Impressive Notebook

Those of you that know me probably wouldn’t guess this, but I actually work with a bunch of nerds, geeks, and freaks. Pretty much all of my coworkers have smartphones, and many of them have at least one tablet. Every time a new portable computing device launches, it’s a guarantee that someone in my group will show up with it. Since all these devices are nearly similar, no one is really impressed when a new one shows up in the office.

A couple weeks ago, a friend of mine was studying for the GMAT test. With the GMAT materials is several sheets of laminated graph bound together. The idea is that you can practice on this with dry-erase markers while studying. I thought this was an ingenious idea. I had once tried to use a small whiteboard for temporary notes, but it lost its usefulness after a few notes. The graph paper “notebook” worked out to about 6 long sheets (3 pages front and back, legal sized), so you had plenty of room to take notes. I looked them up online, and one pad was running around $25. I tabled that idea.

This week, I remembered the pad and thought “I could just get some graph paper and laminate it myself!”. I stopped in a Big Lots and Dollar General. No graph paper. Then I went to target and found some. But while I was looking at that and trying to decide how I would bind it, I came across a  5-Star Flex Binder. The binder itself could be opened flat and came with dividers, graph paper, and regular lined paper for $10. I figured this would work out better than any homemade solution I would come up with.

Anyways, I carried this thing fresh from the store into work. It caught everyone’s attention. In the parking lot, a coworker was like “look at you all impressive with your notebook”. I had it lying on my desk and everyone that passed it took notice. Where a $500 tablet gets a yawn, my $10 notebook was drawing a surprising amount of interest. I may have started something new.

To complete my story, I discovered that I did NOT have to laminate the graph paper. Three of the “divider pages had an insert for a full sheet of paper. I was able to place the graph paper into these plastic sheathes and they work great for dry erase markers.



It was a  so I can definitely see why they are envious. Even the binder rings are flexible!

For Sale: Dirt Devil Ultra Vision Turbo.

For Sale:  Dirt Devil Ultra Vision Turbo.
Price: Make an offer
“It Kinda Sucks” – John Hogenmiller, USMC

I once owned a regular Bissel bagged vacuum cleaner.  For the better part of a decade, I would turn it on and vacuum the floor. Before that, my sister owned the vacuum and did pretty much the same thing.  It was a rather boring device that picked up debris from the carpet and would place it in a bag.

Like all good things, this boring vacuum cleaner broke.  A plastic part that held the upright portion to the base developed a crack.  This prevented the belt from tightening properly, leading to breakages.  Perhaps some JB weld would have held this piece together.  However, we had received some money from our wedding and decided to replace this 10+ year old appliance.

We picked up a Dirt Devil Ultra Vision Turbo.  Robin had been saying she wanted something red, shiny, powerful, and fast.  I felt this “turbo” vacuum cleaner would fit the bill.  As we began using it, I often thought back to how boring the old Bisell was compared to this new vacuum.  You see, Dirt Devil had done some research and found that most people found vacuuming to be a boring job.  In a survey, 93% of all respondents stated that they would rather do “anything else” than vacuum.  Dirt Devil decided to change all this.  They had all the data.  People hated vacuuming.  The Ultra Vision Turbo was designed: not so much with vacuuming in mind – but to challenge people.
That’s right.  Before getting this vacuum, it had never occured to fight with my vacuum.  It never occured to me to question its functionality.  Dirt Devil has changed the way I look at vacuuming.  The first thing I noticed when we first used it was that it seemed to only pick up half the dirt.  In fact, I often had to question if it was picking up the dirt or if it was just spreading it around.  I knew that if I turned it off in one room and carried it to another, dirt from the first room would be deposited in the second.  This was part of the mental challenge.

The next thing I noticed was that it was constantly getting clogged.  With the older bagged vacuums, air flowed through a 1″ x 3″ straight plastic chamber to the bag.  With the new bag-less (and even most of the bagged) vacuums, this is replaced with a 1.5″ diameter bendy hose.  This feature isn’t specific to Dirt Devil, but it does an amazing job of trapping dirt, lint, and dog hair in each bend.  The cool thing that Dirt Devil did is that they require you to use a philips screwdriver to remove the hose enough to unclog it.  You can plan on doing this at least once for every two times you vacuum.

