Out with the old

Update on stuff from last week:

  • Health is going OK. Exercising helps quite a lot. Although the staff at the pulmonary rehab program I participated in recommend a minimum of 45 minutes a day 4 days a week, I have been doing 20 minutes a day as often as I can. I figure it's better than not doing it because 45 minutes seems insurmountable and I plan to work my way up again.
  • I'm going to a Navigators prayer retreat in mid-January. I think this will be a great opportunity to meet other like-minded people and examine myself spiritually.
  • I outlined a monthly zero-based budget for January through April. Every cent is allocated to a category, even if it's something like "splurge." I'm going to do an estimated budget at the beginning of the month and an actual at the end. This will also help me keep track of occasional stuff that tends to catch me off guard, like dental work and car insurance. I've decided to take a more balanced approach between investment (Roth IRA primarily) and loan repayment. The loan term is 10 years and is a low rate. The numbers say that one is better off paying a low interest rate loan as it comes due and investing surplus. The human psyche, however, says it feels better not to have debt. I think I can realistically shoot for 5 years and still have a comfortable cushion to invest.
  • I've been a little better about not wasting as much time on the computer but just last night Spider Solitaire found me for about 40 minutes whilst I should have been in bed. Oh well.

My aunt got in yesterday afternoon and I'm picking up one of my cousins at the airport within an hour or so. It should be a fun weekend.

Oh right, I forgot to mention my motorcycle. It sprang a slow oil leak in the spring and I took it out of commission in May right after finals were over. I finally got it back running in early November (almost 6 months to the day later) but it started making a funny noise later that week. I have a sinking feeling that it's a couple loose bolts inside the engine, which means I have to drop it for the third time. Ick. The garage has been occupied and badly cluttered related to our kitchen remodel which has also taken up "tinkering" time. Oh well, it has been pretty dang cold in the mornings anyway and I really do like driving my car - there's something appealing about heat and a stereo.

Yule Blog

Thank you, I'll be here all week.

I suppose the primary reason for the silence over the past several months has been that nothing earth-shattering has happened in my life and I haven't feel like humdrum stuff has been worth blogging about.

I did have my 27th birthday not quite two weeks ago. Somewhat as a result of that and somewhat as a result of feeling like my life has been stagnant for about 6 months and somewhat as a result of a recent valley health-wise and emotionally (which I think I am coming out of in both respects) I have decided to make some personal adjustments (I guess I could call them resolutions, but waiting until January 1 to start to do something worthwhile is stupid and most resolutions are abandoned by early to mid February) in the areas of:

  • Health. I need to intentionally exercise more and eat a heck of a lot if I want to regain weight and wellness. I have been better about getting on the exercise bike and can tell a difference from only a handful of 20-minute days.
  • Social-ness (this is my blog, don't walk all over my English misusage). I have gotten too comfortable just hanging out at home and really should get out with people my age more.
  • Finances. I don't have big problems with money - I pay off my credit card each month and live within my means, but I'm going to be intentional about paying back my undergraduate student loans. I am hoping to do so in two years. I can still live comfortably and accomplish this, but need to cut way back on frivolous spending (eating out or at the cafeteria at work, impulse buying, gadgets, etc.). I am also going to start intentionally budgeting.
  • Entertainment. I spend a lot of time mindlessly browsing the internet. My gaming and TV habits are pretty well managed, but I need to stop getting lost in Wikipedia. I'm going to start reading more and always have a book I'm looking forward to after the one I'm reading. I'd also like to get out and shoot more photography.

I'm looking forward to a pretty low-key Christmas - just immediate family. My aunt and two of her sons are coming for New Year's, which will be fun. I always like hanging out with cousins.

I hope to get back to St. Louis sometime this spring to see my Grandma Pribble and some other cousins.

Oh yeah, one more goal - I want to blog about my progress and my life more. I think that will help me keep tabs on progress in addition to keeping me accountable.

Surprising article from the Daily Breeze - what will they come up with next??!!

Air pollution, asthma link studied

I find it hard to believe they actually pay money to run studies like this. As a person who suffers from COPD (of which asthma is one) this is a big duh. Any time I leave for a weekend or a week to somewhere with higher air quality, I can tell as soon as I walk outside the terminal doors at LAX.

Blogging from Grandmas' Part 2

(Posting once again in the Eastern Time Zone)

Well, tomorrow is my last full day in Florida - I leave early Sunday morning. I've had the opportunity to do a lot of fun things and have taken a lot of pictures. With my cousin I have visited the Everglades, driven to Miami, and gone to the beach pretty much every night for sunset. I have read two novels (The World Without Us and Heart of a Soldier), visited with my Grandma and Great Grandma, and generally had a very relaxing and enjoyable time. Here are some of my favorite pictures:

Great Grandma Grace and I praying after communion at home
Me, Gina (a friend we met at Grandma's church) and Andrew at sunset Wednesday night
Spectacular lightning storm backlighting the beach on Wednesday night

Returning to prophecies from "I Can't Think of Anything Clever to Put Here" regarding travel - I am going to postpone my trip back to the Midwest until spring, mostly for vacation time and weather optimization. The men of the family are planning a camping trip sometime around the new year.

