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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Erik's LiveJournal:

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Tuesday, March 24th, 2009
5:27 am
In case you haven't realized I'm not posting here anymore. Sorry.

But if you need your fix, I'm now blogging over here. Feel free to stop by.
Thursday, September 4th, 2008
11:40 pm
To get people like me to hope that's why.
I'm very unlikely to vote in the coming election for various reasons.

1. I'll be moving just before it, and will probably not qualify for residency anywhere.

2. The more I study economics the more I realize my vote doesn't matter.

3. The more I study politics the more I realize the system is designed to ensure my vote matters as little as possible.

4. Studying politics has also taught me that 95% of the president's job is to constantly wave his arms to keep the media distracted from the (frankly criminal) activities of congress. (Clinton and Bush were both really good at this by the way).

5. I think I would lose respect for myself if I actively endorsed either candidate by voting for them.

But if I do decide to vote for one of them, this will be why.

Obama: I was an Obama supporter for the majority of the primary season. I liked many of his speeches (I know you can't trust a candidate to follow up on his message, but at least if the message is good you can justify the vote in two years as being "hopeful"), and both of his biggest criticisms (Being elite, and politically inexperienced) are qualities I want in a president. I also liked his pledge to get rid of all those terrible homeland security executive orders.

Then, last May, the new FISA bill came up before the senate. This bill ratified and authorized the removal of most of the rights the aforementioned executive orders took away, and also provided criminal immunity to all the phone companies that helped Bush with all the illegal spying. A couple democratic senators attempted a filibuster to ensure it wouldn't pass, but Obama, along with most republicans and many democrats voted to overturn the filibuster, and then passed the law. That pretty much killed any hope I had he'd be good.

The only bright side I see for Obama now is that, since congress will likely remain controlled by democrats, if he is elected democrats will squabble about priorities while the republicans do everything they can to sabotage their agenda. That should keep them from doing anything too horrible(Most of the crazy things Bush got passed in the last four years failed repeatedly when the republicans controlled congress for exactly this reason).

McCain: I didn't like McCain the first time he ran, and I don't like him now. His decision making process is based far too much on morals and very little on fact, and he doesn't seem to care about domestic issues at all. I'm afraid he will do something crazy like bomb Iran or invade Syria, and I know congress won't have the guts to stop him.

The bright side for McCain is twofold. First off, if the republicans win again, I think (hope) a large number of people will become disillusioned with the system(As a person who is, admittedly, disillusioned myself, I think this is a very good thing as it presages change...eventually).

The second reason is Palin. Regardless of anything else I think a female vice president would be very good for the country, even better than a black president. I think this because the President receives a constant stream of criticism no matter what he does. If he's black, a lot of people will whine that the criticism is racist, and a lot of other people will whine that the other people are whining. That interplay will offset, if not outweigh, any gains we get from actually electing him in the first place. Vice presidents don't get much attention though (Cheney is an exception to this, and even he isn't covered all that much), and more importantly don't make many decisions that can be criticized. I'm sure that dynamic will still be in place, but on a much smaller scale, and not enough to offset the fact that we elected a female vice president (and in the republican party too! That makes it so much better!)

Really though the thing that makes me most likely to decide to vote is if the news networks decide to add Bob Barr to the debates. I know it's pretty unlikely, but one of them just conducted a poll that showed 55% of people wanted it. Why would they ask if they weren't at least considering it?

Current Mood: pessimistic
Tuesday, July 15th, 2008
1:35 am
Once again
Michigan, to me, is the worst kind of black hole. I see others escape, but can never seem to do it myself. Plans fall through, commitments arise, accomplices bail. It's always something.

This time it's the latter. We came down with the hopes of buying a home we could afford together. I got suspicious as we ate our first meal in the state, when all the compromises we'd agreed upon started to get renegotiated. We began our search the next day. I'd done a lot of preparation, and had a list. Most they discarded without even seeing. They didn't meet her standards. Not nice enough, too nice, to urban, to suburban, too far away. I'm still not sure what she was hoping for. We looked at two, but they weren't perfect.

I knew going in that time was a factor, but before we went to bed they'd written me out. What was painfully obvious was that they had discussed the option in advance, though I'd heard no word of it. Maybe they knew that if I did, I wouldn't have wasted the time, or the money. He had some hope that when faced with an ultimatum I'd fall their way. I suspect she knew I wouldn't.

Perhaps it's for the best. It's become clear that living with them would have been more problematic than I'd guessed, and my first impression of Raleigh is underwhelming. There are still three people back home that might want to leave in six months, and I no longer have an attachment to this particular city. Maybe the money will be better then. Maybe we'll have more time. Back to the drawing board

Current Mood: demoralized
Friday, July 11th, 2008
12:27 am
You had no idea Gorbachov was so cool.
Wednesday, July 9th, 2008
1:52 am
You really want it that badly?
It's that time of year when candidates for local office start advertising with lawn signs. 90% are incumbents reminding you they exist even though most of them will run unopposed. As always there are at least three candidates for Sheriff, but Mike Raines has always wins, so no real excitement. There is one race that looks to be heated. No TV adds yet, but both candidates have signs that are easily four or five times the average size, and they are putting them up everywhere! What's the office you ask? County Drain Commissioner.

