18 March 2014

American Dream?

Been going through the hassle of looking for a new apartment. My other two room mates are moving out and I can’t afford to live there on my own. I am finding, however, that living anywhere on my income is difficult at best. I’m making about $36k a year before taxes yet there are few places I can really afford to live. I’m looking for something in the less-than-$800-per-month range, and most of them are either too small, utilities would be too much, there’s no where to park, and/or it’s a run-down sack of poo.

Although my girlfriend will be living with me, she’ll be attending college full-time, so any income she gets will be negligible. It’s kind of a rude awakening when you’re brought up being told: “Do well in school so you can get a good job and a house and a car etc etc.” Here I am, with a Bachelors of Biology, a full-time job (granted, people with less education are making more here),  I did good in school, all that stuff. I can’t afford a house. Barely afford an apartment. Can’t afford a new or even pre-owned car. Can’t afford to get a smart phone with data plan. Some American dream, eh?

Now, perhaps if I was better at making a budget and sticking to it, I could eek by with all that stuff. Sadly, trigonometry and calculus classes don’t make for good financial planning lessons. It doesn’t help, that while I supposedly make $36,050 a year on paper, after taxes and benefits, it’s a lot less. My most recent paycheck was 966.xx. Get two paychecks a month, that’s  $1,932. Times that by twelve months: $23,184. Now there some other factors; yearly bonus, tax return, the odd month with three pay periods, et al. Still, I feel I had more spare cash when I worked part-time at Home de Pot and lived at home. mint.com tells me I made $26,910 in 2013. So that’s about ten thousand dollars less than I technically earn. 

It doesn’t help matters that although I work the glorious third shift, there’s no shift differential. Also, even though I have a bachelors degree, I make the same amount a high school graduate would if they got hired there. Yip. Eee.

10 October 2013

Oh My

I've got work in ten minutes, my left eye is twitching, I bought a 3DS in Obnoxious Purple, in the Spring I bought a Mosin Nagant 91/30 rifle, my bike still has inherent, Harley-based issues but it's getting better AND sometimes I remember that Blades of Hysteria exists...but I never know what to write. Write about me? Boring. The world? Too much. Maybe, just maybe I'll follow this up with something...who knows?

Don't mind me, just crawling through.

28 May 2013

Rain Drops Keep Falling On My Head...Good thing I have a Helmet

So much has happened since my last post. I’m finally not living in my mom’s house. Yay! A former college room mate of mine got hired where I work so now me, him, and his girlfriend are renting a small house 2 miles from our job. The savings on gas are pretty nice, though I still manage to put a lot of miles on my car. Helping with that however is my Buell, which is finally inspected. I’ve already put about 200 miles on it and it’s getting about 64mpg.  Hopefully it’ll do even better after the carb is cleaned out, which leads to a bit of a story…
Last weekend or so, a friend of mine gradumacated from Bloomsburg University. She invited a bunch of us up for it. Parking would be at a premium so I decided to take the bike. It was a little over 70 miles each way. I headed up Friday after work. The weather was gorgeous albeit a bit breezy and the bike was running great…until I hit the interstate. On the smaller highways the bike did great, but out on the interstate while maintaining a consistent speed, she’d bog down and stall. So for the next…40 miles or so I’d stall every 5th mile and have to take refuge on the shoulder. Eventually I made it to the town of Bloomsburg and upon entering stop and go traffic (lights, stop signs, etc) the Buell ran like a champ again.
Then Saturday came. The morning was overcast. After the ceremony I parted ways with my friends and proceeded to stall out in the parking lot. Yip. Eee. I could tell the carb was flooding so I opened the air box to let the gas evaporate some. This helped more than I expected and I was soon on my way. Once out on the interstate again….it began to rain….and the bike continued to stall every couple miles. In the rain. (Mind you, I have less than 4 months’ riding experience) There were a few other bikes on the road and one guy on a big touring bike stopped to see if he could help me anything. There wasn’t much he could do but he did ride behind me to the next exit where I got off in hopes of finding…something. I found a gas station with a canopy and bathroom. Gave me a dry place to call my dad from. Being without a GPS (had one in my pocket but no way to use while riding) I couldn’t track down any mechanical help type places so I decided to just continue on. The bike stalled once on me after that and I realized that if I kept varying the throttle, she’d keep going. Wasn’t happy, but kept running. Once I was back off the interstates and on the smaller highways the Buell ran with no problems. Only thing I stopped for was to check out a new McLaren at a gas station near my house.
Anywho, it’s been determined that the carburetor needs a desperate cleaning. The previous owner used to run the bike with no air filter…surprise surprise. If that doesn’t help, a new spark plug may be in order as well.

