Saturday, June 28, 2008

Look at Banner!

Look at Banner!
Originally uploaded by psydereal
Part of the awesome banner I put up in B's apartment for his homecoming. We've been watching a lot of Arrested Development. Also, sharks rule.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Budgets. Damn am I growing up?

Over the past few months I've edged toward abandoning my laissez-faire attitude toward personal finance. For the past few years I've basically been operating under the conditions where I have enough disposable income to do most fun things I want, but live in an area where the prospect of buying a place without a second income involved is more or less impossible (and frankly damn hard even when you have someone else helping!). So if I have money to do something in my checking account at this very moment, yay, let's do it! That was literally my only attempt at budgeting. While it's been going all right I suppose, I realized that in the near future I'm going to want to contribute to the down payment on a house. In order to actually save money, I'm going to have to change my approach.

I remembered my friend using online budgeting software a few months ago so I pinged her today to ask what she used. I started my account at this evening and plugged in most of my accounts, and fiddled with it. Looking at the trends chart, from Feb-now, the largest money-sink in my life is, naturally, the roof over my head. Nothing much you can do about that one. My second largest money-sink is the car. Thank God I just made my final car payment so my expenditure in that category will be vastly reduced despite gas prices.

The final significant category that I've decided to focus on reducing is on Personal Care. This consists of the trainer, the monthly fees for the climbing gym, and bi-monthly visits to a (pricey!) salon to turn my blond hair dark brown. I've decided to ditch the trainer--I feel that I've made a lot of progress and the amazingness of my ass after past year should be motivation to go to the gym myself and do the occasional set of squats and lunges. If I need some help for special occasions in the future, I can add this back into the mix, but for the mean time I'm going to rely on my internal motivation for a while and see how that goes. I'm not going to resort to cutting back on the hair stuff yet, I'd have to be desperate for cash to do that. ;)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Ur doing it wrong!

A blogger-who-shall-remain-nameless asked today, what is the most cliche life lesson you know? I've had this on my mind for some time now, so it's as good a time as any to write about it. The most cliche life lesson that I've been knocked on my ass by is that when you meet the one, you just know. Every time I'd heard that in the past, I had rolled my eyes at such a trite thing, either internally or externally depending on if I was in the line of sight of the speaker.

I'd attributed the cliche to our human brain and its wonderful tendency toward hindsight bias. Of course you're going to say that you always knew the person was the one on your wedding day. No matter what you thought of them as you were getting to know each other, you're going to enhance the feelings through your memory to be greater than they were. Hindsight bias, now that made logical sense to me. Meeting someone and in a short time realizing that you were going to be spending your life with that person? Complete and utter nonsense!

Until naturally, it happened to me. I'm telling you, I'd much rather be wrong and happy than right and unhappy, but I'd always wanted those people to be wrong. I'd always wanted to be better than them, more logical. Alas, it was not meant to be. However, now that I'm here, I wouldn't have it any other way.

This experience, and how much it has differed from ones I've had in the past, hammered home another life lesson, which while not a cliche, I strongly feel should become one--If love is hell, you're doing it wrong.

Bike rage

I did a search for "bicycle road rage" but only seemed to find incidents of car drivers having road rage against cyclists. I am not having an easy time finding people discussing cyclists having road rage! Maybe no one admits to it? Maybe this is because when car drivers road rage against cyclists there are more harmful immediate consequences (like, cyclist death and injury) whereas when a cyclist is overcome by road rage it mostly takes the form of trying to memorize car details and fantasizing about finding them and beating the crap out of them? Not that I would know or anything...

I was biking to work today when every single cop in the city decided they needed to be where I was going. The road I bike on to work is treacherous for bikers at the best of times in this location--you have to cross a lane of freeway-bound traffic to get from one bike lane to another on top of a hill, it totally sucks. At this time however, three lanes of car traffic were smooshed up together on the right side of road to let the police through. No one was moving and I had no bike lanes at all. So I'm weaving through the stopped cars trying to get to a place where everything made more sense and was not absolute chaos when this lady yells out her window "Are you out of your mind?!?!"

I replied. "Maybe. What the fuck do you suggest I do here?" and continued on with my route-finding, while ignoring the (thankfully brief) urge to stop, go back (her car was stopped, she wasn't going anywhere) and give her piece of my mind and possibly break a few laws.

Seriously, I never have these problems behind a steering wheel. I leave that to my little sister who had her license revoked for six months because of an incident of road rage. I might curse at someone who's behaving in a particularly dumbtarded manner, but I never have brief moments of contemplating their death or how I might drag them out of their car by their hair. I'm a very non-violent person normally. What changes when I get on a bike?

