Cougar Sold!

cougar_soldIt’s been a labor of love since 2003 when I drove my new 1968 Mercury Cougar XR7 home from Santa Rosa. While I didn’t know much about the Cougar or even restoring the classic I started looking for information and formulated plans for updating my new ride. It wasn’t long after I purchased the Cougar that I received a business card on my windshield, while parked at my (now) wife’s work about the Mercury Stray Cats Classic Cougar Automobile Club, in Concord. Talk about convenient, this was literally in my backyard!

I joined the club, even with my Cougar in it’s current condition and was a faithful member for a few years. I found more information than I could shake a stick at from the discussion boards at Mercury Cougar dot net. A vast wealth of knowledge for everything that prowled! As I collected articles, I tossed around ideas with a few car enthusiasts on where to start the restoration. There was not much progress until I got married and moved into our first house in Oakley.

The garage quickly became the Cougar’s den and my wife’s car was relegated to the driveway. During the early years of ownership I was gung ho on tearing down and rebuilding the Cougar. Looking back the receipts I have collected, the total exceeds $15000! Amazing, because looking at the cat you would not be able to tell I have invested that much money into the car, as well as hundreds of hours to get it to current condition today.

It’s only been the last few years I have considered selling the Cougar. After my son was born in 2005, life changed for the better. When he was young I was still able to put some time into the restoration, but after 2007 I lost interest. As he got older, money got tighter and I was not able to put any money towards the Cougar.

I debated putting the Cougar up for sale since I had no time and money to invest. I was talked into keeping the car, being told that I could work on different aspects of the car that needed attention, such as striping off surface rust and accomplishing some simple bodywork. I was good at one thing, tearing down the car, this included the engine, which was completely rebuilt by Bad Ass Engines in Napa.

Still the Cougar remained in the garage and over the last few years I can probably count on one hand the number of times I worked on it. At this point in my life with my interests elsewhere I could not justify keeping the Cougar. In our new house we didn’t have a 3 car garage, so it sat outside , under a cover. Time was still precious and being pulled in other directions allowed me no time to invest into the Cougar. My interest, while still piqued by the Cougar was nearly exhausted.

I put the Cougar up for sale at the end of November on numerous sites, include Craigslist, Ebay, as well as a post to the Mercury Cougar Forums, my web site and the Stray Cats President, who disseminated the information to club members. There was little interest initially, maybe the $5500 price was “too much” as I was just trying to recover costs from the engine rebuild. I knew I would take a huge loss, but that would be money in my pocket that I didn’t have.

Early in January I received some interest from a buyer in New York, who requested more current pictures. I ended up zipping 40 images and making them available. I communicated with him over text for about 2 weeks and then he went silent.

No sooner did that interest wane, I received an e-mail from a local Stray Cats member who wanted to know if the car was still available. Just this week we finally got together and I showed him the Cougar and provided what information I had. He shared his story of why he wanted to purchase the car and intentions for me. Made me feel good the car could possibly be going to a good house and more importantly be finished.

We talked for about 30 minutes and then came time to negotiate the price. While I wanted $5500, we agreed upon a lower price. Again, that’s money I did not have yesterday. It also got the Cougar out of my driveway and into the possession of someone who has time and money to invest.

In my opinion he got a great deal! I have boxes of new parts and most all of the original equipment, minus fuel tank, front windshield and some of the chrome trim. On Friday he left a deposit and I am waiting to be contacted so the Cougar can be picked up and trailered off.

The only remaining sticking point, the DMV fees. The last year I registered the car was 2007. I didn’t even bother registering it non operational, so the fee penalties have added up. Currently to register the Cougar will take $698. I am however going into the DMV, show them a folder full of receipts to prove the car has been under restoration and not drivable. This was a recommendation from the DMV. Hopefully we can get those fees reduced by half.

So it’s been a great time being a Cougar owner/enthusiast for the past 11+ years. I expect in the future if I am looking for a muscle car, I will stay loyal to Mercury and the Cougar. The ’68 XR7 wasn’t my first choice. What I would like to own is a 1970 Mercury Cougar Eliminator, while not as abundant as the ’68 XR7, Eliminators are out there and available.

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It’s only a matter of time before I pull the plug on IPOWER. The last few weeks they have gone to great lengths to provide no technical support via their support ticket system, nor has customer support done anything to resolve the issue. In fact, I had to finally upload a backup version of my site to their server in order to get the site running again. That doesn’t address the initial problem, which is still my main concern. I won’t get compensated, even though I have asked numerous time.

I continue to read reviews on other hosting companies. Many have pointed me in the direction of Go Daddy, but I don’t believe I will go with him since the CEO loves hunting elephants, as well as reviews not being spectacular. There are some other companies, whose reviews were more glowing and positive, supporting WordPress better than Go Daddy. Currently I am leaning towards SiteGround, who received some of the best reviews I have read.

