Entries for December, 2006

Bert, I guess you're cool.

God, that was so much harder to type than I imagined... hahahaah

A note to my readers: You, too, can earn my admiration and respect! All it really requires is scoring me tix to any Carolina men's bball game... and you TOO can be COOL in my book! Imagine the power of knowing that hundreds of strangers you don't know suddenly think you're cool! Be cool today ... give Roy free stuff!

Here is a picture of Bert and me (Yes, I'm balding) hanging out a few weeks ago:

Posted by roy on November 30, 2006 at 06:56 PM in Ramblings | 1 Comments

What's great about the Internet age is the power that people like me have. In the medieval days, I'd probably be resigned to a life of shoveling horse manure or serving as palace cleaner in the tyrannical court of the prince Moons (who would finance great works in honor of their Gentlemanliness with high taxes and a lot of slave labor). My rantings about my awesome horse Taurus or my favorite baskmoonball (by an official decree in Moonland, all sports must contain the word 'moon') team would go largely ignored.

But today ... today I have power. Look at you! You know that this post will not enlighten you in any way, but you continue to read. Your eyes cannot pull away; your mouse wheel cannot scroll down. As long as the paragraphs are short and you don't feel like you're reading a novel, you will read.

For example, I am going to tell you a story of absolutely no consequence, and you will read it. In fact, you'll probably make a joke about it the next time you see me. And then, I will feel a warm glow deep inside of me. The warm glow of knowing that I've wasted time for humanity.

Our generation's greatest cultural achievement will be nothing. We will be living in the (generally) most peaceful, most technologically advanced, richest world in history ... and will have accomplished nothing.

Anyways, the story.

Last week, I went to the Korean grocery store. Since I'm always trying to grow and change, I decided that it'd be a good time to buy some different ramen brands. Take a trip on the wild side with something NEW ... no more chapaghetti or sutah ramen... let's try something else! I was pretty stoked when I picked up 5 brands which looked interesting. I bought them with my hard-earned cash and brought them home.

I remember last night when I started getting the munchies that I had a new ramen stash, so I happily meandered downstairs to cook me some foodies. But, for some reason ... I can only find two packages. Where were the other 3???????????????????? I look over by the sink... and there it is ... an opened ramen package... my ramen package.

NOT AGAIN! THOSE VULTURES! I shook my fist and set upon them the curse of ramen-stealers.

(Now a quick backstory. There's been a Korean high school student who lives here since last year to attend school in the States. After my sister left for UNC, another girl also moved in. So I live with these two Korean girls, who are pretty quiet and keep to themselves, except they KEEP doing stupid crap that piss me off, remember the little war I had with the girl over Internet access????)

So I guess those little Korean princesses decided that stealing MY stash would be excellent! GRAAAAAAAAA! I took the last ramen package and hid it by the spice cabinet above our stove. I went back to bed, knowing I was victorious. I showed them.

I woke up this morning, and my mom was all like, "Did you hide this ramen package so the girls wouldn't eat it?"

see? a story of absolutely no consequence. and you read it. sucks to you.

Posted by roy on December 1, 2006 at 12:59 AM in Ramblings | 4 Comments

Oh goodness, kill me now. I just joined a humorous group on Facebook... here let me screenshot it for you:

It fits my group-joining criteria on Facebook so well:

  • Shows loyalty to the Heels (check)
  • Highlights an unsung hero on the team (check)
  • Highlights an incredibly beautiful stroke (check) (the OSU game was the first time I saw Wayne playing ... he is definitely living up to his hype)
  • Includes a lame sports pun (sorta) (check) ("when it Wayne it pours" oh please)
  • Hilarious description:
    Why "The Rain?" Cause He's So Wet. This group is dedicated to Number 2 who wears the baby blue. For real though, Boy got a jumpshot, each stroke is a raindrop.................. .....splash

This could quickly supplant "Roy Williams is my homeboy" group as my favorite group on Facebook.

By the way, is Wayne's nickname really "Rain"? Cause it's pretty gosh-durn clever.

To those not in the know: Wayne Ellington is a frosh point guard on the Tar Heels - we just had a big game this past week against #1 OSU; Wayne stated before the game he was gonna score 19 points, cause it was his 19th birthday that day. Guess what he did? He scored 19 points. Fantastic!

