Friday, October 15, 2010

Memories of those left behind

we remember the faces
  the eyes
               the voices
            the gleam of silk
                                       of metal
            a spark of fire

in my youngest of days i remember
the shape of that hill
                                  of that sea.
the murmuring stir of that crowd
     their eyes huddled
     their whispers disjointed.

embers and ashes skip on the wind
from house to house they sew
from tree to tree they weave
a maddening shroud

dancing in the street they swirl
scarves and dresses and sleeves and hair
fluttering in the air
with every turn they rise
with every turn they fall
with every turn they fall

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


your golden grace has died away
failing at the end of day
clouds, crimson with demise
spears of orange and pink
impale the darkening sky
whilst nebulae and galaxy retreat
and lo, the moon, steadfast and strong
residing at its peak
wanes to dawn, and sunrise sky
forever to repeat

Monday, October 4, 2010

Blog is still here! sort of.

Blah I have some 'splanin to do.

I've been really busy lately, working 30 hour weeks, plus my Internship, plus I'm spending my time actively looking for a job, PLUS becoming a monitor at the campus metalsmithing lab to work on stuff to potentially sell on Etsy, and then spending my free time driving down to denver to see my girlfriend.

It's hectic.

I'm still writing. Mostly. I haven't posted new poems because I have a hard time finishing them, I'll pull them out in a month or so, but until then they need to ferment a bit.

So that's the boring status update. I'll try to post once a week, to keep this blog alive, but we'll see.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

attempts to come alive

set aside for lustful and low pleasures

cast down by unrest and bitter thoughts

a soul disquieted

                                a life of their own     in their whirling they ran

             a glowing cigarette tip

                                              a soft peal in the darkness

              a high throaty voice

unrest issued like a wave of sound

     sentiment of the opening       languor       supple movement
  hear the faint rhythm of the music
the door again

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A brief note on translations and translators.

One of my favorite things to read is Russian literature. I love it. However I wish I KNEW Russian, I think it would make the experience much better because then I could just read it in Russian and have no need for a translator. This is because the same phrase can be read multiple ways, and things like simile, metaphor, alliteration, ect. get lost in a translation.

Here’s a quick example.


translates into

"Standing in the light of sunrise shadow is ~"
"As for the shadow which stands in light of the morning glow -"
"In the morning burns that light into stand shadow wa? the and that "
"Shadow stand in the light of the morning glow ~"
"Standing in the shadows in the light of the sunrise"

These are from various online translators, and most of them make complete sentences. But man is the feeling different.

Personally I like the last one the best. But it’s these little differences that can make or break prose and poetry. This is why; if at all possible, the translator should be the writer, or a writer who knows about the culture he/she is translating from.

And then imagine translating it back into another language…it’s like that copier example, where the picture gets more and more distorted as you copy it more and more. Only imagine copying something like the Mona Lisa all by hand, then copying your copy by hand. Things get messed up pretty fast.

So! If you ever read something in translation, make sure to see how the translation is! It may make or break your reading experience.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Why working minimum wage sucks.

There are so many reasons why minimum wage sucks, I’m going to try and lay them all out.

1.)  The places that pay minimum wage suck.  McDonalds doesn’t even pay minimum wage any more (well the ones near me don’t).  Which means that the places that DO pay minimum wage are about on par with it.  This generally means fast food, cook work, cashier, bag boy work, ect. 

2.) You get paid crap.  It’s minimum wage for a reason.  If you work 40 hours a week 52 weeks a year you can make a little over 16 grand.  Except most places won’t work you 40, it’s too close to ovettime, so 30-35 is the most you’ll work (12 to 14 grand respectively).  If you’re unlucky and you get a job that ONLY takes part time, you’re looking at 8, maybe 10 grand a year. 

3.) It’s crap work.  Minimum wage is some of the most ungrateful work you can do.  Not just because you’re working for cheap while the people above you make a killing off of exploiting you, but people treat you like crap too.  It’s the “The Customer is always right” motto that has made minimum wage such shit.  This motto means a customer can complain about anything and even try to get someone fired for nothing. 

I’ve a good example of this, at Kinkos I was putting together something for a project and this lady was having a hard time working her computer.  She turned to a Kinkos guy who was working on something and demanded help, he told her in just a minute once he finished what he was doing and she went nuts.  “I’m paying for this every minute and you refuse to help me!  I want to see your manager!” ect.  The guy just wanted to get to a stopping point to help her out but she went nuts.  I understand where she was coming from but still it doesn’t give you an excuse to be an ass.  And that happens every day to people who work minimum wage. 

Here’s the problem though.  You can’t raise minimum wage.  When you do all it does is raise inflation and then minimum wage still sucks.  The only thing to do really is be nice to people and don’t treat people how you don’t want to be treated.  I like that saying better than “Treat people how you want to be treated.” Because it means you don’t have to be nice, but it also means you shouldn’t be an ass. 

What means most to people, just ask “How are you today” to your host/hostess, or cashier.  They’ll appreciate it.  

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Reflection (work in progress)

The way in was necessary
The way in was easy
Deeper and deeper
there an echo, a feeling
The most oppressive thing is being forced to live this life
By fortune and glory
And god, hold me
Leaving this world, my crimes against humanity
My eyes are caught in the rain
In so much as to say, to see, what could have been
Sinking into the abyss
I live in a prison of my own demise. 
to stay would spell disaster
To go any further would be worse
Leaving the light behind I turn
To go any further would be worse
to stay would spell disaster
I live in a prison of my own demise. 
Sinking into the abyss
In so much as to say, to see, what could have been
My eyes are caught in the rain
Leaving this world, my crimes against humanity
And god, hold me
By fortune and glory
The most oppressive thing is being forced to live this life
There is an echo, a feeling
Deeper and deeper
The way in was easy
The way in was necessary

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Restaurant review: The Beach House, Fort Collins

Food, can’t live with out it. Unfortunately, good food costs money. And where as I can get by on Ramen and rice it’s not exactly an ideal lifestyle. The way I see it, good food doesn’t just feed you, it feeds the soul.

