Tag Archives: General

Where Do They Get Their Information?

I recently started considering a career as an auto mechanic. I have a good degree of mechanical aptitude, far more so than my aptitude for programming, sadly for my current career (it has been so long since I did any real programming I fear how well I would be at it if I was promoted). I did fairly well with lawnmower repairs when I had that for a job, though I had just started getting into that part so only time would have told the full story.
I decided to get a better idea of how much I would make, so I went to Salary.com and used their free Salary Wizard. According to them, Automotive Mechanic I starts at $23,061 (10th percentile) and goes up to $39,586 (90th percentile), with Automotive Mechanic II’s 10th percentile at $30,731 up to the 90th percentile of $49,164. Just for comparison I then ran Computer Operator, my current title, which says the 10th percentile is $22,995 and on up to $40,358 for the 90th percentile… I am not even in the 10th percentile yet. 🙁 Anyhow, it looks like even at Automotive Mechanic I level (It’s not clear to me if by having an associate degree if I would be able to skip to Automotive Mechanic 2 level or not, or if one has to put a year or two in at the 1 level) the starting income is higher, while the potential is nearly the same. Compare this to what I was considering recently, pilot, where a co-pilot on a turbo prop (where one would likely start on a regional airline) is $21,035 up to $79,609 (compare this to the potential of moving up to Captain on a large jet which goes $80,421 to $129,707). The pilot income potential is much higher, but the first year, if not two years is a killer with very little income, certainly not enough to pay the very high loan back.
Anyhow, I was wondering where they get their information since they say the 10th percentile on a Computer Operator is $22,995 and that is far above what I make… can I be that far below the percentile or is their data off? If their data is off, is it off for all jobs in the area (all the numbers above were based off my zip code) or just some like mine?

A Review of The Road

I just finished Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, a book I read not because, but in spite of the fact that it is an Oprah’s Book Club book.I got interested in the book after watching the trailer for the Coen Brother’s (Miller’s Crossing, Fargo, The Big LebowskiO Brother, Where Art Thou?, among many others) newest film,No Country for Old Men. That link is to the book, which is also by Cormac McCarthy. The trailer and the rest of the review below the break.
Continue reading A Review of The Road

Rethinking Ethanol

I have in the past argued for ethanol (see The Kind of Car We Need, and More on the Kind of Car the US Needs) as part of move for plugin-hybrid cars. I still argue that we need plugin-hybrid cars, however I have re-thought the whole use of ethanol.
Corn prices have gone up more than the rate of inflation (we could largely get rid of inflation if we got rid of the Federal Reserve…who would wants to do that… oh yeah, Ron Paul, but I digress) do to the public and government’s push for ethanol. The crazy thing is the government gives huge subsidies to farmers who grow corn of ethanol in addition to the normal farm subsidies (I could name somebody who wants to get rid of farm subsidies, despite being from a farm heavy area, but I already mentioned him, so I won’t do it again 😉 ) and yet corn prices are out pacing inflation. The rising cost of corn, which is heavily used as feed, has forced other food prices to go up, especially meat. The overall cost of groceries is up, again up compared to inflation. Can all this increase in cost be attributed to just ethanol? No, but a good percent can, the rest of the increase (we are talking the amount over the rate of general inflation) is more a result of increasing fuel costs.
The demand for ethanol is leading to a shortage of corn for consumption as well. Not only this, but it is also leading to a shortage of other crops as farmers replace other crops with corn to keep up with the demand. Corn (and to a slightly less degree, soybeans, which is another source of ethanol) is a row crop contributing to soil erosion and water pollution. It takes large amounts of fertilizer (made from oil) and pesticides to grow. In the end it takes about 3 barrels of oil to produce 4 barrels of ethanol (it isn’t clear if that statistic accounts for the oil used to make the fertilizer or not), so a net gain of only one barrel. The shortage of corn and other crops for consumer’s tables means we are starving people to fuel our vehicles.
Ethanol can’t be transported via pipelines like gas is, which means from beginning to end, it is sent via truck and rail, using more fuel and creating that much more pollution. (Again, my support of alternative fuels has little to do with the environment, though if they help, all the better, but more to do with removing our dependence on foreign oil.)
There are alternatives available, mostly in the form of bio-diesel. Continue reading Rethinking Ethanol

