Ramstions 1 - Wealth

Let’s talk about money. Everyone wants to be rich, right? I don’t want to be, does that make me crazy?

Let’s start out with this question. What makes you happy? Do your fondest memories revolve around spending mucho dinero? Most of mine don’t. I love to go camping and then waking up early in the morning for a hike while the grass is still wet with dew and the nightly spider webs still crisscross the trails. I love hanging out with friends to watch a movie at home, play a board game, or show off my video game skills. These are things that I associate with having a good time and they cost me little or no money.

Sure there are other activities like snowboarding trips that do cost a fair amount of money, but I don’t need to be rich to afford these trips I just need to save some money. I think this idea of needing to save money is paramount to my argument here. I believe that this saving money makes the item I’m saving for more valuable to me and results in a higher level of happiness. When you were a kid didn't covet less expensive things? Now that you can easily afford those cheaper things, they don’t offer you nearly as much joy when you obtain them. The media and our consumer based society shouts at you that if you had more money to spend you could afford the things you want and you would be happy. Yet I’m seeing data here that says if I had more money I would just need to spend more money to achieve the same happiness level.

For all you video game players out there, let’s look at it from a different angle. Many video games have the alluring “cheat codes”. These cheat codes do various things in the game from making you invincible to giving you infinite money. When I was younger I thought these cheat codes were the bomb and I’d used them all the time. Now that I’m a little older I realize that whenever I used these codes they made the game boring and I’d quit playing the game a few days later. Because of this realization I don’t use them anymore. Obviously real life is a more complicated than a video game and it’s more difficult to get bored, but I do think there is a parallelism that can be drawn. I think being rich can take something out of life and make it a little more boring and less adventuresome. Just like I think having exactly the same weather (even if it was great weather) would get boring after while. I believe at the very least being wealthy would force you to be more self motivated to keep yourself entertained. I’m not sure if I’m motivated enough of a person to pull that off. I love my job, but if I were rich would I have enough motivation to keep going to work? If I decided to not to work, but donate my time to charity or other tasks would I be motivated enough to find enough to fill all this time work used to fill?

This brings me to my last logical argument. I think changes in your life is a big part of what makes it exciting. I like to go to work and I like to play. I don’t think I’d be as happy doing just one of these. I know some people are not fortunate enough to love there jobs, but perhaps if they take away that downward trend caused by their work the highs wouldn’t be as exciting for them. Think of life as if it were a rollercoaster. You can’t have all ups or all downs you need some of each. Neither one is exciting or even possible by itself. In the same way maybe people have a built in need to have variety in their life if they want to better appreciate the good times. Maybe humans at a subconscious level are hardwired to need to give something back in society before they can enjoy taking something from society. Capitalism is an implementation of this need by giving us money to do what we want only after giving society our services. This makes me wonder if someone becomes rich through luck maybe they are not short circuiting this whole built in need thus resulting in a lower happiness.

Over the years, I’ve read a few new stories about people who claimed their life was better before they won a large lottery. I’ve also read studies showing that rich people aren’t statistically happier than the middle class. I’ve even read how that as long as the basic needs of people in the poorer nations of the world are met these people tend to live happier lives than people in the United States. Sorry no more research here. Just a few stories and papers I remember reading, but this does say at the very least there are cases where money doesn't equal happiness. Research isn’t the basis of this editorial anyways. It’s all about what logically makes sense to me when I sit down and think about it. Hopefully it’s starting to get those gears in your head thinking that maybe, just maybe society is wrong on this one.

In the end I can’t say that I would hate being rich, because there is a possibility that I would like it. But I can say I have no great desire to be rich, and I think for me becoming wealthy is a bigger risk than the payout could be. I live a very good life right now, and I don’t see why I would want to risk that by doing something stupid like winning the lottery.

Ramstions 0 – Intro

I was sitting around wondering what I should write about on my next blog entry. While doing this brain storming session it became obvious that I wanted to do more editorial type posts. I needed a key word so people who don’t want to read about my crazy ramblings can just skip these posts. The word I coined for this combine rambling and questions into ramstions.

You can look forward to future ramstions!


Map Bot

I haven't given an update here in awhile about my robot page and I know some of you only check out that page when I remind you about it here. I've recently added a new robot called "Map Bot". The purpose of this robot is to map out my house and to intelligently traverse it. So far I've only finished the hardware and some diagnostic software, but I plan to write the mapping software sometime soon. Click here to go to Map Bot's homepage.


Sore Throat

I don’t get sick very often, but when I do I sure don’t like it. In fact it down right sucks. I haven’t gotten anything worse than a sore throat or a cold in many years so I really can’t complain much, but I plan to push my complaining right to that “much” line.

Right now I have a sore throat. I seem to get one of these a year. It’s one of those you flinch every time you swallow kind of sore throats. One of those that hurts if you start breathing heavily. Don’t worry I’m almost done complaining now. Because of this blasted sore throat I didn’t leave the house much this weekend so there isn’t anything fun to post about. I spend all weekend tinkering with my robots and playing video games to try and get my mind off my throat.



