just procrastinating

Thursday, June 30, 2005

I'm one of those people who can watch the Weather channel all day, so this video of a somewhat wispy tornado forming is pretty cool.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Housing Bubble
This post on the housing bubble and "exotic" mortgages over at Volokh sort of makes sense to me. We ended up doing one of those interest only loans, mostly because it seems like it made sense to pay down our higher interest student loans than pay money to principal that just sits there and doesn't really do anything. To me that makes good financial sense, but I've been wrong about math before, so anytime I find something that agrees with me, I'll take it. Excerpt:
Moreover, money paid in as principle on your house (such as a downpayment) is dead capital--and the only way to get it back out to invest is to take out a home equity loan, which usually has a higher interest rate than it would be if you were just paying interest in the get go and using the saved principle payments for other purposes. So because of the time value of money, you are getting poorer when you pay down principle on your loan that does nothing for you, because you aren't getting any interest on this money. And this doesn't even take into account the "home equity trap" that may mean that you can't get approved for a home equity loan when you most need it, such as when you become unemployed.

I'd be more inclined to take this as fact if the author, Todd Zywicki, wasn't a lawyer.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Cruise v. Lauer
I finally got around to watching that Tom Cruise interview on the Today show that people have been buzzing about all weekend. I'm not a big fan of the smarmy Matt Lauer, but he made Tom Cruise look ignorant, rude and slightly unhinged. Matt's point, that some people get relief from using antidepressants, was never really addressed by Tom, except to say that Matt doesn't know the history of Psychiatry. Tom never really got around to explaining that. Well here is the explainer.

I see that I was not alone with the template issues. Director Mitch, the Window Manager, seems to have suffered a similar fate. Something must have changed with the way blogger renders that "Bluebird" template, of which mine is a variation. I'll hold off on changing back until someone figures out what the deal is. This one is actually kind of growing on me, except for that Mickey Mouse looking thing in the upper left corner, which is just plain unacceptable.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Just trying to figure somethign out.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Well I screwed something up and lost my old template, so this is what you'll see here for awhile. I'm going to have to add back the comments and blogroll, etc.

Here's an article in the LA Times that talks about this year's decline in box office receipts. I'm partly responsible for this and I'm not sure why. When I was a teenager and even into my 20s, I would probably go to the movies at least once a month. Now maybe it's 3 or 4 times a year. It might be that it is easier to just wait until it comes out on video, and as I grow older, I just don't like being in crowds of people for an extended period of time. Here is an explanation from the article:
Just as home entertainment systems --including plasma screens and surround sound--have become increasingly lavish, the overall moviegoing experience has become a shell of its former self. Even as theaters offer stadium seats and martinis, moviegoers are being bombarded with countless advertisements and coming attractions.

"Going to a movie theater used to be a unique way of seeing a movie and carried with it a romantic notion--it was a special forum you shared with a group of people," said Terry Press, the head of marketing for DreamWorks. Theater advertising is annoying and ruins the value of movie previews, which are a studio's most powerful marketing tool, Press said. "At least at my house I have the ability to fast-forward through the commercials," she said.
I imagine that as HDTV screens get bigger and cheaper, and video games and the web offering more interactive alternatives, the movies will continue to suffer.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Movie Quotes
I watched that AFI Movie quotes special last night. Here is a list. Some that I have heard myself use recently:
11. "What we've got here is failure to communicate," "Cool Hand Luke," 1967

12. "I love the smell of napalm in the morning," "Apocalypse Now," 1979

29. "You can't handle the truth!", "A Few Good Men," 1992

36. "Badges? We ain't got no badges! We don't need no badges! I don't have to show you any stinking badges!", "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre," 1948

92. "Cinderella story. Outta nowhere. A former greenskeeper, now, about to become the Masters champion. It looks like a mirac ... It's in the hole! It's in the hole! It's in the hole!", "Caddyshack," 1980.
I kinda expected the Clark Gable quote to be #1, but you have to wonder if there will ever be a time when it wouldn't. A hundred years from now is anyone going to understand the significance of that quote?

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Tom & Katie
I've seen too much of Tom Cruise recently and his beard, Katie Holmes. I kinda used to like them both, but enough is enough. I think this is correct:
In Hollywood, you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who believes the romance with Katie Holmes is anything but a sham designed to generate publicity for both of them (her summer blockbuster, Batman Begins, having just been released in the US a few weeks ahead of War of the Worlds.) The industry scuttlebutt on last Friday's impromptu engagement is that it was merely Cruise and Holmes' way of making an excessively sceptical world believe they really, really are in love. Who, after all, gets engaged on the spur of the moment and calls a press conference a mere two hours later to announce the news?
Maybe there is something to this?

Rigas' Sentenced
The founders of this little shop where I work got sentenced yesterday:
Both proclaiming their innocence, Adelphia Communications Corp. founder John Rigas and his son, Timothy, the company’s former chief financial officer, were sentenced to prison -- for 15 and 20 years, respectively -- Monday for their part in what a judge said "culminated in one of the greatest frauds in corporate history."

In downtown Manhattan, U.S District Court Judge Leonard Sand didn’t give any sway to both defendants’ refusal to acknowledge any wrongdoing regarding their actions at Adelphia.

