Saturday, August 27, 2005

Podcasting for (Virtually) Free

I've been posting online for six months now, and I've been doing my Podcast for two months. It's a very enjoyable hobby for me, and I thought I would share with you just how I create my Podcast. It's quick, it's simple, and best of all: it's free. Free, that is, assuming that you already pay for Internet access, anyway, and that you already have a computer (desktop, handheld, whatever your preference).

I don't run a massive website like Sammy at PalmAddicts, and I don't have all of the resources of Tyler Faux and Jeff Kirvin at 1SRC. But I still manage to get my Podcast posted a couple times a week, and this is how I do it.

Would you believe that my Podcast is one of the few online that is a true Podcast (or Palmcast might actually be a better word for it). That's right, the Average Joe BlogCast comes to you directly from my handheld device to yours. Naturally, I normally prepare my Podcast in advance by writing the cooresponding Blog entry. Sometimes I do that using Microsoft Word on my office computer at work, sometimes directly in Netscape Composer at home, and other times on my Palm Zire 72 with my Belkin Wireless Infrared Keyboard. Not to worry if you don't have a Wireless Keyboard: you can tap it into your Palm the old-fashioned way with the silkscreen keyboard, or by using Graffiti 2.

Next is what I consider the most amazing part of the process. Each and every Podcast posted at Average Joe Blogs was recorded on that very same Palm Zire 72, using the Voice Memo application. I rarely hear any mention of the Zire line on all the Palm enthusiast sites. They seem to be caught up with the Tungstens, the Treos, and now the LifeDrive, but I'm here to tell you that the Palm Zire 72 can hold it's own among the heavyweights. I often record the Podcast while driving to or from work, sitting on my back deck, or anyplace I choose, because the Average Joe BlogCast is fully mobile.

This is where it can get a little tricky. I had to do some web-surfing to find just the right FREE software to convert my Voice Memo files from WAV to MP3 format. After all, FREE Podcasting is what this is all about. There are severaly commercial applications out there that will do the trick for you, but I found what I believe to be the perfect Freeware application for converting my files: Eusing Software's Free CD to MP3 Converter 1.6 allows you to easily convert files from MP3 to WAV and back again, as well as converting CD Audio files to MP3 for portable enjoyment. In order to convert the file to a stereo MP3 file, I first open the file in the Windows standard Sound Recorder program, change it from Radio Quality to CD Quality, and overwrite the original file. Then I rip away to MP3 in no time.

Of course, to post your Podcast you need some type of presence on the Web. Assuming that you already have Internet access (you must have it somewhere to be viewing this now), you probably have some free Home Page space through your ISP. I don't pay for a server, and therefore don't have my own domain. My ISP is Verizon DSL (you must have DSL to upload your Podcast, unless you just have way too much time to kill with Dial Up). I simply maintain my Blog and Podcasts on the Home Page space my ISP provides me. Of course, I pay a little more for additional space, but that's only necessary if you plan to keep your Podcasts available online. If you have limited storage space online, you can simply overwrite your Podcast every time you post it, as most ISPs today give you at least five megabytes of storage space for free.

To drive traffic into my site, I'm listed on several of the major Podcasting and Blogging services, such as BlogSpot, Vital Podcasts, and FeedBurner, and I also have an RSS Feed available to keep my listeners automatically updated.

It really doesn't take much work, it's very enjoyable, and best of all -- I'm not spending a cent more than I was before I started Podcasting. Maybe you should give it a try some time.

If you like what you see and hear, drop me a line and let me know.


Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Losing Our Home

Sunday we received a phone call from our landlord. My wife and I have rented since we met, because my career has caused us to move around quite a bit (since leaving the Army ten years ago, I've worked in eight cities over three states), and I felt it best not to purchase until I knew we would be stable for a while. So we've rented, and only recently decided that we plan to settle down where we now live, and make my career accomodate us, instead of the other way around.

