7/02/2011

Independence day!!

"The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever."
--John Adams letter to his wife, Abigail, on July 3, 1776. 

6/23/2011

Answered Prayers, or how the good guy finished first.

On our way to small group tonight, I was going about 5 over the speed limit when we get passed by a woman like we are standing still, cutting us off. With all the other stuff going on in our life, such as our house stuff, I am fed up with being the good guy. I looked up to heaven and cried out "Why Lord!!!, why do good guys always finish last? Where are the police when these people drive like idiots. If I drove like that, I would get pulled over instantly. "

As we come over a hill, I see a cop come up to the street from a neighboring industrial park. Rachel looks at me and says "Honey, there is the cop". He pulls out behind the woman, and we come up behind both of them at the next stop light. As we all turn right, he lights her up. Rachel and I look at each other and grin. I again look up to heaven and say "Thanks God!". Some times prayers get answered instantly!!!

I am a good guy by choice. My parents raised me right. And it's a good thing...

I would make a fantastic villain.................

4/27/2011

Up most of the night finishing.....

the third book by one of my favorite authors. Hard Magic: Book 1 of the Grimnoir Chronicles by Larry Correia. After having read Monster Hunter International, and Monster Hunter Vendetta, I couldn't wait to dig into the newest book. Compared to the monster filled world created in the Monster Hunter series, the Grimnoir series is much closer to our own. This series takes place in the 1920-30's, but twists the world we know by adding a magical element to history. I love the quotes at the beginning of each chapter that share either a small bit of back-story, or add magic to some piece of history (like Einstein, Abe Lincoln, and the like). My only beef is that the main character is always a 300+ lbs giant of a man. Where is the 5'7" 175 lb hero? ;) Can't wait for the next book in either series.

Oh, and all of these books are available for around $6 each at Baen publishing.
Hard Magic: Book 1 of the Grimnoir Chronicles

Free prequel story Here

At least I retrieved a lost birthday present yesterday to find the first three graphic novels of The Walking Dead to tide me over...

More to come.

4/12/2011

Gas Prices and Public Transportation

Cincinnati Metro is claiming that they are getting more ridership as gas prices go up. Good for them. I'm not one of them.

Some of you may know that I rode the bus for a year when we moved back down to Cincy. I got on in Norwood, and rode the 51 straight to my building at UC. Total time was about 35-40 minutes (including walk). Otherwise, it would take me 20 minutes to drive, and another 5-10 to walk from where ever I could find a parking spot on the street. And when I first started, it was free to ride the bus. Really a no brainer on my part. When we first got here, I didn't even have a car. I did purchase my Land Rover about 9 months after we got here. And the deal UC had with Metro fell apart enough that it isn't even worth getting the rider card anymore. Basically the same price as a normal monthly pass.

When we moved to the Finneytown area I investigated riding the bus again as it is such a pain to park, and it is fun to be able to watch a TV show or read during the commute. But I found that it would now take about an hour each way for the ride. And 20 minutes of that would be standing at a stop waiting on my connecting bus to take me downtown and then back up to UC. Just looking at the time, it doesn't look like a very good idea. But what do the numbers say?

Lets look at costs, both time and money:

By bus:

Using the "Trip Planner" from Metro's website, the fastest trip to get me to work in the morning will take 51 minutes at a cost of $3.15 for a cash rider. I would need to be at the bus stop by 7:10 at the latest. 17 minutes for the first leg, then a 23 minute wait at a stop, and then a 12 minute ride from there. That doesn't count the 10 minutes it will take me to walk from my house to the stop, nor the 10 minutes to walk from the stop on the wrong side of MLK to my office. So that is 71 minutes at a cost of $3.15 to get to work.

Coming home its even worse. I work roughly 8-5 or 8:15 to 5:15. The bus leaves to go home at 4:48 or 4:51 depending on the route I take. This gets me to the bus stop near home at around 6. The next bus isn't till 5:30. And I wouldn't get home till 6:30 with this bus. This is also a cost of $3.15

So best case, I am looking at 2.4 hours, and $6.30 to ride the bus. Every day.

By vehicle:

I drive a 1995 Land Rover Discovery. It is a gas guzzeling hog of a vehicle that takes premium. I love it ;).