I have also made the decision to remove all the domain names I have listed through IPOWER, as well as her Bengal website, Spotted Envy Bengals. Ipower has been charging me $129 a month for web development and support, as well as a 30 minute education session (which has never happened). Their monthly update takes a few days, which in the words of my wife is “old news” by the time it gets posted. This doesn’t including my hosting, which is another $129 a year.

IPOWER will lose all of my business and I will leave a scathing negative review of their hosting, technical support and customer service. These days, it seems the customer is never right and companies do not feel obligated to fix the problems to please the customer. What better way to rectify the problem than to stop shelling my hard earned cash and find another host willing to accept my business.

So after 10+ years IPOWER, thanks for nothing!

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T6F Hacked!

ipowerI have spent the past 10 days in a heated discussion with IPOWER, my current provider for my website. While I don’t have a date or time, T6F was hacked (I have my suspicions). It’s been about 10 years, but recently I have not been happy with their lack of support. In July, 2011 my website site account was not auto renewed and removed from hosting. It took IPOWER a week to build a new account profile, as they claimed I requested the website be deactivated. While this was NEVER the case, IPOWER was quite accusatory and directed their replies to the fact it was my actions and responsibility.

Never in the years leading up to selecting IPOWER, as my host, had I ever had to backup my website locally. This after spending addition funds to get IPOWER to auto back up my site after the 2011 problem. Nor did I have to concern myself about malicious data and information showing up on my website, as I thought I was protected.

Now this most recent attack has me looking for a new host since IPOWER doesn’t provide the necessary backup or security, pointing their finger at my lack of action (not backing up my site locally) for this recent attack. It’s WordPress who confirms the plugins work with the most current version of their software, yet IPOWER should be looking at potential malicious files/attacks before allowing these to be installed if the results could produced a hacked website.  They bottom line it telling me to activate The SiteLock “Fix” Plan, which “protects your website with daily scans, automatic removal of threats such as malware, and more.” This additional charge is $89.99/year! I already spend $16.95/year on Site backup and Restore, yet they won’t use this option claiming the files are infected. I already spend $131.88 a year on hosting!

Through it all, IPOWER has been awful to deal with! Neither technical support or customer service are willing to do anything at this point. Fingers continue to be pointed at me for not being vigilant and taking steps to protect my website on THEIR servers. While search for a new host, I have noticed that other, cheaper and more highly rated hosts provide back ups and protection in their monthly costs, not as an added feature. Unfortunately, I am not sure how much effort I want to put into finding a new host and then moving all my files and uploading my site to a new host. That would mean I have to succumb to what IPOWER insists me MY problem and spend more money on hosting protection.

At one time I sang the praises for IPOWER, now if asked about my hosting, I won’t promote their hosting or their services. I believe there are better hosting companies out there, more highly rated that provide better hosting packages that are cheaper and more reliable then what is provided by IPOWER. It’s unfortunate that “the customer is always right” doesn’t apply while dealing with their support. They can’t answer many of the questions I pose and it all comes down to backing up my files locally, probably day to ensure my files are protected.

While I am still missing some key components to my website I have it back online and ready to update. Hopefully there are no further interruptions or I won’t hesitate to pull it from IPOWER and demand my money back for their continued lack of support.

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Protective Diet

pdWith all the success I have experienced over the course of 3 years since viewing the documentary, Forks Over Knives, learning about Dr. John McDougall and adopting a plant based lifestyle I have yet to follow Julie Marie’s 30 Day Detox and Taste Bud Reprogramming. This is an integral part of her Protective Diet (PD) program that allows individuals to get on “your path to optimal health.”

By the time I learned about Julie and everything her program had to offer I was already on my way to optimal health, so I thought. It wasn’t until I enrolled in her PD-ed and took advantage of her online program and support that I achieved a higher knowledge and better understanding about food.

First and most importantly PD isn’t a diet, although changing what and how you eat will usually result in weight loss. Following a plant based diet is a lifestyle! Second her program isn’t special, nor should I consider myself better than someone else who follows a traditional whole foods, plant based diet (WFPB), but it does differ in a few areas.

As stated under Why This Works on the Protective Diet website:

The differences between The Protective Diet and other low-fat plant based diet plans are:

  • Physical cravings are eliminated by removing all forms of sugar (including dried fruit), food additives, coffee, juice, and all animal products.
  • We reprogram our taste buds by eliminating added fats: oils,and creamy, saturated fat-filled whole foods such as all nuts, avocado,coconut, and seeds (except for chia seeds for thickening purposes).
  • We eliminate the physical addiction in the first 30 days by removing addictive foods.  Our detox is then over and our taste bud receptors are not searching for the missing oils and fats any longer.  Then we can truly address eating to satisfy hunger vs.  emotional eating.
  • After 30 days our major challenges of food addiction are behind us.  It becomes easy to stay on track.  Then we are eating to satisfy hunger rather than to satisfy cravings.

