Wikipedia is Fast!

Saturday, December 29, 2007
The news just came out that Rick Neuheisel will be the next Head football coach of UCLA. I went to Wikipedia to look him up because I didn't know much about his history as a player (I had only heard of him because of the scandal that caused him to be fired).

Well, I get to Neuheisel's Wikipedia page, and it is already updated with the fact that he was hired by UCLA. It wasn't any more than 4 hours ago that the news story was broken, and there it was already in Wikipedia.

This is something that is really changing the world. Certainly it has already, but we are only seeing the very early stages of it. Information just flows so much faster now than it ever has in the past. Things like this get updated in real time, and that has profound effects downstream.

Brian Cook Trade Just Keeps Getting Better

Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Last night, the Lakers beat the Phoenix Suns on Chirstmas Day in front of a National TV audience. This was in no small part to thanks to Trevor Ariza who was the player sent over when Brian Cook was traded to the Orlando Magic. Trevor Ariza made his first start as a Laker and scored 14 points to go along with 7 rebounds, 3 assist, and one of the sickest dunks I've seen in a very long time. He got the past on a fast break and basically jumped over Grant Hill (who actually looked to have good position, but no way should a ref negate that play)

Of course, I've stated I would have taken a bag of chips to get rid of Brian Cook and I meant it. Getting someone as good as Trevor Ariza is just icing on the cake. Or should I say salt on the chip?

Stupid Drivers - Turning Right

Sunday, December 23, 2007
Drivers of the world. When you have a green right turn arrow it means you have the right of way. It means that there will not be opposing traffic coming from the other direction. It means that you can not come to a full stop, check both ways for a few seconds, and then turn. If you want to slow down a little bit just to be sure, maybe. But please, you do not need to come to a full and complete stop.

That is all.

Pimp My Ride

Friday, December 21, 2007
It always makes me a little sad when I watch the show and the people on it talk about how its going to change their life. There are lots of events that could change someones life. Getting an organ transplant, finding a lost parent, getting a great new job, etc.

But getting a car? Even a really nice one? I realize, that some of these people have been very unfortunate, and that any act of kindness is greatly appreciated. But getting a pimped out car does not top my list of things that are life-altering. PERHAPS if I could sell the car for a serious profit and use the money to do something else, but just having the car itself would not be life-altering for me in almost any other circumstance. No matter how down in my luck I was.

It actually makes me think of a scene in Hoosiers where the teacher explains to the coach that she doesn't want the highlight of someone's life to have happened in High School. I would just hope that nobody's highest point in their life would be getting a dope ride.

Gift Cards for Christmas?

Sunday, December 16, 2007
The Holiday season is upon us and one discussion I have had with people is if it is appropriate to give people gift cards for Christmas. The argument goes is that it would be equivalent to giving someone cash, and this is generally frowned upon.

I used to be of the belief that it was not appropriate to give gift cards or cash as a gift. I've always believed that it was the thought in the gift that counted the most, and it didn't take much thought to buy someone a gift card from Best Buy or Target. However, I've recently done a complete U-turn on this subject. The reason is because I've been enjoying the benefit of this my entire life and never complained about it then.

You see, I'm Chinese. And in Chinese culture, it is completely appropriate to give cash as a gift. In fact, it is the norm. I used to love getting those little red envelopes filled with money for my birthday or for Chinese New Year. The funny thing was, for some reason, I never put the two together. I thought it was fine for Chinese people to give me money as a gift but always believed that I should not do the same. Maybe it's because I don't really consider myself Chinese.

Either way, I've changed my mind on the subject. Partially due to this epiphany, partially due to the fact that the older I get, the more I appreciate how hard it is to buy someone like me a gift. I would rather not have people stress otu to try and buy me a gift, so if it easier to give me a gift card, so be it.

How Cold Is It In Seattle Right Now?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007
I went out to lunch yesterday. At lunch I ordered a coke. I took it with me when I left the restaurant and drove home. Being the lazy man that I am, I didn't bring the cup in with me when I got home.

This afternoon, about 24 hours after I had gone out to lunch, I got back in my car to run some errands. I looked down at the cup of coke, expecting to see all liquid. Much to my surprise, it looked as if I hadn't left more than 5 minutes ago, because the ice was still floating at the top.

DVDs and VHS

Monday, December 10, 2007
Here is a random fact I had no idea was true. A DVD case and a VHS tape are exactly the same height. I found this out today packing, and I happen to have an old VHS tape I am dragging along with me. I packed it next to the DVD case and noticed they were flush. I assume this is on purpose so that old storage shelves used to hold VHS tapes could hold DVD movies. Just thought this was an interesting fact.

DRM Sucks

Sunday, December 09, 2007
DRM, or digital rights management, sucks. I have no idea why companies continue to insist on implementing half-ass solutions that do nothing to prevent piracy and do everything to prevent people who want to legitimately use their product from doing so.

I got Hairspray from my Blockbuster Online account. I actually have packed up most of my stuff already, so I don't really have a good place to watch the movie other than on my computer. So I popped the DVD in my computer, and started up my Media Center. Of course, my computer is having problems reading the stupid DVD because New Line had decided to put some Anti-Piracy measures on the DVD to ensure people don't try and steal this movie. These types of measures generally make it more difficult for computers to read the data because this is where pirates are going to try and rip the movie off of. It is supposed to work for legitimate uses, like paying in my media center, but there are always issues.