Of course there’s always a catch to food. My girlfriend calls me a picky eater. And it’s probably true. I’ll try anything once, but if I don’t like something I’ll avoid it.

That being said, when I find a good restaurant I find a good restaurant. What do I define as good? Good food, good service, good price, good atmosphere. Pretty much in that order. For me, the number one most important thing is the food. It doesn’t mater if the service is crap, or if it’s a bit pricy. IF the food’s good I’ll eat there. With certain limitations of course, I wont spend $80 if it’s crap service, and I wont wait an hour to place my order. But other than that food reigns supreme.

Just today I ate at such a place that I felt I should write about it. Up in Fort Collins there’s a relatively new restaurant named The Beach House Grill. The place replaces the old Stonehouse Grill, replacing Scottish theme with an Island themed place. We got there, and got seated right away, the waitress was nice and the atmosphere was good, albeit a bit cheesy (a mannequin put into a wet suit hanging from the ceiling “snorkeling” is a bit too much for me).

The food was a bit pricy. $8 burger, $10 for a “Torta” (sandwich type thingy. I got a Cuban :D). One thing that I really hate that’s been a rising trend in the midscale restaurants is charging a lot for drinks. I understand charging two bucks for a soda, but some places are up to three dollars for a drink. Personally I think it’s ridiculous but hey, they have to nickel and dime you some way. Here the drinks were $2.50, and that’s about where I draw the line, but I’m a sucker for Iced tea.

The food was good, actually it was really good, and my sandwich was HUGE, like at least a pound of meat and toppings. The girlfriend got a hamburger (protein style because she can’t have gluten). She said it was good and it had big lettuce for the lettuce wrap (which is kind of rare in restaurants). On top of that they didn’t charge to ‘upgrade’ to sweet potato fries like most places do.

The service the whole time was spot on. I’m not sure if it’s because that’s how it is or if it’s because it was kinda slow. Either way I can’t complain about the service.

Overall I give the Beach House an 8.5 out of 10, the place was good, but a bit pricy. I’d recommend trying it sometime!

Blog Status Update

I’m back! After the trip, then working, then getting sick, it’s been a while.

I’m trying something new-ish. Every Sunday I’m going to post some of my writing. Last Sunday was an older poem of mine from class. I’m going to try to write NEW poems and NEW stories, but if I can’t I get to use old writing until I run out. Don’t worry, I wont subject any of you to crappy high school love poems I promise.

So lets come back with a post about food. I love food.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The History of Coprolites

We             f

and crash onto
the abyssal plain, and be come calcareous marl
                        the brackish sediment all around us on the edge
                                                of the shelf, in the middle of the rise

to be buried in turbidity

we are patient.

and wait.

we are
and added,
                        an accretion.
compressed conglomerate

we wait.

time has no end
                                    no beginning
                        no purpose

and then in molten ballet
            we dance
            one foot to the

                        another to the right


full of awe


we are                                     air
                                    and we

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

No new posts

No new posts for the next few days. I'm visiting the Girlfriend in Denver and don't have the time to write a new post. Don't worry though, I'll wrap up the Ecuador trip shortly after I get back. Also, I'm working on a new post titled, "Freedom of Speech is Death to Poetry". Sounds like fun huh?

On a side note, mobile posting is a pain in the butt.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Ecuador: Sunday

Sunday was…interesting. The morning started out pretty tame. Work up around 8, had shrimp Ceviche. The Ceviche I had was a cold soup made with lots of cilantro, limejuice and salt. It was tasty.

We left Santa Elena around 9:00 and started the 5-hour drive down to Buenavista. That drive was fun but very humbling. Outside of Santa Elena it looks like a wasteland. It didn’t help that it was cloudy (almost the whole trip, August is the coldest month of the year there). The closer we got to Buenavista the prettier it got. The landscape got greener, the clouds even started to clear up.

The humbling part of that drive was seeing all the buildings. I don’t know enough about the history of the country to tell what was going on, but I kept seeing these buildings completely built in cement but they were just abandoned and boarded up. Occasionally I’d see one that had clothes hanging out, but there were dozens of abandoned buildings just within sight of the road.

And then the little roadside towns, the best way to describe them is it looks like the country is just recovering from a massive war. Lots of people, lots of stray animals, lots of half built buildings. Everything is painted in bright pastels, but the paint is chipped and worn. We stopped in one of these towns to have lunch. I had the same thing I had the night before, carne asada with rice and beans. I got made fun of for that. The meal for 5 people cost $13. A note on eating out, as much sense as it makes now, before heading over there I didn’t consider whither or not they would have free refills. It’s obvious that they don’t, but what you can do is get a “Coke Grande”, 1.5 liters of coke, and everywhere has them, but almost no one has diet coke.

Back onto the road, I start to notice that all you can see are bananas. For a good two hours 90% of the scenery was just one giant banana plantation. It’s interesting to see how they plant them, they plant the trees in rows, but then dig a 3 or 4-foot deep irrigation trench around each row, and they have wooden planks to link the high ground. This is something you notice staring at bananas for two hours.  Also, every single batch of bananas was wrapped in plastic bags. Actually it turned out that the place I was staying that night was sandwiched between two Dole plantations. But that’s getting ahead of myself.

