Saturday, December 29, 2007

OSU - Emerald Bowl Champions

Yesterday I had the pleasure of watching the OSU Beavers take on the Maryland Terrapins at AT&T Park in San Francisco (where the SF Giants play baseball). It was a ton of fun to go to a bowl game and see all the fan fair. I can't even imagine how amazing a Superbowl game must be. I didn't go to OSU, but now I work in that town, so I've been following them. It also just so happened I was going to be in the area with my family during the game, so I got tickets.

Both teams had some good players and spectacular moments. Maryland went up first with a quick score. OSU was able to respond, but then Maryland quickly put up another touchdown. It seriously looked like it was going to become a shootout. However, both defenses settled down and the scoring stopped. Less than a minute left in the first half, OSU put together a good drive to tie the score 14-14. The second half was another defensive game with both teams struggling to make it into the end zone. With 6 minutes left in the game, OSU put together another good looking drive to make it 21-14. Maryland came close scoring again a couple of times, but just couldn't finish. The game finished with OSU crowned as Emerald Bowl Champions.

It was a good close game and I'm glad I got to go with my family.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you had a great time and were able to relax a little bit. Jessi and I were able to spend Christmas in the Bay Area, CA with my (soon to be our) family. It had all the usual fun of family traditions and presents, but something caught my eye. Suddenly I stopped and looked around when I realized that we were eating dinner on Christmas Eve... outside - in short sleeves! That's right, the weather has been simply amazing. You know, I realize there are some who say it's better cold, or that you must experience the changing of the seasons, but I've got to be honest: beautiful weather all year round is really nice. I know, you're jealous. :)

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

She Said "Yes"

So, there's kind of big news in my life. Not only am I getting a promotion at work, but Jessi is now my fiancee! I proposed to her last night during a romantic candle lit dinner. She had no clue it was coming, which is awesome. Actually, at first she thought I was joking she was so surprised. Below are a few of pictures of the event.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Dynamic Graphs

In my line of work, we show a lot of data. Furthermore, all of that data is displayed within PowerPoint. Over time, we have become experts in the "display of quantitative information". We've learned how to make slides visually compelling and boil complex numbers and comparisons into easily understandable graphs and charts.

However, over time our information (and data) has become increasingly complex - and this has added a level of difficulty to our work. Our solution, we think, it to use something dynamic. This will allow the user to zoom in and out as they desire and not require us to physically create each level of detail within a new slide.

For example, let's say you have a picture of a car (slide 1). Then some body asks to just see the engine (slide 2). Then they ask to see the cylinders (slide 3). Then the pistons (slide 4). Lots of zooming involved. But then someone wanted to see the transmission (slide 4) and all the individual parts of the transmission (slides 5-20). Yet, there was one other person who wanted to see the interior (slide 21). Then the dash (slide 22). Then the fuel gauge (slide 23). Then the fuel gauge needle (slide 24). Oh wait! That's just one car! There are still 50 other cars to do this for, and each view has it's own PowerPoint slide! Not to mention the comparison views on one car to another (of say a 2006 model to a 2007).

Is there a tool out there that will allow people to choose their own view? Something that will let people peel their own onion on one slide with the data in the background? There are a couple options out there, but we're not sure what would be the best.

Ah yes, these are the types of concerns that keep us up at night.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Snow Joke

I like corny jokes. I think it's funny how stupid, yet creative they can be. I once got into a discussion about how measure the "funniness" of something and there are actually articles out there to further "explain" what makes something funny. It all has that "Dead Poets Society" feel to it really, but that's not why I'm writing. Let's get to the joke.

Q: What do you get if you make a vampire snowman?

A: Frostbite!

Ha ha. I love those kind. OK, now for a totally different kind of humor, but probably even better. Remember those Calvin and Hobbes snowman cartoons? Well, I found a site that has them all printed out. Just like the last time I read through Bill Waterson's book,s they're amazing.

Here's the page, and here's a sample:

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Having Goals

On February 23, 2003 I put together a goals list as encouraged by a book I read. From what I read, having goals gives you direction in life - a compass if you will. More over, writing down goals makes them more concrete and "official". Then, you need to put them in a place where you'll see them all the time. For me, the best place is posted in the bathroom right above the toilet. It's a time I'm not doing much, but standing there, and I can get in a quick review at least a couple times a day. When you review your goals, say all of them in the present tense - as if you've already accomplished them. Furthermore, your top 1-3 goals should be written down and placed in your wallet so you have them with you at all times. The last step, and this is the hardest really, is to tell people. Not only does it make it more real, but now you're holding yourself accountable to other people. Believe me, I still get calls and emails from people wondering about my goals.

What's the point of all this? Well, our minds are amazing. You see, over time your brain starts to truly believe what you're telling it each day and to others. Yes, it is a form of brainwashing (but you have to admit it's better than the normal brainwashing that occurs), and over time your brain starts to think of ways to make your goals come true. Want to vacation in Egypt? Your brain will think of ways to save money, borrow money, find discounts, fund raise and all sorts of other creative solutions. You will start to notice (and read) articles relating to Egypt - educating yourself. This concept, of setting your mind on something and then letting your brain figure it out, is exactly what the book "Rich Dad Poor Dad" by Robert Kiyosaki is all about.

How many goals is enough? There really isn't any magic number to the number of goals you have, though I do believe you should only have 1-3 top priority goals. You know, these are the big ones that you feel compelled to accomplish. You should even create sub goals that help enforce your main goal. For me, I write down anything and everything I think would be fun to accomplish. Really, this is so I can get it out of my head, but in a secure place, and refocus on my top goals. This practice of writing everything down comes naturally to me, but if you want to learn more, "Getting Things Done" by David Allen is a great read (or audio listen).

If you want how-to's and inspiration beyond what I've written (if that's possible), then one last wonderful book is "One Minute Millionaire" by Mark Victor Hansen and Robert Allen. It's actually written in two parts: One side is the how-to on everything I've been writing (by Allen, author of numerous books). The other is a made up inspirational story of how a young women implements each of these (by Hansen, author of Chicken Soup For the [add topic here] - this link takes you to some of the top searches, it's a hoot).

