17 Dec 2008

What Do You Collect?

I sometimes ask people the question, “If you were to have a reasonable amount of money to maintain a collection, what would you collect and why?”. It’s kind of a random question, but you can sometimes get interesting answers out of people. If you ask me, collections are weird things on so many different levels. People collect everything from bugs to coins to cars, and many other random things in between. My collections were on the more nerdy end of the scale (surprise!).

Card Games

My guiltiest collection addiction I had while growing up was collecting and playing the Star Trek and Star Wars Playing Card Games (I also played Magic every now and again with the Erickson’s, but never indulged in purchasing my own cards). I had way more Star Trek cards than I did Star Wars, but both were fun to play. I think the Star Trek version was easier to play, I’m not sure I ever got the hang of Star Wars’ Attrition in “battles”. I think at last count (which was several years ago) I had over 900 Star Trek cards. And yes, I still have them somewhere around the house. I seem to remember that Kevin and I actually played a game a few years ago for good times remembrance.

We all customized our Star Trek deck’s according to the individual Race’s in the game: Federation, Klingon, Romulan, or Non-aligned. Tyler and Kris both had their decks customized towards Klingons, Kevin towards the Federation, and I had mine towards the Romulans (D’deridex! Devoras! Hahaha, sorry, just had to throw that out their for those guys). Oh the good times. I even remember getting in a fight with Kevin because he and Tyler had hidden my Romulan deck. You don’t get between me and Sela. :)

Shot Glasses

At one point I had a collection of shot glasses, which I think was largely inspired by my brother Scott. If I remember right, he brought me home a few shot glasses from his mission to Baltimore, and that sorta started the whole thing. I’d buy shot glasses in random places where I’d been. I don’t think my collection got more than 20 pieces in it, so not much to brag about. I did have one shot glass that was a Pirate’s shot glass. It was the size of a small cup (probably 3 shot glasses worth) and had lines up the side indicating your manliness as a pirate if you filled your rum to such height, something like Swashbuckler up to Full Pirate. POGs

I also had a large collection of POGs, a modernish version of Jacks where you have small cardboard circles with random images on them. You stacked the pogs up and used a slammer (a heavier and thicker POG made of plastic or metal) to smash the stack. All the pogs that stayed face up you get to keep, and you continue playing till there are no POGs left. You were supposed to be able to steal other player’s POGs, but I don’t think we ever played that way. As I remember, the game was very fun and addicting, but seems enormously boring now. I think we still have my POGs somewhere around the house, but I doubt I’ll go looking for them.

Future Collections

While all these things held my attention as an adolescent teenager, being an adolescent adult requires much more manly things to collect methinks. Unfortunately the more manly things require more cash than I currently have excess of, so for now I’ll have to just wish upon a star.

The main answer I give to the above question is that I would LOVE to collect Vintage and Modern Guitars. My Dad had a friend (recently passed away) who was a guitar nerd and every time I’d see him we’d always talk about his guitar/amp collections. At one point he actually procured one of the PA amplifiers used by The Beatles at one of their shows in some stadium in Houston, though I never dared ask how much he paid for it. I guess back then they didn’t have PA systems installed into the stadium, so they basically had to get these insanely loud amps to do the work for them. Way cool.

I also realized today that I would also really enjoy owning a bunch of old Macs. I am a self-proclaimed Mac-ist and a bit obsessed in some ways, okay in a lot of ways. I think it’d be pretty cool to have an Apple Lisa or an Apple II kicking around my office. I could even setup a fancy display for them. Part of what would be so neat about it would be to be able to use the older software on them, to see the evolution of GUI Operating Systems since their inception. I know, I know, pretty nerdy. But everyone reading this blog (at least those who know me) understand that it comes with the territory.

Other Collections of Note: Ryan Byrd has many thousands of books, several dozen swords of all types, and a “respectable coin collection”. Let’s all go on over and coax Ryan into giving us a post about those.

UPDATE: Incidentally, I just read that the Apple Lisa was released the day after I was born. Destiny? You decide.

17 Dec 2008

Programmers and Religion

My friend Ben forwarded this link to me today that I thought was very funny: If Programming Languages were Religions. For the non-programmers among us… spare me this brief stint of nerdy-ness. This guy nails it on the head entirely. The applicable languages to my skills are listed below (though there are many more at the actual link):

Java would be Fundamentalist Christianity - it’s theoretically based on C, but it voids so many of the old laws that it doesn’t feel like the original at all. Instead, it adds its own set of rigid rules, which its followers believe to be far superior to the original. Not only are they certain that it’s the best language in the world, but they’re willing to burn those who disagree at the stake.

PHP would be Cafeteria Christianity - Fights with Java for the web market. It draws a few concepts from C and Java, but only those that it really likes. Maybe it’s not as coherent as other languages, but at least it leaves you with much more freedom and ostensibly keeps the core idea of the whole thing. Also, the whole concept of “goto hell” was abandoned.

C++ would be Islam - It takes C and not only keeps all its laws, but adds a very complex new set of laws on top of it. It’s so versatile that it can be used to be the foundation of anything, from great atrocities to beautiful works of art. Its followers are convinced that it is the ultimate universal language, and may be angered by those who disagree. Also, if you insult it or its founder, you’ll probably be threatened with death by more radical followers.

C# would be Mormonism - At first glance, it’s the same as Java, but at a closer look you realize that it’s controlled by a single corporation (which many Java followers believe to be evil), and that many theological concepts are quite different. You suspect that it’d probably be nice, if only all the followers of Java wouldn’t discriminate so much against you for following it.

