Why I Want a House

I have started to actually visit
houses with the intent to evaluate them
for purchase so it seems important that I justify why I am so insistent on
buying a house. My reasoning stems from the concrete to the nebulous.

1. A Generally Safe Financial Bet

Lets look at the big picture here:

It is a bit misleading to see just the chart so the source bears reading,
but for the most part the chart tells a pretty convincing story. Generally the
price of a home will rise. The actual realized profit is mitigated by upkeep
costs, mortgage interest, real estate taxes, inflation, but in my estimation
this is a safe bet to make. In the best case I make some money. If I just break
even that is ok too, because then it is like I lived someplace rent free. If I
lose money, that is no good, but the market would have to be radically
different for the loss to be painful. Not to say that such things are
impossible, as evidenced by the downward trend on the graph. If I am going to
spend money to pay for housing I may as well try and have something to show for
it at the end as opposed to renting where I will have nothing.

2. Good Timing

Refer back to the graph and see how we are on a downward trend. Housing
prices now have not yet returned to their 2008 levels. There is no guarantee
such a thing will happen, but generally the housing market falls a cycle of
boom, bust, recovery.
We had our boom, now we are in a bust (slump) where prices are depressed.
Eventually, those prices will rise as we start to boom again. Best buy now when
the prices are lower and ride the wave up. This is no guarantee, but it is the
historical model.

3. I Could Never Live With A Landlord

I have always had a mistrust of authority. This does not carry over into the
workplace, as my employer buys control of me through my salary and benefits.
But the idea that I would willingly pay someone money and still let them exert
some authority of my domicile is not reconcilable. They may be completely
trustworthy and reasonable, but I would never be able to fully forgot that this
is their place, I do not own it, I have little to no influence over it, and
they can do as they will with it (minus certain legal restrictions). If I own a
house then the only authority over that house will be me.

4. I Need Space

I have spent my entire life living in a single room. Granted it is a
statement taken to an absurd exaggeration, but that is the way it feels. I want
space to spread things out. I want an office to fill with my book and machines,
I want a workshop stocked with tools and in flight projects, I want a living
room I can nap in. An apartment is not going to give me that, or at least my
budget is not going to allow for that. I house can give me all the space I will

5. I Want To Build A Home

This is where I start to go off the track a little. Clearly if I am buying a
house that already exists I do not want to physically build a home. The idea
here is I want to build a place for the people I know. We are diaspora,
scattered. I want common ground if you will. A place anyone can come at any
time. Even more than that though I want people to think of it as their house as
much as it is mine. I may be on the financial and legal hook, but I do not want
to people think of this place as my home, but as the home of everyone I

6. It Is Time For Some Risk

This reason is almost totally devoid from my standard character, but life
has just been too safe. This may be my most regrettable reason in the future,
but I just want more stochasticity. I want to take the risk that this plan will
absolutely lead to nothing but disaster. That is exciting or to put another way
exhilarating. I have always suspected I had some well repressed gambling
tendencies and this may be an unfortunate time for their presence to be known,
still I love the idea of taking a big chance, considering such a huge

Convention Philosophy

The Best Endings Are Sad

Went to Connecticon last weekend and
took this picture: ConnecticonFromStairs

I very rarely take photos, but I got a new camera so here was a good place
to test it out. Turns out this is a pretty good spot to sit and watch. You can
see the almost the entire floor from these stairs and during the middle of the
day the place is packed with people. I really like watching people these days,
especially at conventions. Not sure when this became a fancy of mine. I like
compiling data and learning about things I do not know nor understand. In that
sense observing people is just an extension of my desire to learn. Consider it
my attempt to gain insight on how people other than myself interact. It is a
bit more than that though, it is a little glimpse into the lives of others. It
is watching how a person waves to someone they know, how they carry a backpack
or purse, what they do with their hands. All these little micro-movements,
these tiny gestures tell a lot about a person. Maybe they favor a particular
leg or they add a little regal flourish when they go in for a handshake. It is
the story of their life demonstrated through their physical actions. How a
person acts tells so much about them and we constantly ignore it. The way a
person moves is a story, a play, and from my perch on those stairs I can see so
many stories in motion below me.

