27 October 2006

you can never get too much good news...

If you forget about my being in the mortgage business since I have not yet made a dime in it, I have been unemployed six months officially a few days ago. I had been looking hard for employment in the medical laboratory and the lending thing came up first of course, but I continued looking elsewhere knowing that it might not work out.

So the other day I got a call that had me all excited because the interview I went to the day previously had them checking my references already. A few hours later I received another call that left me glum the rest of the day. They had called my previous employer (from which I had been fired) and wanted to know what happened.

Since I got tired of talking about it every time I interviewed and saying things like "that's all I'll say about what happened" and getting nowhere I had long ago just decided to say I was laid off because I believed that my former employers non-disclosure policy would cover me and I wouldn't have to get into it.

So when they called and said "I think you need to tell us what happened at XYZ hospital" I got pretty bummed about the whole thing. I told them what really happened minus most of the details and figured I wouldn't be hearing from them again. I was wrong.

Today I received news that they are going to hire me and no mention of you know what was made at all. So I panicked for nothing. Well perhaps not nothing, but less than what my threshold ought to be.

So I believe I will be taking the job which means moving to the Tacoma area again and leaving the fair cities of Vancouver and Portland behind, at least for now. The job is night shift and is less than full time. I will be ok with this because I expect to receive supplemental income by continuing to do the occasional loan for friends and acquaintances. They also said I would be able to pick up hours from others calling in sick or taking holidays. I know I won't starve or be homeless so that is why I am happy today.

In honor of that, how about a happy song... I offer you "Mushaboom" to hear and enjoy it too!



concerning oregon's measure 42...

Whenever I see a new measure/initiative/referendum I always find it fascinating to look a little deeper and see what the real impact of the law since sending issues directly to the voters often is a ploy to sneak something in that sounds good but would never pass muster if reviewed by intelligent, conscientious lawmakers (yes I am aware I am giving them perhaps too much credit, but I still believe generally they have our best interests at heart).

So recently I have noticed that Oregon's measure 42 has been had virtually no advertising in favor, only against. Obviously the insurance industry is behind the campaigns against outlawing a practice they spent a lot of time and money to create, but who is behind the measure itself? I will admit I didn't dig enough to learn that little nugget, but I did do a lot of reading on this blog from someone who seems to be an insurance industry insider who offers mostly favorable information about "insurance scoring," who benefits and what supposed effects it has as a whole.

One of the reasons I chose to look into this issue (after all, I am not an Oregon resident) is because of the claims in the anti-measure 42 ads that "60-70% of Oregon residents have good credit and save money on their insurance because of it."

On Mike's blog I found a chart he says is representative of one of the only major academic studies about using credit scores as a predictor of exposure to a loss. This information seems to match up with the claims in the ads since only the bottom 30th percentile have significantly higher risk for a loss. Now the chart does not say how long a period was covered in the study or the ultimate cost of the loss over time. Perhaps a better chart would be more three dimensional and demonstrate, based on credit score percentile, the risk and cost of losses in each group. This would certainly be more informative and ultimately help them in their pricing I would think, but they chart only refers to an "average relative loss rate."

Now since I am somewhat good at math and statistical analysis, I can help break down the chart for you as well as he did if you do not care to read his post. The bottom 30th percentile represents significantly higher risk to the insurance company. The next 30 percent represent average risk. Actually the chart says lower than average, but in the world of statistics, there is always a margin of error, so 0.99 can easily be rounded up to 1.0. So the 30-60th percentile represents normal risk statistically. It is only then the top 40 percentile that reduces the insurance company's exposure to loss and progressively so.

However, I would argue that the degree to which the top 40th percentile "save the insurance company's money" is negligible compared to the degree to which the bottom 30th percentile cost them money. Obviously this is because there are 33% more people in this category and by the most basic rules of statistics the three groups must balance each other out.

