mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Summer reading...

When I was in grade school and high school, I had summer reading. Since I've always been a procrasinator, I wouldn't touch that reading until the last couple days before class started, and I would then have to try to force myself to get all the reading done. It's not that I hated reading - I would read a ton of books over the summer - but I hated being told what to read, and I generally wasn't a big fan of the books we were assigned.

So it's ironic that I've spent a large portion of my Memorial Day weekend in an armchair in the same living room that I spent so much time doing my summer reading in, trying to make my way through the 380-odd pages of Diane Eck's A New Religious America. I have a night MBA class - a management elective dealing with, well, how evil white males like myself have oppressed women and minorities - and we had to pick a book. Most of the other ones were taken, and this was about the best of what was left.

It has some interesting points - the author is a big beliver that all religions are equally good, that none are more valid than others, that they all are different manifestations of the same ideas. It's a warm and fuzzy idea, and it's compelling - after all, who wants to believe that people with different religion, religion that was passed down by culture and family, will be condemmed for that? On the other hand, you can probably go too far with this kind of thinking - if anything goes, why beleive in anything?

But while there are some interesting points in the book, and while I agree that the way the US was founded has made us a country that is far more religiously diverse and tolerant than most, I am perfectly willing to accept that theisis without having to hear her talk about every Mosque, Hindu or Buddhist temple that she has ever visited, which makes up a large portion of the book. And she goes a little far in portraying every religiously-motivated attack as an example of racism and intolerance, when they are excepts generally caused by the crazy and the drunk and not manifestations of the mainstream. She also sees zoning battles as evidence of prejudice against religion. Given that the Catholic college I attended and work for seems to be regularly batling zoning laws - in building a sports facility on an old landfill in Baltimore City or in opening a retreat center in rual Maryland - I tend to think most of these battles are more that people don't like change in their neigborhoods, and don't want to risk lowering their property values, more than the religion that the new worship center is.

I still have about 150 more pages to struggle through. I wonder if I will ever get to a point in my life where I am no longer a student, where I no longer need to read what I don't want to read. But there is a certain familiarity about it, a structure that I may miss.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

My new hero...

Every now and then, when work or the rest of life is stressful, I long for my college days. After all, college was fun - most of the freedoms of being an adult without most of the responsiblities. Plus the chance to be around hot drunk girls, who if they were drunk enough... would still ignore me.

But this guy has managed to stay as an undergrad for 12 years. He's 29, has been in college for 12 years, and plans on staying another year so he can do study abroad. He's already got enough credits to get liberal studies degree in education, communications, theater, health and women's studies. (gee, you think all that time in school he could have at least gotten a degree in something that he would have a chance of getting a job in).

But given that the picture of him in the article has him standing in front of a bar, I'm guessing what he's spent most of those 12 years doing.

And while college had it's fun points, I'm not sure I would want to live there. It is nice to actually have a job and income and not have people asking you what you are going to do after you graduate (although now my parents keep asking me what I plan to do when I get my MBA. My answer: buy a nice frame for it). And I find that I accomplish much more now that I don't have roomates trying to get me to do shots at 4 in the afternoon.

Packing, listless...

It's occurred to me that in slightly over one month, I'm going to own a house. That means that all the crap that is currently in my apartment needs to get to said house. Which means said crap needs to get from where it currently is into a bunch of boxes.

So of course I've been dealing with this in the mature way that I usually deal with stuff. I come home from work and open up the hall closet that I have filled with boxes of eBay stuff, stuff I bought on sale that I don't really need, and winter clothes. Then I sigh, close the closet door, and go in my room and watch some TV.

So needless to say I haven't gotten a lot of packing done. I'm going away for the weekend to NJ to visit the 'rents, since I probably won't see them for a while - I'll probably be packing/moving over July 4th, and Labor Day is move-in weekend at the college I work on, so I will (hopefully) be working lots of overtime. And starting Tuesday, I have a 2x a week summer class, the first of two, that will sharply reduce my packing time. And I want to try to keep going to the gym, lest I start to wish I hadn't gotten rid of all those too-big pairs of pants in my last cleaning fit.

