Headed to Bako

Charlene and I are headed to Bakersfield this weekend for my friend, Shellie’s wedding. I’ve known Shellie since 8th grade, so it’s kinda crazy to think about her getting married. Her parents told me that they love her fiance, Brad, and that he’s a great guy. Shellie deserves a great guy, so I’m really happy for her.

I also can’t wait until the wedding tomorrow so I can introduce Charlene to all my church friends who haven’t met her yet.

Windows 7 a Disappointment?

I read an article over at Ars Technica about Windows 7 the other day. Honestly, it sounds like a disappointment to me. I recognize they still have a couple of years to go (it’s not scheduled to be released until 2010), but if the latest and greatest feature of Windows 7 is multi-touch, we’re in for some serious disappointment. I mean, what happened to WinFS? The much lauded new File System that was supposed to arrive with Vista (Longhorn). They’ve got an extra 3 years, and they still can’t get it out the door? What’s the deal?

I guess this is why I don’t own MSFT stock.

E*Trade Max-Rate Checking

I don’t know about you, but in times of uncertain financial environments, capital preservation becomes one of my top priorities. Interest rates on checking and savings are pretty much in the toilet. I’m earning nothing on my Bank of America Checking, and something like a measly 0.5% on my savings. So I was ecstatic to find that E*Trade Financial has a Max-Rate Checking account with a whopping 3.25% interest rate. That’s even more than their Max-Rate Savings, which is still earning a pretty amazing 3.15%.

Other than the fabulous interest rate, there are some other pretty nifty features:

  • Online bill pay that is free and unlimited
  • Free Debit card
  • Unlimited ATM fee refunds. In other words, I can go withdraw from other ATMs, and E*Trade will refund any associated fees.
  • Free Quick Transfer to and from any of my other accounts, including my B of A account.

I will say that the one downside to the Quick Transfer feature is that it’s not exactly Quick. I’m not sure who got to define it, but “quick” in this case means about 4 business days. I’d say that’s rather slow, but at least it’s free.

If you’re looking for a great interest rate on a checking account, this is the highest one I’ve found to-date.


It’s pretty amazing what you can do with digital photography these days. Kodak Gallery has a great Photo Book you can create with pre-built templates and your own uploaded photographs. Charlene made me one a while back for our anniversary. They’re pretty neat, but they do depend on pretty good quality photos to begin with. (That whole garbage in-garbage out concept.) But this post isn’t about the Kodak Gallery, it’s about one of their competitors, Mpix.com. They bill themselves as “The professional online digital imaging lab for both the professional photographer and the advanced amateur.” And I’ve gotta admit, they have some pretty cool products. As with Kodak, you can get photo books, either hard or soft cover. The price is comparable. But they have some really cool, unique products as well, like Gallery Wraps, which are basically pictures which have been printed out on canvas, and then stretched around the frame just like a real painting. A few others that caught my eye were the custom Tickets, and the Standouts.

It seems like they have some really great products that could make great gifts. With all the photos I’ve been taking lately, I think I might be placing some orders soon…

Return of the Knives

I picked up my knives this afternoon, brought them home, and was immediately compelled to try them out. All I can say is WOW! They’re sharp!

I had some bell-peppers in the fridge, so I pulled one out and tried to chop it. Both my Santoku and my cleaver were so sharp that they basically slid through the bell pepper by their own weight. I barely had to press down at all. It’s amazing!

That was totally worth the $15 I spent today. From now on, I’m having my knives professionally sharpened at least every 6 months.

Oh yeah, when I asked Eden (sp?) the manager the best way to keep my knives sharp now, he said that I needed to use a honing steel. Not having one of my own, I bought one from him. Excellent, now my knives will stay sharp between semi-annual sharpenings…

Adventures in Knife Sharpening

I’ve got two knives that I really use a lot: a relatively cheap Santoku I bought from Mervyns on sale last year, and a Henckels cleaver I got from my mom as a gift during my sophomore year in college when I had to start cooking on my own.

Unfortunately, in all the time I’ve had them, I’ve never had them sharpened. After watching as much Alton Brown as I have lately, I concluded that my knives are nowhere near as sharp as they could or should be. So I set out to find a place that would do it.

My first brilliant idea was to call Bed Bath and Beyond to see if they do it. They don’t. I called them, and they were pretty much useless. The people on the phone had no idea who might even do that around here. They actually tried to sell me a knife sharpener instead. And as we all know from watching this episode of Good Eats and this video on Google Video, knife sharpeners aren’t really sharpeners, they’re knife honers. True knife sharpening is best left to the pros. The closest they came to giving me helpful advice was to look on Google. Not exactly what I was looking for in their customer service, but it’s what I ended up doing.

I wasn’t really near my computer at the time, so I decided to try GOOG-411, the free 411 service from everyone’s favorite search engine. I did a search for “cutlery” near Mountain View. The first few results weren’t helpful at all, but there was one that caught my attention, it was the Williams Cutlery Company in Palo Alto. I figured that sounded about right, so I was connected to them. The guy on the phone (incidentally the manager, Eden (sp?)) told me that they could do both knives for about $15, and they would be done tomorrow afternoon.

I rushed to get over there before they closed for the evening. It’ll cost me $15 on delivery as promised, and they should be done tomorrow by 2. Now I’m eagerly awaiting their return…