Window Replacement

Background – My Old Windows leaked

We moved into our home 5 years ago and were hit with a large power bill (partially due to our windows). This resulted in the replacement of all windows. Let me describe my window situation a bit better for you. My house was built in the 1950’s and had the old fashioned single pane steel framed windows.

My old windows had several problems first the metallic frame conducts heat very efficiently. This resulted in the heat pump either having to heat or cool a lot more than necessary. Second, modern windows are double or triple paned and filled with special gases. This provides better insulation and limits ultraviolet penetration. Finally my old windows were the kind where it looks like a coarse lattice with several dozen square panes making up each window. This really made the aesthetics sucky and limited the viewable area.

During the replacement process it was determined that some(3) of the spaces in the wall for windows would require two windows to properly fill (more frame and less viewable space). Unless a window is turned sideways (sliders) and inserted. This is apparently a common arrangement and window frames are designed precisely for this role.

The Problem – Windows Cost a Lot and Window Frames Reduce Precious View Space

There are several problems to solve with this article. First, how to maximize view space? Second, how to minimize cost?

The Solution – Horizontal Sliding EnergyStar Windows

In my particular case there were 12 windows that needed to be replaced but three of them would require double windows (two windows side by side making a frame like a plus sign). Each window was quoted at $450 for a total of 15 windows. However the kind salesman helped us to find a more economical route. Instead of doing the three double windows the installed a sideways window which allowed for appropriate proportions on the window for a single window to be installed. Since we were replacing all of the windows at once we had all of them replaced sideways to match each other.

The new quote remained $450 per window but the window count was 12 instead of 15. This saved $1,350 on the purchase price. Conviently the window now also has more view space on these three windows (instead of a verticle and a horizontal line across the middle creating 4 separate windows there is only a vertical center frame creating 2 windows). Honestly I feel we got the best of both worlds with this purchase lower money more window view.

Unfortunately, since we did this five years ago I may not have before pictures (I will look and update if I do find them). I also do not have measurements of view space differences. Fortunately for this article my parents are replacing some windows and I suggested to them (I won’t suggest something for you all that I wouldn’t suggest for my own family) that they look into sideways windows like mine for one of the windows they were replacing.

the exterior view of the window
The exterior view of my parents window.

I went over for the meeting with the window people and explained what I was thinking might be good and he got out hisbook. Took some measurements and agreed that it could be done. He then got out the display book to show my parents pictures from similar installs. My parents decided to go with the sideways windows (because of the reduction in framing, and thus increased window space) and saved $300 in the process.

interior window view
The same window from the interior.

I have measured the surface area of the old windows and am awaiting the installation of the new windows to compare the change in the viewable area. Their old windows are the same kind of vinyl frame being installed as the window was replaced 3-4 years ago. This will be a much better comparison than comparing my steel frame windows to vinyl framing.

Measuring the window
Taking the measurements which were used to determine the surface area of the glass for comparison after the new window is installed.

Conclusion – Sideways Windows (called sliders) can save you money

In two confirmed instances the sideways windows have saved money. I believe they also improve view space and will either update this post or do a followup post once the new windows are installed with measurements. The current windows are 27.5″ x26″ and there are 4 windows this size with a center window which is 54″ x 43.5″ for a  total view area of (715*4 = 2860 + 2349) 5209 square inches. I expect this value to increase with the new windows by a small but significant amount.

Update – Window Installation

Apparently the windows are being installed today here are photos.

Slider Window Installation
Two men carrying the new slider window to install.

So far it’s looking good!

Slider windows in the frame
Here is the slider window inside it’s frame.

BOB Strollers – Hiking

Background – Hiking at Brekenridge

One summer we were in Breckenridge hiking, we had everyone there, including the 6 year old and the 3 year old and the 1 year old niece. We arrived and put our things up and immediately hit the trails. Quickly it became apparent that we needed equipment to hike in Colorado with children who were not used to the elevation. This resulted in the rental on tough equipment. Including a hiking backpack and a BOB Sport Utility Single Stroller.

Hiking in Colorado
One of the trails going up the ski slope to a peak above the treeline.

