Monday, August 25, 2014

ALS Bucket Challenge

Saturday, May 31, 2014

A $1.70 fishing trip.

Behold the Beast.

1993 Chevy K1500 Suburban. It's big. It's blue. It's loud. It brings back childhood memories of my father's old Blazer, and later Suburban models. He's had quite a few of these. He graciously answered my phone calls while I thought about what to buy, and helped me make the decision when we saw this opportunity cross our path.

It's marked in the picture at $1,500. She lowered the price to $900. The girls love it. Did I mention it's not very aerodynamic?

Haven't had to fill it up with gas. Yet. Boss #2 asked me if I had. Really, the fuel costs with this have been quite the afterthought, but I did the math for both our Ford and the new 'Burban. All costs assume $3.70/gallon for fuel and uses the manual's numbers.


City: $.34/mi
Highway: $.23/mi

Ford Taurus

City: $.21/mi

Highway: $.15/mi

What does this mean? If I drive the Suburban to work and want to go fishing, just the drive to the fishing hole costs $1.70. 

My wife and I are trying very hard to get out of debt. We're following Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover baby steps and money consciousness has begun to permeate my life with greater urgency. Have you ever calculated that? How much does it cost you to go fishing every time you go? This assigned a real-life dollar value (cost) to my excursions. I go on average 14 times a month, once for every day I work at ConAgra during a normal 4 week cycle. That's $23.80/month! That's more than twice my wife's new smartphone plan (which at  $10/month with a Moto G is FABULOUS, by the way.)  

Life got real when I did the math. 

Speaking of today's fishing trip (the last one for a while, given the cost), it was amazing. I found carp mecca. I'm not telling where it is! It is my precious. I will only show people who promise not to take it to Mordor.

Speaking of driving to fishing trips, the Grunke/Gardners are headed to Minnesota Pikefest 2014 on July 19th!

Brindley's resort, here we come. This trip is why we bought the Beast, really. Well, sort of. We chose to get a $900-$1,000 beater so we could sell both of our cars to make what we need to buy a van. But, we decided we'll just use the Beast (It can also go over 600 miles on a single 42 gallon tank. Still wish it was a Tesla, but hey.) That way, the sale of one car can go to paying down debt!

And now fish pictures.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

In like a lion, out like a lamb.

I'm going to take a stab and say it was 1990. Kindergarten at Millville Elementary was going well. Colors, sights, sounds, words, letters and new friends flooded my infantile neural pathways and exploded into a mash of incoherent repetition of blerbs as I reported on my class to my mother. One lesson was memorable. We were learning about March.

It comes in like a lion with angry gray paper rain clouds, and out like a lamb with Elmer's-glued-on cotton ball sheep and yellow sunshine.

March 2 saw record-breaking low temperatures in Omaha that had us all bundled up, wishing it all to be over. Temperatures have been in a steady climb, and Sunday March 9 is looking to be in the 60's.

Not THAT kind of 60's. Thank heavens. Scare the fish away.

The wife and I are working hard to get the money in order, as always. (I've been working two jobs since October 2012. She's now a crisis counselor for Boys Town.) Good thing is, we've budgeted slush money for both of us! My $10/month is piling up for a fishing license. April 1 is go-time, baby, as long as I can quit buying Swedish Fish for a nickle and betting people a dollar that I can lick my elbow.

Given the money tightness, other challenges presented themselves. Last year, Fishing my 6wt, I broke the line. That was easy to fix. I saved up some pennies and bought some carp line on sale at Bass Pro. After that, I broke my 6wt POLE. Then, my 5wt line broke. Game over 2013. That one never got fixed. I didn't know what I was going to do for fly line.

Huge plug for LL Bean here. Their Lifetime Satisfaction Guarantee is off-the-charts awesome. My wading boots had popped an eyelet and a 4 year old sweater my mother-in-law had bought me had popped a seam. I sent both in. They let me know they didn't have either product in stock anymore, so they just sent us a check. With that money, I was able to buy an upgraded pair of boots (without eyelets that can break) and, queue the music: 5w fly line!

6wt pole is still broken, but now I've got a viable option for both local fishing and Minnesota Pike in the 5w. You better believe I'm going to be taking it easy, though, fishing up there with a 5w for old Toothy McGovern Bazillion. Hinted to the wife I wouldn't mind a Streamlight II 6W for the birfday, but we'll see what happens.

Tight lines everyone! Good to see pictures of people hitting the water!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A short season - damaged equipment

It's amazing how quickly busted gear can set you back in the season.

It was some time when it was still warm - September, maybe? - that I'd stopped off at a carp wallow while out on a service call. I had gotten out to check for wandering shadows in the water, had been successful then had hurried back to the trunk of my car only to hear a deadened ripping sound as I pulled my 6wt out of the trunk.

Tip had snapped off.

During the family's vacation time earlier, the 5wt line had snapped as well. I had a square knot in it, but  I was worried it would wreak havoc on my pole, so I haven't been using it.

Now, it's frigid. Sub-zero is common-place. I'm thinking of modifying an old tent to serve as an ice fishing shelter and using my daughter's bright-pink barbie pole to try for sunfish and bass.

Winter represents a significant entertainment shift for me. My entertainment time shifts more towards computer games and hardware. This year's fun has been doled out by two big names:



Big thanks to my buddy Nate Romesser for introducing me to the first one. My brother-in-law Chris and Aleks my coworker are responsible for the second.

Eve Online is a spaceflight-based MMO (Massive-Multiplayer online) that can only be classified as a true sandbox. Choose your path carefully and fly with the best. Or the worst.

Skyrim is the fifth installment of the Elder Scrolls series from Bethesda, a personal favorite since Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall was released back in the late 90's. Bethesda has since released that game for free download and use from their company site. Find it here.

That being said, only about 4 more months until warm up. Water usually hits 50 degrees in early-to-mid April, and that's when the carp get exciting.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

My Experience with StraightTalk (Straight Talk, like, from WalMart)

Friends: We purchased StraightTalk service online. 

The phones were shipped to us with SIM cards installed. Our port request failed from US Cellular because US Cellular - our current provider - issued a separate ID number to our accounts with a billing upgrade. I updated the information after speaking to US Cellular and port request was successful. Was assured by StraightTalk that our phones would work.

Woke up, both phones didn't work (US Cellular and StraightTalk.) After 3.5 hours of phone time, find out that SIM cards we were issued were for a GSM network not covered in Omaha, that they need to ship new SIM cards, 3-5 days. 

I called and explained that this time without service represents a risk to our family and demanded overnight shipping or near to it. Escalated twice. Was informed process was automatic. Asked what they recommended we do about the risk this situation presented.

They could not give me any recommendations because it wasn't part of their procedure.

Explained my voice, although just one man, would be used to eplain - to all friends and family possible - this experience, and that if there was a manager available that could speak to me and try to work something out, it wouldn't have to be that way.

The manager I spoke with said, "There's nothing I can do. Have a nice day."

Obviously, this product is about price, not customer experience. Mine may have been a one-off. Make your own decision, but I do not recommend StraightTalk.