Monday, August 31, 2009


I finally got around to taking pictures of my new house and made a PDF and sent it out to friends and family.  One of my cousins wrote back saying that I must really like Albany since I bought a house out here.  Heh.  The opposite is nearly true.  I bought a house here because I don't think I could stand it if I were living in an apartment surrounded by knuckleheads and white trash.  I don't like it here at all.  There are some nice people that I met through the hiking group, but I can tell that I can't live here for too long or I'll go crazy.  I pretty much dread going to work because it's a giant time suck.  I feel that I have a lot to offer, but no one's really asking.  Most people are slaves to arbitrary timelines that tell you to run a certain amount of lots in a certain time period.

I don't consider my house to be a financial anchor.  If I'm really hard up, I'll just walk away from it since I haven't put that much money into it.  I think the market will go up and I live in the best school district in the area so the house should be in demand if I need to sell it.  I figure that I'll work here another 2.5 years so that I've got about three years on my CV and then bail.  I'll keep the house and rent it out.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Fantasy football roster

Every year, my dad, my brother and I have a fantasy football league. It's just the three of us so there are always more than enough decent players to go around. I watch and follow football the most so I usually come out ahead. Last year, I won quite a bit, mostly at my brother's expense.

Here is who I drafted this year:
QB: Brees, NO; Ryan, Atl; Roethlisburger, Pit
WR: Fitzgerald, Ari; Moss, NE; Wayne, Ind; Jackson, SD; Bowe, KC
RB: Turner, Atl; Williams, Car; Johnson, Ten; Slaton, Hou; Washington, NYJ; Jackson, StL
K: Gostkowski, NE; Akers, Phi; Brown, StL
TE: Witten, Dal; Carlson, Sea
DEF: Baltimore

I feel pretty good about my team and my ability to pick up dudes during the season.

The summer of anger in the US pointed me towards this article on why Americans are angry this summer. I think many of us were hoping that Obama would bring in sweeping changes for the better, but it's been mostly same-old same-old. There also seems to be a lot of crazy talk out there fueled by FOX "News" and the internet. Do people really believe the government has created death camps for dissenters? Don't people realize the government is one of the most inefficient organizations out there? How could they set up death camps without people knowing? How could they hold people hostage there since there is at least one license gun for every American?

I think one problem is that Americans feel increasingly out of touch with government. We're fighting two unnecessary wars, our economy sucks and we have a hard time learning the truth due to ambiguous statements and outright lies. Whatever happened to government by the people? Why is the government trying to hastily push through stop-gap measures? The real cause of the financial meltdown was self-regulation. The financial regulatory power in the US is pretty puny. Do you trust Lehman Brothers to self-regulate? These guys diced up and packaged bad loans as good ones because there wasn't anyone to stop them. I'm a big supporter in the free market, but I want the playing field level, honest and transparent. We need government to regulate because big business can't be trusted. Businesses' primary mandate is to increase shareholder value. You don't do that by installing expensive pollution controls or by paying fair wages. If we're not careful, we'll end up back in the feudal days.

What we really need to do is to take a step back and take a deep breath. Let the anger and hate flow out to clear our minds to properly focus on the issues. The economy sucks because no one is buying anything. No one is buying anything because people are worried about being out of work. Everything is spiraling down so the government needs to step in and strategically spend money. That doesn't mean throw money at the problem or at businesses because they may just pocket the money *cough* AIG *cough*. The government needs some public works projects. Those help employ people and improve the standard of living. It's about time that we start focusing on improving living conditions rather than focusing on growth. Why does the economy need to grow? Wouldn't it be better if everyone had enough food and shelter?

I think the government should work on installing fiber optic cable around the country that it can lease out to the telecoms. I know they already strung a lot of fiber, but only to dense population areas. Don't people in Wyoming or South Dakota deserve true broadband internet? I also think the government should fix crumbling roads and bridges. Lastly, the government should encourage adoption of alternative energy sources by providing massive tax deductions. People are only slowly adopting solar panels and windmills because the capital investment is high. The capital investment is high because the volume is low. Something is necessary to break the cycle and that would be tax deductions.