Current Mood: blah
Sunday, June 1st, 2008
11:17 pm
Japanese woman caught living in man's closet
This is a story about a Japanese woman who snuck into a man's house and hid in his closet for an entire year!

In local news I realized I have not mentioned my impending move to NC. I mention it now because Ben & Amy are potentially interested, which would bring the total to five (six if Kristine also decides to come). That would make housing more complicated, but I'd happily trade the extra work, for the extra company.

Current Mood: excited
Tuesday, May 27th, 2008
9:51 pm
Jobs I would like to have, but am unlikely to get
Bouncer: This may sound fairly mundane, but every bouncer I've ever spoken too really seemed to love their job. You stand in a club looking imposing, and hot chicks flirt with you to try and cut in line. I bet bribes aren't uncommon, and every once in awhile you get to beat up an asshole who deserves it. Plus you can sleep in as late as you want. If I was 4 inches taller and 100lbs heavier I'd be all over this.

Fighter Pilot: I'm too tall, and it's probably not as cool as I imagine, but have you ever seen a dogfight? Shazam!

Captain Morgan/Marlboro Man/etc: Did you know they actually pay people to dress up, go to bars, and give away free stuff while generally being a fun guy? I would happily do this for very little money, but I'm pretty sure you have to be somebody’s relative to get it. It's not like they hold interviews.

Game Designer/Tester: Board games, computer games, card games, whatever. Games are fun. Making them better is more fun. I've been doing this in various forms as a hobby since I was like 10. Yes I know that makes me a Dork.

Professional Party Guest: I think you have to be famous, or a really hot chick, to actually get paid just to show up at a party, but if there was a demand for male guests I could flourish in that market. I would meet with the host before hand and get to know them a bit, so people wouldn't know I was paid. Then I'd run around the party being entertaining and making the host sound cool. Any takers? Payment is negotiable...

Current Mood: relaxed
Thursday, May 8th, 2008
12:43 pm
Things I've been thinking
Did you know they changed the theme song to Reading Rainbow? The words are the same, but they are sung wrong. It's slower and jazzier. I do not approve.

It is barely May and I have already had two June bugs get into my house. There should be some sort of law against that.

Do you think Exterminators get satisfaction from their job? I mean where else can you get paid to commit genocide on a daily basis. I suppose it probably isn't really personal enough; I mean ants and termites don't scream very loud, even when thousands of them are screaming in unison. Nonetheless there must be some perks. All I'm saying is if I worked for Orkin I would get "The Exterminator" legally attached to my name.

It turns out David Bowie is exactly as awesome as I always suspected he was

Current Mood: tired
Tuesday, April 29th, 2008
1:36 am
What I've been up to
As of today I officially live on my own again. I've been busy all day setting up the house, and shopping for various things I need to help me adjust to my new dietary needs now that I have to cook for myself, or just to spruce the place up. I'll probably remain similarly busy the rest of the week, but it is nice to be busy again.

I've decided to take up rock climbing again to help me re-develop my muscles. I went to a wall last Friday and did much better than I expected. I'm going to try to go at least weekly for the rest of the summer.

The last two weekends I've been attending a lot of parties, and trying to catch up with people I haven't seen since I got sick. I'm always the only one not drinking (stupid meds), but I'm having a blast just talking to people outside my family for a change (Nothing wrong with talking to the people in my family, I'm just saying.)

Last week my mother and I went up north for four days to attend my grandpa's funeral. For me it was not a sad occasion. He was 80 and had a bad heart, so it wasn't a complete shock. I'm mostly relieved he went before he started to lose his mental and physical capacity, and he died doing what he loved. All of my mom's siblings, and all but three of the cousin's were there, which is the most together we've been in at least four years. I enjoyed the time together, even though the reason was sad.

Current Mood: productive
Tuesday, April 15th, 2008
4:10 pm
And it's springy outside too!
As much as I dislike going to the doctor and taking pills I have to admit that medicine is awesome. When I started taking my pills my body responded within days, even before I got the infusion which is apparently the bulk of the treatment. The pain went away, and my appetite and energy began to return. In fact the appetite went into overdrive. I gained 10 lbs in the first week and another 20 in the second. If I didn’t have witnesses no one I know would believe the stories about the sheer quantity of food I was packing away. Over the last few days I’m dropping to a less epic amount of food, and my weight is starting to slowly drop to what it was before I got sick, though I still have about 7 lbs to go, but I’m not trying or anything. I’m just happy to not look like a skeleton.

