These ramblings are presumably not interesting unless you got here from a search; Topics of ongoing interest should be found via my "normal" links.

Nice ties? Nah: WWWebster Dictionary definition of niceties

Sony VAIO Notebook trouble

My Sony VAIO PCG-F180 purchased 04/99 for >$2K from CompUSA was totally useless.  It tried to turn itself off almost immediately after power-on (display went blank, hard drive stopped spinning, but power LED remained lit until hard power cycle - maybe related to use of HLT instruction in OS such as Win98, WinMe, Win2K, etc).  Updating the BIOS and restoring the original software or other OS did not help.  I thought the problem was an Intel mobile PII-333 module flaw described by Sony and Intel, but they wouldn't fix it for me - finally Sept'02 Sony gave me repair estimate near $300 (capacitors?), so if you have this problem then you have to decide whether it is worth such expense.  I've run across other similar reports here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here.

Being an "extra"

I was in Prefontaine (about a runner from Oregon in the early 70's) - I'm one of many press/photographers around the Olympic track always wearing a light blue suit and eyeglasses (I also worked the earlier night scene behind a fence but was off the right side of the frame). On the DVD I spotted myself at the following times (but never very clear) 1:03:29, 1:05:43, 1:05:59, 1.06:15 and 1:07:58 (shortly after Steve takes off his shoe).

I was in the Pandora's Clock mini-series on NBC, in a couple scenes: I was a Dutch air traffic controller in some scenes that started around 33 minutes into the first two hours of show. First you only see my back (I was sitting immediately left of the speaking actor wearing eyeglasses), but then you see my face from the side and you see it twice more a couple minutes later. Earlier (almost 11 minutes into the show) in the German lab, I was the guy farthest away from the camera in the blue biohazard suit (barely visible).  On DVD I got, the ATC seen is at around 21:40, 22:45, 22:57 and the German lab is around 08:00 and 08:36
Buy the paperback

Non-customer ATM user fees

There are some banks (WaMu-Chase) which don't charge a fee for non-customers to use their ATMs.  That is great, so why can other ATMs get away with charging such a fee?  I wish VISA's ATM-finder service would show the nearest non-fee ATMs...

Utility expenses and usage study

I try to keep my utility expenses down. I suppose trash collection isn't a utility, but I use curb recycling for newspaper (wish I could do other paper/cardboard). I have only antenna TV. Traditional utilities that I have include electricity & water (with sewer). I use about 19KWH (of which ~ half is non-A/C minimum), and 36 gallons indoor per day (the average temperature here seems to be around 72F); irrigation water outdoor approaches 1000 gallons per week. At that level of usage, the monthly "minimum" fees account for around 28% of the expense (water has the worst ratio). Rocky Mountain Institute. BTW, I believe such usage (in my area where most electricity is generated from coal) means that my CO2 contribution to earth's atmosphere is almost 7 tons per year before including other factors such as transportation (Prius around 1.3 tons/year).

I used a Digital Power Meter to measure power usage of most devices in my home, which presumably should add up about 640KWH/month. The biggest user is my AC during April-October, then 40gal water heater (around $5/month), then the following which use around $3-$4/month: refrigerator, Windows Home Server (PC on UPS), Windows Media Center (PC on UPS), and 52 LCD HDTV; of course the list goes on to include things such as dryer, laptop computer, printer, alarm system, microwave clock, cooking, DSL modem, cordless phones, etc. It seems hard to believe, but a load of wash only uses about a penny worth of electricity.  After adding it all up, my estimate of the difficult things to measure is around $1 each for lights, cooking/dishwasher, etc.

I took a quick look at water usage long ago in Seattle. It seemed that almost one-half was used outside such as summer lawn/garden, about one-quarter used for showers and toilet flushing, then a little for laundry and even less for the automatic dishwasher. I suppose the rest might be used for drinking and other cleaning but I couldn't reconcile it too well.

Insurance

I am accident-free and am basically happy with State Farm for my auto/home insurance. Although I never saw it promoted, I use a service they have to automatically deduct payments from my checking account each month (now adds $1/month fee), which is nice compared to the standard of typically paying for a year or half-year in advance. I have their umbrella liability but it keeps going up in cost.

