Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Year's Resolutions 2012

Ok and here are the New Year's Goals for 2012. I've also set up a step-by-step monthly schedule for each (well, for most) of these so they can be attained. Allowing for unknowns and surprises, if I don't complete at least 6 of them by the end of the year, well, that would suck. Number 7 and 8 are more resolutions thans goals, but they're all pretty concrete.

1. Live somewhere else
I realize I just moved to Portland, but as I approach the age where I will have to settle down, I don't want to end up somewhere wondering if I could have ended up somewhere else. So hopefully it'll be Taiwan, but if that doesn't work then possibly Costa Rica, or Manila, or Santiago, or Lucca, or Berlin, or Seoul, or somewhere else.

2. Have book published
I wrote my novel, had an editor go through it, and I'm in the process of finding an agent. Once I do it's a question of finding a publisher. I realize this is a long, drawn out process, so I might have to edit this to "Have someone publishing my book" by year end.

3. Learn to cook at least 1 dish well.
Let's keep it at one per year.

4. Sell off Lugano Wedding
Not 100% sure on this one yet, but I really don't think there's much more I can do for it. I think someone else could work wonders for it, just not me. But we'll see how this progresses. Anyway, making a business self-sustaining and profitable was too vague last year, so I want to deal with my businesses one by one.

5. Make the Dracula business work
Check out soon.

6. Set up Translation business
I do freelance translations, and I have friends who do so as well. It would be nice to group together and help each other out. I wrote something up on and I should start growing that (and making a better website).

7. Never buy retail again
The first real resolution and experiment. It's been mentioned several times (on several podcasts I listen to, at least) that in this day and age anyone who buys retail is an idiot. So, in that vein, I don't want to be an idiot. Grocery shopping ties up much of my time, so I will subscribe to Amazon Prime and order all my groceries through that (free delivery makes it worth it there). Pretty much anything else can be ordered from stores online which are tied to one or more of my airline miles or hotel rewards. This way I get rewards every time I spend and I never have to take the time to physically go to the store. I realize there may be exceptions, so I'll allow for in-store purchases as needed as long as I'm part of their rewards/points program. I still need to figure out haircuts I guess.

8. Have one day a week without Internet
Another resolution, and this is also very experimental. We'll see how this goes. If it starts hitting my earnings or productivity negatively then I'll stop. Until then I close my laptop and disconnect wi-fi on my phone one day per week.

9. See whales
I never have, so I should

Monday, December 26, 2011

Recap on NY Resolutions for 2011

It's the time of year again when I take stock of what I have (and have not) accomplished in the past 12 months. Around one year ago I wrote up some New Year's resolutions, or goals, which I set for myself, and let's see how I followed through on them.

1. Learn to cook 5 dishes well
I'm pretty sure this was the second year in a row that I had this on my list, but I don't think I've gotten any further than two dishes. I might stop there for now and just assign myself one dish per year (since that seems to be my pace). I have no real reason to speed this up either, since I definitely haven't caught the cooking "bug".

2. Read Wordpress for Dummies
Done and done. Although I feel like new plugins and updates are coming along all the time.

3. Create a System for Lugano Wedding
I set one up, tore it down, and set one up again. I have one now, although I'm not sure it's working well. I'm slowly realizing that I really am the weak link in this and should probably take myself out of the equation as much as possible. This does seem odd, however, so I should figure out the details here.

4. Find Contributors for DumbAgent
There have been a couple this past year, and of high quality, although no regular contributors have come up. Something is better than nothing, but more needs to be done. It might be interesting to try various marketing tactics for this.

5. Update my Personal Website
Done. You can go to or to to check them out.

6. Run 10k.
Finished in 54 minutes, so I'll call it done. I thought this would lead to a greater interest in running, which it didn't.

7. Go in a Hot Air Balloon
Still haven't done this. Had one opportunity, although it conflicted with all my plans and was a tad expensive for a very boring area. I thought I might as well wait until I find an interesting area (the Alps, the Cappadocia hills, etc.)