The downside of all this is that the combination of the extra weight, the puffyness caused by the steroids, and my still not entirely un-distended belly, means my pants don’t fit. I have taken to leaving them zipped but unbuttoned while I’m in the house. Since I also frequently go without shirt (I’m hot all the time; not sure if this is medicine or a shift in my metabolism caused by all the extra food), and my belly sticks out like a beer gut, I get a lot of wise cracks about being white trash.

Still I’ll take it. I’m back to my normal energy level, and my muscles have, for the most part, remembered that they are strong enough to do mundane things all day and not be tired or sore. I still can’t run up a set of stairs (a fact I frequently forget), but considering three weeks ago it was hard work to stand up from the floor, I’m pretty happy with the progress.
I’m currently in the process of getting a life again. I’m way behind on a lot of things, and I’ve been running around trying to catch up. There is a lot, and I mean a lot, of paper and other work to be done related to my houses. Mostly it’s bookkeeping, of which I did none while I was sick. I have stacks of bills and receipt that need to be recorded and sorted and filed and all that. Plus I still have to unpack all the stuff from my last move so I can start living at my house again.

In summary, I’m looking and feeling a great deal better, but I’m going to be very busy for a bit yet. Once I’m caught up people can expect to see me online again.

Current Mood: excited
Thursday, March 27th, 2008
1:22 pm
It's been a long time
I've been betterCollapse )

Current Mood: apathetic
Wednesday, January 16th, 2008
3:47 pm
The News.
Yesterday I officially became a homeowner and landlord when I closed and legally took possession of two duplexes. Three of the units have current tenets, the fourth I will be moving into over the next few days.

Today I collected the last paycheck I hope to ever receive. I am now working solely for myself.

2008 will be my year.

Current Mood: determined
Monday, January 7th, 2008
6:24 pm
Most unique dream ever.
Last night I had a dream that I created an excel spreadsheet that, at first, was just a bunch of zeroes, but when you entered any number in cell A1 it magically transformed into a picture of a crab. Imagine my delight when upon waking I realized the spreadsheet would work in real life without any modification. Sadly I don't see much call for art of that caliber in the real world yet, so I'm in no rush to actually make said spreadsheet, but if I get snowed in some weekend...

P.S. I thinks it's likely that this dream proves something devastating about my psyche, but I'm afraid to ponder exactly what.

Current Mood: chipper
Wednesday, December 12th, 2007
6:05 pm
A recent excerpt from the popular advice columnist's writings:

Dear Abby,

My husband is a liar and a cheat. He has cheated on me
from the beginning, and, when I confront him, he denies
everything. What's worse, everyone knows that he cheats on me. It is so
humiliating. Also, since he lost his job six years ago, he hasn't even looked
for a new one. All he does all day is smoke cigars, cruise around and
shoot the bull with his buddies, while I have to work to pay the bills.
Since our daughter went away to college he doesn't even pretend to like
me, and even hints that I may be a lesbian. What should I do?

Signed: Clueless

Dear Clueless:

Grow up and dump him. Good grief woman! You don't need
him anymore!
You're a Senator from New York running for President
of the United States. Act like one ! ! !
12:59 am
I've been so busy I nearly forgot to mention that I had offers on two houses accepted on Monday. I've got financing set up, though I'm still shopping for a better deal. Inspections are next week, and if those go well I will officially be a landlord and homeowner in mid- January.

I'm so excited I barely sleep these days.
Saturday, December 8th, 2007
10:27 am
Life is difficult when I get up early on weekends because so few websites update.
Friday, November 30th, 2007
6:14 pm
Analysis, explanation, anecdote, question.
I don't value Christmas presents. The economist in me is upset by the deadweight loss. Person A spends X on a gift for person B, but that gift provide less than X utility to person B. A more concrete example is my grandmother spends $15 to buy me a blanket featuring the logo of my favorite football team. I put the blanket on my bed and use it nightly, so it is by no means useless, but this far from the optimal utility I could generate for 15 dollars. If I had 15 dollars I could buy three days worth of food, or up to 7 drinks at a bar, which is 2 or 3 evenings worth. I value both of those things much higher than a blanket, so in spending the money on a blanket a certain amount of value has been lost.

The sociologist in me understands that Christmas presents are all about signaling. By spending time, energy and resources on something I don't care about, but will benefit you, I have proved that I care about you. This is the same principle behind men buying flowers for women. The sociologist in me also understands that this is perfectly normal behavior, and the evolutionary psychologist in me understands that this is a method of communication that predates language, and exists in many species. Nonetheless the practical male in me resents the fact that I must prove I care on specific days of the year, and in such a limited material fashion.

