The more things change…

October 11th, 2015

The more they stay the same. At least so the saying goes. One thing that certainly hasn’t changed anytime recently is the fact that I am still awful at actually updating this in any sort of timely manner. Although really that shouldn’t a huge surprise.

So what have I been up to in the last 3 or 4 months? Not a ton. Certainly not motorcycle riding as I am just over that bike. After a month i finally got her back for about a grand total price tag of near $500. But I just don’t have faith in her anymore so to craigslist she goes. Although i rather suspect that she won’t be sold until next year just based on time of year and when people want to buy motorcycles. Thats ok, I will probably get more money that way as well. The unfortunate part of it is that I will have to wait a while before I can get a new motorcycle as they don’t come cheap and I will be looking to actually upgrade. Simple economics there.

I have also done a little bit of traveling with more coming up. A long weekend in Duluth was great and something that I am going to try and do more often going forward. Which isn’t real hard since I haven’t made a habit of doing weekend trips like that in years. Duluth had all sorts of awesome things that I had never really knew about because I just hadn’t spent time up there. Coming up is a weekend get away to Pittsburgh and then a true blue vacation to Florida. Both times should be fun although most likely in different ways.

Other than that I have been doing a lot of reading lately. On a recommendation the next big set that I will be tackling is at least of of Murakami’s works. Curious to see whether I enjoy them or whether I put them aside as they are a little out of my normal wheel house. Still always a good idea to try new things right?

Work is work which is fine. Nothing particularly exciting but it doesn’t need to be exciting, it needs to pay the bills. I am a lot less worried about finding the ‘perfect job’ than I was when I was younger. I still want a better job, with better pay an more interesting challenges but I am not opposed to sitting around stacking cash as well. Particularly if I can learn interesting things on the side that I might be able to use elsewhere.

And in other news its finally time for me to upgrade from my trusty old iPhone4. Thats right, not even a 4S. My next phone is going to be the Google Nexus5x. I might be writing this on a MacBook Pro sitting on my balcony but I have gotten tired of most of the direction that Apple seems to be headed and since it will hurt to break out of the walled garden whenever I do it, I might as well do it now. I kept hoping that apple would go in a way that felt better to me but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Plus with Google Fi its a great time to do it. The idea of a $30 cell bill is just awesome and way more in line with what it should actually cost.

Otherwise its just a lot of small projects that I am working on at home. Nothing that anybody else will find particularly interesting as they are really focused more on my learning something new rather than what I am actually producing. I suppose the lone exception to that is my efforts to relearn Spanish which are actually going pretty well. Tomorrow will actually mark 100 straight days of Duolingo. Provided I suppose that I actually do it, but I don’t think that will be too big of a problem considering how little I have planned.

And I believe that, for the moment, thats all she wrote. Or I wrote. Or something.


July 25th, 2015

So welcome to another infrequent update to idoru! I had it pointed out tome not too terribly long ago (in the grand scheme of things) that idoru has been sadly neglected. Which is incredibly true and yet also not terribly surprising. Its always been a bit of a crap shoot for how often I actually update and the odds have been against it more and more as I get older. In a very real way its just another sign of what has been the over whelming trend for most people. There is an interesting post over at right here that goes into more depth than I ever could (for one I am not a one time jailed Iranian blogger….) about how the web has shifted in years towards increased walled gardens. People are on facebook, twitter (guilty), Instagram, medium, reddit, etc etc etc more and more rather than hosting their own content. A simple blog? Forget about it! Despite wordpress being incredibly popular (with good reason) its used more and more for people to create their own whatever ecommerce site as opposed to a blog. And in fairness, I use wordpress for idoru because its an amazingly full featured suite. It can be used for almost anything and thats fine. But like others, I write a lot less than I used to.

But there has been plenty of new and interesting things in the last … 4 months. Jeez, almost 5. Maybe I should update this thing more often…. Anyway, at the end of march went down to Puerto Vallarta for a nice birthday get away. fantastic city and really not very expensive. I recommend it whole heartedly and will hopefully go back at some point although not in 2015. The only other significant travel I have done since then is another trip down to Fort Lauderdale in June. What can I say, there is something about that city that just keeps me coming back. Although I doubt I will be going back for another month or three this time. In terms of less significant travel, I went down to Lake Wisconsin for the 4th of July. Used to go down there every year for a weekend away. I had forgotten just how much fun it really is. Hopefully I will be invited back down again. Sure its a ~4 hour drive but its a fun time and its a whole different sort of relaxing than you can really get elsewhere.