So, we ended up driving to Machala, the capital city for the “El Oro” region that we were going to. Machala is cool. The city looks like the roadside towns I described before, but it also has big buildings and parks and plazas. It’s really a nice city. Of course the first thing I went to see was the hospital. My girlfriend’s uncle had a tumor removed and he was still in the hospital. The visiting hours were from 2-3, and we got there at 2:50. We met all of her other uncles there too and they rushed us through this courtyard full of people up to a metal gate with a security guy standing there not letting anyone in. Our group talked him into letting two people in, Vincente, the uncle who drove from Santa Elena, and my girlfriend’s mom since she is visiting from America. After that we went and sat down near the hospital and waited for people to come down, and I got introduced to everyone there, the uncles, the cousins, the grandma, the friends, everyone.

After everyone finally got kicked out I was given a tour of the town, and that turned into the family wanting to show me the port where all the bananas from that region get shipped, and that turned into an outing where we took a boat to some touristy island (I can’t remember the name of it). The boat trip to the island was pretty, it felt like a jungle cruise (corny I know), but the coolest thing was the jumping fish. These things jumped 3 or 4 feet out of the water to catch bugs. I tried, in vain, to catch a picture of one of these guys but they started too late in the day to get a good picture. The island was pretty cool, most of the vendors were closed or closing but it was pretty to watch the sun set on the island.

After we got back to the mainland we went to an Ecuadorian mall. It looked exactly the same as a mall here with three notable differences.
1.) MUCH more security. You get a ticket when you enter the mall, and you can’t leave with out it (to prevent people stealing cars). In the parking lot there are watch towers with security watching the parking lots. And the mall security here packs sub machine guns.

2.) The mall is centered around one MAJOR Wal-martesque store. Hyper mart is what it’s called I believe. There you can get just about the same things you can get here, even diet soda.

3.) The prices are stupid inflated, $1,000 for a 30” flat screen TV, $100 for a watch, $80 for Quicksilver sandals, 20 for boxers; all this in a country where $20 can feed a family of four for a month. I mean, I wouldn’t even pay that much for stuff and I have a much bigger budget than they do down there.

The food in the mall is still pretty cheap, $1.50 for a hamburger with egg on it, add $.20 and you get fries and a drink. It was my girlfriend’s cousin’s birthday, so I bought him an ice cream.

After shopping and exploring the mall we drove to grandma’s house were I finally got to go to bed. Under a mosquito net this time.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Ecuador: Saturday the first travel day.

I decided to break the trip down into three or four sections, the trip before Quito, Quito, and then the rest of the trip. If they go too long I’ll add another post of my thoughts on the trip, Ecuador, and anything else I can think of.

(EDIT: I’m breaking them up into various days, I think there will end up being 5 or six posts as this one is at 900+ words.)

I knew most of what to expect. My girlfriend, who I was going with, explained a lot of things to me. Third world country, I’d be staying with her family that lives down there, don’t drink the water, and be careful. It hardly prepared me for the trip but it was enough. So, here’s what happened for the most part.

Saturday: Saturday was the big, long, travel day. Up at 4:30, we were out and at the airport by 6. We accidentally left a bag in the car; it was full of ‘merchandise’. I wasn’t entirely sure what this meant until he end of the trip, but our drivers didn’t have a cell phone so there was nothing we could do. Cue nearly 4-hour flight to Miami.

In Miami we get in and look around for food, right out side of our terminal some group was doing salsa dancing (or I think that’s what it was) and that was pretty entertaining to watch. We decided to eat at a Cuban café, and my girlfriend told me that this is what I’d be eating the next week. I had “Vaca Frita” which was very tasty. Our layover was about 3 hours and we spent the rest of the time wandering around and getting last minute things. On Friday we were going to a wedding so we got some booze for it at the duty free shop because there’s a heavy tax on alcohol down there. We got on the plane and then there was another 4-hour flight to Guayaquil.

By now it’s 8:00ish at night and there’s a 2 hour drive ahead of us. To get out of the airport you need to go through their customs, this is part of why I got to come along with, they could take an extra bag of stuff and split up the merchandise a bit more. If the customs people suspect you’re bringing lots of stuff in, they charge you an arm and a leg for the stuff. We got through all right, met one of her uncles in the lobby and her uncle Vincente, the driver, was waiting outside in the truck. Quick hellos and piling the stuff in the back we began one of the most terrifying experiences ever. Driving in Ecuador at night.

Dear lord, I will never forget that drive. First of all, there were…8 of us in the truck. It was made for 5 so there was just a lot of squishing together and little kids sitting on laps. Now, form what I gathered the rules of the road that we learn up here are more of just general guidelines down there. Even stoplights weren’t always stopped at. Driving in the middle of the road, passing on double yellows, turning a 2-lane road into a 3-lane road. All going twice the speed limit. Vincente is also an expert at avoiding head-on collisions that have me pressing my feet into the imaginary break. We dropped the other uncle and his family off, leaving 5 people in the car then headed to Santa Elena. Out of Guayaquil the driving got a little better. The whole ride there was spent being harassed by Vincente’s youngest Marie-Vilene. She’s 9, the best way to describe her is that she’s a monkey. She crawled all over everyone, from the back to the front to the back again.
I have to comment on the busses here. There are a LOT of busses in Ecuador, and they drive just as crazy as the rest of the cars. There are so many busses because cars are expensive in Ecuador (new ones especially, they pay heavy import taxes), so most people just get around by bus. The busses are dangerous though, there are armed robberies on the busses, and lots of pick pockets. BUT, the busses loot so cool there, imagine all sorts of decals, neon and LED lights, blinking and flashing. I even saw one with that under glow thing. I couldn’t get any good pictures of them though.

