Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Preliminary Interviews

Some are good. Some are bad. Some are in-between.

I will be fine.

But like with most things, it comes down to want-to.

The best advice I heard came from a banking consultant: "Just finish. Don't worry about perfection. Just finish and sharpen your communication skills. No one really cares about your research. They care if you can explain your research. They care if you can talk."

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A Mental Health Post

This is going to sound like self-pity. It probably is, but sometimes "talking about it helps."

Yesterday morning the Blazer quits. I call AAA. The guy comes. It starts up the first time for him. It was low on gas, but it should have had at least 2-3 gallons left. I couldn't fill up, because it was running so bad Sunday.

"I bet it just doesn't have enough gas in it," the tow driver says.

"Well, I have AAA Plus. I get five gallons of gas free. Should I call again?."

"I ain't coming back out here again." My place is less than three miles from his shop. I wanted to punch the asshole in between the eyes. I wanted to call AAA just for the hell of it.

I take it to the shop less than 1/2 mile from apartment. I was going to let the guy take it back to his shop even though I've never been there, but that became out of the question. He drops it off on level ground. It runs right back into a spot with out shutting off. He doesn't repeat "I bet it is just the gas." But I know he is thinking it. I want to rip his head off.

See here is what I was trying to get at in the battery post. I am an intelligent male. I know a lot of things. But I don't know enough about cars. I am logical, but I don't know that sometimes, especially when you are on a hill, and your car is old, 2 gallons of gas might not be enough. I could spend time learning about cars, but that would be unproductive. So when a "car" guy demonstrates how ignorant I am about cars, I get angry. I feel helpless. I feel like I am not a man. I feel like shit.

I go in to the shop and report my problems. It is a new front-desk guy which scares me. He is emotionless. He doesn't decrease the shit or helpless feelings. I think about calling AAA to get those 5 free gallons. That would make me feel better. But I don't.

The guy calls me back after lunch. It was nothing simple. But they were busy. So I would have to wait until today to get the final news.

He calls again this morning. After they took more things apart, the flow chart told them that it was a $1100 repair. The guy indirectly tells me it isn't worth it. He also tells me that it seems to be working okay now, but he is confident that it won't last. He tells me about the new car he just got. I finally say that I will pick it up and make a decision after I go to Orlando next week.

I decide that it is time to move forward and buy something else. I call my Dad. He calls his "car" man. I decide that when I get back from Orlando, I will definitely buy something else.

I pick the Blazer up. The diagnostic fees were over $100. It runs fine to the gas station. I put 18.25 gallons of gas into an 18 gallon tank.

All I can think: "Maybe it was just the gas."

Sunday, July 20, 2008

A Million Things To Do And A Car That Does Not Work

Pat Jordan discussing his uncle in A Nice Tuesday:

"He could have let that disappointment overwhelm him, make him bitter or, even worse, self-pitying. But he never did. He never found an excuse to be unhappy. My uncle was a happy man because he knew happiness was not a given. It was not something deserved. It was something to be worked at, created out of any little thing at hand. My uncle was a master at finding joy and wonder in life's minutest details that the rest of us so often overlook in our pursuit of grander pleasures. Like that toast. It was the most perfect buttered toast I have ever had."

Friday, July 18, 2008

It Is Friday Or Things I Learned This Week

1. When one has a thousand things to do, he has to start somewhere.

2. Participating in an experiment at a major research university is not worth it. No matter how much they are willing to pay. I did discover I was partially colorblind.

3. I had to buy another phone charger. It is cheaper to have a charger for every place you can possibly be at then to buy a new battery.

4. Fiber is key to feeling good.

Monday, July 14, 2008


I am riding the bus one afternoon to pick up my Blazer from the garage. This older guy gets on. He asks the driver about his kids. His English is unrefined. His attire suggests poverty. But he loves his kids. He wants to make sure they got off at an earlier stop. They did. He wanted to make sure they were okay.

My sympathies go out to the man. Poverty haunts me. There were things I wanted that I did not get as a kid. We weren't poor. I have never been hungry. But I empathize. There were times when I felt poor. Feeling poor is the worst feeling I have ever experienced. Seeing poverty reminds me that I have a heart. Seeing poverty makes me want to cry.

What do I do? Rent movies. Employ people. Do economic research? Teach his children?

Do I keep on rockin' in the free world?

It is all about doing something.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

High School Students

I taught some Governor's school students. It wasn't teaching. I just let them do "research" and play economic games on the computer. They focused for about 45 minutes, then they screwed around for 30. Part of the problem was every five minutes of their day were structured. They were young, but kids should have some freedom in the summer.

They talked about college, SATs, and facebook. They did the classic (at least at my high school) UVA versus William and Mary debate. One guy spent the last 30 minutes doing the "SAT question of the day."

