Monday, February 27, 2006

Real Estate

I found a fascinating website that will instantly give a quote on the value of a house, based on historical averages and whatnot. Try it out - it's somewhat addicting. I think it is overvaluing Sacramento houses a bit, and undervaluing in the metroplex. That might make sense if it was just the historical data lagging the market, although I would think their algorithm would be more sophisticated than that. Either way, this gives you a lot of good information in a great format, and without having to register or give any information at all.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Date Workout Time Calories Burned Weight
1/31/2006 Elliptical 47 1100 257
2/1/2006 Elliptical 43 1020
2/2/2006 Precor Elliptical 33 650
2/7/2006 Elliptical 45 1050
2/8/2006 Jog 2mi, walk .5 27 525
2/9/2006 Elliptical 42 1050
2/10/2006 Intervals 5k 35 575
2/10/2006b Precor Elliptical 22 460
2/11/2006 Jog 5k + cooldown 30 700
2/11/2006 Elliptical 30 710
2/12/2006 Stairmaster 20 410
2/12/2006b Elliptical 21 510
2/19/2006 Precor&Life Ellip 52 1100
2/20/2006 Elliptical 43 1000
2/22/2006 Elliptical 32 800
2/23/2006 256

It's been a while since I've done an update on the Pig-Be-Gone challenge. No significant progress made, as I'm down only one additional pound. However, this is not a bad thing, as that includes my trip to California (the giant hole in the workout log above) where I not only didn't workout at all, but also ate a fair amount. I need to make a trip to the grocery store so I can get my food in order as well. Other than the California trip, I've done very well on my exercise, but I have lost some rigor with my diet. If I get that going again, I don't foresee many problems in losing the three additional pounds I need for the competition.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Hotel California

I landed in SJC around 10:30, but by the time I had taken the shuttle to the rental car center (driven by the worst bus driver ever), gotten my rental car (a Murano, though at first they threatened me with a minivan), and actually made it out to my hotel, it was almost midnight. I walked in knowing I would get the crappiest room since I was checking in so late and I could see they were quite full. I give the desk clerk my name, and he proceeds to really search for it, checking the spelling of my name several times. I have a feeling of ominous foreboding. Eventually he looks at me with the look of a man who knows he is about to give me very bad news and does not want me to hit him. "Ah...sir, we don't show you having a reservation until TOMORROW night, the 15th. And we have no rooms left tonight." Naturally I am instantly very angry, assuming that they gave my room away because I showed up so late. I am also somewhat annoyed that he didn't offer to help me find a room somewhere else, which I've seen before in situations where I needed to unexpectedly get a hotel room. I know that finding another room somewhere else will be difficult, as the whole reason that I even ended up at something of a no-name hotel at all is that when I was making reservations the week before, all the regular chains were full. First, I figure I will get to the bottom of whether or not the hotel is screwing me out of a room, because if they are I will probably stage a sit-in (sleep-in?) in their lobby. I call the HP travel people, and sure enough, I just made the reservations wrong: flight on the 14th, hotel starting on the 15th. It slowly sank in how that happened, as I had switched back and forth several times between when I would fly out, not originally wanting to fly out on Valentine's day. The final time, when I realized I couldn't make it in for my 8:30 meeting unless I came in the night before, I must not have gotten the hotel reservation changed to match. Now I can only be mad at myself, but that doesn't help me have a place to stay. Fortunately I have already set up to meet with one of my good buddies who lives about 20 minutes away in Menlo park, so I ask if I can crash at his place. He is cool with that, thankfully. Otherwise with no room at the inn, I would have had to stay in the stable with Mary and Joseph and Jesus. Of course, the whole reason we had set up to get together that late at night is that he is flying out the next day, to be gone over the same days that I will be in the Bay Area. So, he is leaving at 4:30 the next morning, meaning that when I get up, he'll be gone, and I'll just be there at random with his roommates, who I've never met and have no idea what I'm doing there. So, after we get to his place and then talk for a while, it's 2 AM California/4 AM Texas before I go to sleep. I get up around 6 so I can get out of the house early, because it is illegal to park on the street in their neighborhood, so we have crammed 6 cars into their driveway, and I'm worried about how some of them will get out if I don't leave first. Everything worked out, though I was seriously dragging in the afternoon meeting the next day. Quite a return to California.

Friday, February 10, 2006

One Sorry Mess of a Party

The LA Times (remember to use if this site requires registration) catches up with what I've been saying for a long time.

