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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Zack's LiveJournal:

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Sunday, August 29th, 2010
7:49 pm
Tried to buy a fixer-upper house at auction today. Fascinating process. The auctioneer would pretend to see people bidding in the crowd to jack the price up. Sometimes conducting whole imaginary price wars where no actual people ever bid. I saw one real guy increase his 'winning' big by $60,000 bidding against another bidder behind him that didn't actually exist. About half of the homes had completely fake auctions (auctioneer even banged down his gavel at the end) but the homes remained unsold. You could tell because when a real person won a bid they'd send a young chick called an 'escort' (really!) out to capture them and do the financial stuff out of the room.

So, yeah, I bid and then was blown out of the water by $100,000 worth of bids from the auctioneer's imagination. Whilst one of the suited dudes came and berated me for giving up so quickly after having spent so long waiting for my house to come up (5 hours or so). He ran away when I told him that I hadn't realized that there would be so many faked bids without even trying to argue.

Apparently they put in a law that stopped the auctioneers from stuffing the crowds with fake bidders. Now the guys in suits just run up to/point at random people in the crowd and pretend that they're getting bids even when they're not. (Confirmed by talking to some of the people they were pretending to make bids for.)

So much for the free market, price discovery, etc.

And I could only see what was going on because someone took my chair whilst I was in the bathroom and I ended up standing at the side near the front. A real estate agent that was bidding standing next to me, that was bidding herself, commented how no-one was bidding and it was true... I hadn't even noticed, and I call myself a cynic...

I reckon that if the banks are wealthy enough to stage fake auctions they for sure don't need tax dollars. And that bidding on your own sales (either the seller or the auction house representing the seller) should obviously be illegal. As should routinely posting an opening price far below the sellers reserve. Indeed I see very little reason to allow a sellers reserve different from the opening bid. Especially with houses where you actually have to expend a lot of time and money investigating the soundness of the house.
Wednesday, February 25th, 2009
11:45 pm
Friday, March 14th, 2008
2:53 pm
Sunday, February 10th, 2008
7:02 pm
A month later
My sleep apnea surgery went ahead a month ago after being delayed from the end of the year because of bronchitis.

One septoplasty, turbinectomy, tonsillectomy, uvelectomy and leg surgery later (ok, it wasn't all apnea related) I was dazedly hooked up to saline drips, antibiotics and had a handy-dandy morphine clicker thing. Honestly though, I don't get the whole morphine thing. No warmth, no fuzzies, no dragon chasing (aww) just a hint of disorientation. They kept telling me to use more of it...

Healing has been sloooooow. Seven to ten days my posterior. It doesn't help that I've picked up colds and fevers as though it were my destiny but still, it's thirty one days later and my nose and leg are still somewhat messed up, if not really painful.

On the bright side I was becoming a pudgy bastard and this has certainly melted a few surplus pounds off.

The grand strategy for next month is to recover to the point where I'm not exhausted all the time. Which would be made considerably easier if I stopped doing stupid things every time I started to feel better. Pity that doing stupid things is way more fun than my normal approach to life...
Wednesday, August 15th, 2007
3:06 pm
All Good Lips
I have big lips. I have big feet too, but I don't really notice those unless I'm tripping over things or trying to buy shoes that they don't have in my size.

Big lips, though, peel. And once they start peeling you're screwed. As the skin comes off it damages the skin underneath, setting that up to peel more. And those rough lips just beg to be idly nibbled on, which doesn't help at all... Big lips also seem to inspire girls to want to make them up. Why? I have no clue. Don't girls have their own lips to have fun putting make-up on?

Over the years several people have helpfully told me that I ought to use lip balm on them. However every lip balm that I've ever tried has just made the problem worse or, at best, not seemed to help at all.

So, in desperation, I broke down and got another random lip balm called "All Good Lips (TM)" the other day and, by golly, I think this one actually works. Lips mightily improved within 36 hours and in good shape within a week. Even more surprising is that it's full of things like organic plantain, yarrow and comfrey.

So if your lips feel like they've had a close encounter with the sahara crossed with a chees grater then feel free to check out...

www.elementalherbs.com

Apparently they also make "All Good Goop", but you're on your own with that one.
Friday, January 5th, 2007
10:36 pm
Spengers
It's been years since I last went to Spengers. In fact I think the last time was when I first met Janet, Brian and Jason, with a side of Windy. Wasn't that the night when we occupied a Nob Hill hotel?