One other point--damn do emergency vehicles make things dangerous for bikers! People in their cars hear sirens, panic, and swerve over to the right without even looking! If they don't get dangerously close to hitting me, there's the problem of my lane completely disappearing. It's totally not cool.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Please stop it with the 100 pushups thing!

I don't know what happened but in the past 24 hours I seem to see this thing about training to do 100 pushups everywhere. How did this start? Why does everything think this is a great idea? So here's my PSA for the day: STOP IT.

For one thing, it's a very unbalanced training regimen. If you aren't throwing some rows, lat pull-downs, or pull-downs in there are on a regular basis you're setting yourself up for really buff chest and tricep muscles and little weakling back and bicep ones. While I think that's silly on an aesthetic level, apparently such imbalance also puts strain on your joints and can cause injury.

Also, what is the effing point of getting really really good at one upper body exercise? The only thing you're going to get good at is doing pushups. The second you try to do anything else with your upper body you're going to either fail or be in incredible pain the next day because it used one of the muscles not worked by pushups. There's a reason there's dozens of different versions of pushups, pullups, squats, and lunges. Changing the position of your limbs slightly when you do these exercises works the muscle in a different way or focuses on a different muscle. If the goal is to develop overall upper body strength, you need to do a variety of strength exercises, with (oh yeah) balance. If the goal is just to get really really really good at one pointless exercise, I'm just confused.

So I'm going to go for a swim. If I can't convince you that the 100 pushups thing is dumb, please throw in a few reps of seated rows in there now and again kthnx!

Monday, June 23, 2008


Just found out today, randomly at the gym no less, that there's a new Girl Talk album out. Girl Talk is my hero. They're doing the Radiohead model where you pay whatever you want for the download.

I'm through the second track. <3 Girl Talk.

Weekend at the River

Originally uploaded by psydereal
I just had a wonderful relaxing weekend at my friend's parent's house in the Tahoe area. It was so nice to be out there. For one thing, the thinner air makes me sleep like a baby, which is nice. It's also been a while since I hung out at someone's parent's house. You just don't do that much when most of your friends are transplants, and it's nice--parents take good care of you, always make sure you are well fed and comfortable. I miss having parents nearby!

The river was fun except for the snake. I was swimming in the river and my friend screams my name. I turn around and there's a snake with coloring resembling that of a rattler in an S-shape right in front of my face! Apparently I handled it rather gracefully, I don't remember exactly what happened I just knew that I got the hell away as fast as I could.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Evangelizing Web 2.0--Fail.

In the past year or so I've really learned to love Google Reader. At first I used it because of several friends of mine that have extremely sporadically updated blogs. I will never check the sites regularly, but if they do wake from their comas to post I want to know about it. Add the feeds to Reader and get notified of updates via the iGoogle widget, and I am golden. Usage started out slow, but my collection of subscriptions slowly grew to encompass most of my reading material and some new discoveries. My favorite part of this is that I can share items and things that I share automagically show up in my friend's feeds as well (not to mention showing up in my FriendFeed). It's gotten to the point that I barely ever leave Google Reader when looking for browsing material, it's all right there which is fabulous.

I lose major geek cred points for admitting this openly, but I'm not really into the whole webcomic thing. I read xkcd regularly, but that's only because it's about my life. B. and I wondered at one point if they've bugged my bedroom because of a few instances where random features of conversations we'd had would show up in the comic the next day. I'm know that I'm supposed to love Achewood but it's too inside-jokey for me, and I'm not going to sit around for an entire day reading back story just to be one of the cool kids.

My dear B. though, is rather obsessed. And I noticed he would check the sites manually daily, which I sought to correct for him. This is a procedure that should definitely be automated. I finally got him to give it a shot, but apparently many of these webcomic sites do not have RSS feeds. My jaw hit the floor. To me, a publisher of web content without an RSS feed is like an opera singer with laryngitis. This can't be true...can it? In any case, my subject was less than impressed with the technology, and my attempt at winning my boyfriend over to the dark side was a spoonful of fail.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Road Rage

I don't really suffer from road rage when I'm driving a car, but I notice that I get the worst case of it almost every time I bike to work. The most recent occurrence of this was last week. I was driving on a two-lane road with no bike lane and keeping a few feet away from parked cars on the side of the road as every biker should to avoid getting "doored." However, some jackass in a silver BMW apparently didn't know that the law gives me as a biker full use of the lane, and decided to honk his horn at me for delaying him for a few seconds. As he passed me, I looked up to memorize what the car looked like and dead serious with no thought said aloud "I am going to find you and fucking kill you."

I then giggled at myself for being so melodramatic, but for those few seconds, I was in a cold rage. Scary stuff. I wonder why this happens to me when I'm on two wheels but not four?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Why are you standing so still?