I Predict Harry is a Squib

How do we get Harry to live, yet make sure the series is done as J. K. Rowling has said it will be?
I predict that in the end of the Harry Potter books that we’ll learn that Harry was born a Squib (somebody born to magical parents but doesn’t have any magical ability themselves). I see it going like this, when Voldamort tried to kill Harry Potter, he was trying to make a Horcrux (if you haven’t read the 6th book yet, avoid that link… as a matter of fact avoid this post). When he didn’t die, due to his mother’s sacrifice, the curse backfired and Voldamort’s split soul went into Harry, making Harry an accidental Horcrux.
Harry doesn’t have to die to get rid of the Horcrux that is in him. Dumbledore has again and again said that Love is perhaps the most powerful magic. Either truly falling in love with Ginny (and her loving him) or a love sacrifice will probably be the final act that removes the Horcrux. A house divided against itself can’t stand, a Harry finally being filled with true love would force the Horcrux out. It is probably a good thing that Harry’s Aunt and Uncle never loved him. Okay, I might be stretching it on how the Horcrux is removed…
Anyhow, I predict that it is the Horcrux itself that gives Harry his magical ability. Once it is removed, we’ll learn that Harry was in fact a squib this whole time. This isn’t to say that he’ll not have any magical ability. Joe has said that somebody who was a squib will gain magical ability in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7), this could be Harry. Soon after this discovery somebody will notice that Harry no longer has his scar.
Okay, I’ll append this and say that the person who gains magical ability isn’t Harry. Indeed, I may be wrong on the whole squib thing, but it would be a way, beyond the final chapter of the book telling us in quickly what happens to the rest of their lives. I still think that Harry will end up being a teacher, then perhaps someday headmaster.

Oh, and the Snape issue. This is basically Sara’s idea, where she started expanding on another theory. Snape loved Lilly (Harry’s mom), we would think not seeing how he treated her in Snape’s Worst Memory, however, what if the reason it is his worst memory is because of the way he treated Lilly in that scene. We know that nothing in that scene was new to Snape, save perhaps it happened in front of Lilly. James (Harry’s dad) and his gang picked on Snape all the time, and had in fact used the same curse on people before. So it is Snape snapping out at Lilly that he is most ashamed of, perhaps he feels that if he didn’t say what he said she would have been more inclined to go with him. It is due to Snape’s love of Lilly that when Voldamort went to kill Harry, Snape made a deal with Voldamort not to kill Lilly. When Voldamort killed Lilly, that is when Snape decided to work with the Order of the Phoenix. Love again being the key. Snape clearly isn’t a good guy, but he is working for the good guys and is fully against Voldamort.

I Am Xander

I haven’t posted the results of one of those, You are… type tests for a long time. This time was another What Buffy Character Are You Type Quiz, this one claiming to be the most accurate ever. As if there was any surprise, I ended up being Xander.

Most Accurate Buffy Character Quiz

The other potential options: Spike (it would be nice to be Spike, but I am no Spike), Angel (I may be a bit broody sometimes, but again I am no Angel), Buffy (not her either), Faith (even less so than Buffy), Giles (of the remaining characters, he would probably be the closest and that still puts me a long way from being him), Willow (despite my love for Willow, I am not her), Anya (too into herself and a crazed fear of bunnies, though we both love money…), Oz (perhaps the only thing in common there is a love for Willow), Riley (big military guy, umm… no… and who put Riley on the list, did anyone like Riley?)
They have Riley and no Cordelia? Admittedly she and Anya are fairly close to being the same, at least during Cordelia’s Buffy years, though she did grow some on Angel. Dawn and Tara probably should be on the list as well if we are sticking mostly with just the Scooby Gang. Then of course we should also have villains on the list (Spike doesn’t count given his turn near the end). So I have to disagree with it being the most accurate ever.