Posted by roy on December 1, 2006 at 11:47 AM in Sports | 2 Comments

Apologies for the lack of qualities posts - I've been really busy lately with work, extracurricular activities, and planning the move to San Diego... yes I'm doing it.

One of the first things I've had to do is start looking for a new car. For short-haul trips to SouthPoint, the Ford Taurus does well, but we all know that thing is on its last legs after I took it on the Boston road trip last winter. I test-drove a 2007 Honda Civic this past weekend - I had really high expectations for this car when I went in.

First thing that pissed me off is the deceptive marketing. The Civic markets itself as a base cost of $15,000-ish ... except this model (DX) offers no air-conditioning, no map-light, and no radio. The dealership I went to doesn't even offer this model on the lot.

I finally got around to test-driving it, and boy was I not impressed. The thing just went ... as in it didn't impress me at all. (This following sentence may sound like a joke, but I'm serious) I may be a bit spoiled, but I drive a Ford Taurus and a Chevy Impala - both of those engines have this bit of a "kick" from the V6 that makes acceleration more powerful - I guess the 4-banger in the Civic isn't capable of that.

Don't get me wrong, the Civic is a fine car. The interior is great (although I felt slightly uncomfortable during my test drive, I prob mis-adjusted the seat), and I've heard it's incredibly reliable and has a great resell value (which is an overrated factor in my book, since I'm pretty much going to drive a car until it dies or is vastly useless) ... but for nearly $18.5K (which is about what you'll pay for it on average) ... totally not worth it. I would pay, probably at most, $17 - $17.5K for the particular Civic I test drove... on way I'm paying $18.5K for it. Never.

I just get this feeling that Honda is starting to cash in on the Civic brand name with a premium ... which is OK, but I totally thought the Civic was a value buy.

My dad has a '05 Chevy Malibu, which is actually a pretty nice car. I drove it from North Carolina to Kansas when my dad was moving to KC for his new job, and I was thoroughly impressed with the feel; the responsiveness of the car was far better than what I felt with the Civic.

Cars to check out this week:

  • Chevy Malibu
  • Chevy Cobalt
  • Scion tC
  • Dodge Caliber
  • Mazda 3 (thanks Steph and Godwin)
Posted by roy on December 3, 2006 at 05:49 PM in Ramblings | 10 Comments

Now that this whole "Oh god I'm going to be spending 38% of my income rent" thing is kicking in, I need to tighten my belt. I'm spending upwards of $700/month on hosting ... and I know I can do better.

This week's goal is to start moving some of the smaller projects onto Dreamhost, buying a new server from EV1servers that will be powerful enough to consolidate all my dedicated servers to just this one.

Tonight I wrote a script that will allow me to handle all old aces, lca, and jbiel URLs gracefully by 301-ing them to their new location on S3.

I signed up for a DreamHost account which is where I'll host smaller projects (like listfoo, audiomatch, and swarmf) until they require more powerful hardware.

The new server I've ordered from EV1Servers will host all databases, as well as all Tabulas files.

I'm shutting down large-scale hosting (but will continue to operate small-scale hosting through the NeoPages.net server at NetworkRedux).

Phew, this is gonna be a buttload of work, but if I finish it, I will successfully cut down my server fees from $700 to about $350.

It's gonna be a long week...

Posted by roy on December 4, 2006 at 04:21 AM in Ramblings, Tabulas | 2 Comments

After work, I went car-shopping again. This time, I went to check out the Mazda3, after Godwin and Spaceinthewho both recommended it - and boy, I was floored. This car was pretty much what I was looking for! This thing felt much better than the Civic, plus the price range was pretty close to what I wanted! (~$16K instead of the ridiculous $19K Honda wants). I asked for the Mazda3 i Sports (the very base) with A/C + ALB/SRS, which Kelley Blue Book lists around $15.5K invoice. I started the negotiations at $15.5K, and they came back with $16.5. I said $16K, then they said $16.5K. The negotiations stalled out there, so I left.

Today was probably the first time I ran into such harsh resistance from salespeople - I've generally been pretty passive about pricing so far (I didn't even bother negotiating for the Civic after how crappy it drove, and it's hard to negotiate over e-mail/phone), so this was the first effort I really took at standing my ground.

What really irked me was the way I was bum-rushed as I tried to leave the first time. The manager came over and blocked the door and shook my hand, all while dragging me back to the table. When he saw I wasn't really budging from $16K out the door, he started giving me these dirty looks. I honestly started feeling guilty that I wasn't accepting his "profit-less $16.5K offer".