8. Visit CERN
Done as well, and I will add that it was awesome. I highly recommend this for anyone who wants to get their nerd on. Of course, the post-doc giving us the tour said he didn't think the Higgs would be found, so he might have just been proven wrong, or not. Physicists can never seem to make their mind up.

I'll soon post some goals for 2012. If the world is ending I might as well cross some other items off my list before Armageddon. My short term goal for now is to get over my cold.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Leaving Atlanta

After almost 5 years, it is time to leave Atlanta and head to my next destination. My apartment has been repainted, the plumbing has been fixed, the carpet has been professionally steamed, the windows have been cleaned and the carpet is being stretched (because that's apparently something you do).

Of course, my time in Atlanta was off and on at best but, not being able to rent my place out, I had to keep coming back. Now we'll see what's next.

That's all. In terms of updates this isn't too informative, but I figured it was worth an entry. I'm heading to Charlotte for a few days, and then it looks like Portland, or (possibly but not likely) Taipei.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Writing Sucks

As I read through my query letter sample #76, I'm wondering at what point this is supposed to get easier. I recently finished writing a 79'000 word historical novel. I took me close to a year, so I was happy to finish it. Then I sent it to an editor, who whittled it down to around 75'000 words. This was fine, except I made it much more of a hassle for myself than I needed to, since in the end, despite my concerns, I pretty much applied every single change the editor recommended.

But at least at this point I figured I was done. Only now I had to decide how to approach publishers. I thought I would be very smart, and found a book with examples of 10 successful book proposals. I only realized once I had finished it that every example was for a non-fiction book. So I did some research online and found out that novels don't require book proposals at all.

So then I was back to square one, except I wasn't really there yet: it turns out you're supposed to find an agent before you submit your work to a publisher, so I stopped worrying about publishing houses and started to search for websites that list literary agents.

I also found out that you're supposed to send agents Query letters. These letters are supposed to be short, and are comprised of a hook (short paragraph that attracts the reader's attention), a description of the story, and a brief paragraph with reasons as to why I'm the best author for the job. In other words, I need an elevator pitch that can fit onto a page.

This is what I'm working on now, so I figured that I would jot down my journey so far, before it becomes too ridiculous. There is a website called Query Shark, which lets you submit query letters and have them critiqued by an agent. Before you do so, however, you need to read through all 200+ queries (she's quite strict about it). I am currently doing that, and almost every query convinces me to make some minor changes to my letter. I'm at query #76 so we'll see what I end up with.

Obviously any experience or advice anyone has with this sort of thing will be greatly appreciated.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The coolest link you'll see today

This was also an excuse to write something on this blog since it's been a while, although I see I didn't write about my 10K race yet. Anyway, enjoy:

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Visit to CERN

Last weekend I was able to knock off one of my New Year's resolutions and finally headed off to CERN to visit it and learn more about the Large Hadron Collider, the world's largest particle accelerator. We were told ahead of time to arrive early, bring our passport, and not to wear sandals or opened toed shoes, which all make me think we missed something in the tour, since none of those points really mattered.

Our tour started about 30 minutes after we arrived with a presentation on CERN in general. We learned how it was created, how it was responsible for creating things like the world wide web and medical imaging, and how most Swiss French seem to have no idea what "le big bang" was. The video also showed us what went into building the LHC, which is built in a tunnel 100 meters deep and 27 km in circumference throughout Switzerland and France. In order to build it huge machinery weighing hundreds of tons had to be lowered into the tunnels, while measurements had to be so precise as to take into account the tidal movements of the rocks surrounding the tunnels.

Once the presentation was over, a post doc student explained more of what was going on and brought us more up to date (the video presentation was from 2004). He explained how the protons accelerate to .9999999 (he specified seven 9's) the speed of light and then slam into each other. He also explained the various experiments going on, such as ALICE (A Large Ion Collider Experiment), CMS (Compact Muon Spectrometer) and ATLAS (A Toroidal Lhc ApparatuS), which is the building we would go visit.