So back the claim in the advertising that 60-70% of Oregon residents save money because of "good credit." I believe this to be a false statement for two reasons. First whether credit is defined as "good" or "bad" is a matter of comparison to the peer group. So you can only truthfully say that 49.99% of people in a given group have "good" credit. However, they are trying to defeat a ballot initiative so it wouldn't help them to claim that 50% of people have good credit. Also, working in the mortgage industry, I know that people tend to have a perception that their credit is worse than it is. I would say the better a person's credit is, the more likely they are to KNOW they have good credit; however this only seems to manifest itself in the highest percentiles. Those in the middle 40 percent I would propose are generally pessimistic about their credit and the major reason for this is that it fluctuates constantly based on a number of factors that the 3 major credit bureaus do not want the public to be entirely aware of (they keep their credit scoring systems secret as intellectual property). So ask yourself; how good do you think your credit is. Do you think it is good? Why or why not?

The second reason I believe the statement in the advertising to be false is that the stats on Mike's blog indicate that there is a large portion of this 70% whose credit/risk correlation is marginal. If the insurance companies are using this model they would only offer "discounts" to the top 40% and issue policies under some kind of sub-prime rate structure that would have to have been developed after the model was introduced to the bottom 30%.

Mike also address' the claim that this system is only designed to punish or "screw" customers with bad credit. He counters by saying no such attitude exists in the insurance industry, they are merely trying to develop risk exposure structures to compete better in the market, offering better discounts to draw customers away from other insurance companies.

The problem I have with this logic is that the more widespread these matrixes become, the more difficult it would be for someone with bad credit to get a preferred rate, from ANY insurance company, regardless of the lack of history of accidents or traffic violations because these models give so much weight to so-called predictive data.

So I agree that the insurance companies are not trying to screw poor people or people with bad credit or even minorities, however I do believe they have introduced a system that unfairly discriminates on persons based on their association with groups believed to present the insurance company with a higher risk exposure.

The reason the insurance companies feel they need to know someone's credit information to give them a policy quote? Well, they say it is because there is no way to determine a person's driving behavior, for example (when quoting automobile policies). Historically insurance companies have charged higher rates to younger drivers due to their lack of experience and driving history. The truth is there are ways to analyze a persons risk and they are to document previous claims and to periodically pull their driving record from the state their license is issued. They already do use this information when quoting or reissuing policies.

So if a person has held a drivers license for 10 years and there are no traffic violations and accidents, why should their credit be used when issuing a policy if they only purpose is to determine future risk? Someone with a clean driving record (though perhaps with poor credit) should be assumed to be of little risk.

When offering policies to young people without sufficient driving history to evaluate risk, they should charge more (and do) without regard for credit history (which will also provide only a limited amount of information for someone who is younger and hasn't had time to build credit).

The only remaining problem I have with the logic of the commercials against measure 42 is that they drive into voters watching these commercials that by passing the law and making it illegal to use credit scores as a discriminator when quoting insurance rates will result in the subsidizing of those with bad credit by those with good credit. Again, I believe they are wrong when they say that 60-70% of people will see rate hikes (unless the insurance companies collectively wage war in Oregon to try to overturn the law) since only 40% of insurees present a significant risk-exposure benefit to warrant any discount in the first place. Yet I also want to point out that even the insurance industry sells these policies as "discounted" due to favorable credit.

I receive lots of discounts from my auto insurance company (credit score not being one of them) and most of mine make lots of sense. Safety and anti-theft devices have a common-sense relationship with the amount of risk they present to the insurance company (incidentally I use USAA and as a member-owned insurance company I feel I get the best service at the lowest cost under a fairly administered rate system). The problem as I see it is the lack of a common sense relationship between credit score and risk exposure. Even though the data seems solid, the insurance companies themselves do not know why the relationship exists. Either that or they know and they do not want to say because it would seem cruel to make that judgment.

Allow me to weigh in and summarize the correlation, then I will expound on why I believe it is immoral to take advantage of this correlation when pricing policies.