Anyways, I checked on CarsDirect.com and saw that the estimated price was $15,889 (or something like that), so I'll get a few more quotes from the other Mazda dealerships in this area (NeerajS said that the Mazda dealership I went to quotes a bit high [his parents bought a Mazda recently]).

I'll be heading out to San Diego this weekend (Friday - Tuesday) for apartment hunting and a meeting with some of the MT crew - it'll be good to see them again. I haven't seen those guys since OSCON ...

Man, I didn't know moving was so much work. Between trying to set my budget when I move to San Diego, consolidating my servers to cut back on costs (the new EV1Servers is ready to go - I spent some time hardening the server, and I moved the Listfoo/Swarmf databases to it), looking up auto insurance quotes (esurance, All State, and Geico each quoted me $125/month, CHRIST!), dealing with moving companies, looking for apartments, trying to buy a car, and then dealing with work stuff... things have been getting incredibly busy.

Oddly enough, I'm not feeling anything towards the whole SD thing. I'm not excited, I'm not scared, I'm not stressed (although my recent dreams might indicate otherwise) ... I just don't think the reality of it's sunk in yet. I'm sure once I start slowing down a bit, I'll realize that I'm no longer in CH ... and maybe I'll start feeling sad (or something like that) ... but right now I don't feel any different.

Phew, ok. I gotta wrap up some MT-work stuff (today was generally unproductive cause I kept getting calls and I had a LOT of errands to run) and get a few hours of shut-eye before another day begins tomorrow...

Posted by roy on December 5, 2006 at 01:15 AM in Ramblings | 17 Comments
She calls me from the cold
Just when I was low, feeling short of stable
And all that she intends
And all she keeps inside isn't on the label
She says she's ashamed
Can she take me for awhile
Can I be a friend, we'll forget the past
Or maybe I'm not able
And I break at the bend

We're here and now, will we ever be again
'Cause I have found
All that shimmers in this world is sure to fade
Away again

She dreams a champagne dream
Strawberry surprise, pink linen on white paper
Lavender and cream
Fields of butterflies, reality escapes her
She says that love is for fools that fall behind,
And I'm somewhere between
Never really know
A killer from a savior
'Til I break at the bend

We're here and now, will we ever be again
'Cause I have found
All that shimmers in this world is sure to fade
Away again

It's too far away for me to hold
Too far away....
Posted by roy on December 6, 2006 at 12:06 AM in Music | Add a comment

I'll be heading out to San Diego tomorrow, but I'll be back on Tuesday.

Ron Burgundy: Discovered by the Germans in 1904, they named it San Diego, which of course in German means a whale's vagina.
Veronica Corningstone: No, there's no way that's correct.
Ron Burgundy: I'm sorry, I was trying to impress you. I don't know what it means. I'll be honest, I don't think anyone knows what it means anymore. Scholars maintain that the translation was lost hundreds of years ago.
Veronica Corningstone: Doesn't it mean Saint Diego?
Ron Burgundy: No. No.
Veronica Corningstone: No, that's - that's what it means. Really.
Ron Burgundy: Agree to disagree.
Posted by roy on December 7, 2006 at 08:19 PM in Ramblings | 7 Comments

My apartment lease starts January 12th, so that's right about when I'll be moving to San Diego.

I got a new car, a Mazda3 (thanks to SpaceIntheWho and Godwin for the suggestion) which is being delivered tomorrow.

I've been incredibly busy, so I apologize to all the phone calls, emails, and messages that I haven't been able to address.

I'm hoping to catch myself up the next few days

Update: HK1997 dislikes my car choice!!! Tell you what, HK ... when I buy a new car 5 years from now, you can tell me which one to buy then :)

Posted by roy on December 13, 2006 at 09:30 PM in Personal | 10 Comments

John Mayer - Gravity (MP3)

Gravity, is working against me
And gravity, wants to bring me down
Oh, I've never known what makes this man
With all the love that this heart can stand
Dream of ways to throw it all away

Whoa, gravity is working against me
And gravity, wants to bring me down
Oh, twice as much ain't twice as good
And can't sustain like one half could
It's wanting more that's gonna set me to my knees

Twice as much ain't twice as good
And can't sustain like one half could
Its wanting more that's gonna set me to my knees

Whoa gravity, stay the hell away from me
And gravity, has taken better man than me
Now how can that be?
Just keep me where the light is

Posted by roy on December 14, 2006 at 01:15 AM in Music | 4 Comments

An update on my Prosper experience so far...