At the same time, I would reduce or eliminate income-based taxes and increase consumption-based taxes. You should only be taxed when you consume a resource rather than just by earning money which is essentially virtual. Maybe a national sales tax on everything but food would work.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Staying warm on a rainy day

Tropical Storm Danny is cruisin' the Atlantic and has brought some more wet weather to the Capital District.  It got cold last night and hasn't really warmed up so I got a fire going in my fireplace this morning.

I didn't have enough kindling to get the big pieces going, but the fire was respectable for a couple of hours.

Fitness update

Gah.  My laziness returned over the past couple of weeks and is now stalling my progress towards getting in shape.  Not cool.  I need to get back to my thrice-weekly strength training sessions and I need to start hiking and biking again.  I was supposed to go for a 15 mile hike today, but the rain pushed it off to next week.

Friday, August 28, 2009


Does this Google map make sense to you?

View Find the hidden pattern in a larger map

Thursday, August 27, 2009

"Would you kill me if I say please?"

  • The work picnic today went pretty well. The food was acceptable, the weather was fantastic and it got me out of work for a couple of hours.
  • I picked up my generic Augmentin for $8 and took the first pill tonight. One of the main side effects is diarrhea. Fan-fucking-tastic. Hopefully it'll clear up at least some of my sinus funk.
  • I've slept in the past couple of mornings for no good reason.
  • People at work have noticed I no longer attend the big device and integration review meetings. I find them boring and useless and I usually sit at my desk and go through the posted slides, but I probably should start attending again so that people know that I'm plugged in.
  • I went to Lowe's tonight to get some spray to kill the hornet's nest, but the only spray sold will damage my blue spruce. It's a pretty good looking tree so I'll have to find an alternative method. The worst case is I have to wait until winter. Weak.
  • Sears refunded my washer and dryer delivery charge with a gift card. Now I need to think of $71.50 worth of stuff from Sears. Any suggestions?
  • My two trees are still pretty dry so I gave each three gallons of water. It may be too little too late.
  • I've been angry often lately. I'm not sure why. It just sort of creeps up on me until I feel like killing everyone I see.
  • I got my Bethlehem library card tonight. The library is pretty nice and I can tell that Bethlehem is a well-off town. I'll try to go there once a week to read newspapers and magazines.
  • In my current state, it's probably not a good idea to listen to a playlist titled "Depressing Music to Kill Yourself To."
  • I only like some Radiohead songs. The ones I don't like, I really don't like.
  • I almost bought a big ass bug zapper from Lowe's because I get bit by mosquitoes within seconds of going outside around my house.
  • This song sums up how I feel.
  • I'm not some loser emo dude, but I'm having trouble adjusting to all the life changes over the past couple of years.
  • "The world has let me down."
  • "When you look at my face, does it seem just as ugly?"

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

It's hard to soar with eagles when you work with turkeys.

  • Work can be frustrating because I feel I'm a lot more intelligent than my coworkers.
  • Most people out and about in NY state can eat a big fat dick and learn how to fucking drive.
  • Kosher salt is probably not the kind of salt for baking cookies.
  • Both my apple tree and my Japanese maple are in sorry shape.
  • I got my antibiotic changed to Augmentin instead of Levaquin. We'll see if it does any good.
  • I'm really only happy on payday.
  • Tomorrow is picnic day, but I'm not that excited.
  • I wonder if I have the guts to end it.
  • I think I'll get a gun and learn to shoot.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I don't trust drug companies.

I went to the allergist's for my follow-up appointment this afternoon.  I'm no longer allergic to stuff, but I do have chronic sinusitis.  I asked for ways to get rid of the funk in my forehead and he suggested antibiotics.  The one he suggested is called Levaquin and is a fluorquinone.  He casually mentioned that there is a non-zero chance of Achilles tendon rupturing on this drug.  Wait...what?  I said ok, but then did some more research when I got back to work.  The drug is the heart of a class-action lawsuit claiming that the drug companies didn't properly notify people that there is a chance of some bad shit happening.  Other side effects include nausea and diarrhea, but also neurological problems, insomnia, the shakes, etc.  Hmmm...the worst part is you can get fucked up after just one pill and the symptoms might not present for a while after. 