I believe there is a relationship between credit score and poverty. Again, I work in the mortgage industry and I look at people's financial circumstances all the time and the people with the worst credit—in my experience—are the poorest people I deal with. Their regular income is lower than the rest. They don't necessarily have more debt than those with better credit, they simply have a tighter debt-to-income ratio and since housing prices are related to rental prices (thanks in part to the system we use to determine property value for single-family-residences which bleeds into determining fair-market rent for apartments). So generally speaking it is usually only slightly more expensive to buy than rent. The difference more than compensated by the tax benefits of buying, but those with poor credit tend to rent longer than those with good credit because they perceive that buying a home is a hurdle they cannot leap in their present circumstances.

So while those with higher income and good credit buy homes sooner/younger those with lower income and poorer credit tend to wait longer (and I mean several years longer) and their situation tends to worsen (unless they develop a plan and discipline themselves to keep to the plan as long as it takes to fix the situation) thanks to the tendency of landlords to raise rent periodically to keep up with inflation (by the way, landlords often lose money in the first few years of a development only to more than compensate for it within a few years time as their mortgages remain the same but the amount of rent they can charge continues to increase).

By the way, I am not pulling this information out of my butt; I know this because I work in the finance industry and these are some of the first things I learned so I could coach people on the benefits of home ownership, but I digress.

Ok, so if there is a correlation between income and credit score, what the insurance companies are indirectly doing is pricing policies based on income, giving discounts to people who make the most money and subsidizing those discounts by selling policies in the sub-prime market at higher prices. Now if you do not believe this look at the financial relationships between various national insurance brands and how each brand markets itself. There are brands that market themselves right next to Lexus and BMW commercials and others that market themselves on late night television next to beer commercials and "chat-lines." What people may not realize is that these insurance brands may be owned by the same parent company and the profits from one division may cover the losses in the others depending on the actual exposure any given year.

So their claim that 60-70% will see a rate-hike is false. They are simply going to be asked to pay the rate they would've paid without the credit-score discount (and like I said, 30% of those were either getting no discount at all or an insignificant one at that).

So the question I want to ask you is if you believe it is moral to, as a society, require insurance by law, and then punish the poorest citizens by charging them the highest rates for the same coverage?

Have you ever known someone who chose to pay for minor damage to their car themselves instead of reporting a claim? Perhaps the reason the top 40th percentile presents the insurance companies with reduced exposure is because those people can afford to pay for small repairs and even minor body damage because they are more concerned with the long-term effect that reporting a claim could have on their policy. I've known these people to even pay for the damage to the other person's car in order to avoid the rate-hike. Obviously for the poorest people, this is not an option. Could this be the secret correlation to risk exposure? If so the insurance companies are wrong that any correlation between score and risk of exposure to an accident exists at all, the only correlation is between score and risk of reporting a claim. This is bad behavior to reward, however to the insurance company which is a business, the only thing they really care about is the bottom line.

Finally, I want to remind you what happens when poor people cannot afford insurance. When I got my first car I was still on active duty in the military and the cheapest policy I found at the time was Progressive. I knew I was young and it was my first car so I didn't think that much about paying 1250/6 mo for a policy since I was a new driver and they didn't know how bad or good I would be. Later when I got out of active duty and looked for my first job I was unemployed for a couple months and fell behind on bills. My policy renewal jumped to 1470/6 mo and I missed a payment. I didn't know it, but Progressive drops you as soon as your payment is 1 day past due. I was about to send payment, but this made me upset and I decided not to pay it right away since I had been driving w/o insurance for a few days anyway.

I decided to focus on paying my other bills and forget about having insurance for a couple months. I knew it wasn't a good idea, but I also thought it was crazy that I should have to pay 4x as much as my brother did to insure 2 cars and 2 drivers for me and my one car (by the way, my brother at that time was a terrible driver and had burned out his clutch 2x in his brand new car within 6 years, he made terribly unsafe lane changes and I was shocked he had never been in an accident). So when I got my policy back I decided to shop around and I found USAA and immediately saved 800/6 mo. I have never been without insurance since.

