Sunday, June 26, 2005

Still Alive, Still no AC

Well vehicle searching, class work, and a project implementation at work have prevented me from doing much of significance this week. I appreciate all the hints and tips on the vehicles. We almost bought a couple used Highlanders, but to no avail. At this point, the leaders are the Toyota Highlander, Mitsubishi Outlander, or Mazda Tribute. However, I did stop and look at a bunch of Subaru and VW wagons today, and there's still a chance a standard car or 4-cylinder "cute ute" will come back in the running. Overall, I've determined that I really hate all the uncertainty, haggling and badmouthing that comes along with the entire process.

This purchase is an interesting conflict between my heart and my head. In my heart, I really want the profits from any vehicle I purchase to benefit an American corporation. In my head, I keep finding all the features I want on the foreign cars (ie high reliability/resale, good gas mileage and roomy interior). Of course, you can also look at all those employeed by foreign automakers here in the US, such as the Mitsubishi plant in Normal, and make a case for buying those products and supporting those workers as well.

I supposed I can attribute all the car-buying confusion to living in such a high-tech age and having perhaps TOO much information at my fingertips. It's either that or extreme caution about a purchasing decision after spending 8 years with a Dodge Intrepid with a sound engine/tranny but constant disappointment with almost everything else on the vehicle. :)

Friday, June 17, 2005

Auto Advice?

Sadly Illinigirl's vehicle is nearing its final days. The AC/air circulation system has kicked the bucket, and the repair is worth about 70% of Edmunds True Market Value of the car. I'm looking for something in the compact wagon to smallish SUV range - Vibe, Matrix, RAV4, Highlander, Equinox, Freestyle, Escape, Tribute, Mazda 3/6 wagons, Outlander, and Magnum are all contenders. We need cargo room.

Haven't done this whole purchasing a new vehicle thing before, and the thought of shopping on top of work/school is stressing me out a bit. I've got the newest Consumer Reports Auto issue, but otherwise no direction on the matter.

Central Illinois readers -- any dealerships to avoid in the Decatur, Peoria, Springfield, Bloomington, Champaign area? Any you recommend? Any dealerships worth driving up to Chicago for? All tips appreciated.
Free Katie!

Regular readers of the blog and longtime friends of Illinigirl will recall that my favorite television show was once Dawsons Creek. Now I'd like to say it was because I was young and impressionable, but I can still watch the reruns today and enjoy them I can't pass it off as that. Pass it off as a love of teenybopper TV (which has now resurfaced in guilty addictions to Everwood and One Tree Hill), pass it off as an adolescent crush on Joshua Jackson's mug, pass it off as what you will.

You can't pass it off as an admiration of Katie Holmes though. Something about this Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes thing though, it really just grosses me out. Best of luck to them if it's really sincere, but how many people get engaged on at sunrise at the Eiffel Tower and announce it at a news conference just a few hours later? Or spend their entire life as a practicing Catholic but toss it out the window for Scientology six to eight weeks after meeting a new beau? Or sit there and deny that it hasn't crossed their minds that this man is 16 years old than they are, that he has stepchildren half your age, and you don't find that weird at all? Now the rags are reporting this creepy bit that she was at she was his fifth choice for the role behind Scarlett, Lindsay, Jessica, and Kate Boswoth.

Count me among the doubters. The whole business just strikes me as very conveniently timed and staged for public consumption, and I'm sick of hearing about TomKat as the gossip pages call it. Of course, I have just wasted 10 minutes of my life posting about I'm probably part of the problem. But I still think the Free Katie t-shirts are funny. Just what my mind wanders to when it's trying to avoid serious thought I suppose.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Celebrity Sports Columnist Alert

Now I know this pretty far from a post of substance, but college basketball groupies like myself will probably get a kick out of Nick Lachey, Sport Journalist and his defense of Bob Huggins in the Cincinnati Enquirer a couple weeks ago. I particularly dig the byline "Nick Lachey co-starred on MTV'S "Newlyweds," and he is a former 98 Degrees band member". But I'm stressed out and easily amused at the moment, so don't mind me! :)

Of course, this is girl that ran all over the RCA Dome trying to get a good shot of the world's biggest Bearcats fan. It was for my little sister though, really! Seriously, I know it's not imporant in the grand scheme of things but it's a good thing I don't live in Los Angeles, or I'd be carring along my digital camera looking for "Stars, They're Just Like Us!" candids to sell to US Weekly.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Bad for Dee, Good for We (Illini Fans)

IowaWineGuy has already blogged on the big news of the day here: Dee Brown in all likelihood will be returning to the Illini basketball team next year due to a broken fifth metatarsal in his right foot per the scoop from Andy Katz today.

