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Q: Do I spend too much time watching tv?

A: Probably. I should cut down to 3 show specific hours a week (any guesses at what my 3 hours are?), plus some Daily Show and PBS here and there. Doesn’t include social tv watching, gathering around the glow of the electric campfire to spend time with the tribe.

Q: Do I spend too much time on the internet?

A: Absolutely. Harder to pinpoint what I should limit myself to, but soduku has to go.

Q: I’ve been thinking of rejoining the workforce full time, is working really for suckers?

A: Yes, but it probably wouldn’t be as bad as I imagine/fear if I could land an interesting job.

Q: How much time do I really want to spend working out?

A: I was working out for 1-2 hours, 6 or 7 days a week for a while. That is too much (but it did get me in great shape, or as I like to call it, unemployed shape). 1 hour 3 or 4 times a week isn’t enough. I think the time in the former might be good if I replaced half the gym time with fun activities, like intense games of dodge ball or running from the swine flu.

Q: Climbing a mountain sounds like an awesome goal, for somebody else. What’s my mountain?

A: I don’t know but I want to find out. It’s not running a marathon (nice little challenge, but what’s the point) or getting an advanced degree in a somewhat difficult subject (too easy). Suggestions are welcome, I’m looking for a challenge.

I’ve recently realized that it’s shocking what a responsible person my high school buddy MC (only part of his name has become) over the last five years. He holds down a good job, owns a house and doesn’t need to attend AA. This would’ve been a hard future to imagine for him ten years ago. I attribute much of his responsibility to his special lady, who he had the good sense to lock down last Friday, making her Mrs. MC Dude and checking off 2 of my 3 steps of growing up. I skipped four classes to hang out on Maui for the wedding. Now I own a winestopper!

Being a small destination wedding, I got to know every attenddee under 40 a little bit. One of the brides college friends (go Vikings!) brought her husband. They live in Alaska and are snowboarding bums. She’s a waitress and he does web design. Web design apparently allows him to choose what days he works and what days. So when the powder comes down he abandons his keyboard for chair lifts. He was also very fond of wasabe.

This got me thinking, as I often do, about how I should be living my life. Grad school is okay, it does give me freedom to do what I want about 1/4 of the year (if not much money to do it with). But I couldn’t help be a bit jealous of this guy who could travel all over the world snowboarding and fill in the free time with some work. As far as I could tell, he isn’t getting rich, at least not monetarily, but isn’t the point of getting rich so you can go on ski trips? I didn’t come to any life altering conclusions, just thinking I’d like to find similar freedom in my post academic life (if that day ever comes).

I’d also like to say if you go to Maui stop by the Maui Brewing Company and order the Coconut Porter, and grab a few growlers of it on the way out. I’m philosophically opposed to beer that tastes like anything other than beer, but coconut gets the WFS Seal of Approval.

…is throw away my bucket list. I have a friend who’s making a career out of being a life coach and encouraging people to follow their dreams. She is big on ‘Dream Lists’. Stuff you really want to do, and I wish her the best in this. Her dream list recently popped up on Facebook so I checked it out. It got me wondering what good a list like this would do me.

My motivation for throwing the list out, is what happens when your on your death bed and you you’ve only scratched off half the list? I guess a well adjusted person would look at what they had done, and not what they hadn’t. Or what if you finally make out with a Finn, scratch it off your list and have nothing left to do? If you’d forget a ‘dream’ if it wasn’t on the list, how much did you really want it?

I see how the list is good motiviation to keep life in perspective, follow your dreams, etc etc. And for some people that’s probably going to help them. In the last three years I’ve quit my job to go travel exotic locals. Twice. I don’t think I need that kind of motivation. In fact, if I’m going to keep a list of goals they should probably be professional ones, if I had any.

Speaking of, I should get back to studying. I’d be interested in what my reader, who spends a lot of time at the office thinks on the subject. I am also accepting suggestions for personal goals I should have.

A while ago I mentioned Little Ceasar’s, and how it is underepresented on Working’s For Suckers. The thing is, I love Little Ceasar’s like fat kids love, well, pizza. It’s not because there pizza is that good, it’s because it has consistently been good to me over the years. I remember Ceasar’s busting onto the scene with all the Pizza! Pizza! stuff when they pretty much made you buy two pizza’s, which was strange.