I think that’s all I’m going to tell for now as I should be sleeping….

22 January 2013

Battlefield Blue

Hello blogizens, I assume you have not consumed too many heavy metals since our last interaction. The biggest news I have right now links nicely to my last post. I mentioned wanting a motorcycle, and lo and behold, through the science of alchemy I converted a pile of cash into a Buell Blast!

It is a 2006 Buell Blast in Battlefield Blue with 2984 miles on it.  I love it. I rode up and down my dad’s cul-de-sac a few times this weekend (I’m not licensed, insured, or inspected yet) and it is sufficiently fun and terrifying. The Vance & Hines exhaust really makes some noise, louder than my dad’s 750cc Honda Shadow, which is good because people will hear me if they don’t see me first.

The three great enemies of a motorcyclist, so far as I have determined, are weather, cockiness, and everyone in a car.

Weather is pretty obvious; if it’s 10 below freezing, or precipitating in any way, you’re gonna have a real crappy ride.

Cockiness is part of the reason I went with a 500cc over a 250. I've been told that you learn a 250 too quickly, get cocky, and then screw yourself. A friend of a friend of mine had a Ninja 250 that he cornered too fast and hit cinders or a storm drain or something. In short, bike went down and took him with it. He now has a bigger bike, but respects it a bit more. A 500cc should be enough to entertain and scare me for quite some time.

Cars. They’re big. They’re heavy. They are often driven by oblivious morons. People don’t always recognize a bike in traffic, it just doesn't register that there’s a motor vehicle occupying that space and moving. Also, that jackass who’s willing to cut you off when you’re in a car, isn't going to care about a much smaller bike. You’ll just make a dent and fall over as he drives off.

Despite the likelihood of severe injury, I am really excited to get my permit renewed and start riding. Start off with short ice-cream trips with my dad or something and eventually move up to commuting to work. With all the miles I put on my Focus, this can provide some relief.

Expect more pictures of this as we go. In the meantime, I'm long overdue in hanging my Cuckoo clock. Where's my net....

08 January 2013

Post Holidapocalyspe Update

So it’s a few days after Christmas and I’m spending money on myself, yay! Specifically on a book about Italian rapier techniques and finally, after much delay and forgetfulness, Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 on Wii’s virtual console.

This installment of the Sonic franchise is supposed to be a direct follow up to Sonic & Knuckles on the Genesis console. It’s been a while. I was pretty excited when this came out, but being a broke college kid I couldn’t justify the $15.00 for it. Now that I have a big kid job, why the hell not? (If you’ve ever downloaded on the Wii they use a classic Mario as the loading screen. He’s currently concussing himself on a brick right now.)

After playing it Sonic for a bit, I can’t help but feel that including the homing attack in a 2D Sonic was a mistake. When it comes to precision jumping, if you get too close to a ledge, Sonic will Homing Attack into the void and often kill himself or set you back in some way.

I got a new camera this Christmas so hopefully I’ll be able to post more photos of random stuff.

In other news….Magic has been pushed a bit to the side for now as the friend I play with most has lost interest in it. (He kind of burned himself out while dating his last girlfriend.)  I feel like I should be more excited for the current Ravnica set, but I just can’t justify spending money on it right now. Granted, I could go to a card shop on weekends, but keeping in Standard or other competitive play gets expensive fast. “You mean my deck will work better four copies of this card that costs $30? OK!”

When compared to something like getting a motorcycle, I just can’t support the addiction.  Did I mention I want a bike? Been looking at these:

Harley Davidson parts, designed by Buell. 499cc, single-cylinder motor. Enough to get me killed, but also get out of its own way.  

Alright, I need to go do...something, been sitting too long. Hopefully I'll get back to more regular posting.  

Until next time!

13 November 2012

Is Your Squirrel Due for Maintenance?

Another week of mediocrity. Or was it? Ba ba baahhmm.
The biggest highlight, I guess you could call it, was trying to fix the clutch in my 2002 Ford Focus.  After doing three motor swaps with my Grand Prix, doing the clutch on a Focus should be easy, right? Wrong! Alright, normally, yes, it shouldn’t be too hard, but when you can’t get past step six out of forty, it’s frustrating. Note: my numbers are arbitrary. A key step in doing any transmission work on a front wheel drive car is removing the axles. If you’ve ever changed your own brakes, you know that at the center of your front wheels is a single, massive bolt. They’re 32mm specifically on the Fofo. When you undo this bolt, and one or two on the swing arm, you can swing the entire brake assembly to the side, and yank your axle out of the transmission.  We could not, despite our best efforts, break these bolts loose. Using a breaker bar, socket, a piece of pipe for leverage, and my dad’s entire body weight, they wouldn’t budge. Even with the brakes applied full force, the nut would just turn the wheel and not unscrew.

