05-30-06The poker cash games have been ridiculously swingy for me recently. Last week I made $2000 in two days, then lost $1000 over the next two days. Yeah, that's just variance, it happens, but those are some of the biggest ups and downs I've ever had, weird to have them right in a row. The downswing at the end was pretty brutal and put me on tilt so I blew off more than I needed to; I probably had like $500 in bad beats then blew off another $500 playing bad. Since then I've been taking a break to try to get my head back on straight.
05-27-06"La Ley de Herodes" is a delightful semi-absurdist satire of Mexican politics in around 1950. The visual style is striking, the characters iconic, it has the flavor of a fable, I was pleasantly surprised. All the reviews I find on the web are moronic, they say the characters are unrealistic, the story is too simple, the painting too broad; that's the point, you goofs, a fable is about archetypes.
05-27-06My tomatos are coming along well. We harvested the lettuce and stir fry greens; it'll soon be too hot and dry to grow any more leafy greens here. The carrots and beets are almost ready. I got started late this year, so everything is behind where it should be. For example, I've gone some Snap Peas that are just now flowering; I really should have harvested them already as they like the cool weather here; hopefully they'll come to maturity quickly before the summer arrives. It's been quite cold and windy here recently, very annoying for someone wanting to bicycle. I planted marigold, onion, and garlic around the garden this year, which are supposed to be natural pest repellants, so we'll see if that works. I also put copper tape around the border which supposedly keeps snails out, and that seems to be working. The other day a slug came into the house and wandered all around on the carpet, which left this nasty shiny trail of mucus all over the carpet in strange patterns as he seemed to wander aimlessly.
05-27-06My veterinarian is a whore. I took my cat in because he's been limping for a few days and I wanted to make sure he didn't have an infection or a broken bone or something. They immediately start giving him all kinds of treatments without asking me and there's this guilt pressure that if you don't do this and that you're a bad pet owner, how dare you not shell out for all sorts of unnecessary crap. Money-grubbing bastards. Most vets also try to encourage you to make your cats inside-only cats which is a crime akin to having a pet bird in a cage. Turns out there was nothing detectable wrong with my cat, probably just a sprain, but the visit cost me two hundo.
05-27-06From the MSDN documentation on layered windows :
Most end users expect smooth transition effects. It's not natural for information to just pop right in your face. Television does a great job of using fades and slides to give a context of where the new information is going to appear. Computers haven't yet been able to incorporate these effects into the UI very effectively. Just think what a difference there is between the existing UI and the cool UI you constantly see in the movies. Layered windows give the product designers a lot of power to bring "cool" UI closer to reality.
Dear god, no wonder their GUI's are so unusable, they idolize the interfaces in movies like Jurrasic Park where you put on a VR head set and fly around the "file system". It's the Lorne Lanning / George Lucas school of visual effects - what we need are more fancy transition effects!
Anyhoo, I'm drawing overlays using WS_EX_LAYERED windows, and it seems to be a huge performance dog. I've tested the code and made sure I only call UpdateLayeredWindow() once in a while for changes, it's simply having the layered window around at all which seems to be bad. I'm using WS_EX_TRANSPARENT which means that it's not hit-testing mouse clicks against the alpha channel, so that's not it, so far as I can tell it's just the compositor itself that's slow. I guess the Windows GUI doesn't use hardware acceleration so it's doing CPU alpha blending. Also pretty much all my alpha is boolean, transparent or opaque, but they don't have a fast special case for that, so they're probably doing the full multiply per pixel.
05-24-06Hmm.. seems like you should Convert your IRA to a Roth IRA . I wasn't able to do this in the past because my income was > 100k, but now it's not (and Bush has killed that rule, anyway). Also my income is low right now so my taxes will be low. The only way it would be a losing situation is if the crazy Republicans stay in power, they might just cancel the tax on IRA withdrawals altogether. Hell there might be not taxes on any kind of investments in the future.
05-23-06The dollar is headed into the shitter as I predicted a while ago, but I just realized something funny about it. I anticipated the dollar's dive by moving a bunch of my investments overseas. Investments in foreign stocks, if they keep going up at say a 5% rate in their own currency will go up much faster in dollars a the dollar falls. The funny thing is that a falling dollar actually helps American industry and hurts most foreign industry. Most successful foreign businesses export to America, so a falling dollar makes their goods more expensive here which hurts their sales. On the other hand American exporters become more competetive overseas so the American companies actually do better. This trend works exactly against the exchange rate.
05-22-06I haven't ever really seen it discussed, but financial traders must drive up the price of goods. There's some product, and the market buys it eventually. If that was just sold from the producer to the consumer in a competetive market, the price would be minimized. Instead, the producer is a public company. It has a stock that pays dividends and makes profit for shareholders. It's goods are perhaps traded in a futures/commodities market, or through a trader like Enron. All of these traders are making big profits. Where is that money coming from? In the end it must be coming from the consumer, by driving up prices. The idea that financial markets and trading is good for the consumer must be nonsense.