This past October I submitted my Protective Diet testimonial because it’s a program I truly believe in! The results have been nothing short of AMAZING! Yet with all the success I have tasted (literally!) I have never gone 30 days following the Protective Diet 100%.

I’ll be honest, I still included ingredients I shouldn’t have in my diet, knowing full well they weren’t good for my health. Many of those included additives in the plant-based foods I bought, something many other programs never stress. For example, Winco doesn’t carry a “clean” soy milk. The Pacific Ultra Soy Original contains

  • Organic Soy Base (Water, Whole Organic Soybeans)
  • Dried Cane Syrup
  • Natural Flavors
  • Tricalcium Phosphate
  • Sea Salt
  • Carrageenan

Compare this to the Organic Unsweetened Soy Original that contains only soy beans and water. Yet I could not find a better soy milk locally, until I ran into Trader Joe’s and found their store brand organic, unsweetened soy beverage. Aside from being a much healthier option it cost less than what I was paying at Winco!

There were other products I purchased that I thought were “clean” but only recently found out there were. The flour tortillas I purchased for a few years were oil free but contained calcium propionate, which is a preservative added to prevent bacterial and mold growth. Dave’s Killer Bread was another brand I used to favor, carrying a USDA organic label as well as a NON-GMO symbol. Yet the bread, while good contains “organic dried cane syrup (sugar).” Not sure if I just missed this the first time around, but the nuts alone are something I accepted in this bread when I was eating it.

Tea…ugh! This is an entire piece all by itself, check out “Do You Know What’s Really In Your Tea?” It’s a good starting point. Another offender, hot sauce. I had a shelf full of hot sauce, which one would think would be compliant. One by one I tossed them out because of additives, leaving me with just 3 hot sauces, Tabasco, Crystal and Frank’s. Take a few minutes and read the labels on some of the food you believe to be healthy.

While some will find this tedious and unnecessary, it feels great to be eating my way to health. It takes some work and there are many ingredients and additives that we should avoid. Check out these hidden sources of MSG. “Natural” doesn’t mean “safe.” In this respect I have been working hard to educate myself on selecting foods that contain ONLY natural ingredients.

So while I don’t consider myself 100% PD as 2014 ended and the celebrations rang in the new year, I am working very hard to further reduce those foods that shouldn’t be included in my diet and close in on being 100%. I refer to a saying used in ultra running, “relentless, forward progress.” That is what PD is all about!

Visit Protective Diet. Register to receive access to 123 recipes to get you started. Check out the FAQ and resolve to get started.

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2015 Resolutions

2015*sigh* It’s been another one of those years, as we say goodbye to 2014 and stare wide eyed at the upcoming year and what wondrous things it holds for me as I post my 2015 resolutions. It’s been a very challenging year as I look back on what has been accomplished, but more importantly where I failed. It’s those areas that I will look to improve on in 2015, there is no “can’t” or “won’t” and change, will be welcomed. Great strides were made this year, but I still fell short, in my opinion on where I want to be physically and mentally, as a husband, father and individual. Sometimes the individual accomplishments out shined that of commitments as a husband or father.

I started 2014 much like I ended the previous year, following a plant based lifestyle, avoiding meat, dairy, and added oils in my diet. This way of eating works for me and allowed me to control my weight without being hungry, shed some unwanted fat as I worked on a strengthening program. While I would love to think I achieved my Stronglifts goals, I fell well short due to continued inflammation in my left shoulder. All was going well to start 2014 after the initial surgery in October, 2013 but a few months into the new year I was experiencing severe pain in the shoulder joint.

After numerous visits to the orthopedic surgeon, he put me back into physical therapy. It was odd, as my shoulder felt amazing after surgery and I was making great progress. Unfortunately something happened (maybe building that haunted house two days after surgery contributed to it) and the pain flared up and never went away. After a few months of therapy, the PT sent her report to the orthopedic, which required another office visit. It was August when he decided to go back into my shoulder to clean the joint of inflammation. I had already stopped lifting weights earlier in the year to prevent further damage to the shoulder. Thankfully I still had my running.

Speaking of running, I accomplished something great this year and accomplished my first 50k running the Diablo Trails Challenge in April. It was a truly amazing feeling to walk around for weeks with a “runner’s high” wanting to run further. This was one of those accomplishments that meant much more to me than to my family members, but I celebrated with two co-workers who were cheering me on when I came down the chute and crossed the finish line in a time of 8:53:33! It came as no surprise that I had the desire to challenge a 50 mile race in the future.

