Info ~ travel musings for the masses

Archive for

Today I made my first huge purchase as an “adult”. I bought a used Nissan Altima from Carmax. It only has 27k miles so it was definitely good find.

Compared to my Bronco the ride is completely different. It is much smoother, very quiet, and more responsive. I will have to get used to it as driving my truck had very few blind spots but the Altima has a few.

So far I am glad that I bought it. I needed something that was better in the fuel mileage department and actually had a working air conditioner.

This crisis in the Middle East has befuddled me. Not so much the crisis, but the reactions that people and countries are giving.

Death in any situation is sad, however, people need to think about what is at stake here. Israel has to uphold their values, which is that they do not negotiate with terrorist and they get their soldiers back. The deaths that have occurred while tragic were caused by Hezbollah. They are known to locate their areas of operation within heavily populated civilian areas in hopes to discourage air strikes. Hezbollah is a terrorist organization and the Lebanese people do not understand that they are the source of Lebanon’s current situation.

If Hezbollah returned the soldiers and stood down from firing rockets into Israel, we would see this crisis come to an end. Yet people blame Israel and accuse them of overreacting. What? What would other countries do? Russia, in its current fight against the rebels in Chechnya are known to go in and wipe out entire blocks of neighborhoods, yet no other countries complain. Blows my mind.

I am flipping through the channels right now and there is a show that is about who’s the best dancer, who’s the best singer while you watch their real life, who has the most talent, and who’s the best rockstar. What gives?

It used to be just American Idol and that was fine, now it’s just a lot of crap spanned across multiple channels. I stopped on “The One” just to see what it was about and of course they were doing a poor job of paying homage to a classic. They were singing Foreigner’s “Feels Like the First Time” and it sounded alright, but that’s not the point. The song is a ballad, and was meant to have the electric guitar behind it with the full “symphonic” band playing along. These shows performing these songs just don’t the music justice.

And people wonder why we are inundated with crappy music. It’s because of these shows. People think they’re producing great artists but all they are doing is giving us more canned music.

Now a girl is on this show and she has a decent voice but she’s wearing a skimpy number and I think the whole point of her performance is to get some T&A on the screen to draw in some viewers.


I have found it very hard to get things done at work when I have other, more important things on my mind.

It’s not hard to do the work, it’s hard to just stay focused and not be distracted by thinking about whatever it is that is more important.

That’s part of the reason for lack of updates as well as the fact that I’m just busy.

Ok, you don’t have to turn it off, but if you are sitting in a group office and your phone is on vibrate have the decency to pick it up when it rings. When you pick it up, either take it out of the room to answer it or silence the vibrating feature if you want to ignore it.

It is very frustrating to be concentrating on something and have someone loudly answer the phone or worse, just let it keep ringing.

When DVDs first came on the market, the beauty was that you did not have to fast forward through previews for other movies. It seems like times are changing. I just put in The Matador and had to wait through ten minutes of commercials before I could watch the actual movie. I tried all of the ways around it, fast forward, channel step, etc. and nothing worked. Just one of those annoying things that really gets underneath your skin after a while…

One thing I have always considered is going into the Peace Corps to do volunteer work in an Eastern European or Central Asian country. Reading through the website, they say you should apply at least a year before you’d like to depart so that you can be trained in the language of the country and different customs.

I know, you’re asking yourself, “Stephan, didn’t you just get a job?”. Yes I did. I am not looking to go in the near future, but it’s a definite possibility in the next 2-3 years. It would allow me to do something good for struggling people and give me a chance to photograph the lives of the people, maybe exposing their needs to more people.

More research on my part needs to take place before I just jump in and since they will be holding an information session here in Dallas in the middle of this month I will probably go.

Something that I have noticed in my move to the MacBook Pro from my Windows machine is that it takes some time to get used to the folder situation.

I am used to the Linux file structure but just trying to get everything organized the way that I would like to is a daunting feat. I have my own account on the machine and I do not know if I like it or not. What I have started doing is putting my coding projects in a subfolder of the HD main directory. For my personal documents I put everything in my account’s Documents folder.

The pictures folder is strange as well. I have decided that the best way to go is a portable harddrive for my music, movies, and pictures. Why a portable harddrive? They’re powered thru USB and they’re light, making them easy to take on the road.

Speaking of pictures, I can already tell that I am going to hate iPhoto or at least I think I am. More experimentation is definitely needed but from what I have done so far, it just does not give me enough control. Where is a simple off/on switch for making iPhoto the default program for my camera?

My plan over the next few days is to get Apache running along with MySQL. I installed Xcode and started doing some Java 1.5 development, which has come along nicely (gotta love generics!). I am going to see if I can do a little Cocoa development with Java as the documentation is pretty good.

One thing that still frustrates me is that when the screen is closed or the computer goes to sleep my wireless connection dies and I have yet to figure out how to get around this. I like my IM client to stay connected so that I get people’s messages when I am gone but I just can’t seem to get it that way.

I am still very pleased with my purchase and so far my development has become a little smoother and very mobile (something I needed).

I went and looked at a Volkswagen Passat today and needless to say I am tired of sales people.

From the beginning of the visit I told the guy helping me that I was merely interested in pricing and options. I said that I did not want to buy today and just wanted to get a feel for what I could expect in terms of monthly payments. Of course, this isn’t how it ended up.

I explained what I was looking for, a no-frills Passat, and not surprisingly they did not have any at this location so I was shown an upgraded version that was “near” my price needs. I then asked if they had TDI models available… They didn’t.

Before I knew it I was test driving a Passat and have to say it was a great ride and I really like the car. They then had me sitting down going over prices and monthly payments. About five minutes into this I got wise and immediately started being defensive.

The salesperson that was helping me went for backup (I think he was new) and before I knew it there was another salesperson sitting down next to me telling me that I was “wasting their time” if I wasn’t going to buy a car. I snapped back with a “I’m wasting your time?!” and was greeted with a glare from the guy. He then proceeded to ask me what he could do to get me to buy a car today to which I replied, “nothing”. I continued to explain that my intention was never to buy a car, but instead to come in and get prices so that I could compare my options and look at Audi knowing what else is out there.

I left a little discouraged because I like the Passats and don’t want poor salesmanship to spoil it.