We've been renting the same house for 2-1/2 years. We signed a two-year lease when we moved in, and didn't bother re-signing when it ended in May because we thought we might like to buy some time before the next lease would end. I guess I was foolish to think that was a wise choice. I should have realized then that the lease is more protection for the renter than the owner.

So the landlord called us on Sunday morning. She said that she would like to show the house to a potential buyer, and wondered if she could bring her by that very day. I was livid! "You told us when we moved in here that you wouldn't even consider selling as long as we were living here," I protested. She fed me a sob story that she had purchased a house that she probably shouldn't have that had put her into a financial bind and she needed to sell one of her other houses to bring down the payments on the new house. She claimed that she would be showing this "prospective buyer" each of her four 3-bedroom homes.

I argued it out unsuccessfully with her at least an hour. She's such a scatter-brained person that it's impossible to carry on a two-party intelligent conversation with her. She can carry her end of the two-party conversation, but the intelligent part completely escapes her. She's a fifty-something peroxide blonde who dresses like she's a twenty-something street-walker.

In the end, I told her that she could not come into the house when we weren't home, and that we would not be home on the day she called. "How about tomorrow?" she asked.

"I won't be off again until Wednesday," I said.

"What time would be a good time on Wednesday?" she asked.

"None," I answered, but we agreed on 6:00 pm anyway. "Don't be early, and don't be late," I said, and hung up the phone.

Two days later, which was Tuesday (which is actually the day I'm writing this, though I'm writing it and dating it for Wednesday posting), the landlords bumbling servant boyfriend showed up to install the storm windows we had been requesting for two years. Of course, now that they were hoping to sell the place, it made sense to install storm windows. Apparantly it didn't make much sense while we were paying outrageous heating and cooling bills over the past two years. Next, he continued to trim the hedges in the front yard down to a box-like nothing that both looks unattractive and destroyed the flowers that were growing in the area.

Needless to say, I'm infuriated! My wife is terribly upset and concerned about where we'll go if this "prospective buyer" becomes more than just prospective. Of course, we'll step up our attempts to purchase a home and hopefully find something before we have to vacate this place. It is my sincere hope and prayer that we never have to rent another home as long as we live.

It just isn't right that hard-working, reliable renters be at the mercy of uncaring, money-hungry landlords. It isn't right that we could very possibly be forced out of what we have called home for more than two years -- in fact the only home my son has ever known.

That's my gripe, my rant, whatever you want to call it. If you're reading this today and you have any secrets we might be able to use to either prevent the house from being shown tonight, or to prevent the landlord from selling out from under us, please -- PLEASE -- email me at The clock is ticking and may run out at 6:00 pm Central Time.

Thanks for your help!


Sunday, August 21, 2005

Book Review: The Last Days by Joel C. Rosenberg

Book ReviewI have spent a good portion of the past month reading The Last Days by Joel C. Rosenberg. It is the second of what is currently a trilogy that is practically living itself out in the headlines today. I reviewed book one, The Last Jihad, in July, and will be doing book three, The Ezekiel Option, in September.

In The Last Days, Israeli Prime Minister Doron (a fictional character, of course), is in secret U.S.-led negotiations with Palestinian Prime Minister Ibrahim Sa’id to return land to the Palestinians as well as broker a joint-rights deal to oil that has been discovered deep beneath the Middle East. In the headlines today, Israeli soldiers are forcing Israeli settlers out of the Gaza Strip in preparation to turn the land back over to the Palestinians. Eerily similar.

Joel C. Rosenberg has had a knack for writing what some consider pre-history. Much of what he has written in his books was written before similar events became a part of history. In The Last Jihad, U.S.-led coalition forces have already found and destroyed Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein has been eliminated and Iraq has become a democracy.

Much of what you will read in this series of books has already come true, and much more of it is already in progress. Where did Mr. Rosenberg get his inspiration for such prophetic subjects? You’d have to ask him that, but he does mention that a great deal of his insight came from the Bible, specifically chapters 38 and 39 in the book of Ezekiel. While these books do not read like Christian fiction (in fact, the first two books in the series were published by mainstream publishers, not Christian publishing houses), they do appear to closely follow Biblical prophecy.

