August 29, 2007

Buying a house sucks

At least it sucks when you're shopping in a real estate market that's suffering the aftershocks of hyper inflation.

Four years ago you could have got yourself into a nearly-new suburban track-home for under 200k. Then the market went on a bat-shit crazy binge for a couple years.

At the height of the boom, you'd be in a bidding war for that same house for all of 15 minutes before it sold to some jackass investor out of LA for 310k. They all expected to sit on the property for a month or two, maybe a year, and flip it for another 50k or more. The bubble burst and now there's a couple dozen foreclosures a week because people bought up property they couldn't afford long-term.

All these newly bank-owned properties are flooding the market, but the banks being what they are, refuse to loose money on these deals. Houses that should rightfully be below 200k are still being held up by stubborn banks for what's still owed on them. (In one case in particular, I saw a bank list a pretty rundown house on the MLS at price of 210k, but finally dropped it to 180k.They rejected three offers for that lower price, then promptly jacked the price back up $12,000.) In the mean time, interest rates took off in May and June and haven't really relaxed.

When I decided it was time to get myself into a house back in March, things didn't look so bad. Interest rates were ok, but the prices hadn't yet dropped into my wheel-house. It may just be my perception, but prices seem to have flattened right about the time the interest rates bumped.

In the mean time, I allowed the lease on my apartment to expire and convert to month-to-month. I didn't plan on this taking so damned long. So I'm paying pretty close to what a cheap mortgage would be as it is.

Speculating investors and realtors have fucking destroyed the AZ real estate market, screwing those of us who actually want to live and work here.

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August 23, 2007

The Secret to Enjoying Las Vegas?

Really good shoes.

The best way to make a trip to Vegas almost miserable?

Spend the weekend following your group of friends from place to place to place, not really doing anything.

Just walking. 

A lot.

In utility boots.

At least the hotel was nice.

Monte Carlo

Don't adjust your screen. We weren't actually on Mars. The camera in my very expensive cellphone just sucks that much. Between the poor resolution and the retarded automatic color correction, I hardly bother with using the camera function anymore.

And the amount of City Center construction going on along the Strip is absolutely ridiculous. If you were to turn 90º to the right from the picture above, you would see a massive hole in the earth from which burst a rectangular beast of steel, concrete, and wiring. We had the misfortune of being placed in rooms that faced the new iron monstrosity, and the construction had all of us up far too early on Saturday morning.

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August 16, 2007

Compositing or Composting?

So, there's a Vegas trip coming up in my distant future. I hit Google Maps to figure out how to get to the hotel when what did I see in the satellite view but this odd looking set of buildings. From closer to the ground you get an entirely different view (and a hefty price tag).

It's called Turnberry Place, and whoever assembled the overhead shot for Google's database managed to turn four fairly normal highrises into a Dali-esqe image of leaning towers and nonsensical shadows. Though, it would be more fun to live in that way.

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August 13, 2007

That's the last straw.

You hear me? The last straw!

It's time to join Ducks Unlimited!

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August 09, 2007

A pucker factor of 9 about sums it up

I can't imagine how you would even practice a landing at this airport.

Whatever they're paying that guy, it doesn't seem enough.

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July 27, 2007

Helo Crash

Two local TV stations (3 & 15) just had their helicopters crash into one another during a slow-speed chase.

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July 25, 2007

Ear bugs

It's been one of those days where I just keep getting things stuck in my head.

There's no sense in not sharing.

Little language warning in the second one.

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From the WTF files

The CBC has made a sitcom called "Little Mosque on the Prairie."

Read the full plot outline.

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July 23, 2007

Weekend Camping Debriefing

Thursday afternoon, two friends and I went on what is becoming an annual trip up to Blue Ridge Reservoir for a few days of summer R&R.

The basic shape of the lake is that of a horseshoe.

Two years ago, we hiked down to a campsite above the last fork on the southern end of the horseshoe. Last year, when we returned to the same site, the water level had dropped so far (about 15') that we had no direct access to float the canoe. We had to slog across 10 yards of mud to get to the water line.

This year we decided to float our equipment from the boat ramp (a few turns west of the dam) back to the campsite. If we didn't have water access to our preferred site, we could find something near deeper water.

The water level was down an additional 10'. Not only was our primary site dry, but so was our backup. The dam used to be managed by Phelps Dodge, and they tended to keep the water level high for recreational purposes. Two years ago, control of the dam was turned over to Salt River Project, and they've proceeded to sell off much of the water in the reservoir.


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July 12, 2007

It's a regular posting spree!

Two in one day? Oh the humanity!

I got this link in an email earlier today. I've needed to get a .22 pistol for quite some time. I'd been considering a 22LR conversion for my Kimber, but in the long run it wouldn't be practical to tear my gun apart every time I wanted to go plink. Converting the Mak makes a bit more sense. Everyone stock 45 ammo, but 9X18 Mak is much less common. I wouldn't bother taking the conversion out unless I really wanted to boost the hitting power of the Mak.