If you punish poor people or people with bad credit you are increasing the likelihood that these people will drop their insurance altogether because it is too much of a financial burden on them. If this happens what will happen is that we will STILL "subsidize" them (as the ad put it) through uninsured motorists' claims. If I had hit someone while I was uninsured, their insurance company would have had to cover all their loss anyway. Sure the insurance company could try to sue me, but given that I am poor and have no assets, I would just declare bankruptcy and they would still be at a loss.

It is in everyone's interest that everyone has access to affordable insurance because the bottom line is none of the predictive factors can absolutely predict who will have an accident and which losses will be most significant.

I appreciate your comments on this one. I apologize that it was so long.



FYI: keep an eye out for Damien Rice's new CD next month!

23 October 2006

regarding studio 60 and america's love of really stupid television...

The following is a response posted at Slate.com's "Fray" to this article by Slate's Dan Kois:

The writer here focused way too much on the sketch comedy portion of the show, which isn't necessarily going to be a regular part of the show. Tonight's episode for example featured no sketches, only a bit of stand-up at the Improv which I assume the show wrote. It wasn't terribly funny, but that served the plot.

I think the point here is that this is a drama about making a television show which happens to be late-night sketch comedy. It could have easily been a news show and we wouldn't even be having this discussion. However, I believe the reason Sorkin picked a sketch comedy show is because of its pop-culture legacy. Even when it isn't that good, it is memorable because they dare to take shots at anyone, but especially our so-called leaders. Making it about that kind of show creates the platform to go after the kind of issues Sorkin wants to sermonize about.

Clearly some people tuned in week 1 thinking it was going to be 40 minutes of sketch comedy in prime-time and 10 minutes of behind-the scenes filler. Obviously if that is why you tuned in you made a mistake. So before you criticize the show for doing a bad job at creating sketch comedy moments, look more carefully at the real show, which incidentally is a drama. The sketch comedy doesn't have to be that great to be reminiscent of SNL, KITH, or MPFC, which is all it takes to serve its role as a plot device!Hopefully NBC isn't so dense as to think this show won't help pay the bills for the next 8-10 years.



Oh and another thing, I seem to remember some of the dialogue on the show being ABOUT Matt-the-character's shyness to write really cutting edge political satire.The way I see it, the show is clearly meant to evolve. Tonight DL's character accused Perry's of being afraid to write good black comedy (African-American that is). So I think we are missing the point if we think the sketch comedy is supposed to be terrific already. I think the show is a work-in-progress, and I think the show-within-a-show is also a work-in-progress.



22 October 2006

another crazy dream...

Ok, this is the second in my dream series. I have decided to document any new dreams that are vivid enough to remember that morning. The following is random, meaningless and partially funny:

Ok I walk into a bar. First allow me to describe the joint since it isn't any actual place I could reference for those who might be familiar. This bar is square with seating on three sides and a back wall on the other. The entrance is on the left side (if your back is to the wall) and the left side of the bar extends into another room behind the main one. There are some round tables scattered around the room and the wall in the front has large windows probably because it is on a river or something with a view.

So I walk in and there are only a handful of people I can see right away. Maybe it's early. Maybe the only reason I am there is that I am hungry. No band playing, no pool tables, just a bartender and someone sitting on each of the three sides and someone else at one of the tables in the middle area.

I make my way to the far end of the bar, probably because that is traditionally where the real action is. However, when I get there, I see that the girl on that side of the bar isn't that cute. Not really my type. So I start to make my way back around playing it off like I am lost maybe.

Anyway, when I turn around I see that the man at the end of the front side of the bar closest to me is none other than Bill Clinton. Now in the context of the dream, mind you, I am not that surprised to see Bill Clinton at the bar, however, I do recognize him and try to acknowledge his presence by saying something cheesy (keep in mind he was at the close end to me and I didn't have time to think of anything witty) like "how's it hanging el presidente" but he doesn't say anything back to me. Definitely not cool I guess. So I keep walking.

That's when I notice an old lady friend who you would not catch in a bar. For some reason I am only mildly surprised to see her there, but I decide that she must be hoping not to be seen so I don't sit with her.