The Problem – Young Children are Hard on the Trail

Young children are hard to handle on the trail. They get worn out at mile three and need to be carried along. This can be exhausting work even for a young healthy man.

The Solution – BOB Stroller

our BOB stroller
BOB Stroller Suspension

As mentioned above we rented a BOB stroller. Now I know you’re thinking -A stroller hiking?- let me assure you the BOB is up to the task. In fact we purchased one online for delivery to our home before we left Brekenridge! This stroller is beast it is made from thick metal to create a sturdy frame. It has oversized wheels that roll over small obstacles with ease and can (with careful maneuvering) even handle some larger obstacles. The tires are reminiscent of mountain bike tires with thick rubber tread that grips the trail like superglue. It has a handbrake to assist with slowing the stroller down on the down hill portions. A nylon rope to attach to your body to prevent the stroller from getting away should you slip. An all weather accessory called the Bob Weather Shield can be purchased separately to protect the little ones from the rain and does the job well. There is even a BOB Sun Shield to keep the sun off (we didn’t buy the sun shield but giving the quality of other BOB products I imagine this accessory does its job superbly. There is even a 2-Child BOB ready for the trail.

 

BOB stroller tire
The tread,tire and valve stem. Its just like a mountain bike only different, sorry it’s a bit dirty from our gravel driveway.

Conclusion – If you don’t have a BOB get one.

The are awesome, they go anywhere. The accessories we bought worked simple. The seat has a 5 point harness and can recline for child comfort. The 3 year old fell asleep on the trail. The only downside is the price. My recommendation is if you can afford one and you want to hike enough that the cost is worthwhile then a BOB is the best stroller money can buy. We have owned it 2.5 years and its still great. Our newest child (14 months) loves it too. It will last (we store ours indoors) and serve you well.

Camelbak Water Bottles – The Best Bottle for Kids

Background – Hiking in Colorado

We were in Breckenridge a few years ago at one of the condos for some summer hiking. My wife bought a Camelbak Backpack to keep hydrated. I bought a Camelbak Water Bottle. We went hiking and rented a BOB Stroller to push one child one the trails and a Backpack to carry the other child. Very quickly is became apparent that the Camelbak water equipment and the BOB stroller were amazing! Today’s article focuses on the water equipment and the next article will be about the stroller. Oh, hiking in Colorado is amazing but so is hiking in the Appalachian mountains where I live.

Camelbak kids water bottles, replace!wnt straws and replacement mouthpieces
Some replacement mouthpieces, new bottles (with mouthpieces and straws) and a replacement straw and mouthpiece + straw replacements.

The Problem – Kids need to be Hydrated

Well this article isn’t exactly about hiking hydration but it is how we discovered Camelbak gear (they didn’t hike much since I was pushing one and carrying the other…lucky wife). Kids need waterbottles to take to school (and preschool), soccer, baseball, football, playground, backyard, and even in the house. Many water bottles spill, get stepped on and broken, weigh a lot, contain less than desierable chemicals and have numerous other problems. Some previous water bottles include generic sports bottles, aluminum bottles, steel bottles, flasks, canteens and ordinary 20 oz disposable water bottles.

The Solution – Camelbak Water Bottles

Camelbak Kid’s Water Bottle, this product is the king of all water solutions for kids of all ages (even 31 year old husbands). While hiking the first day after getting the Camelbak backpack and the adult water bottles we just had to buy one for each kid. Two years and another child later we now have a dozen of these (and the adult bottles). They have been sent to preschool, elementary school, college, graduate school, work, sports, boating, hiking, biking and everywhere else the five of us go. The youngest (14 months old) started using the bottles by stealing them from his brothers and went straight from a bottle to these (this is not an endorsement of the bottle for a baby, ask your doctor if this is OK, it is only a description of what we did).

This was a few months ago and I am not sure exactly how old he was but this was immediately after a bottle (sippy cup stage). His powerful jaws were able to squeeze the comfortable silicone aparature to allow the wate out. Inside you can set the bottle up two different ways. The first way is with a straw that connects at the underside of the apeaperture of the cup and allows you to suck water from the bottom. The second way is without a straw which allows the cup to be tilted up and drank from like a sports bottle. The baby is able to drink from it using both techniques.

