Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Sounds Like a Bad Idea

I recently found a new podcast, called Entrepreneur on Fire, by John Lee Dumas.  Mr. Dumas publishes a new 30 minute episode each day in which he interviews an entrepreneur about how they got to where they are.  This is very interesting, because as a result of having to find a new person to interview each day, he has had to find a lot of different people.  One of his recent interviews was with a guy named Keith Weinhold, who has his own podcast and website, "Get Rich Education".  He's a real estate investor.

So, I started listening to Weinhold's podcasts to see what he says.  He gets more into the nuts and bolts of how to get into real estate than most others of his ilk do, so that's good.  Usually these people are short on detail and long on hyperbole.  The thing that gets me though is that this guy is basically the anti-Dave Ramsey.  Everything he says is opposite what Dave says to do.  Yet they are both successful real estate investors.  Dave says get out of debt, save an emergency fund, and then save up to buy investment property with cash.  Keith says to not worry about debt, take out equity loans on your house, buy properties with it, and thus increase your cash flow.


Weinhold also advises that you should invest in rental properties in Memphis, Tennessee, through a management company he recommends.  Really?  I happen to have been in Memphis once in my whole life.  This was back in high school on a band trip to Nashville.  We got to see Graceland, and later the Grand Old Opry and everything.  But I'm not so sure buying rental houses in Memphis from a bunch of strangers is a terribly wise idea.

There just seems to be so much possible fraudulent stuff going on in real estate that it's hard to see who's telling you the truth and who's trying to rip you off.

The First Law

Quick update after my last post.  I'm still working for the same place, but in a new position and different program.  This allows me to continue to support the old program, with some opportunities for a bit of overtime here and there.  The new program is very interesting for me, personally, because it gets me closer to the whole reason that I became an aerospace engineer in the first place.  I don't feel comfortable explaining in more detail.  However, recall that I have been fascinated by the space program since I was a small boy in the late 70s, when I got to see the results of the Voyager missions and the start of the Shuttle program.  Think about what I might find interesting to work on today.

Yet, I still have to think about my family's financial position, which, to be honest, sucks, at least as I see it.  Yes, we are comfortable, but I see no way of climbing out of debt if I don't change things.  Medical expenses are one thing that keeps hitting us, and this year, the house needs painting, and please Lord, don't let either of our vehicles break down in any major ways.

There is also my long term career prospects.  Do I really want to remain with my employer, just because they happen to have the work I want to do, even though I have grown to greatly dislike many aspects of working for them and resent their management?

I have been looking online for other positions, though I have not contacted a recruiter yet.  I am not interested in moving away from Denver, because we have a good community where we are in regards to church, homeschooling, and scouting.  We could use a bigger house, and there's no way that will happen unless we relocate with a nice relocation package.  But our current house has room for all of us.

About venture capital consulting: I have no idea how to go about starting that.  Who would I talk to?  What would I say?  What would I claim to be able to do?  I have trouble defining just what my capabilities are, and probably sell myself short when I shouldn't.

I have the same sort of questions for non-aerospace jobs: Yes, I can figure out new stuff, but will a company hire a mid-40s engineer with no experience in their area and pay him more than a 20-something with no experience?  One would think that anyone would want to hire someone with a 145 IQ, but I've heard that it's illegal to hire based on IQ.  Is that true?  Seems stupid to me.

The thing is, I know there are no greener pastures.  There's just as much BS to step in in those other pastures as there is in my current one.  I'm left with the belief that the only way to earn more money is to do something extra on the side.  Yes, I should be able to find another job paying as much or more, but I don't think it will improve my situation all that much.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Astro Whines

OK, I just have to get something off my chest here, and I don't really have another outlet.  I have discussed my job performance here before, and how frustrated I have been with my lack of "success" as defined by getting good performance evaluations at work.  Well, for 2014, I received the lowest possible score on my performance.  At first I was just dumbstruck, because I thought I had done some pretty good work last year, but I was told that I had made "too many errors" over the course of the year, and when compared to others at my same level, I came out on the bottom.  Yes, there were two areas before mid-year where I made errors that required me to correct them.  If they are going for perfection, then no, I did not achieve perfection.  However, should one not be judged on how they respond to errors when they are found, and how they fixed them?  And then, what about the hundreds of other tasks that I worked last year without errors?  Or, when I had to fix the errors made by others?  When that happens, I didn't cast blame on them, I worked on helping them fix the errors and be able to move on.  The bottom line is that I met my deadlines and got the final products right.  Not only that, but several times over the course of the year, my boss asked me to step in and help other people get their tasks done.

