Archive for May, 2008

28
May
08

Sue Part Deux

28
May
08

Grip it! On another level

A recent post on Get Rich Slowly (GRS) about “Purpose Driven Investing” is making me re-evaluate how I manage my savings. The meat of the article is this: Yield to the natural human urge for instant gratification and divide your savings goals into small, fun to manage chunks. So instead of one (hopefully) large savings fund sitting in the United High Interest Credit Union, you have a few smaller accounts each based on the asset’s needed liquidity and the interest rate that liquidity, and possibly risk, bears. Thus divided, one can view his goals piecemeal, and meet them “faster”.

In fact, I already have, to some degree, done this by setting aside my emergency savings in a high yield savings account. But as I’m trying to get all my finances set up in Quicken, and generally just become more efficient with the whole process of saving and investing, an article like this has given me some ideas.

While GRS has taken this plan to a pretty elaborate level with multiple accounts and such, I don’t believe that will necessarily be optimal for me. However, I think I’m going to start utilizing a series of virtual “liability” accounts to represent the specific savings goals I have (For the curious: Emergency savings, end of year IRA contributions, vehicle maintenance, vacation fund, and furniture purchases). Actually juggling a bunch of bank accounts is too much effort. But creating seperate, fake liabilities in Quicken which I can allocate from one real account will work in much the same way, just easier.

And even though I know this kind of thing on GRS is preaching to the choir, a lot of informative writing usually is. As someone who reads the GRS blog, I’m naturally going to be interested (ha!) in applying this strategy. I’m not even in the financial services field yet, but I’m constantly faced with situations where friends and family need advice that appears simple to me, but elusive to them. That’s, hopefully, one of the beautiful things about this whole “blogging” phenomena. You have your completely insular blogs like GSR dedicated to one topic or another. But then again, there’s some general interest content out there to expose you to completely random subjects. I guess right now, this blog leans towards that.

Or, I could specialize in cracked XXX web password trading. SHOW ME THE MONEY!

24
May
08

More pictures available. 0DAY OR NO DAY

Tricky flickr. Forcing me to upgrade to the pro account. Sure, you offer 100Mb a month of free picture uploads. An industrious uploader could find ways around that. Even force themselves to be patient, and space out their pr0nfloods. But you know our ways, and limited the number of “sets” a free account can have to 3. Bastards, I salute your business model.

So, I upgraded to Flickr pro. I have other places I can host photos on the web. I could even put some stuff up on this blog if need be. But really, do I want my mom or mother-in-law accessing those “other places?” Those dirty corners of the internet I normally call home? I’d even be embarassed for them to see this really.

Flickr knows this. Flickr has exploited my darkest fears, and I’m going to pay them 25 dollars a year to keep their mouths shut.

It’s worth it (HINT, PICTURES HERE)

Btw, to my 4 contacts on Flickr. I love you. You make me feel popular. I want to comment on your streams, have patience. I just want to do it justice. QUALITY OVER QUANTiTY.

23
May
08

Sue my landlord

I moved exactly 32 days ago. In most situations, saying “About a month” would suffice. But in this case, it’s extremely important that it was exactly 32 days. For you Math Majors, that’s 30 days plus 2 days. The reason I know this is because I’ve been paying close attention as the days roll by, waiting for that 30th day to come. On the 31st day, I’d been planning on suing my landlord.

You see, my former landlords were about the biggest assholes from whom I’d ever leased. And these assholes had exactly 14 days from when I vacated the premises to return my security deposits in full. Failing that, they had 30 days to send a certified letter stating they wanted to use portions of my security deposit to cover damages. This is all standard procedure, and normally I’d have other things to occupy my time than worrying about this. But nope. These assholes once charged us a late fee because their office was closed when rent was due.  They constantly sent threatening letters demanding extra deposits, vehicle registration, pet photos, etc all with extra language demanding these requests be met within TWO BUSINESS days or a fifty dollar charge would be assessed per day. LOL. Dicks.

I never had a problem meeting these demands, getting my papers in, paying deposits, registering vehicles. But I’m sure a lot of people they harassed did. And knowing the neighborhood (not exactly high rent, well to do people) I’m sure they took a lot of advantage of a lot of scared, poor and ignorant people. The corporate culture at this place is unbelievable, and it needs a bitch slap.

Honestly, I wanted to write this yesterday. Which would have only been 31 days after I moved out. Yesterday I received a notice that I’d received a certified letter from them. I’m really looking forward to going to the post office tomorrow, picking it up, and laughing like a hyena if they missed the deadline by one day. And if they didn’t miss the deadline, I’m going to have a whole lot of fun fighting them tooth and nail over any damages they claim. It’s totally not about the money anymore. It’s about the sport of it.