I started an account early November for a Prosper account, and now I'm checking in with my first impressions now that I've gone through the process. The biggest problem with Prosper is it takes FOREVER to get anything done. It took 3 days for me to set-up an account and get it verified. It took me another 5 days to transfer funds from my bank account into my Prosper account. Then it took me about a week to get start bidding on listings and for those to close. Once a listing ends, it goes through a rigorous screening process from Prosper (to prevent fraud) and then the loan is set-up. Yesterday and today I found ~$10 deposited into my account from the first loans that were set-up.

Prosper's page for looking at your existing loans is a bit obfuscated (You have to click the iconified "Lend Money" to get your overview).

But once you find that link (it took me like my 8th or 9th login to find this screen), the following screen is incredibly useful:

This one screen can give you a quick overview of your account information.

The one thing that bugs me about Prosper (and Fidelity, too) is that there's no place to that tells you what your initial deposit was into the site. This is not a hard value to track; how about adding another field under 'Prosper Account' that says Initial Deposits?

So I'm still skeptical about the ROI on a site like this - the people you're loaning money to couldn't get loans at banks for whatever reason, which makes them high-risk (even worse if their credit rating is HR). However, you can see if I have no defaults, I'll get a ROI of 20% (not bad).

The easiest way I've found to find good listings is to follow a group. I've found a group with a high success rate called Fairplay Lending. The point of groups is for the group leader to vet for the loan - they do all the checking on the credit and the financials to make sure the loan is a sound one. I'm inherently trusting the group leader of this particular group to do the research for me, and I'm putting my money to work there.

It seems a bit risky, I know ... but it's really no different than trusting analysts for stocks (shady); if I want to do my own diligence, I can. But in the absence of that, I trust other people to do their due diligence. In the case of Fairplay Lending, the group leader is also an active bidder in almost all of the groups' loans, which gives the leader some incentive to make good investments ;)

My one big complain about Prosper: No interest returned on money that's just sitting there. Once they even return a meager 3 or 4% on the money (of course, this opens the door on whether companies have a right to invest float), I really think this will be the perfect site for loaners.

I'll try to write another post about Prosper about six months from now with my loan performance. Hopefully when they start defaulting I can learn some lessons :)

Posted by roy on December 14, 2006 at 07:50 PM in Finances | 4 Comments

The first big snafu in my move: parking. I didn't know parking would be so hard to find in downtown San Diego. I also didn't know it'd be so pricey - when I was looking around, people said it'd be $125 - $160. That seems to be the going rate of a surface lot for business hours (6am - 6pm M-F)... which doesn't cover night parking?!

After calling around all morning to all the parking companies (the universal truth about these companies is that none of them have accurate websites ...), I've got two choices: park for $50/month at PETCO park (like a mile from my loft), but have to move it for Padres home games and PETCO special events. I finally found a garage for $250 that's a block down from my loft that's 24-hour monthly parking.. but $250/month for PARKING? No thanks.

At this point, I think I may do the PETCO parking for the first few months (before baseball season really kicks in) while I try to find some parking in-person (doing it over the phone is so difficult, on two separate occasions I called a company I had already talked to - and the chick on the other side was always like, "Didn't you call earlier?" Oops).

... flushing money down the drain ...

Posted by roy on December 18, 2006 at 01:41 PM in Ramblings | 5 Comments

This journal has become utterly boring - a sad reflection on my state in life right now. It's not so much that there's nothing happening ... it's just that everything that is happening is stuff where I'm going through the motions. Hopefully this changes once I get to San Diego and I can once again regale you with tales of my stupidity...

Posted by roy on December 20, 2006 at 02:53 PM in Ramblings | 2 Comments

Have a Merry Christmas, everybody. Hope your holidays are restful! (and for the technologically-inclined, may your APIs be RESTful... har har)

Posted by roy on December 23, 2006 at 04:01 PM in Ramblings | 1 Comments

Sometimes, in certain situations, everything works against you ... and at the end of it all, you're just dumbfounded. You're so shocked at those turn of events that all you can do is laugh. Unfortunately, my story is a gambling-related one, so most of you won't understand.

