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Category: finances

Help Please: 2022 AIDS/LifeCycle Fundraising

Years ago Mark Ferlatte told me about the AIDS/LifeCycle (Wikipedia) charity ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles to raise money for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the Los Angeles LGBT Center. Money raised by this event allows the two non-profits to provide free HIV/AIDS medical care, testing, and prevention services. Each rider in the event raises at least $3000, with the event raising over $220,000,000 since it began in 1993.

At 545 miles over seven days, riding everywhere from the Pacific Coast Highway to proper California mountains, this sounded like it a wonderfully fun way to see a new part of the country, really enjoy being outside, and most importantly raise money to directly help save lives. But, it always seemed like such a logistical challenge that fell into the back of my mind as a one-day-in-the-future goal.

Well, here we are, and 2022 is the year!

This year Kristen and I are both signed up for the 2022 AIDS/LifeCycle ride! On June 5th we will set out from Cow Palace in San Francisco to spend the next week pedaling through one of the most beautiful parts of the country with a couple thousand other folks, all of us with one goal: helping those with HIV/AIDS.

This is where we need your help. Specifically, we need money.

Kristen and I each are working to raise least $3000 through donations from people like you. We all give money to trails, trail organizations, and other groups which help make our lives more fun and enjoyable. Please join us in also giving a bit more to save lives, so everyone can have a great life.

Please click one of these links to donate: SteveKristen

(Donations are to a non-profit, and thus tax deductible.)

Thank you for your help, and for making the lives of those with HIV/AIDS better!

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Subaru Outback Oil and Tire Rotation Change Cost Analysis

With my new vehicle, a 2015 Subaru Outback 2.5i Premium, after a basic mental cost analysis I decided to do oil changes and tire rotations myself. I’ve acquired the needed tools for both and here’s the actual cost analysis:

One-Time Tool Purchases: $175.48

  • Oil Drain Pan: $8.99
  • Funnel: $3.99
  • Oil Storage Container: $6.99
  • Oil Filter Wrench: $5.89
  • Floor Jack: $99.99 (replaced sub-standard $35-ish one from years ago)
  • Rubber Wheel Chocks: $15.98
  • Qwik Valve & Supplies: $33.65 (shipped, includes vinyl hose and snap-on fitting)

Per-Change / Rotation Consumables: $33.84

  • Mobil 1 0W-20: $26.99 (6 quarts, only 5.1 needed for vehicle)
  • Subaru OE Oil Filter: $6.85 (4-pack via eBay, w/ crush washer)

Typical prices for a synthetic oil change is around $75, and another $20 for tire rotation at a semi-local shop that I trust (LTM Quick Lube). Since coupons and deals are typically available, I’ll figure $90 average total for both. The monetary cost of doing the work myself is $33.84 per service, taking into account the one-time purchases I will break even after two more iterations; which should be before the end of the year.

Time cost is a concern, but I think this is a wash between doing the work myself and taking my car in. The first oil change and tire rotation took approximately one hour for the work itself, and I think that with the installation of the Qwik Valve this should be cut down even further, as I shouldn’t have to deal with removing/cleaning/reinstalling the drain plug and crush washer.

LTM Quick Lube is located at Opdyke and South Boulevard in Auburn Hills, and while I can usually find time, it’s roughly 30 minutes of extra driving when incorporated into another trip, and I have to find a convenient time. The oil change and tire rotation at the shop takes 15-20 minutes, so I’m estimating just about an hour to take my car in. (The dealership would also be an option, but it’s equal time away, and I suspect will take slightly longer than a dedicated oil change location.) I will also have to take the old oil for recycling, but there are convenient locations for this on my way to work, which should only add a couple more minutes and only needs to occur every other oil change.

Doing the oil changes and tire rotations myself will also give me a bit more flexibility, as if I find some time later at night or early in the morning before work I can get things done instead of having to find time when the shop is open. Thus, it seems like doing the oil changes and tire rotations myself are the best solution, giving me a bit more flexibility as to scheduling, a bit of cost savings, and no additional time cost outside of the initial setup, which has already been completed.

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Rinse N Roll is White Castle?

This morning I found a suspicious $4 charge on my credit card, reportedly from the White Castle location near Universal Mall in Warren, Michigan. I haven’t eaten at White Castle in a few months, the charge was listed as Gas/Automotive, and I couldn’t remember a purchase like this so I called the card company preparing to dispute the charge and receive a new credit card.