As a very avid reader, I am very rarely NOT in the middle of at least one book. Most books take me less than a week to read, and that’s with a full work schedule and family life. This book took me just a little longer to read than most. I found there to be a great deal of groundwork that had to be laid out for the story to come and some serious back-story as well. Throughout the middle of the book I found myself at times tempted to put the book down and go do something else. I don’t give up easily when reading a book, however, and in this case it paid off. The last five chapters were riveting. I found it difficult to put the book down in the closing pages and am now looking forward to The Ezekiel Option, which is sitting on my desk waiting anxiously for me, as well.

But I feel it is my duty to first read and review the latest in the Harry Potter saga (a little behind the times on this one, but I’m going to forge ahead with it anyway).

Bottom line, if you follow the news closely, you should read these books. If you are concerned with what is happening in Israel today, you should read these books. If you are an avid reader of the Bible, you should read these books. If you’re interested in action, suspense, and intrigue, you should read these books. If you can (and do) read any book this year, you should read these books. You won’t be disappointed.

Drop me a line when you’re done and let me know what you think.


Sunday, August 14, 2005

August Updates

Just a couple of topics to touch base on today, most of which are updates of previous topics.

You may have noticed some subtle changes to my site lately. The heading on most pages has changed to a small graphic, and the navigation panel is kind of cluttered around the graphic. I know this isn’t the most user-friendly interface in the world, and I’ll be making some changes soon. Also, recent posts have had greatly reduced links, and I’ve completely eliminated the Google and Yahoo search links. If you’d like more information on a term or person mentioned in an entry, you can simply copy and paste it into your search engine of choice, or into the Google search box that appears on every page of Average Joe Blogs. Additionally, you can download Firefox, which includes a search bar in the menu bar that will allow one-click searching of any major search engine, including Wikipedia, Amazon, and more. I found the amount of time I invested in creating the search links was encroaching on the time I spend with my family. I hope you don’t find this to be a major inconvenience.

Now for a few updates.


In March, I brought you regular updates on the Terri Schiavo story. I’m a little behind on this update, but the autopsy results have determined not only that Terri Schiavo has not been abused since the incident that so tragically rendered her into what has been called a state of vegetation, but also that there are no signs that her husband did anything to contribute to that incident. This of course doesn’t do anything to bring her back or to help her family find closure, and I’m still not convinced that Michael Schiavo’s motivation was pure when he fought to have her food and water supplies withheld, but I guess we have to call this case closed with these results.


In April, I spoke in depth about Sex Offenders and whether I felt they could ever truly be rehabilitated. Last night while watching the local news, my wife picked up a couple of links to online Sex Offender Registries for the states of Indiana, Illinois, and Kentucky. Out of curiosity, we spent a little time checking out our neighborhood, and were shocked to see that a convicted Child Molester lives less than two blocks from our house! In fact, my son and I have passed this house over a hundred times on our frequent walks over the past year or so. There is often a man sitting on a bench on the front porch of this house clutching something red in his lap that appears to be about the size of a small musical keyboard, though I can’t make out quite what the object is. My wife and I have often wondered why he sat on the porch and what he was holding in his lap. Of course, I still wonder what he’s holding in his lap, but I’m now more concerned that this individual might be the Registered Sex Offender we discovered last night, and that he may just be sitting on his front porch watching all the kids go by. Naturally, on top of the recent theft from my wife’s car as it sat safely in our driveway, this causes us great concern.

To make matters worse, the nearest elementary school is only two blocks away from this Registered Sex Offender’s home, and there is at least one other elementary school within five miles. As I stated in April, I’m not so sure that these deviants – the worst our society has seen – can every truly be rehabilitated, and it infuriates me that we release them from jail and allow them to live in our communities, so close to our homes and to the elementary schools where our children attend.

