05 December 2008

Correct English Grammar

It absolutely pains me to hear or read someone giving a well researched presentation of facts make a blunder with grammar. I'm usually listening or reading intently and then BOOM "your's".

"That's not a word," I think, "that's a silly mistake for someone to make that's making an educated argument. How much can I believe anything this person says if I can prove that s/he doesn't know how to use the language?"

Now I don't care what they're saying. I'll try to read the rest of the article or listen to the presentation, but it will happen again and will grate on me. It's all I can think about for at least 5 seconds afterwards and now I've lost the thread of the story. I've gotta go back and reread if it's an article, or just try to pick back up if it's public speaking.

I'm going to post some common mistakes here, just hoping that someone will read it and improve their grammar. Correct spelling and grammar will never hurt you in a professional situation.

1) it's: This means "it is" not "its" which is the possessive of "it."

2) your: This is the possessive of "you." This is not the same as the contraction of "you" and "are," "you're."

3) an: This is a different word from "and." This made reading a bit of history about the "Baghdad Battery" nearly impossible to read.

4) apostrophes: These don't allow you to make a plural. Generally the letter "s" does this for you, all by itself. If you're not sure, look it up!

5) quotation marks: These don't add emphasis. They are used to say that something is not necessarily genuinely as it seems.

6) exclamation points: These do all the emphasizing they need to with just one. Adding more doesn't change anything, but it makes you look like either a dolt or a hyperactive child.

7) question marks: Only one of these is needed to get the job done. When you have three, does it mean you're trying to ask the question three times? That doesn't make sense.

8) ellipses/... : These are formed by putting three periods in a row. Not four, nor two, nor as many will get you all the way across the screen.

I know I'm missing something here. Have anything to add to this list?

21 November 2008

Some things are really messed up

For example, the Safe Haven Law in Nebraska.

Back in July, the law was put into effect, saying that you can drop off a child to any hospital within the state's borders and as long as you haven't been beating them, you're free and clear. This isn't a bad thing, really. The only problem with it was that unlike every other state, Nebraska didn't include an age limit on the kid. Every other state that has a Safe Haven or Baby Moses law limits the age of the child to between 3 days and 1 year. I agree, somewhere in there, you've realized you can't do this. It's not going to work. What are you going to do? Give the kid up for adoption, without all the hassle of giving the kid up for adoption.

Things were going fine, no babies were even showing up. People wanted to keep their kids. Hooray!

Then September came, and two people dropped off a kid on the same day. One was like 5, and the other like 16.


"Behavior problems."

I hate people.

Then came another two months in which another 30 something kids were dropped off. At first, they'd all been from Nebraska. Then, someone realized the law didn't require that the kids didn't have to reside in Nebraska.

"Woohoo! KIDS! We're going to Nebraska!"

I really hate people.

What really cheesed me off was the fact that people were angry about the law and not the activities of the people dropping off their kids. They called the legislators lazy and irresponsible. They're just trying to help out some babies and kids who really need help. It's the lazy and irresponsible PARENTS who should be ostracized here.

I hate people so much.

Then there's this. A basic summary: Someone from Iowa is protesting Nebraska because they passed any version of the Safe Haven law. This is coming from someone whose state allows gambling. You don't have the high moral ground here, so shut it. They then go into the price tag associated with opening up a special session to get the legislators to come back and revise the law, aka put in an age limit. (Just so you know, they did - 30 days. That's pretty much smack-dab in the middle of the logarithmic scale of similar laws.) But my favorite line in the whole article is regarding the cost to the person dropping off something else:

The penalty for abandoning an animal in city limits is $200 plus any cost incurred by the Humane Society to take care of it.

Classy argument there, WOWT.

20 November 2008

Pushup Challenge - Closure

I successfully completed the 100 pushup challenge. It took 7 weeks total, but I did it. When I did, it was pretty easy into the 80s, and then I really started to feel it. It was probably more of an anaerobic burst of strength that did it, but I did it anyway. Since then, I haven't continued doing 50 two times a day as I had originally planned, but now do more like 20 whenever I want to. At least now I can drop and give 20 whenever I want instead of falling apart at the 6 pushup point.