We got to Santa Elena in one peace, around 10, and then we took the family into that same truck (the five of us in the car plus another 3), and then went to dinner. I was worried about picking something that might make me sick (not that it helped, I was/still am sick since Tuesday) so I went with Carne Asada, a thin steak with rice and beans and Yuca. Yuca is like a potato but with less flavor. The dinner was good, so we started heading home to sleep because it was 11 and we’d been up since 4. Or that’s what I thought, we ended up going to the beach and I’m still not certain as to why. After half an hour there we headed home, stopping by a club to pick up the middle child in the family, then we went home. Finally sleep. I passed out but not before being harassed by mosquitoes, I vividly remember one going up my nose. I woke up with a blanket over my head.


Ok, I plan on writing a longer write up of what happened, it'll probably take a post or two but I figure you all want to see pictures right? So, here we go, these pictures are just about everything I took down there.


Saturday, August 28, 2010

5 Things I Learned About Personal Finance From Playing Video Games

So, I’ve been playing video games for pretty much the last 18 years. I’ve played just about every type of game there is. Over the years I’ve noticed that some games have their own mini economies. Now most of them are very loosely related to real life economy so they aren't too reliable, but I think that some of the lessons I’ve learned can be applied to real life.

5.) You Get What You Put Into It. In my years of playing WoW I’ve never really had money problems. My brother on the other hand is always suffering for gold. Why? Well he sits around all day doing raids and battlegrounds, nothing more, where as I go around and do daily quests, mining when I’m waiting for a raid to start, and I work the auction house regularly.

What this translates into isn’t just “The more you work the more you get”, but it also has to deal with how you work. When I would go mining I had a set path, and I had a set path to do my dailies. It was the most efficient way to do things. And when I was waiting to do something else, I was still going around mining, getting more stuff to sell.

Which brings me to #4…

4.) Don’t Get Too Greedy. In WoW, if you sell things on the Auction House too high, it wont sell and you lose your deposit. In any RTS, if you try to expand your resources too quickly with out enough defenses, you’re subject to getting attacked with out a way to defend.

Basically, you have to know your limits. This doesn’t mean never take a chance, or to always play things safe, however it does mean don’t go gamble your home in a game of craps. Or, in a more practical sense, it’s ok to take risks, but be prepared to deal with the consequences. Both the good and bad.

3.) Keep Something in Reserve. In WoW, you never ever want to be broke. It’s not that getting money isn’t easy (sometimes I wish it was as easy to make money in real life), but you never know when you might need more than you have. This doesn’t work so well in RTS games as money sitting around is a waste in the early game and building units takes time.

This rule is why I have my “Oh S***” account. This way, if I find out I am suddenly in need of money I have it.

2.) Get a Goal, and Stick With It. It doesn’t mater if it’s a Viking rush or saving up for that tundra’s traveler’s mammoth, having a goal will make you more efficient in what you spend and what you save. No reason to spend a lot on of your resources on buildings and upgrades you don’t need.

However, you can’t just say, “I want to look better next year.” A better goal is more specific, more direct and therefore easier to attain. “I will to lose 30 pounds and be in better shape the end of 2011.” An even better goal is still more detailed. Get into how you are going to achieve you goal. “I will research various weight loss and strength training programs, compare them together to see which fit best with the amount of time and money I can invest into this. Then once I have a set plan and know what and how I will lose weight and gain muscle, I will follow my plan for more than just a month.”

1.) Two Cash Flows are Better Than One. In WoW I do dailies, but while doing them I mine ore, I queue for instances, and I have auctions going while I’m working. In RTS games, expand your base when you can. Limiting yourself to one stream of income is a bad idea.

So in real life, don’t just rely on your job. Having more than one source of income is the best way to do things, preferably if one of them can be passive income. The best way to make money is making money even when you’re sleeping.

Yes, this last one sounds like it contradicts the first one, but if you put effort into your passive income it’s still putting effort into your income.

(NOTE: I'm an English Major. I only know what I've learned from my parents and various financial blogs, which is not enough. Please take this information with a grain of salt.)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Brief Job Hunting History Part 2

So, last time we ended at the beginning of July.

July rolls around and I still have nothing. Well not true, I have an interview about an hour away, I have heard back from one of the marketing internships saying they’ll contact for interviews after the 4th (by after the 4th they meant two weeks after, but hey they’re who I got an internship from), and another place had secluded a phone interview.

The interview I was excited for, finally a chance to bust out my suit and meet people in person. The position was a paid internship (the holy grail of internships, this gig was $15 an hour) doing marketing work for an oil and gas company. They made these things called plunger lifts that more or less revolutionized oil and gas wells. Any way after several days of researching them I was prepared to make a good impression proving I was knowledgeable about the company and that I would be a good worker. The good news is, out of 70+ some odd applications they did 10 phone interviews (mine was while I was driving down in Denver with the girlfriend hehe), and out of those 10 they only did 4 interviews. But since you know that my internship is unpaid you know that I didn’t land this one. But hey top 4, that’s like an honorable mention!

