Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Car

Car packed with way too much stuff.

Lage Hadron Rap

You have probably heard of the LHC and the concerns over black holes eating the universe, etc. This is a rap about the collider and what it hopes to do. Very cool.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Test post from phone

Mimic in is normal 'bear rug' sleep position.

Adventures in Sailing! - Preparation Observations

In my first post in this shotgun shot of posts I talked about spending a bunch of time researching crap for this trip. In the second post I mentioned obsession. Obviously I'm a little obsessed about this right now. What surprised me the most in regards to this preparation is just how much there is to do to get ready for a week long cruise. For some reason, I didn't even think about how much thought would have to go into just meals and provisioning. I know, duh, but there you go. Three meals a day over a week translates into 21 meals that have to be accounted for in the provisioning. That means you need some sort of idea of how many times you plan on eating off the boat vs on, which ties into some sort of idea of where you want to go and stop. That's hard to do when we want our schedule as open and flexible as possible. So I opted for just ideas of places we could possibly go and that looked interesting, and we will probably just get way more food than we need. A framework, if you would.

Another observation have been how my feelings towards this cruise have been bouncing around. I've been consistently excited but for a while I was really nervous about the checkout part. Now that isn't really bothering so much because I think just the shear amount of preparation has kept me busy. I'm sure it'll creep back in tomorrow morning though.

Yay for learning!

Adventures in Sailing! - Quotes

I purchased this book called 'Things I Wish I'd Known Before I Started Sailing'. I basically goes through the alphabet and has short entries for everything under the sun in regards to sailing in it by a guy that has been sailing forever, including some circumnavigations I think.

Anyway, through out the book there are some quotes taken from others that I have found really really cool. I wanted to post a few of them that I really liked.

The first has to do with sailing becoming an obsession. I think my experience over the past week pretty much testifies that I've caught that bug. The quote is from E. B. White and goes 'If a man must be obsessed by something, I suppose a boat is as good as anything, perhaps a bit better than most'. Amen.

The next one turns out to be from a book my mother used to read to my brother and I back in the day, 'The Wind in the Willows'. In it, Mole is talking to Rat and admits he has never been on a boat before. Rat, astonished, replies, 'there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats'. To this I have to totally agree. One of the reasons sailing has always been in the back of my head even while I had the speedboat was because there is so much more to DO in sail boats. Rat continues, 'In or out of'em, it doesn't matter. Nothing seems to matter, really, that's the charm of it. whether you get away, or whether you don't; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you're always busy, and you never do anything in particular, and when you've done it there's always something else to do...'. Love that and I am totally looking forward to never doing anything in particular.

Fear is the subject of the next quote. Fear is a part of sailing, no matter how experienced you are. This quote is straight from the author and says: 'Part of the attraction of sailing is that it frightens the pants off you now and then. Those of us who spend most of our lives cosseted in the comforts of civilization seem to crave the occasional brush with a manageable slice of terror, the better by contrast to appreciate those comforts. So we go sailing, we get a little scared, and everyone's happy.' That quote really put some perspective on this for me. I had never thought of being attracted to the scary times as part of the deal but it is true. I literally can not WAIT to sail in heavy weather. To have to fight the weather helm to keep the boat from broaching and wave whacking her on the beam all the while the wind and rain is pelting my face and I'm laughing in utter joy. Goose bumps, right there.

Finally, and this one applies to everyday life really, not just sailing, is this quote from the author: 'Three thoughts will keep you safe and add much to your enjoyment of a voyage. Think simple, think strong, think upside down.'. I already have the upside down part well practiced.

Adventures in Sailing!

Tomorrow is the start of the big trip. For my first barebone chartering do I do something short to build confidence? Hahahahahahahahaha, no. What do I do? I charter for a week with a couple that is close to me starting at the head of the Chesapeake Bay in waters that aren't the easiest to navigate. The wind forecast looks like its going to be a biatch to make our way down to more open waters because Aberdeen Proving Grounds and their restricted water ways (restricted because of unexploded ammunition) restricts the amount of water there is to work in. Add to that thunderstorms during the day and what you get is the first day being the most challenging of the entire trip.

With that said, I can't even begin to tell you how excited I am about this trip. I could hardly sleep last night. I was like a kid trying to sleep the night before Christmas. I've spent the last week pouring over maps of the bay and looking at wind and weather forecasts. I have lists within lists of stuff. I think half of the reason I'm doing so much is because I need something to do. The other half has to do with mitigating some anxiety I have around this thing.