Boo on Arizona

I just learned that Arizona has banned Zillow from it’s estimates on property values in Arizona. I find this odd, seeing that it is an estimate and costs appraisers nothing, so it doesn’t protect them from anything, nor does it protect consumers, but hurts them in the end. You don’t hire an appraiser for each house you look at, but the last house that you really want to buy in order to meet the mortgage lender’s requirements to get the loan. Heck, lots of houses, such as mine don’t even have an estimate so its a real crap shot if you can even get an estimate from Zillow on the home’s value. The estimate is just a tool for the consumer to use to see a rough idea of the home’s value compared to its asking price, or if they just saw an ad with no price, an idea of what to expect the cost to be. By narrowing a buyers choices down quicker, it allows the buyer to make a decision quicker and therefore get to the point of hiring a real appraiser sooner.
Another company, Redfin is apparently in trouble in Washington over Multiple Listing Service related issues. Some agents apparently even refuse to show a buyer a house, or let the seller know somebody is interested in the house, if somebody finds a house via Redfin. In the area’s where Redfin’s rebates are not blocked by a crazed law, it is Redfin that looses money off their portion of the fee (the refund 2/3rd of the money back to the buyer for the down payment, closing costs or whatever). The seller’s agent still gets their full commission. I mean, if Coldwell started giving only a 1% commission to it’s brokers, would Century 21 refuse to allow a Coldwell client the house they are being paid to sell? I would be highly upset if the agent I hired to sell my house refused to show the house to any serious potential buyer just because they found it via the Internet, or another agent that gave a part of the 6% fee I pay to the buyer. Heck, I am paying 6% to sell my house, my agent still gets 3%, so who cares if the buyer’s agent gives up a portion of their 3%? I don’t understand realtor’s objections to it. Readfin helps only if you know more or less exactly where you want to live. If you don’t know an area well, you will probably still end up hiring a realtor to help you find the kind of home you want in the kind of neighborhood you want. It takes a lot of research to find what is a good neighborhood, good schools and the like down to the street level, and for that you really need a real estate agent, and Redfin doesn’t replace that research at all. I live in a poor neighborhood, but you really have to go a few more streets down to find the really bad area, all part of the neighborhood. So an Internet search of this area would probably show it to be worse than it actually is at this street, a good realtor would know this and be able to point it out to a potential buyer. If when we move to Arizona, and if we had the money to buy a house, I would rely on a realtor, probably the one I was already in touch with, to help find a house. Sure, I could scan the newspaper ads and the Internet for a house, but that tells me nothing of the area. I have been to decent enough neighborhoods where one street is bad, but the rest of it is good. No way you’ll find that information online… Of course perhaps this was the objection in Washington to Redfin, which apparently allowed people to add reviews of homes or something like that. While apparently not part of the MLS, it was listed with it… Perhaps people were adding this kind of information that only a realtor would be able to give you. Still, the only time it hurts traditional realtors is if both the buyer and the seller are using Redfin (for the seller, Redfin charges a flat rate). I would guess that if the seller is using Redfin, and a buyer is using a traditional agent, the buyer would have to pay their 3% fee, unless Redfin splits their fee.
I personally doubt the seller’s agent business will go down much, regardless of what happens in the Internet world (access to the MLS listings alone is reason enough to keep seller’s agents around). It will go down some to be sure, but not a great deal. The buyer’s agent business will dwindle down a lot, but as I noted there are plenty of cases were they are still needed. The Internet isn’t something to fear, but to embrace.
If Arizona is blocking Zillow, I am sure they will take actions to block Redfin when, and if they try to come there. Boo Arizona. Boo on hurting the consumer. Boo for protecting nobody in the case of Zillow.

Scammed by TooSpoiled

I got an email from somebody at TooSpoiled for a well paying Customer Service Job. So I applied, got a call from somebody who recommended me for the next interview. It is then that I decided to research the company, rather than at the start, stupid move I know. Seems TooSpoiled is a big scam operation. To be safe, I filed a scam alert so nobody can issue me credit for 90 without calling me first and confirming that I am myself. It’s too late to do much about all the phone calls and emails, almost all from Universities, which I have to guess are less than reputable since they are working with a well known scam operation. Just to help anyone else out there, here are the schools that are working with scammers, and therefore probably less than reputable. Colorado Technical University Online and the most irritating one of all, Kaplan University, who calls many times a day and never leaves a message. Both got my name from TooSpoiled since I didn’t ask them directly for information.

Mega Millions vs Powerball and Cash vs Payments

It looks like that the cash value of Mega Millions is worth more than the cash value of Powerball as a percentage. Powerball’s prize right now is $20 Million, with a cash value of $9.4 Million, or about 47%. Mega Millions meanwhile has a prize of $96 Million with a cash value of $47.7 Million, or about 49.69% (let’s call that one an even 50%). Both are near enough to 50% that they may as well both be that. Perhaps that is due to the higher cash value of this Mega Millions cash value seems higher.
Let’s work things out here with a few estimates made by the Lottery Payment Calculator.
Continue reading Mega Millions vs Powerball and Cash vs Payments

Hookahville 27

Okay, before I go to bed, one more post. Hookahville 27 is coming May 25-26, 2007 with a fairly nice lineup this year. Of course the host, Ekoostik Hookah will be there, along with The Wailers, and Oakhurst are the main ones that I have heard of myself, with a bunch of others. (Follow the link, then forward from there to all the band pages for samples of their stuff.)