After this introduction we walked towards ATLAS, around a huge Epcot center looking structure which our post doc didn't really address, stopping in front of the building, where he showed us a painting of what goes on inside the LHC. The painting was on the wall and life-size, but it was an odd spot regardless. He explained how contact happened between the protons (and lead ions) and what was observable and how.

I should say that our video presentation was about 30 minutes long, while the post doc's 'up to speed explanation' was at least another 30 minutes. We then spent a good hour outside looking at this painting. We did, however, get some interesting questions, with the obligatory one about black holes. I found it odd that he didn't seem to have a clearer response to this, but rather asked where the person had heard this before and then rambled on about how all the laws we know in physics would have to change for that to occur. This ended up taking a while also because each response by our post-doc lasted at least 20 minutes. Some of it was interesting, some was just rambling. He obviously loves his job and loves talking about it. I of course asked if he personally believed the Higgs-Boson would be found. I had to prod in a way (he clearly stated his opinion didn't represent CERN's or anyone else's at CERN), but he said he finds it very odd that one fundamental particle could explain all the contradictory laws of physics we have seen. He said experiments done decades ago showed anomalies that convinced researchers at the time of the existence of the Higgs, but he thinks we'll rather have to change some of our laws regarding super symmetry. I might have followed up, but it's very easy to feel dumb when talking there.

After this we headed into ATLAS. Here, unfortunately, we weren't allowed to see the LHC because since 2009 they've been revving it up for experiments. I imagine having tours there could disrupt the experiments (although dropping sandwiches is an occupational hazard, I guess). So we watched people working on the LHC from behind a glass window, which makes me wonder how productive they can be, with countless tours observing them.

Here our guide used a powerpoint presentation to go into more detail about the collider, for instance how the smaller rings act as boosters to slingshot the protons from about 0.98c to the famous 0.9999999c in the LHC proper. He also showed how the Higgs boson should fit into the grand scheme of things in the universe, including muons, gluons and tauons.

This led us to the final 3D presentation, showing people building the LHC and how it looks inside. That ended our 4 hour and 30 minute tour of CERN, where we used no passports and opened-toed sandals would've been fine. I found out later that 2 people tried to sneak out after a few hours, but apparently the gates had been closed behind us. I guess CERN really wants us to learn stuff. There was also one girl who was interested in working at CERN, and seemed fascinated with the tauon.

This was pretty much it. Photos can be seen here and I can cross this one off the list.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

ObjectBank proto-site up!

Regarding the post from several months ago, I now have a prototype up for the website. Let me know what you think!

If this sounds like a good idea please bear in mind that I'm pretty busy with my other stuff, so if I will dedicate more time to it only if I spot interest in it from other people. You can show your interest by contributing to Objectbank with the "WePay" link below. Donations of over $250 will secure you free services from Objectbank for one year. All donations will secure public recognition (unless otherwise requested).


In order to contribute click here:
Pay on WePay

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

New Year's Resolutions 2011

Ok I realized I hadn't posted my New Year's Resolutions on this website. You can find them listed on the Dumbagent website here.

1. Learn to cook 5 dishes well
One Italian, one Swiss, one Korean, one American, and one TBD.

2. Read Wordpress for Dummies
I really need to

3. Create a System for TicinoWedding
This is the company I set up, which needs a standardized system of protocol for options, availabilities, prices and suppliers, from the moment the client contacts me to the moment the wedding planner takes over. I need to set up this system and have it working by the end of the year.

4. Find Contributors for DumbAgent
Since I am by far the main contributor to this website, I'd like to step back a bit and find 3 other contributors who can contribute on a semi-regular basis (once a month or more). If you're interested feel free to let anyone at DumbAgent know!

5. Update my Personal Website
I tried to make it look cool, which means I've been neglecting it for over a year. I'd rather simplify it and keep it up to date. Ideally have it look something like this:

6. Run 10k.
I'll start with that. There's a race in April so I can shoot for that one.

7. Go in a Hot Air Balloon
I've never done so and I should like to do so.

8. Visit CERN
I'm in Switzerland so I might as well.