When the lid of the bottles are unscrewed there is a wide mouth opening which allows for easy addition of ice, and easy cleaning. The straw easily slides out of the slot for easy cleaning or replacement and the silicone mouthpiece can also be removed from the lid for cleaning or replacement. The bottles have proven to be very durable (we haven’t tried freezing water in them in the freezer but everything else they seem to endure, including repetitively falling from the top bunk to the hardwood floor. The bottles come in many colors and the kid versions have beautifully fun decorative prints.

The only downside we have found is that the soft silicon mouthpieces are not extremely durable to the knawing of young children. When our middle child was three we had to replace a few mouthpieces because of this and our one year old has destroyed two of them. Fortunately there are cheap replacement mouthpieces and straws that can be purchased. It is always nice to have a few handy for when they become needed.

Camelbak Lid
Inside the Camelbak lid the mouthpiece can be pulled out or a straw can be inserted into the hole.

A word of caution, only use water inside these bottles. If a child loses one (and they will) when it turns up again it will be extremely gross if anything but water was inside.

Conclusion – Camelbak Water Bottles are Awesome!

After using many different water bottles over many years for multiple purposes the best product my family has found are the Camelbak bottles. The backpack is great, the kids bottles are great and the adult bottles are great.

Keurig 2.0 460 – Coffee, Tea, Hot Water – A Solution A Day

Background – Our old Coffee Machine

About two years ago we purchased a Starbucks Verismo 580 coffee and espresso machine. It is a great coffee machine and an owner can easily use it to produce on demand hot water or on demand coffee. Unfortunately, there was a downside, in the U.S. the only pods that you can buy for it are Starbucks brand, Starbucks Brand Pods. This is fine if you live close to a Starbucks that sells the pods or plan enough in advance to order them online. Shoot you can even order Starbucks Milk Pods for an espresso or hot milk with tea. When we purchased the coffee maker we had hoped that it would expand in the U.S. and competition would roll in (like happened with Keurig). Now there is no denying that the Verismo makes a good cup of coffee and if that is what you are looking for then it is a great option (just be aware that you will be locked in to Starbucks only products).

Keurig 2.0 k460
The New Coffee Machine

The Problem – Starbucks only was limiting

In many larger cities perhaps it is not that difficult to walk down the block to the Starbucks grab your pods and go. However, in a city of 1,500 people and a 25 minute drive from the closest starbucks (40 minutes to the closest Starbucks that sells the pods) it is not practical to drive so far for pods. I like Starbucks (I can get Keurig cup Starbucks closer, but apparently they don’t work with retailers in my area on their Verismo cups).

Keurig K-Cup Starbucks Pod
With the Keurig you can still use Starbucks Pods.

The Solution – A New Machine – Keurig 2.0 K460

Well the wife finally had enough and bought a new coffee machine, the Keurig 2.0 K460 Brewing System. I have to say this machine is pretty cool it has a LED light inside the water reservoir for stylish looks. The water reservoir can hold 70 ounces of water. There is a filter to ensure the water is higher quality. Even cooler I can control how many ounces it pours (4-10) for a single cup. It will pour just hot water or make hot chocolate, tea, coffee, etc…. It will even brew enough for four cups at once, Keurig Carafe pot, using slightly different pods that the machine will use,Keurig Carafe Pods. There’s even a carousel if you have counter space and want a decorative coffee pod holder, Keurig Carousel. The carousel will accommodate both the larger K-Carafe pods or the smaller K-Cups just like the machine.

Fresh Coffee form the Keurig 2.0 K460 machine
Fresh Starbucks Coffee Pouring out of the new Keurig 2.0 K460 Coffee Machine.