This isn't to say I haven't done some stuff. I've packed a couple boxes, although they are mostly books, which aren't terribly hard to pack. Plus, I have some stuff on eBay and a whole bunch of descriptions ready to go - I've been doing lots of buying lately and not much selling, so now I need to get rid of a ton of stuff. That will also hopefully make some more room to spread out and get a better idea of what the heck I have.

But I'm sure most of this will get done at the last minute, when I typically do stuff.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Yet another house-related post...

Well, my contract was presented, the seller balked at the carpet allowance we had asked for (as expected) and made a counteroffer that I accepted. So the forms will be faxed Monday and I'll have committed to buying a house.

The other thing is that they asked to move up the settlement date - to June 28th. So I have a little over a month to gather everything I own and put it into boxes and figure out how to get it to the new place.

I'm probably going to hire movers - as much as I hate spending the money to do so, I'm not known for my ability to carry large objects without destroying or dropping them, and I hate to impose on friends and coworkers by asking them to help me move. I'm wondering if it's worth moving some of the stuff, like boxes, myself, and just having the movers handle the furniture, or if I should just have them move everything - which would be easier.

I want to do some painting - at least the bedroom and living room, since I actually have some furniture to put there - before the furniture goes in and the carpet gets done. And I want to get the carpet done before I move in. So now I have to figure out how to buy carpeting for a house I don't yet own, and how to get someone to install it around the 4th of July.

Plus I'm taking two night MBA classes this summer, the first of which starts.. next week. So I have no idea how I'm going to get all this stuff done, stuff I don't know how to do as it is.

Now I see why it took me so long to buy a house - it's so much easier just to stay put. Once I get everything settled, and actually have a real kitchen and a deck and a parking spot, I think I'll be happier, but the part in-between is going to be difficult.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Immigration musings....

Immigration seems to be one of the hot topics of late, hot enough for the President to get up on the TV and for people to be marching in the streets.

I haven't written about it because, well, I've been busy. But it's also a subject I'm a bit torn on.

On one hand, we can't have totally open borders. Terrorism is a very real threat, and we need to know as well as possible who is coming into our country and take steps to keep out those who would do us harm.

There are also clearly negative economic effects to letting in illegal immigrants - people who don't pay taxes, but consume government resources.

But we do need immigrants- our country was built on immigration, and there are a number of jobs that most people don't want to do, or don't want to do at all but an uneconomically high price. If we want our poultry processed and our yards cut cheaply, that is going to mean immigration.

Of course, much of that immigration is from Mexico. And it's hard not to be sympathetic to someone who lives in Mexico and wants to get the hell out - it's a country with a notoriously corrupt government and few opportunities. When even your own goverment gets annoyed when people start leaving, as has happened with Mexico going as far as to hire PR firms to oppose building a wall, it's not a great sign. Mexico is in such bad shape that it's economy is dependant on the money sent back to family membersin Mexico by illegal and legal immigrants to the US. That is not a country I would want to live in. It speaks to the sucess of capitalism, to the fact that the American way works pretty well, that so many people want to come here if we want them or not.

Much of the reaction to Bush's immigration speech is that he's playing politics, trying to find a middle ground between the people who want to build an armed fence and deport anyone who is in the US illegally and jail anyone who has ever hired an illegal immigrant, and those who would like borders with no control and free money for illegal immigrants. But I would guess most people are somewhere in between.

And yes, the process that Bush has proposed is not perfect, not totally fair. Illegal immigrants will still come, and giving them the right to eventually become citizens may unfairly put some of them ahead of those who have chosen to follow the law. But the geography that we are dealing with, the fact that Mexico is adjacent to us, mean that the people immigrating from there are always going to be at an advantage, as well as more able to sneak in. So I don't think it will ever be fair.

