Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Crying Poormouth

One thing that drives me crazy is when I hear people complain about how they don't have any money when everyone else knows that is not the case.  I knew a guy in college who claimed that his family was poor, but they drove a new car (ok, maybe it was 3-4 years old), owned a $200k+ house, and he had a ridiculous collection of pricey apparel.  I know a guy now who mentions sometimes that he lacks lots of disposable income but doesn't go quite as far out of his way to let you know that he's strapped for cash. He eats out about 5 times or more per week by my estimates.  He also drives and uses gas when he is a perfectly capable cyclist with 2 bikes.  In addition to my case studies above, there are also categories of people who do this.  Orange farmers and gas station owners love to tell you that "there's no money in citrus" or "there's no money in gas" but you see them driving new $50k automobiles and at least the farmers have lots of land.

I think I understand the latter strategy:  They're trying to keep other people from entering the market and diluting their market share even further...anything to keep away competition.  I don't think I can grasp the former type of complaining.  In fact, the guy from college has since realized that life is pretty good for him even if he can't live like a rock star.  The fast food kid does drive an older car and doesn't buy new watches all the time, but does have a nice computer and an iPhone and other things that truly strapped-for-cash people don't have.

One more category of "poor" people is college students.  College students used to be poor, but now they are coming from families with above average incomes and will themselves earn above average incomes if they can manage to graduate.  Maybe graduate students might be poor still, but I don't know any (the econ department treats us well).  I will overhear kids with iPads discussing their poverty over a $5 pint at the bar.  I KNOW that there are A FEW poor college students, but I'm talking about the average college student.  There are also plenty of trust fund babies in college.

I know that I take things for granted, and my financial status might sometimes be one of them.  However, I never get so bad as to complain.  I can save tons of money if I want by modifying my lifestyle.  Maybe I realize how well off I am because I've seen people who are truly poor when I was in Ecuador.  I know that I don't have to do my laundry by hand and I have 4 walls and a roof to protect me from the elements.  I have shoes and everything else I need.  I occasionally feel like a spoiled brat for having a laptop and a smart phone, a car and 4 bicycles, a room of my own, and gadgets.  If I had trouble making payments on everything I consume then I would cut back on my extravagant lifestyle.  Definitely dump the TV plan and make internet a bit slower.  I could eat cheaper and not spend money on entertainment...even then I'd still be very well off.  Odds are that if you are reading this post then you too are one of the more fortunate souls on this globe.  I hope you can appreciate that status.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Call Me Back, Maybe?

When you get disconnected on the phone, who is supposed to call the other person back?  Sometimes you end up calling each other at the same time and both get busy signals.  Sometimes you just wait for the other person to call you back and it never happens.  I've come up with a solution to this problem with my girlfriend.  We developed a rule to determine who should initiate the phone call after the call drops.

The system goes like this:  if you initiated the call in the first place, then you initiate the call after it gets dropped.  Exception:  if one person is driving, then the driver does not make the outgoing call.

Try this system.  If everyone starts using it, then this could solve the coordination problem.  Right now this solution only works for me and my girlfriend.  I'm trying to transition some people that I regularly talk to on the phone to use this system.  Who knows, this could become the new standard.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Zeo First Night

I got a Zeo Mobile from Groupon.  I'm hoping to use it to get better sleep and maybe more time in my day.  There's an alarm feature where you can let it wake you up to 40 minutes before your alarm is scheduled to go off if you're in the right part of your sleep cycle.  That way you can get more time in your day and feel better!  Totally worth $44 if that works, right?  There's also a website that goes with it where you can track your data.  You can enter things in there such as how you feel and how much caffeine or alcohol you consumed, etc.  I think there's a way where I can add my own variable such as #miles_ran.  

The image is my output from the first night of use.  It took me 19 minutes to fall asleep.  It would be awesome if I could train that down to under 5 minutes.  I think there are a lot of possibilities.  The whole system is pretty high-tech which has its ups and downs, but so far the UI has been pretty friendly and I'm excited to see where I can take this.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Jacked July Day 2

I've been traveling a lot this month and not sticking with my jacked project.  I'm not so motivated for it and that combined with my lack of a regular environment has contributed to me slacking.  Also, I can't get in to the student gym at school without paying extra...so I might end up starting to lift in August after the semester starts.