It turns out that this was a charge from Rinse N Roll touchless car wash at 12 Mile and Van Dyke. While this shares a driveway with a different White Castle location I had no reason to associate the two. I can only figure that one person/company owns all three of these businesses, has their credit card processing going through one system, all of which are listed as White Castle. This was pretty confusing, but I’m glad to find out that it wasn’t actually credit card fraud.

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Bike Stuff for Sale

Shuffling around bike parts and upgrading things have left me with some spare parts that I’d like to sell. Prices and photos are listed below, and I’ll consider reasonable offers. I live in Shelby Township, MI and work in Warren, MI and will be glad to meet anywhere in this general area to handle a sale. Contact me at if you are interested.

Stan’s NoTubes Arch EX / Shimano XT Wheelset – $350: These are the stock wheels from my Salsa El Mariachi Ti, replaced only when I built up some carbon fiber wheels. Front is a 15mm TA and rear is QR, centerlock rotors. Very solid  build and the freehub was recently replaced. Comes set up tubeless with Racing Ralph (2.25″) and Small Block Eight (2.1″) tires. The tires are well used, but still have some life in them, so I figured I’d include them.

SRAM Rival 2×10 Gravel Road / CX / Touring Drivetrain Kit – $600: All new parts purchased for a gravel road bike build that fell through. This would also be a great touring setup, CX setup, etc. All that’s missing is brakes and a frame to put it on. This is an outstanding value build kit, all-Rival solid stuff that works well. Items included are all SRAM Rival level: 31.8mm front derailleur, short cage rear derailleur, front derailleur shim (1-1/4″ seat tube to 1-1/8″ clamp), DoubleTap shifters (retail box, with full cables and housing), crankset (172.5mm arms, 50-34 chainrings), bottom bracket, PG-1050 cassette (12-28), PC-1051 chain.

SRAM Apex 170mm Crank Arms – $20: Very mildly used set of solid cranks. I removed these from my Salsa Vaya to go to 172.5mm cranks and have no need for them. I’ve got a set of new 50-34 rings, new chainring bolts, and new bottom bracket for it that I’ll throw in for another $45 ($65 total) if you want to make this a complete crankset. Want to try out different length cranks? Need a cheap but solid set of cranks? This is a good way to go.

Serfas Seca FPS Road Tires – $Free / Beer: 28c Serfas Seca FPS wire bead road tires. Cheaper tires that came on a used bike I bought, but plenty of life left in them. I prefer wider tires and have plenty already, so I don’t want these… Got a use for them? They are yours… I’ll trade for beer, a good story, etc.


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For Sale: Titus Racer X 29er

After a lot of consideration I’ve decided to sell my full suspension 29er, the US-made Titus Racer X 29er, in size medium. This is an incredibly nice bike, but I’ve only ridden it three times since last October (2012) when I replaced the headset. Two of these rides were to reassure myself that I still liked it (and I do — it’s a great bike) but I find myself riding my other bikes more often these days. I’ve got enough bikes that this one is now redundant, so I’d like to find it a good home. This is a bad time of the year to list a bike for sale, but I had some time to clean it up so I figured I’d do so anyway.

Photos are available by clicking here or on the image above.

This bike was built out and maintained to be comfortable, rugged, and yet perform extremely well, and did exactly what was intended. It’s also in been well cared for, maintained properly, and is in very good shape, with the only notable mar on the frame being some small scratches on the drive side of the down tube near the letter T, some small scratches acquired when riding at Highland last year and falling over in an uphill rock garden. There’s no cable rub, no chainsuck, and no dents. The fork and rear shock stanchions are free of bushing wear, the frame is really in great shape, and there isn’t even any cable rub due to all the potential rub locations being protected with UHMW polyethylene tape.

When doing a final cleaning for sale I fitted a new chain because the old one was getting near worn; something that nicely matches the super-clean drivetrain. The fork on the bike (a Rock Shox Reba Team) was professionally rebuilt by Rochester Bike Shop a bit over a year ago, and works great. The rear shock, a Fox RP23 had its seals replaced last summer, not long before I stopped riding the bike.

