Friday, January 25, 2008

"We're from the government"

"and we're here to help..."

"ourselves to your money, freedom, and responsibility."

Here's an interesting chart come like to use to bash Bush:

To summarize, when Bush took office, everything was great with the economy. Now after 7 years, things are horrible.

Good thing that things like world events and general economic trends have no effect on the economy. Since it's a single person responsible for all good and all bad, it's easy to fix. This means I don't have to work as hard cause someone else will take care of me. Pretty soon I hope to just stay home and play World of Warcraft all day.

John Edwards will make sure I have health care, Hillary will raise my children, and Obama will come and "change" me.

To be "fair and balanced"...

Romney will provide my underwear, Huckabee will attend to my spiritual needs, McCain will make sure I don't talk about politics before an election, and Rudy will keep me safe

I just need someone to feed me and I'm set.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Can't wait till 16

Sean had a bit of a driving lesson today. One of our friends from church invited us out to ride in what can best be described as a mini-jeep. He took us around the trails on his farm and then I got to try my hand at it too. But the highlight for me was when Sean got behind the wheel.

Now we just have to teach him to parallel park.

Friday, January 18, 2008

What would you do with $1,600?

I'm trying to remember what I did the last time grandpa government sent me a birthday check (aka rebate)* So I'm pretty sure I spent it on something that was either eaten or quickly obsolete or broken. Back at the turn of the century, the tax cuts included a one-time tax rebate of $300 (maybe $600 for us as a couple) the goal being for us to spend it along with some more of our money to stimulate the economy. And now again there are plans being made for rebates on the order of $800/1600 that we will be encouraged to spend on new TVs, game consoles, vacations and such.

Now I have absolutely no problem with the government sending me back the money that I send them throughout the year, but unfortunately this time I won't be doing my patriotic duty to provide short term stimulus to the nation' economy. Instead I'll be able to shave about 1.5 months off my debt snowball thus securing my long term future while deferring short term pleasure. I feel so unpatriotic. And yet I hope that people everywhere will take this opportunity to save their money or pay off debt. Now that would be a big help to the economy since much of the current problems are with people who have too much debt and really high interest rates both with their mortgages and consumer debt. I guess I will be stimulating Chase a little as I speed up my payments to them, but I'm not sure that's what Bernanke has in mind.

Now the question I have is since I moved this past year after tax time how will grandpa know where to send the check? I want my money ASAP. I'll have to check into that.

What have you already spent your tax rebate one?

*Other than the normal tax return.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Why do Christians like Rules?

I just heard this quote from Josh McDowell while listening to Focus on the Family:
Rules without Relationship leads to Rebellion

That's great. I have to remember that both as a Christian and especially as a parent. It's not "Spare the rod, spoil the child". That's a trite saying we use to justify our discipline methods. The actual verse is
He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him. (Proverbs 13:24)
Have to remember that too.

Gracious Receiving

"It is more blessed to give than to receive" provides us with the words of our Lord (via Paul, Acts 20:35). We always use these words to encourage people to give, whether to the church or the poor or to our friends (especially at Christmas time). We teach our kids to not be selfish an to share their toys with their friends.

But how often do have trouble accepting gifts from others. Whether it's letting someone buy us lunch or pay for a coffee or accepting a large new 50" HDTV that someone wants to buy for you (hint, hint). And that's the very attitude we have to avoid. Manipulating people into giving and then using the excuse that you're helping them be more blessed is not what Paul had in mind in when he wrote to the Philippians (4:17-18):
"Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account. I have received full payment and even more; I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God."
He graciously accepted their gifts even though he didn't need it in order to allow them the joy of giving. God wants us to give so that we become more like him. C.S. Lewis wrote that prayer doesn't change God, it changes us. In the same way, the purpose of our giving is not soley to help the recipient, but to also change us into God's image the way he intends us to be. Christ left all of heaven and came here and gave 33 years of his life all for us. His whole ministry was a gift. He is a giver and being a Christian means being transformed into his likeness.