I'm really trying to get something positive out of this review, something that I can use to improve my performance for this year.  But I'm really having trouble understanding what that might be.  Don't make errors, I suppose.  That's a given, isn't it?  I certainly don't intend to make errors.  Another idea is to perhaps try to hide and obfuscate any errors that I might make this year as long as possible until after I have already fixed them.  That way, I'm seen as being error-free.  That seems dishonest to me, though.  Also, if I was such a poor performer, then why would I be asked to help other people out?  I may not have been a stellar performer last year, but I was not at the bottom.

Does anyone have any other suggestions for me?  Any words of wisdom?

I actually did get high performance ratings back in the 1998-2000 timeframe.  But from 2001 on, I got nothing but average ratings.  Each year, I have tried to improve my performance, but to no avail.  This has become beyond frustrating to me.  What the hell does "performance" actually mean???  As an engineer, it's really hard to quantify.  If I were a salesman, I'd have some sales metric to go by.  (Not that I want to be in sales; I tried that and was terrible at it.)

This is my 20th year of my career.  I honestly can't say that I have much to show for it.  Yes, I have my family, and we are comfortable, but I have a lot of debt, no savings, five kids that may or may not be going to college, and retirement is a far off pipedream.  Maybe none of that will matter when the overall economy finally collapses and we're all just trying to stay warm and fed...

Raising Boys to Not Be Gamma

As a long time member of the Dread Ilk, I read Vox Day's posts on both Vox Popoli and Alpha Game pretty much every day.  If you are familiar with Alpha Game at all, you'll know about the whole socio-sexual hierarchy that Vox has described.  I think it's a pretty good explanatory model for male social structure and interactions with other men and women.  It doesn't cover everything, but it's a useful tool.

In the past few weeks, there have been some interesting posts about "Graduating Gamma" that really struck close to home for me.  I will readily admit that I was a Gamma as a boy, and that somewhere in high school I believe that I was able to move mostly up into the ranks of the Deltas.  However, I still have Gamma instincts when it comes to a lot of things.  My older son also has these same Gamma instincts, and it's very difficult to try to guide him towards a more positive direction.  My younger son seems to be Gamma/Delta as well, but it's hard to tell yet.  I know that "Alpha" is not necessarily something that I or my sons can become, because the model explains where someone naturally falls.  However, I would like to develop better, more Alpha traits in myself and help guide them likewise.  But, how exactly to do that?

I have both of my sons in Scouting, with my older son in a Boy Scout troop and my younger son in a Cub Scout Pack.  I have served as Cubmaster for this Pack for the last few years.  I know that many people have a problem with BSA because of the whole membership policy controversy, and I am concerned about it too.  However, our Pack and Troop are run by strong Christian men, so I don't think we really have to worry too much about that.  All I know is that I got a lot out of Scouting when I was a boy, and I want my sons to learn the same things.  The other dads bring a lot of different experience and hobbies and whatnot to the table, and the scouts benefit from being exposed to that.  Especially mine, since we homeschool.  I can't be all things to them.

But what else would help along these lines?

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Astro's Progress on Sleep

OK, so you may recall that I have had problems with sleep apnea for the past several years.  Sleep apnea is a condition where your air passage closes off in your sleep, choking off the flow of air into and out of your lungs.  Your body will then wake you up just enough to open up the airway again, and then you fall back to sleep.  The constant interruptions to your sleep do not allow you to get into the full sleep cycle.  You wake up in the morning and feel like you didn't get any sleep at all.  This condition causes me to be tired pretty much all the time.

