Sunday, December 20, 2009

To my unborn Child,

I am very excited to see you.  I look forward to holding you in my arms.  I know that you already know who I am, because I talk to you already, and the books tell me you know my voice by now.  Well I want to tell you, that I will be here for you.  I will protect you when you are hurt, I will hold you close when you cry.  I will play with you when you are bored, and I will raise you up to be an amazing man or woman of God.  I will teach you where you lack, and I will guide you when you go.  I will be the best father that I can be.  I will buy you a nice big house where you can live, play, sleep and learn.  I am your father, and I will try to be the father that we all wish we had.

I love you more than the stars in the sky, and I will shield you from this big scary world until it is time for you to understand it, and then I will let you grow and discover so you are prepared to face it with knowledge and confidence.  I will let you make mistakes and find out who you are.  I will let you hurt yourself, and find out what it means to get back up and try again.  You will learn to be an overcomer, as you are from a long line of overcomers.

So sleep well, little one.  Rest and grow, for we have a lot to do together.  I can't wait to get started!

Your Father

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

We sold our house!!


YAY!!! I'm very happy, because we are now freed up to go and look for our next house.  The house shopping is the best part of this whole darn process.  The whole selling the house part was a huge pain, and moving of course is a huge pain, but... the shopping, that's the goods right there.  We've outlined some of our criteria:

1) Big yard.
2) 2,000+ sq ft
3) 4 bedrooms, or 3 bedrooms + an office or basement
4) two car garage (three car would be crayyzzaayyy awesome)
5) location... hopefully somewhere close to a freeway. Right now we've broadened our search from Renton to Issaquah, Bellevue, Renton and anywhere close.

We're coming to realize that the best house is probably the most important part of the search.  When we first started searching, it made us very uncomfortable to think about moving more than a few minutes farther away from our parents (and church), but now that we are getting a bit of a grip on what we want and need for our family, we're starting to look a little farther out.  We know several people that have moved across the country multiple times, away from family, planting their family in a whole new community several times.  It sort of makes us look like wimps when we complain about an extra 10 or 20 minutes to get to the Grandparent's house.  We want the sort of house that has enough land, room, parking, etc so we could potentially stay in it as long as we wanted.  Something we can create a home out of... host parties, have a play room for the kids, and generally raise our family the best we can.  That's pretty much the most important part of our lives now.  Judah is growing up, and we've got another on the way, and we're starting to realize that we've only got one good shot to raise these kids the best possible way we can.  We need to do everything to gaurantee their futures, and that's more important than church, commute, or anything.  Those things play a part, but mommy and daddy need to be the mommy and daddy- especially this day and age, when that's pretty rare.

We did haveto settle for a few hundred bucks less than we could afford, unfortunately, but we did manage to sell, which is great.  The condo dues are going up to $408 a month starting in January, and it's critical we get out of here and stop paying insane dues, which hinders our financial goals a bit.  We're literally paying for a $300,000 house on a $200,000 mortgage because of those stinkin dues.  I'm so glad we're out from under it, and we can find something we can turn into our home.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Survivalism.

Yes, I'm getting that bug again.  Seems like I get it every winter or so, when it gets much colder and the idea of surviving without the comfort of electricity gets more uncomfortable.  Surviving without common every day things in the summer is no big deal, since you don't need some sort of heat source, cooking is easier, you can survive outside without shelter, you can hike around without as much gear, etc.

Anyways, I'm sort of on this survivalism kick again, and here are the reasons this year:

-The dramatic fall of the value of the dollar, and the fact that our current president plans on spending an additional trillion dollars on his own agenda beyond what he has already spent.  We cannot continue to runaway spend and expect our country to exist.  There are countless qoutes, documentaries, and statistics that show all major world powers that extended beyond their means have fallen, and fallen hard.
-Jericho.  Great TV show.  It's a little sensationalist, I'll admit, but it does sort of cater to my more morbid, free-thinking creative side.
-Green river flooding.  Possible power outtages, local service outtages, and not far after that we usually see runs on local grocery stores for things like firewood and toilet paper (this happened during the winter storm last year, and it left a lot of people without heat sources, and some of the less fortunate older people died).
-Winter... the last two years in a row were claimed by the news media as "one in a hundred" winters.  Well, more like two in a hundred, huh?


So yeah, I've got a bucket of food that'd probably last us a couple weeks, and a bucket of various little survival things like a water filter, a windup radio, flashlights, pots and cups, and so on.  We'd probably haveto get real creative with the stuff we don't have covered, such as waste management, heat, gas for cars, money and so on, but we've got a start.

I'm sure I've got a tin foil hat on in some people's opinion, but you know, when it comes to this topic, I don't really mind.  If I'm wrong, then so what, it's no big deal.  If, under the slim chance I am right about something happening (the food is good for 25 yrs), then I stay alive while others haveto brave the foot riots.

yay for being alive!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I'm having a hard time battling my mind about the house.  I'm so anxious for it to sell, but I keep telling myself and praying that God is in control and it's all according to His timing.  Rosemary asked me the other day when we can take it off the market, since she has to keep it clean constantly with a child in tow, and now she'll be watching another one as well.  We've had good interest lately, just no offers... it's getting me antsy.

One idea is that we could pay the buyers condo dues for the first six months.  We might put that on the table, we'll see.

Other news... hmm.  Rosemary came down ill yesterday, so I had to come home and work from home so I could keep an eye on the kid while she caught some ZZZs.  It worked out well, because my only other meeting was a virtual meeting later in the day.  I managed to get some spreadsheet work done, too.

The head of all of "Engineering" in MSIT has come down and stated that he needed 300 servers shut down and pulled out of the labs we use.  So all of the divisions in MSIT have been scrambling to figure out what servers they can decomm.  Well, in our division, all of the people that managed our servers were laid off several months ago.  No one knew anything about our current server situation, or how to find out about it.  So I started doing some investigation and immediately found over 500 servers that are way past their lifespan.  I've managed to get over 60 of them decommissioned so far, and I've gotten over 130 free virtual machine tokens in return for my decommissions.  Essentially, free replacement servers, valued at somewhere around 600k.    I'm hoping to get more decomms and hit the 1 million dollars saved mark.  Every division tagged a representative to be the division lead on the decomm effort, and somehow that role fell to me in our division (I'm guessing since no one else knows the state of our servers).  I'm very glad, because this team of leaders from around MSIT is full of very, very high level people, and it's getting me good visibility, since I am outstripping all of them on number of decomms I've gotten for all of MSIT.  I'm hoping that translates into some noteriety with my superiors in my division, and maybe some more authority when it comes to trying to get different teams to give me their old clunker servers.  It's been like pulling teeth to try and get these things out of their hands, but most teams at microsoft are very political, and covet their old junk hardware they don't even use.  It's obvious that a lot of teams are fending for their own interests, instead of the interests of the company as a whole, which is unfortunate.

Who knows, maybe I'll pull off a gold star award and get a good chunk of cash.  Doubtful, but I can dream.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Not a whole lot of interest in the house this week, unfortunately.  It's getting to me a little bit, since if we don't sell, we'll probably be in our current place for at least another year or two.  It's a fine house, I just want more space and a big garage and a yard is all.  Oh well, at least that path is more affordable.

Over the weekend we had a fairly fun Xbox lan party at Rosemary's parents house, for Daniel's birthday.  We played some Rainbow Six terrorist hunt and halo 3 mostly, with a bit of Forza and call of duty 4.  We ended up with about 10 different people showing up at different times, and unfortunately the biggest hinderance was that most games only let you play one person per TV besides halo.  It made us play halo a bit more than Daniel probably would have liked, but we did have some really really fun games of terrorist hunt.  After about 8pm, it started devolving quite a bit and people were just losing their patience and trying to rampage through the game and dying constantly, but it was still fun.  I probably would have done things a little differently now that it's over and I've learned a few things-

  • monitors don't work too well, since they don't have speakers
  • I don't need to bring 4 controllers and 6 batteries
  • I don't need to bring three sets of cables
  • we need a better network infrastructure at whatever house we use. The 2 dollar router was really screwing with our ability to download new maps and get online.  If that was reliable, we could have done everyone in the room online in a huge 8 on 8 halo battle vs people online, or big call of duty online games. oh well.
  • we could simplify things if we had more xboxes with basic one TV one controller setups to get bigger games going.  Could have production lined it with TV trays and cabling in a row or something, would have enhanced the cooperative feeling that makes lan parties so great.

That said, we know a few things now so we could do lan parties easier in the future, less TV hauling and rewiring and less preparation.  If I had a house, I could do it even easier. :)

The whole thing makes me a little melancholy just because we used to have lan parties every other weekend.  It was a huge thing, since it sort of got nerds out of their house, forced them to interact with other humans, and still have fun and work together.  We of course still struggle with the one guy that's always "I don't like that gametype, I won't play it." that ruins some of the fun. heh.  It's a lot easier with xboxes than with PCs, that's for sure, and you don't need a $1,000 gaming rig- an xbox is a couple hundred bucks, and are becoming more standard in homes.