Of course, one quick search on any torrent network, and you can find copies of it. The only people this really hurts are those who just want to legitimately watch the movie. With the prevalence of media centers and people watching movies on their computer, I just don't understand why companies think this is a good idea. It does not stop piracy, it only pisses off legitimate users.

Most overpaid athletes in professional sports

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

As this is the most popular search on my blog, I figured I would actually compile a list of the most overpaid athletes in professional sports. Now I really don't think these athletes are overpaid, as I don't think anyone is overpaid. These athletes signed contracts, and their employers were willing and often eager to give them these huge paydays. This is a list of athletes who, in my opinion, give their teams the least bang for their buck.

Shaquille O'Neal - I've written before how I feel about Shaq, how he is not the most dominant ever. He did get Miami one NBA ring, but he recently signed a contract extension worth $100 Million over 5 years. That buys you 16pts and 7 Rebounds a game. That is until he gets injured, which is inevitable. The last two years he has averaged 50 games a season.

Stephon Marbury - Guy walked out on his team but is under contract for a little more than $14.5 million. I should actually include the entire New York Knicks team and the idiot Isiah Thomas, but this one is good enough. That's all I have to say about that.

David Beckham - He signed a 5 year $250 Million contract to play in a league few people know about. At half that salary, it would be too much. I don't know a single person who follows MLS, so how on earth can you make him one of the highest paid players in all of professional sports? He isn't even close to the best player in the world anymore. It just doesn't make any sense.

Jason Giambi - Highest paid player last year in MLB earning $23,5 Million. For all that money, the Yankees got a player who only played in half the games and hit a pretty bad .236 with 14 homeruns. Guess he isn't quite the same player without the juice. I am tempted to add Alex Rodriguez onto the list, but while he can't win a championship, he at least is the league MVP.

Honorable Mention - Michael Vick. Should be on the list, since he had a ton of guaranteed money that the Falcons haven't recovered, but considering he isn't actually playing, I left him off the list.

I don't know Hockey well enough to pick one from that sport so that is my list. Did I leave anyone obvious off? What are your thoughts

Ranking Performance

Tuesday, December 04, 2007
I don't know why people get so upset about being ranked. There are some people where I used to work that seem to have a real problem with being ranked. At the time of reviews, all the managers get together and essentially rank you against the other employees in your peer group. This is how the decide on who gets what for a bonus, raise, promotion, etc.

I personally feel I should be told my rank. If there are 20 people who I'm being compared against, I want to know if I'm 1, 7, or 20. In any company, this has to happen. People must be differentiated. If you don't differentiate people, than you have people who slack off getting the same rewards as people who do all the work. All that leads to are people at the top wondering why they are working so hard and doing all the work yet getting the same benefits as everyone else. This leads to them either leaving the company or working less hard, which in turn is bad for everyone. Even the people at the bottom as the company is likely to go under when everyone stops giving a damn.

Now, we are not actually told a number where we are ranked. You can kind of figure out where you are by figuring out how your review went and what type of rewards you got. But seriously, I think I should be given a number. Why is hiding the number and not telling anyone, yet still coming up with that ranking and using it to figure out something as important as raises and promotions, a good thing. Who does it help? Is it going to hurt someones feelings? Does it make it better to see that you clearly got the low end of rewards but not know you are at the bottom of the ranking? Do these people kid themselves into believing they aren't at the bottom?

When I was in High School I knew my rank. I was #8 in my graduating class (out of about 600). For someone as competitive as I am, you would think it really bothered me. And you would be right, it did. I wanted to be #1, but I wasn't. I sought to improve, but in the end I wasn't angry that I was #8, it was what it was. I didn't hate #1-7, they were some of my best friends. If I can handle it as a teenager, why can't people handle it as adults?

Now I'm not saying that you make public who is ranked where. But you yourself should know where you rank at work if they are coming up with that number anyway.

Moving Around Junk

Monday, December 03, 2007
I'm not sure why we do this, but people tend to keep moving around the same old junk. As I prepare to pack up and move, I am going through the closets to see what I have and what I want to get rid of.

As I do this, I run across stuff I brought up with me from LA, unpacked, and never looked at again. So in essence I dragged my stuff 1200 miles across the country, stored it for two years and never looked at it, and I will now drag it back the full 1200 miles just in case I might need to use it again some day.

What will make it even more perfect is if I someday move back to NYC. Could you imagine? I'm sure I have a few items that made their way from NYC with me that I haven't looked at again since then. If that ever happens, I would have dragged the junk almost 9,000 miles with me.

Now I tend not to save too much junk, but imagine all the people who do. Just thinking about the colossal waste in energy and space that all this junk it taking up is mind-numbing. And for what?

Shanghai Kiss - A Review

Sunday, December 02, 2007
I rented a movie called Shanghai Kiss. I had never heard of it before I saw it on the shelf at Blockbuster. It caught my eye because it had Hayden Panettiere in it, and I'm a big Heroes Fan. But when I picked it up, and saw the premise, I decided not to put it down.

My girlfriend and I have noticed that Asian Men tend to not date non-asian women. (By the way, I have been noticing more and more examples of this not being true, so maybe the tide is turning). Since this premise of this movie is about an Asian Man dating a White Girl, I thought I would at least see what it was about. Bad mistake.

The basic premise is that Ken Leung, a thirty something struggling actor, meets a 16 year old Hayden Panettiere while taking the bus. They become friends, which is awkward enough, and the whole movie you are wondering if it will turn into more.

