Archive for July, 2012

Sprint Customer Service

July 12th, 2012, 6:13pm by Jake

Today I had a 30 minute call with Sprint. At the end, they could do nothing to help me with horrible data connection near work. They would call me back at 12:30 on my cellphone to escalate the issue. Of course, at 1:30 they called back my office number and told me to simply dial *2 (general Sprint customer service) so I could start ALL OVER AGAIN. 30 more minutes to get back where I left off. Finally, after 45 minutes the tech realizes that the tower in my area constantly jumps from 0% capacity to 100% capacity and there might be a problem with it. You think? So they claim to be sending a guy to fix it. Yup. Meantime, I ask about the status of the Airave I ordered 3 weeks ago. Order never placed, order never shipped! Two more transfers. Finally get the thing reordered, now with 7-10 day shipping (earlier it was 2-3 day… go figure). That ONE phone call took about 1 hour, 10 minutes. All I got accomplished was to order the item that was ALREADY ordered and get the Sprint folks to look at their tower which is OBVIOUSLY busted. Wasted almost 2 hours on this (whilst working, natch). Infuriating day. If this doesn’t fix it, I think I’m done w/ Sprint. Either pay the premium to get decent service or go with some cut-rate provider and at least be comfortable in the knowledge I’m no longer supporting this apparently incompetent organization.

Another refi

July 12th, 2012, 12:56pm by Kelvin

Does this make sense? We are doing another refi (3.5%!), without any closing costs. Everytime we do this, we cash out a bit and bump the loan amount back up to the conforming limit ($417 K). Seems like a better rate is always better than a higher rate, and if the loan is so cheap, why not max out the borrowing (with the assumption that the extra cash is used for something better than the 3.5% cost of capital). But of course, at this rate, we will always be 30 years away from paying down a loan of exactly $417K, and in the meantime, always paying (diminishing) monthly interest. I guess the question is, is paying a averaged down interest rate over say 40 years better than paying a higher interest rate over 30 years?

Home Gallery, 2.0

July 12th, 2012, 1:44am by Jake

Living Room Art

That’s just the back wall. There are 18 photos, 1 giant rainbow mosaic (256 images) and 4 LARGE paintings in addition to the 15 photos & 3 paintings you can see in the shot in the living room, kitchen & entrance hallway. My plan is to add 4 or 6 more above the kitchen alcove (living room side) and 5 more above my large side window. I’m no math genius but that’s… up to 45 photos and 7 paintings. The four squares I have in the corner may be moved to be flank the rainbow mosaic, opening up room for a couple more paintings (I got enough photos).

Of course, if anyone wants a print, just ask!

The Camera You Have With You

July 3rd, 2012, 12:56am by Jake

Following up on Mike’s post about the limitations of even really good phone cameras. I had a fairly marginal phone camera and a mostly busted P&S for years until I got the iPhone 4S and the Canon S95 in short succession in the Autumn of 2011. I’ve gotten some gems with both– some were almost ungettable with a DSLR due to reasons of access. I’ve gotten several of each into The Icebox’s The Fridge. All told, I think I would be happy with the S95 shots blown-up to 8×10 size or larger, but the iPhone pics have obvious issues even at small resolutions. It’s really really good… but not great. Can you guess which is which? No cheating! Here we go, randomly arranged. Mixed in a few other pocket & phone cams, too.  Click through for the full  look. (more…)

Hermosa 24! More pain in 2012

July 3rd, 2012, 12:05am by Jake

[Cross posted on my other blogs.]

Well, here we are again at The Hermosa 24. It’s been little more than a year since the 2nd annual Hermosa 24. The inaugural event saw one man, Christian Burke (also winner of the inaugural 2010 Operation Jack Marathon) run 24 hours straight to break the world record for most miles run in the soft sand in 24 hours… a whopping 83+ miles! In 2011, it became a race with 8 solo entrants and 8 more relay teams, including both Team CORE & Team Structures (I ran for both). And we witnessed Manhattan Beach phenom Patrick Sweeney (winner of the 2011 Operation Jack Half Marathon) break the recently established world record by running 87+ miles!

Sweeney finishes his 94th mile in the deep soft sand. Effing nutjob!