As August rolled around, I made a day trip up to Lake Tahoe to participate in my second Tough Mudder staged at Northstar Tahoe. With shoulder issues, I probably should not have made the trip, but I had already registered and was looking forward to the event. I was concerned there would be some obstacles I could not accomplish, but surprised myself and made it through every obstacle. It was awesome! No other word can describe it. This year I also challenged myself to run the event wearing my Luna Sandals. Best decision I made all day, as my feet took the abuse, but at no point did my toes ever hurt, my feet might have gotten wet and had dirt and bark in them, but they felt good all day long. It was still nearly 8 hours on the hill, which makes for a very long and tiring day.

As a husband and father I have not been my best. While words on this site and comments on Facebook and Instagram tell a different story I have struggled on both fronts. It’s not easy sometimes knowing your deficiencies, but doing little to change them. I know I have claimed to make progress to be a better husband  or have more patience with my son. Somehow the end result wasn’t in my favor. No fingers need to be pointed, but I need to reflect inward in order to change who I am.

I continue to believe that if I can change my diet (lifestyle) I can change any aspect or characteristic I don’t find favorable. Unfortunately that is more difficult than I expected it to be. Maybe old dogs can’t learn new tricks or maybe men can’t change who they are. I still hold the belief I can be the best husband and father out there. All it takes is desire and commitment to make positive changes happen.

Last October was difficult, but I honestly felt our marriage had turned the corner and the future looked brighter or was I just setting myself up for failure? I had made commitments to both my wife and son, to work on my shortcomings. For example I continue to struggle getting my son do things. Usually this happens as he gets ready for bed. He fails to listen and I have to ask repeatedly in order to get something done. Him not listening, makes me irritable, which makes me (in his words) “act like a bully.” It seems I have created no middle ground for him, there is the right way or the way wrong. Yet in reality there is common, middle ground, which is something we BOTH need to work on. I am hopeful I have the strength and determination to have that patience and be supportive of him and to help him grow as an individual.

My interpersonal skills are still an area of concern, as it relates to my marriage, even after 11 years! I will be very thankful my wife is still by my side, as I realize I have been a real ass at times. Decisions and actions in the past have continued to plague me, while I accept what has happened I continue look toward the future in a positive light, but it’s difficult to let go what I have done and think everything is fine. It’s not and I need an adjustment, much like committing myself to eat better. Yet after nearly 12 months I don’t believe I am a better person after everything I have gone through.

Thankfully I have one resource I have reached out to, which could have me seeing things differently with a more positive outlook on life. While our lives have turned around on some fronts, such as finances, there is still work to be done and it starts with me. I need to step up and be the man I was when she said “yes” to be my wife. I haven’t been that man for many years. I need to be a better communicator and talk to her about what is on my mind. More importantly, I need to be her friend. Yeah, I know 11 years is a hell of a long time to realize this, especially seeing so many friends of mine and hers happy with life, kids and marriage.

Hopefully these changes will be noticeable, as I will make a committed effort on my part to change those negative characteristics and reflect a more positive aura around my wife, she deserves it. The past 2 years since her surgery have been a real struggle, both physically and more importantly mentally. It has taken a toll, but she is a very strong minded and beautiful woman. I have faith in her, hopefully her faith in me isn’t completely exhausted as 2014 draws to a close.

Finances continued to be a concern for much of the year. I knew we were at a turning point, coming up on 2 years since I lost our house to Bank of America. A day still does not go by that I am frustrated at how our case was mishandled and the home was sold at auction. With that entire situation behind me, I looked toward the future and taking what I had learned about home buying, mortgages and banking and prepare for a new home buying experience. While I am still a year away from having that foreclosure off my credit history, steps have been taken to improve our financial outlook.

We will start 2015 with one financial commitment to be paid monthly, her automobile loan. Just last month I finished paying off my truck, which I now own. It feel great to be relieved of a single payment. Credit cards are usually the death of many, I know it was for be 10 years ago, being some $20,000 in debt due to credit cards. Now between my wife and I we have four credit cards, all of which are paid off. Since banks have tightened credit limits, all these cards have manageable limits that won’t overextend our budget if we use them occasionally.

With my wife now “permanently disabled” and unable to work, she took up a hobby in order to make some extra money. She now breed Bengal cats, which has allowed to put money away that we hope to use as a down payment on a house at the end of 2015. I continue to examine our monthly budget and work on finding ways to save or get more out of the money we earn. I feel very fortunate she forces us to save money, it’s a pillar of confidence knowing we have a “rainy day fund” if something unforeseen happens. Now with virtually no debt, it’s time to start saving even more.

With all that said, I look forward to what 2015 brings. While I could continue to add to my resolutions, many of the remaining items will be used as goals in order to gauge myself through out the year.

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