So that's it. Define your goal, write it down, review it, share it, and make it happen. Yep, it's that simple, but not necessarily easy.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

I Need More Steps

OK, I sit at my computer A LOT - probably more than I should. No, I know it's more than I should. A person, on average, walks 5,000 steps a day. A healthy person walks 10,000 steps a day. I've been wearing a pedometer for a few weeks now just to see how much I walk. Today, which is about average for me, I walked 2,534 steps. Yeah, I sit still WAY too much. Given these findings, I think I'm past the diagnostic phase and am ready to move onto the increase-my number-of-steps phase. How should I do this? Any ideas?

So far, I've come up with one crazy one, which if I could figure it out, would actually be pretty cool. What if I put a treadmill under my table? So, instead of looking at the control console, my desk is there instead. This way I can work (OK, it's actually play) on my computer while walking at the same time. People do this with their TV all the time. Could it work with a table? Obviously I wouldn't be speed walking, but could moving at a leisurely pace while writing an email be so bad? I don't know, I think it has merit since it promotes being healthier but doesn't require me to give up computer time. :)

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Gmail Colored Labels

When Gmail first came out, I jumped on that bandwagon pretty fast. Though, when I did there were a couple features missing that I really wanted. However, I was tired of deleting emails just to have enough space to get new ones. When I first started playing with Gmail the one feature missing, the one feature I had become addicted to was message highlighting. Oh my, oh my how I missed that feature. For about a week I submitted that request daily to the Gmail team. As a matter of fact, when I interviewed with Google, they asked how I thought they could improve one of their products and message highlighting was one of the things I mentioned. Yes, that feature is just that important to me.

Well, I (and probably countless others) have finally been heard. Gmail now has label highlighting and it is beautiful. Thanks Goog.

Monday, December 03, 2007

How much do you keep?

It's not about how much you make, but how much you keep. Who would you rather be: A professional athlete who makes $500K a year and spends $501K a year or a teacher who makes $20K a year but only spends $15K? Personally, I would rather be the teacher. Yes, the athlete probably has a nicer house and car than me... today. However, that extra $5K can be invested and used to create even more wealth. Imagine this: you invest that $5K and earn a nominal return in a retirement fund. At the age of 65, you'll have enough money saved you'll NEVER have to think about money again. As a matter of fact, you'll have well over $1 million (if you start at 30 years old) in your account. That athlete, who never saved, will only be up to his/her ear in debt. Chances are that nice car and house will disappear.

Now if you're like me, 65 years old sounds like a long time to wait. What if you could earn better returns that 10% annually? What can you do that adds value to people's lives? There is no right answer, but think about this for a minute. The majority of millionaires in the US are small business owners (we're talking 97%). The other 3% percent are athletes, actors and inheritance benefactors. Also, the majority of millionaires are ... surprise surprise ... teachers. Teachers know how to live within a budget and enjoy a nice chunk of time during the summer to operate their business.

So, as nice as it might be to be a superstar athlete, it's not about how much you make. It's all about how much money you save, and how you figure out ways to have that money work for you.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Figuring Out Facebook

Call me a slow learner, but I learned of a new (to me) feature in Facebook. For a while I've been resisting adding the plethora of new applications people send me because I've found it really clutters up my profile page. To be honest though, I'm not really sure what I'm supposed to be doing while on Facebook. All I do is scan the news feed, read notifications and messages, maybe post a comment on someone's wall and then look at my profile and think, "Yep, that's my profile." I do think the funniest feature is the email/message box. I love how when someone sends me a message in Facebook I get an email telling me to check my mail on Facebook. What a hoot!

Anyways, I just added an application called "Wii Want To Play", but I couldn't find the box listing the games I own and the ones I desire. During my search I discovered the "edit layout" feature. I learned that I could take all of those applications cluttering my profile and put them on my sidebar. Now I've got all my "important" items clearly visible in the main part of the body. It's a pretty cool trick.

Just as a geeky side, I did look at the source code of my profile and figure out how they did it. It's actually a fairly easy JavaScript trick. I found a easy tutorial if you want to learn more about it.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

What about my Contribution?

I had an interesting (or was it scary?) thought today. It occurred right after I finished checking my email, Google Reader (which includes Gizmodo, Engadget, MacDailyNew, Life Hacker, Penny Arcade, xkcd, and a bunch of blogs ), Digg, Google News, Facebook and my recent addition Pownce. The thought went like this: "Wow - I just spent a ridiculous amount of time consuming content and I haven't created any of my own today. How lame is this?" The worst part was that I wasn't satisfied yet either. I kept thinking: "Where else can I go to find something interesting?" Am I addicted to Internet news, and Internet content in general?

Why is it that during school I didn't care if I missed an article on Apple's latest patent, but now I race to it as if my life depends on this knowledge? Now, it's not as bad as TV where I could easily waste 6 hours and not actually gain any more knowledge (other than knowing that Pam and Jim make a cute couple but Chuck and Sarah will forever do the relationship dance), but I bet I spend at least 2 hours total each day reading about what cool things other people are doing.

What am I to do about this? I'm not sure. Maybe I could do what fellow blogger Maya does and post short snippets about what I'm working on - though mine, admittedly, probably aren't as cool, but at least I'm contributing. Or, I could ditch all my news feeds like Brad has done with TV. I don't know. I'll have to think about it.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Google Desktop

I have come to a sad discovery today: The latest version of Google Desktop stinks. Now, anyone who knows me will tell you that I'm an avid Google user and often recommend their products to many people. Products that I use DAILY include Gmail, Calendar, Notebook, Toolbar, Documents, Reader, Talk, News, Screen Saver and Alerts. I also use Maps, Analytics, Picasa,Youtube, Adwords, Adsense, Base, Checkout, Web Accelerator, Earth, Custom Search, GOOG-411 and iGoogle. So you see, I've kind of drank the cool aid and really like the taste.