So, I got a sleep study done, and sure enough, I have sleep apnea.  After that, I was given a CPAP machine to sleep with.  But for the first several months, it would not work because I could not keep the thing on my head.  I finally gave up and tried other things.  About a year ago, I got a dental appliance that I wear that pulls my lower jaw forward.  That works pretty well, but I'm still tired all the time.  Since the first of the year, I decided to try using my CPAP again, along with the dental appliance.  That is working now, because I am now keeping the thing on my head all night long.

Yet, I am still very tired when I wake up, and most mornings, I feel like I didn't sleep at all.  This just really, really sucks.  It's hard to feel good about stuff when you can't even get a good night's sleep.

Another experiment I have tried in conjunction with the CPAP and the dental appliance is to try different medical sleep aids.  I tried Ambien for a short while, but it made me feel very very strange.  I quit those after about a week.  I have tried Benadryl or "night-time" Tylenol, and it works pretty well on night one, but not so well after that.  The best thing, oddly enough, has been to try drinking some sort of alcohol before bed.  I don't want to turn myself into an alcoholic though.

What sort of alcoholic drink works the best for you to help you go to sleep?  I've tried beer, whiskey, rum, and pre-mixed margaritas.  I'm going to try red wine next.

The other thing to try is to lose weight.  Supposedly, if you can get rid of some fat in your airway, you won't have the problem with apnea.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Don't Trust the Media

How This Left-Wing Activist Manipulates The Media To Spread His Message
You know, you can't trust anything you read online nowadays, and that's been true for years.  This article tells how one liberal SOB used the media to get his message out there, completely fabricating it out of whole cloth.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Anyone Still Here?

I know it's been a while since I posted, almost three months, in fact.  It's not that I haven't had anything to say, it's that I have been too busy to post anything.  If you're still checking in here, please let me know in the comments.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

How To Not Get Shot By Police

If only someone had shown Michael Brown this video, and he had taken these lessons to heart.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Venus Disproves Alarmist Claims

Wikipedia: Atmosphere of Venus

OK, so they want to tell us that Venus is an example of a runaway greenhouse effect, because its atmosphere is 96.5% CO2.  The surface temperature is 462 degC.  That's pretty dang hot.  It's so hot on Venus, that some of the Magellan spacecraft data seem to indicate that there are lead snows on its highest mountain tops.

But of course, the atmospheric pressure at the surface is 92 atm, or 92 times higher than on Earth!  How hot is it in the Venusian atmosphere where the pressure is 1 atm?  The Wikipedia page linked above has a little table indicating that this is somewhere between 50 and 55 km altitude.  How hot is it there?  It's only 75 degC to 27 degC.  That's 167 degF to 81 degF.  Not so hot up there, is it?

I read a more detailed analysis once (can't find the link) that said that the average temperature at 1 atm on Venus is only about 17% higher than it is on Earth.  That difference is completely accounted for by Venus being closer to the Sun.

If CO2 is such a dangerous greenhouse gas that it, by itself, at 400 ppm or even 4000 ppm, would increase the average temperature on Earth, then why does it not do that on Venus, when it is 965000 ppm of the atmosphere?

Call me when the rise in CO2 is shown to increase the overall atmospheric pressure.

Bill Nye Reveals That He is a Condescending Ass

Wow...just wow.

Dismissing your opponents as whiny babies, and even expressing disdain for "those nuclear folks" is not going to win you points, Mr. Nye.  Plus, what do you propose to do about the 7+ billion people on the planet?  Do you want them to die?  You just want to continue to play in your little smarter-than-thou in-group with Dr. Tyson and throw stones at the coal, oil, and gas industries.  You're not interested in "science", you're interested in the celebrity that you've developed about yourself.

Climate change alarmist claims rest on whether or not increased CO2 levels in the atmosphere will lead to extra warming or cooling or whatever.  Usually, it is claimed that it will lead to warmer temperatures, melting ice caps, mass hysteria, dogs and cats living together, etc.  Therefore, we must stop emitting CO2 or we're all going to die.

CO2 is rising.  That is a measurable fact.  What isn't completely measurable is whether or not the increase is completely from man-made causes, but even so, it seems that we are going to see CO2 levels continue to rise past 400 ppm.