When gambling on football, you often bet on point spreads. For example, in today's Denver Broncos v. Cincinnati Bengals game, the spread is DENV -3. That means, when the game is over, you take Denver's final score, subtract 3, and see if the point total is still greater than the Bengal's score (likewise, you can also place a bet on CINCY +3, which is the same thing; you take Cincy's final score and add 3).

Less than two minutes remaining in the Denver/Cincy game, and the score is a comfortable 24-17. Cincinnati is driving inside the red zone (meaning they're getting really close to score). With under a minute left, all Denver has to do is make a few defensive stops (a field goal, worth 3 points, does no good for Cincy, they HAVE to score a touchdown) to win the game. I'm feeling pretty comfortable with a +7 margin.

I'm reloading ESPN, when I suddenly see that Cincy has scored a touchdown. 24-23. I'm a bit worked up, but it's alright. Denver still has a chance at pushing with a field goal in OT (if Cincinnati completes the extra point, the game goes into overtime), which would mean my bet would come back to me.

Of COURSE, Cincinnati MISSES the extra point, so the Broncos end up winning by 1 point ... but by the worst margin possible for anybody who bet on Denver. Even an overtime situation would be preferable there...

Alas, the little lessons in life ;)

Posted by roy on December 24, 2006 at 09:52 PM in Ramblings | 7 Comments

Another addled entry from this chemically induced stupor. Yes, I took an Ambien last night to try to fall asleep, and yes, I have failed, as I find myself writing an entry at 2:49AM. Ambien has downside that if makes you incredibly drowsy, so I'll probably won't make much sense.

I'm currently listening to Jimmy Eat Worlds' "Over" (Thanks Linda for the reference)

. . .

"I'm not sure exactly just what I should say..."

. . .

Christmas had almost no meaning for me. All it meant, for me, was having Monday off to meet up with some of my awesome friends (seriously, this is one area in my life I've been overly lucky). And thus I see the juxtaposition of two exclusive states of mind, based on my young adult experiences: (1) the yearning to be attached and to have a significant other, represented through Christmas by seeing and hanging out with friends and (2) the need for me to take a lot of time off by myself to figure stuff out. It seems that I can never escape one situation when trying to get into the other - I invariably find myself being the quiet drunk, or the arrogant conversationalist.

I gripe that young adults are so lonely, but then I never seem to want to go out and do stuff. How emo of me.

Tonight was the realization that I would be leaving people behind. It wasn't a full blast of realization, but more of a pre-sputter. And I will be replaced. Somebody else will fill my role in my circle of friends. We won't be as close anymore. Sure, there'll be semi-yearly trips to see each other, but distance is going to destroy those impromptu trips to Waffle House to discuss inane topics like Grey's Anatomy to why we don't use a simpler set of numbers to represent time.

When leaving an area, I've always had a hard time pinpointing one moment or one thing I missed. I know when I was in Korea for a few months a few summers ago, I missed being able to come back to the dorm room, uttering a few social niceties to my roommates, flopping on our futon mattress (which was laid on the ground), flipping on the tube, and watching Law and Order SVU marathon until the wee hours of the morning.

I miss the random dinner outings are our local hangout joints and the good-natured ribbing that always happens. Reliving inside jokes and stories. Being in a comfort zone. Knowing the people around you, and them knowing you.

. . .

"Everything I do is a mistake."

. . .

I made a plan for when I move in regards to my job. Most of you have expressed concerns about my situation in San Diego, as have my parents (on a daily basis). Truth be told, I don't know what's going to happen. But I do have a plan. It's the culmination of my personal realignment behind MindTouch, watching how politics are played, and finally casting away the fanny pack of insecurity about my skills. I'll write more about this in a friends-only entry.

I shared this with three people, and none of them seemed very excited. Maybe it's because I'm still being naive about the real world. Maybe it's because they don't think I can do it. Maybe it's because it's sad to see me place such an emphasis on beating the rat race. Whatever it is, the general vibe I get back is one of caution and doubt.

I'm a firm believer that if all your friends believe in one thing, they're generally right. When it comes to decision making, the group is usually right (esp if you've chosen the group correctly).

This leads me to wonder why some people are always amazed that they have these awfully dramatic situations with friends/roommates/whatever/girlfriends/boyfriends. After the 5th or 6th social blowup, do these people not ask themselves what the common denominator is in each of those situations? It's them.