I finally get back around to the side near the door. There is a young woman sitting on this side too, but she isn't anyone I would find interesting. I lean up against a stool and contemplate leaving but then I look back into the other room and notice several people there. Well probably no more than were in the main room, but it's smaller so it seems fuller.

That is when I notice the young lady seated at the bar nearest me is kind of cute. I decide to go in but instead of sitting in the empty seat this side of her, I go around and sit on the other side of a strange old lady from her. I give my drink order to the bartender (the usual; absolute and grapefruit) and a pretty young waitress comes to ask me what I want to eat, but I notice there is some kind of buffet and tell her I'll just eat from that.

Obviously my plan was to be nonchalant and sit just wherever, but my real plan was hoping the creepy old lady would decide it's time to go home and feed her cats so I could chat it up with the cute girl on the other side of her.

Eventually that is what happens. The creepy smelly old lady leaves and now I am actually forced to try to talk to the girl.

Then I wake up because I have 3 text messages waiting for me all of the sudden!

COME ON people, do you HAVE to wake me up on a SUNDAY morning with your silly questions?

That is all,



PS... I'm kidding, of course I don't mind getting txt messages anytime of the day, just don't be surprised if I do not answer them right away :p

17 October 2006

here's to strange, confusing dreams...

Sometimes dreams are entirely absurd but don't you occasionally have those ones that are seemingly so close to reality that they seem plausible at the time? Last night I had one of those. I don't remember all the details so you will have to bear with me if I just hit some of the main points.

This one somehow featured someone from my childhood, not as a character of presence, but more of a character of reference. I think there was some confusion because in the dream I thought she was supposed to be in one place but she turned up someplace else.

I think the only reason she even popped up on my radar was that her name came up in a sitcom the night before and I was probably subconsciously feeling guilty that it didn't make me think about her at the time.

So here's to dreams. We can't control them, we never understand them, why bother mentioning them at all except as footnotes along the way...

Colin Hay can maybe put it better than I... "I Just Don't Think I'll Ever Get Over You."



16 October 2006

what a terrible weekend...

Well I helped a friend move Friday. I hoped doing so would make me tired and sleepy, but it just made me tired. Instead I stayed up all night thinking of an idea that came to me for a book. I won't blog about that because I might actually pursue it someday.

So my alarm went off at 4 am and I was just laying in bed thinking, so I snoozed for 5 minutes and kept muddling over it, then got up and started getting ready to go to Ft Lewis for my monthly exercise in frustration. I do not really know why I do not look forward to these things. I like the people in my unit and to some extent I like the Army and my whole role and all of that, but on some level I am always left dissatisfied with the reality of things and my relative insignificance in how even my small little unit handles the opportunity lain before us.

So first thing's first, a fitness test. I only did sit-ups because we still haven't straightened out what my physical profile should say. I didn't do as well as a couple months ago. I was doing great in the beginning, but I ran out of steam prematurely and started having stomach cramps... clearly I needed to practice more!

Anyway, after that we weighted in and I went to my car to go over to the gym and take a shower and get into my regular uniform. My car didn't start. I gave her gas and she purred like a sick kitten and died as soon as I let go of the gas. I did this several times and the same result. I lost patience and gave up for the day and changed in the bathroom at the unit.

So at the end of the day I went to see if she was still sick and then called a tow truck to take me to a place to get her checked out. The guy said she had a vacuum leak and that if I warmed her up she would be good to go and I could even get home. I wasn't too sure he was right, but I gave it a shot. After driving around with my foot occasionally on the gas and the break at the same time she finally stopped dying on me.

The next day she was fine.

So I had a few issues to take care of this weekend. One was to get my profile updated so I could walk on my fitness test and they could do my medical board to see if I even have an option to stay in the military or not. No luck, the doc was not at drill Sunday (and I had been kept busy all day Saturday by my section leaders).

I also had to make sure my ID card had some digital certificates loaded so I could change my password to my army email account. No luck between talking to the retention NCO and getting my own individual quarterly counseling. Pretty soon time was up, day was done and taps was on the megaphone somewhere on the other side of post.

