Life, moneys

It’s May, so life’s photojournal and stats have been updated. Surprisingly few photos this time around (averaging about 1000 a month). Also the Costa Rica trip accounts for around 1/5 of the total photos, but even then, clocks in under 900 photos. I guess I’m getting better at editing down what photos to save? (Certainly doesn’t feel like I’m taking any fewer photos than usual.)

I’ve been reading quite a few articles lately on the interwebs about income, savings, and general money things in the US. Here’s a few interesting articles, presented without comment for now, mostly because I’m not really sure how to consolidate my thoughts and opinions on financial situations and things right now.

Chloe and Brent came over for dinner today, and Chloe asked me how life was, and I really couldn’t think of anything bad in my life right now. Sure, I might want to quit my job and just relax or travel forever (not because of work, but because not-work is always a more attractive opinion), but realistically, everything in life is going well, and I don’t have any complaints about any situation (home or work) right now. I think I’m just incredibly fortunate in many ways in life.

So yay for life and things, at least?

Costa Rica and wedding’d

We successfully made it to Costa Rica and back, and overall it was a good trip, even if it was entirely less than ideal.

Ever since we started planning this trip out (for Mars’ wedding), we’ve both just been entirely unenthused about going. It lined up terribly with work obligations for both of us, flight times were horrific, and Costa Rica has never been a place that came up on our radars as a place we wanted to go. Also mosquitos and bugs generally love me, and I was not looking forward to dealing with that. So we spent a lot of time trying to figure out how we could make the trip work, and generally being unhappy about even going.

The first two nights were worse than expected: Our flight left at 6 AM, so we went to a hotel by the airport the night before (Tuesday night) to spend the night. But because of the way their airport shuttle worked, we had to catch it at 3:30 AM, which meant we got less than 4 hours of sleep. Then we flew most of Friday, got there, checked in to our room, and were miserable the rest of the day… an attempt at dinner nearly resulted in vomiting in the restaurant (I guess from exhaustion and such), and we probably collapsed into bed around 8 and just slept.
(4 AM airport = sadness.)

The first real day at the resort (Thursday, by this point) was spent not really doing anything, and it was actually perfect that way. The place is situated in the “cloud forest”, which means it’s in the middle of plants and greenery and general naturey awesomeness. We walked the nature trails they had, watched (and photographed) hummingbirds, milked their cows, explored their church and greenhouse, and sat with books on benches overlooking the beautiful views around. It kind of forced us to disconnect from technology and just enjoy where we were, and that’s something I should do more often. Also the forced break from work, with the lack of laptops and cell phone service, was exactly what we needed.





The second day we booked a tour to actually get to see *some* of the country before we left. They took us to a coffee plantation in Naranjo, Sarchi to see them build and maintain the iconic oxcarts, and a farmer’s market in San Ramon. Most of the almost 6 hours was spent driving, and it’s interesting to see how long it takes to get anywhere, even if stuff isn’t really all that far. (For example, from the main road to the resort is 9km, but it takes 30-40 minutes to drive that because of the quality of the road.) But it was a really good tour (particularly the coffee tour), and makes me wish I’d stayed for the longer tour this week. That evening, Keith, Ian, and Al-Tim got in and we met up for dinner.




Saturday was the wedding. We met up with Keith, Ian, and Al-Tim for breakfast and did all the resort stuff again: milked the cows, walked the trails, watched the hummingbirds, and played some pool in the game room.


The wedding itself was in the afternoon, and was beautiful. (Also led by our friend Jason from undergrad, who is now a Catholic priest.) It was the first mass I’ve been to (I guess this was specifically a wedding mass), and it was nice. The reception had tasty food and good company, and the evening generally had fireworks everywhere (some smaller stuff when Mars and Dan exited the chapel and during their first dance, and a full fireworks display at the end of the evening). I guess that’s a Costa Rican thing? The first dance fireworks were probably the most unexpected, but the full display at the end was really long and pretty.




So yeah. In the end, I think I’m really glad I made it out for the wedding, although I still think I would have skipped the trip had it been anything less important. The country is beautiful, but the travel involved around it is hellish. So I’m really wishing I could have made the tour work, because that travel for a week and a half would have been much more worthwhile.

Photos of general things and the wedding are on my photos site, as usual.