I mostly stopped posting because it had become not fun because it felt more like a chore, especially while my arms hurt or were just exhausted when I was doing it. Plus, one of my friends made fun of me for having a blog entirely about pushups...

It's not, I swear!

21 July 2008

Pushup Challenge! - Week 4, Beginning Again

Another great point about doing pushups is that they can be done just about anywhere, including my cubicle at work. Per the Pushup Program, I did 111 pushups total.

I've been trying to compress the amount of time between sets because eventually I'm going to have to do 100 contiguously. I had been pumping them out, and then taking the program's word for it when they said that you could take longer if necessary. Well, now I've realized the importance of shortening the time between sets. Looking ahead, in Week 6, I'm to do less pushups in a set, but more sets, and with significantly less time between them. Aieeee!

I've been thinking about how I'm going to try to keep up with these pushups after I've done 100 consecutively and the program is complete. I'll probably not do 100 straight every day, but instead do more like 2 sets of 50 each day, just to keep the arms in good condition. This will probably be more than I have been doing because the program only calls for a workout 3x per week, but I'll be doing them each day. Again, this is possible because they're pushups! I can do them almost anywhere! Yay!

18 July 2008

Pushup Challenge! - End of Week 3

That's another 124 into the record books. I even did an extra 3 on the last set, going until I couldn't go any more. I'm feeling good, but I'm amped to go into this weekend for a few days off.

I actually did my pushups over at my girlfriend's apartment while she was playing a computer game, so it's a great activity to keep me busy while she's doing something else. Yay!

16 July 2008

Pushup Challenge! - Week 3, Forgotten Sets

I did my 105 pushups today, but I didn't do them in the set number prescribed by Week 3, Tier 3, Day 2 of the pushup challenge. I had looked at the website earlier in the day, but didn't have it available when I did the pushups. I had remembered that there were 105 total, and that it started with 27 and ended with at least 25. So I did 27, 19, 17, 17, 25. The program called for 27, 19, 19, 15, 25. So I moved a few around and made it slightly easier for myself, which is about the mildest level of chump-tastic-ness I can perform. I don't think I changed it that much, but I hope it doesn't come back to bite me on Friday this week.

Again, totally feeling great, and my biceps and triceps are actually showing now, so I'm pretty happy.

14 July 2008

Pushup Challenge! - On to Week 3

I just pulled off 99 pushups inside of a half hour. Granted, these weren't all consecutive, but they were as prescribed by the third tier of the first day of week 3 of the pushup program. I'm really glad I can do this many, I've been feeling better, and I'm liking the way I look better.

For some reason, I'm significantly more thirsty now, so I've been drinking more soda. Then I realized that was just counterproductive. Thus, I have switched to having a liter of water and some aspirin for my morning wake-up cup. I'm still having a soda each afternoon, but it's been a goal of mine for a long time to really kick this need for it.

I quit drinking soda for a while in high school, then went back. In college I switched to diet, which kept me, as well as my roommates, from drinking my soda. Eventually, I relapsed. I keep thinking that it can't be that bad for me, but if that's true, why can't I give it up for a period longer than 6 months?

Pushup Challenge! - Do-over Test for Week 3

Oh yes! Eat that! 30 pushups! A week ago, I could only do 15, and 2 weeks previous to that, I could only do 6. I am now officially cleared to make it to Week 3 of the pushup challenge program. I'm even going to be in the highest tier!

I'm a little worried though. The ramp up is going to get up to 99 total. That's 30 more than I did on Friday. That's a bit crazy. We'll see how this goes this time, and if I just can't do it, I'm going to just shift down a tier, and stay with the same week. I'm going to push myself, but I don't want to hurt my shoulders or anything.

I've told my co-workers about the challenge, and a few want to join up. I think we're going to do an office challenge and see if everyone can get to 100 pushups by the end of August. I hope that comes true! There's a team building exercise if I've ever heard of one. Think we could do our pushups on-hours?

