Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Washer and dryer

I hope my new washer and dryer fit. The recess in the mud room is 25 inches or so, but these units are 31 inches. It's possible that the door won't close and it would look pretty stupid if I had to take it off since it insulates the house from the mud room which is connected to the garage. I think I'd figure out a way to take the cupboard off.

I'll find out between 8 and 10 tomorrow morning. It should prove to be fun for sure.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Weekend in review

I got access to my new place on Thursday, but didn't move my stuff from my temporary housing until Friday morning. After work on Friday, I hit up the outdoor store to get a cot because my real stuff won't show up until Wednesday. They didn't have any cots so I got a thick Thermarest because I can use it for car camping as well. I slept on it Friday night, but didn't have a blanket. I got cold so I pulled my rain jacket over me. Yeah, I was living homeless style in a big empty house.

Saturday morning I hit up Sears to get a washer and dryer because they were having a good sale. I got an Energy Star front-loader. It cost a bit, but it should have good resale and got great reviews online. They'll be delivered on Wednesday. They're about 6 inches deeper than top-loaded washers, but there should be room in the mudroom. I only worry about whether or not the door can still open if the dryer sticks out a little bit. I could take out a cupboard to stack them, but with the vibration of a front-loader, I'm not sure that I want to risk it. While at Sears, I also got some odds and ends, a twin-sized Aerobed and a blanket. The thermarest wasn't cutting it as it's too thin. I slept on the Aerobed Saturday night and it was ok except the cells introduce topography. Last night I solved the problem by putting the Thermarest on the Aerobed.

Fortunately, the house has a built in island table with chairs so I could read and eat.

I spent Friday night reading as I got three books from Borders. I spent most of Saturday reading as well. I drove down to Fishkill yesterday to visit a friend and to have lunch. I got my internet hooked up this morning so I've got an alternative to reading. Sweet.

I'm finally hooked up to the internet.

The cable dude came this morning and hooked up Road Runner. After he left, I hooked up my wireless router. I can get five bars of signal strength all the way into the bedroom, but only four bars into the master bathroom. That's fine by me since I just need to be able to use my laptop in the main room.

I checked SpeedTest and I'm rocking about 14.5 Mb/s down and just under 1 Mb/s up. Not too shabby and that's over my wireless. I've got an N router so I'm probably not losing anything in the broadcast.

Now I've got something else to do instead of reading. Don't get me wrong; I love to read, but not 8-10 hours a day.

Friday, June 26, 2009

2009 Blazers draft summary

There was a lot of talk leading up to the draft that Portland would make a lot of moves - perhaps to move up to grab someone like Rubio or Blair or perhaps to nab a veteran like Hinrich. Near the draft Portland moved up from the 24th pick to the 22nd by giving up the 24th pick, a 2009 2nd pick and a 2010 2nd pick to Dallas. It wasn't clear to me why it was necessary to trade up two spots, but I thought it might be a prelude to a bigger deal or maybe they wanted to leapfrog Sacramento.

The draft came and went last night without too much excitement from Portland. They never traded up in the first round and selected Victor Claver from Spain with the 22nd pick. I don't know much about him, but I do know that he has talent. Is he a better pick over Blair who was available? Time will tell. Blair has a crazy wingspan, but is short for a PF and had both knees scoped in high school. That didn't stop San Antonio from picking up in the 2nd round though.

Portland did make another trade - they traded the 38th pick, Sergio Rodriguez and cash to Sacramento to move up to the 31st pick to grab Pendergraph. Pendergraph may be the banger Portland is looking for to backup Aldridge, but Blair was still on the board. Rodriguez had to go based on his attitude and to free up playing time to see if Bayless is the answer at point (my take: he's not). However, just moving up 7 2nd spots for him does not seem to be getting full value. Sure, Portland grabbed Pendergraph who might not have been there at 31, but Portland also had the 35th pick (used to grab Dante Cunningham). I don't think four spots in the 2nd round is a big deal, but perhaps Rodriguez had a little value on the open market.