My mom isn't a doctor, but she works at a hospital so I'll see what she thinks, but I'm leaning towards calling up my doctor tomorrow and either having him switch me to a different antibiotic or not doing the course at all.  I'd rather tough out mild sinus headaches than risk a ruptured Achilles or droopy eyelids.  He took this medicine earlier this summer, but I have bad luck with this kind of stuff and take my health very seriously.  Unfortunately, it's a broad-spectrum antibiotic that should be pretty effective.

My mom has had sinus trouble and got surgery to get polyps removed.  He couldn't see any polyps up my nose, but that doesn't mean they aren't there.  I wonder if I should see an ENT about surgery instead.  My doctor did warn me that my insurance company might insist on a course of antibiotics first.  Weak.  Why do we let insurance companies make medical decisions?  I'd almost rather just pay for all health care out of pocket.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Get busy living or get busy dying

  • With my new commitment to fitness, I will get my body fat percentage down from ~27% to ~22% by the end of this year.  I need to lose about 1% per month which works out to about 2 fat lbs per month.  That is certainly possible.
  • I'm going to start eating better.  I'll have yogurt, fruit and granola for breakfast and fruit and cheese for dessert.  I had to exercise a lot of willpower at the grocery store to avoid buying crap.  
  • Some jerk wasps/hornets/bees have stealthily built a nest in my spruce tree.  I'll get some spray to kill those dudes.  They can build a nest in 0.25 acres of woods in my front yard.
  • I realized today that I'm unfriendly, but not unpleasant.
  • I test out as an INTJ.  This description is pretty apt though not flattering.  I definitely would rather be friendless than jobless.
  • In order to sleep better at night, I'm going to stop reading, using the internet or watching TV/movies thirty minutes before I want to sleep.  I definitely think that I'm over-stimulated.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Gotta get beefcake

I played some tennis with a friend this morning and I was pretty rusty which is explainable because today was the second time I've played tennis in a few years.  However, I wasn't happy to see how quickly I got tired.  Sure, it was frickin' humid out, but I should've been able to last longer.

I need to stop eating a lot of sugar and start exercising more to get rid of my gut.  I'll check out the local tennis club to see if I can afford it.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Rescuing my trees

My red delicious apple tree and my crimson maple aren't doing that well. The apple tree has just a few leaves left and the maple seems to be drying out. I went back to Hewitt's this morning to get some advice and it turns out that I need to soak these trees at least once every two days. We had a hot spell here and I missed a few waterings. He thought I could rescue the trees with this organic tree food so I got a bag and poured some around the base of each sad tree. Hopefully it'll work.

I was only outside for about five minutes, but of course I got bit by a couple of mosquitoes.

Fitness update

Not much was done this past week to enhance my fitness because the blister on my left hand is still healing.  I've been too lazy to put my bikes back together as well and it's been raining.  Boo hoo hoo.  
The downward fat loss trend has stalled out a bit so I need to kick it up a notch.  It would help if I could find an ultimate frisbee group that plays on the weekend.

Friday, August 21, 2009

I'd kill myself, but I don't have the guts.

I was planning my escape from Albany this morning, but today at work wasn't too bad.  I've finally gotten enough projects to stay busy, but I'm not that happy with the management at work and the area.  People don't seem all that friendly around here in general.  I'm not sure if it's due to the crappy weather or the crappy economy, but most folk look pretty beaten down and take it out on others. 

I need to work at my current job for at least another 2.5 years or my CV will look goofy.  I'm not sure where I want to end up, but I think it's back on the West Coast or at least closer.  My friend works at Argonne near Chicago so maybe he can hook me up with a job.  I need to learn as much as I can from my current job so that I'm more marketable.  I will work on learning more programming because I think that's valuable and I definitely need to learn more transistor physics to at least help me in my current job.