Do I Have Prosopagnosia?

I have wondered if I have a weak form of prosopagnosia. Prosopagnosia, is face blindness, where the ability to recognize faces is impaired. My problem is more when I see people of out context, or if they have changed features too much from time to time. For example, while I may have a love for Nicole Kidman, take her out of her long red hair and put her in dark or blond hair and it will take me much longer to recognize it is her. Another example, there was a girl I really liked in High School. Years after HS, while I was at Borders, a girl comes up and asks a question, then goes “Brian?” Failing to recognize her, she says “It’s me….” and gave her name. Then I did recognize her, the connection was made. That night went home, checked my yearbook and she basically looked the same, so here was this girl I was crazy about and didn’t recognize her. Family having been at Borders (or Walden’s, I can’t recall which) has gone through my line without me recognizing them. Recent evidence seems to suggest face recognition relies on emotions, so if I do indeed have Apserger’s syndrome, then I have to wonder if it may be the cause of the prosopagnosia, to the degree that I have it. I am fairly sure that if I do have prosopagnosia, it is a fairly weak form as I recognize people, it seems to be context that is the problem.
Of course I have poor memory ability anyhow, so that kind of compounds any problem that I may have.

IQ Only 108 Early in the Morning

I’ll blame it on Canada, or being up too early with having gone to bed too late last night, but either way my IQ came out to be only 108 on this IQ Test. You have 40 minutes to answer 39 questions, mostly it seems to be pattern recognition. I could have sworn I normally score in the teens, which puts me in a bit of a higher class, but well below Mensa level. The linked test is apparently a Mensa test.

Happy Birthday to Me

A little under two score years ago I was born on this date.
What I want… a good car; the mortgage paid off, or at least the mortgage shortfall with the house being sold; a new, good job in the Phoenix area (bonus if it is actually in the Prescott area); enough to put a deposit on a new home in said area, with the job making enough to pay the new mortgage… Ron Paul to be President… Sara and Ari to be healthy and happy (well… me too)… everybody to love ellipses… 😉 Okay, maybe not so much that last one.
Product wise what I want:
Continue reading Happy Birthday to Me

Yet Another Arizona City I Am Looking At

I recently also added Buckeye, AZ (go there using Google Earth), another suburb of Phoenix, to the list of Arizona cities I may move to that I mentioned before. It is one of the fastest growing areas of Phoenix and will likely become the largest suburb of Phoenix (if not the largest suburb in the United States according to the article above). So now would be the time to get a good home and have it soar in value… of course prices are already high, but it looks like the overall cost of living is lower there then other parts of Phoenix. Based on future outlook, I would have to say of the Phoenix area cities, this may be my top choice now. The problem is, most of the jobs I would want are on the South East end, which means a long commute through Phoenix. However, if we were able to actually buy or build a home there, it would be a great investment and probably worth the drive.
The more I look at it, the more I go, if Phoenix, then it has to be Buckeye.
If I could, I would go to Verrado (Wiki entry, official site), which is a development area in Buckeye. Wow… I want a house there now…

Some of Ari’s Favorite Music Videos

Ari’s favorite music video of late is Kate Bush singing Wuthering Heights. He does it with lots of her dance moves while he watches it and it can be quite funny…
He is also a fan of Ben Harper’s A Better Way, sometimes asking “I want the Better Way song.”

If We Were In Arizona Right Now

We wouldn’t be freezing this morning. The temperature in Chandler, AZ right now, according to our friendly Yahoo! front page (they get their info from the Weather Channel) is 57 degrees, with a high of 91… Here the greater Akron/Canton area it is 48, with a high of 67 with strong storms coming. Of course if I had the money to live in Prescott, I probably would, and there right now it is 47, so I guess we are a bit better off here, but the high is a far more preferable 75. Of those parts of Arizona we are considering moving to, we would have far more sun than here. The greater Phoenix area gets about 300 sunny days, and Prescott gets about 277 sunny days, compared to Canton having 169 sunny days a year. In exchange for less sun in Prescott, you don’t get as hot as Phoenix.
Of course the cost of living is far more in both areas than here, but the job market is far better… heck the In-And-Out Burger starts at what I make here with a computer job. The future job growth rate in Phoenix is 17.20%, compare that to Canton’s 4.60%… yes that is negative, and that is with data compiled before the Hoover shut down. (As an aside, Prescott’s future job growth is 20.7%.)