All posts by Sean

Back in Black

Kid, Cars, Gas, House, Bills. I would prefer not to skimp on #1, so #2 and #3 needed to change so I can keep a #4 over my head while paying #5. Every time I hit the gas pump in the truck it really bothered me how much gas it sucks up. So yeah, the car bug bit me pretty bad and I started justifying all the reasons why a different vehicle would make sense.

I decided to sell the truck and use the equity to get a trash car, and thankfully Robyn talked me out of that. From there we decided to look at smaller economy cars that could still baby. I test drove the Kia Forte 5, Mazda 3, Ford Focus, and a Ford Fiesta ST. The Fiesta ST is a fun, growling little nimble beast of a hot hatch; I would have bought it that day, but with the car seat installed my knees were on the dash. I also looked at the FR-S, but it’s just too small for baby, and sitting in one made me realize that a 2 door sporty car was just not going to cut it. Lots of people make do or even choose to put babies in those cars, but for me it was kinda nice to be over a sports car and feel great about wanting something to haul my lovely family in.

I was not really excited about any of the options I had, and we gravitated back to the Mini dealer sites, where Robyn pointed out a few examples of used Countryman as the back up baby hauler. I drove over to Mini, and after wistfully looking at Hardtops decided a used Countryman was the way to go.

So this happened…


It’s a 2012 S All4 manual 6spd with only 10k miles. A few scratches, but it’s a really tight find. All black… black body with black roof, black wheels, black out lights, and black interior. It is pretty much how I would have configured one out for me in 2012; with the cold weather package, no sunroof, and HID lights. We are pretty satisfied… lower payment, better gas mileage, more warranty, while still keeping one AWD vehicle with the ability to baby. Driving a more driver-focused vehicle again is great! I let Robyn drive it home after she signed the papers and she thanked me for her new car :)

Good Clean Fun

I have been obsessing over driving again, and in a way that is bad enough I just try to sit quietly and not bore the people around me with how much I would rather be “motoring.” So of course I’ve been finding every excuse to get us out of the house, in the Mini. This part is easy because there is a active Mini community in NC and they are always getting together at meets, track days, dinners, and recently a scavenger hunt. Yes, a scavenger hunt. I never thought I would attend another scavenger hunt once I stopped going to church. Turns out it’s a great way to spend time with Robyn (she is on the ball organizing the clues by location), a great way not to be working on the weekend, and lots of motoring time.

Some of the clues involved bringing something back, or showing your car in a picture with a certain object or place. Here are some of my favorite pics:

Show your Mini with a Smart car. The only car out there smaller, until the Fiat 500 hits dealers.

Show your Mini at Umstead Park.

Show your Mini next to a horse.

Show your Mini next to a school bus. Robyn insisted that a university bus would not count, so later we took:

Show a oversized dog in your Mini, thanks to some random guy with a big drooling dog.

Show your Mini at the Tucker House.

Show your Mini at a round bank. Probably my favorite of all of them, mainly because for some reason the driveway behind this bank is closed off and I went off road (grass) to get to the bank. Not that impressive now that I think about it, but I had fun then.

Show your Mini at the only 100% exotic animal hospital in Raleigh. With two iPhones at her disposal, no clue could escape Robyn.

In all we had a great time motoring around Raleigh all day. It seems Robyn had some stress and enjoyment out of organizing the clues by distance and point value. I enjoyed driving during the event. I’m not sure how long this “motoring” phase will last but Robyn likes it enough that she has agreed that we can go to the next event – a trip to the area surrounding Highway 129.

Animazement 2010

My Japanese teacher from last semester runs Animazement. So I was recruited to help out. Along the way I was promoted to Jr-Staff or Staff, cause I have both badges in the holder. Anyways, it’s quite different to go at 33 vs 24 vs 19. They all look like kids now, and it’s neat to see them all dressed up in the costumes.

Back in my day – there were no Otaku, we were just a sub category of geeks and nerds. You got to see the same 10 tapes in the corner of the video store and that was it. We didn’t have anime clubs, we had to make them. I’m so glad the next “generation” has lots of Anime to experience and places like these cons to visit and express themselves. I’m not saying we didn’t get to do that in college, but now the con attendance is young, and I saw nearly as many parents chaperoning for kids as I did teenagers and college students.
Anyways, here are photo’s from Saturday of Animazement 2010,

Macross Ace Frontier

Robyn surprised me last week – for my birthday? See my birthday is in December very close to Christmas. My parents always tried not to merge the two together and did a pretty good job at it. Robyn still thinks it’s a bum wrap to only get presents once a year and I’m not going to disagree with her. So we decided that I would have a birthday in June from now on. Since June had already passed I figured she would wait until next year to start.

A few months ago we decided that our house needed some art on the walls. So Robyn and I took a signed “Do You Remember Love” poster, and an original Kawamori sketch to Michael’s to be framed. Those two items are the prizes of my anime collection. It turned out to be a bit pricey so I said it could be my birthday present. We are really happy with how they look, and are even thinking of hitting the convention circuit again to score more signed artwork.

So anyways… a while back during my Macross Frontier kick we found a PSP game called Macross Ace Frontier. I mentioned I finally had an excuse to get a PSP. Not expecting to get a PSP anytime soon I kinda blew it off because while I would buy a system to play Grand Turismo I probably wouldn’t to play another version of Digital Mission VFX. Well, Wednesday Robyn surprised me with a copy of the game, and a silver PSP to play it on!

I had given up on ever playing the game so I was very surprised to get a copy. Turns out it’s really fun and plays just like any of the older Digital Mission VFX series with a little camera issue. The music is enjoyable – of course I’m already a fan so take that with caution. I’ve seen pics online that show many playable characters and Vakyries from all the series. If you have a PSP, and like Macross, just go ahead and get this as you won’t be disappointed, playing somewhat representative missions taken from the different series. If anything the music and screen loading art is worth it!