My senior year in high school some school organization sold these discount cards, they were like coupons at a bunch of places but you got to keep them. One of the deals was free breadsticks at Ceasar’s with any pizza purchase. So one semester, me MC-Dude and Stefan would sneak out of PE a little early so we would have time for the trip (about 20 minutes round trip on a 30 minute lunch). I’m sure the deal was intended for people buying whole pizza’s, but if thats what they meant, they should have said so. We’d buy the slice slice, two slices and a soda for $3+tax and get our free breadsticks. We did this every fucking day, which actually got old, after talking my classmates into going to Dairy Queen once I never heard the end of it.

A couple years later I lived a block away from Little Ceasar’s in college. My roommate D$ and I road the same bus home from school every day, and would hit up the slice slice three or four days a week, prompting one employee to comment that we must really like pepperoni pizza. I don’t want to speak for D, but I can’t argue with the statement.

After college Little Ceasar’s became the go-to hangover cure. I would often wait with whoever I was enjoying the hangover with in anguish until 11:00 when Little Ceasar’s opened, they dimly lit dining area in what I believe was the only Little Ceasar’s with a dining area was a perfect place to sip Dr Pepper and listen to soft rock and discuss the previous nights antics. Eventually the dining area was removed, supposedly because it didn’t fit with the corporate standards. Booo!

Little Ceasar’s outside Whatcom county don’t seem to push the slice! slice! deal, but the $5 large has allowed SoCal Ceasar’s to keep my business (but not as much of it). I think I’ll go grab a Hot-N-Ready for lunch tomorrow.

We previously recieved a request here at WFS for a statistical analysis of my happiness related to how far I live from Little Ceasars. So I ran a regression analysis, and I don’t like the results. But since I pretty much made up the numbers (not very scientific) I don’t think there’s much to them. For those of you who don’t read regression analysis very often, the parameter estimate could be looked at as how much affect the variable has on my happiness, the Pr > |t| is more or less the probability that there is no correlation. They’re all high enough to throw out these results, which is good because this says that I’m happier the farther I live from Little Ceasars. The regression also shows a negative relationship between health and happiness, which makes me wonder if spending times in gyms makes me sad. It looks like my t-shirt collection and my living situation have the biggest influence on my happiness. Guess I’ll buy some shirts after I eat my pizza tomorrow.

My Happiness
Variable DF Parameter
t Value Pr > |t|
Intercept 1 3.16739 2.74281 1.15 0.2690
Distance 1 -0.00082327 0.00465 -0.18 0.8621
QofF 1 0.27142 0.27289 0.99 0.3381
WorkSchool 1 0.18447 0.34447 0.54 0.6013
Health 1 -0.01547 0.17328 -0.09 0.9302
Tshirts 1 0.43083 0.58441 0.74 0.4741
LivingSituation 1 0.43638 0.31852 1.37 0.1939

The Setup

A friend of mine had good connections to get interviews to work as an investment banker when he graduated from college. He didn’t take advantage because he didn’t want to work 100+ hours a week. Instead he has worked a variety of jobs that he hasn’t been very happy with, and occasionally laments not giving Wall Street a chance.
Today I was pulled into an email discussion about whether or not recent market events should make him happy he chose the path he did. I was alone arguing that even if he was currently losing his fortune and at risk of losing his job he still might be happier had he been an investment banker. The two arguing that he was better off not giving his life to his job at 23 are two of the most career oriented people I know under 30. I pointed out the oddity of our positions, considering I was sitting at a coffee shop by the beach at 11:30 on a monday morning, and had bought my refreshment with student loan money.
The response was that the grass is always greener on the other side. Finally getting me to my point.

The Best Email I Wrote Today

The grass is pretty fucking green where I’m sitting.

A Tangent

Suppose that my friends overall happiness since graduating from college is higher than it would’ve been had he been an investment banker. Let’s also suppose that his overall happiness would have been higher had he been a rich Wall Street type and the financial collapse didn’t happen (so the current path is better soley because of the financial collapse). Did he still make the right choice?
My point being that looking at decisions in retrospect, is it fair to judge them with full hindsight, or should they be judged by what we knew at the time? I would argue the latter.
It’s also a nice example of how the black swan theory can be applied to personal decisions. If you decide to follow road A, imagine some horrible scenarios that the road could take you to (like devoting your life to a job just for money and then losing everything). Then consider the likelihood. Even if the chance is small, if it’s bad enough you might want to take road B. Of course the same considerations should be made about road B.