Perl would be Voodoo - An incomprehensible series of arcane incantations that involve the blood of goats and permanently corrupt your soul. Often used when your boss requires you to do an urgent task at 21:00 on friday night.

Ruby would be Neo-Paganism - A mixture of different languages and ideas that was beaten together into something that might be identified as a language. Its adherents are growing fast, and although most people look at them suspiciously, they are mostly well-meaning people with no intention of harming anyone.

15 Dec 2008

Round 4: How About Just Perfect

The heartbreaking loss of that house numbed us emotionally forever towards buying a home. I’m not saying we won’t buy one, or that we won’t like what we buy, but we’re literally at the point where putting in an offer is now more business than the pure adrenaline excitement it was before. It has come to that point where emotional detachment is better, saves you from being kicked in the stomach when things (more than likely) don’t work out.

Such it was for us that these feelings came as the next real opportunity to own our own home was presented. A friend of my brother’s was getting ready to put their house for sale, but knew that we were looking to buy and asked if we’d be interested. Their home is located on the next street over from my sister’s house (you can see the back of theirs from the front window), and 2 streets from my brother’s house. We went to see the home, and definitely knew we would like it since the floor plan is nearly identical to my sister’s. We gave them a straight up number we could go at, and they rejected us outright on it, said it was too low. That’s okay, right? No hard feelings, move on.

Well, just a week or so after they rejected our price they came back ready to re-negotiate (something we hadn’t counted on) and within a day or two we had a deal struck, where we both gave a little and took a little. It has been utterly refreshing to work with people we know semi-well, especially because the seller’s wife is the agent. For a while there, Dustin didn’t have to do much at all because my wife and the seller’s wife were doing all the communication. We eventually handed it back to Dustin and he’s been handling things wonderfully. Today we had the home inspection done, and it passed with nearly flying colors. Tomorrow is the appraisal (cross your fingers), and next week if all goes well we’ll have signed on our very first home! Due to some scheduling issues with Christmas and whatnot, we’ll be moving in somewhere around the 1st of January. We are super excited to get things all wrapped up, have a great christmas, and then get moved in. BTW, you’ll probably be getting a call sometime around new years to see if you’re willing to help us move. You have been warned. If your cell phone rings once (or not at all), I’ll assume you’ve gone incommunicado for a few days as a result, and will not hold you accountable. Wish us luck!

Oh, and one more thing. We’re planning on doing an Open House / Birthday party for me a few weeks after we move in. Homemade Sushi will be served (as well as other asian cuisine for the not-so-sushi friendly crowd). So, you should plan on being there, cause it will be a good time.

This post is part 4 in a 5 part series. To see the other posts go to the main post entitled My Really Great Family (and our search for a home).

15 Dec 2008

Round 3: Too Dishonest to Be Worth It

By this time, I was tired of seeing houses. This came mostly because I don’t have nearly as strict a set of criteria as Angelee does, so when we’d go see a house that I really thought had potential, she just didn’t have any eyes for it at all. Eventually we came up with a system where she worked with Dustin at getting lists of homes to go see, and then if any were of high potential on her list, I would go see them and we’d decide whether or not to put in an offer

The first home she found using this system she was ecstatic about. She had almost not even taken the time to go see the house, even after they had pulled up and were looking right at it. In the end she went in and immediately fell in love with the interior. She took me to see it that night, and we had an offer sheet drawn up the next day. After nearly a week of drama in counter offers, where we came up 20k from our original offer price and the seller had only come down 3k from asking price (with their agent putting his entire commission toward the sale in order to make it happen), the seller actually signed the Offer Acceptance as well as the Seller’s Disclosure.

Sadly, even getting to this point in the contract, everything fell through. They signed the acceptance on a thursday, but by Monday we were already hearing from the selling agent that they wanted to back out. The seller’s wife called my wife, the seller called me, all in attempts to weave a sob story about how their agent had duped them about the house they were looking to buy. They said if they couldn’t afford the house they were looking at buying, they didn’t want to leave. I was straight with him that I wasn’t going to sue him, but was so frustrated and disappointed that he felt like he could honorably dispose of the contract. I guess a million sorries really are worthless. In the end we agreed on a cash settlement, and they got to keep the house. We once again walked away (mostly) empty handed, mere weeks from owning our first home.

This post is part 3 in a 5 part series. To see the other posts go to the main post entitled My Really Great Family (and our search for a home).

15 Dec 2008

Round 2: Too Stingy to Be Sane

Just like before, we went through a lot of crap houses before we found one we really felt would work well for us. Once again, it was down near my family, and only a few streets over from the first house, and only 2 streets from my sister’s! Angelee absolutely loved this one also, so we went for it. The house was the last house in the subdivision that hadn’t been purchased, and had been on the market nearly a year, so we felt like we could snatch it pretty low. The selling agent told us another offer had gone in on the house a few hours before ours, and so (once again) entered a bidding war. Only this time, I had a sneaky suspicion that the agent made it up because we offered so low (I think it was 60k less than asking price). In the end, we only came up 15k to our ceiling price, and the builder wasn’t willing to sell for less than 20k below, so we lost out again, not willing to move the extra 15k they were asking for. By this time, I was tired of seeing houses. This came mostly because I don’t have nearly as strict a set of criteria as Angelee does, so when we’d go see a house that I really thought had potential, she just didn’t have any eyes for it at all. Eventually we came up with a system where she worked with Dustin at getting lists of homes to go see, and then if any were of high potential on her list, I would go see them and we’d decide whether or not to put in an offer.

This post is part 2 in a 5 part series. To see the other posts go to the main post entitled My Really Great Family (and our search for a home).