So, move forward a few weeks with me sending out more resumes and I get an interview for my current internship. I had sent out an application at the end of May, I couldn’t even remember what I had applied for. It turns out the internship is a perfect fit. They want me to work on their social media (I.E. make a blog (gee another reason for doing this blog (and oh no the parentheses of doom!)), twitter, facebook, ect.), I’d do some writing, copy, creative and technical, and some design work. Fantastic right? At first I though I didn’t get the position. At the end of the interview they said that they were really looking for a student (AHHH why didn’t I think of looking for cool internships my super senior year?!), but that they would keep me in mind. Two weeks later I hadn’t heard from them so I decide to call and ask how things are going. My new boss said that she was just going to call me and schedule a start date. Yay! I landed an unpaid internship almost right out of college! Haha, well I figure it’s a step in the right direction. I start the day I get back from this Ecuador trip.

See you all on the 30th

Monday, August 23, 2010

A Brief Job Hunting History Part 1

Ok, so I'm in Ecuador! YAY! But Gee Alex, how are you posting in third world country conditions? Simple, pre-written posts :)

I will not be here to comment or anything until around the 30th, so please, fill my inbox with comments in the meantime.

Now where to begin. I first started looking at jobs and potential jobs back in November of 09. I had fancies of being an FBI agent or working for the government. Or for writing novels. Or for working as a graphic designer. I went to several career fairs, made a pretty impressive resume for having no real work experience outside of "Cook" and "Barista" (Those are actually on my resume). So, around February I started applying. My first application was to some tech company that waS looking for a desktop publisher based out in Arizona. I got a lovely 'Thanks, but no thanks' e-mail from them pretty much right away. No big deal, I knew that in this economy the chances of me getting a job right away were slim to none.

So I considered internships as a possibility to pad my resume while still looking for that elusive 'Big Boy Job'. I applied to about 10 companies for internships in May and June. Three were for design, five for random marketing, and the other two for writing positions. I got call backs for the two writing positions but no interview.

Fast forward to the beginning of July and there's me, still working my crappy part-time job, and working more or less full time scouring the Interwebs, the local paper, and the school's Job Board for any job that I could possibly fill. I think I must have sent out close to fifty resumes and cover letters and writing samples. The resumes, most of which were tailored to the company to fit it's specific needs, and the cover letters all were. After a while similar companies start to get the resume I already had fixed for another company but with the names replaced. I think I only ever sent out three resumes to a company that was just my stock and standard resume.

I stayed level headed the whole time. I knew from the get go this would be work. But after several months of nothing, and with the school job board slowing to a grueling pace of very few to no new job postings, things began to look bad. I remember being up until the wee hours of the morning searching Monster, or looking through wikipedia for the top job providers in the state/local cities for places that I could just send a resume to.

It wasn't until mid July that I heard back from one of the random marketing internships that wanted to do an interview. But that's a case for Part 2.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Leaving For a Bit

Hey Dudes,

I am leaving for Ecuador! I'll be gone from the 21st - the 28th. I have a few posts set to go off while I'm gone. I'll post pictures when I get back.

I'll see you all in a few days.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Can Money Buy Happiness?

One of the personal finance blogs I read recently posted this article about how money can buy happiness.

I think it can and it doesn't at the same time.

First, please note that I’m defining money as lots of it. In this day in age the average person cannot (reasonably) get by with out money. So to make a distinction I am referring to money here as copious amounts of it. I.E. getting by on minimum wage vs. making six figures.

Money is potential, a means. You can get things you want with it, but you can get those things with out it as well. Do you need lots of money to go on a vacation? No, I have a friend right now who’s backpacking across the states. Does money help? Yes. Absolutely. Money is like cheat codes in video games. The more you have the easier it gets.

Roth states that in some recent research there are a few ways to get more happiness from your buck.

Spending money on experiences brings you more lasting happiness than spending money on Stuff. For example, a vacation will make your life better, over time, than a new couch.
It’s okay to think small. Spending on several small treats — like a massage, a good book, or dinner at your favorite restaurant — will bring you more happiness than one big-ticket item like a sports car.
Leisure activities like games, sports, hobbies, and entertainment have more happiness value than material goods.

Spending money on experiences. Until we have the technology to upload the perfect experience into your head like a memory, there is no way that money can buy an experience. Money cannot buy an experience. It can point you in the right direction though. Money can give you better chances to having good happy experiences, but ultimately the experience is up to you.

I remember going to Europe with my family a few years ago. We spent 6 weeks there (a month in England, a week in France, a week in Belgium). Back then my dad was there on business for the month and had to go to Belgium for something so my parents decided to take my brother and me with. I had great experiences the whole time, except for in Belgium. I don’t remember Belgium because I was so burnt out form the rest of the trip that I put no effort into it. Granted I was in high school, but still in England and France we did all sorts of things and I have very fond memories of it. I didn’t have a bad time in Belgium by any means; the interesting thing with experiences is that even bad ones can turn into good ones later via. telling travel horror stories to friends. But that last week is just a blank.

Spending on small treats is ok, but again you don’t need money to do that. In college, my GF and I had to budget what we were going to do because she has a very limited spending amount (a grand total of $20 a month on fun things, but sometimes that got eaten up in groceries). So we found ways around it. We hardly ever ate out; instead we set aside one day a week to cook something for each other. What we could make depended on what we had on hand most of the time. Another thing did was just go for walks.

This isn’t to say that money cannot buy happiness in the traditional sense.  I recently bought a new TV, upgrading from a 20” to a 32” flat screen (I bought it on the cheap for $300).  Did it make me happy?  Yes, the way my apartment is set up with my 20” TV I had a hard time seeing the screen, much less read subtitles or play video games.  So yes, buying the new TV made me happy, but I didn’t need to drop a grand to do it.