11 July 2008

Pushup Challenge! - Do-over End of Week 2

This time, the increase in pushups wasn't so steep, only increasing by 4 total, but evened out the pace. Therefor, I did a grand total of 69. This is way more than I could have hoped to do inside of a day, just 3 weeks ago. We'll see if the test says this little do-over was worthwhile on Sunday.

09 July 2008

Pushup Challenge! - Do-over of week 2, mid-week

It was tough, but I completed a total of 65 pushups today. This is a huge increase from Monday, where I only had to do a total of 50. I have no idea why the program ramps up so steep for this transition.
I really had to rest between sets, and after the last set of "Do the max, but minimum 15" (I did 15, shaking through the last 2), I collapsed to the floor, and then said to myself, "Ok Self, turn over onto your back." Then I tried to roll over, and my arm was in the way, and Self said, "Yeah, f$*% that. I'll roll over when I'm good and ready." So I laid there, breathing through the carpet, realizing that I should really do some more vacuuming around here...

07 July 2008

Pushup Challenge! - Do-over of week 2, day 1

At the end of what became an 11-hour work day, followed by an hour of trying to return one video game for credit to buy another at the web-advertised price, I finally get home. As I'm tearing out of my fancy-pants work clothes, I whine, "Aaaaand I still have to do my pushups!" My apartment isn't cold enough to cool me down after running around for awhile outside and up the stairs to my door. I try to keep costs low by keeping the A/C at 78F, but with no breeze though the windows, and being used to 73 all day at the office and everywhere else, it's hard to find that satisfying.

Anyway, I did the highest tier of the first day of the second week of the pushup program today. That's 12 pushups, rest 60 seconds, do 12, rest 60, do 9, rest 60, do 7, rest 60, and until I collapse, being at least 10 pushups. For each of those rests, the chart says that you should rest at least that long, and longer if needed. I had to take a half hour between the 4th set and the max-out set, and I still shook on the 10th pushup, almost falling on my face immediately after completion.

That's a grand total of 50 for today though, so again, something to be proud of, and I can already see the payoff when I look in the mirror. I'm starting to look like I have muscles when I'm not even flexing, my shirts are becoming tight around the upper arm and across the shoulders. After only two weeks? I'm kind of worried I might have to buy new clothes before I even reach 100 straight pushups.

Countdown to Retirement

So there are some depressing things in the world out there, but this beats it all for me while I'm working a 10-hour-day today.

Waaaaaa! I want to retire now! How can I really expect to live that long?

Maybe instead of a countdown to retirement via days, I should figure out the amount of cash-ola I'm going to need to retire securely, and then update that counter on the front page. Thoughts?

05 July 2008

Pushup Challenge! - Test for Week 3

So today, I did as many pushups as I possibly could without taking a break. Sadly, it was only 15, which means I don't qualify to make it to the third week of the pushup program. While I'm sad about that, I am very happy to say I can do 15 pushups straight, when only two weeks ago I collapsed after 6.

I will be now taking on the program's second week, but in the highest tier.

I'm also happy to report that my girlfriend is now impressed when I flex, instead of laughing at how silly I'm being.

04 July 2008

Pushup Challenge! - End of Week 2

Today, the pushup program required me to do 10 pushups, breathe for 120 seconds, do 10 more pushups, breathe again, 8 more, breathing, 8 pushups, breathe, and finally, as many as a could, as long as it was 10 or more. I was able to do 11 for my final set. This gave me 47 total pushups for today! That's nothing to sniffle at, if you ask me.

Later on, before going out to watch the fireworks with some friends (who are also going to do the pushup challenge), I showed them my form by doing 6 more pushups which they said weren't as terrible as the girlfriend claimed it was. Note that she hasn't done any pushups in my presence, so she might do them with her feet up on a wall, basically doing vertical pushups.

Tomorrow I test to see if I'm ready to go on to week 3. We'll see how that goes.

02 July 2008

Pushup Challenge! - Past the Illness

Ok, so my stomach doesn't hurt anymore, and I've regained a bit of appetite. On to the pushups!

The Pushup Program called for 44 pushups today, so I pulled off 44. The last one nearly made my arms fall off. My torso wanted to just snap the arms off and take me to the floor. Just because I didn't let them doesn't mean I'm not hurting. They're resting on my knees as I type this anyway, and my fingers are messing up enough that I'm retyping every third word. We'll see how the aches go after this.