When Google Desktop first came out I did what any new user would do. I installed the program and then downloaded every single gadget that might, maybe, possibly be cool or useful. Over time I whittled that list to just a few - weather, a flower that gets watered when you hover over it with your mouse, a picture slide show and webRSS feeds picked up while searching the web. I actually started opening programs and files using their search bar instead of opening files and manually searching. Basically, I like and use the program constantly.

Then something weird happened: my computer slowed down. My computer (a laptop) is two years old, but it was top of the line when I got it and therefore is still a great machine. My biggest clue was when I used Jessi's computer, with half the specs, and it was out performing my computer. I don't know, maybe it was the TEN MINUTES it was taking for my computer to boot up. Or perhaps it was the 45+ seconds it would take to open ANY program or even just a file folder that really threw me. I knew there was a problem, but I really wasn't sure what was causing it. At first I thought my hard drive had filled up - nope. Then I started looking at programs potentially causing problems: Firefox? Office 2007? OpenOffice? Photoshop? iTunes? Rome:Total War? Anti-Virus software? None of these looked to be a huge culprit.

Then I had the brilliant idea to use Google's original tool to find the answer. I read forum after forum of people saying Google Desktop was a memory hog. From what I understand, the problem is with the indexing. The program is constantly searching your computer to find new files and this causes problems because now new programs are competing for CPU time. You wouldn't think it would be that much, but I guess it is. So... I simply turned off Google Desktop and suddenly programs started opening up noticeably faster. My problem seems to be solved. For whatever reason, it wasn't until I updated to their newest version that the problem very apparent to me.

So, it looks like I won't be using Google Desktop for a while. I'll probably wait for their next update to see if there are any improvements, but I'm not holding my breath. So, unless you have a screaming fast computer, or not a lot of files, I would hold off on Google Desktop.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Halloween Costume

You know, there are advantage to owning your own screen printing business. One example is that you can make your own costume. So, this year I decided to be mild mannered Clark Kent. I think the coolest part about this costume is its subtlety. On a couple of occasions people really had to do a double take - even Lois had to do a double take when she saw me. Plus, everyone at the Daily Planet really got a kick out of it.

Just for comparison's sake, here's how I normally look:

By the way, you're welcome California for saving you from dropping into the Pacific Ocean. Lex Luther can really be crazy sometimes. For a kick recap on the event, there has been a short cartoon put together on the movie requires divx, but here's the link.:

Thursday, October 25, 2007


Have you heard about Redbox? You'll find it outside your local McDonalds and I think it's pretty cool. Basically it's a movie rental vending machine. You pay $1 per day and after 25 days, if you don't return it, you can keep the movie since you just essentially paid for it. Movies can be rented online and returned at any Redbox. In an era where Blockbuster, Hollywood and Netflix are competing like mad, I like the business model concept of Redbox for it's simplicity and fairness.

Unlike other options where I'm paying for a set amount of time, Redbox only charges me for when I'm actually using it. To me, this is a fair system which doesn't require any gambling or hedging of bets on either party's side. How often have you kept a movie from Blockbuster an extra day or two because, hey, you did pay to keep it a week? I also like that fact that it's on the way to grabbing a bite to eat and I don't have to wait in line. I've also heard it's great for travel - a friend of mine rented a movie for a trip he took. When he landed, he returned it to a Redbox at his destination and was done - now that's convenient!

I do hear one complaint that you actually have to get out of your car to use the machine, but honestly, where else can you instantly rent a movie without getting out of your car? I realize Netflix is convenient, but only as long as you're willing to wait for it to be delivered and potentially wait even longer because of your long cue. I wouldn't be surprised if we start to see more of these kiosks pop up. Keep the competition coming I say.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Pumpkin Carving

It's Halloween time again! Below is a slide show of us carving our first pumpkin together. How romantic...

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


I came across this joke in one of my statistics notebooks the other day. It was a joke told to me by one of my professors during class. It's one of those rare times when taking good notes actually pays off. Ready for it? Here it comes:

Q: What is the easiest way to catch a fish?

A: Have someone throw it to you.


Friday, September 28, 2007

Why I don't like the stock market

To me, the stock market is like a soap opera for business people. People are glued to their TV watching and waiting to find out what the next big merger is, or which company has been upgraded to a buy. People watch like hawks experiencing the ups and downs emotionally, even though they're not even going to start taking money out for at least 10 more years.

Some people put so much energy into following the stock market I sometimes wonder - why not start your own part-time business and focus your energy on that? Surly if you attack your business with the same vigor as following the stock market, you must be successful.

Besides the fact that I think spending inordinate amounts of time in front of the TV wrong - no matter what the content - I do have some, what I think to be, valid reasons for disliking the stock market.

My biggest dislike stems from a lack of control. Stocks go up and down too often based on the whims of the masses. For example, if the Fed lowers rates and the masses wanted them to, stocks go soaring. Why is this? The Fed cutting the rate won't be felt by the economy by at least 4 months, yet there is an instant pick up based on the expectations of the rate cut. This is called gambling. What really gets me is that you could genuinely pick a good company, but the stock may not perform well because the whole market goes down. Why are individual stocks tied so heavily to the "rest of the market"? In the end, a stock goes up or down based on people's expectations and then later we find out if those bets were correct. Personally, I want my money on a sure thing.

A very close second is how companies are rewarded (what the expectations are based on). Why is it that Microsoft makes billions each year, but their stock is flat? Since when did it become not good enough to simply be uber profitable year after year? Instead, companies get rewarded for growth, and really only faster growth at that. These expectations are too high of a bar to sustain and eventually each company flattens out, and then it's stock drops a little and rarely recovers to those "glory days". Then, as an investor you have to run to the next potential up and comer instead of simpling enjoying the fruits of a successful company. It's almost like someone wants you to keep guessing.

Finally, I wouldn't mind the stock market so much if I could do more research. I want to learn about the leadership. What are they thinking? What are their plans for the future and how to do they plan to meet the market's ridiculous expectations? Alas, this isn't allowed because then I would be doing insider trading... So, since I can't get to know a company as well as I would like, to decrease my uncertainty, I am going to restrain myself from investing any more than I have to into the stock market.