Spoilers after this

Most of the film revolves around Leung struggling to find his place in the world. He is neither Asian nor does he feel like he is really American. Everyone in America sees him as Chinese and nothing more. Everyone in China sees him as an American. All the while, the one person who really loves him, Panettiere, is off limits.

This is one of those movies that is just awkward. Why is a thirty year old guy hanging out with a sixteen year old girl? They address this issue multiple times in the movie, so clearly they want you to feel this awkwardness, but it still made the whole thing creepy. I can relate to the Lenug's feeling of being trapped between two worlds, as I often fell this way myself, but the ways in which this movie addresses those issues seem a little contrived. Further, the awkward romance between the two forces you to focus on that rather than Leung's racial dilemma.

In the end, he ends up with Panettiere, of course only after she turns eighteen. It's still creepy though for a 30 something year old guy to be dating an 18 year old girl. Asian guys have it hard enough as it is, there is no need for a stereotype to be formed that we are so hard up for dates, that we will resort to dating underage girls. Maybe it wasn't the point of the movie, but it was certainly what I focused on.

Seattle Weather

Saturday, December 01, 2007
It is snowing in Seattle right now. It is sixty degrees in L.A. Is it any wonder why I'm excited to move back to Southern California?

How Does Isiah Thomas Keep His Job?

Friday, November 30, 2007
I thought Brian Cook must have dirty pictures on someone, but Isiah Thomas must have pictures of James Dolan killing someone because I have no idea how he keeps his job. Last night, the Knicks got killed by the Boston Celtics by almost fifty points, and it wasn't even that close. I don't know how much Isiah Thomas makes, but if he isn't paying the Knicks to be the coach and GM, he is being overpaid.

The Knicks seemed to forgive Thomas even though they lost a sexual harassment case earlier this year. This might be understandable if the Knicks were a good team since in sports, winning cures all. But they obviously suck. It might even make sense if the Knicks were just rebuilding because and had a bunch of young, cheap players. But the Knicks have the 2nd highest payroll in the league. This is the same guy who traded for Eddy Curry and who gave Jerome James a huge contract. So why oh why does Isiah get to keep his job?


Thursday, November 29, 2007
Last night, I had some people over to play Powergrid. It's one of the things I will miss about Seattle, I love getting together with this group to play.

Powergrid is a board game by Friedemann Friese and distributed by Rio Grande Games. It is relatively simple game in theory. Buy Power plants, buy resources, power homes. Complexity is introduced by how turn order is determined (turn order is a big deal in this game) and by how power plants are purchased (through auctions).

Despite Jenny's fondness of games, I think she would hate this game because

1. The way we play it, people can take a very long time in there turns and I see Jenny getting impatient
2. I like it, and Jenny hates everything I like.

I hope that I can introduce some of my friends in California to the game because I like playing it and I would hate to not play it again just because I moved a few thousand miles. I've gotten pretty good at it, and I'm to the point where I can actually remember what power plants are what

Wii - Still Hard to Get

Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Not to make this the Wii-Blog since I talked about it last time, but the other thing I noticed was that it can still be relatively hard to find the Wii. And it isn't just because the Christmas Season started. I've noticed consistently throughout the year that stores do not have any Wii's in stock. How can it be that one year after this console has been released, they still can't keep in on the shelf? I find it really hard to believe that demand is so hi that supply has yet to be able to catch up. Is this a worldwide shortage? Maybe it is only local to Redmond. Anybody else notice this or has it been easy to get a Wii everywhere else?

Guitar Hero 3 for the Wii

Monday, November 26, 2007
I've been keeping my eye out for the Wii version of Guitar Hero III. I enjoyed the Guitar Hero II enough (on the Xbox 360) that I figured I would at least consider buying this game.

Of course, everywhere I go look for the game, they are sold out. I'm having more trouble finding this game than I am getting my Wii in the first place. I did happen to see a bunch of them at a Fry's when it first came out, but I didn't buy it then because I figured I would buy it later when I had more time to play. Little did I know it would be so hard to get later. Maybe it's the must have thing for Christmas.

I don't even want the game all that much. I think it is fun, but not great, and since it's more expensive than a normal game, since you have to buy it with the guitar, I'm more inclined to go buy a game like Super Mario Galaxy. But now I think it's the fact that I can't find it that makes me want it more. How come we always want things we can't have?

Marion Jones' Teammates - No Fair Outcome

Friday, November 23, 2007
Today, the IAFF announced that all results for Marion Jones would be annulled dating back to September 2000. Not only were all the results voided, she has been asked to return all of her prize money (I somehow doubt that will happen)

To exacerbate the situation, they have recommended that her teammates who won a medal along with her in the Olympics, also return their medals.

Now I 100% agree that all Jones' individual result be voided, but what is the fair thing to do for her relay teammates? In all likelihood, they did not know of her drug use, so should they be punished as well?

In the end, I think the only fair thing is to strip them of the medals. Relays are team sports, and the unfortunate reality of team sports is that you either win as a team or you lose as a team. There is no concept of "half the team wins, the other half loses". While that may seem harsh, it is equally unfair to let it stand. What if you were the 2nd place team? Wouldn't you feel cheated out of your gold medal? What if you were the 4th place team and didn't even get a medal?

So what is the fairest thing to do?