So I knew I needed to come back for 2012. But this time, I planned on running solo. So I recruited hard to get 10 people signed up for each team. And I did! But then 3 folks dropped out, but we were still strong. Team Structures was anchored by returning runners Vinay & Francisco who were joined by Jimmy, Ryan, Stu, Sean and Alla along with Captain Zach. Team CORE was highlighted by returning members (and CORE co-founders) Chuck & Todd, aided by CORE President Bill and joined by Alex, Christian, William, Shin and Captain Tom. All told, there were 18 of us, five veterans and 13 braving (or is it stupiding) the hot sands for the first time. So how did we do?

William & Shin bring it in!

Well, that’s William (paced by Shin) finishing their 6th and Team CORE’s 28th lap with less than 10 minutes to spare! That’s 2 more than last year. More than 94 miles. Ninety four miles on the deepest, driest sand you’ll find anywhere. Team Structures was strong as well, finishing in 4th place among the teams, with 24 laps despite a 1.5 hour gap with no running. That compares to 23 official laps or 26 unofficial laps in 2011. Really, really good guys! After breaking down camp, Zach, William, Shin & I decamped to Islands (the one in the Manhattan Village Mall) for a well-earned lunch… I enjoyed a full 4-course meal of lemonade, tortilla soup, tacos & an ice cream Sunday. Oh, and a 2 hour nap a little later. Everyone was great, but a special shout out to Tom, William & Shin who each ran 6 laps, and Stu & Ryan who each completed 5 laps. That’s more than solid! Zach covered 4.5 (including a half lap unofficial to help drag me across the line) and Sean ran 4 total, including the 2 where he paced Alla.

Team CORE!

Oh yeah, I almost forgot about me! I had the ambitious yet achievable goal of completing 50 miles, which is 15 laps. I was right on track, with 9 laps complete by midnight and an even dozen by 6 AM. Then, exhaustion set in. I had to rest for 10 minutes mid-lap, and upon returning I consumed 3 pastries and passed out in the team camp (2 canopies, 1 large tent, 1 small tent, 10 folding chairs, 2 coolers, a case of Gatorade, a case of Propel, assorted sleeping bags, spare sand socks, first aid supplies and assorted other sundry items). 2 hours later, I woke up shivering from cold & exhaustion and declared myself done after 40 miles. Christian Burke would have none of that! I knew I had one more lap in me, but not sure about two. So I carefully timed my final lap so no one would be tempted to declare that my penultimate lap in retrospect! During the first 11 laps I averaged about 59.5 minutes per lap. The last two? About 1:15 each. I was toast. All told, 43.7 miles officially, but I think it would easily top 45 if I counted all the yards traveled from base camp to the start/ finish line! Below are the full stats for Team CORE, Team Structures, and ummm, Team “Jake.” Official results are on The Hermosa 24 website.

So how did Patrick do? I guess he did OK, I guess. In fact, he single-handedly matched 9-member Team CORE by completing 28 laps, more than 94 miles (even more impressive, more than 150 kilometers). Shattered his own world record. There’s an excellent race preview on Easy Reader, news coverage at the local Patch sites, a small news piece on the local CBS station and surely more to follow in the days ahead. Christian was set to give Pat a run for his money, but a foot injury in the first 10 miles put an end to those plans. I did have the opportunity to travel a mile with both Pat & Christian late in the race. I count both among my friends, and they are pretty much the reason why I started running on the beach. Many days this spring (when the sand was a LOT more forgiving) I would pass Pat on the beach and he’d run 5 or 10 miles with me. Keep your eyes on the event’s Facebook page for updates that are sure to flow through from organizers & entrants alike. At times I outlasted the King of the Beach! But not today. Thanks to both those guys, as well as all the other entrants–solo & relay. And of course other volunteers, especially Mike Naylor who volunteered to feed my parking meter when Christian was threatening to have it towed (not quite), and Kara Lubin who was there all night (I think?) with an upbeat attitude for the ultramarathoners and those embarking on the 1-lap challenge. It was great to see all the kids hanging out too, bringing the sort of energy that come only come from youth.

3rd place relay, Team CORE!

So that’s about that. I’ll leave you now with a picture of the remaining members of CORE posing on the podium recognizing their 3rd place finish. Sweeney wasn’t done yet, as he managed to photobomb the team photo… that bastard! And last thing, I’ll plug the 2012 Operation Jack Marathon & Half Marathon. Same great course, new start/finish line, new expo and many more improvements. Same day after Christmas tradition, might be the only Wednesday marathon you have the opportunity to run.

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