What will I do instead you ask? Good question. I will focus my resources on areas where I have more control. I have a small business of my own and I'm invested in other smaller business. I will also invest in real estate. My goal is to create a cash flow stream that will pay my bills instead of having a huge nest egg somewhere in the clouds that I'll slowly eat away at later in life.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

A Second Monitor

I have come to a beautiful revelation. I REALLY like big monitors. Better yet, I like multiple widescreen monitors. While in grad school, I lived off of a 15.4" widescreen laptop. Typically, I opened programs half the width of the screen allowing me to have two files, or programs, viewable at once. This worked well. However, when I started work, they gave me another laptop - only 13.nothing inches - and a 21" monitor to use as an extended desktop. This is nice, believe me.

It took a little while to get used to because I had to remember to scan both screens. It was especially weird when I would click on something from the start bar ... and wait for it to open ... and wait. Then, almost giving up, look over to the other monitor to find the program patiently waiting for me. Nice. However, over the last few months I've gotten used to this feature and really like having twice the real estate. I have Outlook and Firefox open on my smaller screen while my work programs are on the larger monitor. Now when I get home and hop onto my 15.4" laptop, it really just feels like I'm missing something.

So, you guessed it. A widescreen monitor (a.k.a Cinema Display) has made it onto my wish list. Can you imagine the power of two widescreen monitors?! I'll be able to, like, have four word documents viewable at once. Yes! ... Four Excel sheets? ... maybe not ALL four ... Well, at the very least I'll be able to watch a TV show from my iTunes library, casually surf YouTube in conjunction with posting comments on my friend's Facebook pages after quickly making sure I still didn't get another email in the last 10 seconds.

At first I thought it would be cool to get Apple's 30" Cinema Display, but then I found out that they actually want both of your arms instead of just one. So... I looked into Dell's equivalent and found they're just as interested in taking just above the elbows as well. So, I might have to wait for one of those *cough* Christmas *cough*. Luckily, I work with a bunch of geeks who pointed me to many web resources for refurbished displays on the cheap. For a petty $190 I could have my own 19" flat panel monitor. Not bad. Actually, I think I'll wait it out until I find a widescreen just my style ... I do believe HP has some nice ones.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

What's Your $1 Idea?

I learned a great lesson about money in high school. In retrospect, I shouldn't even have gotten myself in this situation and I probably could have made it with $5 - but what are you going to do with high school logic? Never the less, the lesson is priceless.

One day I needed to get gas for my car, but had no money. I was running really low and probably could not have made it home. I wasn't even sure if I was going to make it to the gas station to be honest. I decided that morning that my only option was to borrow $10 from somebody, get gas and pay them back whenever my parents handed out money again. This seemed to be a fool proof plan. Who wouldn't give me $10? I was even will to pay $2 in interest! Furthermore, I was a trustworthy guy and everyone could depend on me.

That morning I set out and began asking all my friends if they had $10 I could borrow. Much to my surprise, nobody had $10 they were willing to lend. However, everyone made sure to reassure me that IF they had the money, they would surly lend it. Around noon, just before lunch, and my last real chance to ask people for money, I decided I needed a change in technique because at this point I was become desperate. I could see myself driving home and getting a mile away and having to push the car the rest of the way. I began to determine how much gas I could get away with. Would 1 gallon be enough? Would I need 2 or 3? After all, this was when gas was up to a gigantic $1.50, and I couldn't just pull up to the pump with pocket change! After much internal debate, I decided that a couple bucks would get me through one day and an opportunity to ask my parents for more money.

Once again I set out to ask my friends if I could borrow a couple bucks, anything really would work. I told them my problem, and how much it would help me. To my surprise (a day full of surprises), my friends suddenly had money on them. I had $3 dollars all of the sudden! The best part was that not a single one said I had to pay them back! That was when the light went off. I started asking more friends and people in class I rarely talked with. People started chipping in 50 cents, a dollar here and a dollar there. In the last two hours of school I managed to raise $9 - 1$ short of my goal. All of which none had to be paid back! Talk about a deal. I decided to ask one more friend who I hadn’t seen all day. I explained my situation, which was becoming much easier to do, and guess what. He gave me three dollars.

I ended up with more than I needed and didn't have to pay any of it back. I went home, after going to the gas station of course, and told my parents everything that I learned. I explained how the light bulb had gone off. It suddenly made since why my dad said, "You can become a millionaire two ways. You can either sell one thing for a million dollars, or you can sell a million things for one dollar. Either way works, but one way is much easier." Apple Computers tried to sell one thing for a million dollars. Microsoft decided to sell a million things for one dollar each. What are you using today? What are your friends using?

I tried to sell my gas problem to one person and got skunked. It was either all or nothing, and it was going to cost me more in the long run. I thank all of my peers for rejecting my plan and forcing me to learn and improvise. Here are some other examples of companies that decided to sell one thing for a dollar: McDonalds, WalMart and Ford with the Model T. What can you do a million times? What is your one dollar idea?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Smart Phone

I must admit it, I want a smart phone. This probably stems from the fact that I'm tech type of person, but I think I've come up with two practical excuses to actually get one.

1) I use Google Calendar, Gmail and Google Talk - all of which have applets which can be downloaded onto my phone. Though Gmail and GTalk would mostly be for fun, the calendar would be really useful. I used to have a palm, but that system really only works with a single computer. Now that I'm jumping between my work and home machines, syncing all the time is too much of a hassle. Google, which easily shares between machines, chose to be mobile through smart phones. Since my calendar really is a large part of my life, I think this is a good excuse.

2) Sometimes I'm traveling and don't have access to WI-FI. In those situations I could tether my cell phone to my computer. With a data plan, I would get internet access through either an EDGE or 3G connection. Then, my computer could pick up the signal my phone puts out. Thus, my phone acts as a conduit for the internet. I've done some math, and if I canceled my current internet plan and solely went through my phone, I would actually save money. Think about it: if you're spending $40 for your phone now plus $40 for internet access, paying $60 for a phone and data plan actually saves you money. True, the connection isn't as fast, but just think how cool that would be. This is definitely a good excuse.