I’m sure we would’ve come up with something, but my grandpop offered to help pay the mechanic’s bill as a combo birthday/Christmas present for me.  So Mach is now at Rob’s Auto in Pottstown having its guts ripped out and replaced with some shiny new ones. Ooooh, aaaahh.

The other interesting thing happened yesterday on the way home from work. I had two squirrels run out in front of me, resulting in much wear on the brakes of my dad’s Sunfire. The second squirrel however, was white. I’m not sure if he was a true albino, didn’t see the eyes, and it had a splotch of gray in its tail, but it was undoubtedly white. Though maybe I just scared the color out of it, who knows?

I'm sure the squirrel wasn't laughing...but I bet his friends were. Dicks. 

Until next time =P

29 October 2012

Waiting Out Hurricane Sandy

So I haven’t posted since…late August. Sue me. No, don’t really, you won’t get much from it. Anywho, my posting got interrupted by life. As I mentioned in Keeping Tabs, we had just moved and didn’t have internet at the time. Then in September I got a new, real job. Yaaay! So I’m working third shift for 35k a year.  So now, let me do some re-capping.

Pennsic was fun. Although I was in the same camp as my ex and her new fiancĂ© (‘cause getting engaged after 3 months of dating is a good idea, right?), I still had a good time. My other friends kept things lively. During one of the huge f-all thunderstorms, I decided it was more fun to stand in the rain doing Taekwon-do patterns and drinking than standing under the big tarp.  Of course, this led to my stock of Mike’s Hard Lemonades dropping drastically.  It also led to a tipsy bottle band forming where we all stood around blowing into the empty bottles. Was a good time. 
In terms of the battles, the first rapier battle sucked. The scenario was to retrieve as many bean-bags as we could and get them back to our flag.  This turned into more of a shuttle run/wind sprint exercise than a battle. Doing wind sprints without warming first is a really bad idea by the way. And I suspect it led to my late-week injury.
During the field battle, Aethlemearc’s ally, Atlantia, left us out to dry and we got annihilated. The East/Midrealm army just wrapped around us and ground us to a pulp.  At one point a Hold was called, and I looked behind me to see how our line was holding. It wasn’t. I was surrounded by the other side. This gave me two options, die on the lay-on, or dive through the line opposing me. I chose the 2nd option, there was just enough space between the two fighters opposite me.  I made it through and found myself against the Prince of the East and his cluster of guards. Since I now live in the East, I felt obligated to try killing him. Sadly, I didn’t make it past his guards.  Oh well.
Thursday there was a Cadet Tournament for cadets or people at least sponsored by a White Scarf, OGR, Bronze Ring, etc. I figured since I was fighting for the wrong side all week, I’d get one of the OGRs from Bhakail to sponsor me. I was doing fairly well, was in the groove for the most part, had 1 loss and 2 wins when I took an arrow to the thigh. Well, not an arrow per se, but my quadriceps decided to go the opposite direction that I wanted it to. This effectively put an end to my fighting, and my most of my walking for the rest of the week. Was still a good time.

New House
The house is coming along nicely, but slowly. My bedroom is the most complete so far, being floored and painted. It now also has black-out shades. The back yard is still a little torn up as the shed got knocked down and we’re prepping to put in a larger one. One big enough to hold my mom’s Audi TT, which sprung a leak last year when Hurricane Irene came through.  It still isn’t working, the electrical systems are all messed up.  We do have internet and cable now, so there’s some forms of entertainment.

In September I got hired at a place called CyOptics. I’m working third shift in the Photoresist Room. Essentially, we get in wafers of Indium Phosphide, and apply photoresist to them. Photoresist, or PR, is a light sensitive chemical. We then expose the wafers under a pattern called a photomask. When the PR is then developed, the pattern is left on the wafer.  If the pattern comes out aligned right, we move the wafers on to the other areas where they are either etched or have metals deposited on them. The end result is ultimately a microchip with a laser emitter or detector on it.  It’s cool stuff.

Until next time, keep respirating.