I drove home and it was very wet. That makes people drive slower and overreact to flashes of red taillights. Eventually I got home and tried to catch up on sleep.

Highlights of the weekend (according to critics) involved a chick watching porn in her living room while we were moving my friend out. She had the lights on, but was sitting on the near end of the couch (to the window to the walkway we had to pass by) smoking a cigarette so I assume all the action was over, but the teenage boys helping out my friend kept snickering every time they came back (which is when you could see what was on the TV. She even had the window open so you could hear the moans. I didn't notice if it was gay or straight porn though... the only thing I saw was someone getting a massage, so it was probably that Cinemax stuff they have in the late evenings.

Other than that just an interesting inside joke when the conversation (again) turned to "X-Men" among a circle of soldiers in our lab section. We have a cute new blonde girl in the unit and the irony is that she seems to enjoy these dorky conversations in the beginning but some of the guys really get carried away with them. So for the second time someone blurted out "boy aren't we the ones that never get laid."

The funny part was that in the moment just before he said that, I had just remembered the first time we had that conversation and the guy who said that just as I decided to join in and ask a question that bugged me about the "Magnito" character. That time I was embarrassed because some ladies in our unit had just walked up and it looked like it was my fault we were talking about it even though that was the only question I even asked.

This time I knew enough to stay out of the conversation at least. The funny thing is that these things, while still perhaps thought of as dorky, are no longer things women are disinterested in. At least two of the women in our unit were getting into talking about X-Men and that doesn't surprise me. Other oddball things that tend to come up in these conversations are things like "World of Warcraft" and weird websites, debating Mac v pc, or new IPOD accessories. Of those the only one that I roll my eyes at is WoW. It never ceases to amaze me how much emotional energy this game seems to suck from the lives of its participants.

I seriously wonder if those guys ever get laid, but maybe they do... online... in the game. What do I know about it? So I will try to be open-minded and keep my mouth shut about that!

Anyway, the weekend sucked because I hardly got any sleep and my car scared me into thinking I was facing some costly repairs. For now I think I can wait a little longer since it is much warmer in Vancouver than it was up North this weekend.



open mic night

So for those of you who do not know, Chevys is my favorite Mexican food. Lately I've been eating once a day, not so much because I am on some kind of diet, but because just being hungry isn't enough to inspire me to eat anymore. In fact, the past few days I've surprised myself by eating less than what I've ordered on a couple occasions and even having the feeling that if I were to eat another bite it might make me sick, even though I felt so hungry I could eat a horse, if only I had the right seasoning available!

So tonight I had this thought, it has been a while since I've eaten at Chevys and maybe if I went there and ordered my favorite steak Fajitas (pronounced vah jeye tuhs in my hood) and just water this time (figured I should hydrate before going to Bungalo Martini for you know what. Sure enough, I had only eaten maybe half the basket of chips and I was finishing up the second tortilla with my usual black beans, Mexican rice, a tiny bit of sour cream and a few strips of steak dipped in their infamous salsa when I realized I was getting full. Now sometimes I've been known to ask for more tortillas but generally three is enough. I've never been full after two though. So I decided to go ahead and eat the remaining strips of steak at the very least even if I did so without making my little burrito out of them.

So I don't know what is up. I'm sure the blonde who is usually there when I come in was wondering what was up too since I didn't have the jumbo margarita either.

Maybe I'm just not my usual self these days, or maybe I am finally realizing how little it takes to keep this train rolling. Either way it is sort of freaking me out.

So then I drove back downtown (I have to go all the way out to the mall part of town to get to a Chevy's, and yes that is the closest one) for my usual Thursday night fare; open mic night at Bungalo Martini. What luck have I but to find convenient street parking so I don't have to drive the extra two blocks to park in my garage and walk back.

So I could tell right away that it was more crowded than usual, but that didn't stop me, I walked right in and a new duo I hadn't heard before was already on stage rocking out (and singing slightly out of tune). I also immediately noticed two bright lights on tripods that I had never seen before. Oddly they were photography lights and they definitely seemed out of place for open mic night.