So those are my two reasons. I think they're pretty solid. Now I just have to get over the $400 hump to just get the device...

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

1st Camping Trip

Jessi and I had our first camping trip alone in that great big world. We went to Honeyman Park in Florence, OR (Southern Coast). It is right next to the sand dunes with a mini-lake too. We were there for two nights and it was pretty fun. Here's a slide show of some pictures we took.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Find Assets and Spend Less

I was reading the book "Rich Dad Poor Dad" by Robert Kiyosaki a few years back and there were two concepts I really liked and want to share. They are ways to think about wealth and how to accumulate it. First, wealth should be measured in time. How many days could you go without working before you ran out of money? If you are like most people, you divide your monthly expenses (bills, food, gas, fun, etc.) into days (30), then divide your savings by your daily bills. For example, you might pay $300 a month in expenses or ($300/30 days) $10 a day on average. If you have $600 in savings, you can last ($600/$10) 60 days. Kiyosaki points out that most people have so little savings, because they're spending all of their income, that even missing one day of work can wreck havoc on people's lives. Where are you on this scale? For me, I have managed to spend less than 50% of my income. Thus, for every day I work I can effectively take a day off. I've been working for two months now and have enough wealth to last... 2 months. Just think, if I did this for a year, I could take a whole year off to pursue something. Again, where are you?

What is and what is NOT an asset?

The second concept is that Kiyosaki defines an asset as something that puts money into your pocket each month. A liability is something that takes money out of your pocket each month. So, let's test you on this definition. What is your car? A liability because you keep putting money into it for gas and maintenance. What about your TV? A liability because you contribute to electricity, cable and movies (not to mention your time, which is worth something). What about stocks? Actually it's neither because even though you get money when you sell it, you no longer own it, but it also isn't taking money out of your pocket. What about the house you live in? A LIABILITY. You repair the house and make interest payments. Yes, you're earning equity, but that doesn't regularly flow into your pocket. How about a simple savings account? An asset because each month the bank adds money to your account (if you use ING, it's actually a noticeable amount). Other assets include investment real estate, businesses (well, successful ones), book royalties and many more.

Bringing it together

So, you've accumulated some sort of wealth - maybe 60 days, maybe less, maybe more. Right now I have mine sitting in an ING account paying me interest, putting money in my pocket. What can be done to increase those days faster? What if I acquired enough assets, putting money into my pocket, that the days become infinite because I always have enough income from assets flowing in to cover my expenses each month (aka infinitely wealthy)? One way to do that would be to keep saving and live only off the interest. I did the math and assuming I spend/save the same I could be infinitely wealthy in 2 years (I actually give myself 5 years to do it since things happen in life). How long will it take you? More importantly, what can you and I invest in to earn higher returns so we can get there faster? Simply buying a house and living in it won't get us there and neither will only investing in mutual funds. Though those are important, think about ways to get cash flowing, monthly, into your pocket. With this, in combination of keeping your expenses as low as possible, you will be well on your way out of the Rat Race.

Friday, July 27, 2007

I had the pleasure of going to see a wonderful speaker. His name is Edward Tufte (pronounced "tough - tee") and he is the expert in the world of displaying quantitative information. Yes, I went to an all day seminar to learn how to make better graphs, tables and charts. I even walked away with four books full of hundreds of pictures on the principles of data display. I went to see him speak with fellow HP colleagues and here are some of the things we took away from the day:

1) There really is no such thing as too much information: it's just a matter of it being displayed in a way that is relevant and interesting to the audience. For example, newspapers constantly pack as much information as possible on their paper. It's even more intense in the sports and financial sections with all of the pure data. Still, people seem OK looking at the information and are actually thankful it's all their: that's because it's interesting to the audience. The same can be said of aerial photos of your home town.

2) Everything presented should add to the understanding of the information. Colors, graphics and lines should have a purpose to people's understanding - they are busy people after all and it shouldn't be their job to figure out what is and is not important. Here's an easy test: take your material and stand back, away from it. What catches your attention first? Is it the data? Your border? Or, the cute graphic in the corner? Also, if people walk away from your presentation saying, "gosh, that was a nice shade of blue," you missed your mark.

3) Tufte is not a fan of PowerPoint because it deludes speaker's points to meaningless phrases. He is a huge fan of only using it as a slide show or a way to watch video. Instead, just create a handout for people. It's harder to produce because you have to create complete thoughts (sentences) but it gives them much more information and provides them something for later. I see this as a cue we can get from politicians: how many of them do you see using PowerPoint?

4) If your content is so boring that you feel you need to dress it up: get better content. Seriously, if nobody will be interested in what you have to say, why say it at all. I think this is one of the reasons why I like to listen to Steve Jobs of Apple Inc. talk: I like what he's talking about. I see this as tying back with #1: make your information meaningful to the audience.

For more information, you can check out his website at or read about him on Wikipedia. I would definitely recommend checking him out if you regular give presentations.

As an aside, if my transformation to Geek-dom wasn't bad enough already. My colleagues and I did walk a few blocks afterwards to check out OSCON, the Open Source Conference. The worst part is that I actually saw companies who I know about and I regularly use. We even got to check out the $100 laptop and it is pretty cool.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Advice for Sony's PS3 Division

I can't help but wonder what Sony is up to with their PS3. If you haven't been following gaming news lately (don't worry, you're not alone), Sony isn't doing so well with the new generation of consoles. Basically, their consoles are not selling nearly as well as what Sony expected. It must be hard going from the number 1 console to last place in the industry. Sony came out with the most graphically advanced and most expensive system. Unfortunately, gamers are struggling to justify spending so much money given the other options in the market. After months of watching, without being in the board room, here's what I think Sony should do.