Nothing is going to happen soon so I shouldn't worry about it too much, but I do want to make sure that I don't stagnate out here.  I need to be pro-active and build a lot of contacts in the industry.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I hate you, but I hate me even more.

I've gotten into a bit of a social rut so I'm going to lean on Meetup more for stuff to do during the week.  Once I get my sinus problem under control, I should have more energy after work.  I'll put my bikes back together so I can go riding as well.  I definitely think I need some aerobic exercise.

Yesterday I signed up for a book group and a cooking group.  Hopefully there'll be enough going on for me to get out and about at least twice during the week. 

A friend of mine found this link.  I'm not sure how cool or useful it is.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Are you ready for some football?

Preseason football can only mean one thing... the real deal is right around the corner. I'm pretty stoked because I'm a huge football fan. I wish I could watch it on my big ass screen, but that would take a lot of work and money.

I wish Brett Favre would climb back under his rock, but he's too much of an attention whore. I think the Vikings will regret signing him. Coincidentally, I'll be at the Ravens-Vikings game in Minneapolis on 10/18. Good friends live in the Twin Cities and so I'm treating us to seats on the 50 yard line about 18 rows off the field. Oh yeah, it'll be sweet.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

One reason why I'm cash poor...

Over the past month, I've repainted part of my basement and "installed" a kick-ass home theater screen from Carada. Installed is in quotes because I couldn't find any studs in the wall so I just put the screen on top of some wooden boxes I made with the help of a friend.

Here is what the basement looked like before:
The ivy wallpaper is pretty funky and took a long ass time to take down.
Here is what that part of the basement looks like now:
I got a Panasonic PT-A3000U 1080p projector and it's frickin' bad ass with a Blu-ray movie up. It's pretty much like being in the theater except there are wires running everywhere. I got some 12 gauge speaker wire from Monoprice, but my receiver can't accept 12 gauge for some of the speaker inputs. If I ever save up some money, I'll get a new receiver and put the current one upstairs. I'd like to eventually get some theater seats and then build a riser for a second row so that lots of people can pimp a movie.

Today I ran some calculations to see how to maximize my cash. I need to put money in my 401k to reduce my AGI to get more of the $8k housing credit, but it turns out that I'll get more cash overall by putting less in. I'll have less money overall because I would get both the 401k money (eventually) and the housing credit, but I need cash since I'll have to start making mortgage payments. I'd also like to save up some emergency money as well.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Monday bullets

  • Holy moly. I really want to take off my hydrocolloidal bandage. There is a serious amount of pus under the bandage on my blister. That's a good sign as it means the blister is healing, but I'd still like to poke it.
  • This dated article extols the virtues of a deep storage battery without discussing the generation costs. Solar panels are still pretty expensive and the cost won't go down much until the volume goes up. The volume won't go up until the cost goes down. The only way to break the cycle is for the government to offer significant tax rebates. I think it would be a great way to stimulate the economy and agree that point production is the safest and most efficient way to produce energy.
  • Every dumbass thinks he's a business man. Is it really that hard to use a towel for drying off after a shower?

Kayaking on the North Hudson

It was a great day out on Saturday so a few of us from the hiking group went kayaking on the North Hudson (?) in Warrensburg in the Adirondacks.  We rented kayaks from Beaver Brook Outfitters right on the river and paddled down 14 miles to the take-off point.  It took us just a little over four hours and we had time to stop for lunch on an island along the way.

Here are some pictures from the island:
I had planned to take pictures while I was kayaking and maybe a video or two, but my cameras were in a dry bag in my backpack in the storage compartment of my Pungo Wilderness kayak.  
The current wasn't that strong so we had to paddle for most of the way and I got stuck twice and had to get out to walk my kayak off the bottom.
The only bad part was getting a blister on my left thumb five fricking minutes into paddling.  How does that make sense?  I can understand one at the end of the day, but in the beginning?  It meant that I couldn't grip the paddle properly so my left arm got a little sore.  I've got a hydrocolloidal bandage on it so at least I don't wince every time I pick something up since I'm left-handed.
I will definitely go kayaking again, but I'll get some kayking gloves for sure.  I'd like to buy a kayak, but that'll have to wait until I get my work truck which will wait until I get some money.  Who knows when that'll be?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Michael Vick and forgiveness