So I have no problem with building a fence (although I'm not so sure about the National Guard thing). But I don't advocate the extreme sides some on the right have advocated and Bush's proposal is probably a fairly reasonable if imperfect compromise.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Well, it's a big day...

Well, I've either made the smartest financial move of my life or the dumbest. I made an offer on a house - actually a townhouse in the White Marsh area.

Part of me is thinking I'm nuts - I should have looked at more houses (I looked at 3), that the housing market may tank, and that my life is about to get more difficult.

On the other hands, I did lots of research, so I didn't really need to look at a lot of houses, because I knew what I wanted in a house and what neighborhoods. And I really like the neigborhood - I feel like it's the worst house in a great neighborhood, and that it has lots of potential.

Of course, I won't have a ton of money to put into the house, or anything else. The amount of money going to housing is going to triple - although that may say more about the cheapness of my current apartment than the high cost of my mortgage. I'm not going to have a whole lot of slack in my budget, and will probably have to give up eating lunch out and my occasional cup of Starbucks. But I will also have a much more enjoyable living situation, and if I really end up needing money I can probably get a roomate - one of the things I liked about the house is that it has two full baths (so if you know anyone whose looking for a roomate....)

So we'll see. I feel pretty good about things, though, and the comps make it seem like it's a pretty good deal. So now all I can do is wait, hope, and pray.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Scenes from work, never-thought-I'd-see-the-day edition...

(setting: gym locker room)

Mac Hating Coworker: Oh, no, don't tell me I forgot my iPod. Oh, there it is...

Mad Anthony: That is a phrase I never thought I'd hear you say...

The housing thing, continued...

Well, I've talked to two mortgage lenders, and it seems that all the information I've recieved on the More House 4 Less program - not only from their website, but from the ONE ON ONE COUNSELING SESSION THAT I HAD TO ATTEND, DURING WHICH THEY LOOKED OVER EVERY FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF MINE FOR THE LAST 3 MONTHS, neglected one minor detail - that if you actually have ANY savings, you aren't elgible for the loan.

Talk about a perverse incentive. Had I done what I wanted to do with my money - bought a new car, a plasma TV, a new computer - I would have been elgible for an interest-free loan of $5000 towards closing costs that wouldn't be due for 15 years. But stupid me, I saved some instead, and now I have to use my expensive money rather than the government's cheap money. The only people the goverment helps buy houses, evidently, are those who have absolutly no savings.

It really doesn't make sense, since I fit well into the income guidlines, which are close to $80,000. So if you pull in $75,000 a year but don't save any, the government will help you out, but if you make far less than that and struggle to put some away, screw you, sucker.

That alone pisses me off. I should still be able to swing this - I'm actually about two steps away from putting an offer on a house (assuming it isn't sold by the time I get my ducks in a row), but it's going to be way tougher. $5000 represents a not-insignificant chunk of my savings, and not having that expected loan towards closing costs means I will have much fewer savings - savings I had already planned on spending on things like furniture, a treadmill, and a car that doesn't break down every couple months. So now I will likely have a 2-bedroom townhouse with milk crates for furniture. I will also have very little money left for emergencies.

What really pisses me off about this is how much time I wasted. I took off twice from work to go to these sessions, I gathered an assload of documents for the one-on-one session, and for nothing. I also put off looking for a house for two months waiting for my certificate. Not only that, but when I called the place that did the counseling, they had never heard of the limits on assets - but both lenders I spoke to had. Either the state is doing an incredibly shitty job of communicating to it's lenders the details of the program (although one of the lenders I spoke to called the state and was told the same thing - that if you had any money, you couldn't get DSLEP), or the state is doing an incredibly shitty job of explaining to it's couselors and on it's website of a rather major detail about it's program.