And yet, upon seeing so much I am saddened. Because this flicker of motion
is all I will ever get to experience with most of the people here. I could
spend all day meeting each person, or better yet, I could have a booth and a
line for every congoer to go through (a congo line if you will). Even with all
that I still could not meet everyone, not even a tenth. It is that realization
that spreads like the night on a summer eve every convention Sunday. You are
going to leave, waiting for your train, badge hidden away in a pocket somewhere
when you remember what just happened. I had a chance to meet so many people and
I met so few. So many people with shared interests and common ground. So many
possible friends I failed to see to fruition. It is sad to think of what could
have been. Yet consider the alternative. Consider leaving and not being sad.
Not being sad because there was no one to meet, because there was no one worth

I consider myself an old hat with conventions at this point having been to
so many. Each time I leave sad, but that is ok. The time I leave a convention
not feeling sad, is the time I stop going to conventions.

Engineering Philosophy

The 24Hour Programmer Lifestyle

I was on Imgur today and saw the “we’re hiring!” link in all red. Had to
click it. Look at the position closest to my skill set here. Pretty standard, including this
little blurb at the bottom:

if you’re passionate about coding or design, then we bet you have lots of
things that you’ve done in your spare time. Along with your resume, we’d like
you to send us some samples. They can be personal projects you’ve whipped up
during a lunch break, or a full-fledged application that you’ve created from

I am going to coin a phrase here and call this the ’24 hour programmer’. The
kind of gal or guy for whom coding is akin to speaking. They read technical
journals for breakfast, listen to programming podcasts during their commute,
work a full day banging out code, and then go home and work on their open
source projects. I have had the pleasure of knowing some of these people and
they are very good at what they do. This is not how I operate. I give my
employer 8 hours (or so in either direction) and then I go home and do
something else. I may on occasion drop some code outside of the office, but I
have other non-technical interests. It may surprise my employer, but I do not
think of code all my waking hours. I do other things, like build costumes, or play
video games, or try and meet other people. It is a
curious perversion of the tech sector that we expect engineers to always being
engineering. Do we expect carpenters to always be building stuff? Is an artist
somehow less dedicated if they occasion to not draw or paint one day? Maybe the
peculiarities of the startup culture have somehow equated people who live code
all the time as the ideal programmer. Everyone else who does not do the same
must just not be into it. They probably just do it for the money. There is
another word for this: elitism.

Employers, do not pigeonhole yourself looking for these people. Yes they
probably make good employees and yes they might even be better, but you ignore
all the other equally good employees who do not act like this. In any field you
are going to have people who are solely focused and you will have others who
who have many focuses. Staff your company with the best employees, not just the
ones who live a certain lifestyle.

Anime Review

Review: Knights of Sidonia (Season 1)

The very first review on the blog! This show just completed its run so here
are some thoughts on it in the form of a review. Be prepared for some light

Knights of
is a 12 episode space mecha following the pursuits of Nagate
Tanikaze as he and others try and defend their massive colony/seed ship the
Sidonia from the inscrutable Gauna. As such this is mostly an action anime in
the same vein as Attack on Titan or The Pilot’s Love Song. Let us get to the


A lively show, the plot starts fast and the pace is pretty steady
throughout. This is a show about people struggling to survive in a harsh
environment against an implacable enemy and as such very little time is spent
on fluff. Viewers of Attack on Titan will find much they are already familiar
with. This season does not have an overarching plot, but instead has a few mini
arcs throughout. Overall things are hard to predict and the suspense is high
enough to keep you looking forward to the next episode.

Setting and Characters

As far as anime goes, the settings is farm fresh. Not many animes are set in
space these days and furthermore not many pay service to the realities of
operating in a vacuum. Sidonia does and in a big way. Major plot points revolve
around the physics of acceleration and the difficulties in regards to resources
of running a society in a closed environment. Characters are probably Sidonia’s
weakest point. Our main antagonist is a bit plain both emotionally and back
story wise. The supporting characters (other pilots, officers) are a little
better, but some fulfill your standard anime tropes : rival to the main
protagonist, bubbly girl classmate, etc.

