to swim as a family. Afterwards we were going to get some pizza. As part of our move (even though we haven’t really moved yet), we got on some mailing list where we’re getting all these free coupons from local businesses as they want to get our business.

You know what time it is baby? It’s bizness time – ooh!

Oh, sorry, got ahead of myself there. Anyway among these free coupons was a coupon for a free 2-topping medium pizza (2 topping – this is important later) from Mio’s pizzeria as well as $5 off any order at Larosa’s. So as we are heading home I call and order the pizza from Mio’s (pepperoni). I couldn’t find my coupon book so we held off on the Larosa’s till I could find my coupon book at home. So then we got home and

Problem 1: I left my coupon book at Meijer (where somebody apparently stole it as it still has not been turned in)

So we decided to just go get the Mio’s pizza and eat that and something else. So kid #2 and I went to get it. On the way we stopped at Kroger for some 19 cent Toaster Strudels. We were in the van and since I don’t drive that regularly I forgot that I can just lock it once we’re all outside with the keyless doohickey. So I’m waiting for him to open the door so that I can lock the doors and then get out. He does, I do and then

Problem 2: I shut his hand in the door (and right before his big recorder solo – I keed I keed)v

So I realize I’ve done this and go to open the door and

Problem 3: I can’t open the freakin door because (as I have mentioned) I already have locked the doors

Luckily it didn’t take me long to reach around and open it. His fingers weren’t broken or even that swollen or scarred. He could move them all but was understandably freaked out. I consoled him for awhile and then we decided we could make it into Kroger.

I know what you’re tryinnnnn to say; you’re tryin to say it’s time for business – it’s bizness time – ooh!

Oh sorry – I don’t know why that keeps happening to me. Anyway before I continue I should back up and mention that I am very much a creature of habit. I put my keys and wallet and such every morning on my nightstand. And in the morning, when I get ready for work, I take them off the nightstand and put them on. If someone (yes kid #4 I’m looking at you) moves them – I am very likely to just forget them because they’re just not in the right place. So my routine when I get out of the car is that I open the door, lock it, and then shut the door and then put my keys in my pocket. But all this hand shutting in door disrupted my routine so my keys were on the van floor (and very much NOT in my pocket), so…

Problem 4: I locked the keys in the van

So I called the Mrs. to come and get me which she did, even though she had to fit 4 people (and 3 should be carseat / booster wearers) in the little car.

Then we headed out to Mio’s. Got the pizza and gave the lady the coupon. And….

Problem 5: She was having problems with the register and I thought I was going to get some static about the coupon

But… that one turned out good – apparently because the coupon was for a 2 topping and I only got a 1 topping, I deserved a refund. So in addition to a free pizza, they handed over $1.25. For those of you that know me, I think you’ll agree that’s classic Dan Miller.

Annual Rubik’s cube post

In looking back at my blog, it seems like I blog about Rubik’s cube cubing about once a year, usually in this February or March time frame.

In any case, I whipped out the cube today and fired up JNetCube and got a new record, both in an individual solve as well as a 10 cube solve.

The old 10 solve average record of 38:08 was, oddly enough, set twice)

New best is 50.04 for an average and 37.75 for the individual