The other nifty feature of this vacuum is a thin, fragile belt.  The thin belt is crucial.  If you had a durable belt like the older vacuums did, you might never have to replace it.  Our last vacuum had the same belt for over 10 years — the original belt from the store.   With the Dirt Devil, you get to replace the belt once a year or more.  The vacuum currently needs its third belt in under two years.  Much like the last time I went to pick up one of these belts from the store, Wal-Mart is sold out.  They are a hot commodity.  They have the same exact vacuum, some filters, and an empty peg where the belts would go.  It’s a lot like new game consoles being sold out everywhere, but for all eternity.
Sometimes.. you just don’t know what the problem is.  In this case, you do exploratory maintenance.  This involves taking the vacuum apart and cursing at it until it works again.

So if you’re looking for a vacuum that needs maintenance as much as your floor needs vacuumed, the Dirt Devil Ultra Vision Turbo is for you.   I picked up a Bissel bag-less.  I would have got the bagged version, but I saw it had the same hose setup as the bagless.  It did get the clogged hose, but the hose is transparent.  I can see the clog.  It lets me stretch the hose out to get the clog moving again.  It also picks up all the dirt I can see or feel with my bare feet.  It fails to dump dirt from one room into another.  It is.. a boring vacuum.

My Life In Cars

On the way down to work, I was pondering how much I’ve spent on vehicles over the years.  Now, in this, I didn’t want to count “generic maintenance” like oil changes, tires, alignments, and spark plugs.  Actually, for all but two of my vehicles, I never did any sort of preventive maintenance on them.  I bought them and drove them.  When I first started out, I did experience a rash of flat tires, but I suspect that this is due to them being so well used when I got the car and me not replacing them.   I also understand that insurance can be costly and changes from vehicle to vehicle.  It also changes from driver to driver and gets relatively cheaper as I get older.

The first portion of this is ramblings, but later I get into story telling mode. Skip to the end to see my summary.

1997 – 1998:

These first three vehicles were provided to me by my family and were “hand me downs” from my sisters.  I tried to get the order and years correct as much as possible.  I won’t count these vehicles/years in my total.
81 chevette
 - dinged it up and sold it
1998 – 1999:
red car from amanda
 - died at breezewood intersection
power wagon
 - never died, forget what happened to it, probably sold
1998  $400
some white boat – $400 tagged
 - think dad got it, then laura when I bought my next car.

1999: -$50
oldsmobile calais
 - paid $350 for car + tags
 - about $100 more getting it inspectable
 - hit a dear near Christmas
 - insurance cut a check for $500 — $50 gain

buick skyhawk – $600 tagged
 - engine went out, replaced for $200
 - engine went out again, replaced for $300 this time
 - stopped working again, sat for a while
 - bought a ford aerostar for ~$800
 - transmission went out, junked it
 - i got this while the skyhawk was down, but before the jeep
jeep cherokee – $500 + $100 tagged
 - after several months of driving, engine went out
 - drove my dad’s boat
 - got engine replaced for $500
 - skyhawk died around the same time as the jeep needed its engine replaced
I got skyhawk working again.  My friend Curt helped me rip computers out of junkyards and we finally found one that worked.
Then, a friend was driving it and a piston rod broke in it.  The car was junked after this.

For some reason, the Jeep was acting up again — electrical issues.  I parked this at my parents and bought the Ford Probe off of my Dad for $500.  Call it $600 to get tags transferred.  I believe this happened in 2002.

Deployment, 2003.

While I was gone, my Dad took the Probe in and got it tuned up for me at some unknown price.

Let’s see.  I spent a lot on this car.  This was around the time that I was learning it was nicer to keep a vehicle running than to replace it.  I really liked driving this car, and it only broke down on me once, toward the end of its life.

