Monday, January 30, 2012

Cruising for the Hardwood Lottery!

I'm going to write this like a proof.  Just because I can.  As I wrote, it became less like a proof and more like a nerdy boneheaded thing to do, but I was too lazy to fix it.  And I couldn't figure out how to make it go by letters instead of numbers.  If A is B and B is C then A is C you see?
  1. As my avid fan knows, I enjoy cruises.  They are a carefree relaxing journey where you are stuck on a ship (a rather large ship) with the same people for a week.  
  2. As anyone with a half-tuned ear to the news knows, there was recently a cruise ship disaster off the coast of Italy.
  3. According to my last post, I really really want hardwood floors in my house (so I can skate).
  4. Carnival recently announced they are giving $15,000 to each "uninjured" passenger on the cruise ship that sunk.
  5. All of my sailings have been with Carnival.
Given all 5 of these points, it has come to my attention that if I take enough cruises I'm bound to eventually be on one where the Captain goes nuts, sails too close to shore and sinks the ship.  Then, I'll get a check for $15,000 which will almost pay for my hardwood flooring project (does the government charge income tax on near miss payouts?).




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Therefore, it is time for me to start booking cruises.  It's like a $400 lottery ticket and even if I don't win the lottery, I still get a vacation out of it.

I think I'll book my first one in April.  I wonder if the odds of winning go up for Mediterranean cruises?   I would do Alaskan ones, but I'm not sure $15k would be worth the risk of hypothermia even if I did pack my 7 mil wetsuit.  Plus the cost of purchasing a lottery ticket would increase significantly.  I'll probably have to stick with my $400 lottery tickets and sail the Caribbean. 

I wonder if I could pay off the Captain of my next cruise ship.  "Could you graze that rock over there and give me an hour to change into my wetsuit?  Maybe for $100?"  Do you think that would negatively impact my payoff?

    Wednesday, January 25, 2012

    Hardwood Nightmares

    If you've been following along, you know I've decided to keep my house for a while.  I love the location.  I refinanced it this month and got my ex's name off the note and title, and saved a couple of percentage points of interest along the way.

    My more recent task is an attempt to get hardwood flooring throughout the house.  That stuff is expensive!

    You never really think about how to do things like the stairs.  Do you put wood floors on the stairs or not?  Labor is expensive.  Apparently it's difficult to put hardwood floors on the staircase.  The salesperson convinced me to do a partial wood with carpet on the stairs (easier to install and keeps you from slipping down the stairs).

    I'm really looking forward to buying some footed pajamas and skating through the house!

    Not to fear, I have begun shopping around to see if everyone is as expensive.  Interestingly, some places offer free measuring and estimates and others want a deposit before they'll come out and measure.

    I'm looking at Lowe's, Flooring America, and Empire.

    I even thought about buying the flooring and doing the installation myself.  The thought lasted approximately 5 seconds.  Handyman, I am not.

    I really wanna skate.

    Wednesday, January 18, 2012

    The Irony of SOPA

    I got to this blacked out wiki website while doing some harmless surfing today (it was actually kind of a nice change from the goofy guy or gal begging for money). 

    I don't know which side of the fence I stand on in regards to the "intent" of congress.  Perhaps they have good intentions trying to protect American businesses from overseas piracy (the virtual, technical piracy; not the Captain Jack variety).

    But, anyway, I decided I'd do my geek duty and write my representative and my senators a nice little note.

    I basically wanted to explain to them that regardless of their intentions, before they start writing bills that are going to impact the Internet they need to become a little bit more technologically savvy.  I challenged them to implement a way to do Internet Voting and then come back and think about the intelligence of this law.

    It would be like me trying to get my old 1990 car to pass inspection by covering up the exhaust manifold on my engine.  My car would be running really clean as far as the inspectors were concerned, but it wouldn't be long before the motor gave out.

    But, anyway, letter in virtual hand, and ready to send it to all my civil servants, I was met with web site errors redirecting me to a generic Congress page.  Our government officials can't even keep their own websites up and we're letting them vote on Internet laws that will impact all of us.  Really?

    Tuesday, January 17, 2012

    Dupuytren's Disease

    I know that you enjoy these occasional glimpses into the sordid mind of Gar so I thought I'd share my latest.  Well, it's not actually my latest, but more my "ongoing".  This week's neurotic episode just lead me to share.

    Dupuytren's, from my understanding, is a problem with the tendons (mostly in the hands).  There is no cure and they don't know what causes it, except, lucky me, having Diabetes seems to increase your odds.

    Anyway, I've been dealing with it for a year or two now (maybe longer).  I've got it on the pinky of my left hand and my middle finger on my right hand.  It doesn't really bother me that much except I know that it's there and that it's slowly getting worse.