Conclusion – A Winner

Ok, so I am pretty impressed with the Keurig 2.0 K460 Brewing System coffee machine. We have only had it for two days and so far it has worked flawlessly and wonderfully. The old coffee maker will be going to the office with me while the new one which is more suitable for guests and multiple people will remain at home. There are a few reviews online that rate this machine lower than I feel it deserves. It seems that the main complaint is that for the 2.0 model Keurig has implemented a scanning device to check if the cup is certified by the company. Apparently some of the older machines would break and it was due to cups being used which were not high enough quality for the device. This kinda sounds like hogwash and more what the reviewers who ding it suspect, that the patent was expiring and they wanted to keep selling pods instead of the competition. In any case Keurig labelled pods which are accepted by the machine are everywhere and often even cheaper online if you have the forethought to order them before you run out.

Making hot water with the Keurig 2.0 K460
The Keurig 2.0 K460 making hot water.

From an environmental perspective I would score the device as inconclusive. It has the advantage of only heating the amount of water needed when it is needed (much like an on-demand water heater). Though the pods are not recyclable and the device is designed to prevent the reusable cups that were popular on earlier Keurig machines. The machine will let you run the water through the cup at a slower rate to allow less water to brew more potent coffee, this perhaps will save some water (though I have been using the larger water setting, so maybe not). This is probably not a device to save money or the environment but for a convenient cup of coffee it is pretty good. If Keurig can solve the non-recyclable pod issue (they plan to by 2020) then this device would score much higher on the environmental side. The Verismo was about the same regarding the environmental issues (Starbucks does say their pods are recyclable but check with your recycling company) in the end I think either machine will make a satisfactory cup of coffee and it just comes down to preference (and if you want to be using exclusively Starbucks brand coffee). If you know someone with a new Keurig a variety pack might make a good gift as it can expose them to different flavors of pods.

Answers to Questions:

Q: Will Starbucks Verismo pods work in a Keurig?

A: No, the pods are different and not cross compatible.

United States Education System – Mandatory Endowments

Background – Education in the Unites States

The education system in the United States is in large part messed up. Consider this the cost of education is skyrocketing. Teachers complain about low salary (when I see some PhD professors making $50,000 or less a year in a STEM (Science Technology Environment Mathematics) field. Student debt is at an all time high. There is hope and in this Sunday’s Big Problems article I will describe what I consider to be the best solution. This like all of my solutions is an idea I developed after observation and reading. I believe it is an original idea because I have not heard anyone else promoting the idea. However I also have not looked extensively to see if there is something similar.

The Problem – Academic Funding is Dismal

I’m not entirely sure where all the money goes that flows into the academic system but it sure disappears fast and the problem seems to get worse rather than better. Some industries are experiencing problems in keeping staffed so they increase pay to attract employees to keep doing business (I’m thinking of nursing but there are other fields also). This results in the private industry being desperate for workers and paying them exceptionally well (economics 101: supply and demand). This makes already dismal academic salaries even more so when compared to their equally academically trained counterparts. Now consider if a nurse can make 50-150k per year with as little as an associates degree, but a PhD in academia might make only 50-100k then where is the incentive to teach?

Snowball effect….teachers are less qualified, students are less trained, salaries go up, fewer people want to teach because of the pay difference….ugh oh industry needs more than academia can teach…mean while the U.S. ranking internationally in education is falling (wonder why?). I am sure the fault is not entirely on the funding aspect but I think everyone can agree that funding has an impact on education either directly or indirectly.

The Solution – More money, where from?

The big picture solution is easy, more money. However, the best way to accomplish this is where real improvements can be accomplished. Most arguments I have heard involve more tax money to supplement the system…and a few years later it is more tax money to supplement the system. This never ending perpetual cycle of more money needed more tax dollars spent. The question then becomes, what can we do to change this cycle and make this country once again the best education system in the world.

The solution to this is actually quite simple though it will take 20 to 30 years of higher expenses and another 20-30 years beyond that before the real benefits begin to be seen. The answer lies in compound interest. First, congress should give university endowments a 50 year break on the required spending to remain nonprofits this will allow them to reinvest funding in order to build wealth more rapidly initially. Second, for the next 20-30 years all public universities should be required to deposit 30% of their annual budget (this will probably require 30% extra funding for 20-30 years).

After that initial investment period the universities may withdraw up to 15% of the annual increase from interest to be added to the university general fund. An additional 15% of the interest earned will be deposited into a liquid asset fund for use during years that the economy is not profitable. The remaining 70% of interest earned will be reinvested in the fund to compensate for inflation and to grow the fund. After 50-60 years these funds will pay for a substantial portion of public education expense and into the future they will fund an ever increasing percent of our education bill.

