What's the weather like in Doug's neighborhood?

Monday, April 28, 2008

On a lighter note...

Downieville DH Registration was opened 6 days ago...

...it was full in less than 4 minutes
MTBReview topic

Even those who were sitting at their computer waiting for the registration to open got outed. So much for grass roots. This race officially is a bunch of cyber nerds with bikes.

If you are interested you could still race the XC
Active site

Personally Downieville is done. Not worth the effort. Much better suited to a non-race weekend cabin rental with friends.

In other news, I got out and rode my bike this weekend. I know, shocking. Not much of a ride, but my fitness is the suck right now anyways. It was a warm and muggy South East morning on Saturday as I headed out. Temperature was about 80. I have been predicting that the trails would be lush and green again by this time of year. Well, spot on there. Everything is brilliant green. The trails are in perfect condition. One thing I had forgotten was the bug factor. Yes, lots of bugs around these parts. About every 1-2 minutes I would have to remove an inch worm from my visor or a spider web from my face.

It was nice to get out. I am rusty, but still was able to manuever around some of the tight rock formations on the Anendale and Alms House trails in the Land Trust. As I rode along I was quite amused by how different the trail looked. I had very little bearing of where I was on the trail since all my landmarks are now covered in folliage. I will take a camera out next time and try to capture some of the Spring colors. All in all I put down about 8 miles and was actually tired in the end. Combination of poor fitness, heat, and one of the tougher trails all conspired against me.

Of course the next day it rained like crazy, so the trails are probably mud again...

Monday musings

Well, on the way into work this morning I heard that three of the major credit card companies have announced that they are raising rates. Not just a little, but double in some cases. Normally I don't pay too much attention to morning radio, but this one was of interest as we typically have a balance on our cards. So I looked into it. Sad but true...

USA Today article

What does this mean? I would imagine it means that banks are a bit fed up with losing money on low mortgage rates. The credit card lending is largely free of the government meddling. So they are in a position to make real money by increasing these rates astronomically.

Who will suffer? The people who are already in trouble. This is scary stuff. They may have been juggling multiple accounts and putting necessities on the cards for a while as items like food and gas have been steadily increasing in cost. Now the banks are going to really give it to them with increased rates and penalties. What is worse, thanks to G.W. they no longer have the ability to declare bankruptcy. If they do it isn't a fresh start they get, but rather a repayment plan that is worse that the original burden they were under. This is the sort of thing that will take a chunk out of the middle class.

What can people do about this?
Not much.
Write to your elected officials. Plea that they take up the torch for the middle class.
First off, pay off any credit card balances you have and get the heck off of this train weck.

Maybe it is time to exit the middle class. Seriously, forget about being a professional. Get a retail job that pays under $30k/year. Sign up for government aid. Sign up for low income housing. Sign up for food stamps. Turn into a leech on the system. You may just live a happier life.

Okay, off the soap box. Really, I am not political. Honestly I am just happy to be buying a home. The main reason we even have credit cards is to improve our credit rating to buy a home. Now that we have reached that goal there is no rational excuse to be a part of this whole mess. Time to shred those little plastic buggers and move on. I pray that this news doesn't have the effects that I have discussed above. Hopefully it will all just blow over. Maybe the Tax Stimulus rebate will make it all better. Who knows.

p.s. if you have not seen Maxed Out yet, go rent it. It is kind of Michael Moore like, but interesting none the less.

Friday, April 25, 2008

On the home front

Riding the bike? What's that? Seriously going to have to throw a leg over it again this weekend. Time has just been limited and it seems like life has just had us scrambling around too much to plan in 2-3hr bike rides.

Well, fortunately some of the business should taper off after this week. Erin and I are officially home owners. We signed about 100 pages worth of documents. Other than having to sign over and over the closing procedure was quite painless and we actually walked out of the office with about $1600 coming to us. Net buy in cost to us for home ownership in Alabama, $252. I am honestly more excited about this than I expected. Our mortgage is all inclusive, so the insurance and taxes are tagged onto it. In the end it was on the higher end of what we wanted to pay, but you can't argue too much with the end result. Now we just have to wait 30 days for the previous owners to clear out before we get to move in.

Preparations for home ownership. We are trying to keep the surge of buying stuff to fill the house to a minimum. There will be quite a few projects for me to take care of right off the bat. That table saw will finally get to see some real use. I plan to build the dining table, a hutch, and a few smaller items like otomans, tv stands, accent tables. Should be a lot of fun.

I broke down yesterday and bought a new TV. This year has marked the end of an era for us. We are finally buying home audio and video equipment. Amazingly enough our 10yr old tv is still cranking as is my 17 year old mini-component stereo system. But in my quest to get a computer hooked up to the main tv in the house it was necessary to jump forward a decade or two in technology.