I did finish the class that I had previously mentioned. So now I know (some) VBA. Its not immediately useful yet however I was curious and that has been satisfied. Plus its always helpful to get back into the rhythm of learning. Additionally since I am at just about 1 year in my current position (Monday in fact).  Its a good position and while I do have a few complaints there aren’t that many. However one complaint I do have is that there really isn’t anything left for me to learn in that position so I am starting to think about what else might be out there for me to explore next. Project management? Maybe something more technical? Who knows for sure, I just know that I dislike boredom and prefer to be challenged in some way. So we will see whether anything comes out of that boredom but after stuff that has happened in the past I definitely believe in being proactive these days. There is a reason I spent part of today updating my linkedin and resumé.

In terms of other exciting things…. there has been some unfortunate developments  in relationship to my motorcycle. Last sunday while I was out for a ride things were going fantastically. However after crossing back into MN on the lift bridge I rode down to I-94 and got on the highway. However shortly after getting on the road it started chugging a bit. I pulled into the rest area (luckily), it chugged a bit more, backfired a few times and then died while I was riding it. Luckily for me I had the clutch in so I didn’t come to quick stop (and then fall over)! However it wouldn’t restart no matter what I did so it was time for a tow to the shop where I haven’t heard back yet. According to a brief conversation later in the week I should get a diagnosis on Monday. Might be something beautiful and cheap. Might be something that is stupid expensive in which case I won’t have a motorcycle anymore. That said, if I never ride that motorcycle another day I will have averaged ~3,000 miles a year in the ~9 years that I have owned it (27k since I bought it in mid august 2006, to do the math for you). Time will tell however I am not as torn up about the possibilities as I could be. Maybe I am finally growing up and better able to deal with things being outside of my control. Who knows. Also, total bonus but roadside assistance for the bike paid off in a BIG way for me. Made that ~$300 tow free and painless, aside from having to wait in a rest area for 3 hours. Highly recommend!

Things that are under my control however are a different story. Last summer I started seeing a trainer intermittently and its had some great results. I am noticeably stronger and have better endurance for most things. And some shirts are less comfortable to wear in the bicep area etc. Well earlier this year I decided to get serious about weight loss on a grander scale. Started watching what I am eating (to some extent), cutting back on the beer (to some extent), and most importantly I have started tracking my weight loss. Without getting too ugly in terms of how unfit I was here is today:

Week Date Goal Weight Variance BMI
15 07/25/15 171 169.2 -1.8 26.50

Which feels pretty good. First time under 170 in a quite a while. Which should give a bit of an idea of just how much I had let myself go. As a reward I am getting a massage tomorrow. Also because my back is fucked up but thats another story. I know I could go real hardcore and do keto but honestly when you are only trying to lose x amount of weight its a bit less important to go crazy. If I was trying to lose 50 pounds I would absolutely give keto some serious thought though. Cause god damn do i see people get crazy good results with it.

I also finally went and saw a St. Paul Saints game at CHS field recently. We were right down the third baseline int eh craft beer corner for $7. Absolutely worth it and a lot of fun. I would go back again in a heartbeat. And hell, the beer really isn’t even that pricey, maybe a buck more than bar prices, depending on the bar. Cheaper than some too. I am also going to see the twins next month but I have a feeling that one will be a little less exciting. Still probably drink a lot of beer though!

I am also giving some serious thought picking up a raspberry pi2 and making a magic mirror for some area of my condo. I feel like it would be a fun project that isn’t terribly expensive. Although it will probably be something I would be more likely to do in the winter. I even figure I could probably get my dad to help do some of the word working part as like a father/son bonding time. Good way to spend some more time with him anyway and hell, he is smarter than I am at both computers and carpentry (although I am not worried about being able to do the coding for the mirror really). Hell, it might even be fun to make it with a camera that can tell whether somebody is in front of it and only wake up the screen at that time. Actually thats a pretty good idea, I should go with that.