Ok, so I just sneezed, and I normally do so into my shoulder. Clean hands and all, ya know? Well I turned my head and sneezed, signaling for the arm to raise to catch the expectorant. Instead, the arm lifted about an inch and then fell off my knee and onto the floor, pretty much failing to do any good. That's how tired these arms are right now.

30 June 2008

Pushup Challenge! - Week 2 Begins

Today I did only 34 pushups, but that's how many the program called for. I'm starting to get really tired when that max-out set comes. At least that means I did 34 though.

My stomach was killing me again. I think I may just be sick. I haven't had much of any appetite for the last two days, so I'm going to see if this gets any worse.

27 June 2008

Pushup Challenge! - End of Week One

Today, I did a total of 41 pushups. Yay.
But I still max out at 10 consecutively.

My arms, shoulders, and back are all fine. It's my lower abs that are killing me. Am I doing this wrong? I don't remember pushups hurting this much back when I could do 20 straight without trouble. Granted, I'd been training up for a season of football then, so I was in about as good of shape as I have ever been.

Bah! I will get back in shape! I know round is a shape, but I'll accept rectangular. We men aren't supposed to have curves, dangit!

25 June 2008

Pushup Challenge! - Initial Aches

I had no idea I would be sore for so long after doing those pushups the first day. For the first couple of hours, my arms wanted to do nothing more than hang from my neck, mostly because my shoulders had given up as well. The next day, my chest and shoulders felt like they needed stretching every two minutes. By the time I was supposed to do my second session's pushups, my lower abs were aching. On the website for the one hundred pushup program, they mention all these muscle groups, but I didn't believe it until I could feel each one aching separately.

Today, I did the required amount plus 3, giving me a total of 38 total today, the most being on my final set. Already I can do 66% more consecutively than I could just a week ago. I can see and feel results already, and all I'm doing is pushups!

We'll see how I feel about it after I get the aches from this session, eh?

24 June 2008

Rockport Walk Test

I work in an office and am sedentary in my everyday life. So again, I am generally considered not "fit". Thus, I have been trying to improve this with a little low level exercise to begin with.

I found the Rockport Walk Test, and decided to give it a whirl. The initial test is to walk a mile as fast as you can and take your pulse immediately afterward. When I did, I came in as well
below a good fitness level, especially for my age group. This started me out in the "Blue" program.

I began 5 weeks ago, and already I've been feeling better. In fact, even though I've missed several different walks due to late nights in support of missions with terribly timed classes, I've already walked 21.25 miles, just as a part of this program. That's outside of the amount of walking I do on an average day, which is somewhere between 0.5 and 3 miles, but spread out throughout the day and taken at a leisurely pace generally.

I'll be checking in with this program as well as the pushup challenge.

23 June 2008

Pushup Challenge! - The Guantlet is Thrown

I was reading get rich slowly recently, and J.D. has got another blog called get fit slowly. He learned about this one hundred pushup challenge, and passed it on to his readers. I checked it out mid-week, so I wanted to wave off until the next week to actually get started with it. After I decided to wave off, I realized I should square off against someone in order to keep myself motivated. Who should I call?

IO: "So, Dad, want to see who can do 100 pushups at the end of a six week program?"
Old & Bald Guy: "I could whoop you right now at pushups. Hell, I could whoop you right now in general if you weren't a thousand miles away."
IO: "Ok, Dad, we don't have to get too confrontational about this here."
O&BG: "Have some backbone and make this a real challenge!"
IO: "Alright, but maybe you should talk to your doctor first. I don't want you dying because I've challenged you to get healthier."
O&BG: "That's a good point. I need to go write that into the will. If I die competing in this challenge against you, you're out of the will."
IO: "That hardly seems like a good reason for me to try very hard at this, but then again, I believe that you're planning on leaving me your 'good' looks and a couple of twist ties from the collection in the kitchen drawer."
O&BG: "Keep it up and you might just lose those twist ties."

