Thursday, December 07, 2006

Just dropping by...

Yeah, I'm still kicking. Just been busy over the last couple weeks. Actually earning my paycheck during the day and spending time with the family (and my pillow) at home.

What's new with me? Well, my daughter and I walked in on a holdup, and my poor 8 months pregnant wife was already in the store. Nobody needs that shit. My daughter and I walked into the store just as this asshole pulled his gun out on the cashier—chaos ensues. Fortunately, we were able to back out the door moments later and escape to the parking lot, where my daughter was treated to the sight of the police also brandishing their weapons. Meanwhile (and unbeknownst to me at the time) Mrs. Furious was able to escape out the back of the store with a few other customers through the stock rooom, and she then had a panic-fueled run around the back of the plaza to try and catch us at the video store before we went to the supermarket to meet her. Of course had already left and were now huddling between cars in the parking lot (my wife had the keys). For a brief moment we each imagined the other trapped in the store with the gunman, when in fact we had all escaped. A passerby alerted my wife that we might be in the parking lot and we were reunited moments later. Since our car was directly in front of the store in the "expectant mom" spot, we were relegated to the coffee shop around the corner until the episode was over—all the while imagining "The Nine"-style standoffs, and hostage situations. In reality, the robber fled on foot (probably seconds behind me as I left the store), and was not apprehended.

Nightmare. My wife (and the baby) have had about as stressful a pregnancy as can be endured. A car accident, our daughter having two ambulance trips to the hospital, and now fucking shopping at the OK Corral. Sweet fucking Jesus.

On a much more positive note, we are currently mulling two major purchases. A serious digital SLR camera to replace our old POS* Olympus before the new baby arrives, it's down to the Nikon D200 or D80, and Canon D30 or Rebel XTi. I foolishly bought a Nikon 35mm SLR when Ruby was born, and now I have a drawer full of film yet to be developed... Time to take the plunge.

And it is finally time—I am retiring the Furymobile. I am looking used, a few years old, and maxing out the safety (about to double down on the Babies on Board). Unfortunately, I'm a Euro-snob, and/or have no interest in any of the current entry level new cars. And contrary to the advice I gave John Cole, I am at this point leaning European.

Current front-runners are 2001-'02-era Volvo S60 and V70, and VW Passats and slightly older Subaru Outbacks. I'm also a fan of the Pontiac Vibe and Mazda3 and Mazda6, but almost none of them have the optional side airbags...Why that shit isn't standard equipment is beyond me. If you're going to engineer that into a car, just make it standard. Inexcuseable. The American manufacturers are finally learning that lesson, but the only American sedans I like enough to buy (Ford Fusion, Saturn Aura and Pontiac G6) and have the full array of airbags but new (and used) are still out of my price range.

At this point anything will be an improvement over my current car—leaking moonroof, cracked windshield, crank windows, broken washer, a terminal condition regarding the radiator, a clutch about five feet deep... I refuse to put a dime into this thing—I won't even fill the tank for fear of it dying and me losing out on the gas.

So until I make those purchases, much of my time online will be spent on endless classified searches and trips to

NOTE: Anyone with pertinent opinion, info or expertise on these topics, I welcome the input. Also, anybody sprung for a CARFAX report before? Worth it?

*That's the technical term for obsolete.


S.W. Anderson said...

Man, that was a post and a half! What an adventure. I don't say that to be flip; it's something you'll tell your grandkids about someday.

I've been involved with cameras with some seriousness since the late 1950s. I can take a decent rangefinder or SLR with zero automation out and come back with satisfactory exposures from just about any lighting situation. That's because, in the days of relatively weak selenium cells, uncoupled meters and handheld meters, I learned to read light in terms of the film's light and spectral sensitivity. I learned that while working and sometimes living with an uncle who was an excellent commercial photographer.

My first digital was a Kodak DC20, I don't even know how many years ago.

My question, since you're facing major expenses with a new little one and a new/newer car is, are you sure you need to lay out the big bucks for a digital SLR? I know that if you open any of the photo mags, you get the impression you have to have one to be in the game. I know if you interact with camera snobs, they'll be ready to blow you off if you don't have one — a Canon or Nikon at that.

Having resisted automation and having looked on zoom lenses as mediocre compromises for so long, I never thought I'd say this, but the coming of digital cameras changed things in a big way. The truth is, unless you have the jack to play with or have a moneymaking need for a range of interchangeable lenses, you can do everything you need and want to do superbly with a good point-and-shoot. And, you can do it for a lot less money.

That means more money for prints. That means less of a loss if you drop the thing, one of the kids takes peanut-butter-and-jelly fingers to it or it gets stolen, God forbid.

It also means something you can hand your wife or one of the kids' grandmas without having them get the vapors over all the buttons and dials and gizmoes — although some, like the new Fuji S9100 and Canon S3IS are hard to tell from an SLR on that score.

