Monday, March 30, 2009

Crescent Beach

This last weekend I went up to Redwoods Nat'l Park with Liz, Brian, Anne, and Ray to meet up with Nick, Dave, their ladies, Anna, and Heather, as well as a friends of Nick's from Seattle, Ryan and Holly. Yeah, so that's 11 people total and we had a very good time. This is the beach that was only 100 yards from our campsites. We ended up finding another great hybrid campsite, where you have to hike in so it's not car camping, but it isn't far enough to really call backcountry camping. We went hiking, basked in the sun, played games, got good and drunk, and had a great reunion of friends. I look forward to the next opportunity we have to spend time with such lovely people. It really warms my heart that there are people like my friends in the world. 

Welcomed Back with a Shake

A scary-fun reminder of where I live. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Doing One Thing and Doing it Well

With this whole introspective, what-do-I-want-to-do-thing, comes the question, is it better to be good at many different things, jack of all trades character, or is it better to be really really awesome at one specific thing? The industry seems to reward those who are great at one specific thing, but maybe that's just because people like that are easier to filter out candidates who fit the bill. 

I have always tended to be a jack of all trades type, mostly because I start to get bored too easily and just want to move on to the next learning curve. I think this speads into all sorts of areas of my life. Take photography for example, this guy Clark Little, has decided to do waves, and I mean really do them. I mean go check out some of his stuff. It is really striking. When I look at these pictures, all I can think about is, DAMN this guy really got into taking pictures of the water wave in its essence. And he NAILS it!

Still, I just see myself getting bored after the 300th hour of shooting waves in a wetsuit and getting banged into the shore for the millionth time. Should I focus down on something, or continue trying to learn it all? 

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Water is a Big Deal

Check out this link. It shows water use, verus viable options that reduce your use. For example, it takes about 2/3 the amount of water to make a beer vs. a glass of wine. It really makes you think about your choices and what you can/cannot live with/without. For example, I don't know about giving up my morning coffee. That will be tough, along with my eggs. I love my eggs in the morning. If I eat cereal in the morning I am hungrier much earlier b/c of the lack of protein. However, I am totally willing to trade chicken/fish for beef, and beef to chicken savings is incredible. Check it out!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Flower Layers

Flower pictures have gotten kinda boring for me lately, but they are out again this spring, and so I thought I'd try to do something fun with them. 

The final is a "burn" effect with the tow above pictures!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The End of La Contessa

Photo from Flickr user Scrunchface

I have been wondering what happened to La Contessa, a replica of an 18th century Spanish galleon that sailed the desert waves of Black Rock City. Liz sent me this link which describes the death, burial, and lawsuit of La Contessa. For those of you who never got to see this baby in action, hopefully something may rise from its ashes. 

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Windmill in the City

I would love to know the stats on this guy. It was in the back of a business building or maybe an apartment. There was a very light breeze and this thing was spinning away. This really can happen if we just invest properly.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Unemployment on an Exponential

That looks awefully close to an exponential to me...

This NYTimes article talks about how people are starting to talk about this as a demographic shift. What does that mean to you? This article basically asserts that so many jobs have been lost, so many sectors of the economy have been abandoned by companies, so many jobs have been relocated, that we are seeing a paradigm shift. Do you agree? Or is this all just overblown drama for a power grab by Washington at the hearts of Americans? 

All administrations use fear to get what they want. I have to say this crisis erily reminds me of Sept. 11th and a newly minted rookie president who used that event to lock down on civil liberties, clamp down on freedom of the media, regularly infringe on privacy,  and grow the military- things that the Republicans are all about. Now, we have a rookie president using an economic crisis to get what he wants, more social services, more government spending on the poor, more money in education, more money in health care, and a larger governement role in the daily lives of its citizens- things that the Democrates are all about.

Now, here's the rub; look at that list and compare them. Do we want a government which has priorities of defense and privacy infringment, or a governement that wants to support the health and education of its citizens? 

Not much of a choice if you ask me. 

The question still remains, is this a fundamental paradigm shift? How long will we have rates of unemployment over 6 or 7%? Some people are saying that we won't see a 2006ish job market until 2012 (NPR this evening- I think the comment came from David Brooks, but they had two economists on so I'm not sure.) I don't know about ya'll but that scares the shit out of me...

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

How much is $1 trillion in deficit spending? Really?