We teach gracious giving, but we should not deny others the joy they will receive when they give to us. Just say "Thank you" and then pass it on. If you pay them back, then it was not a gift. If you pay it forward, you make the world a better place and at the two of you have been able to experience the joy of giving.
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5-11)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Optimizing My Life

As a software developer, I spend a good deal of time thinking about and working on optimizing things to work faster or smaller whether it's processing cycles or memory footprint or file size. My current optimization effort is being put towards my morning and evening commutes. This involves traveling several different routes at different times, listening to the radio reports for major traffic problems, and discussing with co-workers the various routes that are available. After just over a week of testing, the current optimal route seems to be getting on I-35 North as soon as possible and exiting to highway West 290/71 then to 360 which leads to the office. I tried a lot of the back roads but with the school traffic plus work traffic, they are very congested. Unless 35 is at a standstill, it will usually be a faster and more stable commute. 290 traffic seems to flow pretty well because it is 4+ lanes and an easy exit onto 360. Once on 360 there are about 3 lights to go through, but they haven't been too bad so far.

I find myself optimizing other little areas of my life. For instance, at breakfast, I won't pour my glass of milk before warming up my hot pockets in the microwave. I'll do that while they are heating. That way I'm not standing around waiting for 1 minute 45 seconds. By using the down time in one activity to complete another, I've saved about 15-20 seconds of my life. I also like to optimize my entertainment. I will often watch TV and play on the computer at the same time. That way I double my entertainment value for the amount of time I have. Granted I don't get to concentrate on either one as much, but overall it works out.

No real point to this post. Just something I was thinking about. Do you try to optimize your life? If so, how?

Monday, January 07, 2008

The Office (Reprise)

The trip in this morning was a bit longer than I’d hoped but at 40 minutes it wasn’t a bad drive. I got to listen to the Focus on the Family broadcast which took up most of the trip. It starts at 7:30 so I’ll try to make that my window of drive time so I get commercial free family goodness for most of the trip. The other 10 minutes I can listen to news or other random dribble on the radio. Finding something interesting on the way home may be more challenging. I ended up taking a slightly different route than I originally intended but it turned out to be just fine and perhaps slightly better.

I’m not off to a good start. I ran off this morning and forgot my lunch so I’ll have to find some place to eat around here.

The chair is really comfortable and there’s that new office smell in the air. Various amenities are still being acquired. The fridge is not here though they did take soda orders. The printer/scanner/fax is borked and a replacement is on the way. Some routers and other computery equipment are still in transit or needing to be ordered. But all in all it’s a nice office and should make for a good working experience.

I also forgot to bring in the camera to take pictures of the move in but I’ll try to remember tomorrow.

Time to get to work.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

The Office

I'm really hoping my upcoming experiences don't end up like the TV show this post is named after (I'm sure they won't). Tomorrow starts a new era in my employment with my current company. On January 29th of last year I started working with PFI out of my house in Bremerton, Washington. In June, we moved down to Kyle, Texas (south of Austin) and I remained working out of the house. Tomorrow will be my first day in the new Austin branch office. I make this transition with mixed emotions. It has certainly been a blessing to be able to work from home and make the move down here while we waited to sell our house. It's also let me spend a lot more time with the family and have a very flexible schedule. Kathryne could run out on errands as needed without having to worry about whether to get someone to watch Sean or Joshua. Also the lack of commute has been very nice. On the other hand, the productivity of working from home without a dedicated office space has been a challenge to say the least. Also the teamworks aspects are harder to work out.

The thing I am looking forward to the least is the commute. Till now, I've never had a regular commute longer than 15 minutes. Now I'll be lucky if I can keep the drive to 30 minutes. Traffic shouldn't be a huge problem till the last few miles of the trip. Most of it is on the smaller county roads, but the last couple stretches have larger interchanges which can back up very easily. Here's a map of the route I plan on taking in the morning.

View Larger Map

I'll try to take some pictures of the office and post them later. It's a nice building in a nice part of town. There's a high school nearby (which should make for nice game night traffic).

The biggest downsides are
  • I'll have to shower everyday
  • I'll have to shave more than once every 2 weeks
  • I won't be able to work in my pajamas (likely, haven't checked for sure)
Hopefully they'll stock the fridge with Diet Dr. Pepper and other sodas.
I'm still hoping to be able to work from home on occasion.