You want a wideangle for shooting in tight indoor situations? The Kodak P880 has a top-quality zoom that starts at the equivalent of 24mm on a 35mm camera. (I just ordered one from an eBay dealer for $320 shipped and insured.) You want a long zoom? Others have very long zooms with image stabilization, to make them practical.

When you stop to think about it, digital point 'n' shoots are really SLRs. That LCD on the back really works, although I prefer to use an optical viewfinder unless the camera's on a tripod.

The big difference between a digital P&S and an SLR, besides price, is the ability to use interchangeable lenses. But with the zooms now available, the need for that capability is greatly lessened for most users.

When it comes to cars, we've been putting off getting a new one for various reasons for about four years. However, I do follow them in the paper and Consumer Reports somewhat, and talk to others. I have friends with Toyota Camrys and Honda Accords and Civics who all praise them to the skies. When my son needed dependable basic transportation three years ago, I steered him toward a well-cared-for 99 Saturn, and it has served him extremely well.

Hope this is all of some help. Good luck. Merry Christmas. And stop by Oh!pinion some time.

Mr Furious said...

Thanks. That was a comment and a half!

First, the camera. Problem is, I get to use a Canon EOS 30D at work, and my sister in law has one too. Going back to a point and shoot after having the response of an SLR is tough. Anybody who misses the shot waiting for the digital camera lag knows what I'm talking about. I don't doubt things have gotten better on that front, but still...

Plus, I already have my Nikon 35mm. I could get by with a body-only purchase right now by using my existing lens and accessories. For that reason I am leaning towards Nikon over the Canons. Nikons always had the rep for the best lens, but Canon has been out in front on the digital sensors...

I'm looking to really pick up photography as a hobby again, and an SLR offers the most flexibility for that. Adding a real flash, renting special lenses etc.

Good film processing is just too damn expensive now, and digital prints have really closed the gap.


And the car. I'll be blunt about my shallowness here. This will be the first nice car I have had in ten years. I know a Camry is the prudent choice, but they're just to damn vanilla. I really like the new ones, but they are out of my league. I could buy a Ford Focus that will do what I need, but I'm greedy. I want a better (read: cooler) car than that.

S.W. Anderson said...

We're agreed about the cost of good film processing, beyond snapshots. And a home darkroom is a money- and time sucker if there ever was one. ("Sheesh, more chemicals that have gone bad! More paper that's out of date. . . etc.")

As to car choice, I understand about wanting something cool. Especially if you've been nursing an old beater along for awhile. Been there and done that.

In the ones you mentioned, I think the Mazda 3 is especially cool. I like the styling/size combination. Haven't read anything specific about it, but they're very popular in my area.

Whatever you do, again, good luck.

Mike said...

Jeez, Furious. I was actually wondering a few days back what was keeping you from posting. I was hoping it was nothing with your daughter.

Luckily, it wasn't, but this is no sort of thing for a pregnant woman. Here's a smooth 9th month for your wife, your daughter . . . AND YOU!

As to the techie/gadgety stuff, I'm a NYer with no car, and we have a Canon digital camera we rarely use. It works fine, we just don't use it too often.

So I'll defer to Smitty there.

Anonymous said...

that sounds like the wrong kind of excitement!

As for the camera, knowing what kind of stereo equipment you have going unused in your basement, i would say just buy a $300 - $400 digital camera. It will do just about everything you need.

For the car, that's a conversation for the ages....

I like the Mazda 3, but i don't know how they hold up. I an guessing you are going to buy a 3 - 4 year old car with 40k - 60k miles. tough call, common sense says to go with the accord or camry. upkeep will be cheaper then volvo/audi. i do like the suburu, AWD is nice for your part of the world.
How about a nice hybrid :)

CNG via FLa

(Arrgh, i hate the word verification, i can't read the damn font!!)

Smitty said...

For what it's worth:

I don't actually know much about cameras. My camera-fu is weak. My stereo-, pocket-computer- and home improvement-fu is much stronger.

Car? Outback. I have a buddy who carts his kids around in the Outback. The rubber floormats? Priceless with puking kids. The gas mileage? More money with which to buy diapers.

As for the rest of your post: good b-jebus. I am glad the family is okay and glad that the trauma has not sparked worse physical repercussions. You are right: nobody needs that kind of shit. We've never met, but I am truly happy that everyone is okay.

ORF said...

I hear good things about Outbacks too. Altho recently someone told me it was popular with lesbians? I dunno.

Anyway, MF, that is a very wild story about your wife. The upside to her having had a stressful pregnancy is that baby will probably pop out like he's freaking Jimmy Buffett in Margaritaville just chillin and smoking a J. Seriously, he/she's gotten used to stress early on in life, so it's all good!

Now, to stay here!