So the gauntlet was thrown, and so it was taken up. The first step to the program is to test yourself initially, seeing how many good form pushups you can do consecutively. I sent him a link to the website and told him to see how many he could do. I was careful not to tell him how many I did, allowing him to resist the temptation to literally one-up me.

I got a reply email this morning, in which he told me that my mother can verify he did 25 pushups.

Crap. I did 6.

So this morning, I went for the gusto and did the program as well as I could, eventually doing 27 total, though there were breaks as prescribed. We'll see how this goes, huh?

09 June 2008


Here's a pet peeve of mine: Entitlement.

There's a certain amount of things people should expect to receive in
life. Your mother should love you, you should be paid for your work,
and you should be treated like a human being. There are probably more
things, but there are some that do not apply.
Tonight, while working the overnight shift, the folks at the console
behind me were talking with their intern. There was of course a lot of
idle chatter about where she's living and where are some good places to
eat around here, all the information someone new to the area needs.
Then, they got to talking about how some of the interns have site
familiarization trips to Kennedy Space Center through the company. She
felt that it was unfair that the people who work on the shuttle program
should be sent on a business trip to introduce them to their main
worksite. She felt that she should also get to go on this "tour." Why?
Because she's an Aerospace Engineer, and those she knows going are
Electrical Engineers. This is what I'm talking about with entitlement.
She's already being paid well above the average for an intern, gets all
kinds of free stuff, and yet complains when she doesn't also have an
included trip to Florida. Is she entitled to such a trip?
I was also an intern who worked on the Space Station, not Shuttle, and
didn't get to go to Florida. At the time, I remember wishing I could go
too, but I never felt that I was entitled to such a thing, especially
compared to anyone else.
How does one combat this growing sense of entitlement I've seen
everywhere? Does no one realize there are consequences of their
choices, good and bad? This is real life, not a video game with a save
point where you can just go back and reload to get a do-over. (I wish
it did have that though.)

05 May 2008

Links for Monday, 5 May 2008

This is dedication and awesomeness. Just think of the layers of geek that go into this project.

Also, if you are unhappy about anything or just caught up in your own little drama, I suggest you check out these very tiny shetland pony foals. Compare them to the height of the grass.

This may be why I don't understand Texans well. Am I being overly polite?
This one could be true of any state that isn't Texas here, or any state that isn't on the Eastern Seaport for someone from the Northeast. It just makes me sigh because I'm not from those states, and I went to all the trouble of learning where your state is. Would you mind learning some basic geography?

04 May 2008

First Weekend in May 2008

I went and saw Iron Man Friday night with some friends. I gotta say, it was pretty good.
*Disclaimer* The writer thought The Hulk wasn't too bad when it came out. If there are explosions and bad guys getting beaten up, he generally doesn't think it's a terrible movie. /Disclaimer
The girlfriend and the significant others of the guys I saw the movie with weren't so interested in seeing Iron Man. Thus, they went to see Made of Honor, which I thought meant it would be some kind of awesome WWII movie, along the lines of the FPS's we all know and love. After hearing the premise for the film, I think it should have been called Made of Dishonor.
After the movies we went to a sushi place near our place and were promptly seated at a table for the eight of us on the patio. It surprised me that we were able to get the table right away, but one of the guys had called for an impromptu reservation right after we decided where we were going. We hung out there for more than an hour and had a great time. I can't hang out with these peeps for this long without some serious facial muscular conditioning. I was smiling and laughing so often and heartily that my jaw started to hurt. It was a good time.

After that, we went home and I called my parents to say "I am the walrus." This had to do with a bet with the girlfriend. She said that to me the night before and I was really confused. I guess it's a Beatles song, and that the next bit is "Coo coo cachoo." Awesome. She was amazed that I had no idea what she was talking about and said that she was sure my parents would know it. To prove it, she called her move and said the above phrase, and got the desired response. She then bet me brunch on Sunday that my parents would respond in some sort of positive way to this phrase, while I ensured her that my mother would say something like "That's nice." and my father would say "Are you on drugs?" I hadn't called them for about two weeks, so I was really behind in keeping up with the parental units. I got a hold of them Friday night and said the phrase. I got it half right. Mom was accepting and not even curious, while Dad just didn't care, he just wanted me to tell him how much he should expect to pay for a 15 ft HDMI cable for their new HDTV. Holy crap, it's a lot.

