Friday, April 3, 2009

Random thoughts on a Friday

It's sort of hard for me to enjoy the nice weather here (sunny, high 60's/low 70's) since I'm flying out to Albany in exactly one week. I don't have to pack my stuff up since the movers will do that, but I still need to get my stuff organized. I'm going to be living in temporary housing for the rest of this month so most of my stuff will be stored until I find a more permanent place to live. That means I'll be living out of two and a half suitcases for about three weeks. I'll be busy getting adjusted to my new job and the new location so I don't think I'll need too much stuff, but it'll be weird for sure.

When I moved out to CA I moved with someone. Now I'm moving out to NY by myself and it's a little saddening. I've made some great friends out here and nearly all of my family is on the West Coast. I don't think I have any family east of Chicago, but I'm not sure. Oh well. I'll make some new friends out there.

The good news is that I get to move there during the spring rather than the winter. It's been a long time since I've driven in snow.

My parents are in the area to see me for the last time for a while and I've met up with them twice so far. We went out to eat to Dish Dash in Sunnyvale for dinner Wednesday night and then drove up to see my cousins in Oakland yesterday morning. I'll drive over to Santa Cruz today since that's where they're staying. They knew that I wouldn't be able to hang out with them all the time so they decided to stay somewhere more interesting than Silicon Valley. I don't blame them and the weather is definitely cooperating.

I'm using my new EEE PC to bang out this drivel because it's going to be my only computer this month so I want to get used to it. It doesn't have a lot of oomph, but will allow me to surf the internet and check e-mail. My temporary housing is furnished so hopefully there'll be a TV there with a DVD player. If not, I can watch movies on this computer though the screen is small and the speakers are a little tinny.

I've been much more active this week because I'm trying to get back into shape. I want to be as healthy as possible to live as long as possible. Not only am I terrified of death, but I want to live a quality life for as long as possible. When I'm old, I don't want to be bedridden. Of course, who knows what medical advances will be around in 50 years so maybe I don't need to worry. Maybe there'll be a magic pill that I can take to rejuvenate. Heh. I think I've been reading too many science fiction books, but it's cool to think about that kind of stuff.

It'll be good to start making money again, but I've realized that I try to use stuff to make me happy. I think I've read that people are happy when their needs are met rather than their wants. We're always yearning for more so it's not possible to satisfy all of our wants so, if we try, then we'll just be disappointed. I also have the problem where I'm not easily satisfied; I'm always wanting more and it's frustrating. I think I need to get rid of some of my clutter or at least focus more on activities that I enjoy. I'll use my newfound wealth to get out of debt, to travel and to save for the future. Most Americans have a low rate of savings and, in some cases, it's negative. Not cool. These thoughts started perlocating because I started reading Gregg Easterbrook's The Progress Paradox. The book is pretty tedious and I've had it for more than two years, but haven't been able to get more than halfway through it. He does raise an interesting question: why are people less satisfied now with all the progress we've made than ever? One of his hypotheses is that our needs have been easily met since few of us has to really struggle for food and shelter. Since we don't need to work hard to meet our needs we take them for granted which means we start to focus on our wants. As I mentioned above, those are never going to be fully satisfied so we're always left with a bad taste in our mouths. I've got a lot of cool stuff, but somehow I feel like I want more. Maybe if people lived in smaller housing, then they wouldn't want so much that they spend themselves into bankruptcy. If you have a 3000 sq foot house, then you'll want to fill it because no one likes to live in an empty house. I'm not sure how to encourage people to live in smaller houses...hmmm...maybe a dwelling tax based on sq feet with no tax below a certain amount...maybe 1500 sq feet? That would exempt most apartments which would reduce the red tape. I'm a big fan of stiff consequences rather than banning. If you want to build a big ass McMansion, I'm not going to stop you, but you're going to have to pay for it. It's kind of like how I don't believe in fuel economy standards, but would rather the government assess a heavy tax on gas. We should try to minimize limiting people's choices.

I've been trying to get up early each morning to get on more of an East Coast schedule. I know that I'm going to be jetlagged next week, but I'll only have a weekend in which to recover so I'd like to minimize it. It's going to be hard enough going back to work after a nearly-three month absence.

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