Friday, July 31, 2009

New must Read

Ok so this one won't take THAT long to read but I just found an article listing a Hemingway story that he wrote as part of a bet to write an entire story in 6 words or less. Now I have looked online and saw several other stories that mimic this approach (sometimes called "flash stories") but none even come close to this one. It is by far the best 6 word story I have ever read. I will reprint the entire thing here since I feel I might not be violating copyright, or something of that sort.

"For sale: baby shoes, never worn"

Now the story itself evokes images and stories all on its own. What happened?, Why were they never worn?, etc. I just thought it was cool and am passing it on to anyone who hasn't heard of it yet.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Another humerous website

Anyone who enjoys laughing at other people's stupidity should check out You Suck at Craiglist. It pretty much finds listings that stupid people put up and makes fun of them.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The 306 Greatest Books #86 - The Picture of Dorian Gray

The next up on my reading of the 306 greatest books is The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. This book can be found on the SybervisionObserverand My Book Lists.

The Picture of Dorian Gray is a rather enjoyable book about a man who (unintentionally) sells his soul so that he may remain the Adonis that he is forever. Dorian Gray starts out pretty naive until he is told by a painter that he is the most beautiful person he has ever seen. After the portrait that he paints is complete, Dorian sees it and realizes that the painter is correct. At the same time he meets another man, Lord Henry, who says that it is a pity that he will lose his beauty at such a young age, prompting Dorian to sell his soul to maintain his current appearance.. Since that time Lord Henry had steadily corrupted Dorian, acting as a Satan character, leading him down a dark path. Fantastic book. The ending is perfect and unexpected. I recommend it to anyone interested in a fairly short, enjoyable read. Wilde does go off on some tangents at times and some of Lord Henry's speeches are difficult to follow, but enjoyable nonetheless.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Good News!!!!

Ok, on the tail end of my last post, some bright lights have come on:

1. My loans have been reestablished. Apparently what had happened is when I filled out my paperwork I filled in how much the Geology department was going to give me in a TA. Then when I filled out my non-resident to resident form it seemed they cut my loans that I could get. What I didn't know was that the department sent in to the Financial Aid office at that same time what they were going to give me. Then the Financial Aid office had both what I put down and what the department said as two different things, hence cutting my "financial need" by a good chunk. Well after going in and talking with them they realized what had happened and all is good and fine in the world again.

2. The broken sprinkler pipe has been mended and is in good working order. I even replaced all the sprinklers yesterday that were associated with that pipe and everything is working fantastically.

3. My eBay experience actually turned out alright. The company that I bought the game from gave me a full refund and said to just keep the game. Which is great because then I don't have to pay for shipping back. It is pretty much unplayable but hey, no money lost on my part. I even bought a new one from a different seller. Hopefully this one will work better.

So out of everything that has gone wrong, most seems to be amended now. So far so good.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Bad Mood

For some reason I have been in a bad mood lately and I don't know why. Many things seem to be going wrong but it should not be enough to facilitate a full on bad mood. I don't seem to have any time to do anything I want to do. I just got screwed by an ebay seller and I really have zero desire to spend for shipping to send it back (the listing was that far off of the actual item). I got screwed with loans (as mentioned previously but I am going in today to fight for them). My cubicle with it's awesome view is being confiscated for a new employee and I am being relegated to the "temp" employee cubicle. While fixing the sprinkler system I put a shovel through a pipe in another part of the system. And other stuff of the such. But still I feel like I am much more disgruntled than I should be so this post is an attempt to air my problems and hopefully that will help them go away.

On a lighter note, it seems all of my investments seem to have gone up this last quarter, which is fantastic. And I finally caught up on much of my paperwork that I have been meaning to do (like convert all of my investment accounts to joint accounts with my wife, hey it only took 3 years.)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

My dog remembrances - Aikman Part 1

So continuing what I had started for Twix. Here is Aikman's part 1 story. And trust me, this is much more interesting than Twixes story. Well, at least more expensive. You can find this and Twixes story compiled at my website HERE.