"I think your intentions were to deceive the market and, for a significant amount of time, you were successful in that deceit," Sand told them.
From what I've heard they probably deserved it.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Car Buying
The balloon payment on my wife's Jeep was coming due and we decided it was time to get a more practical car for her. A Jeep Wrangler is neat car in theory, but they are loud, uncomfortable, get horrible gas mileage and have no trunk space to speak of. So she ended up getting a Subaru Outback. Kind of a downer for my wife who loved that Jeep and slowly came to the realization about her new car: "It's a station wagon."

But it's nice to be able to go into a dealer and just say, I'll pay X (invoice + $300) for this car and have them say, "OK". I hate doing that song and dance number where the salesman goes and checks with his manager while you sit around a wait. I had a bunch of different negotiation strategies planned too that included dramatic exit, but I didn't need to use them. Which makes me wonder if maybe I didn't get such a good deal? Anyway, who cares, I feel like I did and that's all that matters.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Virginia Postrel points to something that would keep me going to the Dentist regulary: Free Whiting:
When I visited the dentist yesterday, they gave me a new incentive to keep up my regular checkups (as though all the dental work I suffered through after not having regular checkups weren't enough): free whitening for life. This approach suggests a whole new approach to promoting preventive health checks. Since their behavior suggests that most people care more about their immediate appearance than their long-term health, maybe doctors should offer discounts on Botox (or Viagra?) to get patients into the exam room.
I just went through a box of Crest Whitestrips which are a bit of pain to do for 2 weeks, but better than forking over $400 for the Dentist to do it. It would be nice if Dentist could kick that in for free.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Hit Me
Did anyone watch that Hit Me Baby One More Time last night? I missed it last week, but caught it last night and am going to have to keep watching it. This week they had The Knack (My Sharona), Tommy Tutone (867-5309), Haddaway (What is Love?), The Motels (Only The Lonely), and Vanilla Ice (Ice, Ice...).

I was interested in seeing how the Knack held up after 25 years, and you know, they look and pretty much sound the same. The did a cover of Jet's "Are you gonna be my girl" which was pretty accurate, although maybe lacking the oomph of the original. (Did you know oomph is a word?)

Tommy Tutone never seemed like a very talented bunch in the first place, and they didn't impress. Haddaway? Well whatever, all that guy does is sing. And that wasn't all that long ago was it? The Motels sounded fine, although the lead singer is looking a little grandmotherly to me. But, I guess she was probably in her early 30s back then, so do the math.

I've seen Vanilla Ice on some shows since his cheeseball days, and he came out all thin and tattooed, looking a bit like Eminem, and sounding like him as well. His version of "Ice, Ice Baby" deviated a bit from the original in that he played it a little more modern, and it sounded--well maybe I was a little sleepy so don't hold me to it--but it sounded pretty good. He won over the crowd with his version of "Survivor" by Destiny's Child and ended up winning.

I kind of walked away with, perhaps not a new respect for, but at least an appreciation of Vanilla Ice for being able to build some kind of life after this. I think most ordinary people, once they realized what a horrible, repugnant thing that they had unleashed upon the world would just curl up into a ball and die of shame. It takes a certain kind of person to be able to just slough that off, laugh at it and move on.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

I finally got around to seeing the final(?) Star Wars while I was in Denver. I was expecting great things from this movie, and I'd say I wasn't disappointed. I probably won't run out and see it again, but I do kind of want to watch III and IV back to back at some point. It was kind of fun to see Lucas try to tie up some loose ends: like erasing C3POs memory.

The critics were right about the scenes with Anakin and Padame. They were just a little too silly to sit through. Every time the 2 of them were together I got a little antsy. But these scenes were useful to me, since I only have a 2 hour bladder and the movie was a little long for me. But that's a shame because I could spend all day looking at Natalie Portman, if she would just shut up already.

Spoiler Alert: I'm still trying to figure out why Obi-Wan didn't finish the job with Anakin. He sure cut him up real good and then watched him burn, but what? He couldn't kill him? Jees, the humanitarian thing to do would be to put the guy out of his misery. Maybe he just couldn't bring himself to kill his young Padawan? I don't know, I'll just let that one go.

Also, I got a problem with some of the technology in the Star Wars universe. Why can't they figure out a way to get a good 3D holgram without all the static? Every time we see those bluish holograms they keep breaking up with static. You'd think that one wouldn't be too hard to figure out. There are other things as well: the traffic on Coruscant, the first battle sequence that had those big space ships fighting like old battle ships--side by side. Anyway, still a good movie.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Go West
We got back from Denver late last night at around midnight. Of course it wasn't supposed to work out that way, but that's what you get when you try to connect through Chicago on a hot humid day. There is nothing more frustrating in the whole world than hearing the sound of the engines being turned off on the tarmac, and waiting.

But Denver was nice. It's different out there. People are taller and thinner than the folks around here, and stoned too--all of them. It must be a healthier lifestyle. I think I could live there.

On Saturday we went out to Red Rocks (you know the place in that U2 video) and saw Big Head Todd and the Monsters. I saw Big Head Todd 12 years ago in DC and was kind of interesting to think about how things have changed. Since then I've been through a handful of different jobs and lived in 5 different cities, while Big Head Todd still has the same job, is playing the same tunes and looks pretty much the same. The show was fun, but Big Head Todd really only has 3 songs which he plays at 3 different tempos, so after about an hour and half he gets pretty redundant. Still, he's pretty good at what he does.

Oh well, back to work. I need to catch up on some blog reading.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

We're heading out to Denver tonight to spend some time with the in-laws and will be back on Monday.

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