Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Doctor Dartboard

Spent a little time this morning browsing doctor listings to find a PCP. The last time I had a doctor visit was about two years ago, where I went in for a check-up with a new doctor.

This doctor gave me a basic physical, said my cholesterol was high, and promptly put me on the Atkin's diet. I eventually asked for a copy of my blood test results -- my cholesterol was 205, which is high, but hardly in the life-threatening range. A little thin as justification for going on an extreme no-carb diet.

So after learning all this, I ditched said physician and haven't been back in for a check-up since. My ankle hasn't been getting better fast enough (I want instant results, dammit, just like on Star Trek), which prompted me to go find another physician and get a check-up.

Which brings me back to the point of my gripe: it's really hard to find a good physician. All I get from my insurance provider is a list of names and specialties. I might was well print out the list and throw darts at it.

I tried looking for information on line, but didn't really find anything. I checked out RateMDs,
but they have reviews for about 600 doctors in all of California; not surprisingly, my doctor was not one of them. BTW, this is an interesting site to check, since a lot of people with bad experiences with their doctors have posted them.

I think I will at least review my new doctor after my check-up. If nothing else, his office is at least close to my house.

Americans catch up on reliability

Read an article on CNN about the latest J.D. Power's vehicle reliability survey. Apparently the American manufacturers are catching up, but "perception lags reality," which may be one of the bigger understatments of the article.

An interesting footnote is that Mercedes ranks fairly low on the survey, behind most of the Chrysler brands that form the other half of the company. This meshes fairly well with my dad's anecdotes, where he says that Mercedes owners always talk about how great their cars are, but for some reason their cars are always in the shop for something or other.

On the other hand, my Honda motorcycle, which develops about as much power-per-liter as a NASCAR stock car, has never given me any problems other than a dead battery. And all I do is change the oil. That's why when my buddy Dave told me about BMW's new motorcycle, I said it looked nice, but I just don't think I can give up my Honda habit.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Top floor - space shuttles, spy satellites, and lingerie

Another one for the "Science Fiction Becoming Reality" department. A scientest is seeking further funding for building an elevator into space. He's already got research funding from NASA and is looking for the $10B that it would take to actually build one.

Heck, why not? What's a measly ten billion these days? And I bet you get a killer view from the penthouse apartment.

A Farewell to Stanley

In honor of the long party tradition of the Stanley house, I threw (with help from the usual suspects) a "housecooling" party on Saturday. A decent little crowd showed up; about 20 people or so. Plenty of room in the house, since there's no furniture. Naturally this meant that everyone avoided the house and collected on the front lawn.

Despite multiple promises to appear (among other things, to clear out her room full of stuff), Grace, once again, failed to drive up from L.A. There appears to be some mysterious cosmic force that surrounds southern california and bars all exit.

Late into the evening, Jon ressurected an old house tradition, Drinking Jack Straight From The Bottle. Jon took a swig from the 1.75L bottle (I don't think we ran out), put the cap back on, and slid it across the floor to me. I uncapped the bottle, took a swig, and sent it back. We repeated this process until, well, I can't say when it stopped, because that's when my memory of the evening cuts out. I woke up the next morning on my (empty) floor, with my outer shirt for a blanket.

After that, I went out to my car, drove home, and spent the rest of the day in bed.

As I told Jon later, I think this is one tradition that we should let die with the Stanley house.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Ankle Karma

So, last sunday at my hockey game, I got in a little shoving match with a larger player, and I was off balance, so I lost. This is not normally a big deal -- a certain amount of pushing and shoving is expected in hockey, especially when you're hanging out in front of the other team's net -- except that as I went down, my skate got caught in the other player's skate/stick, and it refused to rotate with the rest of my body. In physics terms, my body applied a moment arount the fulcrum of my ankle.

In layman's terms, it was quite painful.

It wasn't until I got back to my new house, with barely a third of my stuff moved in, that I realized that this was a really bad time to not be able to lift heavy things. So I'm frantically calling people to try and get two guys over here to move my heavy stuff. I called Ash, and after he was done mocking me for getting injured playing hockey (what can I say? If there's no injury potential, it's just not any fun), he told me he's in Massachusetts.

I'm trying to think back over my recent actions and see if my karmic bank account is running low...

Friday, June 18, 2004

Gin is In, Baby

According to this article on CNN, gin is making a comeback as a premium liquor (who makes up these market segments, anyways?). My vodka-drinking comrades occasionally give me respect (and strange looks) because I drink gin martinis instead of the dry vodka martinis currently in vogue.

The funny thing is, my conversion to the True Faith of gin martinis was similar. I took a road trip with my father a few years back, where we motorcycled around the central U.S. Part of our evening camping/hotel ritual became the making of the martini. My father would mix them up in the classic proportions (1 part vermouth, 3 parts gin), and we would have a martini or two.

I can't explain how it is that the addition of a little vermouth and an olive takes a drink from tasting like paint thinner to a good sipping drink. Chalk it up as one of the mysteries of life -- one of those areas where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

So, like the author in the link above, I have my father to thank for my love of the under-appreciated gin martini. Happy Father's Day, Dad.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

New House Smell

I signed my final escrow paperwork this morning, and cut the check for the remainder of the escrow amount. After work, I went by my house and walked around. Somehow it felt different. More mine. Funny how signing a piece of paper can make such a big deal -- I've had the house key for a couple weeks now, so the traditional symbolic element just wasn't there.

I even made a phone call from it just to document the fact that it was mine. Unfortunately my sister didn't answer.

I'm still trying to figure out where everything is going to go, since my new bedroom is about half the size of the one I'm in now. I think that means all of my stuff needs to get smaller. Fortunately there are power tools to deal with that.

Monday, June 14, 2004

The Cult of Home Ownership

I have succumed to peer pressure (and a good buying opportunity) and bought a house in Santa Clara. I'm supposed to sign the final escrow papers tomorrow. The whole thing is still a little bit scary -- I'm going from having no debt and a nice fat cash reserve to owning this chunk of land and wood that I can't unload easily and whose drop in value could suddenly wipe out all the money I put in to it and more if the pressures driving high housing prices in the area were to go away.

Obviously, I don't think those are going to happen, otherwise I wouldn't be buying the house, but it's still a little nerve-wracking to be tied down.

Another thing I've been noticing is that houses are supposed to be like hot rods -- they're no good unless you've somehow customized them. Everyone is asking me "what am I going to do to the place?" and I feel like saying, "well, nothing's broken..."

And in case you're wondering what I'm going to do the place, what I had in mind was: 1) move in, 2) install garage door opener, 3) install sprinklers in back lawn. Not terribly ambitious, I'll admit.

The most radical things I'm planning on doing with my new house is what I'm thinking about not doing, which is getting a phone line. Pretty much the only reason I have a phone line now is so that the DSL can come on top of it, and Covad sells DSL service for about the same price as I pay now. The biggest problem with this isn't that I need a phone (my friends can call me on my cell; if you don't have my cell #, I don't want to talk to you), but that when you order services, they will freak out if you don't have a phone number to fill in the phone number box.

It will be a great experiment.