Fuck, you would think I was the only person who had ever thought to save some money before buying a house - yet I'm pretty poor by most standards, and by most of the personal-finance message boards and blogs I read. So it seems the government has designed a program that gives lots of money to people who couldn't (to steal a line from the movie Slasher) finance a piece of bubblegum with $200 down, while ignoring those who could use a little boost to help them meet other financial goals and have a little saved for the inevitable emergency.

This is possibly one of the more profanity-laced and least-thought-out blog entries I've ever posted - I usually try not to do that. But for the last two days, I've been walking around with a desire to either burst into tears or punch someone, sometimes at the same time. This process is frustrating me on so many levels. I shouldn't be like this - fuck, I'm probably about to buy my first house in the near future, and that should be the happiest fucking day of my life, but I'm pissed about the way the State has gotten my hopes up and then kicked me in the nuts.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Is MadAnthony a liberal?

Via InstaPundit comes the "Are You a Left-Leaning Liberal" quiz - evidently, lefty blogger Atrios is convinced that lots of right-leaning bloggers with libertarian tendencies are closet liberals, so he came up with a bunch of questions to "prove" it.

Now, I do tend to be somewhat libertarian on lots of social issues, but I still consider myself far more right than libertarian. I thought it would be interesting to take the quiz, if only to outline some views on some stuff.

1)Repeal the estate tax repeal. Hell no. I'm a big believer that people should be allowed to do what they want with their money, including give it to their families when they die. I also think the point of taxes should be to raise money to perform government functions, not to produce social change or redistribute the wealth - which is exactly the point of the estate tax.

2)Increase the minimum wage and index it to the CPI. Another Hell No. The minimum wage can never do good. At best, it has no real effect on the market because it's below what most people are willing to pay for labor. At worst -and if you raise it - people don't get hired because they are worth less to the company that would hire them than the price floor that the goverment is requiring them to be paid. And indexing it to the CPI strikes me as a way to start a whole cycle of wage and price inflation - raise minimum wages, so companies have to raise prices to pay employees more, which drives up the CPI, which drives up the minimum wage, which drives up prices. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

3)Universal health care . Umm, ewww. Sure, healthcare is a mess. But involving the government typically makes things messier. I would rather see more "emergency insurance" where people can pay out of pocket for things like doctor's visits, but have coverage in case they need, say, a major operation. Think of it as car insurance - it's not designed to cover the stuff you know you will need - like gas or an oil change - but to be there in case you need something unexpected, like a new car after yours gets hit by a truck.

4)Increase CAFE standards. Nah. CAFE standards right now are a joke anyway - companies can borrow from future years or get high-milage vehicles classified as trucks to balance out their SUV's (for CAFE purposes, my PT Cruiser is considered a truck). But I tend to think the best way to reduce oil consumption is keep gas prices high. Besides, the faster we run out of gas, the sooner we'll have an incentive to actually use other technologies.

5)Pro-reproductive rights, getting rid of abstinence-only education, improving education about and access to contraception including the morning after pill, and supporting choice.. Abortion. Now there is a can of worms. I consider myself Catholic, so of course my first thought is "no". I do think that abortion does take a life, or at least a potential life, and should at least be thought of as something serious. I think teaching abstinence isn't a bad idea, as long as other forms of birth control are also taught. I don't have a problem with the morning-after pill. As far as the abortion issue itself, I would love to see Roe v Wade overturned and the decision be left up to the states.

6)Simplify and increase the progressivity of the tax code. Simplify yes. Increase progressivity no. As with #1, I think the point of taxes is to raise money for things like national defense, not to distribute the wealth. I would love to see a flat tax, with the first $x of income not taxed - which wouldn't be very progressive, but would be really easy to fill out. (I would probably keep the mortgage intrest deduction, but only because I'm planning on buying a house).

7)Kill faith-based funding. Certainly kill federal funding of anything that engages in religious discrimination. As long as they aren't forcing their religion down people's throats, I have no problem with federal funding of faith-based programs. If they can do a better job of getting people to give up drugs or feed the hungry, then I think it's stupid to pass them up because they are motivated by God instead of man. Results, not motivation, should be the focus.