First of all, a price reduction is not the answer. Unless Sony has market research showing that dropping their price 20% will given them a 100% increase in market share it probably isn't worth the gamble. Besides, Microsoft can easily match any price war Sony wants to start - and nobody should mess with Microsoft when it comes to finding out how deep in the pockets you're willing to go (yes, I do think Google is playing a risky game too with Microsoft). Instead, Sony should focus on what makes them different and help gamers justify the high cost of their system.

Focusing on something different needs to go beyond Blu-ray and "amazing graphics" because gamers already know that. Sony needs to start sharing a different story to peak gamer's interest again. The only real place to do with this with games. How will great games played on a graphically superior console benefit gamers that no other system can match? Talk about the games.

Here's a crazy idea. Instead of dropping the system price by $100, give the money you were willing to give up to companies like EA and Rockstar to help them fund game development. Those companies want to produce games that will earn them the most profit, which is a factor of that console's install base, gamer's ability and willingness to purchase the game and their development costs. (price x volume - costs = profit). If Sony can decrease developer's costs, they will be willing to spending the time to make better games which will ultimately increase the number of games sold. True, this is also like giving a price reduction to software developers, but this is a gamble to spur on innovation which will lead to purchases.

Sony, if you're reading, continue to take the high road with better games. Don't just give up on that dream and play the cost game. At the same time, spend more money/time doing research to find out which gamers you want to serve and be happy when you win them instead of simply going for the whole market.

Friday, July 06, 2007

If you were independently wealthy...

A professor of mine once posed the question to me: If you were independently wealthy, what would you do with your time? That right there is an important question. Let me explain this a little more. Being independently wealthy means you don't have to do anything for your money - it's just there like a well of oil in the back yard. In other words, you have 24 hours a day to do whatever you want with no financial constraints.

Most people start their answers with "buy a new car" or "purchase the largest house in a nice area". Others start with "visit Europe and my whole family." These are all awesome ideas, but the crux of the question is what happens next. OK, you've bought everything you want, now what? What would you do day to day? Would you volunteer at a local homeless shelter? Go back to school? Knit a blanket? Perhaps try to take over the world? What would you do with your time?

Answer that question now. It's your dream, so be honest about it.

Now here's the trick: how can you start living your dream today? If you want to direct movies, how can you get involved with movies? Perhaps you can't do exactly what you want to do instantly, but you can at least get yourself a step closer in the right direction. Honestly, it really doesn't matter how well your current job pays if it's not what you truly want to do.

Finally, this question falls right in line with the statement I first heard from my dad: do what you love, and the money will follow. How are you incorporating what you love in your life?

Friday, June 29, 2007

Rich Woman

Hi all,

I am notorious for being in the middle of multiple summer has hit full force I find myself wanting to laze about and read all day long. At the moment, this has been a very good thing, since I am in the middle of three awesome books.

I am reading, The Metabolic Plan by Dr. Stephen Cherniski, Men are from Mars Women are from Venus, and Rich Woman by Kim Kiyosaki. I would recommend all of them as quick and entertaining reads, not to mention chalk full of helpful, insightful and awesome information.

The book I would like to highlight today is, Rich Woman. I have to thank James' mom for sharing this book with me. She let me borrow her copy right after I graduated and I find myself not wanting to put it down and re-reading sections over and over again hoping to pull out every last detail of goodness.

In short, Rich Woman, I would say, is an inspirational guide for women's financial futures. It outlines the path that Kim Kiyosaki followed to become the strong woman and investor that she is today. Through reading this book I have found a new sense of direction and motivation to become financially secure and independent.

I am a woman, I am a teacher, I am in love with James and want to share my life with him, but ultimately I am capable of being completely financially independent regardless of my gender, profession or relationship status.

If you are a woman, definitely get a hold of this book. It will change the way you think of money, investing and taking care of yourself. To be cliche, your owe it to yourself to get all of the education you can to prepare for your financial, not just your financial future...your happiness, success, your dreams.

Well, that was my rant...really it is a good book. I recommend it highly :)

Hope everyone has a happy 4th of July!


Thursday, June 28, 2007

Wired Once Again

Little did you know, but I have been "living" (if you can call it that) without the Internet in my apartment for the last month or so. It has been an interesting experience. Though, as of this week, I am once again connected to the world. There will be no more waiting until I get to work in the morning to see if I received another email. During this time though I noticed a couple of things.

First, I really like being online. I mean, I do so much online it's kind of sick. It's my source for news, communication, work and entertainment. I'm sure if I could figure it out, it would also be my source of physical exercise. Without being connected at home I felt empty.

Second, I played more video games. I re-discovered all those old PC games I had completely forgotten about. I probably logged too many hours playing Rome: Total War and other excellent games. Oh yeah, I also reached pro status on Tennis for Nintendo's Wii Sports. Basically, without the Internet I had trouble coming up with ways to entertain myself.

Being at school, with the Internet included in my tuition, I didn't realize how expensive the Internet can be. This is especially true since I don't have a TV and only use my cell phone which means I can't take advantage of bundled packages. Furthermore, since I'm living in a smaller town I don't exactly have all the choices of some in larger towns. I can easily see how people who are not as dependent on the Internet as I am decide not to get broadband/DSL or any other relatively expensive option.

I'd like to say I came out a better person from this experience, but pretty much I'm just glad to be sending emails and watching You Tube late into the night. With that, I'm off to enjoy some clips of "The Office".

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Nintendo Wii

I own a Nintendo Wii and I must admit it is absolutely as cool and awesome as I thought it would be. Here's what I like about it:

A way to exercise
Nintendo made a smart move to create Wii Sports. As any other blog will suggest, it's simply great fun. My favorite is the baseball game - especially going through the training games. It's exciting to connect the bat to the ball and see it soar out of the stadium. I'm also getting pretty good at tennis as well and have been regularly using tennis as part of my morning wake up routine.

Jessi likes it
This was huge for me. I wanted to get something that both Jessi and I could enjoy and play together. Any couple knows that it takes planing to find an activity both people enjoy and thankfully playing theWii is one of them. We especially like playing against each other on Wii Play with all of it's mini-games. Jessi is pretty good too, often leading me with overall wins.

