Wednesday, February 28, 2007

People don't understand money

I thoroughly enjoyed this post at Ramit Sethi's excellent personal finance blog. There are many othterwise intelligent people who get stupid when it comes to money, and I enjoy how Ramit skewers them. And his many references to killing himself when faced with stupid people.

Monday, February 19, 2007

The Weekend that Was

I had a great time at the hockey games, mainly because the Blues won both of them. They are now 3-1 in games I bought tickets for, so here's hoping that they can go .800 this year for me. We will find out at my last game in March. Other than that there was a fair amount of chores to run, and snow to shovel off of the driveway (we got another inch or two on Saturday), and I am about 15 pages away from knocking off the book I am reading about the history of the Later Roman Empire. I also am in the interesting position of finding myself rather flush with disposable income. I give myself an allowance of $60 per week for "discretionary spending," based on my annual budget and what my non-discretionary expenses (mortgage, food, gasoline, insurance, etc.) are. In the past, this has not necessarily held up so well, as meals out and pretty much anything that could be considered fun must come out of that $60. New books? It comes out of the $60. Buying CDs, or tracks from iTunes? It comes out of the $60. Going to dinner with friends? it comes out of the $60. Buying lunch during the week because I left the one I made on the counter at home? It comes out of the $60. Parking at hockey games... you get the idea. The interesting thing is that I currently find myself with around $200 in my discretionary fund, built up from the past few weeks, and I find that even though I am "letting myself go," so to speak, I'm not making much of a dent in the fund. I guess I'm just not feeling very materialistic right now. The computer game I have been playing for the last couple months is one I downloaded for free off the internet, and I am trying to work through the 20+ books on my "to do" list, so I'm not needing to buy any new ones. Not that the list ever stopped me in the past, but I just don't find much that I want to buy these days. I must be getting addled in my old age...

Friday, February 16, 2007

Hockey Week

In all my life, I will never watch as much hockey as I have watched (and am scheduled to watch) this week, including this coming Sunday. (aside to technical perfectionists: yes, I know Sunday is technically in a different week, but my Outlook calendar at work starts the week on Monday, so I am using that as my guide) I was at the Blues game vs. San Jose on Tuesday evening (the above picture is from D.J. King's fight in that game; don't ask where the rest of the Blues are!), and I watched Wednesday's away game against Colombus on the TV. Tonight I am going to the game against Nashville, and then on Sunday I am going to the game against Minnesota.

In case my parents believe that I have lost all financial sense, I will note that Tuesday's ticket was free thanks to my company, and Sunday's ticket was free thanks to a coworker who I will be joining for the game. It will also be three more weeks before I go to another game (3/10 against Montreal). I must say, though, that I am really looking forward to tonight's game. Even though the Blues are totally out-matched by Nashville, I am hoping that Peter Forsberg, who was just picked up by Nashville on Wednesday in a trade, will be playing, as I have never seen him play live. Best case, Forsberg plays and the Predators lose. Hope springs eternal...

Monday, February 12, 2007

My Favorite Comic Book Publishers

Just for fun, here is a list of my favorite comic book publishers:

Dark Horse Comics
Dark Horse is the company that got me back into reading comics. This was back in the early '90s, when they got the license to create new comics based on the Star Wars universe. I was in the throes of a huge Star Wars stage at that time in my life, so I picked up some of their titles, starting with Dark Empire and then moving on from there. And then, one day, I noticed that Dark Horse had a non-Star Wars miniseries on the shelves, Shadow Empires: Faith Conquers. It wasn't Star Wars, but it was sci-fi, and it looked good, so I tried it out. What do you know, I really like it. So I started checking out other Dark Horse titles, and from literally thousands of comics later, they still publish many of my favorite series, including the new Star Wars titles (Knights of the Old Republic being the best, IMHO) and Usagi Yojimbo.

Oni Press
Oni is what is known as an "independent publisher," focusing as they do on small print runs and non-licensed properties. I might not even know of Oni's existence, except for a chance encounter with Chynna Clugston's Blue Monday, which is a wonderful, though ribald, take on the American teenage experience. Ms. Clugston's participation in Hopeless Savages then led me to check out that series, which was also great, and Andi Watson has done some books for Oni, and so on and so forth.

Image Comics
Image is an interesting company, as they are strictly publishers who handle printing, distribution, and some limited advertising. They do not own the intellectual property rights to the works they publish, as those are maintained by the original creators. This is a marked contrast to the big boys (i.e., Marvel and DC), who make sure that they own everything that goes out on their main imprints. The upside to the Image model is that you get a huge variety of titles and story types, as pretty much only Image will take a shot on concepts like the Flight anthologies. The downside to their model is that since stories are owned by their creators, if the creators flake out on them, they can't bring in additional talent to finish out a series. Some promising stories have died out like this, but they never would have seen the light of day in the first place if not for Image.