So what of my plans that has met lukewarm receptions? I don't know why people are lukewarm about it - maybe they're afraid I have too high hopes and they'll be dashed. All I know is that, at the moment, my plan is the best one and I hope I can execute it.

. . .

"I really need to hear how great I am"

. . .

So what happens of my social life? I once told a close friend my feelings on friendships - that we shouldn't be so attached because we inevitably have to go in different directions. Even with the technological advances we've made today, it's impossible to maintain a meaningful relationship through distance. The best you can hope for is a mutually agreed time to be in the same location (Christmas works) so you can swing back a few beers and retell some old stories and have a good time. But will those moments be the same as before, or are we simply reliving the glory of the past?

It's not that when I move away, I'll stop caring about these people - on a very visceral level, these people have played an important part in my life ... in being who I am. But... there's no longer any growth in those relationships. The flower has bloomed and soon will be pruned.

But this leads open doors for other people. How much easier is to meet people at this age? I griped about this a few months ago - meeting new people in a casual setting like an undergrad seems nearly impossible. Every time I meet someone, there's always pleasantries exchanged: "What do you do?" "Are you married?" "Are you engaged?"

When girls are undergrads, they must be wary of boys trying to sleep with them. Should boys be wary of girls trying to marry them? A lot of conflicts I've seen recently have the subtext of marriage. It's ugly.

. . .

"The last words from a dying scene"

. . .

If you can't tell, I'm totally stressed. I haven't been 'stressed' in a really long time - I draw a clear distinction between having an arseload of work to do (all the time for me, really) and being stressed. Stress is an emotional factor that I try to keep at bay because it rarely does good.

But it won't be stopped.

It seems everything in my life is changing for the better. Swept up in the currents of change, I've been blindly reaching out and grabbing anything that will help me maintain some sense of my identity. I have a new car. I'll be in a new location, among strangers. A different lifestyle ... right now I'm involved more with college-type people ... over there, will it be the same? Even small things that would normally not irk me have been bothering me like crazy.

I had to affix a University of North Carolina sticker to my car (you know, those alum stickers in the back windows), and it would not get to the perfect spot. Off by a few centimenters, I had to do it again. This was one outcome I could control, and I was not going to be denied.

. . .

"I'll be on the next train home"

. . .

I really haven't had time by myself in a long time to realize what I'm doing. I'm leaving 14 years of living behind. I'm leaving my parents and my sister behind. I'm leaving all my friends behind.

Luckily God invented airplanes; how much tougher was this transition for kids in the 18th century. I know I'll see my parents at least twice a year ...

Between dealing with multiple moving companies, car transporting company, apartment people, various utilities/parking companies in San Diego, planning out all the things I need to do for my car (need to transfer VA title/registration to NC, get insurance for 6 months here, then go to Cali, switch title/reg to CA, get CA tags, switch insurance), figuring what order things will be shipped (paragraph on this below), figuring out if I'll have money to handle this huge ebb and flow of expenses and cash (I recently finished a decently-sized side project for $$$), consolidating all my miscellaneous incomes back to my bank (no more online poker or gambling, money is going straight back into my BoA), consolidating my servers (which was a complete success, I'm no longer spending $700, but $225 + Amazon's variable hosting costs (~$50)) ... and I've been in the midst of a huge transitional stage in the company on the technological front (we're shifting from one platform to our improved platform) ... I seriously feel like I'm going to go crazy soon.

This could explain the random binge drinking. Oops.

. . .

"Add it to the endless list of all the things we'll never ever know"

. . .

The new loft is one of the biggest things I'm excited about. I have a canvas to create. I don't consider myself an artist, nor do I consider myself a great expert on art ... but I do have very strong feelings about things that look "cool" (for the lack of a better word).

I've been spending a lot of time figuring out how to furnish it. Fortunately, my parents have been awesome enough to donate some of their furniture (they even bought me a new mattress and a sofabed as as "going away" present). They're basically giving me their dining room set, a dresser (in my room), the computer desk I work at, and the computer chair I have. Because the moving companies can't really get there close to when I'm landing in SD, I need a temporary place to sleep. After some research, I've found the best way I can accomplish this is to actually buy the sofa bed and have it delivered to my new place the day after I arrive (first night, I guess I can crash somewhere, maybe I'll impose on my new best friend Tim ;)).

