Understanding this Economic Mess

I know I haven’t blogged in quite a while, at first due to lack of interest, then due to lack of time, and then due to lack of readers, but I felt compelled to post this.  These guys are doing such good work, I had to give them a shout out publicly, and maybe there’s still someone reading that might find these links helpful.

So I’ve been trying to understand this economic thing we’ve gotten ourselves into, and I’ve found a few things that help a lot. I thought I’d link them, so that maybe someone else might find them.

Planet Money — The podcast is the most interesting part, but they have some blog posts that help, somewhat. Every weekday, they give a rundown of what’s happened, and what that means–no jargon, no degree in economics required. For an ongoing understanding of what’s happening, I recommend this.

This American Life — A weekly radio show, tells all sorts of interesting true stories. They’ve done two really good shows about the economy that I want to point out:
The Giant Pool of Money, from back in May, on how the housing crisis came to be. (Free streaming on the website)
Another Frightening Show About the Economy, aired just this last weekend, which explains the current crisis, and what they see looking forward. If you have a spare hour, I highly recommend listening to this one. (Free streaming, or free download on the podcast through Sunday.)

Keepin’ Busy?

I was going to do a year in review post, but I got sidetracked, and never did get it written before the new year got here. I suppose I could still write it, but I never managed to motivate myself, and I’m still not motivated to finish it.

I haven’t really been doing anything this break. I was intending to work at A&J for a few weeks, and the manager had at one point indicated that he was likely to be in need of additional help over the break–but that apparently didn’t come true.So in lieu of working there, I’ve been keeping fairly busy around the house, doing all sorts of stuff. I helped decorate for Christmas, and then this last week, helped un-decorate. You wouldn’t believe the amount of stuff we have that goes up. There’s garland that hangs in both hallways, in the family room, and upstairs, too; about 40 different wall/window hangings (flat, paper things, whether commercially produced, or made by my sister and I in school); several stuffed Christmas characters (Father Christmas (3 sizes), and two dolls, “Merry” and “Chris”) as well as 2 nativity scenes; two Christmas trees (one artificial, one real); about a dozen small stuffed, umm, ornaments that are traditionally spread out through the house, and a whole load of other things that I’ve forgotten. All goes up, and then it all comes back down. Oh yeah, there’s the Christmas lights outside, too. Luckily for me, my dad put the lights up before Thanksgiving, but I got the job of taking them down and packing them away. Have you ever tried to put a string of icicle lights back into the box? Let me tell you, it’s not exactly easy. I’ve actually gotten pretty good, after I paid very close attention to how a new set came out of the box.

SlouchOne of the family mysteries comes up every year when we take down the ornaments from the tree. Everything is boxed up, back into the boxes that we have been using for as many years as I can remember. One of the boxes has the cryptic message “slouch” written on the side. No one knows how it got there, or what it means, but every year someone or other makes a comment about it. Okay, that’s a pretty lame family mystery, but it’s the best I can do.

Gingerbread HouseI also helped with some baking this break, and my sister and I put together this gingerbread house. She had received it as a kit (everything but the icing) from a friend last Christmas, and for some reason, decided to save it until this year. It was “fully edible” according to the box, but after sitting for a year, in a non-airtight container, everything was pretty hard, and I certainly won’t be trying to eat it. I like my teeth as they are.

I upgraded this blog to WordPress 2.0, from 1.5. You won’t notice much change, except in the way images are handled, which allows me (and thus you) to comment on the pictures.

As it is now 1 am, I suppose I ought to be getting off to bed soon. I haven’t exactly been getting to bed early, because I’ve been reading books ever since I got home. And you know how it is when you’re toward the end of a good book–you just don’t get as much sleep. I brought home from the UP library a book by Phillip Pullman, called “The Amber Spyglass.” It’s the third in a 3 part series, so when things finally slowed down it was one of the first things I read.

I’ve also been reading the Narnia series, and have read three of the books. (I also saw the movie a week ago–it was very good.) Our family got the first 2 Harry Potter books for Christmas, and I read those, too. And then this morning, I finished “The Aquitaine Progression” by Robert Ludlum–a very good read. At the beginning, I was expecting it to read rather like a John Grisham book, but it ended up being more like a Tom Clancy–both of whom I like a lot.

And now looking at the clock I must really go.



So I was going to eventually get to doing another status update, but I wound up doing a rant about chain-emails. There’s a few things I’ve been meaning to get around to mentioning, so here they are at the top of a post.

I didn’ t get the job at KDUP, it went to a junior, who apparently was the guy who had e-mailed when I interviewed. I wonder if I was too ambitious for their liking. So far, the only thing that appears to have been done is to take down all the dead parts of the website, and replace last year’s info with a “info coming soon” page. A link to a word document containing the show listings was posted, though.

Really, I’m not as upset about this as I may seem to be. I went into this knowing that I was underqualified (at least on paper) and I’m not too surprised that I didn’t get the position.