There you have it, a home theater PC. The small black case to the right of the tv is the computer. I put it together with a mix of new and old, but kept things pretty cheap for now. Eventually I would like to throw a 1TB drive in it and load a bunch of dvd's onto it, but that will have to wait a while. Wireless keyboard and mouse. Eventually it may be setup more like a TiVo with just a remote, but for now it is setup as a fully functional computer/dvd player.

The office. Yep, the TV looks a bit silly in here. Next month it goes into an entertainment center that is at our new house. Then it will be a bit farther away from the user. It definitely dwarfs the 22in monitor.

Not much else going on. Sorry, just work and some time at home. Hope everyone is well.

Oh, and for those who don't know we are no longer using the cell phones from CA. So send me an e-mail to get our home number.
We didn't want to be without cell phones, so we picked up pre-paid ones. They are nice phones and we no longer have a $100+/mo fee. The home phone will be our main line going forward though. So let me know if you don't have that number.

Some kid photos from the GA aquarium trip

Anything that ends up looking like this just had to be fun right?

Of course Austin was happy to get to see his Aunt Bec

The hats? Well after seeing all the employees in these super cool hats Austin just had to have one...

Faith thought they were pretty great too

So cute

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Slow going

Well, not really. The days are feeling like they are just flying by. We are still in processing on buying a house here. I am amazed at how up in the air this whole process is. It is kind of like being in limbo for a month while all these other people hold the keys to your future home. We are closing in a week. However we are leasing the house back for 30 days to the current owner. So We will be moving in at the end of May. It is pretty exciting. We are especially happy that we are able to buy a home here without begging or borrowing. I will post up some pictures once the deal is done and we are officially owners.

Taxes are done. Whew! I had feared the worst. In the end it really wasn't all that bad. Ended up owing both CA and AL about $200ea. Worst part was with all of the medical, moving expenses, signing bonus, contract work for my old company,cashing out some 401K, and whatever else it cost about $500 to have our taxes prepared. Erin and I walked out of the H&R feeling a bit violated. But with all of the stuff we had going on it was a good idea to leave it to the professionals and also to have the H&R backup incase of audit in the future. Fortunately federal came back as a return and will cover these expenses, leaving us with a bit of money as a return. Double sigh of relief to be done with that.

Weather is still all over the map here. The last few days we have had frost in the morning. The week prior we had 70-80's. The weekend between was warm with thunderstorms and showers. Everything here is green again. I will have to get out and take some pictures.

The office...

Got me a window again. I guess out here at MSFC they move you around every couple of years to keep you on your toes. So I moved from a dark cinderblock office to this. Honestly it is a little bright (hence the cardboard behind the monitor). I think I will get used to it though.

Got out this weekend with the kids. Did a road trip over to Atlanta. Erin decided to take advantage of the trip and skipped out. She needed a break anyways...
See her blog for the details
Rebecca was in town for training, so we took advantage of family being close enough to visit. The drive from Huntsville to Atlanta takes around 3 and a half hours. It is a nice drive. I took the Northern route through Chattanooga and down 75.

We did the tourist thing and checked out the Varsity. Kind of like In and Out, but with hot dogs and no religion. If you are ever out that way check it out for a chili-slaw dog. Kind of a weird combo, but it works.

Next we headed to the Georgia Aquarium. It is a neat aquarium with some distinct displays including whale sharks, beluga whales, and hammer head sharks for highlights. Lots of big tanks. Cool displays with tunnels and tanks that you walk under. The kids enjoyed it too. It was nice to get them some 1on1 time with their Aunt Bec. I will have to upload a couple of pictures that Rebecca took.

Okay, this has been a pretty massive unload. But it has been weeks, so it was necessary to upload to the blog. That is about it. New House, new office, weird weather, taxes, and a road trip. Alright I am leaving out tweaking my computer and bike riding. Well, no one really cares what I do with my computer and I haven't touched my bike in a couple of weeks. Trails should be dry, so I will have to do something about that shortly. Until next time...

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

More computer garbage...

Okay, picked up a MSI NX8600GTS-T2D256E-OC a couple of months back (an Nvidia video graphics card for those who are wondering what I am talking about here). Initially I am thinking it is a rocking little card for the price. After some tinkering with fans in my case I have been able to get my 3 120mm case fans and 120mm cpu fan just about silent. So now the card has become the loudest thing in my case. This just wouldn't do.

After some internet scouring of the reviews of this card I noted a couple of reviewers commented on how improved the cooling was with a Zalman VF900 gpu cooler. So I ordered one up.

Here are a few images of the install process:
1)stripping off the stock cooler

2)Noisey little bugger

3)Nvidia gpu

4)Ready for the VF900

5)Ready to rock

6)In the case

End result, GPU temp dropped about 6*C at idle. I didn't grab a screen cap of it at the start, but here is temp at the end.

Overall I would highly recommend this mod. Cooling is improved. Noise is reduced. Only thing I will miss is that the stock cooler did port the hot air out of the case. But I have an Antec P182, so if needed I can up the case flow to get it out.