Riding the Elevator One Floor

Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Please, if you have two able legs, nothing to carry, and the stairs is right next to the elevator, please do not ride the elevator up one floor. It greatly annoys those who have multiple flights to go up.

Thank you

I originally wrote this post more than a year ago, as I was aggravated with all the people in my building that insisted on taking the elevator one floor. I wanted to scream at them to ask them if they realized how much they were inconveniencing everyone else, but I never did.

The funny thing about this, is that I would often think about ways that the elevator should really be optimized to shuttle traffic in my building. During the beginning of the day, it would wait on the bottom floor for people since most likely people would want to go up, the opposite would be true at the end of the day. All sorts of optimizations would pop up in my head.

And it actually came up in an interview I had the other day. The guy asked me how I would design an elevator algorithm, and I thought back to all those times I wanted to scream at those people that they were messing up my optimum strategy. Who knew it would pay off? I got a job offer from them.

Brian Cook Traded

Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Today is one of the happiest days on earth if you are a Laker fan. Today, the Lakers traded Brian Cook and Mo Evans for Trevor Ariza. Brian Cook was by far my least favorite Laker. He was horrible. The picture I put next to the post says it all. It is of Brian Cook "defending" another guy. I put "defending" in quotes because the next time Brian Cook defends someone, it will be his first time. You notice how the other player is going right by Cook and he seems to be jumping out of the way. You aren't imagining it, it is what he is doing.

The guy is horrible, and completely one dimensional, and he isn't even great in that one dimension. If the Lakers really wanted someone to just stand outside the three point line and occasionally hit one, I'm available. I may even be headed back to LA so it would be an easy transition.

They got back a Player in Trevor Ariza that is young, athletic, and a pretty decent defender. Not much of a scorer, but with Kobe Bryant (for now) do you really need someone who is a scorer. No, you need someone who can defend the other teams wing player, which is something I hope Ariza will bring. But for me, it really isn't the point. The Lakers could have traded Brian Cook for a bag of chips, yes a bag of chips, and I still think the Lakers would have gotten the better end of that deal. Talk about overpaid athletes, Cook is just stealing money from whichever team he is playing for.

Permanent Air Filters

Liz bought an air filter. It is supposed to be one of those "permanent" Hepa filters. But that's a big scam. We bought a Honeywell 50150. We bought it mainly because we don't want to be bothered buying new air filters every few months. Because we are both allergic to our cat, and dander is a big issue, we wanted to get a good air filter we could run pretty consistently.

However, this permanent air filter thing is a big scam. You see, while the "air filter" itself is permanent, they have a "pre filter" which is not. So you have to go and buy a new "pre filter" every six months or so.

So while technically they did not lie to me, I feel a little bit mislead.

Lasik update - Four years later

Monday, November 19, 2007
I have been really bad about going to the optometrist to get my eyes check since I have had Lasik. Really you should go every year just to be sure that your eyes are OK. I haven't been to the Optometrist in well over two years, and I was due to go.

Since my insurance was almost up, I decided to just go. Considering MS employees pay absolutely nothing to go to any doctor, you figure I would have done it sooner. Oh well. Turns out, I actually have a slight astigmatism now. I didn't have an astigmatism before Dr. Assil performed Lasik on me. It's small enough that I didn't end up filling my prescription for new eyeglasses, but I probably will as soon as I start a new job and get some insurance again. It only somewhat bothers me at night when I drive, but it's probably worth it for just that.

For the Full story you probably want to follow the following link:

All Lasik Post

Are Designer Jeans Worth It?

Sunday, November 18, 2007
Someone found their way to my blog with a search on Google for Diesel Jeans worth it. This points to my post about if I thought the pair of Diesel Jeans I bought and if I thought they were worth the money. People find their way to this site in lots of different ways, the most popular by far being "should college athletes be paid". or "are athletes paid too much?"(quick side comment, I was shocked to see how many comments were on that post. People really do feel passionate about that don't they?) So with all the various reasons why people end up on my blog, why would I even post about this?

Well I just have an obvious weakness for designer jeans. And I'm oddly proud that somehow I made it to the top of the Google rankings for this search. Granted it's pretty specific, and it is basically the title of my post, but still, it was something I felt was pretty cool.

Quick update about the jeans by the way. I actually still own that pair of Diesel jeans, but I honestly don't wear them all that often. I now have several more pairs of designer jeans, but for the most part I don't buy Diesel, and haven't in many years. My favorite brand by far is Seven, and I own several pairs of them. I also did end up buying that $200 pair of Citizen for Humanity jeans. They are great as well, but I think I still prefer the Sevens. I ended up buying so many pairs because it literally has become all I wear. I get tremendous use from them, so in the end it became worth it to pay a little more for something I really like and use all the time.

I think what I like best about it is that I always get my jeans tailored to fit me, so the length is always perfect. I didn't know until my girlfriend pointed it out to me that Nordstrom tailors pants for free if you buy it from them. Ever since I found this out, and got my Jeans tailored by them, I haven't looked back.

By the way, as I finished writing this post, I felt very gay all of the sudden. Excuse me, I have to go kiss my girlfriend now.

More Blogging - Just maybe not here

Over the last two years, my blogging has dramatically tailed off in this blog. Much of that was on purpose, because I really didn't want to be blogging about things at work, and work consumed so much of my life. Now that I quit, I still haven't blogged all that often, but that's because I am starting a little something. Most of the people who actually know me, know what I'm up to, but I'm purposefully not talking about it here simply because I want to keep the two things separate.