My mother and sister understand my feelings about Christmas presents, but do not share them. To prove their sympathy to my situation they buy me only things I intend to buy anyway, thus minimizing the dead weight loss*. For the sake of cooperation I try to stockpile such things for Christmas time. I have needed a new mouse for months (Some who have used my old one will argue years), but I didn't get one, so now my Sister can buy me one for Christmas. I gave her exacting instructions about it's design (Simple build, two buttons, plus a scroll wheel in the middle, nothing fancy on the sides, I hit them on accident, and the ergonomic grips are uncomfortable on my hand), but I refrained from picking an exact model number so she can spend an appropriate amount of time and thought deciding which of the designs that fit my parameters I would like best.

My brother does not like Christmas presents either. I assume his reasons are the same as mine, but operate at the unconscious level since he doesn't study economics, sociology, or evolutionary psychology. Another thing we have in common is that we don't buy books. I don't buy books because I rarely reread anything, and books are so easy to borrow for free. Tyler doesn't buy books because he doesn't buy things and he doesn't read much anyway (school work excluded). On a seemingly unrelated note James Lipton recently wrote an autobiography, Inside Inside, detailing, among other things, his sordid career as a pimp in Paris (that was before he got famous). Ty and I watched him speak about it on some late night talk show or other, and it sounded very entertaining to both of us. Tyler asked me if I would buy the book; I told him I don't buy books. He said he would buy me the book for Christmas so he could borrow it after I finished it. I suggested he just buy it for himself, and I would borrow it from him after. He told me he doesn't buy things for himself, and pointed out that I would likely finish it and several other books before he got the chance to start it. I consented.

Regardless of my feelings about the need to signal, I have to do it, or I seem uncaring (and scrooge like, although that doesn't bother me really). To best balance my economist's feelings, and the need to signal I try to give gifts where I can sacrifice time, rather than money. I think this is both a better signal (since I value my time more highly than my money), and a way to avoid the dead weight loss that bugs me. This however becomes more difficult as time goes on, as I am not very artistically inclined. I did mix CD's last year, which turned out well, but I do not want to repeat so soon. The only decent idea I have for this year is to find someway to channel my writing (prose only) talent into a gift, but no easy way to do that presents itself. Any good ideas for this or another do it yourself present?

* Mom does this but she also insists on buying a small "surprise" present. Tic tacs or playing cards, perhaps a DVD. Such things are almost pure deadweight loss, but I try to be a good sport.

Current Mood: thoughtful
Sunday, November 25th, 2007
4:16 pm
Just some facts
Detroit has been named the most liberal city in America by a recent study, with Flint being number 10. That makes MI the only state besides California to have more than one city in the top 10. Detroit was also recently determined to be the most dangerous city in the U.S. using FBI data on crime and social factors. I postulate that both of these ranking are due to Michigan's increasingly bad economy relative to the rest of the country.

The United Nations revised their official worldwide estimate of AIDS cases last week by lowering it by 6.3 million. The reason for the change is that UNAIDS, the agency in charge of creating the number, has been using faulty data collection methods throughout its history. The biggest change was in India where the number of cases dropped from 5.7 million to 2.5 million. Many African countries also have4 new number that are half the old ones, or less. The old numbers were created by measuring the incidence rate among some of the highest risk demographics in a country, and then extrapolating them onto the total population. India's old number appears to have been based almost entirely on professional sex workers and drug users, along with people attending clinics for STD treatment. When asked about the shift Gerhard Heilig, U.N. Chief of estimates and projections said "The basic lesson we should learn from this is we should be careful about shooting from the hip without good data."

George Scalise of the Semiconductor Industry Association said in a recent press release "This year the worldwide microchip industry will produce 900 million transistors for every man, woman, and child on earth." Sweet, huh?

Current Mood: hungry
Tuesday, November 20th, 2007
2:32 am
St. Petersburg Capitalist
Gather 'round me, children, and I'll tell you a story. A story of despair, hope, and love. A story called...

I Can't Stop Loving I Can't Stop RavingCollapse )

Current Mood: excited
Friday, November 16th, 2007
10:45 pm
He has a radio show, that's why.
In the painstaking process of trying to craft an entertaining and energetic technoesque Pandora station with basically no knowledge about electronic music (Except that nobody in the in crowd calls it "electronica"), I was amazed to discover the song Sound is Shocking by Dj Baby Ann & Jen Lasher. What makes this song amazing is that it samples the beat of a Devo song called Big Mess, which, though virtually unheard of even among casual Devo fans,* Has always been an underdog favorite of mine. In fact, in honor of the song, I considered making my on air alias at the station be Cowboy Kim. I think it should be obvious why I didn't end up going that route.

*I'm not sure such a thing exists, but if it does it knows and likes Whip It, Working in a Coal Mine, Beautiful World, Freedom of Choice, and maybe one other song if it is lucky.

Current Mood: impressed
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