On the bus to school the other day, the busdriver and a woman passenger were weighing in on the whole bailout situation. Neither seemed to have an especially strong understanding of economics or finance, but I’m not sure John McCain or Barak Obama do either. But since everyone else in the world is throwing their two cents in I thought I would too. I’m not an economist, but I have considered reading “The Wealth Of Nations.”

First off, having crunched not a single number, I think the bailout seems to be a little higher than is necessary. Here’s my reasoning.

  • The purpose of the bailout is to keep financial institutions functioning that, if they were to cease functioning, their would be a large negative impact on the U.S. economy (which would probably be pretty bad for both the San Diego and world economy’s). This is sound.
  • The bailout should provide the minimum amount of money to allow this to happen, and only to as few institutions as possible (sorry Lehman Brothers).
  • My assumption here might be off, but I would think that these institutions, run by intelligent people (who made some very bad decisions), could continue to operate if they were given a couple hundred million dollars.

Based on that thinking, it seems like we could throw a couple of hundred million dollars at a couple of banks/brokerages and the world wouldn’t end. Now if I was running said banks and brokerages, and I had friends in DC (which they do) I would try and get as much cash out of the government as I could. While, actually I wouldn’t, but I would expect some folks to, which would lead to a grossly inflated number. The Paulson Plan. The Bush administration does have a track record of more or less giving government cash to private firms they have connections at (see Haliburton, Iraq).

An idea pushed by the women on the bus that I have heard from more mainstream media is that the government should pay off some of peoples mortgages if they are going to give those Wall Street fat cats free money. The general idea seems to be that the normals should get a handout if anyone is. No one seems to mention that the people who are losing their houses made a bad financial decision too, they aren’t victims. I’ve heard the argument that these naive folks got talked into taking loans they couldn’t afford to pay back, but making those kind of decisions is what being a grown up is all about. You also get into trouble of deciding who gets mortgage handouts, peopel in no danger of defaulting shouldn’t be given cash, homeowners already get plenty of tax breaks, but it won’t seem fair if Cletus next door who can’t afford his home gets free cash to stay while Johnny Money bags has to keep going to work at his law firm everyday. If you give all homeowners cash, when some obviously don’t need it, why not give money to everyone? And that’s just silly. It’s a popular political idea, because homeowners vote, but I don’t see how it makes sense either for helping the economy or in a fairness point of view.

To close with a side note, if you google Lehman Brothers, the second link (excluding News Results which is really an ad for Google News) is Work at Lehman Brothers. I’m not sure that would be the best place to apply at the moment.

A little update on my living situation over the summer. My last lease ended at the end of July, around the same time I had decided to see a little bit of the world. Instead of finding (and paying for) a new home before leaving, my stuff found a nice home in storage and I spent a month in guesthouses and hotels. I figured I would come back, spend about a week at a friends while I found a new place to live, much like when I moved to San Diego. It took me about 5 days to find a home that time.

I returned, plopped my backpack down in my buddy Ernie’s place (he has a spare room, no couch for this couchsurfer) and started replying to Craigslists ads for roommates. This did not go well. I’ve chatted with a few people on the dynamics of finding a room, and it is widely considered that it is easier to find a room at different times during the year, but nobody knows when the good times are. There might be some validity to this, no problem in May but in September an influx of college students looking for housing makes drives up the demand.

From my recent experience, I would argue that time of the month is more important. At the end of the month room hunters are desperately trying to find the new home they have to have by the first, while room suppliers can hold off to find the right roommate because it will just cost them a few bucks (obviously the cash strapped don’t have this option, but many do). My recent experience backs this up, at the end of last month when I started my search I had trouble just getting anyone to respond to calls and emails, and the places I did see I got the impression had what for practical purposes was an infinite supply of room seekers. After the first the success rate, at least in terms of getting to go check out the place and meet the room supplier, went way up. And now, about 20 days after starting my search I have finally scored a place to live, near SDSU, my new institution of higher learning, which was kind of my second option after the beach, but it seems like a good place with cool roommates.