Portland used its last 2nd pick, #55, on Patty Mills, an Australian point guard who will probably play in Europe next season. I think Claver will stay there as well to season while Pendergraph and Cunningham are both expected to make the team.

Overall, I guess I would say that I'm puzzled. It could be that these picks will be used in trades in July to grab some veterans, but if not, it's no big deal. Portland has a pretty good team and no pick in the draft would start for them. I just thought Blair would be a good fit and that they could get more for Rodriguez.

Waking up too early

I have to move out of my temporary housing today by noon. I need to vacuum and, as a courtesy to my neighbors, I don't want to do that until after 9 or so. I stayed up to around midnight so that I could sleep in this morning. Well, my body had other ideas and I woke up at 5:30. It's only 6 now and it's not going to take me 3 hours to clean the bathroom, clean the kitchen and load up my car.

At least I still have the internet to keep me company.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Not good sleeping weather

Last night it was cold yet humid so I felt hot and cold at the same time. It's a strange feeling and not conducive to sleeping. I thought I had some melatonin left, but the bottle was empty.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I saw a falcon.

Yesterday I saw a falcon just chillin' on the ground when I was on my lunch time walk. I was walking around the SUNY-Albany campus, when I saw what looked like a big bird on the ground. It looked like a falcon hangin' out on the grass so I crept up. He didn't fly away and didn't seem to be eating anything so it's possible he was hurt, but I wasn't going to get close enough to find out. Unfortunately, I didn't have a camera with me so you'll just have to take my word.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


It looks like everything is in place for me to move in to "my" house early. I'll get the keys from the sellers after work on Thursday. I'm not sure when I can get my stuff delivered out of storage, but hopefully it's no later than Monday. If it's not on Friday, I'll have to get a cot or an air mattress or something for the weekend. I'm not sure what I'm going to do either because I won't have internet access nor my stuff. I won't be able to do anything to the house either until I own it so I can't kill time with yard work.

I think maybe I'll go to the library to get a card and to check out some books. I haven't been reading much lately because I finished what I have. If the library isn't open, I might hit a bookstore.

Online banking

When I moved out to Albany, I decided not to get a local bank because I could get better rates from ING Direct, an online bank. It has worked out pretty well so far because I do all of my transactions with online bill pay. However, I need to get a lot of money to my lawyer for closing. ING doesn't do wire transfers nor certified checks and has a $5k limit per day on electric check transactions. That means I had to set up a week's worth of transactions. I could've had a paper check mailed, but that might've taken too long and I'm not sure they would have accepted it.

I'm just ready for this house crap to be done with.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Walk/hike in Plotterkill Preserve

Yesterday I went for a nature walk in the Plotterkill Preserve near Rotterdam, NY. I needed the exercise and wanted to break in the new leather hiking boots I got from REI on Saturday (I drove 130 miles to Hartford, CT since that is where the closest REI is). The walk was short, but rewarding. I got to see a decent sized waterfall and I also saw an orange salamander and a green snake. I thought I heard a rattlesnake, but I'm not sure.

I didn't get any blisters, but I only walked for 1.5 hours. The boots held up well and weren't as heavy as I thought they'd be.

I took a few short clips. There was condensation on my camera for the first video which is why it looks weird.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Letting go is tough.

I think it's just going to take some more time.

Should I get an iPhone?

After I move in to my new house, I'm going to get a cell phone plan with a local number. I could switch over my Verizon service, but I was thinking of doing pre-paid with TMobile instead. I could get 1000 minutes for $100 which would last me a few months for sure. However, Apple just came out with the third generation iPhone and lower prices. Very tempting... I know a lot of people with iPhones and they all seem to love them. They're pretty useful, but are they worth the cost? The idea of having access to the internet nearly anywhere is cool, but the idea of being just like schlub is not. Hmm...I'll have to mull it over for sure. I'm about 51-49 towards getting one.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Fitness update

That 15 mile hike last Sunday helped me lose some weight for the week, but not much fat. I need to start doing more aerobic activity during the week for sure.

