Monday, January 31, 2005

gmail invites

Thanks to David over at the all kinds of time blog, I now have a gmail account. So if you want an invite, just e-mail me. I will switch to using the gmail account when we get ready to move to Texas, since I will then no longer have access to my comcast account. I had the rpi alumni account for 5 years, and then as I soon as I am forced to switch because they want to charge me for it, I move and can't keep using the new one. Oh well! The rpi account will point to the new gmail one at that time, so use that if you forget which one you should be e-mailing to. And you can always use my work e-mail, as that will stay the same. Of course, if you don't know me, none of that matters to you, and if you do know me, you'll get an e-mail telling you when I switch accounts, so this whole post is probably a waste unless you do want a gmail invite.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Searches

I've been averaging about one hit per day from people searching for hotel california backwards, mostly on Yahoo!, but also on a couple of other engines. Since I hardly believe everyone that does that search would click on the link to my blog, I have to guess a fair number of people are searching for that phrase every day. Why is there still any interest in that old of a song possibly using backmasking?

Showing our house

Well, there hasn't been a lot of time for blogging recently, as we have frequently been out of the house to let people check it out. Then when we are home we are constantly trying to improve more things about it so it will show even better the next time. I've hardly watched TV or read for leisure, as I don't have time to plop down in front of the TV, and I have to hunt around to find where my wife stashes my reading material in her cleaning frenzies. I maintain that it does not ruin the look of a house to have a book sitting out that is obviously in the midst of being read, but this is not agreed to by the cleaning nazi.

We have this checklist from a realtor that details what you should do to show your house, and we prioritized that list to do the big things first, and are now working down to less important things (organizing closet space, etc.) I will be so glad when we actually accept an offer! Then we won't have to keep making it nicer and we can sit on the couch without worrying if it will leave it looking wrinkly when people show up.

We have already had one offer, but it was low and they were maxed out at what they could finance, so we just rejected it. Hopefully we will get word today of some offers from yesterday, when we had at least 7 groups come through the house. I say "at least 7", because that's the number of realtors that left cards. We even have some folks coming up from the bay area to check it out today.


Wednesday, January 26, 2005

PRI's U.S. Economic Freedom Index: 2004 -

PRI's U.S. Economic Freedom Index: 2004 -

Fascinating study. California comes in next-to-last in economic freedom. Texas fares quite a bit better at #17, though in the last study (1999) it was actually 8th. Not sure what caused the drop, but I do note slight changes in the rating are meaningful where Texas is. An improvement of 0.2 would move Texas to 15th, whereas CA would not move up even 1 spot with a 3.5 point improvement. This is one reason why I am bearish on mid-to long- term economic prospects for California, if this rating cannot be improved. It will become more and more like France, creaking under the weight of socialism. However, I also believe this is why Arnold was "hired", so hopefully he can make some improvement.

Our house is on the market

Our house here in Roseville is now on the market (as of this morning), for a seemingly ridiculous $400k. We already have people coming by to look at it this afternoon. We did a huge flurry of cleaning and fixup last night to get it ready to show. I even had to do some quick painting, etc. Now it looks really nice. I wish we had always kept it looking that way!

Monday, January 24, 2005

House related links

McKinney, Texas web site. According to this site, and the billboard along the highway, McKinney is the fastest growing city in America.

According to recent U.S. Census estimates, McKinney, with a current population of nearly 90,000, is the fastest-growing city in the United States of those cities with a population of 50,000 or more as of the 2000 Census.

Here is the church we visited this week and really enjoyed. Everyone was very friendly, the worship was great, and we liked the message. It's a new church - only in existence 15 months, but they already have two services.

Stonebridge Ranch community.

The local paper.

We are also just in the next town over from where the Dallas Stars play, if the NHL ever gets its act together and they do actually play.


Offer accepted!

We go to sign papers this morning! Now we just have to sell our CA house and get moved. That should be stress free. HA!

Saturday, January 22, 2005

We made an offer!

We have an offer in on a very nice house in McKinney that backs up to a great view of trees and a greenbelt. We will know by tomorrow night if it is accepted!