8)Reduce corporate giveaways. Sure. But also reduce taxes and regulations so that businesses can make money without having to ask the government for handouts.

9)Have Medicare run the Medicare drug plan. More government. Umm, no. See #3.

10)Force companies to stop underfunding their pensions. Change corporate bankruptcy law to put workers and retirees at the head of the line with respect to their pensions. Not something I can say I've ever thought about. Meg's responses say that it avoids the issue and wouldn't do much. If anything, I'd like to see more companies move away from pensions and towards 401k type plans like most workplaces have - they aren't dependant on how the company performs and can be taken with you when you leave.

11)Leave the states alone on issues like medical marijuana. Generally move towards "more decriminalization" of drugs. Sure. I think medical marijuana should be decriminilized, and I don't have a problem with legalizing weed in general. But I'm not sure that legalizing hard drugs is going to solve all the problems of the world, either, as some libertarians tend to argue.

12)Paper ballots. If it will get people to stop claiming that the Republicans stole every election, then fine.

13)Improve access to daycare and other pro-family policies. More daycare. Fine. More government funding of daycare? Not so fine. And lots of "pro-family" policies tend to put a significant burden on businesses, and in the long run probably end up hurting women in the workplace.

14)Raise the cap on wages covered by FICA taxes. Eww. No. I'd like to keep at least some of my money rather than have it go into the black hole of social security that I will most likely never see.

15) Marriage rights for all, which includes "gay marriage" and quicker transition to citizenship for the foreign spouses of citizens. Gay marriage is one of those things I have trouble getting worked up about either way. I'm not convinced that allowing it is going to lead to the legalization of man-dog marriages, nor do I think that not allowing it is the equivilant of segregation. I think the best thing to do is probably to ease into it - civil unions now, and gay marriage eventually. Foreign spouses of citizens is not an issue I've ever thought about or have any opinion on.

16) Undo the bankruptcy bill enacted by this administration. Hell no. I thought the outrage about the bankruptcy bill on the right of the blogosphere was kind of odd. I don't think making it harder to declare bankruptcy is a bad thing. When people declare bankrupcy, that money has to come from somewhere, and it comes from raising fees and intrest rates on the people who don't declare bankrucpy, who pay their bills. Making it harder to declare bankruptcy is good for the majority of consumers who never declare bankruptcy.

Considering most of these brought either a No or a maybe or a with qualifications, I'm going to say that my conservatives bonafides are intact. I think I can safely continue to describe myself as a fiscal conservative, social libertarian, who is hawkish on defense.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

The great house hunt begins...

Well, I started looking at houses today. I actually met with a realtor on thursday, and we drove around to three townhouses today.

I've upped my price range after doing some driving around on my own. It seems that spending an extra 15% or so makes a HUGE difference in how much house one can buy.

So if you've been following this blog, you are probably saying "MadAnthony, how can you afford to spend that much more on a house when you won't shut up about how your overtime is going to be going away soon and you won't have any money?". Good question, and I'm not sure I like the answer.

See, what I'm thinking about doing is taking out a 40-year mortgage. That has it's disadvantages in that I won't pay off my house until I'm 65, and it will take longer for me to build up equity and stop paying PMI. But I can't see buying a house I'm unhappy with, and I really feel that spending a little more is going to get me a much nicer house in a much nicer neigborhood, and would be easier to sell when the time comes. It also seems like a 40 is a better idea than any of the other alternative mortgages people have (ARMS, intrest-only, ect). The first-time homebuyer program I'm doing doesn't offer an ARM, but it does offer an interest-only that turns into a 30-year convential after 5 years. But I figure with the 40, at least I'm building some equity, plus I will know what my payments will be (unlike an ARM) and they won't go up sharply at some point (unlike an IO). So that's my thought.