I've done that on this blog for a reason. It actually paid off pretty well. You see, in this day and age, you can never really be sure who is going to want to know something about you and what they will do to find it. In my blog before this blog, I started getting an unusually high number of hits on my name, and that just bothered me. Who was searching for me? Why? So I stopped that blog and created this one, and have thus far tried to avoid being linked to this site by people randomly searching for me.

But in a job interview the other day, someone actually told me they "Googled" me. Of course, they didn't really find too many interesting things, but I was glad they didn't end up here. Not that I am ashamed of this site or anything, quite the contrary, but your employer really shouldn't know everything there is to know about you. And since I'm pretty open how I feel about various controversial topics, best to just play it safe.

I will probably, at least for the short term, pick the pace back up with my blogging efforts. It actually will help me in a number of ways with my other project. If you want to know what i'm up to, and just have no idea what I'm talking about, leave a comment or e-mail me. I'd be happy to tell you.

Blockbuster Online - Good Integration

Wednesday, October 17, 2007
I went to go rent a movie from Blockbuster. As those who follow my blog know, I'm a Total Access member. I actually find the trade-in feature to be very useful, almost more useful than actually getting DVDs in the mail, so I tend to use it a lot.

Today, I traded in my DVD for a movie that was in my Queue. When I went home, and logged in to Blockbuster Online to remove the movie, it prompted me with a message that I had traded in a DVD for a movie in my queue, and displayed that movie for me to remove. I was impressed. It's not often you get really good integration like this,and Blockbuster has done a pretty good job in this respect.

I for one, am a big fan of Total Access as of now, so I would be very weary if I were Netflix.

Back from Cali

Tuesday, October 16, 2007
I just got back from my California trip. A few things I learned along the way.

1. Driving from Seattle to San Diego takes a REALLY long time
2. It really does rain too much in the Northwest. It was raining all the way down until I hit California, and then clear skies
3. Parking in San Francisco is a nightmare
4. I miss California, but maybe not enough to move back
5. Bringing your pet on the family trip is a real pain in the ass (even though I'm glad I did it)

Overall a good trip. Glad to have gone to the two weddings. Somewhat glad I drove, as it allowed us to take our time back up the coast and see things Like Monterey and Carmel. It made me miss places like In-N-Out and Sammy's. But then it reminded me of things I don't really care for like Traffic. Still, I think we are decided that we will at least look into moving back to California, but it won't be the first choice.

New York Home Prices

Tuesday, October 02, 2007
I was watching a financial show and they were talking about the housing numbers that came out today. The decline in housing sales is remarkable, but one city continues to buck the trend, Manhattan. They were showing off a condo, 1 bedroom, 1.5 baths going for $1.6 million. This was the typical New York apartment.

The reason I comment on this, is not because I think the price is ridiculous (which I do) but because of what one of the guest on the show said. They basically said that they thought the trend would continue because of Wall Street. You see, people on Wall Street get these big bonuses, and that means they can afford to pay a lot for their houses. Since Wall Street isn't going anywhere, it stands to reason that home prices in Manhattan must stay hi.

Wow, didn't realize that Wall Street was a new phenomenon. I figured it has been around for quite a while, a little over 100 years in its current form. People on the street have been getting insane bonuses for a little over a century, but I guess they were all living in boxes on the side of the road, because how else can you explain the recent insane home prices there?

When it rains, it ...

Monday, October 01, 2007
Causes me to get into an accident. Yes, if you can believe it, I got into an accident yesterday. Of course this is really really bad timing for two reasons.

1. I'm supposed to leave for a trip on Wednesday where I was going to DRIVE down to California.
2. I just became unemployed.

I think the universe must have a really sick sense of humor. I'm actually quite grateful that it didn't end up much worse than it was. I basically did a 360 on the freeway, and hit the side of the road. Lucky for me, I'm perfectly fine, and I didn't hit anyone else. Moreover, my car, cosmetically doesn't look too bad. Unfortunately, I messed up the steering column of my car and it's going to be a lot of money to fix.

Quit my Job

Wednesday, September 19, 2007
I quit my job this week. Don't have anything else lined up. Just didn't want to work at my current job anymore.

It may sound a little crazy, but I don't think so. I think it's crazy to continue to do a job that you just hate. I could deal with it if it were only a little aggravating, but it was way beyond that. The stress just wasn't worth it.

What am I going to do next? I really don't know. I have one more week of work and then I'm just going to take some time off and really think about what I want to do next. The next job has to stick. I really want the next job to be the job that I stay with for a long time, and presents tremendous opportunties to me.

I'm a little nervous, but excited to. Never done anything like this ...

Debt Free

Thursday, August 09, 2007
I don't get to blog very much anymore but had to blog today. Today marks a very significant milestone for me. For the first time in my adult life, I'm 100% debt free. I don't have a single loan that is outstanding. No credit cards, student debt, mortgage payment. Nothing. Not many people can say that.

It's a really great feeling actually. I knew this day was coming soon. It in reality could have come much much sooner as I have, for a really long time, had more cash in my savings account than what I owed in debts. The thing is, it really wasn't all that hard. It was a simple matter of not spending what I didn't have. Despite my above average salary, I lived a below average life. After a while, I just got use to it. It in some ways became addictive. I kept finding ways to save money. I'm probably cheaper now than when I first graduated college, despite the fact I have way more money now.