Some of you might've heard that Vick signed with the Eagles this week. Most of you know that Vick went to prison for about two years for his role in a dog-fighting operation. Not only did he fight the dogs, but he tortured and killed the ones that were underperforming. Just thinking about his actions makes me sick to my stomach and pretty goddamn angry. However, what about forgiveness? Should we forgive him if he is truly sorry? How do we know? Maybe he's just sorry that he got caught, went to prison and had to declare bankruptcy.

Nothing we do to Vick can bring those dogs back so how do you truly punish someone? Should we torture and kill him as well? Wouldn't that make us as bad as him?

Fitness update

I have been pretty diligent about doing my strength training, but work has gotten busy enough that I haven't been able to walk after every lunch.  I think that I'm getting strong, even though I can't do one stinkin' pull-up, but that I need to work on my cardiovascular fitness.

The graph shows a mostly downward trend for body fat, but my weight is starting to creep upward.  I wouldn't mind as long as my body fat goes down, but I don't want too much weight on my joints.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Credit card resolution

After nearly a month, I have use of my credit card again.  I hadn't heard from them even though they should've received my documents early this week so I gave them a call (they were supposed to call me).  Of course, they had gotten my documents, but had no excuse for not calling other than they suck.  I argued with the CSR that their fraud procedure sucks ass, but to no avail.  She didn't really care that I was going to cancel my card because they don't make much money off me since I pay my balance in full.

I put in a request for my $100 cash back and paid my bill in full.  I'll cancel it in a month or so because that's the only way that I can punish them.

The best news is the credit agencies were never notified so my credit is still intact.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

I shouldn't self-medicate with sugar.

I need to stop using sugar to feel better.  I had a Milky Way for my afternoon snack because I was pretty depressed earlier today thanks to my dentist appointment.  My teeth are fine, but most of my new dentist's patients are white trash and were in there to get teeth replaced because they hadn't brushed in three years [my interpretation].  My dentist in California has fancy equipment and digital records.  This new dentist has paper records, a shack for an office and fairly primitive equipment.  My teeth got cleaned though so I'm good for six more months.  I'll use that time to find another dentist.

Driving to work from the dentist's, I realized that I need to live somewhere without white trash.  They are definitely the bane of my existence.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

My poor apple tree

My red delicious apple tree is looking sadder by the day. I've been watering it every day, but it doesn't seem to be enough. I'll probably have to hit up the nursery for some advice/plant food. They have a lifetime guarantee, but I'd like to see if I can nurse it back to health.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Trip to Chicago, IL

My good friends that I met in grad school finally moved back to the Chicago area where they both grew up. Chicago is only a 2 hour flight from Albany so I flew out early Friday afternoon and came back on Sunday night. I had a great time and wish I could have stayed longer.

On Friday, we went from the airport to a pizza place to get some authentic Chicago pizza. I was pretty hungry so I would've eaten just about anything, but I think it was good anyhow. After that, we drove to US Cellular Field to catch the White Sox vs Cleveland. The White Sox lost 6-2 even though Buehrle was pitching. He didn't have his best stuff and gave up two homers to Cleveland's AA chump catcher, Kelly Shoppach. We still had a good time though.

Here is a picture of me, my friend's oldest son and my friend:
I had to borrow their Sox jacket because I was too stupid to pack properly.

I took some short videos during the game and of the fireworks afterwards:

On Saturday, we hit the pool at Centennial Beach. It's a man-made pool with a lot of sand in downtown Naperville where my friends live. The weather wasn't great, but it was still fun. Their friends from Albuquerque flew in that afternoon and we had barbecued pork ribs for dinner. Sweet.