The reason I hesitate is that the kit cost as much as I paid for the Mak in the first place.

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New Project getting old

Well, I dont want it to sound like I'm giving up on this just yet, but I am beginning to run up against those wonderful "features" WMM is so well known for.

In its prototype form, the video was very simple and straight forward. Now that I'm trying to make a bit more out of it, I'm starting to run into random lockups and a serious lack of options.

There are a lot of transitions available, but most of them look too damned cheesy to be of any use for my purposes.

Only being able to adjust timing down to 0.07 second increments is a bit annoying. I'm sure there are settings to play with this, but if I'm a little long in one clip, I'll make it up in the next. Chasing center is always fun and there's nothing like trying to trim out with the yoke... grr...

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June 27, 2007

An old project becomes new

Back in the day, I mentioned a little project I wanted to work up one of these days.

The rough draft is done. I was surprised at how quick it went together once I found most of the pieces I needed. Having done no prior video editing, Windows Movie Maker didn't come across as the clunky piece of junk most people say it is. I'm sure if I were to work with a more fully-featured piece of software, I'd have similar thoughts.

But I really don't want to put it up for God and everyone to download until I have a couple key people give it a look over, gather some opinions, and make some revisions. I also don't want to decimate the monthly bandwidth allowance. The 3:57 file is about 40MB. (but it's probably the height of arrogance to assume I'd get enough interest to burn all my allotment.) My hope is to put up a private password-protected page so those key people could review the video and comment. After that, I'll probably just throw it up on Youtube or something.

Supposedly, there are improvements in the works to make just such limited access possible.

*wink wink nudge nudge*

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June 21, 2007

Records that are bad.

I play on a municipal D-league softball team Thursday nights. Each week during the 6-week regular season, we play a double-header of one hour games at 6:30 & 7:30, or 8:30 & 9:30. We're now into week 7, the first week of the double-elimination tournament.

The green-screen jockeys are calling for potential record highs near 112º today. That should put the temperature at about 102º at 8pm.

Tonight we play in the 6:30 7:30 slots. Remind me again why I live in the desert?

UPDATE: Well that didn't quite go as planned. The first game was a close loss to a team that could charitably be called "unsportsman-like." The second was a solid win against a team that we've played many times before and that knows how to win or loose gracefully. That puts us in a rather awkward position. We could still theoretically win this thing, but that means a marathon four games in a row next week, starting at 6:30. It's too bad I'm being forced to go on a business trip that very day.

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June 15, 2007

The Abomnibus Immigration Reform

I'm going to try to avoid politics around here if I can, but a potentially severe problem has crossed my mind recently that I have yet to hear brought up by any talking heads on either side of the issue. It may be that no one is thinking this far ahead, or it's something no one wants to bring up for fear of giving anyone ideas.


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June 08, 2007

Crossovers... or how I broke my brain in one simple step

There is just so much random stuff thrown in this video that I can't quite wrap my mind around it. (beware a bit of naughtiness in the ASCII art)


There's one particular inside joke in there (between 0:36 and 0:38, or 1:19 and 1:17 if you're looking at the countdown) that is insanely obscure and about three years old. The tragic part is that not only did I get it, but I couldn't stop laughing about it for a couple minutes.

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June 04, 2007

A "Novel' Idea

When it comes to hard sci-fi, I am not a well-read individual. I'm much more familiar with fantasy literature (but that's still not saying much).

I've had an idea kicking around for a bit to write a story.

What I want to know is, has there ever been a sci-fi story set in the extreme distant future? I'm not talking about 1,000 years, or even 100,000 years. I'm talking about a story set so far in the future that the Second Law has had its way with the Universe. The last few red-dwarf stars are guttering out and any exergy source is priceless. Universal expansion has spread everything so thin that, even traveling faster than light, trips would consume decades, centuries, and millenia. There are no points of reference left. The universe is littered (thinly) with dark objects to smack into. All in all it's a pretty dreadful scenario. There are a few fictional works listed in this Wikipedia entry, none of which I've read I'm afraid.

My basic setting is based on projecting *ahem* knowable knowns, knowable unknowns, unknowable knowns, and unknowable unknowns way out into the future:

    What if humanity becomes capable of mastering our corporeal form (aging, death and hunger all but unheard of through genetic engineering and mechanical augmentation), but never masters FTL travel? At this point, c still looks like a hard speed limit. I've run into a lot of people who say, "Well, we broke the sound barrier, we'll get past light too." The part they don't seem to gather is that we'd empirically observed objects (bullets, namely) traveling faster than sound. We just didn't know what it would take to push a vehicle to those speeds. We don't have much to go on when it comes to going faster than light. If the math is too be believed, the energy requirements are "non-trivial."

    Science fiction is full of fictional races that somehow "evolve" into energetic forms.

      What if that evolutionary "next step" never comes? What if we can't even force it? What if there's nowhere to go but sideways?