Other than some T-Storms on Tuesday and rain on Wednesday, the weather for the rest of the trip looks fantastic. Sunny days with the temp at or near 70 degrees. The evenings are going to be a little chill but good sleeping weather. And the winds. Well, if these forecasts hold up it'll be awesome in the late afternoons. In the mid-teens which, according to my really limited experience, is just about ideal for a 32 foot boat. The nights are going to be a little windy so it might make for some interesting anchorages, however. But I'll take that over still days.

All in all I figure any sort of plan I have in my head will just be tossed out the window as soon as we get underway and we'll just go where we feel like and the weather will let us get to. I have but one main goal on this trip, and that is to eat some crabs. I haven't all year and I must make up for that. Mmmmm...vinegar.

Wish us luck! If this turns out as fun as I believe it will, I'll take anyone who wants to go out whenever you want. The more the merrier! :)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Why People Vote Republican

This will probably generate some interesting comments.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


That this even has to go to court is a testament to how utterly ridiculous our national discuss has become and how corrupt this administration is.

How is this even something that could be contended?

When are people just going to laugh at these idiots and tell them to grow up?


Triple Gem

Friday night was a wild night. I ended up staying locally rather than going up to H-Town for the bestest most awesomest German restaurant on earth and it was a hard decision to make. However, I felt I needed to keep it to a smaller group so that ultimately won out.

In any case, I ended up hanging out with a couple of close friends and one of their friends. We hit Tuskies first then the little known but super awesome (usually) French cafe in Leesburg. Finally we ended up at Clyde's in Ashburn and required a taxi to take us home. 6 bottles of wine consumed in a relatively short time makes for a baaaaaaaaaaad Saturday morning for Ryan.

All three of these people are intuitive and painfully acurate at that. Additionally, two of them know their way around astrology and the other happened to have a tarot deck on his person. So the entire night revolved around card reading and chart interpretation. Their styles are different. Once is more gentle with another is brutal as shit but very perceptive and third falls in between. I was pushed pretty hard and they were hitting stuff dead on. The thing was, some of this stuff is stuff I don't particularly want to deal with right now and having it exposed, even in front of close friends, kinda got my back up a few times. In the end though, it was freeing and very much appreciated.

But on to title of this post. Apparently there are actually three signs that are important in astrology, before you get to the craizness of the houses. There is your sun sign, which most people know. Then you have a moon sign and an ascendent sign. It turns out that all of mine are Gemini, which I gather isn't the most common thing in the world. In fact, I believe one of the comments was 'Ooohh...I never met one of you before.' So I don't know what that means but there you go.

Triple Gem, biatches.

Burn Before Reading

Saw this last night. It totally isn't what I expected but I liked it. Very quirky. Very funny (particularly towards the end). But about midway through there is a scene that is kinda like 'I never saw that coming' sorta thing. Wild stuff.

Adventures In Sailing!

So the plan right now is to charter a boat from Sept 30th through Oct 6th in the Cheasapeake. It isn't quite BVI but it is for a week. BVI can wait a few more months I suppose.

In any case, this is the boat we are going to charter that week. Currrently there are three of us going, myself and one couple. You better believe the couple is getting the cabin in the bow with the door. I don't need to see that crap. ;)

Anyway, in order to charter a boat the skipper has to fill out a charter resume. On this resume it asks for classes you've taken (the entire reason I went through the class process), boats owned, sailing experience and whether or not your first mate can get the boat back if the skipper is incapacitated. To the last question I answered 'Yes, under power'.

Well, I heard back today that my resume checked out fine (apparently my references are wonderful) so now we just confirm the dates and pay for the boat. Then they send out a contract and we are good to go.

I'm excited! The first one was going to be the hard one but as I build up some experience getting a charter is going to be easier and easier. I totally plan on figuring out how to do this during the winter, even it requires travel south.

Finally, we obviously will have some room. If anyone would like to join us for a couple hours, and day, or even a couple of days let me know and I'll see if I can make some arrangements.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Roughing It

So several years ago my Dad, Brother and I tried to start a tradition of staying in a cabin once a year for a weekend and shooting the shit. Well, so far our annual outing has happened once. This year we are determined to make it happen. Check out the cabin:

Coolest Cabin Ever

The first thing I thought of was The Most Famous Cabin Ever.

So can't wait. I'll have to view the movie before I go.


Anger sucks.

I Have Resigned

Last night I sent my resignation letter to Tiber Creek. It happened rather unexpectedly over the past two days.

