Friday, February 18, 2011

Being Daddy

I've done a lot of things in life that have brought some form of joy to my life. I've experienced a lot of things that have made me happy and glad that I had just done whatever I had just done.

In my opinion, there are few things sweeter than hearing your baby play or sing. Yesterday, while I was talking with neighbors, who are moving to South Carolina, my daughter was saying to her baby doll named Susan, "See Susan, See? Leaf! Leaf blowing." Susan replied, "No" and so MGM chased the leaf as it blow slowly across the driveway and again said, "See Susan, See? Leaf!!" and Susan replied, "Leaf blowing!!!" I absolutely love when she has pretend conversations with her baby dolls.

She will also finish songs that you are singing. I call them her songs because she knows the works or tune. My favorite is 5 little monkeys jumping on the bed. I sing all of it except the last line because I love to hear her say, "no more monkeys jump in the bed."

Ever since I got married, I have prayed that if I am going to die that I have enough time to tell my wife and now my baby girl that I love them with everything I have. Maybe if there is enough time left I could hear her sing the "Monkey song" too.

Happy 600 days old MGM!!! You're still Daddy's baby.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Gardening in Zone 9

I am excited. We are two and half weeks away from March. March is the start of spring. March is when the sun gets high enough for people and plants to notice that summer is coming.

I can't wait. I've already planted my seeds in my planter although with this cold snap of teens at night I'm not sure they are going to germinate, but next week has highs in the 70's and I'm excited. Maybe I'll build another raised bed this weekend or just start getting the materials.

I'm gonna plant a few new plants this year. Things I've never grown. Sugar Snap Peas, something I think our daughter will enjoy and I want to try out an Avocado tree. I read that they can produce up to 200 avocados per year. Even if I get half that I'll save a decent amount in grocery because those little things are expensive. Supposedly you can freeze them in vacuum bags to last longer so we'll see; if not I'll give them away.

The end of March seems so far away looking at the calendar, but I'm learning that time flies by faster than I think and like a player playing chess, I'm trying to think a few moves ahead.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Disclaimer: I wrote this on a single stream of thought. So it is probably incoherent and full of errors.

I read an article that was meant to help people see where they stack up financially with their retirement goals. It also showed where you stack up with other Americans. We know that even some of the poorest Americans are far far more wealthy than a vast majority of people in the world. This article came with a handy calculator that shows how you compare with people your age and the median average of the entire US population.

I was very pleased to read that we compare well to the median and are doing much better than our peers. All this has been nothing short of God's blessing and I realize that they could be taken at any point in time. I say this because I have more trust in God's provisions than I do my ability or anything else I might say to make it seem like I or WE (my wife and I) have done on our own.

We have less debt, actually we have no debt except our house and even then we have less house debt than the average American. We have investments, college savings accounts, retirement accounts and emergency savings. The only category we were completely and utterly surpassed by our peers is how much our cars are worth. Ours are only worth something to us.

The problem I have is I actually feel broke. It has been a great help that my wife has picked up some tutoring jobs. We've been able to save at a much higher rate than we were previously, and we did just buy a new TV which I got a great deal on for under $400. But overall my spoiled American self wonders why I can't drive new cars. I want an iPhone and cable but I can't make myself spend the money on those things knowing that I could be putting more money to my house or to retirement or to my kids college fund. I can't see how this system can survive when it is so difficult to not spend money on things some see as basics and adequately save for the future.

My financial planner tells me that my daughter's bachelors degree will cost about 230k for in-state public tuition. My AS & BS in Computer Science plus almost completing a BS in Math and including my teaching courses cost about 40k. I've done the math and my degree depending on a bunch of IF's and not really math might have paid for myself. The IF's are usually centered around would I have gotten my current job. Would I have gotten paid at the level I'm paid for my current job. My field does not require degrees. They are nice to have but I work with lots of other IT professionals some with and some without degrees. I could have landed similar jobs with certifications. I know I probably could have landed better jobs with certifications and experience rather than just my degree and experience.