There are a couple of games that I'm sure will cause possible mini lan parties coming up here soon.  The next call of duty game is here in a few weeks, and the next Forza game is here tomorrow.  I'm sure Daniel will talk me into bringing my xbox over so we can do some 2 player online forza stuff, and I'm sure I'll invite someone over to do some call of duty co-op stuff.  It's enjoyable, since I haven't had a serious hobby for this year (which is rather surprising!)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sell, sell... sell...

So the news is final.  Our group will be moving to the millennium campus, which is a little ways past the end of 520.  Kirkland/Redmond area.  In my current location, that makes my commute somewhere around 1:30-2 hours or so, one way.  So the importance of selling the house just went up another notch.  We’ve had a few interested parties, one in particular that has asked a few questions and is in the process of acquiring financing.  Not sure if that will convert into an offer or not- at this point I can’t really expect it.  We’ve been having a hard time cleaning the house every single day, but we’ve been getting it done.  We’ll be having the Agent’s open house later this week, part of the plan our agents have put together to make sure that the place is in front of new people every week so there’s a constant flow of traffic instead of one large lump.

 

So we took Pat & Kayla to the Seahawks/Cards game last weekend.  Unfortunately, the hawks had a pretty poor showing, but it was still fun to go.  The girls went and got their hair colored seahawks colors, and Pat & I tried to throw footballs thru little holes 10 yards away at the pre-game festivities.  Saturday night, we went to the David Crowder Band concert, and that was a ton of fun.  We had VIP passes so we got to meet David Crowder and his guys, too.  One of our relatives even tried to kiss David Crowder (we have proof).  David is such a good showman- pulling out the keytar, using his iphone for a microphone, making fun of Kanye West, the robot drummer… just lots of fun things.  He could be a comedian.

 

Unfortunately, Judah had to be with grandparents all weekend to facilitate our laundry list of things to attend.  We both missed him terribly.  And I swear he grew since I saw him last, too.  He’s growing both physically and mentally at a pretty good rate- picking up new words everywhere, and he’s to the point where we can walk around all day without any issues now.  He still trips over stuff a lot, but he can turn on one foot, and he’s a pretty natural tackler.  I swear it’s like having a 3 foot tall linebacker in my house- at any moment, you will be tackled.  He’s so much fun to play with.  It gets better and better every week, where more and more fun things are open to us because he’s old enough.  We started fort building a couple weeks ago, and now he can ask for food when he wants it.  I see a whole slew of scenarios in my head that I can’t wait for.  Grandpa James wants to buy him an electric car really bad, and he almost did this year.  I can’t wait until I can play catch with him.  I can’t wait until we can go to the airplane museums together.  I can’t wait to explain to him about space.  Just so much I look forward to there.  It sure is a personal sacrifice having kids though- instead of doing whatever you want, you pretty much haveto put all of that on hold and take care of the kid every day all day long.  But the aforementioned things more than make up for it in my opinion.  Just wait until we get slot cars.  Of course I’ll modify mine to be slightly faster than his… I need to keep up the image that Dad is completely undefeatable in every way. J  It took me a good ten years before I ever beat my dad at monopoly… time to pass that on and reap the benefits!

 

Ricky

Monday, October 05, 2009

Wow, a VERY busy couple of weeks.

A few things:

  • the house is now up for sale.
  • Rosemary got fired two days before her last day... very disrespectful management, but she doesn't care, she was grinning because she didn't want to work saturday anyway.
  • Rosemary's diamond fell out of her ring. It was a huge shock to us when she looked at her ring and, bam, no diamond. Luckily we found it later. That would have been a HUGE financial setback, although we'd probably just throw in a fake until I could save up enough for something else.
  • we're pre-qualified for a home loan. at a much higher ammount than we should ever buy at. These lenders are crazy man, they want you to get into trouble with your bills...
  • We've all been sick with colds the last four days or so. Garbage...
  • we pressure washed the back patio, bedroom deck, cleaned the whole house top to bottom, staged the house, and so on, all in the last two weeks. Probably an average of 3-4 hours of cleaning a day, by both of us.
  • Judah is walking. YAY!
  • I'm a fan of a terrible football team.

And the house is listed here:

http://www.johnlscott.com/propertydetail.aspx?IS=1&ListingID=300379114

Tell everyone you know! We need/want to sell before the first time homebuyer's credit dissapears. Looks like the market is actually moving right now, we went and looked at a few houses in the area we want and saw lots of "sold" signs. sort of a good sign for us selling our house, not as great for buying.

Monday, September 21, 2009

I have such the desire to sell my house right now.

So many factors, I guess, but I just want a yard for my son, I want a real garage, I want some place my wife can stay home all day and take care of the family without needing more room or concern about having people over due to parking issues, and so on.

I mean our current place is great. It's pretty big, for a townhouse, it does have a one car garage, it's in pretty good shape. It's just that, I look at these real estate listings, and there is so much potential out there right now. Some really really good prices on houses, houses that have hards, have a good sized garage, a basement, extra bedrooms, everything we want and need for the next ten years of our lives.

Our current place has effectively failed us as an investment. I bought it for $210k almost 4 years ago now, it skyrocketed in price to somewhere around 250k by about middle of last year, and now it's worth probably right around what I paid for it. The monthly dues are sky high, at around $370 a month. Combine that with the fairly high interest rate I am paying right now, and the super high rate on the 2nd mortgage, and the monthly I am paying is pretty crazy. I pay around $1850 a month for a place that is worth probably around 1600 a month or less right now. Interest rates are low, homebuyer credits are out, and it's a buyers market. I could probably buy a new place, keep the same monthly cost, and be in a much better situation. And the buyer of our place would be, too, since it would be a great investment and they could live here for much cheaper than I am...

I'm interested in seeing if I can sell the place without a real estate agent. The fees add up to around 12 grand for buyer and seller real estate agents, and if I go without them, I could just shave 12 grand off the top of the price and sell it to whoever at a pretty aggressive price. If I do sell with a real estate agent, I'd haveto figure out how to sell for a price that the condo might not be worth right now. Lots of work. Staging the place, getting a storage unit, hoping for interest... gah.


So, everyone spread the word. If you know anyone that is looking to invest in a nice little townhouse for a starting family or wants a centrally located place with no yardwork, send them my way.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Lots of stuff has happened lately. I've been kind of putting off blogging because if I was sticking with the traditional sense of it, being a log, (hence the origin of the term weblog, and then blog) I would have pages and pages to write.

So we had a terrible sort of vacation and stay in the hospital, my sister had her baby finally, I got a great review at work, and we're thinking about selling our townhouse and buying a house. (If you want to buy a nice 1460 sq ft townhouse in Tukwila let me know, if we sell it without real estate agents we save 12 grand that we could pass on to the seller...)

Lots of really nifty houses in the Renton area that are in our price range. Our problem is, we can afford the monthly payments of a good house, but we don't really have a huge downpayment saved. Conventional thinking right now is that you need 20% down for a loan, which would be what, 60 or 70 grand, and then another 6 or 7 in closing costs. No way we can come up with that kind of cash. So we could do an FHA loan which is 3.5% down, and we have about that much saved, but not enough to cover any sort of closing costs.

We are in a great position though since we have no real debt. We owe a few grand left on Rosie's car (which is great since we just bought it last year) and we could use some of that savings to pay it off, but then of course that cuts into our savings for a downpayment.

So the big question is, can we sell our house for any sort of a profit? Probably not, to be honest. One way around it is to get the sellers of whatever house we do buy to pay closing costs, and that might work, but we'd still need some extra cash for the stupid loan fees, paperwork fees, inspections and all that junk. Man, I wish I could snap my fingers and come up with an additional 5 grand. That'd make this whole process go quite a bit faster and give us more confidence that we could do it without having to do any trickery or weird tactics. I don't want to stretch and make a stupid decision that will set us back a whole lot, nor do I want to rush into getting a house, but at the same time, there are lots of good houses on the market for very competative prices that might not last. The market could climb in the next year, and those blowout deals will slowly go away, or only be available for trashed houses.