Part of me doesn’t want to get rid of it, but I think it’s time. Along with the bike I’m including the maintenance items that I’d stocked for it, including replacement suspension bushings, WickWerks 32t (middle) chainrings, derailleur hangers, and fork parts. I’ll also toss in a stainless steel bottle cage and swap the Ergon grips for something else matching (Specialized BG Contour, ODI Ruffian, or Salsa Backcountry) if desired.

Please email me at if you are interested in purchasing this.

Asking price is US$1500 SOLD, and the build is as follows:

Frame: Titus Racer X 29er, Black Anodized, Medium (Geometry), FSR Suspension Licensed from Specialized
Suspension Fork: Rock Shox Reba Team (100mm)
Rear Shock: Fox Racing Shox RP23 w/ High Volume Air Canister (80mm)
Wheels: Velocity Blunt SL Rims and SRAM X9 Hubs
Crankset: FSA V-Drive and WickWerks Chainrings (22T / 32T / 44T)
Front Derailleur: Shimano LX
Rear Derailleur: SRAM X9
Shifters: SRAM X9
Cassette: SRAM PG-990 (Red)
Chain: SRAM PC-991 (Brand New)
Brakes: Avid Elixir CR
Brake Rotors: Avid Clean Sweep G3 (160mm Front and Rear)
Cables: Gore Ride-On
Headset: Cane Creek 40 (Nearly New — Only three rides.)
Handlebar: Ragley Carnegie’s Bar
Stem: Ritchey (100mm)
Grips: Ergon GP1 BioKork (Large)
Tires: Schwalbe Racing Ralph 2.25″ (Front), Kenda Small Block Eight 2.1″ (Rear)
Tubeless Setup: Stan’s NoTubes Valves, Tape, and Sealant
Saddle: Specialized Targa
Seatpost: Maxm AM 39 (Two Bolt, Thomson-like)
Seatpost Collar: DKG
Maintenance Parts: 2x WickWerks 32T 104BCD chainrings, 2x replacement derailleur hangers, 3x sets igus suspension bushings, fork decals, fork travel spacer.

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Time To Leave HSBC…

With this past weekend’s site outage and update, HSBC has removed the ability to perform Quicken and/or Microsoft Money format downloads of transaction data. This is confirmed in this thread on the Quicken Community. Just for certainty I’ve emailed HSBC to ask if there is a way to obtain my register data in the format I want, but I strongly suspect the answer will be no. And thus I will have to close this account and find another primary credit card. I can’t wait to try and go through the retention process.

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Green Tree Servicing: Keeping Us In The 1990s

My mortgage was recently purchased by Green Tree Servicing from GMAC Mortgage; a fairly common practice in the banking world. This doesn’t bother me, but Green Tree’s refusal to process an on-demand online payment without a $12 fee has me frustrated enough that I’m looking at refinancing. It’s possible to pay without a fee by sending in a check + payment coupon or setting up automatic withdrawals, but I don’t want to do this. For larger payments I do not like having them automatically withdrawn, just in case needs vary and I have to miss a payment or want to make one early.

I guess I’ll just have to stick to those 1990s (and earlier) standbys: paper checks. Up until now the only reason I needed them was to pay the water bill, as Shelby Township’s Department of Public Works charges a similarly-stupid $6.50/transaction fee to pay one’s water bill online.


Stuff For Sale

I’ve posted some older things which I no longer use for sale on Craigslist:

I’ve also posted a practically-brand-new Shure SM57 microphone on eBay: 290838759540.

If any of you are interested, please let me know. Friends and family discounts will apply. This stuff is all in great shape, I just simply don’t need it so I’d like get rid of it and save space in the basement.

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Quick Sandal Fix

The toe of my most-frequently-worn sandals became detached a few weeks back, and had started peeling back and getting things stuck in it while walking. Instead of buying new sandals I decided to try patching them up with Shoe GOO. I was unable to get the sole to wholly sit in place so there’s a slight gap, but over the course of a few days I was able to fill this in and provide a decent cap. It’s not the best looking, but hopefully it’ll hold up. I should probably get some new (and more attractive) sandals as well.

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Résumé Updated for 2012

Updating one’s résumé can be quite a pain especially if done under duress, so I like to periodically update it so that a fairly fresh copy is readily available. This afternoon I put the finishing touches on the most updated version, one which takes into account some changes at work, stuff that I’ve done with CRAMBA and the MMBA, and a few other newly-acquired skills.

If you’d like to see a copy of my resume it can be found at

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