I would like to hear your thoughts on this matter. If you find this as upsetting as I do, please drop me a line. If I receive enough feedback, I may consider drafting a petition for legislation that might help to make us all feel a little safer in our own homes.


I began May with my rants about Daylight Saving Time. Since then, the Indiana legislature has passed a bill and Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels has signed into law the implementation of Daylight Saving Time for the state of Indiana. Next March, Indiana will join the majority of the world in springing forward in observance of Daylight Saving Time.

Just this month, President Bush signed into law a new energy bill which, among many other things that don’t include relief for the rising gas prices, includes a provision to spring forward earlier and fall back later, extending Daylight Saving Time by a full four weeks every year. I still don’t understand the logic in this change, but then I also disagree with the logic of observing Daylight Saving Time at all. As Paul Harvey so adequately stated, no matter what you do with the clock, you simply cannot make a day any longer or shorter, or save any Daylight. There are still only twenty-four hours in a day, and the number of those hours that are dominated by daylight will always be Divinely determined.

As I stated in May, I stand firm behind my belief that we should indeed spring forward in March, once and for all, never to fall back again. While there may be true economical reasons for the observance of Daylight Saving Time, there is no logical reason for switching back and forth every year.


Also in May I lamented about my non-existent Bonus Check. I am happy to report that there were several errors found in the accounting process used in May. Adjustments were made that resulted in the payment of a very modest bonus in my last paycheck. In addition, the second quarter bonus payout is expected next week. Through the month of June, I’m expecting a payout in the neighborhood of $1600. That is, unless the July numbers that should be out this week negate that. Stay tuned for further updates in the weeks to come.

If there’s anything you’d like to see or hear on my site, drop me a line, and I’ll do my best to oblige.


Thursday, August 11, 2005

Movie Review: Madagascar

My wife and I don’t actually go out to see many movies. We’re not really movie people, and most movies these days are so filled with filth that they aren’t worth seeing, anyway. So we pick and choose our movies based on their content, then usually rent them and watch them quietly at home. It’s rather nice, actually.

This week we went to the theater for the first time since Passion of the Christ came out. We went for primarily one reason: to take our two-year-old son to see his first big screen movie. The movie of choice? Madagascar.

Granted, it’s been out for a while and isn’t quite what you would call a “current” movie, but it was the best choice going for a two-year-old’s first trip to the movies. We have a pretty well behaved son, for the most part. I’ve seen parents out in all sorts of public places with their little demons that are either ill-behaved or ill-parented (or, most likely, a combination of the two), and I thank God every day that my son isn’t like that. As well behaved as he is, I expected he might make it through at least three-fourths of the movie before growing restless.

We arrived about ten minutes before the movie was scheduled to begin. We went to a bargain matinee at a bargain theater, so I didn’t anticipate there would be a long run of previews before the movie began, and I didn’t expect there to be a large crowd, either. I was right on one count, and wrong on the other. There were virtually no previews before the movie began, but it was still at least five minutes late getting started as they waited to allow all the latecomers to get seated. (If you’ve read my review on Les Miserables at IU Auditorium, you know exactly what I think of latecomers holding up the show.)

My son was, of course, a little restless waiting for the movie to start. He still had no real idea what to expect. He was more interested in exploring the strange surroundings than he was in sitting in his seat looking at a blank wall.

Then the movie began, and he was captivated for the longest time. He had never before seen such images projected on such a large screen. He pointed out the zebra (“Marty”) and said, “Horse.” He jumped up and down with the monkeys, and laughed at the penguins. At one point late in the movie, when the lion was reverting to his wild nature and trying to eat his friends, my son stood up in his chair and mimicked every move the lion made: jumping up and down and spinning around in his chair, even slapping me in the head as the lion did the same in the movie.

