Random Odds & Ends

I’ve really been a terrible blogger, lately. Even I can’t read my own blog without becoming bored. Anyway, here’s a collection of random updates and observations in no particular order.

We sold our house in the ‘burbs and moved back to the city. Love it. I can walk to a dozen cool restaurants & bistros, and even a 12-screen cinema with stadium seating. I’ll have to snap a picture from my new home-office setup in the new place (a loft). To paint a mental picture, imagine 18 ft. ceilings with my desk at about the 9 ft platform level, looking out the front, which is mostly window.

In the spirit of downsizing and getting sportier, I sold my Hummer H2 and got a 2006 BMW X5 with the 4.4 liter V8. That’s 315 HP in a car that weighs in less than 5,000 lbs. It has a, get this: 6-speed automatic transmission. I can tell you that I am very, very good with a stick and clutch, going way back. If you were in an automatic, I could spot you a whole lot of horsepower, ’cause there was no way you were going to out-accelerate me. That’s all changed, now. In sport-shift mode, I’d swear I’ve got Shirley Muldowney doing my shifting for me. It even downshifts as it senses deceleration, so that if, say, you’re rounding a bend, it’s already downshifting to 3rd or 2nd as you come through, so you’re right and ready to accelerate through the turn. Brilliant.

Anyway, I’ve never owned a BMW before, and now I honestly regret that. There’s not a thing I don’t love about this car. I don’t know whether it’s ‘the ultimate,’ or not, but it is one fine ‘driving machine.’ Next time, I’ll tell you about the 12-speaker premium sound package.

Spent the weekend at our cabin for the first time since August, I think. Too much going on with the sale of the house and all that. Man, was I grateful to be up there? Now that we’re city and the mountains (the cabin is at the 4,500 elevation level), I just love it. It’s really the best of everything. I have no interest in living in the ‘burbs ever, ever again.

Let’s see… Oh, my wife insisted upon a 2nd dog, so we’ve now got a 4-month old female rat terrier, Nanook, to be a supposed future companion for our 6-year old, Rotor. Whatever. Rather than descriptions, I’ll get some pics up soon.

Readers know I mention my morning walk a lot. Been religious about it for three years, now. Rotor and I have been doing three miles starting at about 6:15 am every weekday morning. Accounting for a few lost days on account of trips and bad weather, that’s about 250 walking days per year, so 750 in all. Three miles a pop means we’re coming up on the 2,500 miles walked mark. Anyway, I used to have a western route and an eastern route going from our house in Willow Glen, so as not to get bored. But now look what I’ve got. I’m about 1/2 mile walk from the entrance where Coleman/Market crosses 87. From there, I head north to I880 and back. Of course, it’s all uninterrupted, as you are crossing under all the streets. Part of the route south to I280 is still under construction, but it shouldn’t be but a few months and I’ll be able to rotate the routes each week.

Yea, I know, part of the massively wasteful municipal budget that no doubt goes to produce the park includes money the government steals from little old widowed ladies under threat of taking away the homes their late husbands spent 30 years at hard labor paying off. Assholes, to a man/woman. Wish it were otherwise, but it isn’t.

I rarely have the time or motivation (mostly motivation) to pack a lunch in the morning, before heading to the office (now just a 5-10 minute drive away). Also, I don’t really like big lunches, as they tend to ruin my afternoon. But nowadays, try getting a small sandwich rather than some massive, piled-high concoction. Don’t get me wrong. I love ‘piled high.’ And, of course, that’s the problem. I only need a small meal to maintain a reasonable weight (once I get there, of course). Starbucks to the rescue. You checked out their pre-made sandwiches? They’re all good, not huge, and in particular, they have this Ham & Turkey Club with lettuce, tomato, et al, but it’s on a roll that’s about the size of a large dinner roll. $3.95. Perfect.

And, finally, SYNC2IT is just a wonderful, wonderful little service. I operate from three machines: office, home office, notebook. Work wise, I’m dialed in with things like remote access, exchange server, etc. But bookmarks? Ugh! This little tool does it all. Whether you use IE, Firefox, Netscape, or Safari on the Mac, this will keep all your bookmarks synchronized on all machines, across platform and across browser applications. So, no matter which browser I’m using on which machine, if I bookmark it into an existing or new folder, it’s right there next time I open any browser on any other of my machines. It’s a few bucks per year if you’ve got more than 50 bookmarks, I think. Worth every penny.

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Richard Nikoley

I started writing Free The Animal in late 2003 as just a little thing to try. 20 years later, turns out I've written over 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from diet, health, lifestyle...to philosophy, politics, social antagonism, adventure travel, expat living, location and time independent—while you sleep— income by geoarbitrage, and food pics. I intended to travel the world "homeless," but the Covidiocy Panicdemic squashed that. I became an American expat living in Thailand. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. ... I leave the toilet seat up. Read More


  1. John Sabotta on December 5, 2005 at 21:46

    On S. Jackson, I can get a Vietnamese sandwich (fresh french bread, marinated barbecued pork, cilantro, etc) at the Asia Deli for $1.75, and Uwajimaya presently has cans of Thai Tea Drink (Tea, cream, lots of sugar, spices, lots of caffeine) for 50 cents. Alternatively one can get a Pepsi at the Goom How Grocery for 50 cents, or a large box of BluWing crackers (product of the Lui Tong Xing Xiao Corporation) for $1.09

    "I have a complex, ecstatic, and craven relationship with pork, as I have with my nether regions. Bacon's crisp and salty smokiness is imbued with conflicted emotions; its layers of flavor unfold on the tongue, weaving a savory web I alternately thrash against and blissfully submit to." – Rachael Kessler, describing pork and Vietnamese sandwiches in the 2000 Stranger.

  2. Rich on December 6, 2005 at 08:23

    With you all the way, John. Love Vietnamese food in general (especially those "egg" rolls with the transluscent wrap with shrimp and that brown spicy sauce). We've got a Vientnamese sandwich shop just down the street from our loft, and had a french-style jambon, buerre on baguette just the other night. I'll definitely try the pork. I know I saw it on the menu.

    Liuhua, yes, the X5 is an SUV in the medium-size category.

  3. liuhua on December 6, 2005 at 01:40

    An X5??!! X5s are very rare here! I saw one before though, a black one. I like the looks of it, but I haven't been inside one to be able to tell what's nice about it. But isn't it an SUV? Your entry gave me the impression of a sedan.

    Ooh i like the title of your page…short yet meaningful. It's a link on my page already. =)

  4. John Sabotta on December 6, 2005 at 14:51

    I would be remiss in not mentioning the adorable Mon Hei Bakery, with their $1.00 ice cream cones. From time to time I have known to refer to the Goom How Grocery as the "Lu Xun Grocery" but that is only because the proprietor looks gloomy and intellectual, kind of like Lu Xun. It is a very nice grocery and is (I've been told this, since I never watch remakes on principle) featured in the American remake of "The Ring."

    I have seen the Japanese original, RINGU, of course. The parallels between RINGU and Mario Bava's KILL BABY, KILL (OPERAZIONE PAURA) are interesting, and deserve an article. Unfortunately, right now I have to copy and mail off a bunch of videotapes. (Stop scratching at the windows, Sadako!)

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