Saturday was chill. I played Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind for a few hours after I couldn't sleep anymore. I bought this game used for $6.48 about 2 months ago and have played it for well over 100 hours. This is a great game. One of my roommates in college had played it on PC and loved it, but I didn't get into it then. Now that I've got my copy on XBox, I'm really enjoying it. There's so much to do, so many interweaving story lines, and the world was really well fleshed out.

Anyway, after that we went to a sports store so the girlfriend could look for a new water bottle, but alas, it was not to be. We took our recyclables to the drop off center after that. While we were there, this guy in a HUGE F350 pickup truck on a pretty high lift kit pulled up and started pulling cardboard out of the back of his covered bed. I started thinking, "ARG! I'm glad he's recycling, but like most people in the city here, I doubt he actually uses that piece of equipment for anything more than commuting, and why did he have to drive that beast here to do his recycling? It's not like cardboard is that heavy." Then I noticed the kayak on top, and thought that maybe he actually went somewhere with it. Then another guy who was there chatted him up and started off with something like "I'll bet you're real popular when it rains." (This is because H-ton and surrounding areas are prone to terrible flooding, being that they're only 4 feet above sea level and the rain here comes down heavier than I ever saw during a tornado warning back home.) He responds, "Yeah, I barely get any sleep at all, being out until 1 am towing people out of the water." And now I'm thinking, "I'm an asshole. I was about to chew this guy out for driving that behemoth, but he actually uses it like it should be used, and he's a hero." I guess I need to think more about possibilities before assuming something like that.
After all the fun of recycling, we went back to the girlfriend's place and watched some season 2 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She loves it, I've never seen it, and it's not that bad.

Sunday, I played some more Elder Scrolls until the girlfriend was ready to go to brunch with our friends. These we some of the same people from Friday night, so I was doing some deep muscle tissue massage for my face on the ride up there. We ate at Mia Bella, and it was pretty good. The bottomless belinnis, champagne, mimosas and bloody marys didn't hurt the meal either. The girls went for a spa day, and we guys then went back to their place and messed around with my buddy's mixing tables until we decided to go to this free live show at a nearby record store, Cactus Records. The show had just finished when we got there, but they were still giving out free St. Arnold's Lawnmower beer, so we were down for hanging out for a while and perusing the wares. We headed out of there, checked out a guitar store across the street, played some ukuleles, and got milk shakes at the diner on another corner. We tried to go to this free museum, but they closed a minute and a half after we got there, so we just had to deal with it. We went back to my buddy's place and ended up crashing for a bit once the ladies returned. Had some Chinese takeout and then finally went home with the girlfriend for some more napping. And now I can't sleep. This was obviously well planned.

Now I need to go to sleep so I can get back to work on those models and analysis tomorrow.


Somebody's blog has been bothering me every time I read it to the point that I needed to delete my bookmark.

If your blog posts are stupid, inane, inflammatory, or all about finger pointing, I'm not gonna read it.


It's $*%&'d up, isn't it? I'm still trying to figure out what I believe. This is tough with people thumping your skull with the Bible here in Texas. It's really hard to agree with people who don't act on what they believe, isn't it?

Either way, I'm not sure what I believe. This is partially because I have been surrounded by cynicism, zealotry, terrorism, peacemaking, and everything in between. I'm still young and people seem to expect me to KNOW what I believe. I don't even know what I want out of life yet, much less the afterlife. I don't really even think there's enough time in any one person's life to explore all the known religions. How is anyone supposed to figure out what's best for oneself?

My girlfriend and I have been having talks about religion for a fortnight, and we're going to try out some houses of worship. I don't really know where to start. Alphabetically? I think that favors the aardvarks...

10 April 2008

Philosophical Question 1

Why is there good in the world?

07 April 2008

A Peek Inside

I wrote this in my notes at work 4 months ago.

* Get Pogo Stick
* Use as primary method of transportation

I wonder what I was thinking about to get to that point.