I don't see how a 230k degree, if the financial people are right, will ever be worth it, especially if people have to pay interest on the loans from those degrees. I also have a hard time wondering how people will retire. I again have done math, my financial planner has done the math and based on our current savings we'll live a comfortable retired life. The scary thing is we are miles, if not hundreds of miles, ahead of our peers in terms of retirement. They are no where close to where we are. I'm not bragging, I'm just trying to imagine how a system can function with so many people unable to retire when their bodies start getting old. Will parents get taken care of by their kids or work until they die? Are the kids taking care of them those same kids who either do not have degrees or are saddled with lots of debt not just school debt? If they are paying all their money toward debt how can they buy new things? If they can't buy new things how can the companies they work for make money?

Now I am full of doom and gloom, but this isn't doom and gloom these are real questions for people who don't have savings and drive new cars, with fancy houses and nice iPhones. I'm concerned that the America we know is going to radically change in the next 20 years and that worries me for my kids sake. On the other hand, I guess I'll really find out about God's provision.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

High school spanish

When I took Spanish in high school, I admittedly was not a good student, I remember conjugating verbs could be tricky. Spanish is definitely harder than English in that respect BUT I already knew when a verb needed to be conjugated so it was just learning the proper way to handle that verb.

I am actually pretty good at picking up languages. Immersion being my method of choice, I learned sign-language good enough in two semesters that deaf people I met didn't know I was actually hearing. I hung out with them and had a great time. In Romania, I had a deep internal draw to try and learn as much of the language as possible so that I could communicate with people. Even though we were only there one week. I know how to order my favorite dish at a Vietnamese restaraunt here in town using you guessed it Vietnamese. My boss, who is Vietnamese thinks it is great. I do wish I was fluent enough in any language to actually claim it on a resume but I've yet to take that step. As with most things I pick them up quickly, yet I know how difficult it is to learn a new skill and speaking is much easier than writing or reading.

I wish I knew better how learning language worked. Just to know how it worked. I learned the basics of it when I took Child Development while working on my teaching certificate, but that was all just classroom learning of the theories. Now I can observe it every day and it is fascinating.

Like all my posts I typically start them days if not weeks in advance and then don't finish them usually because I think they are stupid. However, this is one thought in my head that is daily recurring. How did my little girl learn to conjugate verbs. I don't know when exactly this happened; I started this post two weeks ago but sometime over the last month she has started adding, "ing and ed" to verbs. Unlike my attempts in high school, where I knew I had to change the verb for different tenses. All I needed to do is figure out which tense. She learned the rule AND the tense and correctly applies it to every regular verb. She does still say, "I falled" or "I felled." My favorite thing she says is, "I'm running" and the word patience which is not the same topic.

Since I love learning and love learning new skills. I'm sure I'll be in awe the rest of my life as she learns new things. I am sure I'll be jealous at how quickly she learns them and how much opportunity she has to learn them. I just think it is amazing how people learn language, I did in college and I especially do now.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


The only thing I can think of about having temps below freezing for 96 straight hours is it makes getting into a cold swimming pool easier. I had a great swim workout today and really enjoyed being in the water. I can't wait for warmer temperatures so that I can swim outside and feel the sun.

Today I woke up at it was 16 degrees winds were 15-20 miles per hour. It was 2 degrees warmer in Madison, Wisconsin than in Austin, TX. It is actually twice as cold in Austin, TX than in Washington DC! Amarillo was at -4 degrees and that' Fahrenheit!! Their winds were 30mph with gusts up to 50mph.

To make all of this worse, ERCOT, Texas' power grid authority, issued rolling blackouts or 30-45 minutes every 10-15 minutes. So while we don't really like having a fireplace taking up valuable space in our house. It is proving quite useful since our heater does not work without power. You see even though it is gas it still needs electricity to run the fan to circulate the air.

I work in a large data center and we have battery backup and diesel generator backup. This morning while shuffling server cabinets around part of our raise floor failed and a server cabinet all most crushed me. Had it happened 2 or 3 minutes earlier the two guys that caught it would not have been there and it would have fallen on me. Each cabinet is several hundred pounds. I could have been seriously hurt. As the cabinet fell it ripped a few cables and we had about an hour of downtime not related to the power outages across the state. Luckily we got everything back up and even temporarily fixed the floor. I guess today is just one of those days.