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Yesterday, I traded my ’94 Honda Civic (238K miles and in pretty rough shape), for a far shinier ’85 Honda Civic Wagon with only 143k miles.

The one I got seems to be in pretty good shape, except for the fact that it overheated the first day — so the jury’s still out.

I love the five door convenience.  Great for carrying around boxes of Coffee News.

It also sits higher, so it’s much easier on my knees while doing deliveries — which I do a lot.

There are always a few surprises with a used car.

For example, this morning, I drove it to a mechanic to have the air-conditioning converted and the overheating checked out.

When I pulled down the sun visor, down dropped a condom.

And not just any condom, but a Magnum Large Size.

Perhaps this new car has overheated in more ways than one!

In any case, I hope the coolant, or perhaps a radiator flush, does the trick.  If it’s got a blown head gasket (which I don’t think is the case), I’ll be disappointed.

my old 94 honda
my new 85 Honda
Magnum Large Size Condom

Broken. Need new pair.

the sandals -- top view

When I walked in, he didn’t even look up.

A few seconds passed, and the kindly Chinese gentleman in the shoe repair shop rose from his bench and meandered through the tiny, ultra-crowded shop.

He stood in front of me and waited.

I gave him one of my sandals and showed him the broken buckle and the worn out bottoms.

He answered quickly.  Apparently, for him, it didn’t require a lot of thought.

“Broken.  Need new pair.”

Being the kind of person who sometimes needs to hear things more than once, I asked again, just to make sure.

“You can’t fix these?” I asked.

He handed me the shoe.

“Broken.  Need new pair,” he said.

“Thank you,” I said.

He returned to his bench, in order to continue working on a pair of shoes that apparently were worth his effort and skill.

I remember, as a child, visiting that shop, in the first block of East Innes Street, in downtown Salisbury — located sort of in the basement of a building on “the square.”

My father, or grandmother, sent me there a few times, in order to drop off or pick-up a pair of shoes.

Our family’s department store sold a lot of shoes, and I suppose we used that shop’s service for customers who bought high quality shoes that needed new soles.

Other than this pair of sandals, I pretty much wear tennis shoes all the time — and I wear them forever, until they are completely, 100% gone, before breaking down and buying a new pair — so I really can’t relate to getting shoes fixed.

But I wonder how long that shop has been there and who has owned it over the years.  How long has this man been there?  Has it changed owners many times?  Is it a family business, passed down a couple of generations?  Could that same man have been there last time I was there, when I was a kid?  It doesn’t seem like the store has changed at all.

I’m sort of curious and don’t mind, usually, asking questions such as this.  But I dare not ask this man.  He’s busy, with broken shoes everywhere.  His work is tedious and continuous.  He doesn’t seem like the type of guy who would waste away his time shooting the bull in English with a guy like me.

the broken buckle

That buckle broke about two weeks ago.

I knew it was a long shot.

I’m thinking I’ve had those sandals at least ten years.  I remember getting an incredible deal.  I think they cost $12.  It was a mismatch.  One was size ten, the other ten and a half.

I’ve worn them almost every day around the house, and often out of the house.  I wore them to work, on teacher work days.  I’ve worn them to bars.  I’ve worn them in the mountains and on the beach.  I’ve drenched them in ocean water and beach sand — and stepped in, and scraped off, and scrubbed off, dog poop.  Several times.

I’ve looked around town at a few shoe stores already.  In February, there aren’t many to be found.  The ones I’ve seen, I don’t like.  They don’t have tire treads on the bottoms.  They don’t have good arch support.  And they’ve got too many straps.  They’ve got straps on the back, which may require sitting down or bending over in order to take them on or off.  There’s just too much sandal on the sandals.  And they’re way too expensive.

On the internet, I’ve seen sandals that look just like mine, but they’re over a hundred dollars!

Thus begins my quest for a pair of sandals.

the bottom of the sandals

2009 goals. 2010 goals.

Today is the last day of the year.

My resolution for 2009 was to walk 10,000 steps per day, each day of the year.

I’m happy to report that I did this.

There were a few days that fell short, usually by just a few steps.  But I always made up the difference the next day.

Once, I was tired and accidentally fell asleep and came up 4,000 steps short.  The next day, I walked 14,000 steps.

A couple of times, my odometer pressed too hard against the other stuff in my pocket and reset itself.  This happened late in the day when I had over half the steps complete. Because the goal of 10k steps per day has become such an obsession, I went ahead and walked the extra steps until the device hit 10k.

There was also the day my odometer battery died and I was too far along to start over.  I did some estimating that day and feel confident I was over the required number.

It’s interesting how I developed a real sense for how many steps I had walked.  When I check my pedometer, I’m never surprised.  I can almost always get within a few hundred steps of how far I’ve walked that day.

I developed a sore toe about two or three weeks into the year (last January).  Almost one year later, it’s still a little sore, but improving.  I rarely notice it.

I did have to get a new pair of shoes in July, for my birthday.  Probably will do so again in the next couple of months.

Next year, I plan to keep the same goal.

Problem is, I didn’t take time to stretch and, with all that walking, had a few creaky days wherein I did not feel so young.

I’ve always loved yoga.  Started when I was 19 years old, as a sophomore in college, where I took a class in a wonderful studio in Reynolda Village in Winston-Salem.  But with all the walking this year, I neglected taking the time for yoga.