So, the houses. They were all decent. I didn't like the first one much, mostly because of the neigborhood - a huge townhome development from the 70's. The place was well-kept, obviously by old people. It had some nice touches, including a really nice kitchen and a semi-finished basement. But I wasn't real big on the area.

House number two was my favorite, mostly because of the bargin hunter in me. Nice neigborhood, a small court of townhouses accross from a bunch of single-family homes. They were from the late 70's, with newer ones behind them, always a good sign. I like the location, and I would say the house has, ummm, good bones. It needs some work - tons of ugly 70's carpet - but I like the floorplan, yard, location, ect. Plus, it's been on the market for a couple months, so I'm hoping they are ready to deal. We'll see.

Number 3 looked like something out of a home decor magazine - everything new, lots of nice carpet and neutral paint. I wasn't big on the floorplan though - killer kitchen, but tiny bedrooms and only one full bath. My guess is it will sell quickly and for full price (or more), but not to me. It was actually asking the same price as home #2.

So my realtor is going to make some calls, and I'm also waiting to hear back from her mortgage person, which will tell me if the whole 40-year-mortgage thing can work. So I'm hopeful, but we'll see how things work out.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Drivin' around in my automobile....

I spent an hour driving around tonight, intentionally driving in circles.

I'm meeting with a realtor on Thursday and figured I should at least start looking at some of the neighborhoods I've been thinking about. So I drove up to Nottingham and drove by some townhouses that are on the market, to put those pictures and maps that I see in online descriptions into perspective.

I can't say I'm really smarter or more knowledgeable. It's hard to get an opinion on a neighborhood by driving around a neigborhood at 7:30 on a Thursday night. Are kids playing outside a good sign (people feel safe enough to let their kids run around) or a bad sign (kids can be annoying, and lots of kids mean lots of taxes to pay for schools)? Plus it's hard to judge a house by the outside - especially when they are townhouses that all kind of look alike.

I am realizing that I'm probably not going to get my dream house. It's more like I'm trying to find something decent that I can live in for the next couple years while I hope that my financial situation allows me to buy something nicer. I mean, it's going to be decent, but it's probably not going to be the house that I'll want to spend the rest of my life in. Which is too bad, since I hate moving.

I think it kind of reflects how much the housing market has changed - my parents have owned two houses in their whole life, and bought the house they live in now in New Jersey back in 1972. My first house isn't going to be nearly as nice as the house I grew up in - it's probably going to be a townhouse, with a tiny backyard and a couple parking spaces in the front. Not that my parent's 3-bedroom suburban rancher was a mansion, but it was comfortable and roomy. The housing market has changed, and people like me can't afford a house like that as our first house. Of course, it doesn't help that I'm a single guy trying to buy a house, not a married two-income couple like they were.

So we'll see. But I did have one good sign that it might be a neigborhood worth moving into. I stopped for gas at a Crown station not too far away from one of the neigborhoods I was looking at. It was a station with older pumps, without pay-at-the-pump. They actually had a sign telling you to pump first, and then pay at the booth. I can remember two other Crown stations where they didn't have pay-at-the-pump. One was on Hartford Road when I lived in Hamilton - you had to give the guy behind the counter your credit card before you could pump gas. The other is a new station on York Road near where I work. It actually used to have pay at the pump - but they disabled it and now make you go inside and pay or leave a credit card before you can start pumping, presumably to reduce the chance of people driving away without paying. Maybe it's anecdotal evidence, but the fact that this gas station didn't find the need to disable it's pumps to prevent gas theft struck me as a sign that it's probably a pretty safe neighborhood. Economist Thomas Friedman, in The Lexus and the Olive Tree introduced what he called the McDonald's Principle - that two countries that each have a McDonald's will never go to war. It's a sign of the power of capitalism, that people will put aside differences to make money. So I figure this is the Crown principle - that a neigborhood where you can pump and then pay is pretty safe.