Animation Quality

The animation quality is high, but viewers may be put off by the heavy use
of CGI for characters and the mecha themselves. I do not mind, but if you found
Arpeggio of Blue
hard to watch because of this, you should probably give this show a
pass. If this does not bother you then enjoy the high quality visuals on
display here. The Sidonia looks fantastic, clearly this ship has been an
evolving home for a desperate people for many hundreds of years. The mechs
themselves are well thought out and their cockpits are the most sensible I have
ever seen. Battle scenes are lush, dynamic, and well choreographed.


High marks in this category. The OP is a nice mix between orchestral
military theme and high energy JPop. The ED is restrained and brooding and
always a good finish to an episode. Music throughout the series complements the
action or the drama well, but nothing ever stood out for me. Sound effects wise
Knights of Sidonia has a knack for capturing just the right mechanical effects.
Consequently all the mechs, ships, machines sound great. Voice work is pretty
standard, no one seemed off their game. I do award high marks to the voice
actor of the captain who just seemed a bit better than everybody else.


This is a well done show. If you like mechs, SciFi, or Attack on Titan give
it a watch. If you do not like it by episode four you can probably drop it. I
award it 18 lead bricks out of five oddly situated bear characters.


Worry About Things In Your Control

Marcus Aurelius
is always good for some thoughtful quotations. I think this one is particularly

“You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you
will find strength.”

Victor Frankl also
has something to say:

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to
change ourselves.”

Popular quotes to be sure. I make no claim of originality in regards to
them. I only want you to consider their meaning. Even separated by near to 1800
years they manage to express remarkably similar notions. What are they two
writers saying? First consider some brief history. Marcus Aurelius was a Roman
Emperor he ruled for almost 20 years. He oversaw numerous military campaign and
dealt with all manners of politics, legal disputes, and the administration of
running an empire. Victor Frankl was a neurologist, psychiatrist, and most
famously a holocaust survivor. What do these two have in common, aside from
being male?

They both experienced situations and events that they could not control.
That is not unique to them alone though. That is the situation we all find
ourselves in. Their experience however with lives so far out of their control
gave them great insight. Yes, it is true, we who live lives where everything
seems controllable also know this. We know, despite all our skill and power, we
can be found powerless. But we must internalize that lesson, make it part of
ourselves as Aurelius and Frankl have.

A personal example of how I have failed to learn their lesson. I am
controlling and by extension obsessed with the idea of staticity. The idea that
if I just work hard enough, try hard enough, act smart enough I can keep things
the same. That I can keep doing the same things, having the same friends, going
to the same places, experiencing the same moments. It is a tempting dream. Who
wants to give up what they have at my age. I have money and I have friends, I
have youth and I have time. Best of all though, I have the illusion that all
these things are mine to control. That applying the proper forces, using the
resources at my disposal I can have everything I want. And the absolute worst
part about this, the most depraved conclusion, is that so far this has been
mostly true. The exceptions though, the outliers, the systems and events that
resist my control are nothing short of rage inducing. You can see the flaw
here, childish in its simplicity, that this fantasy cannot be maintained and
the more I try to do so the worse it gets. I cannot control everything. The
more I realize this the more frustrated I become at the notion.

For me I have to learn what these two philosophers have to say. It is the
only chance I have left at sanity. I bet you do too. I wager you worry about
about something beyond your control. Health of friend? Politics? Sports? Stop
deluding yourself into thinking you can control everything. You can control one
thing: yourself. You can only influence everything else. Remember this the next
time you become agitated or upset. Most likely what has happened is beyond your
control. It is not your fault you only have control over yourself.

Let us close with Aurelius again:

“Is it not better to use what is in thy power like a free man than to desire
in a slavish and abject way what is not in thy power?”