So by this point it is the beginning of February, 2007. We had Twix about a year and a half and we were getting ready to celebrate our first year anniversary with a trip around the Seneca Lake wineries. My wife was looking on her newlywed website ( or something like that) and came across a posting to help this poor dog. The picture was of this brown pathetic looking dog (oh I wish we still had that picture somewhere) with a rope tied around his neck. He was extremely dirty and standing in the middle of a fenced in area with a dog house in the background and a dirt ground. The picture included some things like he doesn’t get fed water because his owner was getting older and senile and decided since the water freezes then he won’t give him any and it also mentioned that the rope collar was embedded into his neck.
Well Veronica showed this to me and my heart just went for him. I told her, whatever, we can get him if she wants. Well after some back and forth with her and the writer of the article we decided that we would pick him up on the way home from our winery tour on our anniversary, February 11th. We dropped Twix off at Veronica’s parent’s house and headed off on our vacation. On the way home we stopped by this house in Rochester (about an hour from our house in Buffalo) and went to pick up the dog. Well, he was in the backyard at the time, in a house littered (and I mean littered) with dogs. We get all his paperwork and it turns out his name was Aikman (like the football player) and he was born into a litter of dogs all named after football quarterbacks (Montana, etc.). He even had a family tree. He was half German shepherd, half husky. That was why we were chosen, because we had such experience with a husky before. It turns out (we found out there were a bit of lies in the original article) that there was no rope embedded in his neck, he was fine, just a little dirty and he could use a good amount of food. He was obviously neglected but probably not really abused. He just looked pathetic. His owner had bred sled dogs and that was how Aikman was raised. But he was 11 then and a bit passed his prime.
So we then coaxed him inside from the backyard, because as it turns out, he was never an indoors dog. He spent his entire life outside. Great. Now we had to housetrain an eleven year old dog. We gathered up all his paperwork, took him into the car and drove home. He eventually ended curled up with Veronica in the backseat floor of my car, because since I drive a convertible, there is not much room for a dog to sit comfortably back there, and we drove the hour back home. When we got home Veronica leaves to go pick up Twix while I get Aikman settled into his new house. Veronica would likely not be back for at least a half an hour so I had some time.
Well, I go to unlock the door and as I am carrying in a bunch of stuff I drop Aikman’s leash. And he’s off. Like a rocket down the street. I go running after him only to realize that an 11 year old former sled dog can run very much faster than I can. Damn. That doesn’t stop me. I keep running after him until I come across my neighbor from across the street. We’re not really social with each other but we say hi and he sees my plight and decides to lend a hand. He drives me back to my house (I had gone a good deal of a ways at this point) and I get in my car and we realize we can heard Aikman where we want to go with the cars. So we drive him in one direction, and lock him in a backyard, and jump out of the car. This is when I find out the truth that apparently this neighborhood of Buffalo does not feel the need to put fences up in their backyard. And it turns out it the houses in this area were adjacent to the power line alleys. And it is February in Buffalo so there is a good 3+ feet of snow on the ground. So even though Aikman gets slowed down by the deep snow, I am far more inconvenienced. So I chase him back and forth across this thing until he is back on the road. I then run back to my car, which coincidently is still running because I just got out and ran. And we played this game, oh 2 or 3 more times, until we finally managed to steer him into a yard with an actual fence. Keep in mind my neighbor and I are chasing him with our cars, his pick-up and my convertible, and yes I do think I bumped him with my car once, but did that slow him at all, noooo. Well my neighbor Jimmy got out and we had him blocked behind a garage. One opening blocked with his car and we were at the other end, but somehow he gets free and the chase is back on. Luckily it did not last much longer and only a few minutes later we trapped him again in a garden, where he managed to somehow hop the garden fence but he was unable to get back out. So I carried him into the car, thanked my neighbor profusely, and proceeded to drive home and catch up with my wife.
It turns out she was just driving home to check on me and the frantic call I made to her as I was initially running down the block. She had already been home and back out into the neighborhood trying to help me but since Aikman managed to get more than 10 minutes away from home she was nowhere near where we ended up. So after an hour of hunting him down, we finally got our second dog, Aikman, home.

How does this happen????

How does this happen? I am offered $16,000 in school loans, I accept all of them. They also list me as a non-resident, but since I have a full tuition waver, I figure it does not matter if I apply for residency status because it can't really hurt me and it helps out the department (or so I am told).

Well the residency application just went through and what do they do? They CUT MY LOANS TO ONLY $3,000!!!!!!!

WTF (and I am not thinking in only letters)

I still have a full tuition waver but apparently my "cost of attendance" is lower. What the hell? How is it lower? I didn't DO anything different. So now I'm screwed and I don't know what to do.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The 306 Greatest Books #85 - The Return of the Native

The next up on my reading of the 306 greatest books is The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy. This book can be found on the Sybervision Book List. 

Thomas Hardy is able to paint a picture with his novels. When you read them you can be sure to smell the sweet fragrance of a passing flower or hear children playing on a distant hill. His ability to paint such a picture is almost unmatched. The Return of the Native flowed smoothly from the beginning picture he painted through much of the end. It was also a very easy read, once you got passed the little bit of the dated language, and I enjoyed it, for the most part. The ending however, left much to be desired. Not to spoil anything, but the deaths that were depicted were pretty pathetic. One I still don't understand if it was by accident or if it was suicide (which might have been the intent of the author). He even included a footnote to state that the ending he originally intended was changed due to critical review. His depiction of women was also pretty atrocious. I have never met such meek women in my life, and most of those I personally know would never allow to be placed in similar circumstances. Now it may be a cultural thing, but I have read many works by women of the same time period that do not portray women in similar ways, so I have to assume it is Hardy's inability to understand the female sex (not that I have any real understanding, but I do not pretend to). So all in all, an enjoyable read, but not one I would include in the 100 greatest of all time.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

2009 Personal Goals - July Update

6 Months in and at full stop.

1. Finish the first draft of my fiction novel.
Start of 2009 - I have the first 1/3rd of the book written
February 1st - Nothing more written
March 1st - Nothing more written
April 1st - Nothing more written
May 1st - Nothing
June 1st - Nothing
July 1st - Still Nothing

2. Drop my weight to 167lbs.
Start of 2009 - I started the year at ~185
February 1st - ~180
March 1st - 175.2
April 1st - 172.2

May 1st - 172.2 (somehow again)
June 1st - 171.0 (Finally something)
July 1st - 172.2 (I bet the scale likes me at this)

3. Pay off all my credit cards.
Start of 2009 - I started the year with 5 credit cards with balances and one relative we owed money to.
February 1st - Payed back the relative. Still 5 cards with balances.
March 1st - Payed off 1 card. 4 cards with balances.
April 1st - Payed off another card. Currently 3 cards with balances.
May 1st - Payed off one more. Down to 2 cards with balances. 1 with 0% APR until 2011 though so that one may be waiting a while.
June 1st - Still 2 cards to pay off
July 1st - Still 2 cards to pay off

Other achievements of note.
Not much of note here. We had visits from my Mom and my sister which were great and pushed us to work on the house a bit but nothing much else got accomplished.
Triathlon training stalled for the month but will restart starting tomorrow.
I finally finished the third book in the first Dune prequel trilogy.
The patio in the back was laid out and the edge was put in place with the plants being planted. But I still need to flatten out the bottom and put in a layer of sand so it doesn't look like ocean waves.