I don't know how long I will be debt free for. Some day in the not so distant future, I will probably buy a house, and then have a debt that will take me several years to pay off. But for now, I have no financial obligations other than what I spend month to month. People underestimate how valuable it is to be debt free. A lot of possibilities open up when you no longer owe anything to anybody. I could just quit my job and not work for a while. But that would just be plain crazy.

Why the NBA Salary Cap is Stupid

Monday, June 11, 2007
Despite the fact that I'm a big NBA fan, I haven't been paying much attention to the NBA finals. the main reason I haven't been watching (and it appears Lebron isn't either) is that it's boring and utterly predictable. There is no doubt that the Spurs will win the series.

Here is the fundamental problem. The NBA Western Conference is far superior to the Eastern Conference. With the development that both Greg Oden and Kevin Durant are heading West, the situation is looking even more bleak for the east. The salary cap ensures things will be like this for years.

Once upon a time, the NBA decided parity would be a good thing. How did they go about it? The NBA limits how much teams can pay their stars. This means that even if an eastern conference team, say the Knicks, wants to go pay a free agent $20 million/year, they can't, because they are over the cap. What's worse is that if they have made mistakes in the past, and believe me they have, they can't get out from under it for two reasons.

Contracts are guaranteed and count against the cap. This means that if you make a mistake, see Alan Houston, it lingers for the entire length of the contract. This is compared to the NFL who can cut a player who isn't earning their paycheck.

Well at least they can trade their way out of it right? Nope. NBA trade rules are very strict making blockbuster trades very rare. Baseball puts almost no restrictions on trades, meaning that teams like the Rangers can trade a huge contract like Alex Rodriguez and save some money in the process. The NBA doesn't allow teams to send out more salary then they get back.

So you get where we are today. All the good teams in one conference and none of them in the Major markets. The NBA was best when it was dominated by a few great teams like the Lakers, Celtics, and Bulls. The NBA tried to become more like the NFL, where parity works, but they failed to do so because they didn't understand that basketball is not football.

NBA needs to open up movement. If you must keep the cap, that is understandable, but change the rules so that trades become easier to make or teams can get out from under hideous contracts.

When is it not a good time to buy a house

Saturday, June 09, 2007
How come Realtors always say it is a good time to buy a house?

House prices across the nation have been on the decline as of late. (By the way, I called the top) and look to be getting worse, not better. However, according to the president of the Realtors, it is a great time to buy.

It’s a good time to buy, in part, because home buyers are not pressured to make quick decisions,” Combs said. “We’re in a window of low interest rates with a plentiful supply homes on the market and flat prices in most areas. First-time buyers now have more power to negotiate with sellers for help on downpayment or closing costs.”

Of course in 2005, when the housing market was roaring the then President of the Realtors said

Low interest rates continue to offer opportunities to first-time buyers - a huge potential market given the generational bulge and who believe that housing is a good investment. They provide a ready market for existing owners wishing to make a trade, so there is strong demand in every sector of the housing market."

So let me get this straight. It's a great time to buy when prices are going up, because you will get all the appreciation, and its a great time to buy when prices are going down, because you will get a great value. Hmm. Is it ever not a good time to buy a house? If it's always a good idea all the time to buy a house, everyone should stop what they are doing and just become land barons. Better yet, real estate agents, I mean, it doesn't look like there are many qualifications (including honesty)

If this just goes to show you that your Real Estate agent is not your friend, I'm not sure what will.

Amazon Recommendations ... Spot On

Saturday, June 02, 2007
The other day I was at the library and was looking for a book. Right on my way out, I saw something that caught my eye. It was a book called Blink by Malcolm Gladwell.

I logged into Amazon the next day and at the top they normally recommend you books based on what you bought there. I don't have a huge buying history from Amazon, and most of the stuff I have bought there has been for other people. But right there was there recommendation for that very same book. I was very impressed and decided to give Amazon its due.

Developing Alzheimers?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007
I was telling my girlfriend a story about how I thought I was a victim of racism when I was in Chicago. Basically, I went into a Walgreens to buy some stuff before getting on the plane back to Seattle. The store clerk was helping the customer in front of me, and I was just kind of looking around the store. She asked, "Can I help you with something?". I said, "No, just waiting to pay for my stuff". And didn't think anything of it.

I proceeded to pay, the bill came out to about $3.00, which I charged to my Amex. She asked me for my billing zip and I told her 08544. She said it wasn't working, and asked me again. I repeated, 08544. She said it didn't work. I was in disbelief, as there is no way my card is getting rejected for $3. But instead of figuring it out, I just paid in cash. Later that hour, I stopped by the gas station to get gas and my card worked just fine.

Like I said, I relayed the story to my girlfriend that night and was sure that the woman was up to something funny. I told the story EXACTLY like I did above. And then it dawned on me (much like it has already on Jenny) when my girlfriend looked at me funny. My zip code is not 08544, and it hasn't been in over 7 years.

Tax programs in Washington

Saturday, April 21, 2007
I meant to post this earlier, but I never got around to it. But one thing I kept thinking to myself this tax season. Why on earth can you buy State Tax programs in Washington State. There is no state income tax, yet everywhere I go, I see the version of Turbo Tax State or Tax Cut State on the shelf.