The rest of the stuff can trickle in whenever the movers get there - once I get the car delivered, I'll have to go get parking for it set-up. I know the spot is about a mile from my place, so I'll have to figure out public transportation (or I could just walk I guess).

One thing that every bachelor needs is a nice entertainment system. I've been stressing over HDTVs ... originally I looked at LCDs, then I started looking at plasmas (sorry Jinshil!). Amazon has a Samsung 42" Plasma for ~$1380 which seems like a good starting point. I don't have plans on getting HDTV; I primarily want a nice TV so I can watch my huge DVD collection in luxury. Well, if I have a nice HDTV and standard DVDs I need a nice upconverting DVD player ($200) so I can watch my normal DVDs in 720i.

Well, if you're doing that, then I definitely need a nice speaker system so I get the full theater experience! I have a very college-y layout for the home theater part of the loft set-up (which includes the CRUCIAL "futon mattress on the ground!"

So basically I'm looking at $2,000 to drop to get my primo set-up up and running.

Which would be fine, except I actually need another $400 for another futon to 'frame' that section of the loft (like I said, I have very specific plans on how the loft should look).

(Takes a 10 minute break to mock something up in Photoshop)

I have Unit B on this image:

As you can see, it is 794square ft (I'm told it's about 27' x 27') and it's one big room. The black box in the middle of the room is pillar that runs through the room.

So after mulling over what do with the loft, I decided on this plan:

Two sofa beds can frame the entertainment area; there's a futon mattress on the ground so people can lie down and watch the TV as well - of course plenty of pillows. Both the sofa beds have various recline positions, so it could get very comfortable there. My huge books/DVD collection will be stored behind the entertainment center. I'll take a picture of my DVD collection tomorrow, but it's big. Both the sofa beds will be ordered this week and will be sent to deliver when I arrive. The entertainment center will also be ordered from Amazon and delivered directly there. That means the dining room set, mattress, desk, dresser, will be shipped via movers and may take some time to get home.

The pink "bar stools" area is an optional place I'd like to have. I'd just like a small higher table with barstools there to eat a small meal (the dining room table is a bit formal). The set would cost me about $500, so it's not really a high priority.

Han gave me the excellent idea of building some "ghetto yet trendy" DVD/book racks by buying a bunch of wooden planks and cinder blocks from Lowes. I really like the idea, so I'll build it once I'm over there in SD.

I've also been trying to decide what color I want to paint my loft. Ideally I'd do the painting before all my stuff got there, but I can't decide on a color. Maybe I'll take pictures of items that will be in my loft ad you guys can help me decide on a color scheme. I'm leanings towards a very light brown on the walls.

. . .

So today, with all these one-time expenses coming up, I decided it'd be a good time to reorganize my portfolio. This wasn't a minor shake-up, I dumped everything that was losing money to free up capital and apply the lessons I had learned over the last year from the stock market.

I bit the bullet on NXG and took an overall 8% loss (but I do plan on buying back in around the $3.20's again, because the company is excellent). I sold CUP for a loss of 33% (although that percentage was mitigated by the fact that I sold about a quarter of my original CUP holders at a ~15% gain). I sold off MRK (winning trade, picked up about 4%) and JOYG (neutral). Basically the only positions I'm holding are MPW (+33%) and WWW (+20%).

After starting the year with $8,000 in my Roth IRA, I ended the year at $6087 for a loss of roughly 25%. Ouchies. My problem? I put all my money into speculative stocks with no exit strategy. I remember when CUP was going astronomical whether to cash out then (for an easy $600 gain off of $3,000K investment) ... but I got greedy and kept it until it tanked. Should have sold. Likewise for PCU and NXG, I mistimed those jumps and overheld sagging shares (unfortunately for me, PCU has rebounded to its highs).

My general investment portfolio fared a bit better, partially because I would stop-loss at 8% any speculative plays (except NXG). Overall, I think I lost maybe 5% on the general investment fund for the year. What a pricey lesson on investing.

So my goal is to restructure my Roth IRA account with the following 3 holdings:

  • Fidelity Europe Capital Appreciation, which seems like a safe enough "Europe is going to do better than America" bet
  • Toyota Motors - I remember back in July when this was at $100 whether I should buy in, but I decided to buy MPW instead. Guess it wouldn't have mattered, since they both gained 33%. TW appeals to me because it's a stable large-cap, I feel their new cars (Prius) is going to continue to be a market leader for many years to come, and because it's in the Japanese economy. Whether or not Asia's economies all become powerhouses or not, I think diversifying my risk away from American companies towards Japanese companies isn't a bad thing here
  • PetroChina Company Limited: Large-cap, stable, consistent dividends, China exposure, gas/oil exposure ... what more could I really want in the long term?