Since then it's been sold on and has, apparently, moved up market. The sort of place that will ask you if you want still or sparkling water and then sell you 'still water' imported from Italy with a straight face. And they serve the ketchup in a bowl lest a tacky bottle deface the table.

On the other hand they sell the best fish and chips that I've had this side of anywhere. The sort that melts in your mouth amidst hints of the stormy ocean bracketed by lightly crunchy batter. I was going to righteously reprimand them for not providing vinegar, but the waitress supplied it at the ideal moment.

The key lime pie was adequate, although perhaps my expectations were too high. They did have many and varied concoctions involving ridiculous amounts of chocolate though.

All in all a thoroughly excellent meal and a new destination on my Bay Area eateries list. Now I just need someone to go with...

By the way, Windy, they offered six named varieties of oyster on the half shell... I can't imagine why that made me think of you.
Wednesday, November 29th, 2006
7:03 pm
Thursday, October 12th, 2006
4:39 pm
Chief of British army calls for Iraq withdrawal
Daily mail article

Now that's not something that you see every day. Oh to be a fly on the wall at 10 Downing Street today...
Friday, February 17th, 2006
1:20 am
It's amazing how much interpersonal relations are governed by expectations. How rifts can develop between people because of a failure to meet expectations even, or especially, when the 'expected person' is oblivious.

Of course I've managed to mortally insult a couple of people because I expected them to understand my sardonic humour and they took it as a personal insult. I've never been very good and backpedaling and trying to explain that, say, I wasn't trying to literally disparage them but instead to illuminate a prospective pathway that I considered sub-optimal by means of deprecation, sarcasm and large pink elephants.

And, believe me, very little jars one quite like being impacted by a rapidly rotating, fetchingly fuchsia, miniature mastodon.

Now what do these two concepts really have to do with one another?

Well I have slowly been coming to the conclusion that my ability to pre-judge films could essentially guarantee reversing my initial opinion of them. For example I expected Van Helsing to be the most toe-curlingly, retch inducing, awful waste of celluloid in recent memory and actually walked out of the theater thinking that it was reasonably entertaining despite it really having almost no redeeming qualities whatsoever.

Which brings me to the point, and I do have one somewhere, that I just watched the new Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
Here be dragons, or even reviews...Collapse )
Friday, December 9th, 2005
8:22 am
Procrastination is the only thing that I'm good at any more. Flitting from one distraction to the next, always avoiding the rolling catastrophe that's been chasing me at work for the last couple of months. More deadlines, another all nighter and precious little to show for it all.

Nevertheless I'm vaguely cheerfull at the moment which is a marked improvement on the last couple of eons.

So... The cheapskate Darkzack poll...

How should I entertain myself tonight? Given that I'll have to work sometime over the weekend so I can't get too ambitious, what crazy out of character thing should I do?
Tuesday, October 18th, 2005
3:53 pm
Tuesday, October 4th, 2005
6:22 am
Microsoft sucks.

I'm trying to search a directory for files containing a string in Windows XP Professional. I know which directory the files are in, and I know that the string is in at least one of the files because I just copied and pasted it from the file.

So I right click on the folder and select Search...

Search apparently doesn't know that I want to search the folder I clicked on and assumes I want to search in one of Microsoft's handy dandy locations like 'My Pictures'.

Copy and paste the folder location from explorer into Search...

Copy and paste the search term into the box marked "A word or phrase in the file:"

Click Search.

Wait.

Wait.

It returns "Search is complete. There are no results to display."

After experimentation I find that it works with some text strings and not others. I think whether or not it works may actually depend on where in the file the text string is located. Perhaps it gets confused by html tags somehow? Or Java Script? How in the hell can you not get text searching of a text file right? Of a purely alphabetic string with no spaces, not crossing line boundaries, not escaped, just plain text? Four letters of text. Four letters to you Microsoft, you piece of four letters. I guess that it's just not something that Professionals ever need to do? This is looking more and more like go back to bed time, which is a pity because I'm under deadline.
Thursday, September 8th, 2005
6:55 pm
1. Go here.
2. Pass it on.
my answersCollapse )
Tuesday, August 23rd, 2005
4:40 pm
Today was a good day.

Dragged my sorry ass into work on Monday at lunchtime burnt out and thinking of quitting. Sleepworked through the day. Headed out to parents at 9:00pm, mmmm nice lamb & scrumptious roast potatoes. Helped mum clear my old room for her brother who's coming to stay today.