LA Times 2/9/2006:
Some Democrats are furious that their party doesn't have its own ideas. Other say they do have ideas, they're just keeping them secret for now. That sounds a lot like the high school geek who insists that his girlfriend is really hot but lives in an undisclosed location in Canada.

It is amazing how obvious -- OK, even trite -- is the Democratic plight. Democrats need the money and energy of their "progressive," blog-addicted base, but in order to get it, they turn off mainstream voters. In other words, they can't get escape velocity.
Me 9/1/2004:
The left wing of the Democratic party is where all the energy is - anti-war, pro-socialism, etc. However, this is scary to normal people (apparently there are a few left in the Dem party), so the Democrats can't embrace those positions.
Who needs newspapers when you have me?

This isn't good

Stealing airbags is quite lucrative. I selected the most interesting parts of the article, so you probably don't even need to read it.
Unscrupulous repair shops are buying stolen air bags for around $100 or $200 and charging customers $1,000 or more to install them as "new" while billing insurance companies full price for the replacement, the officials said.

Air bags are relatively easy to remove. They are often bolted in place at the back of the steering wheel with fasteners that experienced thieves can quickly pop out.

"You can take a bag out shockingly fast -- you can have two bags out of a car in under two minutes," said Earl Hyser, superintendent of State Farm Insurance Co.'s vehicle research facility in Bloomington, Ill.

Hondas and Toyotas are especially popular targets, police said.

Some crooked mechanics have placed Styrofoam packing peanuts, empty beer cans and other materials inside the air bag cover instead of the actual bag. Because few drivers ever check whether a replacement bag is properly installed, a serious hazard could arise when a crash occurs and the bag is deployed.

That last one would be the worst, if a mechanic took your airbag out and you never even knew it until you needed it. This is why it's so important to find a good honest mechanic, which is one of the hardest things to do when you move.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Travelling 101

1) Drink plenty of water.
2) Get to the airport early.
3) Store your money in this.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Road Warriors

Saturday my wife got a flat tire while on the way to the theater to see Pride and Prejudice with a friend. This brings our total flat tires since moving to Texas to FIVE. In less than a year. No, I no longer want to hear from all of you "who have never had a flat tire in my entire life". That has just reached the stage of being really annoying. Even worse, not a one of the five has been patchable, meaning we've had to replace the tire each time. I'm starting to think I should just form tires out of old rubber mats that I wrap around the wheel. Those should be good for about 3500 miles, right? The same as we're getting with $75 tires. Here is the chronology of our tire unhappiness:
Simultaneously lose two tires driving through metal scrap on Highway 75. Story detailed here.
Next, my wife lost one coming back from taking her parents to the airport.
After that, we lost another one on the way out of Dallas on our trip to Corpus Christi
Now this one, wherein a piece of metal almost looking like an Xacto blade was buried in the tire.
I had to drive down to the theater where my wife and her friend were and change the tire (coming soon for my wife: lessons in tire changing), then take the tire to the repair place and whatnot. This all meant less time playing with my new toy, but a small price to pay for being able to rescue my wife ;) Given how I am completely unhandy, I guess I should be thankful for my few opportunities to be the knight in shining armor coming to give aid.

Sunday we are driving to a friend's house to watch the Super Bowl. I was in Bible study with the husband while we were both in Sacramento, and they recently moved out to Dallas as well, where he is originally from. They have a huge projector screen in one room of their house, so they threw a great Super Bowl party. Anyway, on the way down there, some idiot starts cutting into my lane. Of course, I honk at him. I'm a big believer in using the horn - for safety purposes only, of course. He now gets outraged and starts making all these motions and pointing to his head. While that was open to a lot of interpretation, i.e. I agree there was probably something wrong with his head, I'm pretty sure he was actually indicating that I needed to think while driving. I actually wasn't angry at his first maneuver, but I was now instantly riled up that he could somehow think that his idiocy was MY fault. So I proceeded to attempt to communicate through hand gestures that in fact he had cut me off and that if he used his turn signal perhaps people wouldn't be as surprised when he tried to kill them by jumping in their lane. This turns out to be very difficult to convey at highway speed, especially when shortly thereafter you exit. This got me thinking that we need a standardized method in hand signals to communicate what the other person did wrong. I have to think this is what causes so much use of the middle finger in driving, since it can't be misinterpreted and covers such a wide range of things. However, you've likely often heard the saying about how someone who swears a lot just doesn't know enough vocabulary to properly express their thoughts. Same deal here. We need a campaign to end highway vulgarity through defining some common hand gestures.