I, if you haven’t noticed yet, am a fan of excel spreadsheets. So, I made one. There are some assumptions we will make in our model.

  1. Average long term return on investment per year is 9% (market index over 100 years is about 10% and Harvard’s endowment average from 1991-2011 which included two recessions was 12.9%)
  2. We do 30 years and 60 years of tax breaks
  3. 30% of annual operating budget as annual investment
  4. Our university expenses increase by 5% a year
  5. We cap student entry into university’s based on funding (yes there may be competition for spots unless the student pays) this is to keep university cost at a constant growth rate of 5%.
  6. We will assume that our starting university budget is $1,000

After 30 years the fund had $73,000 in its assets. The university budget was $4,116. The interest for the endowment was just over $6,000. In the 31’st year the endowment was able to pay for 22.8% of the universities annual operating budget. At 60 years this had grown to 32.6% of the universities annual budget. At 100 years the fund paid for 53.4% of the budget. At the 150 year mark these endowments would be paying for 98.84% of their institutes annual operating budget. Finally, at the 151st year the public universities required 0 external funding. Not only is the tax burden decreased by 20% (30 years from now) eventually it is completely eliminated. Sure it means spending an extra 30% on the education budget for 30 years.

Conclusion – Action Now Can Help

Sure it is a burdon now and for 30 years. I’ll let the economists and financial people determine the dollars and cents. The fact is your descendants (possibly in your life time) see immense benefit in educational funding. The future could be filled with self funded education systems where all students attend completely free. They do no have to deal with debt and university professors could be one of the highest paid and most respected occupations. Creating a highly competitive applicant list ensuring that our nation has the absolute best educators and as a result the most qualified workforce in the world.

 

School spreadsheet

 

P.S. The thesis is still killing me, so again no photos etc.. Until I finish it.

Thesis, M.S. Environmental Science, Not Enough Time

Background – About Me

I’ve written a few articles at this point and I have to admit that I am really enjoying the process. My life is very ‘full’, let me explain. The idea for this website came to me one day and two days later I saw a godaddy ad for cheap web hosting for the first year. Twenty bucks later I had my domain name and an idea (9-20-2014) and go daddy’s website builder product. Well three days later I scraped that project called godaddy and switched to a WordPress account (the website builder didn’t suit what I was trying to do very well). WordPress has been amazing it is fairly easy to learn yet highly flexible, so far I have been very satisfied with godaddy and with WordPress.

Probably the hardest thing so far is ccontent my average article seems to be about 800-1000 words. New content daily is more difficult than you might imagine. First, an idea for an article must be developed (this has been pretty easy so far and I have ideas planned for the next week or two currently, I do worry that I may eventually run out of topics before developing a subscriber base that can suggest more topics and assist with the content ideas. Second, the article must be written this takes time. Third, it must be edited (I’m kinda skimping in this category at the moment with the plan to go back and fix it when I have more time available). Finally, I need to add pictures to my articles which requires going out and taking pictures.

Additionally, I am learning about affiliate marketing and google adsense and trying to get that stuff up and going (I’m not expecting to get rich from them though it would be nice if it covered my hosting expenses, which will increase to about $200 a year when my godaddy trial expires in 11 months). This takes additional time. I also work a fulltime day job, have three adorable boys, and an amazing loving and caring wife. Then there is graduate school…I am nearing completion of my M.S. in Environmental Science (writing the thesis right now). The last 10 weeks have been more or less like this:

Wake up at 5:30 am

Arrive at work 6:45 am

Leave work 2:45 pm

Get to school 3:15 pm

Work on thesis

Leave school 9:00 pm

Get home 9:30 pm

Say goodnight to wife and kids, do laundry etc…

Go to bed 11:00 pm

That’s 5-days a week

 

The other two days are

Wake-up at 6:00 am and see wife off to work

Spend time with three kids while wife is at work

Wife home 7:00pm

Watch a movie with family and hang out.