The weight is also starting to trend downward a little bit though the body fat has flatlined.

Easy baked tilapia dinner

Last night I had baked tilapia for dinner and it was pretty damn easy to make. You melt 2 tbs of butter with a lot of chopped garlic and mix in some pepper and salt. Put a little of the mixture on the bottom of a pan, put 4 tilapia fillets on top and then put the rest of the mixture on the fish. Bake at 350 F for 10-20 minutes. You'll know it's done when it flakes off.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

With white flight comes cheap housing

One good thing about white flight is that housing prices in Detroit have dropped considerably. You can get a stripped down crapshack for less than $1k according to this CNN article. You'll have to replace all the wiring and most of the inside, but you're still get property for pennies on the dollar. Hopefully hard working people will move in to help revitalize the city.

My own minor super power

I seem to have developed the ability to wake up five minutes before my alarm is supposed to go off.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Could be better news

My closing will be delayed by about five days because the sewer hookup can't happen until early next week and the loan can't go through until the hookup has been vetted. Weak. Five days really isn't that much, but I've already waited more than a month since my offer was accepted since New York is a weak ass state.

It's possible I can get into the house early through "early occupancy," but I'm not going to count on it.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

White flight in Detroit

I didn't realize things were that bad in Detroit until I read this article. I can't believe that a city of close a million people only has four Starbucks, no Borders and no chain grocery stores. Holy moly. How did things get that bad that quickly?

I also read an article about how China will soon be the number two market for Porsche. It's time to put a stop to other countries getting rich off our debt. We need to curb needless spending and do what we can to boost innovation to bring the technological leadership back. Otherwise the US will be just a land of consumers like the fat asses in WALL-E.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Monday links

The Japanese are weird. Women there are now going crazy over dudes from the Warring States period. One theory is because Japanese dudes these days are pretty wimpy those women are jonesin' for real men. Source.

Safeway shows how to do healthcare right without assistance from the government. They reward those who make healthy choices without overly punishing those who don't. Sweet. Source.

Hike up Mt. Colvin and Mt. Blake

Yesterday I went hiking with the Hiking Mates again. We drove up into the Adirondacks and hiked up Mt. Colvin and then over to Mt. Blake, two of the forty six Adirondacks High Peaks. Only three of us showed, but that's ok.

We had to walk about three miles to the trail head from the parking lot because the trail head is on private land. It's about three miles up to the top of Colvin and then another one point five miles to the top of Blake. There isn't a loop so we did a down-and-back.

The weather held up for the most part though we nearly got caught in a thunderstorm between Blake and Colvin. The hike itself kicked my ass all over the place thanks to mud, rocks, tree roots and bugs. A good portion of the hike was over rocky ground and we had to scale some short rock ledges as well. Fun fun fun. I had to Tarzan around using tree roots since I don't have a hiking pole.

I didn't get any blisters, but I got bit a bunch since the bugs found the places that didn't get bug spray. My knees nearly gave out on the walk back to the car, but it was all good once we stopped for root beer floats.

We estimated we hiked about 15 miles and it took exactly ten hours. I would rate the hike as "difficult," but I need to lose some weight so your mileage may vary.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Getting up early

For some reason, I like to get up well in advance of when I actually need to. I think I'm paranoid about over-sleeping or being late. I'm meeting the hiking group at 6:30 and I need to leave at 6. For some reason, I thought I should get up before 5 in order to get ready. Well, I did, surfed the internet and ate breakfast and it's only 5:20. I need to pack my bag, but that'll only take about 10 minutes. I could've slept in another thirty minutes for sure.

This hike should help me catch up on exercise I missed last week.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Gray hair and stress

It seems that gray hair is due to stress (genotoxic), but that may be a good thing as it protects our body from toxins. You can read the blurb here.