So this year I’m adding daily yoga in 2010 to the New Years Resolution.  This goal comes with some qualification.  In order to make it count as a daily practice,  I won’t ask myself to do a full routine — 30 to 90 minutes — if things are too busy.   I’ll do ten minutes and call it yoga.  I started this a week ago and it works out well.  Ten minutes is not ideal, but it still makes a huge difference.  When time allows, I’ll practice longer.

As for today, the last day of the year — time for a walk.

Our mailbox: out with the old, in with the new

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old mailbox
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old mailbox

How long should a mailbox last?

Seems to me that it should last as long as the house — but ours didn’t.

This mailbox lasted 22 years.  I installed it when we first moved in our house, on Thanksgiving day, 1987.

It became a much weaker mailbox about ten years ago, when a car removed it after a light snow.

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old and new, side by side

Somebody (obviously not much of a snow driver) had put on the brakes, slid off the road, hit our mailbox, and continued pushing it down the street another hundred yards or so.

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the post, remove

We didn’t see it happen, but we found the mailbox at the bottom of the street, in the middle of the intersection.  The car’s tracks told the story.

I put it back in the ground, and for the past ten years or so, we’ve had a wobbly but functional mailbox.

I can’t remember when the numbers faded, but they haven’t been visible for many years.

Then, last week, my daughter — who got her drivers license a week ago — backed into it.  That pretty much broke it.

My wife propped it up for a few more days with rocks, barely — until I had time, over the weekend, to get a new mailbox.

Looks nice, eh?

I put it a few feet in from the driveway — so even a really bad, drunk driver — should be able to back out of our driveway without hitting it.

Our new mailbox.  A metaphor for…what?

Maybe we’ll get another 22 years out of this one.  I hope so.

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our new mailbox

New Facebook? Old Facebook?

Lately, I’ve been busy. Haven’t had a lot of time for Facebook.

However, when I do check in, on occasion, I see this a lot:

“If you don’t like the new FB, here is how you can change it back to the old. Look to the left menu and click…… on MORE. Then drag STATUS UPDATES to the top. After dragging to top, click on it. That becomes your default and it is like before!”

There’s also a group with over a million users, on Facebook of course, that’s protesting the change.

I admit, I can’t see a lot of difference between any of the options, although I know there are significant differences — were I to pay attention to the details. I just like to see what folks are saying.  I want to see “what’s new,” and all the various options seem to offer that.

I tried changing back to the “old Facebook”, and here’s something I noticed:

Quoting myself, here: “If you change back to the old Facebook and quit the browser or close the window, then you’ll have the new Facebook again when you return.”

In fact, there is no old or new Facebook. There are just a few more options within the interface. Apparently, Facebook prefers that we use it that way. For now.

Presumably, the new options make it better. The revenue comes from advertising. When more people spend more time using Facebook, the better for Facebook. They probably appreciate the feedback, but it’s doubtful they want to make the service worse. I know geniuses make mistakes too, but I sort of trust that any change they make will be for the better.

Why do I trust this…uh, giant social network creation?

Well, they started from nothing and now have over 200 million users — so they probably have some really good minds doing a lot of thinking about this.

Generally, I don’t trust big things like Bank of America and AT&T — the giants that are constantly reaching their big greedy hands into my tiny little pockets. But when it comes to Google and Facebook — the free services that are pretty darn nifty, I sort of trust them. They can do anything they want. We’re not under contract. We don’t have to use them. So they spend a lot of their time trying to make these services better, so we continue to use them, and use them even more.

But think about it. New Facebook? Old Facebook?

I remember a sermon once in which Rabbi Gerber said that the only thing in life that’s certain is change.

Like life itself, “New” is the essence of Facebook. The whole service is based on WHAT’S NEW? New, newer, newest! New 24/7.

Like Google, Facebook has even changed the way we behave.  And the way we think.  It’s hard to say exactly how because it’s too new.

And, like Google, Facebook will always will be very, very new, until…something comes along and replaces it. Something more new.

Two things I avoid: haircuts and new shoes

Two things I avoid: haircuts and new shoes.

Today I got a new pair of shoes.

I’ve had this pair for about a year and a half. Wore them every day for a year, until they were completely worn out.

old shoes
old shoes

Then, in January — I got a new pair. I wore those everyday, walking a minimum of 10,000 steps a day.

About a month ago, this old worn out pair started looking newer than the January pair on my feet (these are better quality; I only paid $14 for the January pair) — so I went back to this pair again.

Today, with sore feet that were crying for more support and padding, I sprung for the new ones — vowing not to go this long again.

There are certainly many more things I avoid. Shoes and haircuts happen to the be ones that come to mind.

new shoes
new shoes

I’m pretty sure I’ve been this way my whole life, even though my father was in the shoe business and I didn’t have to pay for them when I was growing up. There’s probably a psychological connection there somewhere.

Both pair pictured here are New Balance.  I like New Balance because they come in wide widths, they’re reasonably priced, and they’re good shoes.

I used to like the fact that they were manufactured in America. The company website still gives the impression that they are made in this country.

They’re not. The label inside clearly says Made in China.

Nothing lasts forever.  Not shoes.  And not the domestic manufacturing of a shoe that seemed, for years, to defy the market’s pressure for cheap, Asian labor.

I don’t know where the $14 shoes were made, but they weren’t bad at all, really — especially for that price.

In this economy, it’s nice to buy local when possible.

There’s nothing more local than a haircut.  Don’t know why I avoid those.