Sanctify is beginning Isaiah with an introduction this Tuesday. We will be there a while. It should be pretty interesting - prophecy always is.

Greetings to both of my readers from Marco Island!

(Today's post time is in PST; however, I am actually posting from the Eastern Time Zone).

As August begins, I find myself in Florida once again. If you will recall, I last visited in February for a family reunion that coincided with Great Grandma Grace (AKA Triple G Threat :-P)'s 100th birthday. A little over a month ago, my cousin Andrew sent me an email informing me he was coming for a few weeks for some R&R and I couldn't pass up an opportunity to visit and revitalize myself so I got a ten-day round trip flight.

This is only two weeks after returning from Huntsville, AL for business travel. I was also able to tack on a few days of personal travel at the beginning to see my best buddy from high school in Nashville. Seeing Josh was great, the instructional workshop I attended was highly informative, and I got to visit the Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville (co-located with Space Camp). My one regret was that I didn't take my camera - which I would have used a lot at the Space and Rocket Center.

Back on May 16th, I graduated from the University of Southern California with a Master's of Science in Electrical Engineering. It was a sometimes arduous road, but I feel I am richer for the experience and it was a positive step both for my career and personally. Don't get any ideas - no PhD for me, at least for a long time. The farther away I get from it the happier I am I don't have to go back. I think that's a good indicator that I stopped at the right time.

On Memorial Day weekend, the entire family went up to visit Daniel in St. Helena, where he was employed during his externship. It was a fun weekend and it was great to see Daniel, who ended up moving back to Torrance after his externship ended. We will take another family trip to San Francisco in a couple weekends to attend his graduation (which the school plopped in the middle of August for some reason).

June 2nd marked my 5-year anniversary at work - I started my co-op on June 2, 2003. I have found myself both more satisfied and more productive at work since I graduated - not having school looming over my head makes it much easier to focus and excel. I am forming solid friendships and business relationships and really feel like Aerospace is where I belong at this point in my life.

My car has been treating me well but the motorcycles have not. With Daniel at home, there are 4 2-wheeled vehicles in the household. The only one running is his scooter, which is brand new and I am not responsible for maintaining (yet). My bike has a bad oil seal and should have some pretty significant maintenance done (since I have the engine out anyway). The engine is now out and mostly disassembled, but that got put on hiatus for a while since I'm not exactly there. Stevo's scooter needs work too - It has a frightening rumble. Dad's bike burns a lot of oil and makes a bad sound when taking off. Well, one project at a time I guess.

Well, there's more to say but I've gone on for a while already. Stay posted for more blogging at Grandma's!

I Can't Think of Anything Clever to Put Here

Looking back, I see that it's been almost two months since I last blogged! Quite a bit has happened in that time.

Perhaps the most notable event was that I sold my 1967 Volkswagen Bug:

While the Bug was not a bad car, I had grown weary of constantly tinkering with it to keep it in shape. During my tenure with it, I believe it was inoperative as much time as it was working well. Most of this had to do with time constraints on my part. In addition, it had no heat or air conditioning, a poor sound system, lots of road noise, and was scary over 65 mph because the front end would get light. I also got rid of the rest of the VW-specific parts and tools so I wouldn't be tempted in the future (I have a nostalgic streak a mile wide). If I get another classic, it'll probably be American.

I briefly looked at "real" cars while in the process of selling my Bug, and determined it wasn't worth it to me to tie up somewhere on the order of 10 grand for something decent. I decided to get by just using my motorcycle and borrowing a car from Mom or Pop when I absolutely needed to. However, two days after I signed over the title and pocketed the VW cash, a friend from work told me about a car his friend was selling: a 1989 Toyota Corolla GT-S with 221k miles. At first I thought it must be beat with so many miles, and why the heck would I want a Corolla. I was informed that it was in truly excellent condition with no major mechanical issues and was still daily driven. The guy was selling it because he was buying a Prius. I kept in contact with him for the next month or so while the titling issues with the Prius were worked out and eventually test drove it to the mechanic's for a check-up. The car was indeed in excellent condition - the engine ran quiet and strong and the paint was still shiny. Long story short, I ended up buying it for a great price after spending a little bit of time and money getting it to pass the smog test. I'm tickled pink about the car - it just feels right and is a good match for me. Here is a picture of the same model but not mine (mine is black):

In other news, I have 2 weeks left of school - my last exam is next Thursday. I've grown very tired of school. I have issues with certain of USC's policies and practices, which I will save for an end-of-my-master's review (rant) of the program. Suffice it to say, I am very glad that this chapter in my life is nearly at a close and won't look back after I'm done. I just have to press on for the next two weeks and give it one last push.