There was a lonely girl who kept to herself. A beautiful girl who hadn't discovered her beauty yet. There were some girls who talked continuously to hide their lack of confidence. There were some guys who I wanted to punch in the face. The guys who I hated in high school. The guys of wealth and privilege, the glamour boys, the guys whom things had come too easy to. The guys who needed their ass kicked.

In ten years none of the stuff they were worrying about would matter. I wanted to expose the lies that SAT scores and "good" colleges that overly concerned parents were spreading. I wanted to tell them to go to a couple of field parties before they graduated. I wanted to tell them "everything was going to be okay."

But I didn't. I just let them continue to fool around on the computers.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Sports Thoughts

1. The Brett Farve thing is out of control. I don't know how I feel about it. Everyone seems to be behaving foolishly. I am sure interested in seeing how it will all play out.

2. I cannot decide if the Braves should give up the season and trade Teixeira or not. Part of me thinks they are underachieving. Another part of me thinks they might be overachieving. I just expected more consistent offensive production.

3. I watched a little Arena football today. I liked it but not enough to watch the Arena bowl next week.

4. I learned a lot from playing sports. There are sports guys and there are non-sports guys. Don't get caught on the wrong side of that line.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Morning Contradictions Or Are They?

My response to Atlas Shrugged:

Life affirming. No doubt. I am right. I am the only one who can let them win. I have to give them the moral sanction.

But why did Eddie Willers and Rearden's secretary have to go. It is the pompous poverty professor thing again, the failure to understand the proletariat. Eddie Willers kept a good number of trains from crashing, probably as many as Dagny. In the end, like some in Rand's cult, Galt's crew gave up. I can't get past that. Fahrenheit 451--I'm no good in the woods.

I am not as great as her characters were. But I have to succeed. I am getting to the point in life where it is live or die. If I choose death, this book will always be in my library to remind me of life. That is the beauty and curse of memory. All I can ask myself on 2/20/2005 is to produce. Do not produce dribble and horseshit like I saw at Friday's circle jerk, but produce something worthy.

Life and production not death and taxes.

And the Einstein Quote of the Day:

"A person starts to live when he can live outside himself."

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Recharging Batteries

The other week my Blazer would not start. My lights worked, but it would not start. I called AAA and told them I needed a tow. The guy came. He explained even though my lights worked my old battery could not start the Blazer. He gave me a charge. It started. I parked it at the garage. The garage replaced my battery.

The whole ordeal reminded me of how little I know about cars. It reminded me of how little I know.

At first I was upset. How have I made it through life so ignorant? How can I continue to make it through life so ignorant?

But then I remembered that is why I got AAA in the first place.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Something I Heard And Something I Wrote In A Email

"I get up every morning and do the best I can. Most of the time this is good enough. Some times it isn't. But I get up every morning anyway."

I am a professional writer. No, I am a professional communicator. I get paid to write. I might eventually get paid to teach. I will get paid to communicate. But I have never embraced being a professional communicator. Yeah, I read a good amount. But I have never embraced the fact that I get paid to communicate. Maybe I have not embraced being a "professional." But the common theme I have found among most good writers and communicators, is that they go to their "office" to write and they care about what they are communicating. What this has to do with anything I don't know, but I feel like it is some sort of personal break-through.

The guy emailed back that our main purpose in life was communication. He complained that communicating with his wife was the greatest challenge he ever faced.

Some More

Another post on futures markets and speculation.

It will all work itself out.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Life Is Funny

Someone else on oil speculation, just in time.

And someone else on irrational fears. Wal-mart cannot rule the world.

"Don't believe in rock 'n' roll
Can really change the world
As it spins in revolution
It spirals and turns

It spirals and turns, baby.

"This is my life
It's what I've chosen to do
There are no free rides
No one said it'd be easy

No one said it would be easy, did they?

Some Things

1. To answer's GGM's question, the government will and would screw any reforms up. I say this from a purely ideological standpoint. I will say the same thing about any attempt for government reform. Endy points it out better than I can. Sometimes speculators win. Sometimes they lose. As my old finance professor asked, "Why does bread stay the same price all year?" What would reducing speculation really do except make things more volatile most of the time?

2. Economists should champion optimism in times of pessimism. So look at all of the evidence for self-correction. I have driven for 1200 miles in the last two weeks. Every time a car passed me, I compared its fuel efficiency to the Blazer. Almost every new car I see gets more than 30 miles per gallon. The buses are more crowded. I have organized my computers to be able to work from home more often. I hitched a seven hour ride with two guys that I moderately despise. "The times they are a changin'." It will be tough, but everything is going to work out eventually.

3. What I am saying is I haven't thought about or studied gas prices very much. This is probably a good thing. Adaptability is the only trait that matters.

4. Last year there was a drought. This year I am low on blood because of mosquitoes. Uncertainty abounds. We adapt.

5. The Wal-Mart oil change tradeoff is why I got into economics in the first place. The only thing I know is that there is no optimal answer. That is why there is a non-Wal-Mart oil change place on every corner. That is why no single entity can ever rule the world. We adapt.