As you may have noticed, the blog has a new style. Long time readers may notice that the style is similar to the one I had when I was still using Blogger. We’ll see if I stick with this one or not–I do like having a calendar over there to the right, though.

And as to the title of this post. This weekend, I’m going on a retreat with Campus Ministry, called “Encounter with Christ,” or Encounter for short. Several people I know have gone on this retreat in the past, all come back raving about it, so I think it will be a good weekend. There’s a bit of secrecy about this retreat, which former participants hint about, so I guess I’ll find out about it there.

There’s several other people I know going as retreatants, and a few more as part of the “Encounter Team,” the ones putting on the retreat. Not 100% certain this is a good thing, but but I’ll see how this plays out.

The one peice of advice I’ve gotten in relation to the retreat, from Cean, was to go into the retreat with no expectations, and just let whatever happens happen. I’ve heard so many things about the retreat that I’m not sure I can do this, but I sure don’t know what to expect.

If this were a few months ago, I’d promise to post about it when I got back, but lately I haven’t been posting too much, and I really don’t feel too bad about that. I’ve been keeping busy, between schoolwork, procrastination, and just generally hanging out, and I don’t necessarily have the time/energy/motivation to write to this blog.

I could write about more stuff, but I need to work on homework and study for two tests on Monday, so that I’m not super behind when I get back–I’ll be gone from 4pm Friday to 6pm Sunday.


New Blogging Format

I’ve been spending a bit of time the last few days working on converting my blog over to WordPress, which I’ ve seen several other people using recently. For the first time, I have a server where I can install my own PHP files, finally making this possible. I also learned enough about Apache rewrites so that all the old links to my Blogger blog still work, and will show you the same page that you would have seen. The template should continue to change over the next few days, because most of the ones out there wind up with the sidebar way under the rest of the blog. The one I have now’s okay, but it’s not my favorite, and the sidebar looks strange..

Testing things out

I got all my old Blogger posts imported over here to WordPress, and now I’m looking for a theme that I like. I found several that look nice, but so far, all but the one I am currently using have had problems with formatting, placing the sidebar below the body of the page. The strange thing is that the default template didn’t do this for a while, but then it just started to do it. Oh well, I didn’t expect this to be painless.

Categories Working

This post relates to the categories I was trying to set up on my Blogger blog, which I have since abandoned.

I have now made the categories work. It took a bit of fooling around, and anyone who came by in the middle would have seen quite a mess. At one point, blogger posted a message to my blog informing me that it thought that my post-by-mail post was spam. It didn’t reply to my e-mail, it just posted it straight to my blog. I also posted some of the things more than once, as anyone reading my blog by RSS probably knows. Now, it works satisfactorily, the only thing that is a bit odd will be the double “posted by” line at the bottom, but there’s not much that can be done about that.

Anyway, now that categories are up, the Photos link over to the side will have the photos I post, and nothing else. Everything will still be posted on the main blog, though. I could do a few more categories now that I have it figured out, but all I was trying to do was to be able to automatically have a list of all the pictures I post to the blog.

I also have been posting the pictures to the galleries section of my website, if appropriate. I set up a new “Around Campus” page for those pictures, too.

[Edit 4/19: For some reason, a few of the ones I forwarded through my computer seems to have gotten stuck in Outlook, and every now and then, it decides to forward them to my blog again. I’m in the process of stopping this, and will remove them as they happen, but if you see strangely formatted posts with e-mail addresses in them, that’s what happened.]

5000 Hits, milestones

I had my 5000th hit on my website at 4:27 (Pacific) today! (I first created my site sometime in late January or early February 2004, but had less than 300 hits, including my own, when I moved to Statcounter in May 2004.) Not bad, considering the ammount of content on my site! And I just discovered I have another e-milestone coming up! < This is my 99th blog post, which means (obviously), that whatever I post next will be my 100th! Edit: Upon recounting, I realized that I counted one post twice, and messed up the mental math by one, and this is only my 97th post. I guess I have a bit more time to think up something fitting.

Needing a title

I realized today that “My Blog”, while descriptive, is rather bland. I don’t re ally have that many ideas, so if you have a better one, let me know.

So far, in about two minutes of thinking, all I’ve come up with is The Adventures of…[SOMETHING WITTY]. Any suggestions? I’ll post back in a few hours, if I think of any more.

Feeling Like a Genius/Idiot

I fixed my website today! For well over a month, I’ve been having problems with my navbar script. It is supposed to highlight the page that you are viewing, and change the text color from white to black. It is also supposed to indent the items, to represent the levels of my site. It used to work fine in IE, but the indenting never worked in FireFox. I modified the script to work properly in FireFox, but in the process, broke the part of the script that made the text color for a top level item turn black. I was looking at my CSS file (which controls most of the formatting across the site) and noticed a stray period. Deleting it solved the problem. So I finally solved a really difficult problem, but it shouldn’t have been nearly as difficult to solve.