Friday, January 21, 2005

Fiscally fit cities

At first I read this link as Physically Fit Cities, and wondered how the results could be so different from the Fattest Cities study I referenced earlier. A quick reread showed this was actually a measure of fiscal fitness. Dallas does a bit better here compared to California cities. Sacramento comes in at 19, Dallas at 28, San Francisco at 29. PilotMom, make sure you check out who is #1.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

House hunting in Texas

We mostly drove around checking out areas today. Tomorrow will be more specific to houses. We quickly eliminated Frisco in the frustrating time before we were able to meet up with our realtor. Too far away, too flat, etc. Once in our realtor's hands, she steered us more towards McKinney, where the landscape has a little bit of rolling hills and it will soon be very green and the community of Stonebridge Ranch has a ton of amenities. We also checked out a house in Plano with her, which ended up being quite different than the pics on the internet would have suggested. Anyway, I think our realtor is doing a good job, and hopefully tomorrow we'll be able to find a house we love. Unfortunately, McKinney is also kind of far away - 16 miles to work, estimated travel time of 30 minutes on Mapquest.

Sushi Loco?

A question that arose as we have traveled around the north Dallas area house-hunting: Why would you name a restaurant Sushi Loco?

A) I can't imagine wanting to combine Japanese and Mexican food, which is what the name suggests

B) The literal translation of this would be something like "crazy vinegared rice dish" (note: sushi does NOT equal raw fish), which is not something that would I would ever want to eat.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Excellent history book

My last post on John Adams reminded me of a different book on American history that, while it has a less charitable view of John Adams, I definitely found intriguing and stimulating throughout, despite its length. That is A History of the American People, by Paul Johnson. He does an incredible job of bringing the whole of our history alive. One aspect I particularly liked is that so often our American history knowledge is centered around wars, and we know little of what transpired between them. Or else we know of only one major focus of a particular era. For example, what do most know of the era following our Civil War that is not directly related to our westward expansion? After reading this book, I definitely had an increased understand of America in the late 1800s and early 1900s leading up to the first World War. As my interest in business has increased, I also found his description of the development of our stock market and the personalities involved therein quite illuminating.

Just to give you a little more insight on the author, Mr. Johnson is British and an unabashed conservative, and also writes a column for Forbes magazine. I will likely soon check out some of his other titles as well. However, none of his works are a quick read, so it does take a little commitment to dig through them, even though he is an excellent author.

Quote of the day

I'm finally getting around to reading David McCullough's John Adams. I decided to take a break from all my C.S. Lewis reading, although I may return to it on my forthcoming trip to Dallas, as the Adams book is huge and thus difficult to cart around.

Here's the quote from Adams himself
"The preservation of liberty depends upon the intellectual and moral character of the people. As long as knowledge and virtue are diffused generally among the body of a nation, it is impossible they should be enslaved"
One must question if either knowledge or virtue is diffused generally amongst our populace today.


Pssst . . . the deficit's shrinking - The Washington Times: Commentary - January 16, 2005

Pssst . . . the deficit's shrinking - The Washington Times: Commentary - January 16, 2005 Who would have thought that cutting taxes would increase the amount of money the government takes in? Yes, that's sarcasm. Naturally, as people have more money to spend, the economy will grow and government will take back more money even with a lower rate. It's always seemed to me that Europe wishes for high-margin government and low-volume economies, whereas we desire low-margin government and a high-volume economy. Which is better...


This quote from the above link should make clear that this article is from the Washington Times, as no other major newspaper would be able to say something nice about President Bush without half of their editorial board suffering simultaneous coronaries.
"A supply-side tax-reform movement, a shrinking budget deficit, new-found spending discipline, and a determination to confound conventional wisdom by reforming Social Security has George W. Bush's second term off to a roaring start even before he is officially sworn in. "

Sunday, January 16, 2005

11 PM Eastern/ 10 Central

Why does the central time zone see TV shows an hour earlier than everyone else? I'm a night owl, and I don't want Letterman to be over at 11. Is this something where people think everyone in one particular time zone goes to bed earlier?

Superhuman

I would have used superhuman to describe the girl in the previous post who ate the huge burger, but that would have left me no superlative to describe the feat in the movie we saw, Touching the Void. Absolutely amazing! An incredible story of how these two mountain climbers make it down a mountain after everything goes wrong, and the terrible choices they are forced to make. One guy has to cut his friend loose and leave him for dead to avoid being dragged off the mountain to his own death. But the guy left behind, who already had a broken leg, falls 150 feet into a crevasse and manages to will his way out and off the mountain by himself basically on one leg. THAT is superhuman. There have to be just a handful of people alive that could have kept themselves going on and on in the face of such excruciating pain and hopelessness. While this is a great story, my desire to ever get near climbing a mountain has waned to about zero. Check out the video or the book.