Now, I could understand if it were just a few copies, but we are talking shelves and shelves. Sure, there are people like me, who work partially in another state for the year, who have to file state taxes somewhere else. But otherwise, for 99% of Washingtonians, there is no need to buy the state version of tax software.

Anyone have an explanation?


Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Even though I don't blog nearly as much as I want to, I nevertheless want to blog on my birthday. It gives me a chance to look back each year to see where I was the previous year and kind of take an assessment of where my life has gone.

My last year's blog seems almost prophetic. 28 was indeed a very good and very lucky year. It went by amazingly fast, I can't believe I've been in Seattle for a year, but it's been a good year. As unreal as it sounds, things are even better with my girlfriend. You would think that after almost two years together, we would hit some rough patches or get sick of each other, but I can honestly say that things are better now than they have ever been.

Bandit the Wonder Kitty is also fantastic. I think he misses Smokey at times but he seems to genuinely like being an only child. He is still fat, something I keep meaning to work on, but he is content to just sit on my lap even as I type this.

Job is good although my initial enthusiasm for the job has been tempered somewhat. Microsoft is a great place to work with wonderful benefits and some good opportunities. Like any job, it has its problems. There are times I'm frustrated, there are times I'm very frustrated. But I think back on what life was like before, and well I guess I don't have much to complain about. Do I see this as a permanent stopping point in life. No. But it has made a nice little waypoint

29. My last year to be in my twenties. Just seems odd. Am I where I thought I would be at this age? Probably not. I probably have some catching up to do, but I've been doing that all my life and I relish the opportunity to do it again. So far, I think I've taken the safe road and the road has been good to me. Should I continue to do that or should I use the last few years of my youth to take on some serious risk? The advantages of youth are a real lack of responsibility and the time to make up for anything in your life you screw up. Is it time to do it? If not now, when?

Smallville: Jumping the Shark

Friday, March 16, 2007
Last night, Smallville officially jumped the shark. In truth, the show probably jumped a while ago, but I stuck around because I'm a big fan of the Superman mythos. They kept it interesting this year by having a lot of the plot revolve around other Justice League members. Their take on it was pretty interesting.

But last night was just awful. The plot was pathetically predictable and reeked of desperation. At every point in the show I knew exactly what was going to happen next because it kept playing out as a bad soap opera plot. And sure enough, it ended with a fantastic thud. Seriously, what's going on with the show? Why on earth can't Clark fly yet? Where are the glasses? Lana Lang marries Lex?

Oh well, one less show I have to watch. Guess it's just Heroes now.

Costco Changes Its Policy

Thursday, March 01, 2007
Costco has made a decision to change it's return policy on certain electronics. Most noticeably this affects people who buy televisions and other high priced electronics at Costco.

For those that don't know, Costco has always had a 100% satisfaction guarantee. This meant that at any time in the lifetime of a product, if you weren't happy with it, you could return it. This meant that if for any reason, say the TV just stopped working, you could return it back to Costco and they would refund the money back to you.

Of course, this policy is going to be abused by some people. You can see how easily it can be abused. I can buy a Plasma TV today and then 5 years later decide I want a new TV, return it, get my money back, and then buy another TV.

Of course, most people are probably not this unscrupulous. This is clearly one of those times that a few bad people ruin it for everybody else. I was seriously considering buying a new TV from Costco. I had in fact been visiting the store a lot recently checking out the TVs that they have. The biggest reason I wanted to buy from them was the safety net it would provide in case something did indeed go wrong. I would of course not abuse the system, I wouldn't return the TV just to get a new one, but I would return it if indeed it broke. Now that Costco has changed the policy, I will probably be looking elsewhere for a TV.

I totally get why Costco had to change the policy. But I also think they could have done something to mitigate the whole problem. If it were me, I probably would have amended the policy rather than completely revoke it. They could have been creative and say give you one return of $500 or more during the life of the product. This would limit their losses from people who are really abusing the policy, but still service the people like myself who would truly benefit and not abuse the system.

Bumper Sticker.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007
I was driving around today and saw a "I Love My Wife" bumper sticker.

Why on earth would anyone actually put this on their car? Nothing good can be implied from the sticker. If the guy put it on his car of his own free will that's just pretty pathetic. If his wife made him put it on, you know that marriage can't be headed for success. If its supposed to be a joke, it isn't particularly funny.

Capping Executive Pay

Friday, February 02, 2007
I was watching TV when the topic of executive pay came up.

There is a provision in the minimum wage bill before congress about effectively capping executive pay by taxing it. Now I admittedly don't know the full details of how they will try to limit executive pay, it seems they want to eliminate some loopholes in the tax code, but this post is not about the details.

The person who was arguing for caps on executive pay gave the usual rhetoric of how it isn't fair that CEOs make so much money, but I loved his reasoning of why government should do anything about it. He made the argument that it is government's responsibility to do something because they subsidize these corporations and rich people by making a tax code that essentially allows them to not pay taxes.

Oh, I see. So let's try and fix the loopholes, which are caused by adding more and more rules to an overly complex tax code, by adding more rules. It's like trying to dig yourself out of a hole. It's just simpler never to get in the hole in the first place.

Wii: Finally Got One

Friday, January 26, 2007
I had the day off this morning. I still got up at about my regular time and did my normal routine. I turned on the computer, and just to check I went to this site. And lo and behold there were Wii's available in my neighborhood.