So I made my way to the bar and sure enough, Tiffany was off tonight again. New-guy bartender-in-training was taking her place. Leif was standing at the end of the bar apparently making sure new-guy wasn't hung out to dry if someone ordered something strange and he didn't know how to make it.

So I asked Leif what the deal was, if open mic night got cancelled and why so many people showed up for it. That is when I noticed the video camera too. Since it was so crowded I didn't want to take up valuable real estate at the bar so after getting my drink I went over and sat down at the piano bench. The guy sitting under the camera said "hey, how's it going" like we knew each other and I said "not bad, how bout you" like I remembered him but I didn't know who he was from Adam.

So after the out-of-tune duo got off the stage and I decided to go ahead and occupy real estate at the bar since I didn't see any of the usuals this particular night. A cute looking girl sat down and ordered two beers and two blackberry lemondrops. That caused a minor crisis with new-guy to try to figure out how to make them, but he suffered through... once he figured out they go in a martini glass that is.

She seemed to know the guy who was playing; I dare say she might have been his sister. Because she was VERY vocal about cheering him. Oh, the guy who hosts open mic night had just gone up on stage with his usual percussionist and the lights were turned on and the guy with the camera started to record the blessed event. I didn't really see why they were using photography lights to do a video recording, besides they lit the room way more than they did the stage.

So after cute girl went back to her table and eventually got up and got funky (by herself) during his typical cover of "When Doves Cry" (which incidentally I think has a lousy hook--I feel tortured every time he does it not because I hate Prince or because I hate that song, but because I can't stand the hook he uses between verses and the chorus) I decided to go over to the only pool table in the joint and see if I could start something by playing a quick game by myself. For those of you who don't know, sometimes people come over and challenge you if they see you playing. Otherwise you might be there all night and never see anyone go play a game no matter how bored they might get.

So he did his usual set and then got down and someone else played. I didn't recognize them, but they did alright. However, I gradually saw his entourage begin to leave and when I went back to the bar there were significantly fewer people in the room, but not enough to be alarmed.

However, after having another drink and talking to another guy at the bar for a while I turned around to find there was NO one left in the bar. Open mic night guy had left the building and so did all his guests. Nobody was watching this guy anymore and when he finished his set, nobody else got up to play. This had never happened before.

Generally I show up around 11 or 11:30 after I watch ER but I got there earlier tonight because I went out to eat earlier that evening and just went straight from there. I wasn't sure the fact that he was filming his set was really that unusual, but apparently it was, and the usual suspects never showed up to play. What a disappointment!

So hopefully next week will be back to normal, where you feel bad for the performers because so few people show up to support them, but at least several people show up to play!

I stuck around to chat with new guy after everyone left and he was doing his dishes but pretty much the night was a big bust. I felt bad for him; because it all started off with the promise of being a very interesting evening and then pretty much ended early!

If you are in the area on Thursday nights they host open mic night at Bungalo Martini from 930ish until around 130 am on the corner of 7th and Broadway in downtown Vancouver. Several of the people who play there on a regular basis are worth catching. I cannot tell you their names because I try to entertain myself in various other ways during the introductions.

So if you ever get a chance come on down and if you are inclined, go ahead and play a few songs!



12 October 2006

when the boys of summer have gone...

Just in case you haven't noticed it is playoff time in the world of MLB. That means summer is over. Here comes the rain again. Yada yada yada.

Of course I live for this time of year. The days are shorter which has distinct advantages for someone who is used to staying up late and sleeping in. Of course I shouldn't sleep quite as late as I do. The good news is I had my blood drawn yesterday so I will go in and pick up my meds either today or tomorrow. Hopefully I won't feel as sore and crappy and can get out of bed at a decent hour once I'm back on everything the way I'm supposed to.

Well, I have drill once again this weekend. Not sure how much I am looking forward to that, but this is either 2nd or 3rd to last for me. Not sure if January's drill will be before the 6th which is my last day on contract, for sure! Let's just hope Bush doesn't pick a fight with Il (or vice versa) in the mean time.