Roth ends his article with saying that what really makes people happy is connection, and I agree with this, but again, it doesn’t involve money.  Ultimately it is our memories that make us happy.  Some expenses facilitate those memories but others have no effect on them.  Really what I think you need to do is hone in on what purchases facilitate those happy memories and dispose of the ones that do nothing.  You can’t do this completely and utterly, I still have to pay my bills, but I don’t need to go out and buy that latte which doesn’t do anything for me (unless I’m going with my friends).  

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

John Scalzi - The Dollar Value of Nerd Love (Here's Looking at You, Scott Pilgrim): My take on Scott Pilgrim

John Scalzi - The Dollar Value of Nerd Love (Here's Looking at You, Scott Pilgrim)

John Sclazi is pretty much my favorite living author. He writes Sci-Fi books (even his fantasy book has sci-fi in it). He’s smart. He has a pretty open community with his fans. And, he writes a film column for AMC every Thursday.

This Thursday (well it’s Wednesday but his things normally go up on Thursdays) he’s talking about that hipster film Scott Pilgrim vs The World. The poor thing barely did 10 million this weekend. Sclazi points to nerd love as the cause.

Why? Well because really only the nerds were interested in it, and really only hipsters and nerds liked it. I went and saw the movie, on opening night, with the GF; the place was full of high school kids. I saw one little kid, and a few adults but the majority of the crowd was 6th-12th grade. And then there was the movie. So, here's my quick review.

Personally, I enjoyed it. The GF on the other hand thought the movie was a waste of time and was glad I had paid for it. Oops. Well here’s why: the villains kinda sucked, the entire cast was one dimensional, and we’re both sick and tired of watching Michael Cera awkward his way through a movie.

*Note* Spoilers ahead!

In a 112-minute movie, seven villains with and additional five minor supporting characters are too much. The first two villain fights were all right, though the first villain was lame and Scott’s defeat of the second was smart but also lame. The third fight wasn’t a fight but Scott getting pwned and then some how winning. The fourth villian’s fight was all right but Scott pulled the “I can’t hit a girl” card and I don’t remember it after the girls quit fighting. The fifth and sixth fight was combined into one. The fight was AWESOME, but combining them together felt like it was cheating to me, move them up to third and fourth on the list and then move the other two back, and give all of the villains on the list a back-story not just one, two, and three (well seven got one but it wasn’t treated the same). The fights needed to get more and more epic. Instead they got more epic, then faltered before the final fight.

And then there are the minor support characters; you’ve got the ex, the ‘talent’ the mini-Cera, the 17 year old, the gay roommate, and the sister. The gay roommate was fantastic, couldn’t have been done better. The sister could have used back-story but she was all right. The 17 year old was ok, she went a little crazy and I’m not sure it was called for…but then again she’s a 17-year-old girl, I don’t think many people actually understand them. Then you have all the band members (the ex, the talent, and the mini-cera). Ugh. First of all, for his closest friends, they all act exactly the same. They all speak in monotone, they all seem generally uninterested, and they all have little to no back-story. Mini-Cera (aka Young Neil) just sort of hangs around the band and is used as a Dues Ex Mechia a few times for the band, Pilgrim, and Knives. The ex (Kim) we should get more of a back-story to but we don’t (especially considering how the whole movie revolves around ex’s). And the talent’s just there, we have no reason to care about him.

The effects were great visually this movie is stunning. STUNNING! I loved seeing the comic book “Ka-Pow!” after hits and punches. The soundtrack was very hipster, but it fit the mood, not a lot of new up coming music is heavy, and to change the music too much would have ruined the atmosphere. I enjoyed the video game references. All that bad stuff I pointed out earlier is really why I think the movie just will not work for other audiences.

If you think you’re a geek. nerd, hipster, dork, gamer, emo, scene, or any combination of the above. Or if you know someone who fits any of the above categories, go see this movie. You’ll enjoy it and hopefully we can get some more money for this film that cost 60 million to make. It’ll be a shame to see this movie just die, I’d like to see it attempted again but maybe with better villains and no Michael Cera.

On Becoming (or Not Becoming) Rich

There are more important things than money.

No, there are lots more important things than money. And a lot of those things don’t require money. But a lot more things that make life more enjoyable do require money. I don’t want to make seven figures or live in a penthouse by the time I’m thirty. I’m cool with making the average (or less than) 50,000 a year, if I can I’d strive for more but I wont sacrifice an enjoyable job for it.

I don’t think I could stand working some thankless job in a cubicle, or worse still working in food service (some people like it, I hate it).

“What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?"

I believe that to a certain extent it doesn’t mater what you make but that you enjoy doing it. But here’s the thing; where as I could teach high school, I wouldn’t want to do it in an inner city. Not because I’m racist or greedy or conceited, but because I’m not cut out for it. I had a teacher once who taught at a juvenile detention center. He told me how he had kids throw desks at him, attempted knifings and such, but he loved it. Sure teaching in the inner city is a lot different than in juvy, but some of the stories I’ve hears from friends tell me I still wouldn’t like it. I want to work with kids who want to learn (which means college, or high school if I’m a great teacher.)

But even then I don’t think I’m destined to teach. I’m probably more cut out for advertising or marketing. I like copywriting/editing and design and putting things together. I’ve always been prone to making things. The only problem with making things is, unless you get lucky you don’t make a lot of money making things unless the thing you make is money. This is part of the reason art is dying; it just doesn’t pay to create.

