Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Why Be Like Most People?

Let me introduce you to...

Beyond The Defaults is a collaborative effort between my friend and colleague, Sam Bridegroom.  We both were trying to maintain our own blogs and answer the steady stream of technical questions we receive when we decided there had to be a better way.  Our solution is a website for people to go to find answers to technology related questions in terms they can understand, written by people they trust.

We plan to offer tips, suggestions, hardware and software reviews, and general technology thoughts for the average non-technical person.  Most people take the device out of the box, buy a piece of software, of sign up for an account and only use a fraction of its functionality because they don't know where to start or the idea of technology makes them anxious and feel overwhelmed, so they give up without trying.

Don't be like most people and suffer through technology.  Make technology work for you.

Check it out and let me know what you think.  If you like it, don't be shy about it.  Add a comment, share the link with your Facebook friends or Twitter followers, or email the link to the site to someone who would benefit from it.  We will be posting new updates on a regular basis and you can sign up for free email updates whenever a new post is published or you can subscribe via RSS (and don't worry if you don't know what RSS is, we'll get to that).

Monday, November 21, 2011

Cheating On Thanksgiving

I can't believe I am admitting this as I am a firm believer that you should celebrate one holiday at a time but my Christmas decorations are out.  I used to berate my mother for playing Christmas music before Thanksgiving and couldn't believe it when I learned my friend Brandi would start listening to Christmas music around Halloween.

I feel like I've cheated on Thanksgiving.

This past weekend was the first weekend in a long time where we didn't have to do anything and it was the best and only time to get the decorations out.  We also hoped it would help us enjoy the holidays more and find our Christmas spirit.  I usually get so overwhlemed with everything that I have to do to prepare for the holidays that I usually turn into Scrooge.  I'm hoping this year is different.

I'm not ready for Christmas music yet but there's something about white lights and garland that makes everything feel a little bit more cozy than usual.  And the tree isn't up yet, so we haven't full embraced Christmas yet.

I'm hoping Thanksgiving will forgive me.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

We've Got A New Ride

As we were getting ready to start the car shopping process, Matt laid out the ground rules.  The only thing missing was a shirt that said "Coach", a whistle, and a clipboard.  

If you know me personally, then you are aware that I generally do not take direction or being told what to do well, or at all.  I am sure my husband and parents will testify to this, but we aren't going to ask their opinion on the subject.  However, he has bought and sold several cars and has more experience with this than I do.  

Add the fact I haven't had a car payment in 2.5 years and the thought of having a car payment was giving me heart palpations, I was fine with letting someone else take the reins.  My job was to follow his rules and find a vehicle I liked enough to drive for the next several years.

The Rules For Car Shopping

  1. Ask as many questions about the vehicle as I want.  Make them show me how every single feature works.
  2. Matt will handle the negotiations, which I was fine with because we already had agreed upon our budget and what we were looking for.  If I remember correctly, at one point during his pep talk he told me to "sit there and look pretty".  I'm pretty sure I smacked the last guy that said that to me, but since it was Matt, I let it slide.
  3. I can never, ever say "I have to have this car" or "I love it and must have it".  And if I let it slip out, it had better not be in front of the salesman.
  4. The reason I can never say "I have to have this car" is because I have to always be willing to walk away.
  5. Remember, we are paying them and that means we are in control.
And then we high-fived.  I wanted to put our hands in the middle and yell "Go Team!" but Matt said no.  So I settled for a high-five.

Hello Minivan!

It took most of the day, several test drives, multiple nervous pees on my part but we finally found a vehicle we liked (2010 Dodge Grand Caravan) with a price we could live with.  Matt did a great job with the negotiations and we left the Mazda behind in our new minivan!

Minivans are not sexy, but they are affordable, practical, and I can open the sliding doors with a click of a button.  I'm definitely a function over form kind of girl.  I've noticed people are firmly in two camps: pro-minivan and anti-minivan.  I think my minivan is awesome, but I also realize they aren't for everyone.  To each their own.  

Do I still get surprised when I walk into the garage and see a minivan instead of the Mazda?  Yes.  I imagine this will go away after a few weeks.  Can I park the minivan between the lines on the first try? Not yet.  Can I back the minivan into a parking spot?  Uh no, I couldn't do that with the Mazda and its just not going to happen in the minivan.

Its an adjustment for everyone but I think we are all going to be very happy together.

Thanks to everyone who let me know that I am not the only one who has emotional attachments to their cars.  I appreciate you sharing your experience and it made me feel better about my reaction to saying goodbye to the Mazda.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Saying Goodbye to an Old Friend

Dear Mazda 6,

I am so sorry I had to say goodbye to you and that I ugly cried in front of you and the salesmen at the car lot.  I know you will say that it wasn't that ugly, but I caught a glimpse of myself in the new car's window and I know I was a hot mess.  You were the first car I picked out, negotiated for, made every payment for and I took pretty good care of you for 7 years.  I am sorry we had to part ways but I have a family to think of and our relationship has run its course.  It was time for us to part ways.

I will always remember you fondly.  Some of my favorite memories are of driving you with the windows down and music tuned up, usually rocking some 80s or whatever popular hip hop song at the time.  You were my first major purchase and you symbolized that I was an adult and free to do whatever I wanted.  I drove around looking for my first house with you and once I found it, you helped me move in.  You hauled my friends and I around town and no one heats up my seat like you do.  

I got you stuck in the mud once at the old St. Malachy in Brownsburg and I had covered us both in mud by the time we got home.  I didn't attend mass that evening because I was trying to get you unstuck before mass ended and someone would see what I had done.  After 15 minutes of rocking and a lot of swearing on my part, I prayed aloud to God, "God, I am getting out of this mess with or without you but it would be nice if it was with you".  You were unstuck on the next try and I prayed the entire ride home.  Do you remember the look on the guys face at Mike's car wash when we got you cleaned off?  I always wondered what he thought of us.

You were driven by my roommate one St. Patrick's day, where I am told I met a friend of my roommate's named Matt.  I have little recollection of that meeting (my Irish heritage dictates I celebrate St. Patrick's day to the fullest) but I do remember spending time with a guy named Matt and his adorable son Daulton the next day.  It was the same Matt that I would meet several times over the next few months and would then become friends with.  Our friendship turned to romance and then you became our family car.

You were the car that drove my husband and step-son to the church and you drove us away from that same church as husband and wife and an official family.  

We've had some good times together and I would have liked to keep you longer, but things just didn't work out that way.  I know you will find a new owner, and I hope she's a young, single woman who will take good care of you like I have.  As I drove off the lot without you, I told Matt that if felt like I was leaving a child behind.  (I also didn't want to take a picture of the new car in front of you, but I think that was more of a result of the stress of car shopping all day, no snacks, and riding an emotional roller coaster which had me vomiting emotions at every turn.)

Thanks for the good times and you took care of me until the end.  Because of you I was able to get a newer, more spacious vehicle for my family and for that I will be eternally grateful.



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