In 2004, the car would shake around 65mph and had an exhaust leak.  On a recommendation, i took it to Lashlees and asked them to look at both issues.  They charged me $400 for the exhaust work and when I asked about the suspension, they said “oh yeah, that’s really bad and could kill you.  It will be $600 if you want us to fix that.”.  I was furious because I would rather have had them fix the suspension issues than a noisy exhaust.

Faced with this, I was torn between spending more money on the Probe.  At this point, i felt i already had too much into one vehicle, based on past experience.  So I decided to spend $500 and bought a VW Fox from a friend of a friend.

About 3 months later, a wheel came off the Fox on the turnpike, nearly killing me.  Instead of loose lug nuts, it was a loose axle nut.  The force of this caused the suspension to get messed up, very similar to the issue the Probe had. 

I was now out of money.  I had spent my “car fixing money” on the Fox and was now worse off than before.  I got the Fox towed to a friend/mechanic and parked in his yard.  I was going to be deployed again in a few months and would use the money from that to get it fixed.  Having no recourse, I continued driving the Probe.  It gave me no issues as long as I watched the speed.

During my 2004-2005 deployment, the Fox got fixed for $100 and the Probe sat idly by.

I came home during a bit of leave to drive the Fox around and the linkage went out.  I was stuck with 3rd and 4th gear.  I also had a bad battery, which meant it would drain out a lot and need push/jump started.  Disgusted, I parked it and made arrangements to get the Probe fixed.

After that, the Probe got $500 pumped into its suspension by the one mechanic and was ready for me when I got home.  The Probe was now up to $1500.  I traded the Fox in for a snowblower.  The person I traded the Fox to got the linkage fixed, replaced the battery, and then rolled it into a ditch.  That car was bad news all around.  I had $600 into the Fox, but got about $50 worth of a snowblower out of it.

After two deployments, I had little money to work on my vehicle.  I ran tires till they were bald, didn’t change the oil, etc.  The car kept running, but did need some muffler parts replaced, and a bit more suspension work.  In all, I put in about $200/year in various repairs during 2005 and 2007.  At the end, the radiator hose blew out, which I had to replace.  It turned out that the head gasket was bad and dumping coolant into the exhaust system (and exhause into the radiator system).  I had $1900 into the Probe.

I parked the Probe and got my sister’s car for free, which she had got from Dad.  We didn’t even do anything with the title.  Later that year, I got a job and bought the Kia Sportage.  Laura wanted nothing to do with the old car, so we got it junked.

In the meantime, in 2006 I bought a Jeep for $500 and put a new used engine in it for another $500.  This was for the business.  I put another $200 into it, discovered it had transmission problems, and drove it to a Junk yard and got $300 out of it.

I ended up selling the Probe for $500, which took my $1900 down to $1400. 

2007 – 2010:
I bought a Kia Sportage for $3100 tagged.  A few months later, the transmission went out of it and I ended up putting another thousand into it.  After that, I didn’t have to do much to it for a while.  In the summer of 2009 I experienced some issues with misfiring, which lead to a number of troubleshooting repairs.  First I fixed a hole in the exhaust for $50, then spark plugs and wires and even a timing belt.  I had a friend help me with all of this, so I had about $150 in this.  The issue ultimately turned out to be a coil pack for another $55.  Then things were good.  I added some manual locking hubs for $150.

In the meantime (late 2009, we purchased an 89 BMW for $1100 tagged.   I added a set of brakes for $10 and new struts for $120.  I also paid $100 to a friend to help me get it fixed when it broke.  $1330 into the BMW.  This is used as a spare car.