I was brought up under the influence that knowledge is power. And that influence isn’t just some trick my parents played on me to get me to read. It is, in a sense, true. If I know that my home lies in a 10 year flood plain, I know that insuring my home against a flood is a great idea. Thusly in this day and age that revolves around money we can expand that phrase to “knowledge is money.”

The knowledge I gained from my English major is invaluable to what I want to do. I like reading books, but I don’t just read for fun. I don’t have the power of dropping the “H-Bomb” when I mention my school, but I know that CSU is a decent school. I can be asked what I’m currently reading and respond something like, “H.P. Lovecraft, he’s one of the best short story writers in the history of America, and this is what I like about him, but this is why he’s undervalued in the literary canon.” I can also be asked where I think the future of advertising is and say, “In a mix between the current trend and viral marketing.” And I can further explain what I mean giving examples and showing that I have more than just a passing knowledge with the subject. I learned how to do that with my English major.

However I’m not sure people outside of the fields I’m interested in value this knowledge, so my knowledge is only power (and money) to those who value that knowledge. And that’s frustrating.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Ground Zero Mosque Debate

The 'Ground Zero Mosque' Debate: Exaggerating the Jihadist Threat

Good grief! Why is this even an issue? Legally, the mosque has every right to be built (it’s not just a mosque, it’s also a daycare, pool, cooking school and a few other things). So what if terrorists who happened to be Islamic attacked the world trade centers? Go to any mosque in he US and ask if those terrorists practiced real Islam? The answer you’ll hear time and time again is, “No, they were radicals, they don’t share the same beliefs that we do.”

Really, this is only an issue because it’s Islam and we are afraid of it. It’s sad to say. Now, are there other religions that have extremists that actually operate inside the US? Gee I don’t know maybe Fred Phelps? We allow them to protest at soldier’s funerals! And their right to do this is protected. So why should Islam be any different?

In the end it doesn’t mater if you support it or are against it. As far as the law is concerned, it should get built. Period. If you disagree with it tough, I don’t like what Fred Phelps does, I don’t like the religious extremists who came to my school year after year and told me I’m going to hell because I went to college.

I for one hope it gets built.

Monday, August 16, 2010

To MFA or Not to MFA?

To get my masters or not to get my masters? That is the question.

See, here’s my dilemma. Right now I’m sitting here blogging after spending a lot of time looking for a job. I have some promising leads but nothing is guaranteed. So I’m sitting here wondering, should I go back to school like when the groundhog sees his shadow on groundhogs day. I’m worried my current unemployment may mean six more weeks of winter.

But is this a good idea? An MBA would be great, that would do nothing but help. But what do I gain with a MFA or a MA in English Lit or creative writing? I already have skills in analyzing various medias, and applying them to other medias. I can already write well. I don’t think a MFA or MA will really help me much. To quote a post from An English Major’s Money

“The average salary for full professors in general English lit fields clocks in at $73,673. For associate professors, that figure drops to $56,868, and for assistant professors, $47,405. We won't even talk about adjunct jobs, i.e., the job you do not want but might take anyway.”

Teaching English in a university setting would be awesome, something along the lines of a dream job. And you can always subsidize your income with other things. I know all of my teachers had books some were journalists as well. One teacher owned a high-class restaurant. I could blog and teach. That’d be fun.

But still, $70k for a tenured professor position is enough. It’s more than most people make. Even the assistant professor position is enough to live on. More than twice what I make now (which when you boil it down is a little more than $16 an hour, but it’s doing something you want to do…so that counts for something). But I’m selfish; I’d like to make more. If I teach at a top university, I could make low six figures, but those jobs are crazy hard to get into because well the jobs are static. There aren’t many new universities, and most of the universities that are around aren’t hiring more professors, much less English ones. (It could be worse, it could be an Art position >.<)

The idea of being a professor is awesome, and I’d really like to do it, but at the same time it’s not my dream job and I don’t know if I have the drive to get my MFA, my PhD and battle through people to get that professor position.

Some days I wish I had kept with Comp-Sci. Maybe I could be programming cool new videogames.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

What I've Got

I mentioned somewhere that I plan on using this blog to figure out my finances.

Basically in everything I’ve read I can expect to earn anywhere from 30k – 50k a year with my degree. Money isn’t a huge deal to me, but if at all possible I’d like to push that number up a bit. It’s not that I can’t be happy with 30 grand (or 50 for that matter), but I want kids, and a house, and to potentially take cool vacations, and to work on my hobbies: metalsmithing, pottery, writing (thankfully this doesn’t use up so much money as it does time). So here’s what I figure. My parents always said, “save 20% of everything you earn, ever” for retirement stuff. Yah 23 is a little early to think about retiring, but I figure you can never start too early. So 80% of any paycheck has to go to Rent (mortgage?), Utilities, Food, Fun, in that order. Well actually it’ll be more like 70% because I take out an extra 10% and put it in a “Oh S***” fund for when things break.

Also I am lucky enough to have no debt from college. My parents rock and paid for the whole thing. I mean it helps that I managed to get instate tuition, and Colorado has a cool Stipend for colleges, meaning each semester my tuition was roughly $1000 less. And I got a few scholarships along the way. But still, the parents rock for paying it all.

So, here’s what I’ve got now.

1.) Checking: I can’t really do much with this, it’s always in flux. Basically my rent and food is paid for, so whatever I make from my job goes to savings or fun or other stuff. This number pretty much stays the same.