Pumped up headed back to work at 2:00am, burned through the night, fixed my code that I'd been stuck on for 2 weeks in time for the meeting with the boss. Headed out to doctors - waste of time, can't win 'em all. Berkeley, hair cut, Zachary's pizza all for me. 31 hours, still standing & dangerous. Will I be up to party tonight? Hmmm...

Been a while since I was stoked, kindof a nice feeling.
Thursday, July 7th, 2005
3:13 am
Thoughts obviously with those in England. Any news of folks we know in London Aldabra?
Thursday, March 3rd, 2005
5:15 pm
So tired today. Woke up with something in my eye and haven't been able to focus properly all day. Surrounded by fog, getting nothing done except goofy livejournal entries.

In contrast to Monday/Tuesday when the fog lifted and I was a super-productive little cog in the mindless machinery of capitalism. Cogs can be fun too...
4:58 pm
You are...

The Backrubber
Deliberate Gentle Sex Dreamer (DGSDm)

Lusty but indirect. Kind, but also using friendship as a means to sex. Oh, that feels gooood. You are The Backrubber.

We call you "The Backrubber" because you straddle that fine line between coming on to someone and just treating her nicely. Backrubs are just one example; you'd meet for coffee, or talk about books/movies, or even argue a little bit, all the while mostly preferring to screw.


Your exact opposite: The Vapor Trail (Random Brutal Love Master)

Your indirect approach is not some evil trickery, but rather a result of your open mind. You'd enjoy either love or sex, but the latter definitely doesn't require the former. While you are responsible and ambitious, you absolutely DON'T have uptight views on relationships. So ultimately, you just enjoy a woman, and let things take their course. If she wants you, great. If not, that's fine too.

Though you're not thinking too much about Love at this point in your life, odds are, when the time comes, you'll be very happy settling down. Your ideal mate is gentle and horny, just like you.

Goofy personality test results

Whodathunkit?
4:34 pm
Advanced
You scored 93% Beginner, 100% Intermediate, 93% Advanced, and 61% Expert!

You have an extremely good understanding of beginner, intermediate, and advanced level commonly confused English words, getting at least 75% of each of these three levels' questions correct. This is an exceptional score. Remember, these are commonly confused English words, which means most people don't use them properly. You got an extremely respectable score.

Confused words test
Monday, November 8th, 2004
3:06 am
Getting out of the dollar
I think that I've finally decided to move most of my money out of the dollar. It's been a good idea for a while, and it looks like it's going to be the best thing to do for a while.

I do have some ethical issues with this, however. I realize that my limited personal 'wealth' isn't a drop in the financial ocean but I still may be contributing to the dollar crashing. In the worst case not only do China and Japan stop propping up the dollar, but most countries would start switching their reserves out of it, and even pricing oil in the euro. This would be very bad for America and, subsequently, most of the rest of the world as well. People would suffer.

On the other hand it would constrain Bush markedly and he'd probably spend the next four years trying to get his economic house in order rather than screwing people left and right. All sensible Americans would hate him for leading us into a huge recession, and it's possible this might tip the balance of power back to the democrats in a major way. People might suffer less in the long run.

If I decide that case #2 is true, then is it unethical and/or unpatriotic to start a campaign to Dump the Dollar?

Of course option #3 is quite possible (ok, the most likely) - wherein I never get around to doing this and the dollar crashes anyway. Yay me.

I almost feel tempted to do a Soros and borrow as many dollars as I can to buy euros and hope that the dollar tanks. I wonder if Soros could break the federal reserve in the same way that he broke the Bank of England all those years ago.

The trick, of course, is to find a stable country that wont disintegrate horribly if the dollar crashes. If Labour wasn't running up big defecits I'd probably go to the pound. If Germany and France didn't seem to be fiscally incompetent I'd go to the euro (probably the best bet, anyway.) I wonder if Australia or New Zealand are largely debt free. I get the feeling that I should stay out of Argentinia and avoid the Pacific Rim. Maybe a big (er, don't you mean tiny - ed) pile of gold coins (dust - ed) is the way to go.
Saturday, October 23rd, 2004
11:57 pm
British Navy approves first ever Satanist...
In a move that some optimists will take as a sign of the upcoming apocalypse the British Navy has approved their first ever Satanist for service onboard ship.

Choice quotes:

"...he will now be allowed to perform Satanic rituals on board the vessel."

"At the time he stumbled across a copy of the Satanic Bible, written by Church of Satan founder Anton Szandor LaVey. He said: 'I then read more and more and came to realise I'd always been a Satanist, just simply never knew.'"
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