31 January 2008

Links 31 Jan 2008

This is what I've been saying the whole time about Batman. Get over it, man!
My Parents Are Dead!

Holy Crap. I don't even really understand this, but there are dolphins making bubble rings and playing with them to violin music. This is terribly beautiful.
Dolphin Bubble Rings

And here's some Beluga Whales working this one out with a scuba diver. I don't know the country of origin of this video, but it's still interesting. How crazy is this?
Beluga Whales with Bubble Rings

This reminds me of home. No, I have never napped with a cow, but it does.
Cow Nap Sandwich

I am always a sucker for interspecies negotiations.
Kitten + Parakeet

Since I changed jobs I found I had obsolete business cards. I still couldn't bring myself to throw them away since most of the contact information was correct, but I was unable to think up any way to use them up. Now I have a way.
Business Card Origami!

30 January 2008

Long Days in Support of Space Flight

I got to work yesterday morning at 0900. I normally get in at 0800, but as I knew I would be working until 0430 this morning...

I am really quite tired. I tried to stay up late last night, and made it until about this time thanks to my girlfriend. After a full day of running scripts and checking temperatures on the ISS, I went to my linear algebra class. It was a bit of a snooze-inducer. I'm glad I already got the homework done for that class this weekend so that I don't have to do it now.

Instead, I am now watching FE2 eat space breakfast meat. And now ISS CDR is pulling on her EVA pants. Awesome. I do have to say I think ISS DL 3 is probably the best channel we've got going, considering the others are showing that night is still dark, even on Space Station Freedom. If you have access to the NASA channel, or any of its streams, I highly suggest ISS DL 3 for your viewing pleasure.

Just so you understand, I will have been at work for 20.5 hours minus lunch, Russian class, Linear Algebra class, and dinner. I'm glad my schedule is flexible. It means that instead of getting OT for this, I'm going to get a goodly sized chunk of Thursday off. Getting Thursday off when you have to work Friday is like rain on your wedding day. I think that's how that saying goes, anyhow.

I HATE teh intarwebs

I was at work this morning (read as 00:34), waiting for the astronauts to finish brushing their teeth. I was browsing my facebook page, which I honestly don't do much any more. I have finally found something that I think might just describe my religious views well. http://www.sinfest.net/archive_page.php?comicID=2700

As you see in that url, the webcomic is called 'SinFest'. I wanted to grab this link and put it into the religious views slot on my facebook profile. I therefore, tried going to sinfest.com. Remember now that I'm on a government computer. They have got great blocking programs in place(even better than my employer's!) I was now told that this was an 'Adult/Sexual Content' page, and I said, "%&^*!!!!" I immediately went to the google search toolbar and typed in 'sinfest'. I got the page I wanted and the link. I completed the task I was intending to do, and then quickly logged off facebook. I really hope that the amount of pr0n on teh intarwebs didn't just cost me my job.

Tonight at dinner, I told my girlfriend that I really am enjoying my job. They're keeping me busy with valuable work, respecting my opinion, and valuing my effort. I am sooo much happier in this position than I was with my last one. I really, REALLY don't want to do anything to screw up this good thing I've got going. I hope that mistake doesn't cost me.


04 January 2008

Interview Tips

While I'm posting old comments, I might as well include this one that I submitted for WiseBread regarding my best interview advice.  This is all about Behavioral Interviews:

" If you've ever heard of a behavorial interview, you know how scary these can sound. The key to these interviews is to have a few (4-6) good (and true, every word!) stories about projects you have worked on. Even if you have only had one job, you will have plenty of stories to choose from. Remember though that you should think these up at least 24 hours in advance so you can sleep on it. If you're rubbish at remembering details, don't worry about it, the sleep will help you to remember them since you called up the framework for that memory.

The idea is that they ask a question like "Describe a time when you were working on a team project and you had to motivate your teammates to accomplish their tasks." This is a really broad question. You're really answering these questions: What was the situation? What did you do? How did you handle this situation and what was the result? What they're really trying to find out about you is how you have reacted to situations that you may get into again and how you'll act then. Past behavior is not like the stock market, in that it IS indicative of future performance.