I will have their heads hanging on plaques in my den.

ACCOMPANYING MUSIC BY THE COUP

17
May
08

A Memento for your thoughts

Memento. Mindfuck of a plot twist front to back, headache, black and white, not-quite-noir but sort of, celebration of the tattoo industry, film. Or so it would paint itself. And according to The Internet Movie Databaseit’s also the 27th best movie of all time (currently) – a pretty lofty pedestal. It sits nestled between North By Northwest and Sunset Blvd, two films that have been universally lauded for decades. I know I’ve seen both of these, films but I can’t recall either. For the sake of blogeristic integrity, maybe I should re watchthem, take notes, and get the key ideas tattooed on my pectorals. Theoretically, one is supposed to do their homework. But I’m comfortable withcribbing this. For better or for worse, I nearly always am. Still, I’m, at the very least, 99% confident that my following assessment of Memento’s place amongst the legends, nay, the TITANS OF CINEMA is accurate. Statements that follow should henceforth be considered canonical.

Before that though, a little something about numbers, and charts and all those great things we nerds obsess over like Britney Spear’s lyric sheets.

Obviously, something’s very out of wack about rating systems these days. While I realize everything is ultimately partially subjective, we’re veering towards lawless averages here. “The Average” has been completely devalued is no longer a function in relation to mean. We, as a culture, have apparently evolved to  a popular mode where the following occurs. Nine stoned teenagers give “The Crow” a perfect 10 out of 10 score. One curmudgeon like me scores it a 5 (or perhaps a 6 if we *really* analyze the cinematography or set design). And somewhere in Oklahoma a retarded midget uses pig shit to scrawl a big, backwards 1 on a Wal-Mart circular, drops it in the mailbox addressed to “Santa C/O The North Pole”. He then locks in his vote by posting a series of spam comments in some online message forums declaring the return of Adolf Hitler. Somehow the midget and I cancel each other out (if I had a nickel…) and dreams of nine kids in G-Unit jerseys are fulfilled.

Weirdly, I was just reading a new-to-the-market computer game review magazine my father had given me, and they went into a similiarspiel as way of editorial introduction. The premise: “Everything else you’ve read about Halo 2 is wrong! Get ready for hard hitting PC gaming journalism. All of you with something to hide beware – This is will be our Watergate!” Also, they want to publish semi-scholarly articles on the gaming industry in their pages. Using this approach, they hope to return legitimacy to their beloved art form: the computer game review periodical. Ultimately this magazine will fail. The editor and staff will end up pulling out their hair, burning down their houses and slitting their wrists in their bathtubs before knocking their purposely plugged-in laptops into the water. Somewhere a toaster oven and hair dryer will unite, mourn their obselecence, have a brief fling in Paris, sire an illigitimate electric nose trimmer, name him Luc. They will then enter into a suicide pact, down a mixture of overproofed ryed and sleeping pills, and watch the ships on the Seine one last time.

I blame all of this on a major shift to non-competitive rule making in Little League, the spread of The Internet, and Womens’ right to vote. Only the last of these was a partial joke. The rest have magnified the ugliest facets of Democracy and shoved them down my throat. By “my” I mean “We, the intellectual elite”.

Honestly, this is just all piss and vinegar. Sure, Memento was ok but it was not, by any stretch of the IQ=90 imagination an 8.6 out of 10. There is no way it is legitimately in any half-serious film aficionado’s top 100 list.  Let alone #27. Odds are, I could personally find 27 Santo movies that are more awesome. Honestly, would you want to be stranded on a desert island with only Memento, a portable generator, a plasma screen, a region free DVD player with XviD support, some Bose speakers, and a Harmony universal remote to control it all? I might.

I’m sure the less discerning viewer mostly salivates over the “unique” plot structure. You know, the reversal of steps that forces the chiseled protagonist to strip to the waist, bronze up, and ink a series of instructions to himself lest he forget he needs to avenge his wife’s murder. (I will gloss over the impossibility of a man handsome enough to be a leading man settling for a diabetic wife. You have to suspend disbelief somewhere. It is essential when watching film).