(For those who are into web-development, let me recommend the Web Developer extension for FireFox. It allowed me to finally know what class was being applied to the troubled DIV, and then I knew where to look in my CSS file for mistakes. Very useful, it took only two minutes to solve the problem, and I have previously spent a few hours trying to figure it out.)


I’m tempted to go on about my Christmas, but I stayed up until 3 last night reading a book, and still had to get up normal time, and I’ve been reading it at night since Christmas Eve. I’m tired now, and actually intended to go to bed quite a while ago. So you’ll have to make do with the little I’ve posted in the comments to my last post, until I get around to posting again. Not that anyone wants to know so bad that they can’t wait, but I can pretend that I have eager readers, right?…..

Drink is evil

I can’t really explain what brings me to state that, but I’ll just say that it wasn’t anything I did. Situations get really complicated with alcohol mixed in, as some people are finding out tonight.

I feel like posting now, but don’t have that much to say. (That turned out to be an understatement. This whole post is me ranting about a member of the forum who was incredibly annoying. It probably won’t be interesting to anyone, except me.) Here I go!

In the Aloof Forum I’m a member of, there had been a member who just was rather annoying. In his first incarnation, Madeye always was complaining about the lousy features, or that Admin needed to fix something. Some of the things he brought up were actually valid concerns, but the way he brought them up was just horrible. He couldn’t take a joke, either. It just went downhill for a while, until he personally insulted two of the moderators. Apparently, they had been trying to decide whether to ban him, and that was the last straw. A few days later, Madeye Revisited registered at the forum, with his first post as “I’m Back! Ha, you thought you got rid of me” He went on about how he had realized what he did wrong, and would be better this time. He was around a few weeks, but on thin ice. Understandably, some of the mods (moderators, the people who oversee the forum) still didn’t like him, and edited a few of his posts. One ended with “I’m a crybaby”, which I think was added, but was not inconsistent with the tone of the rest of the post.

Now here’s where I come in. Up till today, I’d been ignoring the scuffle, or treating him like a regular member. But yesterday, a link to my site was in a prominent location on the forum, and he went to look at the page mentioned. He posted something like “Wow, I can’t believe your blog template, it looks so prefessional. Did you really design it?” I had just written him a long post about how things can be misinterpreted in text, and that he needed to understand that, both to be more conscious of what he wrote, and so he would not mis-interperet our posts. In response to his “awesome blog” comment, I said that, as an example of what I was meaning, I could have taken that to mean that I was stealing the template, but I wasn’t, because it came free with blogger, and I didn’t take anything out, so they must be okay with me using it this way. I also said that
“I’ll assume you were unaware of the way your comment came off, but be warned that I can, and eventually will, take things in the worst possible way.”

He posted this reply, which was a typical one.

I just cannot believe how people can underestimate my posts like this, this is some kind of joke right. You are trying to tease me right?
I was making a compliment, an honest compliment and there you do breaking it out to me that I am acusing you of stealing the template. This is ridiculous man!

He declared that he was leaving, which was the third time he’d done so, and was gone for a while. I wrote one more post, clarifying that the internet was not quite like real life, or more like a foreign country, and that he might say something offensive without meaning it. As long as one is properly apologetic, it’s no big deal. But when you don’t look/sound sorry, eventually, the foreigners think you mean to insult them.

Then he was back, complaining that the board was probably all ’18+s’, and that we demanded perfection in all things, and that we weren’t royalty, and that he always posts like this at another forum, and we just don’t understand him, but it’s not really his problem. He isn’t perfect, and we’re always guessing that he’s trying to insult us over the templates.

Still trying to resolve it peacefully, I posted back that regardless of what I had thought, I now knew that it wasn’t an accusation, and asked for a truce. He accepted. That was the end of last night’s posting.

When I got up Saturday, he’d visited the rest of my site, and decided that it was “a little messy but has amazing content”. He’d designed a layout for me to use. Now what was I supposed to do with that? I didn’t really like it, and despite his insistence that my site “wasn’t crap”, he’d called it messy. So I asked him why he thought it was messy. I ended up with a few decent suggestions, and some wasted time. He posted an image called “Nathanproof” to show me why he thought it was messy, and I guess he uses some strange skin on his machine, because everything was blue. Which made my red corners stand out too much.

Anyway, he went on to post in another thread, where a new user had posted a link to their site, and he’d, among other things, used a rolling eyes emoticon, and said that he had no clue what they were talking about. This evening, AloofKitten, the administrator’s wife, deleted the post, banned him from the forum permanently, while her husband simultaneously deleted his website.

I don’t know where along the line my opinion switched, but two days ago, I would have said that he was annoying, but that he shouldn’t be banned from the forum. But when he was banned, I was glad. Something about dealing with him personally changes your opinion. He just doesn’t understand anything, or ignores it. I have no idea how much advice he ignored over the course of his two lives here. I’m just glad he’s gone, and won’t be coming back.

And if that bored you, I’m sorry, but I feel better now.