I had been with Tiber Creek for just about a year. During that time I earned the trust of my boss and was able to work from home pretty often. My normal day would be in the office for about 4 hours and work at home the remainging 4-6 hours. Usually would take a day off during the week but would work some weekends. As long as I was making progress they put up with it.

Over the past month I started part of a project that is in an area I really struggle with. It was a user interface that required a lot of attention to detail and got down into the 'can you move this two pixels to the left' sort of stuff that just makes me want to jump off a building. Anyway, I really struggle with this kind of thing so my productivity fell way off.

I mentioned that I was struggling several times to my boss in several different ways, but I never demanded to be moved to another project. My intention was to get through a major demo (occuring today, actually) and then request a transfer. So I was sticking it out.

So Tuesday night I did what I normally do and fired up the VPN (a secure way to access their network from my home) and started to work. About two hours into it I lost my connection, which happens from time to time. I was unable to reconnect that evening and was getting Account Disabled messaged. I went in early Wednesday with the intention of making up for the hours I lost on Tuesday night. No Sys Admins were in so I ended up twiddling my thumbs waiting for someone to show up to renable my account.

About an hour into waiting the CEO comes into my office and asks if he can speak with me. He never speaks to me. So he sits down and starts chatting. To make a long story short, he basically expressed a lack of trust in the hours I've been writing down and said that my productivity just isn't matching those hours. I explained that I have been struggling with the project I was on and that is why my productivity had fallen off. I also explained that I am more productive at home than at the office which is why I prefer working from home. At the end of the conversation I thought we had an understanding that during the period of time I am struggling I'll come into the office more to try and address his misgivenings. After the demo I would request a move to a new project that I would be more productive in.

Well, around 5 pm or so I get an email saying that 'Per our discussion, I have disabled your VPN access for the time being.' That surprised me since, as far as I knew, that wasn't part of our discussion and seemed pretty counter-productive to trying to hit a hard deadline. After three attempts at emails I finally wrote a pretty long one laying out what I thought his concerns were, what my concerns were, and other factors and said that I hoped we could come to an acceptable compromise.

Thursday morning comes rolling around and I have a reply. I didn't read it until just before lunch because I wanted to try to knock out some more work before something came along that pissed me off. Turns out that was a good move for when I finally read the letter I really got my back up. Basically the CEO's reply boiled down to two points:

1) I don't want to hear any excuses.
2) I can only bill hours I work in the office until mutual trust and respect can be reestablished.

There was no attempt to meet me halfway or to address my concerns. Further, I know what works for and what doesn't and a structure 9-5 office job does not work for me. My productivity will go into the shitter and I'll be miserable.

So after thinking about it and talking about the pros and cons of leaving over lunch I decided it was time to go. I worked until about 8:30 last night to make sure my part of the demo would be good to go. I also sat down with the guy doing the demo to make sure he understood it. Finally, I sent a nice long email explaining the stuff I was working on and where I was going with it.

Last night around 11:30 I sent my resignation letter via email to the CEO, my boss and HR. I simply stated as my reason for leaving that 'I was unwilling to work under the scrutiny and restrictions placed upon me in order to restore mutual trust and respect'. And that's that.

I figure between the two contracts I have (or, really at this point, contract and a half) I'll be ok for a couple of months. Between now and Nov. 8th I plan on volunteering for Obama and get involved in the political process a bit. I also will be looking for another contract or two or a new job. After Nov 8th I'll see what happens.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Accepting Another

Question came up last night. Before you can fully accept someone for who they are, do you need to know, or even want to know, everything about them?

Simple Question

Has deregulation ever not ended in disaster?

Free market is a pipe dream.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Jimmy Buffet Gang

Here is a picture of the gang from the Jimmy Buffet concert. Check out the tall dude with all the crap around his neck wearing the stylish hat in the middle.

R.I.P. Richard Wright

Damn it, Pink Floyd members are starting to die off.

I am greatly saddened.


Financial Meltdown

Well, things are going from bad to worse. The market lost 500+ points yesterday with the news that more banks are going belly up. The entire point of bailing out Behr-Sterns was to prevent Washington Mutual and Lerhman Brothers from failing, which is what they are on their way to doing.

And even worse is AIG failing. From this:

If AIG were to fail, the global ripple effects would be unprecedented, said Robert Bolton, managing director at Mendon Capital Advisors Corp. It has $1 trillion in assets and operates in 130 countries.


"If AIG fails and can't make good on its obligations, forget it," Bolton said. "It's as big a wave as you're going to see."