On Sunday, we hit Centennial Beach again because it was hot and humid. After lunch, we drove to downtown Chicago to drive by Soldier Field (which looks like a spaceship having sex with the Library of Congress), Shedd Aquarium and other stuff along Lakeshore Drive. Lollapalooza was going on so we couldn't park near the lake. We drove to the Willis (formerly Sears) Tower and after some dickering shelled out for the fast pass to get our asses up to the Skydeck. The regular tickets had a two hour wait and I had to fly out in about that time.

You get a great view from up there and they even have these glass viewing boxes that stick out from the building. It's a bit freaky to stand in one, but I made myself do it.

Here are a ton of pictures I took from the Skydeck. The ones with the crowds are of Lollapalooza.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Bedtime for Bonzo

I have trouble sleeping because of general anxiety disorder (self-diagnosed) and a low-grade sinus infection. I usually try to stay up as late as I can to be tired enough to fall asleep. That hasn't been working lately so I got some melatonin from the store today. I took 3 mg about thirty minutes ago and I think it's doing the trick because I'm getting really sleepy.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Gasoline Run-off: Hess

I like challenges so I decided to battle off some of the local gasoline companies to see which would give my 2007 Mazda 3 (2.3 liter) car the best mileage.  I record the results for every tank I put in, but I'll only count the ones that are after a buffer tank so that I don't contaminate the results.

I had three Hess 87 octane fill-ups - I drove 1039.0 miles on 33.315 gallons which gives me 31.2 mpg.  My car is EPA rated ~ 32 mpg for highway and ~ 25 mpg for city.  Most of my driving is out in the sticks or on the freeway so 31.2 mpg sounds about right.

I'm now on my buffer tank of Sunoco 87.  After three more tanks of Sunoco, I'll try Mobil and then Shell if I can find one around here.  I haven't seen any Chevrons and I'm not going to mess around with no-name gas.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

No need for cable

I hit up Radio Shack after work today and got a 25 foot coax cable so that I can put my antenna near the window.  I can now get all the networks so I'm good to go for football season and don't need to get cable which runs about $65/month.

When I save up some money, I might get an outdoor antenna for the roof.  I can bring the cable down into the basement where all the coax connections are.  The previous owners were TV nuts and had cable running into every room.  I would just need an amplifier and a splitter.  That would help me bring TV into the basement where my bad ass projector is.  I'm salivatin' just thinking about watching the Super Bowl on the big ass screen.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Some people can't play nicely.

I subscribe to the Smoking Gun's online newsletter and today's article was about how they busted the dumbass behind PrankNet. PrankNet is the group of retards who call up people pretending to be officials and get them to trash hotel rooms or fast food joints or whatnot. The two main dorks are Canadian and the head honcho is a tough guy who lives with his mom and plays CounterStrike all day.

NY Giants training camp at SUNY-Albany

The New York Giants hold their summer training camp at the University at Albany, formerly SUNY-Albany.  I work on campus and I'm a big football fan so I tooled over to the practice fields this morning and took some pictures and some video.

It was a great day out and there was a pretty decent crowd in attendence.  The Giants were running drills on three fields with the defense doing their thing separately from the offense.  The crowd was separated from the fields by a fence, but you could still tell that most of the dudes are huge and fast.


Monday, August 3, 2009

Painting weekend

I spent the weekend painting the home theater section of my finished basement. Below you can see what it looked like before.
The back wall is wallpaper that had to be steamed off so that I could repaint. I got some VOC-free Natura paint from Benjamin Moore. I painted two walls "polo blue" and another wall "trout gray." I wanted something dark where the home theater screen is going, but not too dark or it would feel cramped.
Here is the after picture:
I left the painting supplies out for when I put up the wood to support the screen. The gray wall looks great, but the back wall looks just ok because the drywall wasn't smooth underneath the wallpaper. Hopefully it's still structurally sound.

I've used Natura paint before and it's great. It's more expensive than a lot of paint, but it's worth it. No VOC's means it doesn't smell and it goes on smoothly and evenly. I highly recommend using it. If you're going to do something, you might as well do it right.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Fitness update

My body fat composition took a small step backwards this week because of all the sugar available.  I still think I'm making progress though and will be even better off once I get my bikes working again.