In 2010, I started experiencing a rash of various issues with the Kia. The BMW came in usefule for these.  The alternator went out, costing me $340 (got ripped off), the starter coil went out, costing me $90 (put it in with the help of a friend), the rear brake drum went out costing me $230 (garage/labor).  Also in that mess, the other coil pack acted up an cost me another $60.  I also had to g
et the rotors turned down for another $40.   The problem was that each of these issues (except the rotors) was a show stopper and all happened within a three month period.  So: 340+90+230+60+40=790.  I have $5155 into the Kia for a 3 year period.  This, by far, is my most expensive vehicle.


year    vehicle    cost    average    per month
1998    white boat    $400.00       
1998    calais    -$50.00       
2000    skyhawk    $600.00       
2001    ford areostar    $800.00       
2001    skyhawk repairs    $500.00       
2002    jeep cherokee    $1,100.00       
2002    ford probe    $600.00       
2003    deployed    $0.00       
2004    ford probe repairs    $400.00       
2004    vw fox    $500.00       
2004    vw fox repair    $100.00       
2005    vw fox trade    -$50.00       
2005    ford probe repairs    $500.00       
2005    ford probe repairs    $200.00       
2006    ford probe repairs    $200.00       
2006    jeep cherokee    $1,000.00       
2006    jeep repairs    $200.00       
2007    jeep junk    -$300.00       
2007    ford probe repairs    $200.00       
2007    ford probe sell    -$500.00       
2007    kia    $3,100.00       
2007    kia repair    $1,000.00       
2009    kia repair    $405.00       
2009    bmw     $1,100.00       
2010    bmw repair    $230.00       
2010    kia repair    $790.00       
    13 years    $13,025.00    $1,001.92    $83.49
    9 vehicles           

Yes, in 13 years of purchasing and driving 9 vehicles, I spent about $13k in vehicles, or less than $85/month.


(5:10:25 AM) me: it’s been busy all night here
(5:10:27 AM) me: i don’t like it
(5:11:41 AM) Kirsten: I’m sorry john
(5:11:47 AM) Kirsten: I’m buying a mandolin this week
(5:11:56 AM) Kirsten: then I’ll play a tune and send it your way
(5:12:16 AM) me: Is it the world’s smallest one?


I did some research into
the name itself a few years back. I don’t remember too much other than
it was very tricky to track down. I essentially had to look into the
two parts of the name separately. You can also find people running around with
either Hogenmüller or even a few Hochmüller names.

So I tried to find it all again, and while didn’t have
this useful information the first time around, it does now. According
to it, “Hoge” is the North German version of Hoch.


And in fact, they now have the Hogenmiller surname itself represented.


Dutch: partly Americanized occupational name for a miller located in
the upper part of a community, from Dutch hoge ‘high’ + an English
translation of molenaar ‘miller’.

Of course, I am not an etymologist, now do I speak German. My
“research” was primarily of interest because of how rare the Hogenmiller
name is. There are roughly 2000 of us in the US.

Website Maintenance

Some (ok, none) of you may have noticed that the website has been down for a few weeks.

The combination of WordPress and Gallery2 have been really slowing down the server in ways that affect other server users.

So I shut down the site to give them some breathing room and am redoing it as a MovableType powered site.  A lot of things just aren’t working right now, so please bear with us.  I’ll soon have the Gallery site back up as well.

Also, please update your bookmarks — this site is now known as  Later, Robin will be hosting her pictures and posting to here as well.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Honeymoon Pictures

Videos and photos from the honeymoon are up.
If you are very diligent, feel free to check out the additional “raw” photos (these are the 148 extra photos that I didn’t think made the cut).
Additionally, I have a collection of videos from the resort.  Most of them are from a show the Entertainment Team put on:


Exotic Honeymoon Vacation

Sometimes, you don’t realize that you’ve been busy for a long time.  You’re rushing around doing one thing after the other and making steady progress on several projects.  You’re so busy doing stuff that you don’t realize that you’re busy doing stuff.  The only way to realize it is to recognize the primary symptom: considering doing something else makes you groan inwardly.
The week after the wedding, we took what I call our “domestic honeymoon” meaning that we took the week off and stayed at home.  Next week, we’ll be taking another week off for our “exotic honeymoon” in Punta Canna.  While we’ll be going to Punta Canna, what we’re really doing is going to one of those all-inclusive resorts.  In other words, we’re going to a really nice beach-front hotel with a pool.
They won’t have Internet access in the room (there is a business center that charges you for access), and our cell phones won’t work unless we purchase international minutes  or something crazy like that.  So for the first week of October, I will be truly able to leave everything behind and just relax.  I don’t want to get online, I don’t want to talk to anyone that is not near me.  I just realized that this will be the first time that I will be going to a foreign beach as a civilian.  Plus, this beach will have water on it!
While I can’t speak for the rest of the human race, I can’t remain idle for long periods of time.  I always have to be doing something.  The downside to this is that I end up doing so many things for long periods of time and I get worn down (often without realizing it).  When that happens, contemplating future busy-ness fills me with a sense of dread and desire to avoid it.
For example, one of Robin’s relatives is gifting us use of their time-share next June or July or some such.  It’s one of those Islands everyone goes to (St. Martin perhaps) and all we would have to worry about is travel and food.  Unlike the vacation next week, the vacation to St. Martin is one of those busy vacations.  You have to rent a car, deal with crazy traffic, run everywhere,  shop for food — it’s basically like moving to a new house in an area you’re not familiar with.  In my current state, any time I think about that, I’m like “Why oh why oh did I ever agree to that kind of vacation?”.  You know the type — the kind that you get home and want to take a vacation to rest up from your vacation.

Vacation Stress Levels

Vacation Stress Levels

Normally, I’m fine with all of that activity.  You can drop me in most any city or town and I will calmly get to work walking around and getting the lay of the immediate area.  Before long, I’ll have food and ideas of cool places to check out.   These ‘active vacations’ are good for really experiencing a new place (instead of say.. lounging by a pool for a week).  So while my body is currently recoiling in horror at the thought of more activity, the truth is that I just need a break in the here and now.
So taking a week away from everything to do nothing is a fairly good time frame.  It gives me a chance to unwind, and by the time the week is done, I am hopefully refreshed and antsy to do something productive again.

Wedding Photos

On our way

On our way

I have a large collection of photos taken by family members during the wedding, reception and other times.  I did my best to arrange them in some chronological order, but since we’re pulling from several cameras, it’s not quite exact.  When all is said and done, there would be 1040 photos, but as of this writing, 300 have yet to upload.
Feel free to view the photos, make comments, etc.  Eventually I’ll import these into Facebook, but in the mean time, just direct people to so they can see the wedding pictures.  Once we get the professional photos in place, they will show up on here as well.

Game Over

Alternatively: Your princess is in this castle.
In many games, once you “save the princess, save the world”, the game is then over.
I was in Bedford yesterday and stopped by the church and got myself married to that Robin girl I’ve been dating for the last several years.  The ceremony was really nice.. everyone got all dressed up, we had the eulogy exchange of vows, the exchange of rings,  and various musical performances.  I even wore uncomfortable shoes for this.  One thing I have learned (for next time) is to get shoes that are a size too large so that I can put pads in.  My best man bought some inserts, but there wasn’t enough room for both my foot and the insert in the shoe.
For my side, everyone kept asking me if  I was nervous.  I felt pretty relaxed.  I knew that I had more friends than enemies at the two events, so short of  the primary parties getting injuries, nothing could really go wrong enough to matter.  If something went wrong, we would fix it (or skip it) and carry on with the ceremonies.
At the reception, I observed a few things.  One is that the Hogenmiller/Lewis clan likes to party hardy.  Another is that somewhere along the way, my family became cool.  I’m not sure when that happened.  I mean, growing up, we stopped becoming disgruntled siblings and became friends.  We would visit and hang out like friends do, and generally look out for each other.  I even became friends with my parents.  I’ve realized that some time ago.  But somewhere along the line, we all became cool people.   I’m not sure how that happened, but it’s a bit weird.
After the reception, Robin and I went off to the Barndollar House in Everett to stay the night.  Now, people always have a lot of comments, advice, and innuendo concerning the wedding night.  Many people reference some sort of “marital relations” that take place, others point out that the couple is often too exhausted from the day’s activity to do anything more than sleep.  However, never have I imagined that the first thing a married couple does upon reaching their honeymoon room is to.. spend 30+ minutes removing several pounds of metal from the bride’s hair.