Anyways, another boring blog post for Ricky. My life isn't that exciting lately.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Here's the vacation route planning I've done:

http://www.bing.com/maps/default.aspx?v=2&FORM=LMLTCC&cp=42.29578~-122.497559&style=r&lvl=5&tilt=-90&dir=0&alt=-1000&phx=0&phy=0&phscl=1&rtp=pos.47.462599799037_-122.256100773811_Tukwila%2C%20WA__~pos.36.965433_-122.02545_301%20Pacific%20Ave%2C%20Santa%20Cruz%2C%20CA%2095060-4922__~pos.36.599404_-121.883377_55%20Camino%20Aguajito%2C%20Monterey%2C%20CA%2093940-3349__~pos.47.462599799037_-122.256100773811_Tukwila%2C%20WA__&rtop=0~0~0&encType=1

We're taking off wednesday night at roughly 8pm. earlier the better probably, just to try and get more breaks in for liquids and stretching. Judah's sleeping in the car is also a major consideration. We've got the packing list down, but we still need to figure out some house sitting issues- feed the cats, pick up the mail sort of stuff. It looks like it's shaping up to be fun, and something we both need. For Rosemary, work has been pretty trying, which thankfully she'll be quitting after another month or so to be home full time. Both of the places I selected to stay at are within a block or two of the beach, as well as within walking distance of downtown/the boardwalk. I'm looking forward to some good beach time. We'll be going to the "famed" Monterey Aquarium as well, with some of Rosemary's relatives that live down there. I'm hoping Judah does well, but I'll definitely be bringing some books in case.

Don't qoute me on it, and I'm afraid I wont follow through, but I've actually thought about running on the beach in the mornings for a little bit to just get a bit of cardio in. I definitely need it, and I usually HATE running, but running on a beach always has a lot more appeal. Warmer, better view, more fun, you get to watch the people, hehe. So it probably wont work since I'll sleep in and we'll have Judah, but it's just one of those things I want to keep hoping to do.

Life has been rather interesting the last week or so, since learning my mom has breast cancer. She is engulfed in a whirlwind of emotion, and my Dad is learning to deal with emotion in a new way as well, which is probably rather difficult for him. I'm very glad that they have a great support network of friends and family around them, but I know my dad usually internalizes his emotions and goes it alone, and I'm hoping he doesn't. I'd hate for him to try and deal with this by himself, when there are others that are also dealing with it. I guess it's kind of an Ochs male thing, but we don't have a lot of good friends, y'know?

Anyways- we're excited to get away and have a relaxing vacation (the aquarium is the ONLY thing on the agenda besides checking out two different sides of the bay). Pray for my mom. I love her very much, and it's hard to see your mommy be so hurt and not be the wonderwoman you've seen your whole life. She will persevere, and she knows it, so pray that her whirlwind is overcome by the peace of the Lord and the strength of her Father.

Monday, August 10, 2009

I had a wonderful birthday.

We went out to Chantanee Noodle in Bellevue, and invited a bunch of friends & family. About 13 people showed up, and we had a wonderful time. The good food didn't hurt, the conversation was good, and I got a few cool things. It was a wonderful birthday.

Birthdays have really transformed over the years for me. When you are 18 or younger, you look forward to balloons, colorful toys, and so on- but after maybe 21, birthdays are really marginalized in the grown up world. It's a little off-putting, because you remember these really fun celebrations where everyone focuses on *you* in a human I'm selfish sort of way, but you grow up, the parties go away, the balloons go away, and people move on. Man, shouldn't we celebrate them MORE because, hey, look, we're still ALIVE!!? :)

I got a few things I'm excited about:

  • Several Philip K. Dick novels and short stories. I've been interested in some of the older, original sci-fi works from the 60s when the sci-fi revolution started. Philip K. Dick is the author of some of the great ones that really started a lot more of the philosophical side of Sci-Fi, such as: paycheck, minority report, iRobot (do androids dream of electric sheep?) bladerunner, Total Recall, and others. The movie adaptations add a litle more action and take out some of the more thoughtful futuristic society pieces, but are still good movies in my opinion.
  • A car care kit from Griots Garage. It's just a little travel sized guy, but I love Griot's products.
  • A gift card to Guitar Center to pick up a Cajon (box drum). I really want a box drum to keep exploring different percussion instruments I can play in sort of an acoustic unplugged sort of way, as that is how we've been playing at young adults. Most people would consider the cajon a better option than a djembe for the rock style stuff I play anyways, but I've got a lot more experience with the djembe and was able to make that work pretty well. Unfortunately, my extensive djembe experience is leaving behind some more of my basic percussion stuff that I need to focus on to make sure I'm still a well rounded musician. I need to focus some more on right left balance, triplets, and integrating some more rythms into my repertoire.

I'm looking forward to shopping for one. Unfortunately my local guitar center doesn't have hardly any cajons, just a standard pearl model, so I'll haveto visit a few other guitar centers around the area to see if any of them have a Meinl in stock.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I met someone else that was a virgin until married today! that was cool. It's the guy at the AT&T store here in issaquah, I was doing a phone exchange (seperate story) and it was sort of weird how it came up- I heard him mumble something about religious reasons when we were making small talk during the transaction, and then he asked me about my wife (since we came in together last time). I told him we'd been married for a few years now, and we didn't really wait around a whole lot, and we started talking about how for religious couples, sex can be a pretty big factor in why people get married too early- and I told him yeah, that might have been a factor for us, hehe, and he looked at me and raised his eyebrows and said, "you waited til marriage?" and I said something like "Heck yeah!" and he gave me the fist pound and said "ME TOO!!!!" haha. That was awesome.

In other news... we planned a 6 day road trip down to california for the end of August. So we're looking forward to that. Two days in Santa Cruz, two days in Monterey, both hotels are right by the beach and a short walk away from boardwalk/the wharf/downtown. We're probably taking Judah unless we can find someone that can take him, which is unlikely with work/schedules, but man I haven't gone on a good drive or road trip in a long time. The last good one was probably the subie cruise a couple years ago around the olympic loop. So we're excited about that, and blessed that God has given us the finances to do it. Driving was quite a bit cheaper than flying, actually... 90 bucks each way, instead of what, three tickets at 150 a pop? 200 maybe? so that was a no brainer. It's only a 12 hour drive, and we'll probably do the drive down there at night so Judah stays asleep, so it should work out fairly well.

Cheers to summer vacations!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Woo, finally... Rosemary has been trying to get her money from her savings account that her grandmother manages for the last couple years. It's been a long and arduous fight, but she finally won! We sort of wrote that money off, even though its HERS, so it was pretty surprising when we actually got it. I'm pretty excited, not for the money, but for how it's going to let us reach our goals a lot more quickly. It's going to help pay off Rosemary's car, and hopefully after bonus time, we can pay off the rest of it, which will free up 250 a month in car payments, which will just ease the monthly load enough so Rosemary can stay home with Judah without so much financial strain of one income for three people. It's also really cool that we have a few extra hundred dollars we can give away to some people in need. it's a lot of fun to spread the love.

This, combined with a bit of income from Rosemary working a few days a week for a few months, will really kill all of our non mortgage debt(just that car payment) and free us up to put our resources towards more important things- saving for a house, fixing up a few things around the house, (the windows are getting worse and the garage door opener & washing machine have been running off of the holy spirit for the last 3 years). I'm hoping this will set us up to buy a house a few years from now, maybe when the housing market picks up a little bit so we can get some cash out of our townhouse for a downpayment on a big kids house.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Boots is gone. Finally. What a story...

So this cat came up to our back window a few months ago and ate some food Rosemary left out for our woodland creatures that live in the back. Well, of course, it was cat food, and so a cat came, and then decided it would stay with us. It cried at our window for hours until we let it in. It immediately plopped itself down on our laps, and slept in our bed, and generally adopted us as it's humans.

We found someone to take the cat off our hands last week, and during the ubiquitous cat transfer, which took place at church, the cat ran out of the cat carrier and into a very heavily sticker bushed area. We proceeded to search for the cat for several hours, ruining many clothes in the process. Once it got dark we gave up and went home. A few days later, we went back to were the cat was lost, and looked for a few more hours. Just as we were about to leave, Rosemary did one more walk around the property, and alas there was the cat. So, we brought the cat back home, and had it stay with us a few more days to calm down after such a traumatic experience. We decided the people should come pick the cat up at our house next attempt... and so they did, and the cat is gone.

It was fairly heart wrenching to think of the cat lost in the thick sticker bushes and near military road, because it's odds of survival or chance at a good life were pretty small (which might just be amplified by human emotion of course). It felt good when we got her back, just to know she'll have a good home and someone to call her own.

So that's the story of the cat, which I called Boots.

In other news, I took last week off from work. It was good. Rosemary is going back to work this week, so we decided to take advantage of her last full week of at home-ness, and we had a sort of stay-cation, where we visitted the EMP (right when Michael Jackson died no less), the science fiction museum, the aquarium, downtown bellevue, and so on. It was fairly entertaining, while not the most restful vacation ever due to so many plans and efforts we had going on. Rosemary did a lot of the planning and preparation for Mandy's baby shower, we had Young Adults, we lost our adopted cat, and a few other functions were going on, such as open mic night, the sound worship night, which I did not attend, and so on.

I came back to work today to find my cube almost completely full of moving boxes. There was a nice little doorway there for me to squeeze thru, and just enough room for my chair and desk. And everything on my desk was gone. I heard the snickering of my co-workers, who then informed me it was Christmas, and that I would need to open each of the boxes to find each of my items: Keyboards, my phone(which they hooked up inside a box), my mice, docking station, books, tote, nerf guns, cups, wires, etc. So that was a good laugh.