Better than the game is how nice it was to get a thoughtful surprise from my wife ;)

Weekend dog duty

This weekend we are taking care of Lucy and Ivy. Lucy is the Schnauzer next to Jack, and Ivy is the English Bulldog behind the gate. Ivy and Jack don’t get along so well inside the house, but they seem fine when walking next to each other outside. I thought she was just nipping at first, but after I checked Jack out and found a few holes in his skin it was the end of trying to get them to play nice together, since then we have kept them separated. We have decided that if we get another dog, its going to be 24 pounds or less for easy fight management.

Other than that Ivy is a easy dog to take care of.  When I take her out alone she just goes to the closest spot of grass or pine straw and does her business, then refuses to go anywhere else except back inside. She will go to her crate on command, and sleeps all the time. She snores pretty loud – Robyn insists it’s almost as loud as I snore. Even when she isn’t snoring she is always making loud breathing noises. Thanks to her lack of energy it hasn’t been hard to keep her separated, even when we let her out of the crate (which we try to do often) she just picks a spot on the floor and goes back to sleep.

So far this weekend we have had 2 dogs puke, and one dog pee and poop by accident on separate occasions. On top of that last night the storm knocked out power all night, so we had to break out the leftover candles from the wedding for light. In between taking the dogs out or cleaning up after them I’ve been grilling, cooking, and running errands.

Tomorrow we are going down to Sanford to pick up some box donations from my family. Soon it will be time to start trashing everything we don’t want to keep for our next move. I’m hoping to get rid of a lot of old computer parts, toys, and other stuff we have not even opened up since moving last time. Then we get to start packing!


We choose house #20

I knew it would not be very long after we got back from the honeymoon before we would start looking for our first house. We really wanted to get a house years ago but decided to wait until we were married.

Ever watch the TV show “House Hunters”? It’s a real estate show that follows home buyers and their agents around, with a constant commentary about their price range, preferences, etc… The show will only cover three houses (but we are convinced nobody just looks at three houses) and at the end before the last commercial break they recap and ask, “Which house will the couple choose?” For the past two weekends Robyn and I have been joking and filling in with our own commentary. We choose house #20.

When you mention to family and friends that you’re looking for a house, there’re always ready with helpful advice. I’d like to think we’ve tried to keep the advice in mind while we were house hunting. This was our second weekend of looking at houses. After the 9th house, we found a place that both Robyn and I are in love with. It’s well under what we are qualified for, but has all the features we wanted except for a ping pong room. We are trying not to get too excited in case it does not come together. If it does fall though I’m certain there are more houses out there we would like just as much.

It’s a detached single family home off of Duraleigh Road, a little bit bigger than our current apartment. It has 3 bedrooms, 2 & 1/2 baths, 2 car garage, large deck, and beautiful fenced in back yard. The kitchen has all the upgrades we would have installed if we went with new construction, and the deck just rocks. It will be perfect for grilling out and entertaining.

We talked to our apartment office and they will let us transfer the lease to Wendell, who will have to pick his own apartment. Well, it’s time to get started on some paperwork.


6/16/08 Update:
8:30 There is another bid for the property. Joy…

9:30 We increased our bid, waiting to hear back. Doesn’t sound good. We’re sad.

11:30 Will they ever call us back?? We want to know!

12:30 Yup, we lost it. Oh well.

6/23/08 Update:

I should have added this in sooner… a few days ago they came back and said we got the house after all because of a conflict with the closing date the other buyers wanted. So, we are now under contract! We close August 15.

Day 22: Shipping and Sushi

Today we had to ship out some of the goods we purchased. There were 2 large boxes to send home, and we did not feel like lugging them to the post office on a bus, so Hiro called the post office to come get them. The post office pickup guy was late coming to the apartment and then would not wait for Robyn to fill out the forms, telling us to have it ready in three hours. We ended up just lugging them to the post office anyways, and emailed Hiro to call off the next postman visit.

After sending the goodies home, we headed out for lunch at a sushi place we spied a couple nights. In the front of the restaurant is a large fish tank, full of lunch swimming around waiting to be prepared. There was also a fish tank on the inside with different fish. The salmon there was the best I’ve had yet. The other types were pretty good too, the fish tasted very fresh. It’s like the difference between eating the day’s catch when you visit the beach versus thawing out frozen fish and frying it yourself.

Sushi places are a little different than back home – there are no “special” rolls at all that I have seen. Just nigiri sushi, and a few roll type pieces. I do miss spicy tuna rolls – I have not found them in any of the sushi places we have eaten at so far. Although, the tekkamaki (tuna rolls) we had at lunch did have a fair amount of wasabi hidden inside, so they had a little kick.

We were really close to an arcade, so we stopped in for some more gaming before heading out to the “Relax” spa for our reflexology massages. We had to wait when we got there, and I was falling asleep in the lounge. When they took me back to the room and put the towel over my eyes it was really hard not to sleep. Once the girl started rubbing my feet it was lights out. I woke up a few times when she would really dig into the pressure points, and think I could hear Robyn snoring lightly in the room next to me. So we fully lived up to the namesake of the place, and relaxed.

Later on we walked back to one of the areas full of restaurants, and Robyn picked up lots of goodies on the way. We found a busy kaitenzushi place and decided it looked good enough to stop in for sushi – again. I was pretty tired and grumpy at this point, but a few pieces of shrimp, salmon, tuna, and a beer cheered me right up. We managed to stack up quite a few plates, but everyone around us had way more. The place reminded me of Sushi-Thai in Raleigh because it was kind of bargain sushi, but it was tastier and all-you-can-eat!