What does this all mean? It means the S&L crisis of the 80's will look like peanuts compared to this. There is a possibility, and getting stronger, that we are just at the tip of the iceburg as far as bank failures go.

Buckle your seat belts, it could get awfully rough.

Monday, September 15, 2008

500 Posts


National Deficit, Taxes and You!

I'm not an economist and my understanding of macro- and micro-economics is slim to none. However, I wanted to point out something about deficit spending and taxes that you may not know (assuming this is right, of course, which it may not be.)

Deficit spending my the government (you know, the national debt) is one of those things that is a really big number but it is in that macro-economics realm where it is hard to give a shit about. I mean, how does the national debt affect you, right? Well, through ways that are complicated as crap, the higher the debt the higher the interest rates. Interest rates affect what you pay for your car, your house, your credit cards, etc. So a higher deficit means you end up forking out more for those items than you would with a lower national deficit.

Ok, so now taxes. Taxes affect your income directly so the cause/effect relationship there is clear. Lower taxes = more money you take home. Good times.

However, think about this. Your debt is probably higher than your income as far as total numbers go. Meaning, if you own a house, a car, run a credit card balance, have other loans, etc the total amount of all that probably exceeds the total amount you make in any given year from your paycheck, right? Let's put numbers on it to illustrate the point. Say your total debt is $400,000 (house, car, etc) and your yearly income is $75,000/year. Your tax rate is, oh, 18% or so and the combined interest rate you are paying for all that debt is somewhere around 7%. That means $13,500 of your salary a year is going into the void while $28,000 of your hard earned money is going into the void paying off your debt. So already the interest burden on your debt affect you more than the tax burden on your paycheck, even though it isn't as obvious.

Ok, so now say, because of the national debt, your combined interest rate for all that crazy goes up to 8%. However, the nice people in congress cut your taxes and now you only pay 15%. Alright! More money, right! Depends on what your definition of 'more' is. Now you are paying $11,250 in taxes but $32,000 in interest on your debt. So yea, you get the obvious $2250 increase in your paycheck but you end up forking out $4000 more in interest. So you actually end up loosing $1750. Damn politicians!

I say all that to say this. While tax cuts are fine and good, it is just pandering. It is an easy thing to explain to people that 'we are going to give you your money back' because it seems obvious. In reality, there is more going on. Those tax cuts tie directly into increasing the national debt which in turns increases your interest rates which in turn probably actually costs you more money than if the tax rate was maintained (or even raised some) and the deficit payed down.

Of course, there is a LOT more going on than just this but it is something to take into consideration when people fixate on just lower taxes. It isn't that clear cut.

Sailing - ASA 104

So I finished the last course I'm taking this year. I'm now certified for 30' to 50' boats in coastal waters (within 3 miles of the coast). Now if I can actually convince a chartering agency to let me out, that'll be the real test.

Anyway, some observations over the weekend:

1) A 36' boat does not stop quickly and is really intimidating under power. Under sail it is a lot more work than a smaller boat but things don't have to happen as fast.

2) This course was easily the most challenging thing I have done both mentally and physically in a long time. Sunday was both some of the most fun and most frustrating moments I've had. My instructor purposely was trying to get me overwhelmed and frustrated, and he did a very good job at it. There is a ton of crap to keep mindful of when skippering and lot coming at you at once. Its very easy to get confused and miss things, particularly when frustration sets in.

Apparently this is something instructors talk about amongst themselves. When the instructor is there, the student is torn between giving their own commands, trying to figure out the commands the instructor wants to hear, and trying to figure out what questions to ask. I know I kept feeling the first two in spades. I wanted to make my own calls and fail on my own, I learn faster that way. I was torn between that and trying to answer the question 'right', even though there isn't always a single way to do stuff. So the end result was just me getting angrier and more frustrated and throwing my hands up a couple of times.

In the end, though, it was a very good experience and I learned a lot.

3) Driving a little Jeep after driving a huge sail boat is very disconcerting.

4) 20 knot winds under full sail close hauled is awesome.

5) Even though there is more time to think through things on a bigger boat, it takes more people and a lot more elbow grease. Skippering is going to be interesting. I apologize now for anyone I get short with in the middle of a maneuver. It is going to happen. If something goes wrong (and it will, without a doubt) there isn't time for being polite, orders have to be barked out and followed to keep things from really going to shit. That was really driven into me over the weekend. Being on the receiving end sucks at first but once you understand why and that it isn't personal, it becomes fun. :)

An example, sheets or sails kept getting hung up on rigging and open hatches. I wouldn't notice and we would be half way through a tack or something and the next thing I know my instructor is barking out really short orders in a less than soothing way. The situation would be resolved and we could finish the maneuver. I felt beat on but it was necessary to complete the maneuver without damaging anything. I think this is an example of being too hard on myself, now that I think about it.