So if you are going to need to rent a room in shared housing, I would recommend searching early or mid month, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the effect goes over to renting out places as well. Of course, the sample here is pretty small.

Actually meeting with all these people was interesting. Some folks basically show you the room send you on your way and might later call to offer it to you. Some people want to have long getting to know you chats, most are somewhere in between. I ruled out people who didn’t seem interested in getting to know potential roommates, who your living with is often more important than were in a given living situation. Deal breakers for me were people who invited me over to get to know me, then informed me that I would have to come back to meet everyone, as if I have nothing to do but come over to there house to meet with them over and over again.  Worse were people who weren’t home when I was supposed to meet them and later called trying to reschedule, that’s just rude. One place had me fill out a questionarre instead of a getting to know you chat, which I think is a decent idea, but should’ve been done by email instead of me driving twenty minutes to look at a house and be ruled out as a roommate because I didn’t have the correct hobbies. I wonder if some sort of eharmony like roommate matching site could be profitable? I smell a class project…

I haven’t posted for a long time, which probably has lead to me losing my reader. Oh, how I miss my reader. I’ve started a post on my summer adventures in the Orient, hopefully I’ll get that one out soon. But I thought I’d get the ball rolling with a quickie, concerning politics. Specifically, politics as entertainment. Here’s an excerpt from one of those instant message things that I recently partook in regarding Obama’s speech at the DNC:

Ian: what about the speech?

9:23 PM I don’t watch that stuff, it’s just talk
bla bla bla
Ian: seriously?
it was inspiring man
he’s a fantastic speaker
me: agreed, but it’s still talk and I know who I’m voting for
Terminator 3 was on
Ian: hahaha
9:24 PM me: I gotta go get drunk, talk later
Ian: it’s a decent flick
me: no its not
brett out
Ian knows who he’s voting for as well. Most people I know who watch CNN and debates and all that already know who they’re voting for. It seems the vast majority of people who follow politics are doing so primarily not to make informed decisions, but to reinforce their current beliefs. This is reinforced by the current flashy nature of politics.
My solution, which is not practical, is to get rid of politics from the tv and radio, campaigning will be reduced to position papers and regimented biographies printed up in some dull publication. People who actually want to put the time in to make informed decisions will give it a read, everybody else just walk in the booth and randomly pull a lever. I don’t think the randomness would be much worse than the current state of huge numbers of Americans voting down party lines.
As a side note, watching T3 might influence me next time I vote for governor, which will probably be a tougher decision than I’ve got for the presidential election.

I haven’t been blogging much lately, I recently freshly reloaded windows on my computer (easier than expected, runs like new) add that keyboard time to 8 hours at the office and I haven’t felt compelled to spend extra time writing about the minutia of my life.

But I’m on the verge of leaving a job. Which takes me back to the good old days. When I started this blog, because I was leaving my job to go travel. This time I’m off to Thailand, but the location doesn’t seem all that important.

With a more or less do-over of the previous enjoyable experience approaching, I’ve realized that I like change. There is some trepidation, maybe something won’t work out (but they usually do), and maybe something really bad could happen (hasn’t yet), but change brings opportunities. I could speculate on how that will turn out, but it isn’t important. I’ve realized that I really enjoy the possibility of what could happen, possiblities that just aren’t there when you go to the same job every day and hang out with the same people every weekend.

I’m not sure if I’ll document the coming events this time around, I like the idea of avoiding the computer for a month or two. I’m not going to make that decision now.

I can’t say that I’ve fully boughten into that concept, but I’m getting there. I wouldn’t say I’m the worst procrastinator in the world, but I’ve been known to put some things off. Lately I’ve been cleaning out some nooks and cranny’s in the old apartment. I inherited the place from a line of guys who moved out without properly moving out, and apparently at least one of these guys was a bit of a pack rat. The guy I originally moved in with even had a bill for the garbage the previous guy had left. $5 for a toaster with no lever to pull the toast down seems high to me, a good example of why not to negotiate under the influence.

Over the last few weeks I’ve emptied the cupboard full of plastic bags, thrown out the empty boxes and plastic jack-o-lantern’s from the closet. A couple cinder blocks is about all that’s left to go. Whole process took maybe an hour and it leaves me wondering why it took me a year. So my advice to you, my loyal reader, is to think of something that you’ve been putting off and go do it.