After I left full-time employment, I decided to use catastrophic health insurance with large deductible, so am an ideal case for the federal tax-free HSA (Health Savings Account) and currently use HumanaOne.  Here's a link to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

Some of my favorite foods

Chili's chips, salsa, and Rojo burger (no longer on the menu). Ruth's Chris New York strip steak and baked potato. Bread. Pizza (with any kind of meat or plain cheese - no veggies). Lasagna (meat). BBQ beef brisket (sliced). Lettuce with a little lemon juice instead of dressing (and carrots, bacon bits, cheese, raisins, croutons). Fresh strawberries. Gihardelli's non-pariels. Tobler Chocolate Orange (Dark).

Beverages

Except for 1% milk with breakfast cereal and the occasional orange juice, water should be my beverage of choice. However I drink cans of Coke Zero as a caffeine-delivery device since I dont drink coffee/tea (my health might be a little better if I didn't take that caffeine). I don't see why so many people pay money to drink anything else (including alcohol, but that is another matter). Also it is surprising to me how much more refreshing water is when it is served cold (rather than closer to room temperature).

Financial planners' suggestions about retirement income

Of course I'm not a financial planner so I can't give such advice, but one thing that I hate is hearing the typical advice that you need something like 75% of your non-retirement income to have the same lifestyle in retirement. As someone who planned for retirement and then did it, common sense says that what you need is income to cover at least 100% of your retirement expenses (or you deplete your principal). For example, if you previously had a six-figure income but were spending less than half of it and will spend even less in retirement (perhaps due to having paid off a mortgage and/or less income tax), you can see that 75% is too high.

On a related note, I question asset allocations that change with age.  The actual reason should be need for money - so if you aren't spending all your money then the changed asset allocation might be too conservative.

Warehouse clubs

Do you really save money at PriceCostco? In short, yes if you don't drive much further than your regular store (or if you buy enough items to justify the extra distance), and you buy enough items to justify the membership fee. However, don't stop looking for "loss leader" type sales from non-warehouse stores (that is, an item advertised for near cost in order to get you to attend the sale). I did a quick, informal price comparison for a few items and will post the results here if I run across them again. If you spend more than $32/month at PriceCostco, consider their special charge card which has no annual fee but gives 1% back.

Watching TV

My preference is to watch non-horror movies on rental DVDs. I watch:  Lost, House, Heroes, NCIS, CSI, CSI:Miami, Criminal Minds, Survivor, Amazing Race, ER (and often 60 Minutes and Big Brother).

Northern Exposure

I really enjoyed the Northern Exposure TV show until it was canceled, perhaps because it was filmed nearby and because Janine Turner lived a few houses away from me (not anymore). I got to go to the closed indoor set once where I saw portions of the Grosse Pointe, 48230 episode filmed (with Maggie, Joel, & Grammy). I also visited Roslyn during filming of two episodes (Altered Egos and Sons of the Tundra). At an auction called "inside exposure" to benefit Theatre Inside, I bought a script of "The Gift of the Maggie" autographed by the two writers (producer/editor) and had it autographed by Janine. I also got autographs from the stars who attended that night. I went to the auction when Pipeline Productions closed and bought various items (I might post a list here someday).  Fans might want to visit the WebRing.

Some statistics of my old web sites

My site before GTE IS had about 3300 visits, and still more after I moved.  There were approximately 11000 page requests of my home page at GTE IS.  Then I had another site before my current one.

Fun with my scanner (random pictures)

Places that my name showed up when searching the Web (before this Web page)

Northern Exposure FAQ, AMI BIOS Survival Guide, GC10000x.ZIP file (utility that I wrote for Heathkit clock), some old Beta LANMAN readme (any such file should be deleted), USNO guestbook, various people directories, various newsgroup archives
Note: I am not the Doug Hogarth described at Hogarth Building

I am the Doug Hogarth that worked on TRS-80 stuff such as TRSCROSS for a few years at PowerSoft Products (Breeze/QSD), and at Creative Computer Center before that.

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