Antarctic Press
Pretty much the only books from Antarctic that I read are those by Rod Espinosa (The Courageous Princess, Neotopia, etc.), but pretty much everything he puts out is great. I especially like the fact that a number of his titles are intentionally written to appeal to people of all ages, which is increasingly rare in the modern comic book industry. Neotopia is an exceptionally stellar title. That noted, Antarctic is also the home to such industry luminaries as Ben Dunn and Fred Perry, who were putting out manga and anime-influenced comics years before it was acceptable to do so.

Alrighty, then

I have been rather slack in writing new blog posts, lately, which is generally attributable to work, good hockey games, Battletech, and general laziness, as well as the fact that nothing truly memorable has happened the last few weeks. The new work project is almost fully ramped up, and it is work: some good times, some frustrating times, some good staff, and some less-than-good staff. In other words, it is the same as always. The faces may change, but the game stays the same. The one new twist is that our project team here in St. Louis includes a large number (eight, if memory serves correctly) of people from out of town, who are in town on long-term assignment for most, if not all, of 2007. Because of this, there are multiple planned activities during each week, as the partners and managers want our out-of-town friends to enjoy their time in St. Louis. There is at least one bar/drinking event per week, as well as other things, such as tomorrow's team trip to the Blues game (assuming we don't get snowed out on that one). Since I desire to be a "good team player," I am participating in some of the events. I am not used to doing mid-week events with coworkers, so this is new for me. As my friends and family know, I am not exactly Captain Excitement, and I don't generally enjoy long, meaningless conversations with people I don't know, so these things can be essentially slow torture for me. Nothing against my coworkers, I am just not a "people person."

I will enjoy the hockey game tomorrow, though. Over the next seven days, I will be attending three different games, on Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday. The Friday game is the only one for which I purchased my ticket myself: Tuesday is the work event, and Sunday's ticket is complements of a coworker who I will be joining for the game. I don't know Randi real well, but when I am offered a $100 ticket for free, I am not usually going to turn that down. That being said, after this week I will probably enjoy not going to a game for a little while.

The only thing that is going to keep me in shape during this period is the fact that I have changed my workout schedule. I used to go to the gym right after work. However, due to my new project's schedule being driven by people in the Pacific time zone, I have changed my standard workday from 7AM to 4PM, to 8:30AM to 5:30PM, so that I have more of my workday matching up with my west coast colleagues. I am still getting up at 5AM, but rather than showering and getting ready for work immediately, I am going to the gym at 5AM. The first couple weeks of this, my body was quite upset with me, as it was not used to having to perform hard labor before the sun rises. Now that I am have established it as a new routine, however, it is going much better, and I have noticed that my body is waking up a little before 5, ready to go. In fact, this morning was the best Monday I can remember, as far as actually having energy and avoiding hitting the snooze button multiple times on my alarm. Maybe I will get used to working hours like a normal person!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

New Comic Reviews

New comic review are up on my website.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Working the Late(r) Shift

On my current project I am supporting a crew in Seattle, WA. Because they are two hours behind me, my standard working hours of 7 A.M. to 4 P.M. wasn't working, as that would leave them unsupported most of the afternoon. So, I have been coming in between 8:30 and 9:00 instead, and leaving from 5:00 to 6:00, depending on what is going on and how long a lunch break I take.

Because I have been getting to work no later than 7:15 for over three straight years, my body isn't necessarily handling the situation well. The first few days of this week, I kept waking up at 5:30 feeling like I was over-sleeping. I have tried combatting that by getting up at my normal time and then going to the gym to work out, but I usually have troubles working out early in the morning, as my brain is awake, but my body isn't used to having to lift heavy objects at 5:30, and doesn't really seem to like the concept.

So, I am still trying to figure out what to do. I hope that after a week or so my body will get used to the early morning workouts, and that I don't injure myself before then. I have to admit, it is nice to drive to work in day light, though. Sometimes in the winter I never see the sun, because sunrise is after I get to work and sunset is before I leave, but I won't have that problem with this project.


We got snow last night in St. Louis. When it started I was going to a restaurant to meet some coworkers, and it was just lightly flurrying. An hour and a half later, when I left the restaurant, it was coming down a little harder, but it really wasn't a problem. It was the fine, powdery stuff that doesn't easily stick to things. Over night we got about an inch, possibly less, of ground cover, which was enough to be really pretty, but not enough to cause any problems. It took me maybe 15 minutes to shovel my drive, and I really didn't even need to, I just like a nice, clean driveway in the morning.

Granted, this is St. Louis, so it was still enough snow to close most of the school and to cause 2/3 of all local drivers to turn into idiots. The snow didn't even really stick to the main roads and we still had a large spike in accidents. Unbelievable. People just don't know how to drive.