Tuesday, April 24, 2007

I'm Buying a House

I've accepted the seller's counteroffer on a beautiful 2-story house in Watertown. It looks like this on the outside:

It has this family room:

But that picture doesn't even show the gorgeous wood paneling on the wall in there. You can see a hint of that in this picture of the stairs down to the basement, but even that doesn't do it justice:

Four bedrooms, finished rec room in the basement, and a four-car garage. I'm going to be swimming in garage space.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

My Kingdom for a Cable Modem!

Until I can find more permanent living arrangements, I'm staying with my parents while I work the new job. Which means I'm stuck using their dial-up internet connection (at least at home - the office does have a faster connection, obviously, but for the first three weeks, I'm spending all day in a training class, so I never have more than a few minutes to do anything).

This, of course, creates a great incentive for me to find somewhere to move to, and quickly. Fortunately, I have already gotten pre-approval for a home loan, and we have been looking at several quite nice houses in the Watertown area. Life should be improving soon.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Scary/Exciting: Wisconsin Bound

It's official: I have been offered and have accepted a job at AQS, in Hartland, Wisconsin, and I start Monday. Yep, I'm relocating back to the Land of Cheese.

Brenda and I had kind of started talking about "someday" relocating up there in order to be closer to my parents. They're both still in great health, but they are getting older, and eventually they may need someone a little closer at hand to help out occasionally, and my situation seemed to be more flexible to do that than either of my brothers. Plus, we've both wanted to get away from this building we own down here in Dayton so we can stop being landlords, and we really need a lot more space than we have here. This has ended up happening a lot quicker than we had thought, but they've offered me almost $20,000 more than I made last year, which would be tough to turn down even if we hadn't already been contemplating an eventual move up there.

So, since I have to start right away, I'm going up there this weekend and stay, temporarily, with my parents, until I can find something more permanent for Brenda and I to move in to. The eventual goal is to find something somewhere between Hartland and Madison - ideally, I'd like to be within 25-30 minutes of Hartland, but a little west so that I'd be close enough to zip into Madison on the weekends now and then. Hit the farmer's market, meet up with folks for the occasional pint, that sort of thing.

So, if anyone knows of (A) a decent but inexpensive home for sale, or rent, say somewhere around Watertown or the like, or (B) anyone in that general area looking to hire an accountant or payroll specialist (since Brenda still needs to find work up there), we'd love to hear about them...

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Michael Bay: Cinematic Genius

As I have said before, even in this very forum: Judged by his full-length films, Michael Bay appears to be a talentless hack. However, I believe he is a master of the short-short film - i.e., the television commercial. His "Aaron Burr"/"Got Milk?" commercial is darn good (if somewhat one-dimensional), but his Levi's "Elevator Fantasy" is, in my honest opinion, one of the Greatest Films Ever Made (assuming a broad enough definition of "film"). Yes, I am entirely serious about this. Now that it's available online (it wasn't when I made that earlier post), you can judge for yourself, if you never saw it or don't remember it:

There's also a high-res version viewable at Bay's official website.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Austrian-School Idol

Every year, American Idol has a couple of predictable "controversies", which people somehow manage to be surprised by, even though the same ones happen, as I said, every year. One of them is the mid-season or so ouster of one of the expected favorites (e.g., Jennifer Hudson), which we haven't quite reached yet in the current season. Another is the relatively untalented contestant who ends up lasting much longer than he/she deserves. This season, that is the infamous Sanjaya Malakar.

It occurs to me that this predictable pattern illustrates an argument, first proposed by Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises, that socialism cannot work even in principle. The argument is known as the "calculation problem", and what it says is that in a socialist system, capital goods have no prices (since all transfers of such are simply internal transfers within the government-owned system of producers), and that in the absence of the information conveyed by price signals, it is impossible to rationally calculate the most efficient use of those capital goods. To oversimplify a bit: Without prices, one cannot know what goods really are the most in demand.

This is the problem with American Idol: Voting for contestants is virtually costless (there is only the negligible cost of time spent dialing the phone). It therefore conveys no real information about the preferences of consumers. If you really wanted to know which singer people preferred, what you should do is sell singles/mp3s of each contestant's performance every week, and kick off whoever sells the fewest copies of their song. Free votes are not (necessarily) going to translate into actual sales, once money enters the equation. Without a price, those votes tell us nothing about the actual demand for recordings of one singer versus another.

Extrapolating the implications of this line of reasoning as it applies to votes in a political democracy is left as an exercise for the reader. :-)