OK, that’s fair enough. It was clever, but under scrutiny not *that* clever. Going backwards in time, step by step, is fine and all, but the linearity of the reverse plotting is opaquely traditional when you look at it. The plot itself progresses from point A to B like that thing we all love, “reality”, does. It just does so in little chunks that are put out of place. Not even out of place in a honestly baffling way, like trying to remember your childhood when drunk at Christmas. Just out of place in a novelty way, like “grr, where are my car keys!?”. Ultimately, this premise, the modernistic creation of ones own reality through rearranging ones memory, doesn’ t hold up. In the end, it is revealed as nothing more then superficial plot device. The wife’s dead, drug dealers are dicks, and in Hollywood anti-heros are always grim, badasses with scars, stubble and chips on their shoulders. Everything and everybody gets “solved” with guns. A man has a hard enough time trying to figure out “reality” alone in the car of a drug dealer he just killed, without having to recite cliched lines of dialogue someone wrote for him. Through all of this, the protagonist is a tattooed bouncing ball we follow, reciting the words: “Why is this rated so high? Why is this rated so high?”

Still, I don’t think it’s on the contrary I gave the film a 7/10 score. To me that’s a bit above average, like the OK looking girl surrounded by fat friends at an Irish wake. The acting was serviceable. Again, like the OK looking girl….

Guy Pearce is the lean, pointy haired good guy gone bad boy killer, Joe Pantoliano the goofy, amiable but nefarious glimmer of possible hope who never pans out, and Carrie-Anne Moss the one-sided, snake venomed, transparent diner-trash set piece. And they all played their rolls as the director undoubtedly asked of them. Problem is, characters in Tide commercials have established more pathos with me.

So yeah, long rant. I can’t say I didn’t thoroughly enjoy this taut little mystery. But as mysteries go, I’ve seen better. It’s a good film, and obviously well worth a watch. It was midnight. I had a comfortable beach chair to sit in, a bag of chips, and a tall glass of water. There wasn’t much else going on at the time… Like that OK looking girl I was talking about earlier.

16
May
08

Swedish rap: Sounds Jamaican?

I’m not exactly a huge fan of Swedish rap. Wait scratch that. Swedish “Hip-Hop”. I like Swedish movies, bikini teams and banking, but haven’t really had the urge to delve into their rap scene. So I was pretty surprised when a buddy of mine forwarded me this link to a rapper called Timbuktu. Actually, as I’m about to embed the video, I’m realizing maybe the main MC here is “Chords” and Tim is the guest appearing, black, skateboarding guy.  Black, skateboarding Swedes? Honestly, I have no clue.

Anyway, this is the kind of song that should make Dilated Peoples and the like embarrassed. Here’s a great example a couple of people to whom English isn’t even the native language taking backpack rap and dominating the crap American artists come up with. Not normally my style. And a couple of the rhymes choices are kinda dumb (ex: using the word “Apparatus” should almost always be banned in rap). But overall, pretty catchy, breezy, boomin’ and bappin’.

 

15
May
08

A miserable failure

I really blew it last weekend. And by “it” I mean at least one brand new, shiny nickel plated computer power supply. All 500 watts went up in a spark of blue lightning, and pulled a David Copperfield on me. Shazam. Luckily there was no smoke. But there may have been fire.

Previously on Adventures In Dumpster Diving, I’d found dozens of beaten up Pentium IIIs, many suspiciously lacking CD-RW drives, but containing hundreds of gigabytes of personal information on tattered 5.25″ Bigfoot branded hard drives. During these escapades (and these escapades stretch many years, almost as many as you can count on your digits), I’ve dismantled my fair share of these homeless PCs. Gutted them like fish, strewing innards of cabling around stacks of SD-RAM, 16mb video cards and 33.6kbps modems. I’d taken sledgehammer to orphaned CRT monitors and melted motherboards down to their base elements. With emulation software, scanned shell accounts, and philosopher’s stone I’d sought the secret of eternal computer life. It was retro-edge 1980s cyberpunk adapted to modern sensibilities by necessity, and it had worked, in a way, to sustain my vampiric lust to drain the information superhighway of all essential nutrients.

But this weekend, I’d attempted a Frankenstein coup: building, from scratch, a super computer, named Rose, which would pay homage to my newly installed 20mbit fiber line, and serve as central access point to a needlessly complicated personal network controlling every vital electrical function of my household. From regulating the refrigerators humidity, to modulating my sleeping brainwaves, Rose would do it all.

But after I lovingly, albeit tiredly and hastily, slapped, screwed, jammed, slid, jostled, and snapped her components into place she greeted me with a snap and an explosion of flame out of the PSU fan. In that instant my heart sank as my anger rose. After I had spent so much time fastidiously snaking your sleek SATA cables through your insides and carefully tried to plug all the case leads into the right motherboard headers… she spit a meaty gob of electric phlegm all over my face. And all over my dreams.

Until I can get time to, you know, get someone with some experience building PCs from scratch to help me out. Preferably with a PSU tester, or a multimeter, or something.

Any ideas? 😦