05-21-06Hugo Chavez of Venezuela can sound sort of crazy sometimes with his talk of American plots to overthrow him, and yet right next door in Colombia the U.S. supports the right wing political parties and the drug-trafficking paramilitaries; those paramilitaries for years have assassinated and terrorized journalists, leftist politicians, the marxist uprising, etc. - forces that the U.S. opposes because they don't cooperate with the international power structure. I heard a funny thing somewhere recently, that the last 5 years have been a time of great reform and freedom in Latin America because the US is distracted elsewhere and not interfering as much as we normally do.
05-11-06Housing is a great investment because of 1) the tax deductions and 2) the leverage. Hardly anyone who invests in real estate understands this. Other than those factors, jumping in a rising market is just like trying to jump into oil or gold or anything like that, but housing is much worse for riding a bubble because it's much harder to get in & out, and the transaction costs are huge. On the other hand I've written before about how awesome the power of leveraging is in a rising market. The great thing about housing is that you can make a risky leveraged investment and the government subsidizes the risk.
05-10-06We went camping at Figueroa Mountain last weekend. It's a part of Los Padres just north of Los Olivos. It's really beautiful up there in the spring, all green with wild flowers scattered on the paths and meadows. We camped at Davy Brown which was really nice, with a stream running right by camp, just deep enough to have some little swimming holes.
05-07-06Audium in San Francisco looks pretty cool. Anyone been there?
Wild Fennel grows like crazy around here. It's this really airy ferny stuff. It grows along the highways, and when the county crews mow over it, it explodes with this liqourice smell. It's totally edible, but it doesn't have the nice root bulb like cultivated fennel. The leaves are edible raw in salads, the stalks need to be cooked well.
05-05-06 [poker]Certain straight draws are better than others. Obviously drawing to the low end of a straight sucks. Also, drawing to a gutshot when it will put a 3-straight on the board sucks, such as if you hold 56 and there's an 89 on the board, if a 7 hit the 789 on the board will be very scary, you'd much rather have 57 so that a 6 makes your draw and a 689 is not so scary.
The other factor I'm aware of is when your draw can make second best hands that will pay you off. Any time you're drawing to a straight where an A makes the straight, that's pretty cool. For example if you have KQ and there's a JT on the board, the A makes you and a hand like AJ will pay you off bigtime. Another is if there's a 234 on the board you have a 6. If a 5 hits, anyone with an ace has a wheel, but you have the higher straight. Another good one is if a card will make a straight on the board but give you the nuts, like if you have 89 and the board is 3456, if a 7 hits there will be a straight on the board and people will go crazy, and you can win a big pot.
05-04-06I wonder if there is somewhere decent where I could buy a place and have a farm, and be able to at least survive or lose money slowly. It would have to be cheap. It's pretty awesome with solar power and such these days, you can almost stick a house anywhere there's water, get satellite internet and have all the comforts of modern man.
Last week we went and hung out with the family that runs the Rinconada Dairy out near Pozo. (read the article there). They're still pretty small scale, but losing money with about 80 sheep now; soon they'll have a bit more sheep and will make a small profit. They have a Mexican family that lives in a trailer on their property that does most of the hard labor, but they work a pretty full day themselves. I'm sure it's cost millions to get the property and the operation set up, and they'll never make enough to pay that back, though that's not the idea, it's just a nice way to retire basically. They plan on hosting farm stay guests and weddings and things like that, which will actually bring in more money than the cheese making. It's just crazy how unprofitable agriculture is.
05-04-06A lot of Mortgage Douches play poker these days and donate their earnings to the pros like me. It's nice that their redistributing their ill-gotten gains a bit. Not that I have anything against Mortgage Douches, but they basically do zero work and take a huge profit which is primarily subsidized by the government (taxpayers) via the Fannie Mae system which assumes all the financial risk of their loans.
There are a lot of day traders, too, who play while sitting at their computer watching their stocks. I feel good about taking their money too, since they're leeches just like poker players - contributing nothing to society, just playing a game for money better than other people do.
05-04-06Well, Party just released a new version of the client which has anti-bot measures. Once an hour they pop one of those human-verifier things with numbers and letters in a bitmap all messed up with hash marks and stuff, and you have to type in the code you see.
05-03-06The environmental/recycling movement has really not made much progress. The problem is the fat bastard American public doesn't want to make any real sacrifices. The daily recycling we do is okay, but we could make a far far bigger impact by not producing so much waste and throw-away products in the first place. Stop using paper towels, use regular towels. Don't use kleenex, use handkercheifs. Bottled water of any kind should be banned, aside from the plastic waste, the privatization of water is horrible (and the amount spent on bottled water could've easily just improved our drinking water for everyone). Make junk mail illegal. Read newspapers and magazines online. Stop corporations from printing out so much paper that just goes in the garbage. Get rid of disposable plates, diapers, etc. etc. basically all one time use disposable products.
As usual, a lot of the problem is that our system is not capitalist, the government actually subsidizes wasteful products by providing cheap waste sites and not charging waste companies or natural resource harvesters a fair fee. Disposable products should have a tax applied which charges for their disposal. The disposal charge would include a large surcharge for the long term destruction of land via land fills.
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