Of course, right now I live in an "emerging" neigborhood, so pretty much everything looks good. Maybe my view is being clouded by where I live now - any neigborhood that doesn't have drug dealers on the corner and blinking police cameras seems like an improvement. Of late, Baltimore City Police have chosen part of my Resevoir Hill neighborhood about two blocks from me a "Safe Zone", with barriers and increased police presense for a couple weeks in the hopes of discoraging crime and drugs. Which I guess is a nice idea in theory, but I'm not sure that it does much other than move people who will move back in when they leave. It also makes me feel like I live in a war zone (which I kind of do) when I have to drive past metal barriers and the blinking lights of police cameras to get home. So I'm kind of looking forward to the idea of a 70's townhouse somewhere in the counties, even if it's small and doesn't have much of a yard...

Monday, May 08, 2006

Scenes from bsom's house...

bsom: When you were running late, I figured you probably stopped at the liquor store or something.

mad anthony: Why does everyone always assume that if I'm somewhere, it's at the liquor store?


bsom: When you start looking at houses, you are going to see a lot of ugly stuff. There was a while where it seemed like every house I looked at had a basement that was finished in notty pine.

mad anthony: Dude, I would love to have a knotty pine basement. It would be like having my ownSwallow's in my basement.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Fargin' hipsters...

I live in a homeshare with 3 other people in an 18-room brownstone in Baltimore. I share my floor with one other guy. He's actually for the most part the perfect roomate. He's a grad student at a certain college with the initials JHU. He's also not around for large chunks of time, which is what I really look for in a roomate.

Except a couple times a year he'll have a few people over. He has a big end of the year party once a year which will be in a couple weeks, but he decided to have some people over today.

So he has a bunch of his hipster friends over and there is rap music blaring from the backyard - which kinda sucks since my room faces the backyard.

I suppose I should go down and mingle, but I really don't have any desire to. I've had a long day - I worked tonight, so I've been at work for the last 13 hours, so I kind of just wanted to come home, get ready for the fact that I have to be at work 7:30am tomorrow and maybe read a book or watch some TV. Plus, my sloppy, uneducated ass doesn't exactly fit in with his hipster grad student friends.

I'm probably overreacting - he's usually pretty good about shutting things down by midnight or so as not to drive the neigbors nuts. It could be worse - at this time last week I was writing a paper - but I still prefer coming home to a mostly empty and quiet house. Because I'm a loser who hates people.

I'm a mac AND a PC....

James Lileks was where I first found out about the new Apple ads - since I have a Replay, I don't see many ads. I think they are pretty funny - and unlike Lileks, I kind of like the fact that the PC is in a suit and the Mac guy is bearded and casual - I'm not a big fan of suits.

Of course, I keep a foot in both worlds - my job involves supporting both Macs and PC's. My desk at work holds both an IBM ThinkCenter P4 and an Apple G5, while my apartment holds both an Athlon desktop and a 12" Apple Powerbook G4 (along with a bunch of random old PC's, including an old eMachines eOne and a Toshiba Portege). I tend to like Macs, but find myself using PC's more, probably because I'm more used to them.

So I'm usually quick to defend Macs. I think they are stable, have lots of nifty features, and have an easier learning curve. I have an aunt who is paralyzed and never has used a computer, and I keep hoping she'll buy a Mac - for people who aren't tech-savy, there is a lot less opportunities for virus, spyware, or messing stuff up, and for people who are super techy, the shiny exterior has a creamy UNIX center.

But I did have one problem with one of the ads, iLife. It talks about all the software that comes with iLife and then PC talks about how the PC comes with... umm, calculator and clock.

