When it Pays to Shop


Black Friday and Cyber Monday are over and the packages have been appearing on our doorstep daily this week. I don’t shop a lot but some deals are just too good to pass up this time of the year. I’d never drive out to a store to fight over some trendy consumer product but I’m all about doing a bit of shopping from home. Continue Reading

Xeriscaping Continues


Fall is my favorite season… Last time we had AC on was back in August and we just fired up the gas furnace a couple of weeks ago. We usually get 4 months per year where HVAC sits switched off. If we need to cool down the house we use box fans. If it gets cold we open all the curtains to passively heat with the sun. Sometimes I fantasize about living in a place like San Diego where the weather is always perfect. Although I bet plenty of people in San Diego still run the AC. We have neighbors that never open their windows too, which never ceases to amaze me when we are out on a perfect day. Continue Reading

The Perception of Old


If you’re serious about getting ahead financially you probably don’t want to be driving a new car. Most self-made millionaires, the ones that had to work for their money, drive older cars. It’s common knowledge yet most people prefer a short-term thrill of buying a new car over a long-term reward of becoming financially independent. Where I live, the majority of cars on the road look like they just came off a showroom floor. Sure, you see cars from the 90’s and the early 2000’s but it seems that they are a minority nowadays. Continue Reading

MAXI Cooper – First Steps


From time to time I’d browse the local Craigslist ads to see if I can find a cheap pickup truck for sale. Not the Tundra-RAM-1500-F150-king-cab monstrosities clogging the American roads but those smaller Tacoma-Ranger-Frontier varieties from the early 2000’s. Something with a 4-cylinder engine and as simple and as economical as pickups get. I was thinking that I should be able to find a small pickup truck with under 100K miles in good condition for around $5,000. Turns out that’s not really possible based on all the ads I’ve seen. Continue Reading

What a Ruckus


“What are you gonna do with this thing?” asked my wife.  A valid question indeed.  One freezing day in January a Honda Ruckus moped was dropped off in my driveway as a result of a $900 Craigslist transaction that took place earlier that morning. A 2009 model with 4,160 miles and a tendency to stall after a few minutes of riding. It looked like a kids toy next to my Honda Nighthawk motorcycle. A bug-eyed chihuahua to your German shepherd if you will. Continue Reading

Fun and Savings on Two Wheels


Some of my earliest childhood memories flashback to the time spent at my grandparent’s house in a small village within a 2-hour ride from a big city where my family lived. My parents would drop me off in June and pick me up in late August. They would visit on weekends, but most of the time I’d be left alone to do whatever it is that kids used to do before Internet. My grandmother had a small “farm” with some livestock, fruits and vegetables. I’d be expected to help which meant sneaking a few strawberries without getting caught, at least in my mind. Continue Reading

On STUFF and Costco’s Return Policy


Picture of how the dining room looked like before we bought the house… Our Costco set was even bigger!

Stuff expands to fill available space. You live in an apartment and yearn for a bigger place. You get a house but after a couple of years it feels cramped. You upgrade to a bigger house and find that while certainly more spacious than the apartment or the starter home, somehow every room is filled to capacity again. Our family is a good example of this paradox. Continue Reading

Diagnosing RPM Idle Issues in a MINI Cooper


Back in 2012 I bought a 2009 MINI Cooper hatchback to replace the aging 2004 BMW 330i ZHP that was rapidly approaching the point where a bunch of expensive work would be needed on a regular basis. Bimmer was a wonderful performance car but at 130K miles it was definitely a liability. I wanted to replace it with something sporty yet “frugal” and after multiple test drives of different makes and models I decided on an R56 MINI Cooper with a naturally aspirated non-turbo N12 engine and a 6-speed manual transmission. If you search for “MINI Cooper problems” you will find enough to run the other way. However, if you do a bit of digging you’ll find that most issues discussed ad nauseam on various forums are mostly for a Cooper S i.e. turbo engine. Since I wanted something reasonably reliable and easy to DIY, I decided to go with a base model known as “Justa” as in “Just a Cooper”. After 4 years of ownership the car proved to be as reliable as a Toyota Corolla…until now. Continue Reading

7 Days Across Panama on a Motorcycle – Part 7

This is a final installment in a series about a motorcycle trip that my friend and I took in January of 2016. Here is Part 1.


Day 7

Staying up till 2AM and then trying to catch a 6AM boat ride back to mainland sucks. Hungover and half-asleep we managed to get to the water taxi station on time. Thirty minutes later we were greeted by our rottweiler lady friend, paid for parking and started packing our bikes for a long trip back to Panama City. The rain started coming down pretty hard and it wouldn’t stop until we made it to the other side of the mountains. Continue Reading

7 Days Across Panama on a Motorcycle – Part 6

This is a sixth installment in a series about a motorcycle trip that my friend and I took in January of 2016. Here is Part 1.


Day 6

Today is our last day before we begin the return ride to Panama City so we decided to take it easy again and do some sightseeing. Bocas del Toro has a lot of small islands and the best way to explore is by doing a boat tour. All you have to do is walk down to the water taxi area and you’ll find chalkboards advertising different tours. Or you can have a hotel or a hostel make the reservations. Continue Reading