Sunday, July 27, 2008


Knoxville Church Shooting

No one I know (or my immediate family knew) went to the church (Tennessee Valley Unitarian Church on Kingston Pike - for the VTACO folks - that's the 7 miles of restaurants road.), but for the ex KnoxVegas expats, here's some relevant links:

News & Advance thread on the shooting
WBIR thread on the shooting


Tuesday, July 22, 2008


How I could support Obama

Via a US News article on the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF):

According to an internal memo, a recent independent poll shows that members
rated Obama higher on "pocketbook" issues and, overall, believe that "Obama has
a better record or will be a better president when it comes to fire service,
labor, and IAFF issues," according to union president Harold Schaitberger. And
that includes, most importantly, he said, Obama's support for collective
bargaining "and his opposition to mandatory Social Security for our

If Barack would make that same deal with me, he'll have my vote. Unfortunately, I don't think that offer is on the table.


Monday, July 14, 2008


What not to say to the fire extinguisher inspector

"I don't know where the fire extinguishers are."

Said by the girl at the front of the Pizza Hut where Thason and I had lunch today when informed by the man with the clipboard that he was there to inspect the fire extinguishers.


Friday, July 11, 2008


Banking world turned upside down

Here in Lynchburg about two blocks away from each other are the following offers from two different banks.

First Citizen's has a home equity line that has 1) an APR of prime - 1% (that's 4% right now), 2) no closing costs (for lines > $50,000), 3) no early termination fees, 4) generally no appraisal fees (they check recent sales and tax assements in the area). Together, that makes it virtually costless except for the interest.

First National Bank of Altavista has a rewards checking account that pays interest at an APR of 5.01%. There's some other requirements like use of a debit card, electronic statements, and direct deposit, but the most important restriction is they only pay 5.01% on the first $50,000 (1% after that). But if you're married, you can have 2 accounts - 1 in each spouse's name (I guess even more if you're FLDS).

So, you take out a home equity line in the range of 50-100k from First Citizens, write a check to yourself for the full line, walk a block and deposit it FNB Altavista. Voila, you're earning 1% on someone else's money. Note that you only earn that spread if the equity line is on your first/primary home as equity interest is tax deductible - otherwise, you lose money as you actually earn 60% of 5% = 3% (assuming 40% of income goes in taxes) and pay 4%. With the interest deduction, you make 0.6%.

Sure the prime rate can rise, but a) the money is in a checking account with no minimum balance, b) there's no fees for paying off the equity line early. So when the rates cross, you just cash out of the rewards checking account, pay off equity line, and pocket the difference.

Sure 0.6% isn't a huge margin, but that's after-tax income and it's someone else's money you're making the margin on (technically your collateral, though).


Thursday, July 03, 2008


Why my job is so cool, Part 2

I was just officially awarded a SBIR (scroll down to N08-099) to prototype an extension to my dissertation.1 It's rare that you get to continue the work you started in your dissertation, and it's effectively every PhD's dream that their work would actually get used.

FYI, it's not a lot of money and a portion of it is going to a much larger DoD contractor whose radios I'll end use to make the prototype more relevant to the sponsor (Navy), but this'll be the first chance to see how close my algorithms in practice match my algorithms in theory / simulation.

1. I've effectively known it was coming since March when the first round of "selections for further consideration" were made. I think most every one who reads the blog knew of it. So this isn't something different than what you've heard from me before. But it's still cool.


Tuesday, July 01, 2008


Of course they support him

Who else would they support? I'm just surprised that the Obama campaign website is actually hosting the "Marxists for Obama group"


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