What I Want to Drive

This is currently the object of my lust:

Alright, it isn’t so much the object of my lust as the vehicle I am now looking closely at as possibly being our next automobile purchase. The above is a picture of a 2009 Subaru Forester, and it is what I would like my wife to be driving right now.

However, she is driving a 2005 Ford Freestar instead. While the Freestar has served us well, we are now at a different spot in our lives than we were when we picked up our van. Truth be told, the van has been invaluable as we will have moved five times since we purchased it. The ability to put down the rear seat and have just a cargo area has proven to be invaluable during those moves. There are two weaknesses that currently remain.

One is fuel economy. At 22 mpg on the highway, it is a far way from the 32 mpg that we were able to attain with our 2002 Ford Focus we originally had at the beginning of our marriage (and even farther away from the 40 mpg I can get with my 1996 Toyota Corolla … still running strong). The Forester would afford us 27 mpg on the highway, which is huge when we fully expect to travel back and forth between Milwaukee and New Ulm often.

The second weakness is one of winter driving. With another child on the way (July!), next winter we will have two kids and my wife taking care of them. The van is not the best vehicle for winter driving, being FWD and rather large and bulky, and the AWD that the Forester has would help in that regard. It would go a long way in giving me a quieter mind during the winter months knowing that my wife has a decent winter vehicle to drive in.

Besides those two, the thing just looks good! It’s not overly ornate and has a minimal amount of fuss about it (which I like).

This is a long-term goal for me as I need to do a lot more research and wait for the right vehicle to present itself (along with working with the bank again). As such, hopefully we will have a new vehicle come October 2011, two years into our Great Van Experiment.

Life Without Laptop

A while ago, back in September 2010, I made the decision to try and go without a laptop for myself. The reasons behind the decision were many and valid, not least of which being the fact that my job at the time did not require me to do any programming work at all and if it did I would not have been able to use my own machine anyway.

Now, almost four months later, I am regretting the decision to not keep a laptop of my own. It is not because of some lack in the iPad for any reason, but more for what limits I have now that I do not have a personal laptop.

Two things limit me the most:

  • lack of a mobile development platform
  • lack of a machine that I can personalize to my own taste and experiment on

Currently I am able to use our Mac Mini for any programming work that I need to accomplish. However, the limit there is that the Mini is also used by my wife for our family’s computer needs, including pictures and documents. As such, I dare not do anything too crazy so that I might not lost any information that is important to us.

With my own development laptop, I was free to mess up the OS installation as much as needed in order to experiment with things. With both my Thinkpad X40 and my 13″ MacBook Pro, I had become quite adept and reinstalling the OS and getting the system up and running as quickly as possible. This meant keeping my changes to a minimum and using system defaults as often as possible (along with backing up configuration files I might need). Usually this meant that, at worst, I would be down a day before I was back up and running.

That’s not a possibility right now and it is limiting.

So, I’m hoping to get something to use as a development laptop within the next couple of moths. Just to be clear, a development laptop, for me, is something that runs either Mac OS X or some flavor of Linux. For what I want to do, I need a POSIX environment of some sort or I get crabby.

So, while I would not consider the experiment a failure (the iPad gets a lot more use than any other computer device in the house), I would consider my needs to have changed since I had originally thought through things. As such, a course correction is needed and will be taken.

Any advice on laptops I should be looking for are appreciated. Leave them in the comments!

Advice to Home Buyers

If I was going to give any advice to home buyers, it would be to spend the extra time and money and get an inspection done. There are a number of reasons, but here are the main ones:

  • gives you confidence in the house you are purchasing
  • can uncover some things you might not have been aware of

In our case it did both! We could not have been happier with both the inspector and how the inspection went. We knew going in that the house was going to need some general work and maintenance (part of buying a 100 year-old house), but we also uncovered old wiring in the attic that needs to be taken care of. Because we spent the money we are getting that done and will be safer for it.

I think that is the definition of a win-win scenario.

Housing Update

Probably time for me to update everyone on our housing situation once again. As many already know, we have been looking for a house and working with the bank to get financing at the same time. Our student loans were the blocking point for the financing for a while even though we had found a house both my wife and I liked and wanted to put an offer in on.

Well, last Friday we received notification that we had been approved for a mortgage. Sadly, it was for less than we were hoping (see above comment about student loans) but we decided to go ahead and put in an offer anyway just to see what would happen and because we wanted to move things ahead and quickly as possible.

We have had a wonderful realtor working with us through the buying process and she was able to get us in today (Saturday) to walk us through the offer process and get our first offer in. It was a 2 1/2 hour process mainly because I can’t stop talking when working with people (I need to apologize to my coworkers again for that), but we put in our offer right before 5pm on Saturday.

Lo and behold, we found out that our offer was accepted later that night! To say that we are excited would be a gross understatement. We both are still in a state of shock, but we could not be happier at the moment. The whole process has been great so far, with both our mortgage officer and realtor willing to work with us through any road blocks or issues we might come up against.

Now we just forge ahead with all of the stuff that needs to get done before closing in a little over a month. We are quietly hoping that we will be able to move that closing date closer to the beginning of February, but that will be contingent on how quickly we can get things done on our end and if we can work that out with the seller. All of that aside, we are on our way to owning our first place and once again having a home of our own!

I’ll make sure to toss up a picture in the future once we are farther along in the process. Until then: does anyone have a snowblower for sale?

Welcome to the new Working Passively!

It seems that you always need some sort of introductory post to a new blog, and this is my third such blog, so I’ll go ahead and keep it as brief as possible.

First, the reasoning behind the change back to WordPress. It really comes down to two things: Tumblr’s recent outages and the fact that I was already paying for a cloud server from Rackspace (I’ve been really happy with them). That was enough to bring about the change. I still have access to my Tumblr blog at http://tumblr.bobmartens.net and I will be keeping that up indefinitely or at least until I find the time to transfer over my stuff from there to here.

Second, and maybe most important, is what this place is going to hopefully become. Honestly, I don’t really know. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to get back into writing some more, but it is hard to say how much time I will really have. Until then, expect some changes here as time permits, but don’t expect too many or for them to happen too often.

That’s about it at the moment. Thanks!