Tonight is pretty much the first night I'm not playing drums at young adults in two months. I guess not really drums, but "percussion," as I've been playing djembe solely lately. I'm borrowing an exceptional Djembe from a friend, and I've been enjoying it immensely, at the exclusion of the drumset. That seems to work out alright though, since my capabilities with a Djembe far outshadow any sort of talent I have with the drumset, much to my dissapointment.

What a weird blog post. A cat, a vacation, and a drum.

Monday, June 08, 2009

I changed the title of the blog. I want to sort of re-focus some of my extraneous thought life back on a theme I used to carry around with me all day: being different.

I walked through life being extremely different. My parents continuously told me I was different, and I took it to heart and really tried to be different. I tried to accomplish everything I went after with high levels of excellence, and to be wise in the things I encountered. This really stemmed out of my passion for technology, and passion for righteousness. The early years of my life were filled with taking apart computers, writing short stories, designing computer labs, reading countless books, and worshipping God in as many ways as I could- serving on the media team, worshipping with my drumset on the youth group, getting into the top band in school and travelling to California to compete in a world wide music competition. Getting a 98 score on a level five chinese composition, and so on. This was my source of pride: having to show for my life what most people are learning in college in preparation for the job market. I knew I was different, I knew I could accomplish anything I set my mind to. Mixed in with this was tons of fun with some intense strategy games, and I LOVED outsmarting people with pure tactics. I just loved living in my world of different. One of the major challenges, and also one of my sources of pride, was my age. It hurt me a lot because I couldn't do some things I needed to, it hurt my business because a lot of potential customers didn't think I had the ability to build out computer solutions for them, and so on. But I did learn something valuable: The more you capitalize on your young age, the more successful you will be.

So, how does this translate to today?

It's not quite as easy to seperate yourself from the crowd when you're older. Everyone has jobs, skillsets, ages aren't quite as big of a deal, and so on. A lot of life is hidden, not everyone knows what you do when you're at "home."

Here's how I am trying to seperate myself from the crowd.
I am serving in the church. I am on the leadership team for Young Adults, and I am serious about trying to impact my generation positively. From teaching them how to manage finances, to being part of that group interested in discipleship and being Christ Like.
Tithing. I recently learned that only 3-5 percent of Christians (real christians, not the whacko "80% of Americans are Christian" set) actually tithe. On top of this, I commit to giving above and beyond of my money. This will help my discipline with regards to my money- Rosemary made this great point, that we all need to remember: It's not your money. I want to keep that in mind. That will help combat what happens in the previous post, where us Americans are inundated with things we want to purchase.
Being successful in the business world. I work at one of the biggest software companies at Microsoft. I will excel here, because I decide to. Just because the people before me need to work 80 hours a week here to excel, does not mean I need to. I will carve my own way, and I don't need to follow any templates to get there. I will be excellent because God created me to be that way, and I will be humble and I will work hard to get to where God has put me in my future.
I will be the best Father I can possibly be. I will raise my child to be a hard working, sensitive, wonderful person, who has the tenacity and will to go after what he wants, while still knowing how to have fun and enjoy life. I will do whatever it takes to be that Father that God is to me.
I will be the best husband I can. I have made a life long commitment to my wife, to be there for her and meet her needs. I will continuously work on being a better husband, and humbling myself and serving my wife in every way I can. It is the most important contract I have ever signed in my life, and I will treat it with the honor and dignity that it deserves- and more, to be an example to this world that marriage does succeed, and is the best option, and it takes hard work and is more rewarding than people can imagine.

These items are in order of priority, lowest to highest.

Help me be that difference. Encourage me, help me. Correct me.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I'm a crazy American...

I have a list about a page long of things I want to buy. I'm sure everyone does, really. But man, I keep saying to Rosemary, if only I had a million bucks. There'd be a ton of smaller cheaper things I would buy. Here are just a few:

Drumset.
a real Djembe.
Box drum.
Motorcycle.
Rear sway bar mounts for my WRX.
gun safe.
lefty holster for my SP-01.
LED Tactical light for my SP-01.
BBQ grill.


Anyways, the list goes on and on. But what really gets me, is that I am totally fine without *any* of these items. It reminds me of our trip to India. We would walk around the villages and chat with people, pray for them, bless them, etc. So we would get invited into a house, and there would be a bed, a pot or pan, one set of clothes, and a few bananas. And that would be pretty much all they had in life. And when we would walk in, they would give us the bananas that they had. Mind you, that this was all of the food they owned. And in Indian culture, we must accept gifts from people, it is unacceptable to decline. We did anyway a few times, but some people would have pained expressions on their faces if we did not accept gifts of food just for entering their house. I see these folks, and they were insanely happy with life. They were alive! We usually ended up giving them some cash and blessing them- and cash goes a *long* ways. We basically gave them every dollar(rupee) we had, and came home with nothing. It didn't make sense to buy gifts for friends and family when people were dying of starvation in front of our eyes, y'know? At one point we stopped at a restaurant on the side of the road, and a full meal was right around 50 cents. And this was a sit down restaurant for India. A lot of the poorer areas we were in, people would get only a couple meals a week. So when you'd give them the equivalent of 20 bucks, that would feed them for 3 months.

So I look back at my list of American desires... ugh. Pretty disgusting, huh?

I'm not saying these things would bring me happiness. I know where my happiness comes from- my wife, my child, my God. But it sure would be fun to ride a Yamaha FZ6 on a sunny saturday, or have all my accessories for competition shooting, etc etc.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Such a beautiful day!!!!

At lunch time, we set up a weber portable grill, went to costco, bought 40 sirloin burgers, buns, freakin huge costco hot dogs, potato salad, chips, etc and shot out an invite to all of the Core team. We had a ton of fun. Jorge put on some weird mexican 70's music, Mike made some fantastic burgers (he uses a mixture of worcestershire sauce and Johnnys, which I will now be using when I make burgers, because it was phenominal) and we just sat in camping chairs soaking up the sun in the middle of campus. haha. We were the envy of all of Sammamish those few hours.

I'm all lobster red now, but it was worth it. Plus seeing Gabo wear my aviators was great, too. Pretty much everyone has left already, and it's not even 2pm yet. I'm looking forward to the rest of the weekend now, too, just because of the weather. We're going to do a bbq on sunday, and with my newly acquired recipe I hope we have some fun there too. Makes me really wish I still had my jet-skis!! Lake samm on a jet-ski sounds like a GREAT afternoon right now.

We just completed week 3 of the hundred pushups program, and wooo that was hard. I managed to get 33 on my max set for a total of 130 pushups. I bet I'm probably in the 50-60 range total now. We'll see, I suppose! Rosemary and I tried to see where we are at for situps as well, and I only managed to crank out 40. I didn't really push myself that hard, it's a lot easier at work when everyone is doing them together. Doing all of these pushups sure feels good though, jsut to work hard and push yourself a little bit and see the benefits in your arms and chest. Sure helps with summer coming up. I just need to do the sit ups to work on this belly of mine now, hehe.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I think maybe I should take a week off here soon. The weather is getting nicer, I have three weeks vacation saved up, and it would be really good for Rosie and I to spend a week together. Go to the sci-fi museum, EMP, visit some parks. You know, kind of an around town vacation- do the underground tour, go out one night, etc.

I just feel a little overloaded today. A lot is going on, and I feel more and more responsible for more and more things in life. At work, which is going nutso with no direction or leadership and half our team layed off, at church where we have a new leadership team that seems foreign and more removed from our influence, getting our house in order with carpet, paint, a new bed, finances running pretty slim, and so on, Judah giving us a LOT more attitude lately, and the very large looming question of the next child, which seems to have gotten a lot more complicated in the last two days. Just a lot of weight, y'know? And it only gets weightier from here on out, for the foreseeable future. Work doesn't look promising for the next long while, but there aren't really any other internal jobs I can snag since there are, you know, an additional few thousand unemployed microsofties hangin around grabbing them all. Kids- the number only goes up. I need to get on my knees and really give all of this over to God in a better way. Sometimes I feel like I'm serving, giving, working, all of my hours away... I guess I look around me here at work and I don't see anyone else going and doing the things I do after work. They go drink and watch TV, chill at a beach, do whatever they want, but when I get home, my 2nd job starts, if it even includes going home that day. It's pushing me towards really disliking my job a lot more. I have even more trouble getting up in the morning, being motivated to serve Microsoft, and so on. it's a really hard job, and it drains me, and I don't like that. :(

God, take my weights away and help show me that my burdens are light and I serve you above all things. I am your servant, I am your son, and you take care of me.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

So we replaced every inch of carpet in the house. When Daniel and I moved into the place, the carpet was bad… and it has only gotten worse in the years since, with large stains here and there and dark paths in the major traffic areas. We already painted most of the whole house, so with paint and carpet pretty much all done, the house feels new. We’re still putting things back where they belong, and I have a feeling we will be for a while, but nice carpet makes everything seem cleaner.