To give you some clues, I'll go through each question they're actually asking.

Q: What was the situation?
A: Tell them who you were working with, any important factors about these relationships, and the problem itself.

Q: What did you do?
A: Tell them how you interacted with those around you, and how you went about solving the problem, including any obstacles that came up.

Q: How did you handle this situation and what was the result?
A: If there was an obstacle, tell them how you overcame it, especially including fall-back plans you made ahead of time. The most important part to the entire story is that the result must be good. Even if there was a terrible situation and you turned it into just a normal day, that's not good enough. Stress the parts of the problem or obstacles that were stressing you at the time, and show how you solved that problem. These results should be at least a 7 on the 1-10 scale of how it ended up."

Some more important points here are to dress the part.  You want to fit in, but stand out.  I know this sounds terribly contradictory, but it works.  When everyone in the waiting room is wearing black shoes, black slacks, a black suit jacket, black belt, a blue shirt and a yellow tie, you want to wear some of these things but not all.  Out of all these, I only kept the black suit jacket and made everything else work for me.  As proof that this does not hurt, I have a record of about a 4/5 success rate for interviewing.  If you have no idea how to dress yourself for such things, drag a friend to a department store and ask opinions on matching colors. 

Make sure you look presentable in other ways too.  Men, you don't have to shave off your beard, but it does need to be neat, not patchy.  If you can get your facial hair to look like a wave, lightning bolt, or flames, I'm with you, but not for the interview.  Posture and demeanor are important too.  Stand up straight and walk with purpose.  That's as general as I can be on this topic. 

Everyone has strengths and weaknesses.  Emphasize your strengths, but be honest about your weaknesses.  If you know you're not great at something, attempt to improve it.  You'll probably pick up something as long as you're trying.  When you do strengthen your weakness, at least you can show that you've been working on it, and have improved. 

This is about as deep as I can go on a subject as broad as interview advice.  Good luck out there!

Ultimate Cheapskate Entry

I wrote this comment to the Get Rich Slowly entry for a chance to win a copy of 'The Ultimate Cheapskate's Road Map to Riches' by Jeff Yeager. After reading that Jeff's "business card" was a piece of brown paper bag with his information rubber stamped onto it, I realized this is going to be a tough sell, but worth a shot. Since I wrote it and think it's worth sharing, I thought I'd post it here as well.

"I'm pretty frugal, but not nearly as much as my father.

Growing up, my sister and I would sort through aluminum cans and plastic bottles he brought home from work. He raided all the trash cans in his office building to bring these home. When I was younger, we would bring in about $20 a week through this.

Now he works at a tech company where the soda is free and everyone provides him with their bottles at the end of the day. He even set up a deal with the building manager so that he could be the official recycling point for the entire facility! The machines only provided plastic bottles, so very little sorting was necessary, and each one was worth a nickel. Soon enough he was bringing home two big bags of bottles a night and we were making trips to the recycling center every few days.

Each of us could redeem up to $25 worth of bottles at any one point. He would regularly have us go into the recycling center in different groups and wearing different hooded sweatshirts or coats to disguise the fact that we were getting more than our daily allotment of redemption. I stopped him short of taping a fake mustache onto my face.

He's still redeeming cans and bottles to this day and bringing in at least $75/week to the family through his efforts.

To add to this, he will input the codes under the caps on all the different sodas to their respective websites. After several years of this, I own more than my share of branded clothing, towels, blankets, duffel bags, video games, sports equipment, magazine subscriptions, video game systems and, this Christmas, wireless headphones.

The money I earned through my work with those recyclables throughout my childhood paid for a significant chunk of my college education, saving me from the dreaded student loans.

I've asked him if he would stop like he does on the street to pick up a bottle if it were a nickel instead, but without all the work. He says it's worth much more because he gets more satisfaction out of the work and environmental impact involved in picking up that bottle, but that he would definitely stop for a nickel as well."

This is really just the tip of the iceberg, but considering how much our family has gotten out of it, I couldn't resist to tell the tale of my recycling for money days. Are you or any of your family or friends more frugal than my father? Discuss in the comments, please.