Everything about this is wrong!

Yahoo! News - 100-Pound Woman Downs Six-Pound Burger Unbelievable! Someone finally meets the challenge to eat the six pound burger (earlier pictured here on this site), which includes five pounds of toppings, so that's a total of eleven pounds of food, in less than three hours, and it's a 100 pound girl! UNBELIEVABLE! And, the story says that she didn't eat for two days beforehand to prepare for it. This is backwards from what I thought you were supposed to do. Doesn't your stomach start to shrink when you don't eat as much?

And the prize for this is WHAT??? "

For her trouble, Stelnick got a special certificate, a T-shirt and other prizes and — as advertised — Leigey picked up the $23.95 tab for the burger.

How is that worth it? The thought of that much food actually sickens even me. And I LOVE food.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Soccer

Played my last indoor soccer game on Tuesday night. We lost to the best team in our league (we were promoted to the A league this season, against our will) in overtime, 3-2. Disappointing, but we played a good game. We didn't have any subs for our girls, but we had extra guys, so our plan was for the guys to run hard and sub often. Then one guy pulled his hamstring and another guy had just played 2+ hours of basketball before the game, so we ended up actually being kind of short on guys. I had decided to go out running on Monday night, so I was sore too, since I haven't been exercising too regularly. I ran over two miles, which probably doesn't seem like much to a lot of you, but is a lot for me considering I haven't been very active recently. So after the soccer game, I was exhausted. I need to get into a more regular running program, since I can fit that in more easily than going to the gym all the time. The good news on the gym is that my 3 years that I paid for upfront are up in February, and now I renew for $49 a YEAR. And it's 24 Hour Fitness, which is not only convenient here, but is also located all over the Dallas area. I've even worked out there before when I've been out on business.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Blogging stock market

Check out this blogshares site. Apparently people can trade shares in your blog. Just about all the blogs I link to are on here, so if you have one, click on the link above which is for my blog and your blogshare page will be linked off the bottom.


Who do you love?

When I first got a job out of college, I often gave piddly amounts of money to many different political organizations that asked for it and had a philosophy that I was behind. That would be a conservative philosophy, in case you hadn't figured out by now that I am a conservative. Later I decided this was a bad approach to money management, so I've narrowed down to just supporting a few organizations and I thought I would list them and tell you why they made the cut.

Citizen's Against Government Waste - Sometimes you have to spend money to help stop the government from wasting our money.
National Taxpayers Union - Sometimes you have to spend money to help stop the government from taking our money. Plus, they have great info in their newsletters.
Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association - Sometimes you have to spend money to help stop the California government from taking our money.
The NRA - because they'll take my gun when they pry it from my cold, dead fingers. ;)

I probably forgot one group.

I won't be renewing my HJTA membership this year, as I will no longer be in California, but I certainly wish them well in their struggle. Hopefully Arnold will stop being a girly man and actually cut spending to make the budget work, instead of raising more money through long-term bond debt.

Now my focus is more on donating money to charities and various ministries instead of politics anyway. A lot less frustrating than politics and a lot more rewarding, certainly in the long run (like eternally).

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Of course, now we believe in neither.

"I fear we are not getting rid of God because we still believe in grammar."

Friedrich Nietzsche

Sunday, January 09, 2005

The Weather Channel?

My wife has taken up watching the Weather Channel religiously. Is that weird? This doesn't seem to me like something somebody in their twenties does. I associate this behavior with people over age 50 who frequently fall asleep in their recliner while the Weather Channel is on. I can certainly understand how it wouldn't keep someone awake.


Saturday, January 08, 2005

Now everybody's sending me Texas stuff!

Rules to Enter Texas:

Applies to each person as they enter Texas. Learn & remember:

East Coast and California-types pay particular attention!

1 Pull your droopy pants up. You look like an idiot.

2 Let's get this straight; it's called a "gravel road."
I drive a pickup truck because I want to.
No matter how slow you drive, you're going to get dust on your Lexus.
Drive it or get out of the way.