For my mom’s 50th birthday, we had a costume party/skit thing, where everyone had to do a skit. Rosemary and I went as Brad and Angelina, and we did sort of a spoof on the WWE polar bear foundation, but replaced it with old people.

For the last few weeks, a bunch of us guys (the ones that are left) are doing a 100 pushup challenge. http://hundredpushups.com/index.html

We’re on week two, day two, and I just finished and hit 23 pushups on the max for today, for a total of 77 pushups today. Already seeing some big gains. I started out being able to do about 23 in a row. I’m not sure how many in a row I could do right now, but it’s definitely more than 23. I’ll test myself this weekend probably.

Ricky

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Whoa...

Half of my team was just let go. Layoffs struck Microsoft again, to the tune of 3,000 employees. That was part of the 5,000 number originally reported six months ago or so, when 1,400 were laid off. So we can expect about another 600 to go.

It's pretty hard to describe how I feel and what the new landscape here in my group is like. When I walked down to my cube this morning, the rows were mostly empty... just empty spaces, where warm bodies used to be, drinking coffee, listening to music, getting loads of work done. I'm not sure how we're going to be able to absorb that work. We will probably haveto change how we work and what we can do, mixed with a bit of work overload for a while to trim down our deliverables.

Natural wisdom would say I got lucky that I was spared, because the people that were let go seemed to be at random in our team. Kingdom wisdom would tell me otherwise, though. God's got some plans for me at this company. There really isn't anything that seperates me from the guys that got the axe, and it was a pretty humbling moment (obviously moreso for those now at home today). They just got called into an office, told their badge would stop working at 4pm, probably signed a severance agreement, and sent their goodbye mails. That's that...

some really great coworkers and friends are now gone. I don't know what the future holds, but I do have a 1 on 1 meeting with my boss later today, so I'll probably hear about more later today.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

So, over the last few days, I've been able to attend windows 7/Windows 2008 R2 training. This is basically the next set of software for server and client computers. Overall, the training was great.

The keynote was given by a couple of VPs of windows, and it was incredible to hear them talk about the decisions they'd made about certain feature sets or timelines, because it really gave great insight into a lot of the reasons why people hate windows, or vista in particular.

You often see, and/or hear people bashing Vista or windows, and after hearing the pure genius of the windows guys, it just makes the bashers sound completely ignorant. A lot of the thought process that went into Vista was explained, as well as the direction moving forward. I feel like this was a once in a lifetime opportunity, to hear behind closed doors, from the guys that are in charge of the world's most popular piece of software. There were about 120 IT Professionals from around the world attending this training, and it was mostly on features of the new versions of windows that are still not public yet, so I can't say much about those features, but I've gotta say. Win7 will blow the door wide open for innovation, and what an operating system should do.

All of the training makes me want to get back into true IT engineering. DNS, architecture, AD, and so on. It was so envigorating seeing the new iterations of these solutions and how they work- so very interesting, because the world runs on these technologies, and this is the team that is literally changing the way the world works.

We also got to visit the new commons area up at the new campus. Oh man... what a beautiful place. Water fountains, restaurants, stores, a hair salon, a bar, a soccer field, and so much more. It reminds me that I work for one of the greatest companies. Just not at one of the greatest companies. Yet another reason why it sounds so good to work for a product team. I would feel so inspired if I worked on interesting cool IT technology that changes the world. Some truly genius people in those groups. It reminds me of my teaching days, when I could get up in front of a class and talk about subnetting for an hour off the top of my head. It takes a person truly passionate about technology to get that into something, and I'm kind of craving being an expert on something like that again. Too bad there's no budget for training materials, and the books cost 70 a pop for the '08 server stuff. ugh.

Monday, April 20, 2009

We had a pretty great weekend. We went to the pacific science center with Judah, and he loved it. He was so excited and amped up the whole time, haha. So many buttons, colors, objects, and so on. We then tooled over to Jeremy's house to attend Sarah's birthday party, and it was nice to see everyone there. Seems like it was everyone that used to come to young adults... hah.

Well, some big changes coming for young adults. Our leaders, Mark & Lori, have decided to step down and move on. Clint and Amaryllis are stepping in, and it should be a pretty good change. Fresh perspective, new ideas, and so on. There are a few concerns around the current leadership team not wanting The Edge to be run like the youth group is run, but I think we'll get it all worked out. Clint and Amaryllis are bright people that are very respectful. So here's to the future of The Edge!

Next topic. I've got a couple days of training starting tomorrow, to get trained on some of the new features and IT related info of Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2. I'm excited, because this is the kind of thing that excites me about IT. Technology... how to deploy it, how it works, how to fix it. I've been getting exceedingly bored out of my mind at work lately because I've just been babysitting a bunch of work and overviewing bugs logged. Not very technical or interesting. I'm hoping this will be a bit of a fresh breath of air for me, and give me some good training time on some new technology that we'll haveto adopt. I just hope I'll be able to use that training in my job somehow. Sometimes I think it would be more fun to work for a smaller company and run a datacenter or lab, instead of work on incredibly complex IT applications that relegate me to "review bugs" all day long and manage schedules...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Thx for the link Mom.

If any of you are interested in where the country is going, the consensus is growing that inflation is coming (front page of msn.com). The fed is printing money to help cover the 5.8 trillion dollars that Obama has committed to spend so far.

Reading the article is very interesting, because it addresses some of the thoughts and reasons behind why hyperinflation starts and how it is pushed higher, and it's funny, it feels like I'm reading some of the news articles about what we are doing to get out of the recession. Kind of sad.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/hyperinflation

Monday, April 06, 2009

Such a beautiful day!

Sunshine and good weather always lift moods. Makes me want to take a day off and take the family somewhere. Pacfic science center or something? I dunno. I think I get discounts for going there...

Makes me want to eat meat. I'm fasting meat and pop for three weeks, and this is the last week. I guess pretty much everything makes me want to eat meat lately, but good weather is just one more reason.

Anyways- cheers to all! Go out and enjoy the good weather!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Refreshing the house.

So we got an estimate for carpet, and we decided we're going to go with that. So, we started painting last night while the old carpet is down, for a few reasons: we want the carpet to match the paint, and we want to paint while the old carpet is down in case we spill. So we painted maybe a third of our bedroom last night and taped most of it all off. We got rid of the extremely ugly aztec red wall, and painted over it with a darker warmer red color, and started painting over the super ugly peach with a gray based offwhite. It already looks a ton better. I'm so tired of seeing a peach glow in the house from all the ugly walls. Most of the downstairs has already been painted, just the dining room is left there. We need to paint the rest of the bedroom and the hallway area connecting upstairs/downstairs before we lay the carpet, and Dad is going to come over on friday during the day to help out with that (part of a little agreement he had with us to help paint our house in leiu of cash when we went on our mission trip to India. He's already painted the downstairs area, so I figure we're even after friday).

We had to go with a 15ft roll of carpet to avoid some pretty ugly seems, so we had very limited choice in that range, but the one that was there matched what we are going for and works with our budget, so I think we're solid there.

All in all, I'm fairly excited about refreshing the house. We've had ugly walls and nasty 10+ year old carpet ever since I've moved in, and having new fresh paint and carpet can really make you feel better about your living space, and in turn give you some motivation to keep it cleaner, too. hehe.

Friday, March 27, 2009

I have this strange desire to blog, like there is a lot on my mind and I want to get it out. But I'm having a tough time coming up with what I actually want to blog about.

Things that have been on my mind lately:

Preparedness- being prepared for any kind of a social or natural disaster. My tin foil hat is only so big, so I'm only looking at a 30 day preparedness cache at this time, but it raises a lot of questions about the value of the paper dollar during a crisis, how to make a fire (it's really hard!) and things like that.

My car/Tracking it. I tracked my car a few weeks ago, and its was incredibly fun. So fun that I want to do it more. But of course, my car is appraoching 100k miles. It will need a new clutch/transmission sometime in the next year, and track days accelerate that timeframe and wear your tires out faster, etc.

My finances. I might get laid off sometime in the next 15 months. We want to recarpet the whole condo. Lots, and lots of things to think about here. We are presisting off of one income, with a child. And doing reasonably well. But it can be mentally tiring, feeling like you are on a tightrope between living month to month and being responsible with your extra cash.

Work. Lots of stuff going on at work. Some people making some decisions without thinking about the consequences, and the political battles that are ensuing. I'm on the front lines of that particular battle, and my boss has assigned me a half dozen extra tasks he wants me to take care of, all of them going in different directions, at the same time.

Young Adults. The leadership team is going through some interesting shifts in philosophy, and it's taking a lot of effort on all of our parts to make sure we are successful. I am also playing drumset weekly for the service, which is a ton of fun, but of course one more stick on the camel's back.