Other random awesome things from the trip:
The sun is almost directly overhead a little before noon, resulting in the smallest shadows we’ve ever experienced.

There are beetles that look like they’re made of solid gold. The front desk guys showed us one and we thought they were trying to sell us some jewelry or something at first.

There are bugs everywhere. During the wedding, a cicada flew into the floating candle at our table, snuffed it out, and got trapped in the hardened wax. It was actually rather beautiful (and complimented the table decorations well), but kind of sad. (Keith commented that he kicked a beetle at one point, which is not a comment you’d normally expect to hear until you realize how big they can get here.)

The road to the resort was, as mentioned, almost a dirt road. Also there are remarkably few traffic lights in the cities (although they do seem to like speed bumps, and the drivers take those very seriously). Makes me glad we had chartered vans everywhere. Never try to drive in Costa Rica, I guess?

Adulting (and rambling)

No matter how long it’s been true, it still feels weird to me when I do something that requires me to be an adult.
(Getting a credit card? Uh… don’t I need a parent to co-sign? Booking plane tickets? Who gave me permission to fly? Buying a house? What are you even…)

But in the last few weeks, I’ve done some things that felt adult-y, but felt right, and so I guess yay stuff making some more sense now?

We bought matching furniture for our living room. After getting the coffee table we liked at Target (23.5% off), we decided it was reasonable enough quality and a good enough price, and a good enough match with the house, that I bought an endtable and console table from the same set, and also a lamp that matched. With the couch and armchair being the same set as each other, and an old lamp that is the same color as the rug, the living room actually matches, for the first time ever in a place I’ve lived in and had control over. And it feels pretty nice. This excites me far more than it should.
(Bonus: The furniture also matches the dining room chairs and table in color and style.)

(Of course, adult-ing only extends so far, so the couch features my Sonic and Shadow pillows, and a plush peep named Bub.)

The portraits I talked about last post were finished, and printed on canvas, and they came out pretty nice. After trying to figure out how we could nail in to hang them without perforating crucial things in that wall (like a “novelty ventilated wall pipe”), I decided to just go to Target and buy some of those Command hooks. Turned out to be a good idea, and they look pretty good. (Just need to pull out the old nails still in the wall above them.)

Also, on Easter, we hosted Easter brunch, as like a proper meal with things for 7 people. That’s the largest group I’ve ever cooked for and set place settings for and stuff, I think. (Previous record was 4?) It was also relatively unplanned: we wanted to have ham on Easter, and the smallest ones you could buy were like 7 pounds, so we figured we’d need people to help eat it. I think it also went off rather well?

Other totally random things that are on or have been on my mind recently, in no real order, in bullets that may be incoherent rambling:

  • The house we almost bought, that sold for ~$300k, is back on the market as of today. For $399k. $100,000 in less than a year is pretty good money. Also, based on the Zillow listing and photos, they did exactly nothing to the house in the time they lived there.
  • Looking back at the photos of it, I’m actually rather glad now we didn’t get it? I think it’s been idolized in my mind as this “ideal” house (the one that got away?) that we have fond memories of. But actually I think the house we did get is better in almost every way (forced air heating and cooling, nicer kitchen, nicer rooms, bigger yard, better location). Makes me feel really happy we found this one and got it.
  • I stumbled across this reddit thread and particularly this post recently, and it’s making me feel really weird about things. (Watching the “Born Rich” documentary doesn’t help either.) It’s still rather unfathomable to me that anyone has that kind of money, and that people in general are okay with them having that kind of money. I mean, it doesn’t make logical sense to me that any single person’s contributions to the world, no matter how significant they may be, are worth a billion dollars. (And that’s only for the “I earned my money” argument… never mind inherited money.)
  • Also private large planes are disgusting and should not be a thing anyone can or would ever want to buy. Even ignoring the insane cost to buy, outfit, and operate such a plane… how many other people would that money and those resources (particularly the jet fuel?) be used for instead? Small private planes are already terrible enough. :\
  • I keep being reminded of how incredibly fortunate I am in life, in so many different ways. Particularly (following above), money is one of the things that has never *ever* been a problem in my entire life, and there are so many people I know where that is definitely not the case. I was sent (full-ride by the parents) to a top university where I didn’t have to concentrate on anything but schoolwork. I work a job I love in a field I am good at with coworkers that are amazing and for a company that seems dedicated to its employees and their success, and on top of that I make enough to live comfortably. The fact that I can drop the money for 4 color canvas prints for the game room wall, on a whim, after basically no thought, just because I thought it would look nice is a testament to that. So while some people may have stupid amounts of money and eat dinner with the president, I live comfortably and happily and never feel like I truly want for anything, which I suppose already makes me one of the wealthiest men in the world.
  • Why is sick time not a standard thing in jobs, or failing that (and job allowing) work-from-home-when-sick policies? It seems like the productivity loss from an employee coming in and getting others sick would be far higher than just having them stay home and not work at all, or work from home instead. It occurred to me last week, as I signed in for 5 minutes in the morning to post a “Not working today; sick” update, that there are many people that can’t do the same thing, and that really confuses and frustrates me. (Heck, even the fact that I didn’t have to ask for the day off, because I knew I had implicit permission and would be told to go rest if I actually tried to work anyway, is a thing many people don’t have or get, and is such a simple thing that it seems so many companies forget.)
  • It’s so bizarre to me that society has put such differing dollar amounts on skilled work. Artists usually make shit, and drawing well is a skill many people will never have nor can ever learn. Teachers make shit compared to the amount of work they do, and teaching kids is both incredibly difficult and incredibly important. Writers make very little, and assembling words together in ways that flow and just seem right is a skill that is both rare, and also immediately recognizable when you read it as something amazing. Heck, if you’re a skilled call-center agent who knows how to diffuse customer tempers and provide real service (and even just deal with people in the first place)… that’s also a heck of a skill, and you probably literally make minimum wage. Meanwhile, I’m sitting here typing words (I guess if you consider thingsLikeThis() to be words) and symbols into a computer screen and somehow that is worth money. The person that maintains the computer that lets me continue typing words in doesn’t make that much, but that’s skill too, in an area I have very little knowledge or ability in. I don’t know.
  • KoL has been interesting, in the monetary aspect, lately. It seems they’ve completely embraced the idea of premium content and putting insane amounts of power into paid things, which from the standpoint of a F2P game, really really bothers me. At the same time, given their declining revenue numbers, I can’t exactly blame them? (If you had only one revenue stream, and your continued employment relied on you making things people *want* to or *have* to buy, of course you would do it.) So the side of me that understands businessy things is fighting with the side of me that abhors things that feel like they’re forcing money out of me. I do greatly miss the old KoL days, when the paid things felt less important and the free things felt much more equitable, but I guess I still enjoy KoL enough that I’m willing to press on for now. On the plus side, there’s a couple recent things where they’ve done a standout job: the Witchess set, which unlocks awesome puzzles (and also, tangentially for me, powerful game items), and the LT&T Telegraph Office, which unlocks a lot of fun writing and interesting boss battles. While I still wish more stuff was available for free (free puzzles… who wouldn’t love that?), developer time is (non-trivial amounts of) money, so it only makes sense. But blargh?

Things and words and stuff.

Gamey portraits

It’s Pi day. Happy Pi day!

It’d been a while since I had done any real photo project, and our new house is begging for things to put on the walls. People came over for games yesterday, so I took advantage of the situation and got some portraits shot for the game room in a crappy makeshift shooting studio in the basement. (This is the photo shoot I had been wanting to do ever since I shot Vincent in William’s stairwell in bright clothing.)




Moar people!


They look pretty good on the wall

I’ll probably get them printed in some nicer format eventually (nice prints in a frame, or maybe canvas prints), but it feels good to be doing photo-y things again. Now I want to shoot more portraits. :X

Moved

Chris, Rob, David, Lea, and Keith came by yesterday to help us move the rest of our stuff from the apartment to the house, and it went rather quickly and smoothly. The house is now filled with boxes and things. Hopefully this’ll be the last move we have to do for a very, very long time.



We’ve had several weekends (and, amusingly, only weekends) of unseasonably warm weather lately. It’s weird to be in a heavy coat all week, then see people out running in shorts and t-shirts on the weekends. At least that means it was reasonably nice yesterday for the move… not so cold that people froze, but not so warm that it was uncomfortable given all the physical activity.

Life has been pretty uneventful otherwise. Work goes well, house goes well, gaming and climbing continue as usual.

Yay life?