That has also started to get me thinking about other things I need to do with computers… its really time for me to upgrade my tower as its gotten extremely long in the tooth. Debating between buying something pre-built or doing it myself. At the same time I would love to get a new mac mini (this one is slightly less long in the tooth) and I have started thinking about a new laptop as well. The problem there being that I love the build quality of macbooks but dislike the price tag as well as some of where they have gone with their hardware vision. That said this is being written on my macbook pro right now…. I am also curious to see whether I will upgrade my iPhone4 (I know right?) to an android or to another iPhone later this year. Guess it will all depend on what google comes out with for the nexus line since I am particular like that.

Speaking of computers one thing I have started doing recently is using programs like f.lux (for the powerbook and mini), redshift (tower), and twilight (android) to redshift my screens later in the evening. Yet to determine whether or not it actually helps sleep but its worth a shot right. I sleep pretty well anyway but the real hope is that it will make it easier to walk away later in the evening…

Whelp, at ~1,500 words this more or less covers any and every thing that has been interesting in my life recently. Its also longer than some papers I wrote in college but thats another story.

nunchuku skills, bow hunting skills, computer hacking skills

March 10th, 2015

Its absolutely true, you gotta have skills.

In a slight change of pace for me I have been going back to listening to a lot of MPR at work and in the evening while making dinner. One of the big hits that has been going on (specifically with Cathy Wurzer & Kerri Miller) has been income inequality and the job market. It has had me thinking about what I can do to further future proof myself and the clear answer is that I need additional Skills.

The great thing about this point in history is that if you want to learn skills there are more avenues than there has ever been before. Last year I went down the route of getting a CAPM certificate through a (somewhat terrible) online class and test. This year I am exploring a MOOC that will, in theory, teach me VBA. The primary difference is that there isn’t a particular goal (beyond the obvious of learning VBA) in doing this mooc other than having a chance to learn something new and use it as means to pad my resume somewhat. Perhaps after that mooc I will continue and try additional moocs, or I might explore yet other methods of learning new skills.

It really is somewhat amazing to think that we really do have that many opportunities to learn skills.

Speaking of skills, I learned some new plumbing skills recently. Its the joys of owning a home rather than renting. A leaky sink followed by an unrelated leaking garbage disposal are both things that I have never really considered in the past however neither proved insurmountable. It felt pretty good actually, to do something and afterwards be able to look at it and go ‘whelp, I did that and I didn’t fuck it up beyond repair. Good job!’ Hopefully in the future I can continue to do a lot of the stuff myself although I absolutely know that there are things that are beyond my ability. But hey, learnt new skills!

I also used some of my existing skills this week to get my motorcycle up and running for the summer. Its not quite time to go riding however I absolutely could tomorrow or even today if I wanted to. Its a pleasant thought and hopefully this year I will be able ride more than I did last year. Between the miserable weather that was around for most of last summer and everything that I had going on definitely kept me off of two wheels more than I would prefer. Hopefully this year I can manage to ride to work as well, which I haven’t done in over a year or maybe longer.

I also have spent some significant time this past weekend using some of my existing skills to get my budget nice, neat and automated. As I had my review last month right before a long weekend away in Florida I had to spend some time figuring out what to do with the financial results that come from that. I won’t know for sure until tomorrow as that will be the first check with additional cash on it but if I am correct I am pretty much spot on which is rather nice. A little bit of additional money put away towards retirement as well as my day to day life. The amazing part of it to me is just how many people I know who don’t have any sort of budget at all. They have a vague idea of money in and out…. even before I started using a true budget I still had a close eye on what my money situation was. Although I suppose if I was Warren Buffett rich I wouldn’t care much…. Different strokes for different folks I suppose. I am not one to throw any stones if it works for other people.

As I mentioned, last month I spent a bit of time in South Florida. While there I read the first two books of Dan Simmons Hyperion Cantos. I haven’t finished the second two books (Which are almost a separate series) but so far I consider it Highly Recommended. It was a great way to spend some time away and spend some time warm. Hopefully my next trip is just as warm…. Although it is getting warm here as well which is pretty great. Its prior to my birthday and already in the 60s during the day sometimes. I don’t think we are going to beat 2012 where it was in the 80s on Saint Patrick’s day but I still think its going to be a pretty good spring.

So heres a toast to Spring.