All the conservative blogheads have been busting a nut about Obama's plan to spend $1.75 trillion this year, and $1.15 trillion next year. So, what exactly does this mean? Well, Boing Boing - a counterculture weblog posted this post of this post from some website called Econobrower. The best part is an explaination of just how big of an impact tax increases/reduction to the upper super duper rich really changes the tax burden in this country. 

Basically the article states that in 2006 the US gov't brought in about $1 trillion in taxes. So we are about to ring up $2 trillion in debt over the next two years, so we need to double our taxes right? Well it's not that simple. 

I'd also like to point out that there is only 10% of seperation in taxes between the top tax braket and my own lowly one, not to mention the article that I posted earlier about how the top 400 richest get away with a mean tax rate of 18% after deductions/loopholes. For me, I finally understand where that surplus went, into already full pockets - sweet!

From a commenter:

"I think this is really misleading since it assumes you would double all equal tax rates equally and pay for the whole thing in 1 year -- which is downright silly.

The top tax bracket is 35% - it was 92% in 1952. A tiny change in the top tax bracket (like 3%... I mean we are talking about adjusted gross income over $357K) would generate $1 trillion in revenue in only a few years. I mean you should know this since that's how we got rid of our > $1 trillion surplus. Or alter corporte income tax accounting rules to raise a miniscule amount from corporations."

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Exercise, the Garmin, and Triathlon

Oh no, I have not let this set back take the wind completely from my sails. I still plan to do a triathlon this year, and now that I have more time on my hands, I can start running again. I'm suprised to find that I haven't lost much stamina because of the biking and swimming. Basically I'm just going way slower, also to let my legs adjust a bit again. I mean come on a 10 minute mile. I can do better than that!

This software package is really great for anyone who happens to have one of these Garmin Forerunners. Really cool mapping and graphing tools, so much better than the POS that Garmin sends with the device. 

In Other News

My Mom got accepted to the School of Social Work at the University of Michigan. She will be the first person from her generation in her family to get a Master's degree. Congratulation Mom! Go BLUE!

Monday, March 02, 2009

Partially Laid Off

I have been debating writing about this, but I've basically been laid off. 

I would have been fully laid off if it weren't for my co-worker Jeff. He was willing to take a 40% pay cut FOR MY SAKE! I am still astounded by this unbelievable act of selflessness and have nothing but respect and gratitude for Jeff. This is what people talk about when they speak of random acts of kindness. Thank you again for this window of time Jeff. 

This has been an interesting experience to say the least. Feeling each day like you don't really deserve being unemployed, and yet knowing that there are millions out there feeling the same exact way as you. Not to mention, the hundreds of thousands of people who are unemployed, and in a much worse situation than I am. To my advantage, I have an advanced degree in a subject known for its difficulty and that does carry some weight. I can't even image being in manufacturing doing the same job for 20+ years, having a mortgage, family, et al - and then having your job disappear, just like that? Reeling is the only word that comes to mind. 

Today, Liz and I went to the unemployment office, and the health and human services office. I simply cannot even imagine being mentally disabled (as many of the people were) and having to navigate the bureaucracy of forms, and documents, and signatures, check boxes, finger-print identification, etc. I think it would be too much (but then that's why they have a councilor/social worker there to help). Turns out that I cannot get much in the way of help while still partially employed, but even a little bit will be a load off right now. Thank the Gods that we live in a country (and I in a state) that made the decision long ago to help the unemployed to have a grace period for which to find new employ. It is clearly a way to stop and avoid the downward spiral of a failing economy by bolstering the lower strata into purchasing those needed goods like food, heat, and shelter - preventing further degradation of the local economy. 

The most difficult part of this transition has been keeping my chin up. I do not like how life has decided to make this event on terms not of my choosing. I guess I've naievely thought of life as something I could control, even in face of being proven wrong on this point in the past. That's the catch, you can have control of keeping your chin up. You can work towards the next stage and try to influence in a positive direction. You can stay positive and try to roll with life's punches. 

If any of you hear of ANY job that you think I would be capable of performing, please contact me, and I will apply for it. I am looking at engineering (failure, mechanical, electrical, and software -depending on the specifics), teaching (high school, community college, technical institutes, tutoring, college), or civil service (gov't, UN, Peace Corps, etc). Thanks!