Alone time. I've had a hard time lately finding some time to just play my video games. I did manage to get an hour and a half in last night, which was really great and nice of my wife. I know it sounds particularly selfish, but it's hard for both of us. Judah has to be watched constantly, and it's either me or her, and when he goes down, it's usually our only time together, which means there's no real options for me to play my video games. I know I have some other recreational things I've been doing lately, I went to the track, have gone to a gun show, and go to the range a few times, so I know I don't have much ground to stand on, but I guess it's just something I'm feeling (and feelings aren't always rational).

Fasting. I'm fasting all pop and meat for three weeks. The first week is almost done. And boy, is this hard, and eye opening. I think it's important to constantly experience the world through different glasses, and being a vegetarian for a few weeks is pretty darn eye opening. Plus... pop... mmm. I love Dr. pepper. It's my favorite. And I walk by the fridges full of it every hour or so here at work. I've got a few things I've been focusing on praying about when I'm fasting, and I'm really hoping that I see some breakthroughs in our young adults group, my nervousness around finances, etc.

So I guess I just blogged about each of the areas I could have blogged about. There's of course probably a gazillion more things on my mind I could have blogged about, too... sigh, why is my blog always so boring?

Monday, March 16, 2009

So, the rest of the layoffs at MS are still looming over everyone's head. It's unfortunate that the company is looking at layoffs just to apease investors, when we have 40billion+ in the bank and the stock price is already down 50% from 12 months ago. Ugh.

So kind of as an excercise, I wrote out what a quick plan would be if I got laid off (not that it's likely, but in the unlikely case).

Of course it requires a ton of sacrifice to get the monthly bills down as much as possible. Gotta get rid of erroneous things like netflix, data plans on the cell phone, raise insurance deductibles, sell the car to get rid of the car payment (Thankfully we've got a good 9k or so in equity there) and sell off anything around the house we can. Probably my paintball gear, RC gear, bass, unfortunately, and so on. With all of this, if I was on unemployment, I'd still be around a thousand a month short on basic needs, such as house payment, homeowners dues, insurance, food, and whatnot. Our savings would cover us for a few months, but after that... we'd haveto start getting into debt to sustain us, which is a very dangerous prospect. I'm pretty sure either Rosemary or I could get any kind of job within a few months, so we'd probably be okay, as long as that job makes more than 1300 a month, until unemployment runs out, then we'd both need to be working again. But even then, our earning power adds up pretty well. She's worth a good 2k a month(more, actually), and I'm worth a substantial IT job, if we can find the right jobs.

This downturn is something funny. A few relatives and friends have lost their jobs. Houses are dirt cheap, and so are my house values. It leaves me in an uneasy place financially, where we are living off of one income right now, and don't have a ton of ability to save massive amounts of cash at a time like we have in the past. Our savings is okay, probably better than most, but one big event is all it would take to wipe that out. Say, broken transmission, or something like that. I can tell you though, if we weather the downturn well, have our savings intact, then we will come out on the other side very, very good. Good position to buy a new house, my 401k will rebound over time, no debt, etc, means we could be very agile with the resources we do have.

I guess I'm just kind of rambling about the general unease and strange situation that is the 08/09 recession. One of the things Rosie and I are turning a keen eye to lately is preparedness. It's no secret that the government is trying to repair bad spending habbits with more spending, and that the United States is slowly slipping in the eyes of the world, and sound economists. It's funny, that it's hard to prepare when you need to prepare, but easy of course when times are easy. It can be costly to prepare, between buying foods and water storage, heating units, investing in some precious metals, and so on, especially when you don't have a ton of extra. We'll just do the best we can, try to strike a balance between prepared and broke, and trust that God has got our backs. :)

It's just such a strange world. I mean, I guess I've only been living on my own for what, 3 years now, but I've gotten into the groove of getting used to providing for my family, budgeting out needs and wants, and finding a real good comfort zone. I can adapt just fine, but it sure makes me uneasy.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

My sermon, "Unoffendable" is up on our young adults podcast. You can get it here:

http://newheartworship.org/podcasts/YA/09/20090202_RickyOchs_LearningToNotTakeOffense.mp3

Right click, save target as...

It's good to hear myself preach, I'm able to critique myself better.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

So...



Maintaining a high performance car is expensive. Brake pads, rotors, etc are all at least 30% more expensive. And, when a car gets over 100k miles, maintenance skyrockets. You haveto think about those one time repairs and maintenance items that crop up. I've got 97k on the odo for the WRX right now. At 105k, I've got my timing belt I need to do($400-800 depending on what pulleys/tensioners need to be replaced). Within the next 10k miles I will probably haveto do my clutch ($700-900). New tires in the next 15k ($600-800) and brakes ($400 just for the fronts) Within 40k my tranny will go. It could go tomorrow, it could go at 140k. I don't know. That will be something around 3k for some new gears installed, and hopefully strengthened a little bit. That's something like 5000-5900 worth of repairs in the next year or so, not counting unplanned breakages, oil changes, and the like.



Is it worth it ? Yes. Driving a 6 year old car that is paid off and repairing it is wayyyy cheaper than paying payments of $250 a month on a car. Those payments come to about 3000 a year or so, but that also doesn't factor in the idea that you owe money on the car, it also requires maintenance (30k and 60k maint is around 800 bucks, brakes, etc) and you're pouring 30% of every payment away in interest.



If you drive a car into the ground and throw it away once the repairs exceed the value of the car, you will save an average of 20k per car (between insurance, depreciation, interest payments, compounded over five years). The way around this is to get a somewhat used car and pay cash, and start putting away $250 a month towards your next car- theoretically the money you are saving by not having a car payment. Once your current car is run into the ground, probably somewhere at 175k miles or more, you'll have enough to buy a new car cash. Maintenance costs drop dramatically, and you have absolutely no payments and no loss on interest. If you financed a $30,000 car, you'd end up paying something like $45,000 for that car over the five years you pay it off. You just saved yourself fifteen grand, if you assume you buy a new car every five years with the cash you saved. If you keep the car even longer, the savings keeps adding up. So you keep paying yourself $250 a month for that theoretical car payment over the life of your brand new car. When it reaches 175k and you've run it into the ground, you now have something like $39,000 in cash for your next car (assuming your brand new car lasts you around 13 years, which is really easy and conservative). Repeat, and save... over your lifetime, you will have saved over $200,000 on cars, interest, insurance, maintenance, and depreciation.

So is it worth it for me to be spending 6k to keep my car maintained for the next few years? Absolutely. That doesn't even factor in the fact that it's a high performance car that I will be using for the track. You gotta pay to play baby.

Moral of the story: Buy cash only, avoid making rich CEOs of banks richer by loaning money and paying interest, and don't be so high maintenance about needing a "new" car. You'll save hundreds of thousands. No joke.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Track day.

So, my dad, my uncle and I all signed up for a drivers education/skills day at bremerton raceway. It's basically a one day autocross/training course, where they train you how to drive safely in a high performance vehicle. The first half of the day is classroom training and car control exercises- they wet down the pavement and have an instructor sit with you in the car and walk you through how to get out of an uncontrolled slide, how to emergency brake, how to run a slalom, and so on. The second half of the day is tuning your skills with an autocross course.

So I've been wanting to track my car like this for a long while- ever since I bought it, really. I've even tastefully modded it for light track duty. Stage 2 brake kit, mild power modifications, suspension upgrades, and so on, for a balanced car. Not a car with 300 horsepower on stock suspension and brakes, not an underpowered highly manueverable honda.

The problem is, it's been so long since I prepped the car for this kind of duty, that it needs some TLC before it'll be ready to go. It's been 40k miles since I put my stage 2 brake kit on, so it's extremely close to needing new high performance brake pads and rotors. It needs another oil change here soon, and I had a nail in my right rear tire. Well, I got the nail fixed this morning, I've inspected the brakes several times, and I just don't know if I need to replace them before the track day. The alfa club is pretty firm about wanting the cars to have lots of pad life before a track day, and are serious about making the event safe for everyone. Dad and I already went out and bought a helmet for the event, even- a cheapie 100 dollar M2005 snell helmet, but it looks cool. painted in a neat silver design. That'll work for the occasional track day.

So I'm kind of torn on what I need to do now. The track day is less than two weeks away, and if I need to do my brakes before the track day, I need to order the parts right now. I decided to take the car to my mechanic on thursday for the oil change and for him to inspect the brakes and advise me on what needs to be done, but I still fear for my ability to get the parts in time to get it done before saturday 6am. Even then I'd haveto bed in the new brakes on the way to the track, heh.

But, I am very excited to finally be using the car for what it was designed for. It's an extremely capable machine, and I am looking forward to spinning it out and drifting around cones in it.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

These are a few of my favorite things:

www.failblog.org


www.fark.com


www.icanhascheezburger.com


www.penny-arcade.com

When I am bored or need to take a break, I will visit one of these sites for a few minutes of entertainment. Failblog is just plain funny, sometimes crude. Fark is hilarious headlines about stupid people around the world. Icanhascheezburger is funny captioned cat pictures, and penny-arcade is a couple of sarcastic seattlelite gamers that draw pictures and make fun of the gaming industry while wholly submitting to the fact that it runs their lives.