2.) Savings: The GF and I are trying to save up for a big road trip. I’ve budgeted it with a very liberal estimate of needing $1,000 each. I’m currently at 700. This trip may not happen now though because of the Ecuador trip next week, but I’m saving anyway.

3.) Credit Cards: Christ these things scare me to death. I pay them off every chance I get. In fact the only reason I have them is to build up my credit so that when I do eventually buy a house or have to buy a car or something, I can get the loan for it. As of right now, since my parents are kind enough to pay for my rent and food, I use these to pay for all of my food and just pay off the whole balance every billing cycle.

The problem with this is once I am off of my parent’s bill; I need to drastically change what I use them for. For instance, I’ve been told never to use a credit card for something you wont have in a month (I.E. no food or gas). But 90% of my spending is on food and gas so that becomes a moot point.

4.) CD: My life savings. It’s at around 3 grand. I started off putting money into this account from work checks back when I was a cook, I’ve managed to put just about 20% from every paycheck since then. I think it’s probably been more, when I can I put my whole check into it but sometimes I can’t.

5.) “Oh S***” Account: S*** happens, this account is to cope with that. Since I currently don’t have too much stuff to worry about, this account sits with $300 in it. I figure between that and my credit cards I can cover any really nasty event enough so that I have sufficient padding.

6.) ING Retirement account: Yes, I’ve started my retirement account. I know, I know I’m 23, I don’t need this now. That’s the whole point of it. Basically I’m only putting $20 a month into it now and when I can afford to (I.E. when I get a Big Boy job) I’ll put more away. But I figure this $20 a month is like future money for nephews or grandkids. Basically, saving money will never hurt me so there is no reason not to do it, especially when I can still get at it if I really need to.

My current financial goal is to bring that 3k to 4k by the end of the year. At my current job that is a bit more than 20%, but I think it’s entirely possible. The hard part is doing that while also wrangling up the last 300 for my road trip. I’m sure I’ll manage though.

Friday, August 13, 2010

What Did You Do in College?

Glad you asked! I took the 5-year plan in college. For the English major. *sigh* This is one of those things were, if I could go back in time and slap my High School self straight I’d do it. Back then I was into programming, so I could have gone the whole comp sci route and actually have a marketable skill. Or I could have at least done a minor. My college Degrees looked like this:

Freshman Year: English Major
Sophomore Year: English Major, Geology Minor
Junior Year: English Major, Art Major
Senior Year: English Major, Art Major
Super Senior Year: English Major.

At least I came full circle? The reason for this is because at my school there is no Art Minor. I would have got one if there were one. The whole art department was organized ass backwards. For instance, in order to actually get into 95% of the art classes you had to be an art major (or minor but the art department didn’t offer a minor).

The reason for this is because there were already so many art majors they didn’t have room for other majors. I remember getting into my Metalsmithing class and watching an extra six people standing around looking for an override that they just couldn’t get. And the whole reason for me adding the art major was so that I could get two upper division elective credits to graduate. To be fair I could have graduated in the fall semester, but they were teaching how to cast in the spring and I was giddy about casting.

Things I would have done differently: Made better friends for rooming with. Seriously, I’ve had 7 or 8 roommates between my sophomore year and when I said “F*** that” my senior year and took an apartment by myself. I hate passive aggressive people, and no one would just tell me what I was doing that was bothering them. Roommates make life cheaper and less boring.

Picked some form of second major from the start. I mean really, I was interested in the same things I’m interested in now. In the same 5 years I could have graduated with two degrees that’s twice the marketability!

Taken MORE AP classes in high school. But then again I was a slacker. Though a lot of that I can attribute to no being challenged enough, but still I think my high school AP English classes were harder than some of my 400 level college courses.

Now, really, I doubt I’d change a thing. I met my girlfriend taking the beginning drawing class my junior year, if I had made all of those changes I wouldn’t have met her and that would just be a shame, she’d a cutie and I love her to death. And I learned a lot about the need for planning out a future, not just having a rough idea and winging it. That’s part of the reason for this blog; to figure out more than just a rough idea of where my life is headed.
Testing mobile posting

EDIT: Why? Because now if I want to, I CAN post via text message.

First Post

So, a little background is in order.

I am a proud owner of an English Degree concentrating in Creative Writing. I graduated from a Colorado State University this past May, and have since been searching for something. Anything. I'm living off my parents money and will be starting an (unpaid) internship the 30th of August with nothing but my old, crappy, part time job to attempt to build up some revenue stream for when my parents decide paying for my rent and food is a waste and I should move home. (Note: home is far away, and they are moving somewhere else sometime in the next 3-9 months so moving home is not the best of ideas)

I'm not sure what I intend to write in this blog. Part of it is to get me writing again, being a creative writer and not writing is like being a body builder and sitting on the couch all day. Not very conducive to keeping up with mad skills. Another part is to chronicle my struggle to find an actual 'Big Boy' job. Other parts are to figure out finances, my relationships, and well my life.

And here lies my Insomnia. I haven't been diagnosed or anything, it's just my sleeping schedule goes FUBAR whenever I don't have something to regulate it. I.E. School. I remember vividly one winter break it got so bad I was sleeping from 8 AM - 4 PM and stuck being awake all night. It's not like I try to stay up late. But with my current job I don't get home until 11 at the earliest, and on weekends/bad nights 2 AM is not unusual. And then I get stuck in bed THINKING for eons and eons and look at the clock and see it's been 10 minutes and I curse my brain for keeping me up. Hopefully my internship will fix this problem

So, welcome to my first post. I'm hoping to post just about every day that I physically can.