      What if that evolution is possible, but doesn't mean escaping this Universe? Would that state of existence really be less confining?

    If a human, through science and technology were suddenly able to live for millions/billions of years, would the human mind be able to contain all the accumulated memories? What would be the psychological impact of living that long?

    Which universal fate do these people have to contend with? Big Freeze, Big Crunch, or the Big Stall (aka Flat Universe). I could flip a coin I guess. Heads you Freeze. Tails you Crunch. Edge-on you Stall. Freeze and Stall are functionally the same thing, and something about the Big Rip just doesn't click with me.

    What kind of theology would you expect to develop in such an environment.

    Would people even bother having kids? Would suicide hold the same stigma?

I've been trying to world-build by taking all these what-ifs and cogitating on how they would interact to come up with an intriguing setting. What I'm afraid of is stepping on somebody else's toes.

Feel free to throw up any thoughts you may have. If anything, I find it fun to speculate on this sort of stuff.

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      May 30, 2007


      Ok, so I ran across a link to just now. It has to be one of the dumbest and most hilarious things I've seen in a while.

      What the hell is it? It's a new programing language written in 133t (or a very close approximation). I sure wish I was more familiar with the ins and outs of code. I bet this would be even more hilarious (or worrisome) for someone like Shamus. Pixy may even find it amusing.

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      May 25, 2007

      Road Trip Stuff

      A little over a month ago, I was on a road trip to Dallas. But rather than hop on I-10 for a mind-numbing drive through southern Texas, we took the US-60 into New Mexico, where we caught US-380. Along the way, I got to see the VLA, drove past (well, about 20 miles north of) the Trinity site, hit downtown Roswell for a little weirdness, and then we hit The Great Flat Squat. From Roswell to Dallas, there is little that would pass muster as a piddling hill. With no chance for perspective, it becomes very hard to see the more interesting things going on around you.

      For example... what in the hell is going on here in the plains east of Roswell? Is a farmer with a lot of land, time, and a sense of humor screwing with the UFO nutjobs?

      Also, to the far right of that map along 380, you'll see a place marked "Tokio." Even zoomed in close, it's hard to tell that this town is almost completely abandoned. It was a depressing sight even at 70 mph. Oh, and Texas is so damn huge they have two (2) Tokio's.  The other Tokio changed its name during World War 2 for obvious reasons, but it was never a very big place to begin with.

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      May 22, 2007

      Not a good start

      So I switched cellular providers from Alltel to Verizon almost a month ago. I've been expecting to see my first bill (with all the noxious activation fees) show up in the mail (I know, I know, there are more modern ways of handling payments, but consider me old-fashioned).

      I sure as hell don't want to get dinged for being late. It's bad enough that I had to write Alltel a check for $4.

      Posted in Random Debris by: Will at 05:40 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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      May 16, 2007

      I had to do something today that I just didn't like...

      A little over a year sgo, I was promoted to head my department. At about the same time, a new girl was hired on to serve in a different department, but because of space issues, was placed at the station next to mine. Part of the reason for that was that I put in significant time in both departments, so I was tasked with part of her training.

      For a time I entertained the delusion that there was something developing between us, and I can't say I would have minded had it worked out.

      Then she decided she didn't like what she was doing and wanted to move into my department. We've been severely overtaxed for the last couple years, so an influx of any experienced help was welcome, but now I had to become the boss. She hasn't seemed to quite catch on to that fact. We fight like a married couple over the most trivial little things, because she just won't recognize were not equals in this.

      A couple of weeks ago she tells me over lunch that she's taken on a weekend job doing similar work for a company across town. She mentions that they pay more and that she really enjoys what they do. Company policy is that you can take outside work as long as it doesn't interfere with your duties to the company.

      I already know this is going to be a problem, but I keep my mouth shut. Until that is, a couple days ago a huge project misses a deadline, and I'm given the once over by my boss. He tells me that if I need to get people in on the weekends for overtime, do it. It's at this point I do the thing I know to be right and inform him that she's taken a job that may interfere with weekend overtime. I lay out the situation as best as I understand it. He understands and tells me to not let her threaten (even passively) me with a second job. I agree and tell him I'm going to talk with her about it.

      So this afternoon I sit down and tell her that in the weeks ahead I may need her to come in a couple times on a the weekends to get us out from under our workload. In her words she tells me she can't make any promises. I let her know that isn't acceptable and that our work come first, and I've appraised my boss of the situation. At this point she gets indignant that I said anything. My reponse is that I'm ultimately responsible for her work and productivity, and that I have to do something if there's a problem. I have to be the boss.

      Now I'm in a bind. I can't afford to loose an experienced worker or the time it would take to train someone new. On the other hand, I've got a job to do and a subordinate that I like really as a friend who could potentially interfere with getting that job done.

      I don't know what's going to happen now. She is prone to being impulsive, and I'm stuborn about doing the right thing by my head rather than my heart.

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