It was a wonderful experience and some wonderful memories my wife and I will always treasure. I guess this isn’t really review of the movie
Madagascar so much as a review of my son’s first movie-going experience, so how about this: I highly recommend Madagascar to all parents looking to take their toddler to his or her first movie. It kept my son’s interest from beginning to end. In fact, he was better behaved than most other kids at the theater. And when the credits rolled at the end, he stood up like a little gentleman, took my hand, and started leading me out of the aisle. Needless to say, I was a very proud father!


Tuesday, August 9, 2005

Discovery, Gas Prices, and More

I spoke with Eric, the “gentleman” I spoke of in Friday’s posting, over the weekend. I actually recorded the conversation, but the sound quality was so horrible that I don’t think I’ll be posting it here.

He didn’t seem too disappointed when I told him that the car wouldn’t start and offered to give him his money back. I played that all out, got him to sign a receipt for the refund, and gave him his money. Then I sprung it on him: “By the way, what time were you here last night? It was dark out, wasn’t it?”

“Yeah, it was about nine o’clock,” he said.

“You didn’t happen to see anything suspicious did you?” I had been avoiding direct eye contact with him throughout the conversation until this point. “Because someone broke into my wife’s car last night and stole some stuff out of it.”

What would your reaction be? Shock? Surprise? I’m not sure how to best describe Eric’s reaction. He said nothing, and his only facial expression was that his eyes opened wide. My immediate first impression was that he was trying to appear surprised or shocked. “No, I didn’t see anything, but I was doing this mowing job last week….” He went on to explain how someone else had their car broken into while he was doing a mowing job. Then quickly changed the subject again to the time when his car was broken into at work and his radar detector was stolen.

Bottom line: yeah, I still think he did it. But he doesn’t owe me any money anymore, and I don’t have any of his money, and hopefully I’ll never have to deal with him again.

In my line of work, I sometimes get an inside lead to upcoming increases in prices at the local pump. Not much of an advance notice, but enough to run to the gas station and get filled up before the price changes, if I wish.

A week or so ago, I was filling up for less than $2.20 a gallon. Did you ever think you’d see the day where less than $2.20 a gallon seemed like a good price? Neither did I, but here we are. Then last week, King Fahd of
Saudi Arabia passed away. King Fahd, of the largest oil producing country in the world. King Fahd, a man who was King in title only, since his half-brother, Crown Prince Abdullah, has been ruling the country for more than a decade. So why, then, if Abdullah is now King, but there is no real change in the actual leadership of the country, did gas prices suddenly jump as much as twenty cents a gallon? They expect there to be no significant change in policy in Saudi Arabia under now-King Abdullah.

Today, as I drove in to work, I passed a local gas station selling gas at $2.33 per gallon. Insanely high already, by my standards, though I’m sure many of my readers still pay much more. Then I got a tip today from my inside lead that the price would be climbing to $2.50 per gallon before day’s end. WHY? What happened this time? Did King Abdullah stub his toe, or something? Why must we be so dependent upon the whims of another nation for our very survival (as we certainly could not survive at today’s standards if we lost access to all Saudi oil)? President Bush has a plan to begin off-shore drilling in
Alaska, but the environmental activists are strongly opposed. Off-shore drilling has become so advanced that there will be minimal impact to the environment and wildlife, but they would apparently rather keep filling the coffers of King Abdullah and the other OPEC nations.

It’s time we stand up and take action. It’s time we become an independent nation again. Is there really any difference between England taxing tea and OPEC overcharging for oil? I say it’s time to repeat the
Boston Tea Party , with a little Washington Oil Party. Call your Senators. Call your Congressperson. Call the President. Let them know you SUPPORT change that will reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign oil. CALL TODAY! If you are uncertain who to contact, click here.

By the way, on my trip home today, as I passed the same gas station, a gallon of 87 octane unleaded was priced at $2.49.