 

Then on Mondays and Tuesdays there is also Boy scouts and Soccer practice

And Saturday is soccer games.

 

….very quickly it becomes apparent that there is not much time for web development, learning WordPress and producing content….but here it is all the same.

The Problem – Too Much Stuff, Not Enough Time…

I have deadlines for thesis work that absolutely must be met. I also have chosen to produce daily content here and maintain my other obligations. Where can I improve time management in order to accomplish everything?

The Solution – Focus on Thesis

The number 1 priority is completing my thesis and collecting my Masters degree. Once that is complete I will have more time (about 40 hours a week extra) to focus on my other endeavors.

  1. Don’t worry about pictures on content (they can be acquired and added when I have more time.
  2. Write shorter articles.
  3. Write articles that require less research (like this one or Baby in the Toilet).
  4. Perhaps even skip a few days of articles over the next 4-8 weeks to gain additional time for the academic work.
  5. Stop applying to new jobs (did I mention that earlier? Yeah I’m also filling out about 10-15 applications a week, so that once I graduate I can move into a position related to my education, if you guys know anyone who will hire an Environmental Scientist please point them my way).
  6. Get some guest articles (maybe Randy)
  7. Outsource some content, wait no money for that ….nevermind

Well this list is a good start hopefully I can implement all (or at least some) of the solutions effectively.

Conclusion – Thesis First then the rest

The thesis is all that remains of my M.S. Degree (let me assure you it’s a ton of work). Then I can put this stage of my life behind me. The most effective method is to channel any available time and energy into the thesis and then put more energy into other stuff once that is finished.

P.S. No pictures, No Editing, No outbound links, just a  simple 835 word article. Thanks for understanding and please rest assured that I will make sure you get something worth the wait when I finish.

P.P.S. My thesis is about fungus on the tips of roots. I have been working since the beginning of 2012 on my thesis and have dedicated over 3000 hours of work in the reseach .

 

 

New Car Gasoline Savings With Auto Calculator

Background – Save Money Buying A Car

My car is a 1997 model Crown Victoria LX with 253,000 miles on the odometer. I have owned it for about 13 years. A few years back (when gas prices were hovering around $4.00 a gallow) I decided to not buy a new car until I was making money by purchasing a car. Let me clarify what that means. Modern cars are much more efficient than older cars with regards to gasoline. Further gas prices keep (or at least have kept) increasing (fracking and domestic oil production may change this trend). In order to make money buying a car, I need to be putting money in my pocket in exchange for the purchase.

My old car
My old Crown Victoria LX which needs replacing.

The easiest way to determine how much money is going into my pocket is to first determine how much money it costs to operate my car during the course of a year. This includes regular maintenance (oil change for instance), unscheduled maintenance (transmission explodes), and of course gasoline. Regular maintenance can be easily estimated by taking your records for the last several years and averaging them into a cost per year. Unscheduled maintenance is more difficult to determine but a long term average per year and reading reports on other cars of the same make and model may get you into the ballpark area. I also do not examine this aspect. The third and final aspect (the one most interesting to me) is fuel cost savings.

The Problem – Should I replace my car?

Randy's Jeep
My friend Randy in his Jeep with his girlfriend. He is starting a website soon and I will update this with his link then.

The problem requires solving several problems which effectively make up a cost/benefit analysis specific to MPG when comparing two vehicles (mine and the one I want to buy). First, the annual consumption of my car must be determined. Second, the predicted annual consumption of the proposed new car must be determined. To determine these values it must also be determined how much is driven annually.

The Solution – A comparative analysis in excel

This is a complicated enough analysis that I decided to use an excel sheet to assist with the calculations (plus I can share it with you all easily). For my analysis I determine that I drive 30 miles to and from work each day. Then I determined about how much driving I do on a weekly basis in addition to my work commute. Finally I included the amount of driving I do on vacation weeks and how many vacation week I take in a year. Don’t laugh I don’t get a lot of vacation and earn pennies. This calculation approximates how much driving I conduct on a yearly basis. Its probably fairly accurate but only an estimate. A better measure might be to call you mechanic and get your milage on various dates when you changed your oil and extrapolating that data into an annual milage number.