I am sorry for Dee, because it sounds like he'd been working his butt off to have a shot at a late first or second-round pick. However, I tend to think that the big guy upstairs has a way of making these decisions for you sometimes. Perhaps Dee is destined to return and lead the Illini next year, make a solid run of things int he Big Ten, help the next-generation Illini establish their chemistry together. Maybe he's meant to return and lure Brandon Rush to Champaign. Maybe he's meant to excel next year and go in the first round...guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Either way the thought of Dee back in an orange jersey and on the court with Augie next year, it made my pulse race a bit. This basketball junkie can't wait until November!

Monday, June 06, 2005

Quarterlife questionings

So I was lucky enough to have a short visit with my good friend Iowa WineGuy over the weekend (and his wife and adorable baby boy). Along with another good friend of ours, we had some interesting discussions on where our lives have gone in the almost 10 years (?!?) since we graduated from high school.

Alas, I am not lost at sea after my all too-short cruising vacation, I'm merely swamped. When you graduate from college initially, you think there are all sorts of options. Work forever, quit in a few years and go back to school full time, keep working and go to school part-time. I think I realized all those choices when I graduated, but my renaissance-man curiosity kept me from deciding on a field in which I wanted to seek higher education...whether it was artificial intelligence or computer science or logistics or business or I/O psych or possibly even law. And so I headed into the working world and figured I'd go back to school later.

Today's my five-year anniversary at my job dear readers. Somehow that's hitting me a lot harder than turning 25 (hang in there Meredith!) or turning 27 even did. I guess I'm just not where I envisioned I would be after 5 years working. Don't get me wrong -- I do love my job most of the time. The documentation angle of being in technology may drive me crazy, but it's challenging, problem-solving work that I think I do pretty well. It's just the slowness of projects progressing and the lack of appreciation or understanding by "higher-ups" that sometimes gets to me.

Which brings me to school and the fact that my MBA classes are completely the opposite -- projects progressing too quickly, interesting subject matter but a complete lack of time dig into it all. I really feel that I may have a knack for this (which would make sense given that I was raised by two-generations of small-business owners), but I lack the time to knock assignments out of the park. Then there's my husband that I don't get any quality time with and feel like I may be short-changing. The devotions I've hardly had time for and the prayers I fall asleep saying. The friends I've been neglecting and that parties that I haven't been hosting or attending. The interesting topics that I haven't had time to research and the blog debates I haven't the time to begin.

No real point to this post folks, other than to point out that everyone experiences a "quarterlife crisis" of some sort these days. If you ask me, it has something to do with ALL the choices we face. Women in particular have so many more opportunities than we did thirty-years ago, but we also have so many more difficult choices to make. Should we go to graduate school or work? If we do both, will we be able to balance it well? When's the best time to get married? After we have kids, should we keep working and if so how much? What kind of impact will this have on our family's financial future if we don't work? What effects will it have on our kids, both positive and negative, if we do?

There have been a lot of books written on the subject lately that I believe hold some insight...such as The Two-Income Trap or the Quarterlife Crisis books themselves. But ultimately I think we all really have to search for these answers individually and find what works for us on a personal level...and the way we answer these questions may change over time.

As for myself, I'm struggling to find that balance on a personal level at the the blog has been neglected a bit. For that I apologize, because I really do enjoy the discourse and interaction that I get from my friends and perfect strangers who enjoy my writings. Despite all my complaining, I do feel blessed to be living the life that I have, even though I struggle with it at times. Thanks for stopping by and I hope to be back in a more frequent and thorough mode soon.