    Occasionally, like the last two weeks, it starts bothering my neurotic head and I feel an overwhelming desire to fix it.  I think about calling a plastic surgeon or a hand surgeon or something to get it fixed.  I search online for hours trying to figure out home remedies.  Maybe if I eat differently, or if I take these vitamins, or if I massage my hands, or if I use warm compresses, etc.  You get the idea.

    Eventually, I look at a surgical procedure online and it'll cure me of my urge to have it fixed.  This is the latest one I viewed.  You can hear him tearing at the scarring with his scalpel.  It almost made me lose my lunch.  Enjoy.

    Rearranging My Schedule

    As you are all aware, I am a cruising maniac.  With this week's headline news about the cruise ship sinking off the coast of Italy, this means one thing to my cruise addicted mind...

    I must start rearranging my schedule to take a cruise in the next few months.  There are bound to be specials galore.  Normal people will be trying to cancel trips for fear of "another incident".  Now is the time to cruise.  Captains will be following all safety standards and set courses to the letter.  The next few months will have cruises going out in a most safe and bargain focused fashion.  I plan to take full advantage. 

    Of course, being an avid cruiser, I must also wonder about the captain of the ship that sank and where they found him.  On every cruise I've ever been on, it's normally the passengers who are complaining to the captain because he's "too safe".  On my last cruise they cancelled a stop at the Cayman Islands because the waves were too high for a safe debarkation.  Several people on the ship were like, "Just get us close enough and we'll swim!"

    Perhaps if someone in Grand Cayman had known our Captain, the Captain would have been kind enough to get within 500 feet of the shore so he could wave.  And run half a billion dollars worth of floating skyscraper aground for a really exciting experience.

    I wonder if Costa fired Captain Francesco Schettino or if Carnival (Costa's parent company) gets to fire him.  Because regardless of the circumstances and how all the evidence plays out, he was still the Captain.

    I still want to take a Mediterranean Cruise.  It's on my short list.  But now I have to wait for them to get this cleaned up (from the Costa website):
    Costa Concordia is the largest and most luxury vessel from the family of Costa Cruises. The ship is the symbol of the largest cruise company is Europe. Costa Concordia is really amazing ship with length of 290.00 meters and beam of 36.00 meters. The cruise ship is having 114,500 gross tonnage and capacity for 3,700 passengers and 1,100 crew members.

    Thursday, January 12, 2012

    Conniption

    You know when you have one of those days where something happens early on and it just ruins the rest of your day?

    I came into work today and was quite productive: solving problems, writing code, evacuating my bladder only occasionally.  You get the idea.

    At approximately 10 AM Quicken Loans called.  Oh crap.  This is going to require a preface right in the middle of the climactic ending.

    I'm refinancing my house to lower my interest rate by 2% and getting my ex-wife off the title.  Killing two birds with one stone and saving some money in the process.  Quicken Loans is really great.  Everything is done online and since I don't like talking on the phone that much, this is really cool.  It's very streamlined, very easy, and very...well...quick.

    So at 10 AM, an ignorant representative from Quicken Loans calls me.  She's probably the most ignorant person who has contacted me from Quicken Loans.  I guess they save the best for last.

    We'll call her Ignorama.  She says that she's auditing my closing and needs the original warranty deed for my house.  The warranty deed is something my ex wife had to sign and get notarized basically giving me permission to refinance or sell my house (without her consent) since her name is on the title and the loan.

    Ignorama informs me that they have a copy of the warranty deed, but don't have the original.  Now, I'm a forgiving person.  My first thought is it's my fault.  I must have given the nice lady who came out to the house to do the closing a copy of the warranty deed instead of the original.

    I took a two hour lunch break and went home to look for the original warranty deed.  It's gone.  I call the nice lady who assisted with the closing and she said she mailed the original to Quicken Loans.

    I come back from lunch and call Ignorama back.  She says all they have is the electronic copy I uploaded last month.  If she had told me that form the beginning I wouldn't have wasted my time going home.

    She says that if they can't find the original then they'll have to pay for my attorney fees or write up another warranty deed to have signed and notarized.  I'm curious if Ignorama has ever gone though a divorce.  The last thing I want to do after a divorce is ask favors from the ex.  The ex is the ex.  Ignorama thinks that if they pay for everything then we're all copacetic.  Conniption would be an understatement.  I'm still in the middle of my latest conniption.

    It's completely ruined my productivity.  I can't concentrate on work for more than 2 minutes.  They aren't paying off my current loan until they get the original warranty deed.  My original loan goes late in 3 days.  They'll gladly pay the additional interest but what about the damage to my credit score and the late fees?

    Sunday, January 8, 2012

    Captcha

    The amount of comments I get per day from spam engines is reaching an alarming rate.  Therefore, I'm implementing captcha.  I get very few comments anyway and the amount of spam I get far outweighs the legitimate comments.

    I'm starting a cartoon strip about the election.  My first one was just published.  To ridicule, you'll have to enter the captcha.

    The Republican Contenders and the Monarch