Sunday, February 26, 2006

Gambling Man

I have never been a gambler, and still am not, but I tried a new thing this week, the "sports bracket" picks. A friend asked me to throw in $2 and guess how this weekend's golf tournament would go, and I figured why not. It was time to step out there and give 'er a go! A little youthful indiscretion! Oh, wait, that probably would have needed to have happened in my youth.

Knowing nothing of golf and calling on a strategy my sister once used (yes, I get gambling advice from my little sister) I used a coin flip to determine my picks. I figured with 7 people in it my odds were good that a 2 would pick horribly, 2 well, 2 great, and I would fall somewhere in the middle. I was hoping I would fall on the high side of middle, but worst case at least my results wouldn't look like a guy who knew nothing.

The first couple rounds were ugly, very ugly, and it wasn't until the second to last day that I actually was looking competitive due to a couple upsets. It was at this point I was jokingly informed by one of the players that if a coin flipper won, he wanted his money back. Apparently some take the game of golf a little more seriously than myself ;-)

In the end, by some strange twist of fate, I actually won! For knowing nothing about golf, I figure that is pretty decent.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

NYC and V-Day

I have had a few New York posts as of late. There are more to come. I have two more flights already booked within the next 1.5 months. I'm starting to feel like New York is a second home, at least the Upper West Side. I'm sure my girlfriend would tell you that I don't know the difference between Broadway and Amsterdam Ave, which for all intents and purposes may be true, but I am getting very comfortable around parts of the city.

The iPod came in very handy on the flight out. A group of 4 teachers from California were on their way to NYC to meet up with some friends. Despite my efforts to try studying and blocking out their loud exclamations, I learned how many guys the each made out with, which of those guys they all had in common, how hammered they were going to be all weekend, and that they thought a cab from Newark, NJ to New York, NY would only cost $20. It was about that time I decided it was time that I put on my headphones. If Arnold Schwarzenegger is wondering why CA schools rank 46th in the nation, I think I might be able to help shed some light on the subject.

I've never been big on Valentine's Day, I still say it is an excuse to stimulate the economy. Lucky for me, I'm dating someone who agrees. While we did go out for dinner, and briefly dropped in a jazz bar, we kept the hoopla to a minimum. We exchanged small but thoughtful gifts, kept it simple. I really couldn't have asked for a better way to celebrate it. I sure am a lucky guy.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

As Frugality Falls, I Begin To Think DifferentTM

I am what many may classify as "cheap." I prefer "frugal", or "thrifty", but I'll let you call it what you will. I'm one who rarely spends money on going out to eat, going out for drinks, or other miscellaneous expenses. Instant gratification is something I won't let myself slide into.

None the less, this weekend, after 3 years of lusting after it more than was probably healthy, I have purchased a 60GB iPod off eBay. It is used so I got it for $170 less than retail, I guess I'll know by the end of the week if that was a good deal or not. Apple is expected to release G6 iPods April 1, but between all the long plane flights and driving I've found myself doing as of late, this seemed like the right time.

I know it doesn't sound like a big deal, but for me dropping that kind of cash to listen to a few songs was far from easy. It is such a frivolous expense, a luxury item. I don't think of myself as much of a luxury item kind of person. It always seemed to me like the "extra" money spent on those items could go to better, smarter uses. Maybe I'm learning that quality of life needs to be balanced into all of this, or maybe I just got materialistic.

In general, I think I'm slowly becoming less frugal. Maybe that isn't the right way to phrase it, I'd say I'm becoming more practical. I'm still as frugal as ever, but am realizing some things are worth spending money on. Plane tickets to NYC would be a perfect example, as would my cell phone (I'm sure many of you remember when I was too cheap for a cell). All in all, I think I'm starting to become more balanced. Maybe this purchase isn't part of that balance, but it got me thinking more about how I handle my money.

The *Joy* of Taxes

It's that time of year again. I spent the better part of yesterday afternoon working on my taxes. It took more hours than I'd like to admit, but I think my federal taxes are finally done. I know you are asking yourself right now, "Isn't David dating a CPA? She could do it for him in under 30 min!" That may be true, and she did offer to do them for me, but I figure it is important know why the government is running away with my money rather than simply finding out how much they ran away with.

Tax season always seems to get me in a bad mood. It seems strange that every year I have to pay the government thousands of dollars and that I have to spend countless hours filling out paperwork to do so. Yes, I'd rather do that than get charged even more, but at face value it just seems ridiculous.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Is Nothing Sacred?

If you know the slightest bit about me, then you must also know that my favorite movies are those in the Back to the Future trilogy. Today my roommate informed me of the most unnerving thing: A home made BTTF trailer cut to make it look like a parallel story line to Brokeback Mountain.

I must admit, it is very clever, well edited, and very humorous. As a BTTF fan however I have a responsibility to bad mouth it as garbage. I'll let you decide for yourself:

Brokeback to the Future

Thursday, February 02, 2006

NYC in a Few Words

Last weekend I ventured off to New York city to visit my girlfriend. It is such an amazing city. Amazing in that anyone would enjoy living there for their whole life. Ok, that may be a little harsh, but I realized this past weekend it how hard it is to do the simplest things. Everyone knows that if you live in NYC you walk everywhere for everything, but knowing and doing are two different things. We walked to the grocery store, church, the park, to dinner, to meet friends, to everywhere! I know I sound like a spoiled suburbanite, and maybe I am, but it was a very eye opening trip to what life is like in the city.

We needed to buy some picture hangers, some blinds, and other standard errand stuff. As strange as it sounds, this was a major task! We drove to a Target in NJ, the busiest Target I have seen in my life, and fought our way through to get everyday life stuff. And that is the suburbs!

It was a very good lesson for me. I am not a big city guy. I still think it would be fun to do for a year or two, but that kind of living would do me in. Still, it has its advantages. For instance, my girlfriend can see this sunset every night:

And Central Park is a thing of beauty. Despite the fact that is was the last weekend of January, the park was still a gorgeous place:

It is hard to believe that so much grass and water can exist in the center of such a massive city. It is a marvel.

In short, it was a great trip, and you should for sure check the place out if you haven't. I just wouldn't recommend a long term plan that involves living out there unless you are used to massive cities.

In other news, school is going well so far. My first paper is due Wednesday so much of my weekend will be filled by working on it. I'm trying to squeeze some fun in there, but I'll be plenty busy.