I had seen some Wii's available in some other neighborhoods over the last few days, but like I said earlier, I had no intention of going out of my way to get one. So I got dressed and went down to the local Target. I had been following the Wii's availability all over the country using the above site. Not really because I wanted to get one, but more out of curiousity for how well Nintendo is doing. By following it I know when there are Wii's available they usually don't last very long. Lucky for me, I must have been one of the first ones there (nobody knows when these shipments normally drop, last time it was announced but it was a special circumstance). So I paid my money, and now I'm a proud owner of a Wii. Haven't played yet, but I'll update at some point with my thoughts.

I am very interested on how quickly my local Target sells out. I'll probably keep checking today and tomorrow to see if the shipment I was able to get one from sells out quickly.

Double Coupons in Washington

Wednesday, January 24, 2007
It may seem silly for someone like me, but I clip coupons. Why not? It doesn't take very long and I might as well save money on things I would buy anyway. I didn't always clip coupons, I used to be embarrassed that people would think I was poor or something. Ironically, it's when I started actually having money, and stopped caring what people thought, that I got over it and started clipping and using coupons.

I don't quite understand this, but nowhere in Washington state can you find a store that has double coupons. It confuses me because everywhere in California has it, but nowhere in the state of Washington can you find a place that doubles coupons. I've even looked online to see if it was just the Seattle area, but it seems pretty clear that nowhere in the state of Washington does this. I really wish I could find out why. Double coupons can be a great thing, you can actually end up with some items for free. But alas, its just not possible here in Washington.

If anyone finds a store in Washington that doubles coupons, please leave a comment.

Trying to get a Wii

Sunday, January 21, 2007
Nintendo must be very pleased. Sony must be very sad.

So I had heard rumblings that Target stores, as well as Best Buy and Circuit City, would have some Nintendo Wii's today. They had it advertised in their weekly circular and there had been some post on various web sites.

Now I want to get a Wii. I prefer to get one over a PS3, which I think cost too much and doesn't offer anything compelling to me, or even an Xbox 360 which I should have an obvious bias towards (I will probably get a 360 if and when they cut the price). Even though I want to get a Wii, I will not go out of my way to get one. I definitely don't plan on waiting in line or fighting with my fellow consumers.

But I figure that its over two months since launch and that the Christmas season has passed so if I went early enough I would probably get one. Target opens up at 8:00. I showed up at about 8:45, and there were none left. The cashier told me there was a line when the store opened and that they had already sold out. Sold out in 45 minutes. Of course, sitting in plain sight were some PS3s, much like I observed before at Best Buy.

Sony has to be worried. It seems clear to me they are going to lose this round of the game wars. Microsoft has already sold 10 million units, that's a pretty big head start. With Xbox Live, they have, in my mind, many more compelling features than PS3 (since I have ZERO interest in a Blu-Ray player). Nintendo seems poised to take the 2nd position, and very likely might be able to catch Microsoft.


Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Today, Barack Obama announced he will be running for President. Unlike some people I know, I meet his announcement with mixed emotions.

I was very impressed with Obama's delivery when he gave his Keynote speech at the Democratic National convention. Notice the key word, "delivery". One of the things I look for in a Presidential Candidate is if they have a floor presence. I want someone who exudes confidence and inspires confidence in others. Barack definitely seems to have the quality.

But that being said, while I was impressed with the delivery of the speech itself, some of its contents worried me. Particularly one line.

It is that fundamental belief: I am my brother’s keeper. I am my sister’s keeper that makes this country work. It’s what allows us to pursue our individual dreams and yet still come together as one American family.

I am very much against the notion that I am my brother's keeper. I am very much against the idea that our economy works when we are obligated to help our fellow man. The idea that you are your brother's keeper is the very notion that makes Socialism fail. Yes, its selfish, but selfishness makes a free economy work. Not only does it work for people at the top, it works for people at the bottom. When I hear quotes like the one above, only one thing crosses my mind

"come together" = Higher taxes for all

And we all know how I feel about higher taxes. I haven't made up my mind yet about Barack. I definitely have no idea who I'm going to vote for in 2008. I guess we will just have to see how the next two years unfold.

Sony PS3 Availability

Thursday, January 11, 2007
I was talking to a co-worker a few days ago and he was talking about how they had PS3s in a huge stack at Fry's. That kind of surprised me as I would still think the PS3 would be selling out. I then saw it for myself when I went to Best Buy, a stack of about 50 PS3s just sitting there.

I can't imagine that supply has finally caught up. The main reason I went there was to look to see if they had a Wii. I plan on getting a Wii, but have no interest in the PS3. No Wii, plenty of PS3s. Now you can't tell me that Sony can currently out produce Nintendo, so the only reason that I can't get a Wii and I can get a PS3 is that Demand for the Wii far outstrips the PS3.

I figured I was in the minority in this one. But I guess there are more people like me who think the Wii's playability and $250 price tag trumps the PS3's supposedly amazing graphics and $600 price tag. If this is true throughout the country, Sony is going to be seriously hurting.

Ohio Wine?

Monday, January 08, 2007
The bet between the Florida Governor and the Ohio Governor over the College Football championship game is that the Florida governor will send Florida Citrus if Ohio wins and the Ohio Governor will send Ohio wind and Chocolates if Florida wins.

Here is the thing. Who knew that Ohio even made wine? That just sounds odd to me. I've heard of French Wine, California Wine, Washington Wine, and even Argentinian wine. But Ohio wine? Who knew? Maybe tires or machine tools or something like that. But Wine?