Will this cause extra warming?  Well, it could, but CO2 is not the only "greenhouse gas" in the atmosphere.  Water vapor plays a much larger role in warming Earth's atmosphere, and I'm sure everyone would agree that there is no way that on a planet 73% covered by water, man would be able to influence H2O levels in the atmosphere.  All of the claims of extra warming caused by increased CO2 levels come from climate models.  It seems that in reality, global temperatures have fallen a bit in the past 18 years or so, and none of the models predicted that.

My skepticism when it comes to climate models being used to predict things comes from my general experience in computer modeling.  For 25 years I have been either an engineering student or a professional engineer, and I know for a fact that computer models will only reflect what the designers intend to reflect.  Of course, there is the old saying: Garbage In, Garbage Out, or GIGO.  If someone were to say that their model was able to be initialized with, say, 1990 conditions, fed actual measurements from the last 25 years, and then accurately predict what next years' temperatures would be, then I would pay attention to them.  As far as I know, no such animal exists.

Mr. Nye doesn't want to discuss such things, he just wants to call me an idiot.  Well, screw you, Science Guy, and screw Dr. Tyson as well.

Friday, November 14, 2014


I don't care if you landed a spacecraft on a comet, your shirt is sexist and ostracizing

I'm sorry, but if some idiot's shirt is going to discourage you from pursuing a career in STEM, then maybe you shouldn't pursue a career in STEM.  It's not like you got an F in statics and dynamics or something, it's that you have to share your career with nerds.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Ebola: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

We've all heard about how our government let Ebola patients into the country in the last several weeks, including poor Mr. Duncan from Liberia.  Fortunately, despite the apparent complete incompetence of those entrusted with following protocols to handle disease outbreaks like this, the Ebola cases are still limited and we may not have a huge problem on our hands here in the U.S.  There are reasons why it's a huge problem in west Africa and would not be the same huge problem here, and those are mostly cultural and have to do with hygiene more than anything.

What's so frustrating about this is how it immediately turned into a political issue.  Really?  Why in the hell does something like this have to be political?  There are very simple procedures to follow to prevent the spread of virulent diseases like this, and they have nothing to do with politics or race or anything like that.  They should have everything to do with medical science.

Suspend flights from countries with outbreaks, and lock down their borders.  This doesn't mean that you can't send anyone there to help, in fact we can and should do so.  But then those people that go there to help should be adequately quarantined before being allowed to come back.  Instead, they're allowed to fly planes, ride subway trains, and go bowling!  This is madness.

Racism?  RACISM?  Well, I'm certainly sorry that the folks in west Africa are having to deal with a serious disease outbreak.  But the fact that they are black, or that Liberia was founded by returned former slaves almost 200 years ago is irrelevant.

Fortunately, Ebola still seems to be difficult to transmit, and that is going to be the saving grace for this particular outbreak.  This will save the butts of our incompetent politicians this time, but it also shows how unprepared our systems are to handle anything that is more virulent.  Our best bet, as always, is to educate ourselves at the individual level and to take appropriate precautions, and not rely on those fools in Washington or Denver or wherever.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The world is crazy

That's my conclusion after watching the news in the last several days.  I just don't get people sometimes.  I'm just going to concentrate on being a good man, husband, and father, and let the world go screw itself.  It certainly doesn't need my help.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Day Camp

So I'm at Cub Scout day camp with my younger son yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  Had to evacuate in a hailstorm yesterday afternoon, but everyone was fine.  It's a beautiful day out today.

Was just thinking that before too many more years, my sons and daughters will be grown and gone off to build families of their own.  I sure hope Mrs. Astro and I are doing a good job raising them.  We sure are trying our darnedest.

Take time to love your family and enjoy being with them.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Murphy Strikes Again

Why can I not get out of debt? Stuff keeps on happening. The latest? My son busted his knee on Saturday evening while playing out front with his siblings. We tried to just elevate and ice it for a while, but the swelling got worse so we took him to the ER. X-ray showed no fractures or anything like that, but he has a very bad bruising and swelling in the knee joint. They mentioned possibly needing to see a pediatric orthopedist and maybe even getting an MRI.

Just... son of a bitch!

I can't win for losing. On the bright side, my son should be OK in a few days, and we are already near our family deductible thanks to other crap that I have had to pay for since January 1.