6) One of the jarring differences between big boat sailing and small boat sailing is just how complicated some maneuvers can be. For example, a gybe on a small boat can be executed pretty quickly. In a big boat, there are a bunch of things that have to happen with the sails before the helmsman can even begin. Even thought he maneuver takes longer overall, there is so much going on that you need that extra time to address all, particularly with only two people. Three or more will be a fair bit easier and less hectic I think.

7) Life aboard a boat isn't bad. However, if you are tall like I am, you spend most of the time hunched over so you don't whack your head. Cooking wasn't too bad. It was easier than camping. I cooked all the meals as part of my training.

I think I'll end it there for now. I am really looking forward to skippering some charters with whomever wants to go. I have a good idea of what to do and how to do it but I need practice to solidify it all.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

"Fiscal Conservative"

Here is a nice little cartoon for you to put how the last few administration's have faired in regards to the deficit:

It's funny how when you put an administration in power that doesn't believe in a strong federal government you end up with shitty results. Who could have possibly predicted that would happen?

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Palin in Four Minutes

Everything you needed to know about Palin in 4 minutes.

Adding, the same people that were/are bitching about Obama's celebrity are now, apparently, purchasing Sarah Palin Dolls and Action Figures with no sense of irony at all.

Monday, September 08, 2008


Few things to laugh about.

First, for whatever reason, during the speech on the final night of the RNC convention there was both a blue and a green screen behind McCain. This, if you have been watching Colbert or reading this blog, has created a HUGE opportunity for mocking. And this is an awesome example of that. There will be much more coming, of that you can be certain.

Second, Tom Brady being out for the season. Bwhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

Thank you. I'll be here all week.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Couple Questions

1) Can people act to help someone without something in return?
2) What is the fear that underlies vulnerability? Why are people afraid to show weakness before others, even close friends? What is that underlying fear?

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Quotes I Now Understand

I like quotes, particularly the more profound ones. They offer little bits of wisdom very concisely. The thing about them is that, in my experience, you need to have some basis of experience to know what they are talking about. It is more like a concise way to sum up an experience rather than a way to warn or educate.

In any case, here are a few that I realized recently that I now understand where before I just thought I had an idea of what the quote was talking about or, in the case of the second one, was really puzzled about.

"Beauty often seduces us on the way to truth"
"It is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved before"
"BOAT means Bet On Another Thousand"
"The two happiest days of a boat owners life are the day the boat is purchased and the day the boat is sold"

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Obama Writes Speeches!

Well I declare! Obama has been writing his major speeches. That's cool.

Unlike Palin, who speech was written a week ago for an unknown male pick:

Can voters this year be sure they learned something about the real Sarah Palin from her GOP vice presidential nomination acceptance speech last night, considering news that it was originally written by speechwriter Matthew Scully over a week ago for an unknown male nominee? The commissioned draft was subsequently customized by Palin and a team of McCain staffers in the 48 hours leading up to its presentation.

So, who is the real fighter here? Someone speaking his own words or someone speaking words that weren't even originally written for her?

Loosing an Argument

You know, there are some signs you can take from the phrases that people use that usually indicate when they aren't confident in their argument or feel like they are using. Two of them that I keep hearing from political shills, particularly McCain operatives recently when talking about Palin's foreign policy experience, are the phrase 'The fact is' and '[x amount of people] agree'.

When you keep repeating 'the fact is' all you are doing is trying to convince yourself. If it is a fact, it'll stand on its own. There isn't a need to identify it as such, particularly over and over.

The second phrase is more along the lines of trying to convince someone you are right by claiming lots of people agree with you so obviously it is right. Like 'millions of Americans believe the same things as Sarah Palin so her views can't be extremist.' Wow, color me convinced.

Anyway, just thought I'd throw those observations out there. And this isn't just in politics but in any conversation or debate really. Try it on your friends!

Fact Checking the RNC Convention

The AP still does its job from time to time. Here is a link to an article comparing parts of the speeches last night to, you know, reality.

UPDATE: Here is a ton more.

Monday, September 01, 2008


Yikes. If you are going to stare at your VP picks ass, at least do it when the cameras aren't on you.