I gave in to temptation this morning and let myself peek in the lives of some people from the past. I'm not really sure what I wanted to find. Did I want to see the my ex-boyfriend and "the other woman" in domestic bliss to torture myself or something? Or to try to torture myself, as I don't really think it would bother me all that much these days. To poke myself to see if there was still sensation somewhere? I'm not sure what I really wanted, but it was a slight itch, and I was bored, so I scratched it. Of course I was disappointed. I wasn't looking at the right timeslice for drama of any kind. If you stop following these things you really lose the thread, which is the whole point I suppose. Anyhow, it was boring, a total let down. Everyone still seems to be in the same place.

That always happens when I look in on people from the past--they seem to be in exactly the same space. Maybe this is just an affect from the me-centeredness of my universe, but it seems to me that I just can't stop changing. I am so different now from the person I was a year ago, in many different ways. I had changed from the year before as well, and the year before that. At times I feel as if adversity makes us change more rapidly than we would normally, and I think I've faced a bit of personal adversity in the past few years, thus the amount of rapid change. I think all of these changes are a positive thing, I don't regret any of them. I've learned so much and am happy with the person I am and the place I am in my life--extremely happy.

It makes me wonder though--how can all these people stand still when I am moving so fast?

Monday, June 9, 2008

Today's hot topic is...

I have been a Barack Obama supporter from day zero, but watching the coverage of Hilary's concession on Saturday made me feel a little bittersweet. Don't get me wrong, I've been waiting for this thing to be over since Super Tuesday. I don't know, maybe it's the feminist part of me stirring or something. I do in fact feel that the sexism has been a huge issue in her campaign, and I feel bad about that. The things that certain cable pundits have gotten away with saying are pretty terrible. I think Hilary's candidacy has been a good thing for women overall--I think she did pave the way for someone else to win this in the future, and I think learning that sexism isn't as dead as we thought it was might be a valuable lesson.

Pardon my elementary take on the subject, I've never been a particularly good student of feminist theory, but the way I see it, women are (or have been in the past) disadvantaged in three ways: institutionally, culturally, and biologically. We've gone a long way in getting things equal institutionally--I have access to an equal quality of education and equal job opportunities as my male peers. The fact that a lot of women in Generation Y see this as no big deal is somewhat of an insult to the feminists who paved the way for us, but also can be seen as a sign of progress. There are still issues with pay equality, some glass ceiling stuff to work through, but for the most part, we're good there.

As for biology--well, that's kind of a tough one to change. Given the current medical technology, we can't make my reproductive scenarios as equally varied and un-tethered in time as a guy's. Maybe someday. However, this is one of the gender inequalities that most chafes me in my life.

Cultural sexism is what I think was most encountered by the Clinton campaign, and another thing that really bites me in my life right now. The fact is that culture is afraid of strong women. Part of the reason that the campaign went on so damn long is that Hilary was most appealing as a candidate when she was down. The second she was seen as an underdog, as she was seen as picked-on or ganged up against, the voters seemed to rush to her defense, in the same way that Martha Stewart became a much more popular figure after she was knocked down a peg and put in prison. A woman is only appealing when she's down. In the same vein, why is it that a man can raise his cachet with the opposite sex by becoming more successful, while the more success a woman attains she's less attractive in the dating market?

I was composing this entry earlier today but later had a conversation with my boyfriend about a book he was reading, and we started discussing good books in general. I mentioned a few (Memiors of a Geisha and Girls in Trucks) that I remember enjoying recently and he, half jokingly I think, dismissed them as chick books. Why is a book/movie with a female protagonist almost instantly dismissed in our culture as something for chicks? Why are men the default and women the "other"? It's these kinds of cultural things that I feel are the current battleground for fighting sexism. Culture takes a lot longer to change than it takes to pass a few laws, but is several orders of magnitude faster than biology, so I'm somewhat optimistic.

Sunday, June 8, 2008


The boy and I are planning a September trip to Hawaii, the island of Kauai to be exact, and I could not be more excited. Unlike most residents of California, I haven't even been once. Boy just left for three weeks in Arkansas for work, which makes me sad, but I'm making the best of it by being all industrious-like.

I've recently re-discovered how awesome libraries are. They're free, and you're not stuck with piles of books you'll never re-read again that you are required to schlepp between apartments. It's fabulous. I found some recent Kauai guides at the local library yesterday, and spent quite a few wine-soaked hours pouring over them and planning out fun things to do on the island. (This was when I wasn't coaching my friend in the finer points of GTA IV and watching him go on cop-killing sprees.)

I wonder if I'm doing myself a disservice by planning things out so far in advance. Will I psyche myself out before the actual trip? I'm going to go with no, I doubt it. I haven't been on a real vacation since Thailand a year and a half ago, so I have the right to be stoked.