3 They are cattle & oil wells.
That's what they smell like to you.
They smell like money to us.
Get over it. Don't like it?
I-20 and I-10 go east and west, I-35 goes north and south. Pick one.

4 So you have a $60,000 car. We're impressed.
We have $250,000 cotton strippers that are driven only 3 weeks a year.

5 So every person in every pickup waves.
It's called being friendly. Try to understand the concept.

6 If that cell phone rings while a bunch of doves are coming in,
We WILL shoot it out of your hand.
You better hope you don't have it up to your ear at the time.

7 Yeah, we eat catfish & crawfish.
You really want sushi & caviar?
It's available at the corner bait shop.

8 The "Opener" refers to the first day of deer season.
It's a religious holiday held the closest Saturday to the first
of November.

9 We open doors for women.
That is applied to all women, regardless of age.

10 No, there's no "vegetarian special" on the menu.
Order steak. Or you can order the Chef's Salad and pick off the 2 pounds
of ham & turkey.

11 When we fill out a table, there are three main dishes:
meats, vegetables, and breads.
We use three spices: salt, pepper, and Picante Sauce.
Oh, yeah We don't care what you folks in Cincinnati call that
stuff you eat. It AINT REAL CHILI!! Chili was born and bred in
San Antonio and real chili never met a tomato!

12 You bring "coke" into my house, it better be brown, wet, and
served over ice. You bring "Mary Jane" into my house, she better be
cute, know how to shoot, drive a truck, and have long hair.

13 College and High School Football is as important here as the Lakers
and the Knicks, and a dang site more fun to watch.

14 Yeah, we have golf courses.
But don't hit the water hazards - it spooks the fish.

15 Colleges? Try Texas, UTEP, Texas A&M, Rice, or Texas Tech.
They come outta there with an education plus a love for God and country,
and they still wave at passing pickups when they come for the holidays.

16 We have more folks in the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines,
than any other state, so "Don't Mess with Texas." If you do, it will get you whipped by the best.

17 Always remember what our great governor Sam Houston once said:
"Texas can make it without the United States,
but the United States can't make it without Texas."

GOD BLESS TEXAS!

Friday, January 07, 2005

Yahoo! News - And the Fattest City Is...

Yahoo! News - And the Fattest City Is...

You're going to see a lot of Texas-focused commentary on here for a while, so just get used to it.

Bad News - Texas has 3 of the 10 fattest cities, including number 1.
Good News - Dallas is improving from last year.

Quote - "Texas cities Dallas, San Antonio, Fort Worth and El Paso were in the top 14, which Boulton said was no surprise. "It's pure big indulgence, just living big, and that's part of the culture," said Boulton. "

Thoughts - The metrics used to determine this ranking are a little strange. For example, I don't think the number of gyms vs. the number of fast food joints a city has NECESSARILY indicates anything. However, I will say from having visited a lot of them (and currently living in fittest city #7), that the cities on the fittest list do seem to have a lot thinner populace in general than do the fattest ones, so the metrics do seem to correlate to observable experience. And you can't just blame weather either, as Seattle would not seem to be the easiest place to be active in, due to the rain.

How is Vegas on the fattest list? Noting the geographic trends present on the list, that seems out of place. Must be the casino buffets!

************** Update **********************
Just thought I would link to the actual site for the rankings here. I also pulled out items of interest from the Men's Fitness site for Sacramento and Dallas.

Sac:
BRAGGING RIGHTS AND SOBERING FACTS:
  • Sacramento takes second place in our listing of athletic cities. Only residents of Minneapolis played more sports.
  • Almost 57 percent of Californians are overweight enough to risk health problems, according to a study by the CDC. That's only slightly better than the national average.
  • Sacramento has almost three times the national average number of doughnut shops per capita.
  • The local EPA air quality rating is among the poorest in our survey.
  • Overweight Sacramento residents might blame some of their problem on their commute: According to the Urban Mobility Report from the Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M University, the average Sac commuter spends 33 percent longer commuting in peak traffic than the same trip would take during off-peak times — average for cities in our survey. Commuter stress has been shown to cause increased levels of the hormone cortisol, which is implicated in obesity. Long commutes also cut into time that might otherwise be spent exercising or shopping for and preparing healthy food.
    —Natasha Chin
  • REPORT CARD: Sacramento, CA
    Healthy Habits
    Fitness Centers/Sporting Goods Stores
    A-
    Nutrition
    A
    Exercise/Sports Participation
    A
    Risk Factors
    Alcohol
    B-
    TV Watching
    C
    Overweight/Sedentary
    A-
    Junk Food
    D
    Environment
    Air
    F
    Climate
    A
    Geography
    A
    Urban Attributes
    Commute
    C
    Parks/Open Space
    B
    Recreation Facilities
    C
    Health Care
    D