OK, we have determined the milage (just fill in the yellow boxes on the spreadsheet it’s really simple) driven in a year. The next step is to determine how much that milage costs in fuel. For this calculation we need to compare the vehicle currently being driven and the vehicle that might be a desirable purchase. I will compare my car to a Toyota Prius Hybrid (it has a MSRP of about $19,000 currently and gets 60 MPG) because its low cost and great effeciency make it a good candidate for a replacement.

MPG can be acquired from fuel economy.gov or you can calculate your own independently. For my car it lists at 18 mpg, but I measure it closer to 15 mpg (possibly my driving? Or I need a tune up?). The mpg is divided by the annual miles to determine the gallons of fuel required per year. This is multiplied by the cost of gasoline to determine the fuel expense. The same calculation is done on both vehicles and the trade in value and purchase price are considered to determine the actual cost/savings each month. You can compare that number to your actual loan to determine what effect the purchase will have on your monthly budget. My goal is to increase my monthly budget by purchasing a new car and I am still waiting for cars to be efficient enough, my commute to work long enough and the cost of gas high enough to justify the purchase (Bluetooth connectivity will be a great upgrade from my tape deck).

Gas Savings Excel Sheet
An excel image which shows the potential gas savings from purchasing a new more efficient car.

Conclusion – Some Additional Conaiderations

I have heard and I suspect it is true that the purchase of a new car is worse for the environment than continuing to drive a much less efficient vehicle. This would be caused by several factors including pollution and energy use in the manufacturing process and creation of new materials, such as plastics etc for the car itself. Perhaps one article I will examine that aspect. From a financial perspective I think the mpg and maintenance are the primary factors to consider and will give a buyer adequate information to make a well informed decision. Happy car buying.

Here is a link for the spreadsheet which you may use yourself.

 Update I Made An Auto Calculator:

I made a auto calculator for you all so that you do not need to use the spreadsheet any longer. This calculator will determine the savings yoo could see based on your input. Please remember prices can change and other variables also can impact these values.

[CP_CALCULATED_FIELDS id=”57″]

Dr. Who Tweed Jacket

Background – Dr. Who Tweed Jacket, Halloween

My sons love Halloween, I mean it might be in their top three holidays. About five months ago we started planning for the holiday. It started with a simple “What would you all like to be for Halloween this year?”. The answer from both boys was Dr. Who. Normally it might be odd for two children to be the same character, imagine two of Elvis, it just creates problems. Dr. Who avoids all of these problems because he can travel in time and space (which can allow him to be at the same time/location twice (at a different point in his own timeline). What about them having a slightly different physical appearance? Again Dr. Who has this solved as well, he periodically dies and returns in a different physical form, in fact one time he thought he came back as a girl. The life of a time lord is surely interesting.

The Problem – Costume Problems

We spent the next few months searching for clothing for a five year old and an eight year old. The button down shirts, pants, shoes, and even bow ties were easy to find. However, the tweed jackets posed an unexpected problem. We finally found one for the five year old in the end it took three months of searching and cost about $10. The eight year old was a different story we searched and searched in the end after 4 months of searching the best we could source was a $400 Ralph Lauren tweed jacket.

The Solution – International Search

As time began running out we began expanding our search and eventually located a tweed jacket in the U.K. (thank you, my British friends for making reasonably priced children’s tweed jackets) on eBay for 9 pounds ($15). So we ordered it immediately and contacted the seller. The seller refused to ship it internationally. We eventually made contact with a friendly citizen of the U.K. who was kind enough to give us her office address and receive the package inside the country. Following this we filled out the import/export papers, paid the appropriate fees and $98.00 later the jacket was enroute to us via international courier. Total Cost: $113.00, Next best $400 at Ralph Lauren.

Dr. Who Tweed Jacket
The Dr. Who Tweed Jacket just out of the packaging.

Conclusion

International shipping is a small pain and quite expensive but if you are selling something and your customer requests that you ship internationally and is willing to pay the expenses. Then there is no reason to not assist. Finally for those in the united states if your business can figure out how to get tweed jackets in the USA for under Ralph Laurens price then you might be able to sell them.