Internet browser
OK, we all love YouTube and other video content sites. You have seen the latest Ask A Ninja and Homestar Runner updates, right? What's great about Nintendo is that you can surf the web and watch all of these videos right on your home TV! I realize that Apple is claiming to be the first to bring YouTube to the television with their appleTV, but the Wii already has this cool feature.

Backwards Compatibility
Sony originally came up with this idea with the PS2: be able to play your old games on the new system. This was one thing I really disliked about Nintendo's new consoles, but no more. It would have been cool to just be able to play GameCube games, but Nintendo made one more smart move. Owners can now download classic games and play right on the Wii. Nintendo was equally smart in how they priced the games. I can buy any NES game they offer (they are slowly releasing them though) for $5. That's enough money where I don't think twice about buying a game I know I want and like, and it's enough that Nintendo will actually make some money off the sales. Brilliant. I have recently been enjoying three classics: Super Mario Bros, The Legend of Zelda and Excite Bike.

So, thanks Nintendo for making a console that I fun, nostalgic and at least more physically healthy than alternative game systems. It's no surprise to me that Nintendo is leading the pack in console sales by 5 to 1 in many areas.

Monday, May 28, 2007

New Teaching Career!

Hi everyone!

I just wanted to give you a quick update on what has been happening the past few weeks and what my plans are for the near future. So, I am finishing my student teaching in Keizer, Oregon. I only have one final project and two weeks to go!!! I can't believe it! Then I will be preparing for a summer program for gifted students for three weeks in July called Awesome Academic Adventures (A3). It will be at Willamette and I get to teach three week-long sessions on ceramics, flight and printmaking. The weeks are themed earth, wind and water and I pretty much got to choose exactly what I wanted to teach! That doesn't happen very often in the teaching field, so I am taking full advantage of it and packing my lessons full of things I find interesting.

After A3 I will be getting ready for.....(drum roll please...) my REAL JOB! Yes, I got a job in the real world! It is the perfect position...I will be teaching kindergarten in a dual immersion program...which pretty much means English speakers learn Spanish and Spanish speakers learn English. The program is set up so 50% of the instruction is given in Spanish and 50% in English. I will be doing all of my instruction in Spanish, because my students will get the English portion of their day during pullouts like PE, Music and so on.

I am so excited to teach kindergarten and to be able to keep up my Spanish language skills. This school puts all of my interests into one position!!! Not to mention the school is located about 2 miles from James' apartment and about 4 miles from where he works. We actually might get to see each other once in a while :)

Here is a link to the school web site...if you want to read more about it!

I will be posting pictures from summer school and my new school when I get them! Enjoy!


Sunday, May 27, 2007

My First Apartment

I made this video to show off how I'm doing and what I've been up to. Enjoy.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

IX Web Hosting

For those of you looking for a place to hold your web presence, I've got a great suggestion for you. I have found a company called IX Web Hosting. I base my endorsement on three criteria:

1) Price: They are one of the most affordable business around. At their prices ANYONE can start up their own website.

2) Features: Their service includes all the features you could want. They support all the different web languages, have all the databases you could ever want to use and many more tools. I'm not sure about their tracking tools because I use Google Analytics.

3) Speed: Though I would say content in the number 1 criteria for a good website, speed of downloading the site is at least top 3. IX's location of their servers allows users to download your site information at great speeds.

Based on my experience with Yahoo! and Go Daddy, IX is a much better product for web developers.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Real Life

It's official! I'm out on my own living in the "real" world. I graduated on Sunday and it was quite the event. My whole family showed up and made sure to cheer extra loud. Afterwards most of the time was spent hanging out and packing up my stuff. Now I'm in an apartment with absolutely zero furniture. I'm sitting on the floor up again the wall right now. Thankfully, I have a mattress or life would be really tough. The best part about where I live is that it's only a mile away from work. Today I jogged to work and I think I'm going to make a habit out of that. That should give me an excuse to eat as much Mac and Cheese as I want.

Jessi also graduated on Mother's Day and is finishing up her student teaching. So she still has AC, heat, wireless internet and furniture. She is also still interviewing with schools and is very hopeful to land an excellent job. I know she'll be a great catch.

Saturday, May 05, 2007 - Worth Checking Out

Have you heard of It is worth checking out. Basically, it's a news aggregation website. Here's how it works: people surf the web and find interesting news articles. Then, they submit the URL along with a short description to Digg. Then users can view the site. They can also add comments about the article. Finally, users can "digg" (this cool, as in, "I dig it") the article or bury (This is lame) it. If the article gets Dugg enough, it will make it to the front page as something popular.

Why is it Digg instead of Dig? Well, according to an interview with the founders it's simply because was already taken. Personally, I think they lucked out by spelling it weird because in some ways it makes it easier to remember.

Here's how I use it: I have Google Desktop with the Google Sidebar. One of my gadgets is a website feeder (RSS basically) with Digg on the list. As articles make it to the front page (again, only the popular ones), they pop up on my sidebar. I can then pick and choose what I want to read. I have actually found that these articles make it to my sidebar faster than if I only go with regular news sources because of the speed at which people see and vote on these. It also naturally screens out items that are unimportant or poorly done.

So, give Digg a big thumbs up. You should check it out and then we can become friends and share articles we find.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Job at HP

Well I did it. I found a job. It was a long search this year with many companies showing interest, but ultimately HP proved to be an excellent place for me. So, what do I get to do? I will be a marketing analyst in the printing division. You see, every month HP collects data from people who have opted in to share information about their printer usage. This is data such as how many pages you printed or how many times you hit cancel. All of this data is collected and stored, I'm sure, in some remote place. Then a team of outstanding individuals start analyzing the data to learn about customers habits - think of it as a type of CRM (Customer Relationship Management).

My job will be to simply help further that process by working on variables previously not fully integrated into the analysis. In plain English, it means I'll be creating a structure for the data to go into to make it easy for analysis. Accepting this job means I won't be returning back to California, but I will get to live in a smaller town that everyone says is just plain nice.