Outside the "e" world, my favorite things are cars, tinkering with things, music(playing mostly, lately, but a zunepass exponentially increases my interest in listening as well), reading, and my family.

What are a few of your favorite things?

People I expect to respond:

Rosemary
Kathleen
Hodge (Yes, I know you read this :) )
Amy

And anyone else that reads this that I am unaware of. Maybe I'll post it on facebook to see if anyone else has any interesting favorite things.

Monday, February 02, 2009

I'm preaching tonight. I'm going to write my sermon down here, partly to practice and cement it, partly to share it with a wider audience.

During the weekend, the Refuel youth/young adults conference, the pastor that was preaching Joel Scrivner talked a lot about being blameless. One of the sermons was about spiritual cleanliness- how things that happen to you apart from your own sin can make you unclean. Part of this is offense. He talked about issues he'd encountered that had made him unclean, and how he needed to forgive these offenses, repeatedly.

I want to really focus in on his offense message, and dive deeper into offense. When you take a look at the word "Offense" or "Offend" you'll find that it has over 40 synonyms. Forty different ways that we have, in the english language, ways of saying we are offended. The transverse is an antonym- an opposite. There are only two antonyms to offense. Another great way to look at it is, there are forty ways to say I am offended, but only one word for "Love" in the english language.

First, I'm going to talk about communication. Take a look at Matthew 17:27 and you'll see a portion of a story about Jesus performing another miracle, to pull money out of a fish's mouth. You'll see here that Jesus specifically went out of his way to avoid offending someone- he even had to get miraculous on a situation to avoid offending. This is the example we really need to follow. The order in which you put your words can have very, very different meanings than what you intend. For example, you can say, I like girls. This can be interpreted many, many different ways. I like girls, I like girls, or I like girls. See the difference there? A little tone here or body language there and your words change dramatically. One paints you as a pedophile, one is an emphatic (possibly lustful) statement, and another is just a weird thing to say. :) They all say the same thing though, right? We haveto be especially careful of this in our generation, because one of our trademarks- one of the things that defines our generation is our sarcasm. This adds a whole new layer of complexity to what you are saying and how it might be interpreted. Sarcasm is rife within our society and generation- When my wife was pregnant, I used to call her tubbs all the time. Now, she knew this was in jest and would laugh and enjoy having fun, and people love to always clown on eachother about old age whenever possible. We just need to be aware that sometimes what we say can have very, very different meanings.

On the other side of the coin, is when we listen. Take a look at Matthew 13:54-57 and you'll see when Jesus was preaching in his hometown. At first, everyone was amazed at what Jesus had said. His words were without fault. And as you continue reading this passage, we see an about-face, and the people start looking for offense. When the words were not offensive, they looked deeper- into Jesus' family, to find a reason to be offended at his words. People in our society are specifically looking to be offended. Searching your every word for offense. You can see here that being offended is a decision. They heard the word, sat back, and thought about it long enough to find an offense. When we listen to people, we need to think of them and their words in the best possible way. Assume the best about them, and what they are trying to say. We need to realize the *vast* majority of the time, people are not trying to offend you. Be slow to draw negative conclusions about whatever is being spoken. That person that is speaking is worthy of your grace, just as Jesus gives us grace. Do not dig into their words un-necessarily. We do this fairly frequently trying to find fault in their words, and it's unintentional. Stop yourself from doing that. Don't dwell on people's words negatively.

If after considering the best possible interpretation, you truly do find something worthy of taking issue with, you've got to do two things. First, pray. Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, you can pray. Take a few minutes to cool off if you need to. The second thing you need to do, is approach that person. Reciprocate. As pastor Clint and Amaryllis talked about in the communication break out, repeat back to that person what they said and ask if it is what they meant. If it is, tell them how it made you feel. The rest of this process is easy- if someone really sees that they offended you or said something offensive, people will work very very hard at making it up to you. People hate offending eachother un-intentionally.

Now, if you do this, and someone truly is trying to offend you, this is terribly easy to fix. The attack you see is the easiest to dodge. If someone is truly trying to offend you, you can easily brush it off as something that is untrue or mean spirited. Don't let it get to you. If someone is trying to offend you, pick better friends!

Let's talk about when and where we need to be diligent about this. First, I use these tactics a lot at work. Political hostilities can truly do damage to your career, or your pay. How many of you have had communications issues in e-mails? E-mails pose a special problem, because a very large portion of communication- nonverbal communication, get's left out. I tend to re-read my e-mails before I send them, acting like I recieved them, and see how it makes me feel. This is also a really good strategy for if you are trying to influence people positively- make them feel warm and accepted, acknowledged and appreciated. You've got the benefit of time, you can re-read that e-mail as many times as you want, where as it's harder to think about what you are saying during a conversation.

The next area you can use these tactics in is your marriage, or other close relationships. This is where it truly matters the most. Where there are hearts and souls at stake. What you say can truly injure someone for life. Remember what Jesus taught us, love one another as we love ourselves. This is critical in how we become Christ-like! Jesus constantly showed us how to be kind, patient, loving. How to be un offendable is an important piece of the puzzle to staying clean and being Christ-like.

Lastly, the church- this is the absolute easiest place for us to deal with offense. I can almost gaurantee you that people are trying to be uplifting and talk to you out of love. The entire reason we are at church is to learn about Christ and how to be more christ-like. When was the last time you saw someone intentionally trying to do harm to the body? Probably never. When people are communicating at church, you haveto think and understand that people are trying to build eachother up, have fun, and be friends. No one intentionally says something stupid or does something that hurts someone else here. Unfortunately, this is also where some of the most devastating, divisive offenses in human history have happened. Are we not all here for the same reason? Because God called us? This is also a reminder to us, that if and when you might disagree with someone, you don't haveto take offense. in fact, doesn't it seem silly to take offense at something just because someone believes differently? Especially over issues that have many opinions, as the church has found out painfully. Jesus specifically points out that to bicker over trivial theology is to really lose sight of the cross.

In closing- it's incredibly easy for us to take offense, as humans. Naturally we all think pretty highly of ourselves, and anything that might hint at the contrary can be painful. We are constantly searching words and messages and meanings to find anything that might be at odds with our idea of ourselves. Take some time ot think about some offenses you've experienced lately, and humble yourself. Decide not to be offended. We are here to serve eachother. Paul got it right, when he said love keeps no record of wrongs.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

some food for thought:

The average household pays $368 in overdraft fees each year, according to Brenton Woods, a financial services advisory firm quoted in the SmartMoney story.

"You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it."-- Dr. Adrian Pierce Rogers, 1931–2005

"I carry a gun because a cop is too heavy. " Anon

"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."-Albert Einstein

PETA- People Eating Tasty Animals.

yes I'm a crazy conservative. No, I don't think spending more money that we don't have erases the debt we still have.


Monday, January 26, 2009

So, Rosemary and I have had to think about our finances a lot lately. A lot of things have come up, not just expenses, but the world's financial situation has had a nasty effect on us lately. My 401k has basically not grown at all last year, despite dumping thousands into it, effectively netting a 40% decline in that account. My personal savings account has lost quite a significant amount as well, due to the huge drops in MSFT stock in the last 12 months.

The world is changing. We are still able to afford everything we need, which is a testament to God's provision, but things have gotten harder. Of course our heating bill grows in the winter, the annual homeowners dues go up every January, and a new assessment was levied against us, due in a few months. I think we can get by, but it leaves us in a strange spot. We can't really afford a new house, nor could we sell our current. But we need to start thinking about that in about a year or so, when we think about a second kid. We have a two bedroom place. We have both kind of decided that we probably won't be able to get into a house within the next two years, because of the housing market. We just couldn't sell our place, or afford a down payment on a new place. We're going to haveto figure out how to be comfortable in our townhouse for a while longer. Especially now that it is made known that no raises will go out to MS employees for at least a year and a half. That is very limiting for our goals.

So, we've decided to look into refinancing, to see if we can eek some extra room out of our monthly house payment. Loans are at pretty low rates right now, and it might net us enough extra per month to be able to jump start our savings enough to get a foothold on a downpayment, or some upgrades to the current place to increase resale value- which is similar to a straight cash downpayment. It would also help with crazy costs like extra assessments, a blown transmission, or emergency purchases for kid(s).

All in all, God is good. He has provided, and as long as we stay debt free and smart with our money, we are in the clear, and will be positioned for financial success in the long run. Truth be told, that's simply amazing for a couple in their early 20's.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Well, the layoff news is in. 1400 immediately let go with small severance packages (one week of pay per 6 months of employment time) and another 3600 out the door within 18 months. No raises this year. And a few other minor cuts in travel and spending.