My goal for 2007 is to keep all three of these holdings from beginning to end (through thick and thin). As soon as I can put in more money for 2007 into my Roth IRA for 2008 ($4K), I'll be putting $2.5K into SPY and $1.5K into PCU (I can't resist)

2007 will be the year of the discipline in my Roth IRA account: I will buy these four and HOLD. The problem I had with my Roth IRA is I took on way too many speculative stocks in my Roth - why would I do this? It's dumb! I can't write off the losses as taxes (as I could in the general investment fund). So future reference: Risk goes into general investment fund because of tax write-offs, safe long-term bets go in to IRA.

In my general investment fund, I've freed up $4K by selling my whole NXG position (I continue to hold MPW and WWW). I'm going to keep $1.5K just in cash (I want to get back in on NXG around $3.20) to purchase NXG; the other $2.5K will be plowed into MPW (open up a huge second position). It's risky to continue taking a shot with this small-cap when there are safer bets like Ventas out there, but the divvie on MPW is nice (8% vs. 4% for VTR). I'm also convinced based on the stock price's rise with underlying buying volume support that this stock has a solid foundation in the $14 range.

My goal with the general investment fund is to still take a higher-risk route (I'm young still) because I'm still learning about investing through it all. It's fun to read about many companies and to know what's a good or bad business idea. I hope this'll be able to sense my business radar a bit more.

Posted by roy on December 27, 2006 at 01:35 AM in Personal, Ramblings, Finances, MindTouch, San Diego | 4 Comments

I don't get how Microsoft giving bloggers free pre-loaded Vista laptops is an 'ethics scandal.'

Edelman PR (people behind the campaign on behalf of MS) are giving random (influential) bloggers free laptops, some who have already written about the experience. They're not forcing people to write positive reviews, nor are they forcing people to keep Vista on there. All Edelman is trying to do is get the Vista name out there and see if influential bloggers will write about the product. What's so wrong with that?

I'm always amused by any posting by a higher-profile blogger about "transparency" and blogger "ethics." Hello, this is the internet. Bloggers are ordinary people. Ordinary people, when given free gifts from a corporation, will gladly accept them without thinking twice about "ethics," and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Bloggers are just ordinary people on big soapboxes.

Who cares if people didn't disclose where they got them? I would only be offended if they were forced to give an opinion that wasn't theirs ... which is not the case.

Let's get off our high horses, people. If you refuse to, I'll be sure to trail you and scream bloody ethics whenever anybody buys you a free dinner.

Posted by roy on December 27, 2006 at 09:13 PM in Ramblings | 2 Comments

Maybe it's the hunter-gatherer part of me, but I love collecting things. When I was younger, it started off with Marvel cards. Then sports cards. Then Magic cards. Over the past two years, I've collected DVDs (I've got roughly a 500 DVD collection, it's pretty pathetic). Recently, I've started collecting prints. I love prints.

AllPosters.com is having a "huge sale" on items (so instead of being charged an exorbitant amount for posters, you'll be getting charged a lot; I decided to load up on some more posters/art prints for my new collection (I also got a 20% coupon code that you might be able to use: 64P20)

I got a few cool-looking prints last night:

"The Knight, Death and The Devil" by Albrecht Durer

"Apple Tree with Red Fruit" by Paul Ranson

"Great Woods III" by Mary Calkin

I realized last night, looking through posters, that my favorite styles are the war propaganda posters. It all started with this one:

"Madrid, November 7, 1936" (by unknown)

I've always been a fan of the Communist posters from Soviet Russia (I haven't bought this one yet):

"Lenin Lived, Lenin Is Alive, Lenin Will Live" by Victor Ivanov

WWII poster about Germany:

"He's Watching You"


"Helpt" by Jan Lavies

I found an Argentinian print dealer on eBay selling copies of old Spanish Civil War prints ... and I picked up a couple more:

Now to find some cheap Michael's frames...

Posted by roy on December 28, 2006 at 03:47 PM in Ramblings | 2 Comments
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