I think we should definitely increasing funding of stem cells. I read another article this week about how stem cells on contact lenses can help heal corneas. Pretty cool eh? The article is here.

Fitness update

Interesting. I thought that I was being more active this week, but my weight has stuck around 199 lbs and my body fat is creeping back up around 30%. Not good. Bodies like equilibrium so I'm going to need to to do something to shake it out. I have been doing my strength training consistently so I'm getting stronger, but I guess I'm just building muscle under fat.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Using salt water to grow crops.

No, not really, but these dudes in England came up with a clever system of porous pipes that allow water to leak out, but nothing else so it doesn't matter how dirty the input water is. You can read more here. I didn't know you could block the salt crystals because they're pretty small. I know there are fine filters, but those are expensive.

The article doesn't go into much detail, but there is a link to the company making these pipes. Ah, the company doesn't disclose IP so I guess we'll just have to imagine how it could work. It does because they were able to grow plants even inputting salt water into the pipes. The other good news is that water is only pulled from the pipes if the soil is dry so there is no over-watering.

It'll be interesting to see if this technology can undo the desertification in the Middle East.

[Obligatory Idiocracy joke here...it's got electrolytes. It's what plants crave...]

Thursday, June 11, 2009


I think one of my big problems is that I'm pretty greedy. Being greedy leads to being selfish and being selfish is not that great of a quality. I'm not sure what the cause is. My parents have always done right by me so I don't really want for much growing up. I guess maybe the greediness comes from arrogance. I should have whatever I want because I deserve it.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Getting excited

Even though buying a house is a huge pain in the ass, I'm starting to get excited about it. My broker called this afternoon and I'm just a couple of easily-accomplished steps away from securing the loan. Once I do that, the rest is pure formality. I've had to jump through some pretty big hoops, but it's ok. You've got to play the game.

The bad news is I won't have any cash to use to immediately pimp the place out, but I think I can scrape some together to install a shower door in the master bathroom. I don't like shower curtains and shower doors are easier to clean. I think they look nicer as well.

The other good news is that it looks like I get to use the money that goes into escrow to pay the school taxes this September. That contradicts what the first broker told me, but it seems right to me. That means I don't need to posse up $6k in three months. I might still save up the money in case he's wrong, but I hope not. If he's right, then I'll use the money to replace the water heaters with tankless. I'll get 30% of my costs, up to $1500 reimbursed next year as a tax credit. Sweet. With the $8k tax credit for first time homebuyers, I could be getting well in excess of $10k back next spring. Super sweet.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Buying a house is a huge pain in the ass.

I'm not done with the process, but I wish I were. If I were to do it over again, I would do things differently. I would try not to use a mortgage broker, but they can be useful if you're not rock solid.

Here is my advice:

Try to posse up as much cash as you can as early as you can. Banks generally ask for two months' worth of bank statements so, if you're going to borrow money from a family member, do it at least two months before even starting the house buying process. If you don't want to wait, make sure you only borrow money from direct family members. You'll need to generate gift letters, but they pass the muster if they're from family.

The banks will scrutinize your finances carefully so make sure you can explain where all the money comes from. I'm not sure if they'll ask you for statements beyond two months. I think it really depends on your credit and how likely it is that you could have that much saved up.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Do us all a favor and hang up and drive.

Driving a car is probably the most dangerous thing most people do in their lives and yet everyone takes it for granted. Talking on a cell phone while driving is idiotic. Why can't your call wait until you get home? Is it really that urgent? I think that most people are over-connected. No wonder Twitter is popular; most people only need 144 characters or however many you get to describe their lame ass lives.

Think hands-free is safer? Think again.

Preparing for the apocalypse

I'm convinced that the US will fall apart sometime in my lifetime. I not only want to be a survivor, but a thriver as well. I refuse to be a victim. To that end, I need to take the below steps to ensure my success:

Step 1: I need to get my fat ass in shape. If I want to be a "winner," I need to be in peak physical condition. I'm determined to get beefcake by eating better and by exercising daily. My pedometer and 50 Million Pounds are helping because they force me to keep track of my physical activities.