I will admit that iLife is a cool suite of apps, and it is a plus that Macs come with them. But Microsoft does put some more stuff in Windows. More importantly, MS is kind of limited in what they can put in Windows by the fact that they have been sued for putting too much stuff in Windows. That's what the whole antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft was based on - the idea of bundling, of using their "monopoly power" in the operating system market as a way to push other stuff - like media players, web browsers, and their own virtual machine - onto customers by including it in the operating system, thus making it difficult for them to compete. I didn't really agree with the whole lawsuit - I think most customers WANT to be able to take a machine out of the box and use it for everything they need without having to download or buy additional software. I still run into users who are shocked that their PC that they just bought doesn't include Office or Word.

So the picking on MS seems a little unfair, when they would probably be sued by a ton of companies if they ever put anything like iLife in Windows.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

What MadAnthony's been doing this week...

Some of the posts on this blog are deep, well thought-out essays on important political topics. Other posts are more of the "what I did this week" variety. This post is of the latter variety. When I started blogging, I figured that most people would want the first. But I've had a few people remark that they prefer the latter. Probably because there are lots of people who know more about politics than I do, but nobody knows me better than me.

So a few updates. As I mentioned a while ago, the Baltimore City Department of Housing found the need to reinspect my apartment building, and I was written up 6 months ago for having a messy room. I did a bunch of cleaning, hid a bunch of stuff in the closet, and prepared for the worst. But according to my landlord, she hardly looked at my room beyond a glance, and was mostly interested in if all the fire alarms worked and the fire extingishers worked. So that's good.

I also had my housing counseling session on Tuesday. It went well- the lady who did it told me that she didn't have any advice, that I was on the right track, and spent most of the time figuring out how much house I could buy given a certain payment and talking about her kids (one of whom does web design for a college in PA and the other who lives at home and works for a financial publishing company. See, I was paying attention.) It did reveil a little about the people who take advantage of the Maryland first-time homebuyer program - broke people. She mentioned that the program requires at least 1% down. I had also asked about PMI, and mentioned that I thought it kicked out once you had paid down to 80% of the homes value. She said she wasn't sure, because it had never come up since she'd never had a client who could put anywhere near 20% down.

So I feel pretty good about the whole homebuying thing. I'm probably going to be meeting with a realtor next week, so we'll see how that goes.

And I'm pretty much done with class for the next month - I have a class on Monday, but I have no real homework left and my presentation done, so it's effectivly over. So I get a month to focus on homebuying and cleaning and ebaying.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Scenes from work, act-your-age edition

Coworker: Hmm, Pamela Rodgers has sex with a 14 year old. And she's hot. Where was she when I was in high school?

Mad Anthony: When you were in high school, she hadn't been born yet...


I tend to be a bit of a hypocondriac. I read the latest disease in Reader's Digest (which my mom, for reasons I don't quite comprehend, gets me a gift subscription to every year, possibly because she figures I spend lots of time in the crapper and need something to read) and am convinced I'm dying.

At work today, I had to install memory in a couple dozen machines in preperation for the rollout of a new. memory-intensive application. So of course while I'm under someone's desk putting RAM in their machine (I'd say I was RAMing their box, but that sounds dirty), I slammed my head into the top of the desk.

So of course I'm paranoid that I've got a concussion and am going to die. I didn't hit it that hard, and I don't think I really have any symptoms. But I've convinced myself that I do. I do feel a little queasy, but that may be the two oreo brownies, each the size of paperback book, that I had for dessert at lunch, or possibly the slice of sausage and peperoni pizza I ate a few hours later that had been sitting out for about 26 hours. And I do feel a little ringing in my ears - or it could be the amount of fluid in them due to my allergies, or possibly my ceiling fan and the whine of the $10 power supply on my computer. And my head hurts a tiny bit - not nearly as much as when I have a headache, but it hurts a little. Especially if I poke it. Although I have a feeling it would still probably hurt if I poked it, even if I hadn't hit it.

So I'm hoping that I don't go to sleep tonight and never wake up. And if I do die, I hope someone deletes all the pr0n from my computer before my parents come down from NJ to pick up my stuff.