The crew of the Space Shuttle Discovery today remained in orbit as weather in
Florida prevented them from being able to return to Earth. Should Discovery safely reenter the Earth’s atmosphere and all the crew return home safely, then their mission will have been a great success! Regardless of your view on space travel and the Space Shuttle program, no human being with even an ounce of compassion can say that these men and women aren’t heroes. That applies to the current Discovery crew, the crews of both Columbia and Challenger, and every man, woman, or monkey that has ever left the Earth’s atmosphere in search of greater knowledge and advancement.

Average Joe Blogs salutes the crews of Discovery, Columbia, Challenger, and Atlantis – past, present, and future – and the entire NASA organization, as well as a President who has the vision to continue exploring the outer reaches of our galaxy.

I wish the Discovery crew a safe and problem-free ride home.


Saturday, August 6, 2005

Caught In The Act

On June 16, I relayed a story here about how one man helped to restore my faith in the common man. I mention that only to say that I'm not so sure I wasn't too quick to judge his actions in such a positive light. Here's a little back-story that isn't in my June 16 entry.

This guy named Eric first made contact with my wife in May because I had a car for sale that was parked in my front yard with a For Sale sign on it. He lives a few blocks down the street from us and passes our house several times a day. He asked my wife if he could drive the car. As I was at work, my wife told him he would need to come back to look at the car when I was home.

A couple weeks later, as we were heading out the door, Eric showed up with his rag-tag family in tow. They drove the car and declared that they were very interested, but wouldn't be able to give me any money until he got paid the following Friday. I told him I would hold the car until Monday and took the For Sale signs out of the window.

This is where the June 16 entry picks up. Jump there now, if you aren't already familiar with it, because it's an important part of what I have to say today.

Go ahead. I'll wait.....

That didn't take too long, did it?

If you paid any attention to the dates that I've mentioned here, you know that it is now August, nearly three months after Eric first approached us about buying my old car. Three months after agreeing to a selling price of $600. Three months in which he has given me a grand total of $150 and asked me twice to put a lien on the car and allow them to take it while they continue to pay for it. During that time he has come to me to explain why he didn't have any money to offer me more often than he has brought me money. The excuses included such things as "I lost my job," "I have to pay the rent," and "My other car broke down." I'm not normally one to judge people, but looking at Eric, any one of those excuses is totally believable.

ast night as my wife took my new car to run to the store, leaving her Jimmy and the old Saturn sitting in our driveway -- which is long enough to fully park five to six cars and runs the full length of our house -- there came a knock at the door. It was dark, so I flipped on the porch light to illuminate the trespasser, thinking it was probably just my wife with her hands too full to open the door. Smiling back at me through the window was Eric.

I opened the door to find him standing on my front porch, his bicycle laying in the front yard, and my wife getting out of the car. She later told me (and this could be key information) that she saw him ride by the house once as she was coming down the street before she pulled into the driveway.

I stepped out onto the porch and greeted him: "How ya' doin'?"

Foregoing the traditional greeting, he jumped right in with both feet: "She --" meaning his girlfriend, for whom he was buying the Saturn -- "wanted me to ask you if you'd put a lien on the car."

Here we go again, I thought. "You mean put a lien on it and let you take it now?"

"Yeah," he said, as he proceeded to explain to me that he was promoted and was now the third man in charge of the lawn detail (he works for a mowing and landscaping company), and how he got a raise and his boss offered to sell him a "big boat of a car for $200" that he was considering as his second option. He continued, "I get about 46 hours a week, and the overtime is banked for when I need it. I just have to give them two weeks notice that I need the money and they'll pay it out to me, so I can use it to help pay off this car. Until then, we can give you fifty dollars a week."

As I haven't seen fifty dollars a week since he agreed to buy the car in the first place, I had some serious doubts. "Well, I won't be off work to do anything like that until next Wednesday."

"Okay," he said. "I'll be back tomorrow when I get paid to give you some money."

"I'll tell you what," I said. "Let me think about the lien. I'll be home tomorrow night around seven. Come by then and I'll let you know what I decide." I now wish I hadn't told him when I get home, though he knows where I live and what car I drive and could probably have figured it out.