    Dallas:
  • More than 63 percent of Dallas residents are overweight enough to pose a risk to their health, according to a study by the CDC. That's the third-highest rate in our survey.
  • Dallas has three times as many doughnut shops per capita as the national average — the third-highest of any city in our survey. Fort Worth has the most.
  • Overweight Dallas residents might blame some of their problem on their commute: According to the Urban Mobility Report from the Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M University, the average Dallas commuter spends 34 percent longer commuting in peak traffic than the same trip would take during off-peak times - a little above average for cities in our survey. Commuter stress has been shown to cause increased levels of the hormone cortisol, which is implicated in obesity. Long commutes also cut into time that might otherwise be spent exercising or shopping for and preparing healthy food.
    —Natasha Chin

    REPORT CARD: Dallas, TX
    Healthy Habits
    Fitness Centers/Sporting Goods Stores
    C
    Nutrition
    D
    Exercise/Sports Participation
    D
    Risk Factors
    Alcohol
    C
    TV Watching
    C
    Overweight/Sedentary
    D
    Junk Food
    C
    Environment
    Air
    D
    Climate
    C
    Geography
    F
    Urban Attributes
    Commute
    C
    Parks/Open Space
    C+
    Recreation Facilities
    C
    Health Care
    C-


  • Oddly, they both have 3 times the national avg. for donut shops per capita.

    Y'all listen up!

    A helpful link for us to understand how to talk in Texas.

    Also, some funny Texas-related t-shirts that a coworker pointed out to me. If you go down to the "How To Speak TEXAN" t-shirt image, I find the images for heaven and hell quite amusing. In fact, I think I laughed out loud when I first saw it.

    And the ever-popular "Don't mess with Texas" t-shirt referenced in b-dub's previous comment.

    Thursday, January 06, 2005

    It's pretty much official now...

    We're moving to Dallas. But NO, I don't know exactly when yet. So please don't ask!

    Stone blames 'fundamentalism' in US for 'Alexander' flop

    Stone blames 'fundamentalism' in US for 'Alexander' flop. Right, fundamentalism is at fault. Of course it couldn't be that he made a terrible movie. I haven't seen the movie, so I can't judge it for myself, but I find it highly unlikely that fundamentalism was the downfall of this movie, else ALL movies featuring any kind of sex, etc. would be failing miserably, which I don't see happening. You don't HAVE to find someone else to blame it on, Oliver. Just man up and do it better next time. Of course, since I did see JFK, I find it somewhat unlikely that he'll ever make a really good film.

    Monday, January 03, 2005

    Book Review: The Great Divorce

    Continuing in my C.S. Lewis binge, I just finished reading The Great Divorce last night. I have this box set of Lewis books, so that is what I have been working through. I now only have Miracles and the Problem of Pain left.

    The Great Divorce was very thought provoking. In a dream, Lewis is transported to both heaven and hell. In his world the occupants of hell are actually allowed to visit heaven, but the fact is they still choose not to stay. Lewis is able to watch as various "ghosts" (occupants of hell) have discussions with occupants of heaven whom they knew on earth as they try to convince the ghosts to live in heaven. All the various excuses the ghosts give for not doing so often hit quite close to home. The one most intriguing to me is the guy who refuses to enter heaven because he wants to continue searching for truth. His friend who is in heaven tells him how there is no more point in searching for truth there, since in heaven people actually know what the truth is. But the search is more important to this man than the object he purportedly seeks, so he does not enter and thus does not have the thing he really wants. The obvious parallel from all the discussions Lewis witnesses in his dream to our own lives is that we often hold on to things here that actually prevent us from obtaining the far greater things God has for us.

    Best quote: "There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, 'Thy will be done,' and those to whom God says, in the end, 'Thy will be done.'"

    This book is a must read, as is every Lewis book I've read so far.