Step 2: I need to learn to defend myself. I need to learn some hand to hand combat, how to fire a gun and how to work a bow and arrow because there won't be an unlimited supply of bullets. I don't imagine a post-disaster word will be friendly and it'll definitely be survival of the fittest.

Step 3: I need to learn how to operate common motor vehicles. That means I need to learn how to ride a motorcycle and how to drive stick. Knowing how to perform maintenance on them will be essential as well.

Step 4: I need to learn some handyman skills. People who can build things are going to be in high demand so I want to be one of those people. I'm an engineer so I think I already have the right mindset. I should pick up some carpentry, electrical and plumbing skills.

Step 5: I need to live off-grid. The crash might be soft, but utilities will probably be the first to go. If I live somewhere self-sufficient from an energy perspective, I'll be much better off. I'll need the self-defense skills to protect my place from others less fortunate, but hopefully it won't come to that.

Step 6: I need some wilderness survival skills. I need to learn how to hunt and fish because I'll probably have to feed myself.

I'm sure there are some other skills out there, but these were the first to pop into my head.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Sausage and pasta dinner

Here is what I had for dinner tonight. I got the recipe from the Hannaford site [look for Tuesday]. It looked a little dry so I added a can of fire-roasted tomatoes.

It turned out pretty well and even had a kick to it thanks to the hot oil and hot sausages I used.

Walking the Saratoga Battlefied at night

Last night, I walked around the Saratoga Battlefield by moon light with other folks from the Hiking Mates Meetup club. The moon was nearly full and there were enough clouds to provide some cool reflections. We walked about 6 miles in total which is much needed exercise for me. My feet are a little sore today and my thighs are chafed. That'll teach me to do any serious exercise in jean shorts.

I tried to take a video of the moon while walking, but it was pretty tough.


It may be a really stupid idea, but I want to get a motorcycle before my 35th birthday. It looks like a lot of fun and could be an efficient way to get to work except during the winter. I don't know how to ride one, but I know that you can take classes.

The only bad thing is that motorcycles can be fairly dangerous. I'm a cautious man, but I'm more worried about the knuckleheads out there on the road with me.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Fitness update

I've been doing my strength training three times a week and I'm definitely getting stronger. I thought I was getting leaner as well, but my scale tells me my body fat percentage went up this week. That's pretty weak. I know that I need to add in some more aerobic activity. It's possible that I'm just building muscle under my fat. Hmmm...

I ordered a pedometer and it showed up yesterday. I'll wear that as much as I can to try to encourage me to be more active. I'll set a goal for 10,000 steps and see how easy that is. I've started parking in the far lot at work so that I have to walk more. I'm a bit worried that my car may be more vulnerable to break-in, but Albany is fairly safe and it isn't that remote. I'll probably end up walking an extra mile which is good.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Something in the water

Damn. I've got to figure out what I'm eating or drinking that is messing with my mental state because I don't really care if I live or die right now. I must have a sinus infection or something. Maybe I need to go off dairy and sugar.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

On being happy

One of the reasons that I have trouble being happy is that I'm never satisfied. I'm always looking for something "better" and it's pretty frustrating. If you're never satisfied then you're always looking around, seeing what other people have and feeling unsettled. If you manage to acquire something, you can't enjoy it and spend most of your time with buyer's remorse.

As you may know, I'm in the process of buying a house. It's definitely a cool place, but I can't stop my brain from thinking about all the things that I don't like about it. Focusing on the negative puts me into a bad mood which causes me to focus more tightly on the negative and so on and so forth. Gah.

I'm also incredibly impatient. I just want things over with quickly. I'm not really sure why, but I can't stop to smell the roses. When I hike, I hike as fast as I can rather than hiking to enjoy the surroundings.

I will admit that this personality trait/flaw helps me be a good engineer because I'm always looking for flaws and how to improve them, but it's wrecking havoc on my personal life.