Fast forward to this morning. If you're a regular reader, you know I'm a Retail Store Manager. I work two hours from home, and calls from home to work are long distance calls. For that reason, my wife always calls me on my cell phone, and I call her back from the store phone. It saves us on long distance and cellular airtime. She very rarely ever calls me direct at the store.

This morning, she did just that. It always means something is wrong when she makes the long distance call to the store to contact me.

"Did you take the portable CD player out of my car?" We had just put a portable CD player and a wireless FM transmitter in her car two days ago. I told my wife then, "You have to start locking your car all the time now." She never locks it in the driveway, and I usually have to remind her to lock it when we go out somewhere. "If someone sees that CD player and your car is unlocked, they'll take it."

"Those are only twenty bucks now," she said. "Who would steal one for twenty bucks?"

I said, "Anybody that wants one and doesn't have twenty bucks to pay for it."

So she asks me this morning, "Did you take the portable CD player out of my car?" I have a factory CD player in my car, so I thought she was playing a joke.

"No, why?" She obviously thought I was the one playing the joke.

"Because it's gone."

If it's not already too late to make a long story short, we've lived in our house for almost three years, we live on a relatively quiet street in town, our neighbors all appear respectable, and we've never had anyone mess with anything yet.

I'm just saying, it seems a little suspicious that this guy who has been out of work, with no car, riding a bicycle wherever he goes, and struggling to pay the rent and buy a new car, rode past my house before stopping on the same night that we had our first case of theft. My car was clearly not in the driveway, and he's familiar with my car. It was dark. The Saturn was pulled all the way into the driveway by the garage, and my wife's car was parked behind it. My wife saw him ride past the house as she was coming home.

I believe it happened something like this.

He may actually have come by to ask me about putting a lien on the car. I believe that because he has asked me to do that twice already, and he's getting desperate for transportation to keep his new job. He sees my car isn't there and thinks that we're not home. He strolls up the driveway to take a look at the car he's trying so desperately to buy. Out of curiosity, he glances in the window of my wife's Jimmy as he walks past and sees the portable CD player sticking out beneath the stereo. At this point, he's still innocent. He may even have walked past the Jimmy and took a look at the Saturn before the curiosity got to be more than he could handle. In either case, I believe he then walked back and checked the door of the Jimmy. Of course it was unlocked because my wife has a horrible habit of never locking her car. He grabs the CD player because it's sitting there loose and easy prey. He opens the ashtray probably looking for money stashed in the car, and leaves it open when he's done. He then rifles through the glove box leaving it more organized than it was when he found it. I think at this point he might have heard a car coming, because he ignored the CDs that were in the car and there's no sign of any other tampering. I believe he then jumped on his bike and started his escape, until he saw that the car he had heard was my car. He then tried to nonchalantly ride past the house, which is what my wife saw when she pulled up. Thinking he was seen and had to create a quick alibi, he dropped his bike in the yard and knocked on the door to ask me about the lien. He didn't make eye contact with my wife at all as she walked up on the porch, probably hoping she wouldn't see anything in his eyes that might betray him.

He probably thinks he is now safe at home with a new portable CD player. He's supposed to return tonight to give me some money and find out about my decision on the lien. I have a surprise for him. Not only do I plan to refuse his request for a lien, but I also plan to tell him that I can't seem to get the car started now and that I feel it wouldn't be fair to hold his money for a car that doesn't start. I will then offer him his $150 back and ask him to sign a receipt for it. He'll certainly hem and haw and I may even have to show him that the car won't start (the battery is disconnected, but it's been sitting there long enough now that it probably wouldn't start even with the battery hooked up).

As he walks away with his $150, hopefully never to return, I plan to spring it on him: "By the way," I'll say, "did you happen to notice anything suspicious when you were here last night? Somebody broke into my wife's car and stole some stuff out of it."

His reaction, I'm sure, will speak volumes.

Stay tuned.


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