I went rock climbing yesterday at the indoor gym.   I only lasted about an hour, including rests.  I was able to climb the V1 routes on the first try and I was working on a couple V1+ routes, so I'm not too far behind the skill level I used to have.  Unfortunately, my hands have lost all their callouses and I had to tape my pinkies about halfway in to the session.  I think I'll try to go regularly on half-price Wednesdays.

One thing I don't have an excuse for is slacking on the push ups, pull ups, and sit ups.  I can do those anywhere (well, maybe not the pull ups).  I had been feeling fatigued, especially a few days after giving blood.  I think this is a reality check showing me that I can definitely be a slacker sometimes, no matter what I think of myself.

update:  5:13pm:  I walked over to the gym today and I CAN get in!  I guess that means I'll have to start going next week for realz.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Buttons in Cars

Cadillac has a commercial out promoting its new car control technology that mimics a tablet:  no buttons.  I've seen similar ads for other cars too.  Companies are promoting this like it's a good thing.  Buttons are superior to a tablet because you can feel which ones to press without taking your eyes off the road.  I realize that you can get more buttons onto a touch screen and it allows you to zoom in, but buttons are better for operation while driving.

I don't want to sound like a luddite, but sometimes the low-tech solution really is best.  A touchscreen could be incorporated somewhere for something to do with cars, but reliable voice controls (initiated by a button push) would be much safer.

Monday, July 9, 2012

One Gallon!

I donated blood for the 8th time on the 4th of July...that means I've given away one gallon of blood.  The motivation behind giving for the very first time in late 2004 was to have a new life experience.  The second time I tried to give blood was in early 2006 and it took me a lot of time to work up the nerve...then I found out that I was ineligible because I had been in Ecuador.  It was many years later in 2010 before I actually donated for the second time.  Erin went with me and we donated together.  Part of the motivation for the second time was to get over my fear/big dislike of needles.  I think that I have gradually gotten better.  In fact, my pulse rate on Wednesday was 78 bpm.  I would feel accomplished if I could have my pulse in the low 60s when I'm about to donate blood.

It's pretty neat that my body makes stuff that's useful and highly valuable for other people.  The free market definitely provides too little blood because donors aren't allowed to be paid (I guess gift cards & t-shirts don't count).  Some evidence of this shortage is that I got a phone call asking me to donate near the 4th of July.  In a free market, the price paid to donors would rise close to that time and it would attract people.  Since the blood bank can't pay people directly, it was running promotions with a higher frequency than normal...they were giving away ice cream and hot dogs one day and a gas card a few days later.  I imagine that the impetus to donate is intrinsic for most donors, but I personally like to get some sort of compensation...especially because it will cost me my time and gas to get over there.  I would certainly donate  way more often if I got $100 per donation.  That being said, I'm not about to start selling my plasma.

Getting blood from my body to that of a patient is an expensive process, I'm sure.  The blood bank has to operate donation centers including brick-n-mortar locations and mobile units, it has to pay its staff and have the sterile needles/bags to collect the blood, the tracking system to keep track of what blood is in the bag has to be expensive, the blood has to get tested before anyone gets it, it has to stay refrigerated until someone gets it...so adding a bit of a boost for donors would have a small percentage increase on the cost, especially the post-transfusion price after paying for the hospital and the doctors.

I saw a sign in my grandmother's house saying that she had donated 34 times.  That's not a bad lifetime goal. Maybe I can match her one day.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Jamming Jacked July

Jacked July is off to a weak start.  I spent July 3rd mostly driving and the 4th kept me from the rock gym.  I also donated blood on the 4th which means you're not supposed to do heavy lifting for about a day.  I think I'll run today and begin lifting tomorrow??  I'm really not making this a priority :(

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Jacked July

Yesterday was a weak start to JJ.  I carried a backpack weighing under 15 lbs around Sea World for a few hours.  Today wasn't much better.  I did some curls & bench presses with my dad on our home weight bench.  I was curling about 65 and my heaviest bench was about 115 (set of 10).  I know you have to start light and I wonder if I'll be sore at all tomorrow.  I also did some shoulder shrugs and forearm curls.  We'll see what happens tomorrow.  I hope I can get more motivated over the course of the month.