Skywalk and JFK Library

I had Presidents day off of work so I went into Boston to see a few of the sites. I took the subway into the city. It’s always interesting riding the T. The variety of people on it is amazing. Sometimes it seems like only weirdoes and eccentrics ride the T, but I guess that can’t be true since I ride it. Oh…

First I went to the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum. It’s a museum dedicated to the life of the president. It taught me a lot about him that I never knew and was interesting to boot. That’s pretty much the biggest compliment I can hand out to a museum.

Then I went to the Skywalk Observatory. This involved an audio tour from the 50th floor of the Prudential building. It was pretty cool seeing the city from above, but the audio tour wasn’t all that interesting to me. I imagine someone more new to Boston might find the audio tour more interesting. It does give you a good overview (no pun intended) of the city if you’ll only be visiting for a few days.


Calling all Tax Law Experts

I’ve just about finished my 2005 taxes. In general I’m saddened over how much this country taxes me. I wouldn’t mind if the money I sent in was used in a financially responsible manor on things like social programs, education, and infrastructure. However large portions of what I contribute go towards the military and past irresponsible spending (i.e. paying down the debt). I could even stomach the past irresponsible spending part if we had learned from our mistakes, but we continue forward with record breaking yearly deficits. As for defense spending it has just been spiraling out of control. Did you know that the US spends 7 times more on defense than China and Russia combined (the second and third largest militaries in the world)? Since the US can’t continue to have the biggest economy it looks like we are determined to have a big enough stick to beat the rest of the world down. Arrg! Now that you know why I don’t like paying taxes let’s move on to the subject of this post.

Why is it that there is a credit for hybrid and electric vehicles, but nothing equivalent for people who use truly environmentally friendly vehicles to commute to work like bicycles? I bought a new bike this past year that I use exclusively for riding to work and as far as I can tell there is no credit or deduction that applies to this. I ride 11 miles to and from work about 4 times a week when the weather in nice. This equates to over 2500 miles a year that I am using a zero emission commuter vehicle that runs off of me rather than fuel or coal produced electricity. I find it ridiculous that these much less environmentally friendly vehicles offer tax credits, but my bike does not. Anyways let the world know it just isn’t fair!


Victory is Mine

Last weekend I told you about my friend’s cache and how I spent 8 hours looking for it only to come up empty handed. Not to be defeated I went searching again today.

This cache is what’s termed a mystery cache. That means there is some sort of mystery or puzzle that you need to solve before you can find the cache. There are all sorts of different mystery caches, but in this case the clue was the name of a reservoir and a picture. Once you find exactly where the picture was taken you are supposed to apply an offset to those coordinates to find the final cache. The problem I ran into last weekend was finding where the picture was taken from. Today I found the picture location on my second try while looking at spots I deemed likely from clues in the picture. Then I had no problems applying the offset to those coordinates to find the cache. Victory is mine! Cower before my almighty geocaching powers!


Bike Lane Proposal (Part 2)

Way back in August I wrote this letter to the mass highway system asking them to include a bike lane during the reconstruction of a road I bike to work on. There response, which you can read here, was no. They did say that they will be slightly widening the roadway which is good. However they needed to get a "design exception" from the state for this new planned roadway which is still narrower than the law recommends. Stupid state and their narrow roads.


Valentines Day

Merry Valentines Day... Or is it Happy Valentines Day... Whatever, hope you all have a great day! Click here for a smile.


Smorgasbord Weekend

This was a smorgasbord of a weekend. On Friday I did some candlepin bowling. I’ve never done candlepin bowling before, but I had fun doing it. I do think I prefer regular bowling though.

Then on Saturday I spent all day not finding my friend’s cache. This is the guy who introduced me to geocaching so when he hid a new cache I had to go and try and find it. It was a tough one though. He gave a picture and that it was near a certain reservoir. The picture clue was a picture of some coastline. From that I figured I had a good guess at a few places it might be. I got up at 7:00 to go and find this bad boy and then got home around 3:00 after failing. I did have a good time though. Definitely a beautiful place. I think I’ll try again when there is some nice weather.

Then today I stayed at home because the whole east coast is in the middle of a blizzard. By my estimations we have about 14 inches of snow and it’s still coming down pretty hard.


2004 Glacier National Park Pictures

I had a request for some of my sabbatical Glacier pictures so I thought I'd post a link to them on my blog. I figured people didn't want to look through all 1300+ pictures so I chopped them down to only 200. It was tough and some great pictures missed the cut, but the 200 that are left are some of my favorites. Click here to see them.

Whistler Picture

As promised here is a larger assortment of pictures from my trip out to Whistler and Seattle. Click here to see them. Enjoy!


Geocaching Treasures

I went and did some geocaching this weekend. I think the best think about geocaching is finding those hidden parks that you never knew existed right next to your home.


East Coast Powder

Anyone who read my post about my snowboarding trip to Whistler knows how much I like powder. Eric and I found some powder out east during last night’s boarding at Wachusett Mountain, but it wasn’t quite as nice as the powder out west so we started calling it “east coast powder”. This powder is the results of a grooming machine going over an icy trail and grinding up the ice into small ice crystals. It’s actually not that bad to ride on (read much better than the ice and rocks we’re used to out here in the east).

Fun was had by all!