I think MS made a bit of a mistake saying 3600 will be laid off over the next 18 months. Everyone still employed now has to worry about their job, which is probably one of the most impacting factors on morale. Not only that, but people will be hard pressed to find motivation to work when, during your review, there will be no raise tied to your performance. That being said, bonuses and stock awards are probably still part of the review period. Maybe this will improve the work life balance issues at microsoft? Who knows, maybe it'll mean a mad dash for the top spots so you don't get laid off. Either way it seems a really odd way to do things, from a morale/employee perspective.

It's a pretty small cut overall, to be honest. I would almost rather a larger cut. We've hired something like 10,000 people a year on average the last 4 years in a row. That's an insane growth rate, which is fine, but they are working on projects that don't necessarily create new revenue. We've been growing so much and in so many ways that it seems frivolous. Not to mention the huge bloating of our middle management level. There are soooo many directors, vice presidents, general managers, and so on. I feel like a lot of them got there on the merit of their coding abilities or great achievements they made at microsoft a long time ago, but aren't really a good fit for larger management or direction of microsoft kinds of positions.

I'm not really worried about my position, I think I stated that previously. And apparently my boss has talked me up to my peers quite a bit lately, which I don't much like, because it paints a target on my back, and/or creates some animosity between me and people I like to consider my friends. I don't think I'm "better" than my coworkers... I've just worked on this specific area for so long I've got it down pretty good.

Rick

Monday, January 19, 2009

So, there's "rumors of layoffs" at microsoft the past couple of weeks.

How do I feel about that? Well, yet again, I am frustrated at modern media. A single blogger, mini microsoft, (an anonymous microsoft employee that has ideas on how microsoft can become a better company) just kind of mentioned the idea without any proof or hard facts, just a lot of "so and so said" kind of stuff. Then, another blog picked it up, and another, so on and so on, until CNN is displaying on ther NATIONAL NEWS CHANNEL that Microsoft is going to do layoffs.

Bahahah. So, they might be true. Mini Microsoft is a good information source, but even the blogger admits that the info is pretty he said she said kind of stuff. The rumor originally said that the layoffs would be announced on the 15th, and that it would be around 14 percent or so, and mostly just trimming "the fat" or people who get the lower 10% rating on their yearly reviews.

I'm not really that personally concerned. I work on a few very very large projects within microsoft that are considered "big bets" and I've got quite a bit of domain knowledge of build engineering that our group really needs.

So that's how I feel about "layoffs." I guess I wouldn't mind if our company trimmed up a bit, either, because I feel like our hiring standards have kind of slipped. Some of the people I've worked with kind of make me scratch my head sometimes.

So in other news, we just got a letter from our new homeowners management company. The board of directors for our association decided to levy a 250 thousand dollar assessment to raise extra cash. So we haveto pay around 2 grand by may 15th, and we were just notified. This makes me angry. It seems to me any sort of assessment needs a vote from the association body, instead of arbitrarily decided by the board of directors, which are just a few people in the association. And what really frustrates me is that it's just for extra cash. We raise our rates every year, by about 4 or 5 percent, to adjust for cost increases and extra expenses- for this exact purpose. And we have special assessments on top of this...? I understand the previous assessments I've seen- new siding for a third of all the buildings. But that included over a year of advance notice, breaking out the payments in sections, and a clear goal in mind. But just 250k for extra cash? I looked at our current balance sheet and we've got 100k extra cash right now, and we have another 100k that will be saved by the end of this year. So we will have near a half million in extra cash in the bank now... for extra cash?

Grr! I'm still trying to get up the willpower and anger to go dig out my homeowners agreement documents and find out whether they need to do an association vote on this. We haveto vote to approve the yearly increase in dues, so it seems we need to do that for an assessment as well.

Monday, January 12, 2009

forgot to add- part of this recent discovery led me to start a 2 week free trial of the Zunepass.

What's that? Well, it's the competitor to iTunes and the iPod. It's a music application, like iTunes, where you can listen to all of your favorite music. With the Zunepass you pay fifteen bucks a month and get unlimited music and everything you want to listen to. They've acquired the rights to pretty much every song I've come across, and you can download and listen to it, create playlists of it, and so on. So you basically get access to all the music in the world for fifteen bucks a month. I think that, if you are a big music fan, it's a much better deal than iTunes, where you pay 70-100 cents per song- which can add up real quick. Buy an album or so and you're up at 15 bucks, the same cost as a zunepass which gives you millions of albums, not just one.

And to help them compete with iTunes, zunepass gives you ten free songs per month (to download and keep, even after you shut down your zunepass) on top of the unlimited access. I think it's a much better deal, and I'm not real sure why it hasn't been doing better against the apple offering. oh and, the Zune is a pretty cool device.
So, when I was younger- starting right around 10 or so, I just fell in love with music. I know it happens to most everyone, and the way I started in on the new found love was by first listening to all of the music my mom had. This included lots of Michael W. Smith, Amy Grant, some old Petra album called "This Means War" in tape format, and a bunch of other less popular christian bands. After a few years, when I was 12, I built myself my first computer, and immediately started in on the journey of creating my own music collection. I discovered great things like rock music and techno. These were truly momentous things! Trance Control forever changed my life, buzzing out of my maxed out 3 dollar speakers that I barely could afford after years of saving for my computer build. I started saving up for a speaker set that could do my growing collection justice, and picked up a 2.1 set of Altec Lansings that were the best of the class for that time- that I think my cousin still has and uses. Don't even get me started on Creed!

As I grew up, and I started falling in love with other things in my life, such as the idea of love, which was opened up to me by the idea of salvation and someone loving me so much they died for me, I started hearing the passion that comes forth from love songs. Things like Jewel, Blessed Union of Souls, and various artists that did a few love songs like Bush and Dido. The idea of being so sold out for someone else really captured me, because I grew up wanting to please others and make people happy.

And the story continues, the great journey of music through life that everyone takes. Some people it plays a minor role, some people it's a very large part of who they are. Part of that journey contains mix CDs- works of art that people put together to illustrate emotions or states of mind.

Well, I stumbled upon a CD case full of some of my old mix CDs, and just started popping them into my CD player this last week. There was the L-mix, (which stood for love, but was written to avoid embarrassment by my 'macho' friends), and of course the famed "Mix 1" "Mix 2" "mix 3" and "mix 4." And when I'd be ready to create a new set of mixes, I'd just write "old" on the old mix tapes. So I stumbled across mix 1-4 Old, and Mix 1-6, and the L-mix, of course.

It's so interesting when you listen to something like that, from a bygone era of your life. I put those mixes together with specific feelings and thoughts in mind, creating a flowing story for each CD. Listening to them brings me back to those feelings and times in my life. Times when emotional responses were easier to get out of me, times when I was so introspective and cognitive that I would try and glean a greater meaning or purpose out of everything. When the lyrics of a specific song would evoke life changing convictions.

As a sample of this, here is where I am at in my current music life: David Crowder, some Nickelback, Family Force 5, various trance music (similar to Infected Mushroom), United, Kutless, and various other mainstream bands such as Daughtry and Maroon 5.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

I KNEW this would happen...

So, at work, I've been transitioning off of my work and team, and training up a vendor to own and take leadership of all build engineering for this team. My boss has wanted me to move into automating and testing (basically fitting into the basic microsoft idea: only two types of people exist, devs and testers). Which I don't personally believe in, because build engineering needs to exist in IT development. Anyways, the transition is pretty much complete, and the vendor has been shadowing me for a few months and knows the ropes, and is taking charge. So when I came back to work after my winter vacation, I started working on the automation/testing framework my boss wants everyone to move into.

This morning, he calls me into the private meeting room to talk to me, and tells me about another group that has been having some pretty serious troubles with engineering, and how he wants to take it over and overhaul how it works and how we do their engineering. And, he wants me to take charge and work on that. My ENTIRE career has been basically this:

1. Get thrown on a problem application, to clean up their engineering processes, do a couple of releases and get the delivery and execution results up, make the customers happy.

2. Boss calls me in, tells me about a problem application.

3. Repeat.


Which is fine with me. I love engineering. I love fixing problems... last week, my xbox broke and I just sat there and fixed it for four hours. It was fun. Unfortunatetly the fix didn't last too long, and I tried to fix it again (and didn't have the tool) but I still had a blast fixing it. To me, fixing things and engineering is WAYY more fun than your standard develop and test framework that a lot of this company operates on. I hate writing code, it's boring, and I hate testing code, because it's mind numbing. I'd like to think that I'm a fairly seasoned build engineer, and I'd like to think that I'm fairly good at it- which is why I keep getting thrown on problem applications that need serious engineering help. And thats what I want to do. I'm sure that once I'm done fixing up this application and how it's engineered, the issue will come back up and my boss will want me to move over to traditional dev/test. It's really frustrating to have a build engineering manager that doesn't believe in build engineering... he believes build engineering is obsolete and a job that shouldn't exist. I'll continue to do a good job and prove him wrong, proving that no amount of automation can replace a smart guy with an engineering backround- we will always be better than a script.

;)