Sanctify! is studying I Peter, which is sometimes hard to digest - Peter is lofty. I am also kind of bad about preparing. We're going to start Isaiah in the next couple months. It will be very cool but I'm certain difficult as well at times.

Not much else is happening; I'm planning to take a couple trips this summer and early fall - one up the coast in my new car to see Daniel in Napa Valley (he completed the coursework portion of culinary school and began his externship at Auberge du Soleil, a resort near St. Helena) and a flight to St. Louis to visit friends and family there and in Springfield, IL.

Back from Florida

I returned from Florida on Wednesday evening. Overall it was a great trip. I saw some family members I hadn't seen in 10 years, some I hadn't seen in even longer, and some I had never met. We all had a good time hanging out together, catching up, and celebrating my Great Grandma Grace's 100th birthday. Here is a picture of Grandma Grace on her birthday:

I am much less frazzled than before I left. I got my homework done and emailed with little incident (or likely correct answers but oh well) and the situation at work seems to not be a big deal.

I need to catch up on schoolwork this weekend. I have probably watched 1/3 of the lectures so far and didn't get much out of those. I can't stand when professors lecture from PowerPoint - it's so hard to learn when being talked at.

I haven't been too faithful about the faithfulness experiment - I started strong but didn't do it at all during my vacation. I'll get back to it tonight.


In preparation for our big trip to Florida for my great-grandmother's 100th birthday, I'm trying to tie up loose ends here. I have a homework assignment due whilst I am gone and realize that I won't work on it there. Thus, I must complete and turn it in before I leave. Well, this class turned out to be theory-heavier than I expected (I could rant about this for a while, but suffice it to say that I don't think USC's education is appropriate for practical engineers - it rather caters to the academic crowd) and I stared blankly at my homework and wrote mathematical nonsense for about an hour yesterday. It doesn't help that my professor lectures from Powerpoint slides and the book is poorly written. I am not in the least an auditory learner and don't do well reading engineering texts either. Blah.

In addition, I have a project at work that needs progress in the next few hours. It's rather silly - those that use what I provide will have complete radio silence for months. Then when they need something, it's suddenly urgent and I better get it to them yesterday, by gum. Oh well, at least it's given me something to keep my mind off how crappy this semester at school is going to be and postpone my homework freaking out until this evening.

On another note, Sanctify! has been doing a faithfulness experiment. Each of us (theoretically) journals our answers to John Wesley's Holy Club questions on a daily basis to see if consciously thinking about such things actually makes a difference in faithfulness. Although we are only "officially" carrying out the experiment for 21 days, I plan to continue through the end of Lent.

Quarterly Update

Yep, I'm a useless blob that can't be bothered to blog, hardly ever. Here's the last 3 months in a nutshell:

  • Daniel was home for Halloween.
  • The family had the wurst Thanksgiving (hahaha); we went to Alpine Village and got German food since no one wanted turkey (except Daniel who stayed in San Francisco).
  • I rearranged my room over Thanksgiving weekend. I gave the 'rents my TV and moved a queen bed into my room and my loft out (it's too hot near the ceiling and I've developed a bit of a fear of heights).
  • I finished my second-to-last semester on my 26th birthday. Of note, I will never have to take a final on my birthday again. It's about time - this is the 3rd year in a row. I got an A- in the class.
  • The family went to San Francisco for Christmas. We met Mom's sister, her son, and a friend of hers there. The three of them, Mom and I took a 5-day road trip down the California coast. It was beautiful, as it always is. Highlights include:
    • Lots of amazing food both in San Francisco and along the coast.
    • Sea lion birthing season. We saw many adults up on the beach along with a handful of wee babies. That was way cool.
    • Hearst castle. What a cool collection of art and architecture.
  • My mom's brother flew in for the Rose Bowl game (U of Illinois vs. USC). I attend USC and he's a U of I alum. We cousins and him went to that - it was fun but even though I was rooting for USC it was disappointing to see Illinois get beaten that badly (I still have some blue and orange in my blood).
  • I started my last semester at USC and am now 2.5 weeks in. I'm shooting for an A. We'll see what happens.
  • Sanctify! is studying James. Matthew was kind of overview-ish for me. I'm a detail person.
  • I'm a member at large on the CE (Christian Education) committee at church. I am (as are the rest of the committee members) optimistic about this year and what we will accomplish. There is a hunger for change and growth.

The entire family is going to Florida in mid-February for my great grandma's 100th birthday. In fact, all of her descendants will be there. The last time we all got together was 10 years ago for her 90th. I'm very excited (as is everyone else) and am looking forward to getting together with all the cousins, aunts, and uncles again.

That's about all for now. Every time I post I think to myself, "Boy, I should be more consistent" but we all see what happens. As such, I will make an effort but not make any promises.