So what will I do with all these free weekends next year? Maybe I'll do more photography. I know there were a few weekends it prevented me from taking advantage of weather and opportunity over the past EIGHT years! Oh by the way, thanks to everyone who took the time to leave comments on the B&W photographs. I think I have the three picked out. Final judgment will depend on how well they look printed out of course. I'll leave them up a couple more weeks so you all can weigh in if you haven't done so yet!

I've been getting lots of responses on Craigslist for various things, a couple potential roommates, several people wanting pictures taken, but hardly anybody responds to the mortgage services ad. Odd. It is probably the best looking one I have too! I guess it is just not the kind of place people go looking for that kind of thing.

It would be really weird if I do better at photography than loans, but perhaps that would explain so much that remains enigmatic about me (to myself primarily, but perhaps to those who know me as well). I mean I had someone new ask me why the heck I am still single again. I don't get asked that very often, but usually it is semi-accusatory.

Either there is something wrong with being single or I am one of those people who are just too damn picky! I don't mind them thinking that if it helps them sleep at night. Of course when they say "too picky" it usually is a character flaw. One of my cousins called it "looking for a trophy wife" which paints a rather ugly picture.

Truth be told, I only find myself attracted to a modest 35-50% of the women I meet for a variety of reasons (and please give me the benefit of the doubt on those!). When I was younger the only factor to consider after that was if they liked you back (which eliminated at least 65% right away and the majority of the remainders--for one reason or another--I never found out in time to do anything about it). However, the older I get the higher the odds are that they are already in a serious relationship. That eliminates about 80% these days--not that some wouldn't be willing to forget all about that temporarily, but I don't feel like going there just yet! Then to the remaining 20% apply the 65% rule mentioned above and you are left with around 2.4 - 3.5% opportunity rate. Multiply that by my 99% failure-to-capitalize-on-the-opportunity rate and you should start to see why I am still single at the STILL modest age of 29!

Now while all of that was very interesting it isn't really the point of this post. What was the point…? Maybe I should rewrite it. Nah, there is some decent stuff here even if it is random and pointless.

Oh, enjoy "Tiny Vessels" from DCFC.



08 October 2006

now dynamic stereo...

After numerous attempts to add audio to my blog I have finally found the right way to do it. Hopefully this will encourage you to linger and really let it soak in.

Selecting a song is a lot more difficult task than I thought it would be. Of course first I started with Google but you know what a crap-shoot that can be. Most of the links are to download the songs for a fee. It is rare to find an actual posting of an entire audio file. The second major hurdle is finding it at a low enough bit rate that the average surfer can tolerate. 192kbps doesn't even work on my computer.

So I started my search looking for "Fugitive Motel" by Elbow and sadly only resulted in a few hits. Two of them were live recordings and while one of those was highly desirable it had the annoying introduction and the bit rate was too high even for my wireless broadband.

Next I tried Azure Ray which was a mixed blessing. Apparently there is a site out there elbo.ws that has a convenient search engine that can filter music hits only. Specifically it searches thousands of blogs, the most likely source of free music on the internet.

So the reason I said it was a mixed blessing was that while I found numerous hits for Azure Ray the particular song I wanted was "Rise" which is from their first album and only yielded one hit and the song wouldn't load no matter how long I waited. So I gave up looking for "Rise" and went back to elbo.ws and tried searching for Elbow again. Obviously this was tricky sine the name of the website contains the band name in it. So sure enough the only hits for "Fugitive Motel" were the ones I already had, plus a couple extra that were really dead links.

However, I did find this song you hear now. I hope you enjoy it. I think it really shows them at their best. The song really builds which is nice. I'm not that turned on by bands that simply make noise for noises sake. I like the way this song takes you on a walk. In fact, I'd like to hear the rest of this album. I think all the stuff I have on them is older than this.

Anyway hope you enjoy the music. I'll be sure to change it often. If it is choppy the first time bear with it cus it will loop and play normal once it is fully loaded.