So, that's what I'll be up to for the next few years. It will be a ton of fun and I'm excited to start working and contributing to the greatness that is HP.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Fun in the Sun

Hi again,
It seems like I have a hard time getting on here to post updates on life. But it is definitely time to put something new up.

I have been job searching down in California, for elementary teaching positions. The process is slow but mostly painless. I have had two great interviews for two school districts and am waiting to hear back from them. I also applied to about 7 other districts and once again am waiting for positive feedback and invitations for interviews. I wish I had a job already, where have I heard that before?... oh, yeah, James wishes he had a job already too :)
James and I also had the oportunity to spend Spring Break with his family in California. On top of the job searching we had a fun filled week! The pictures are from a trip I took with James' mom to San Francisco for a day! I had my first trip to Chinatown and my first cable car ride! It was a blast! We also ate lunch at a little restaurant called the Pearl Orchid...I think? I would recommend it if you are playing in San Francisco for the day. We also stopped by a new hotel and learned about their environmentally friendly was really neat.
I hope you enjoy and I will keep you updated on the job search!


Thursday, March 22, 2007

Mr.Bean Guide to Dating

It's always important to get dating right. This clip explains it all. I hope you enjoy it because it is very funny.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Same 'ol Same 'ol

It nice to see that somethings life don't change.

Since my childhood, plenty of things have changed. For one, I'm in college finishing up graduate school. I'm over 600 miles from my parents. I still have no money, but that's besides the point. Of course, that does point to me being right in the middle of my job search. Also, I have girlfriend - the coauthor of this blog. So you see, on many major levels my life has changed a lot.

Currently, my girlfriend is away for the weekend job searching which leaves me all alone. So, I went to GameStop to buy a game only to find they were out. Not only that, the sales person there actually tried to discourage me from getting it. I know he thought he was doing me a favor, but please. There is only one person who is an expert in the games I want to play and that's me. I understand trying to sell me something else, but he didn't even do that. Sorry for the digression, where was I? Oh yeah.

So, I'm at school, alone, looking for something to do. Since I can't play my would be game, I decide to watch a movie. Here I where I come full circle: In the midst of all these changes, it's nice to know that one thing remains constant. Like I said, I was looking for a movie so I could relax (and write this). They all looked so good, but I ended up going with the tried and true. That's right I'm watching Top Gun right now. It is such a great movie! If you haven't seen it, you must. Even if you have seen it, go ahead and watch it again. You'll thank me. I've watched Top Gun so many times I can reenact the whole thing. When I was a kid, this was my favorite movie which I watched at least once a day. I'll admit I don't watch it as often as I used to, but it's still my favorite.

That's it for today. Just a little update on what's going on with me.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Adobe to put Photoshop online

I saw this article the other day:

In the wake of Google announcing they will be selling their application software to corporations, Adobe has come out with some of their own big news. According to the article, Adobe is developing a software program to be used over the web that will act very similar to their current Photoshop program. Users will be able to access and use this program for free.

To me, this is a very interesting bit of news. Does Adobe think that's where software is headed? Is this the way software is headed? If I remember correctly, Microsoft is also going to be coming out with a web app that interfaces very nicely with their current Office software too.

It sure would seem that software is headed in that direction. It makes sense on a bunch of levels for the company. No packaging costs, no shipping costs, no distribution hassles, no sharing revenue with retailers and they can easily update and fix the software. Those are all extremely nice cost savings, which if passed on to the consumers make the products just that much more attractable.

Personally, I'd like to see programs head in that direction. Then I could have multiple computers and not have to worry about my information being where I need it. Plus it would mean I always have the latest and greatest solution at a reasonable cost. Very cool. Anyways, interesting food for thought.

Job Searching

Right now I'm in the midst of my job search. During my process I discovered a neat site. It's called:

It pulls from the top 10 job search sites on the web and displays the most relevant positions to your query. The site uses Google search technology, and has a nice clean display. If you're in the hunt for a job, I highly recommend checking this site out. Even if you're not looking for a job it's pretty fun to do a search to see what's available in your area. Happy hunting.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

NetFlix Instant Online

It's nice to know when I get something right. A year ago I said the way Netflix should improve their product is to create some sort of program that people can download and then watch movies on their computer. That way they wouldn't have to deal with DVDs and customers getting upset about having to wait for their movie.

According to this article, Netflix has done just that. You can download their applet and then stream video onto your computer. It sounds like they're just testing it out with a few customers, but I'm pretty sure this is going to work and soon everyone will have access to this.

If anyone at Netflix is reading this, I still need a job and I thought of this idea a year ago. Furthermore, Netflix put out an offer of $1,000,000 to anyone who can come up with a better, which I'm going to be working on this semester.

Back on topic. This move for Netflix makes complete sense. They save money because they don't have shipping costs or replacement DVD costs. Customers can watch movies faster and don't have to worry about the DVD being damaged. Furthermore, with all the new technology coming out it's becoming easier and easier to put this content onto your TV. Image, you could by a Mac Mini, download the program, connect it to your TV and now you can watch DVD's, downloaded video (music, pictures, etc), play computers (oh wait, it's a Mac) and all sorts of other activities. Isn't technology fun?!

Monday, January 08, 2007


This last holiday I had the pleasure of visiting my Dad's side of the family in Michigan and it was a blast! We played tons of games, watched lots of movies and traveled all over the place. We were there for Christmas and stayed all the way through to the new year. Most of our travels involved seeing family members, we we also got some quality shopping in and visited the Ford Museum. That museum is amazing! If you're ever in the area, I recommend checking it out. Some highlights are:
  • The car JFK got shot in (by the way, did you know he wasn't the last president you use the car?!)
  • The bus Rosa Parks refused to give her seat up on
  • The Chair President Lincoln got shot in (it happened in the Ford Theater)
  • The picture is of one of the largest trains I have ever seen
Another amazing part was the weather. Surprisingly, it was beautiful the entire time. As a matter of fact, it was constantly one or two degrees warmer that it was in California. But don't think of a second it's global warming because this is the exact same time that the Denver Airport got shut down because of the horribly bad weather. Over all, it was a wonderful trip.