I leave for work around 7:30 in the morning, and depending if I swing through MCD's or not, I am parking on the steet at work around 7:50-8:00. I then walk 5-10 minutes from my truck to the office to get in between 8 and 8:15. On the way home, I leave the office around 5:15, walk 5-10 minutes, get to the Rover, and am home between 5:45 and 6 depending on traffic. So its 25-35 minutes each way. The Rover gets an average of 12.3 MPG, and my commute is roughly 8 miles each way, so 1.3 gallons a day. This morning gas was at 3.92 a gallon for premium (note, this was written on 04/07), so lets say $5.1 a day for fuel (my average according to my log is $4.93 for fuel). (If I count maintenance and the purchase price of the vehicle into the calculation, I am looking at an additional $6.79/ day.)

So if I drive, I am looking at 1.2 hours, and $5.10 every day.


Some other notes before we compare these two figures. The bus puts a rigid schedule on my trips. As an engineer, my schedule isn't rigid and sometimes I stay late to finish something, or get stuck in the field investigating and can't leave till later. So on those days, I could end up waiting at the office for a later bus. I sometimes run errands after work picking up groceries. In Norwood, it was simple to walk from the grocery store home, in Finneytown, not so much. The biggest thing to note, and why I don't count traffic times really, is that the bus and my car will travel on roughly the same streets, so any traffic jam that would disrupt my driving commute would also disrupt my bus commute.

So lets compare the numbers. Everything will be converted to $$ assuming I earn $10/hour (Time with my kids is worth considerably more, but it makes calcs easy).

Bus: 2.4 hours($24) and $6.30= $30.3
Car: 1.2 hours($12) and $5.1= $17.1

As you can see, at the current price of gas, with a lousy MPG car, it makes absolutely no sense for me to ride the bus.

Even if I include the maintenance and purchase price of my vehicle ($0.334/mile) it is

Bus: $30.3
Car: $22.44

Gas needs to climb to $14.08 a gallon (or $8.85 a gallon with everything included) to just break even… And that is only valuing my time at $10 an hour, as I mentioned before, my time with my sons is worth much more than that.

So, how does riding the bus for anyone who lives near me and works at UC make any sense at all???

If Metro changes routes in my area, I will look again, but most people I talk to who work at UC (largest employer in Cincy, plus 35k students) don't want to ride downtown to then ride a bus back to UC.

3/30/2011

Updates & Upcoming Projects

Updates on us since I haven't posted in a while.

We sold the house!!!!!!

The house sold on Feb 11th, after we had it scheduled to close on the 15th. The buyers asked to move it up. Worked out great.

We've finally replaced our cell phones and got IPhones from Verizon. Not looking forward to the first bill after getting data.

We celebrate Teddy's 2nd birthday this weekend. Hard to believe he is that old. And huge!!


Winter is finally ending!! (Well maybe, it is snowing as I type this.)

This means that I can start working on some projects around the house.

Here is the list of projects I would like to get done this summer/year:
- New Garage door
(deposit down on this, and will be done by Dan the Doorman)
- Refurbish and paint the lockers to move to entry way.
Each of us will get a locker, plus there will be a guest locker. And there will Be hooks on the end to have more guest/misc hanging.
- Possible replacement of front low roof.
I made a repair that seems to be holding. We may just keep an eye on this this year with the plan to replace the entire roof next year.
- Camper/Trailer
We are looking at a camper this weekend from a co-worker for a good deal. I may still at least get the trailer base from Dad to look at building my own camping gear/roof top tent trailer. If we don't get the camper, I will probably build the trailer from Compact Camping Concepts. (http://www.compactcampingconcepts.com/)
- General Rover work
- Wheel Bearings. At $240, this would be cheap insurance to make sure I have good wheel bearings.
- Figure out the electrical/alarm system issue that I have
- Change transmission fluid/filter.
- Fix the small exhaust leak under Driver's seat.
- Replace door between garage and house
- Replace front door on the house.
- Paint existing shutters
- Front flowerbed work
- Rear yard landscaping
- watching craigslist for a free hot tub.


More later. As always, pictures are at photos.johnsoax.com


Alex Johnson
Sent from handheld