Tag Archives: decisions

New laptop in my future

I’m contemplating a new laptop. My little Fujitsu tablet gets the job done, but with Starcraft II and WoW Cataclysm on the horizon, and my grumpiness at not being able to use UDK, it may be time to move on.

I got my tablet for grad school, and used it and its tablet feature to death all throughout. I do draw with it occasionally now and again, but I don’t think I’m in the market for a tablet PC in the future.

Nor do I want a desktop. Getting rid of my desktop towards the end of grad school was incredibly liberating, and the thought of getting another one and all the baggage it brings along is exhausting (baggage being monitors, speakers, a desk, a chair, etc…)

I am looking for a laptop:
– with a dedicated video card
– on which I’m able to enjoy the highest graphics settings in WoW and still get a good framerate
– used primarily for gaming and development, but not an actual gaming rig
– reasonably affordable

I do not want a mac (sorry, Eric)

Shopping around Newegg, something like this seems up my alley, though I’ve never heard of ZT before. The reviews seem good, all the same, and with having to buy Windows 7 on top of it, it would put me in the $1000 range.

Honestly, though, by the time I save up the money, there will probably be something else better on the market for about the same price.

Input desired. Thoughts? Suggestions?

Website wonders

Internet, what am I going to do with my website?

I’ve come a long way as a builder of website, from scrappy do-it-yourself php, to work-done-for-you plugins like Gallery, to now when part of me just wants to dump everything and use Google Sites because of how simple it is. I realize that everyone’s website is “under construction” to some degree, but I have a bad habit of stopping early in grand designs.

Right now my biggest problem is that I feel dispersed across the internet. I want my website to be a centralizing force, but I’m not sure what I want that to mean, exactly. Here’s an inventory of my internet doings:

My portfolio site, which rose up to a state of half-finishedness before my getting a job and losing all motivation to make it pretty. The process was this: I’ll just lay out all the text and the basic format, and go in and make a stylish design and fancy menu later. As is evidence by my straight up text link navigation, “later” never happened. It is certainly minimal and straightforward, and I did toy with integrating some personal site stuff (as evidence by the sidebar on the first page), but nothing is set in stone.

My personal site, which is in absolute shambles. My intention for this place was to store my various non-professional projects and art, and at the time I was super proud of myself for getting Gallery up and running and integrated. I love to have that stuff sharable, but I hate that my personal site is tucked back and hidden. Is it appropriate, now that I have a job, to once more integrate all this stuff together?

My blogs, one of which is this one, and crossposted to Livejournal, my personal site, and Facebook notes. The other two could fall under the category of “projects,” I suppose.

My Picasa site, where I post my photos, both social fun photographs and my fledgeling attempts at Photography.

Add my Formspring and Twitter pages and I am spread and crossposted pretty thin.

Everyone has the sweeping desire to overhaul their website from time to time, and I’m up for the undertaking, I just need a *plan* before I go in this time. Should I Google Site it afterall? What are my goals with my web presence, beyond just consolidation? Who is my audience? What are my intentions??

Any advice is welcome.

Phone Fun

Today my cellphone contract expired, so I went to the ATT store and asked to downgrade to a prepaid plan, and to keep my current phone.

The guy helping me was completely baffled, and fulfilled my request with an arched brow of puzzlement. He said he had worked there for 2 years and had never had anyone ask for that, was surprised he knew how to do it, and was extra surprised that the change was instant.

Alas, in spite of my cravings for an iPhone, I simply can’t justify the phone part of it. I looked over my phone usage for the past year and I use an average of, like, 6 minutes a month. And I never use more than 200 texts a month, so the 200 text $4.99 feature package, and $0.25 a minute basic prepay plan is plenty good for me. It certainly will save me lots, considering I was paying about $50 a month for the contract service.

I suppose an iPod Touch would be more practical a device for me, so I’ll keep my eyes on that for the future.

Student Loan Stuff

Alright, internet, it’s advice time! After consultation with Tracy on money matters, I have decided to consolidate most of my student loans. But, of course, this is going to be much trickier than it was with my undergraduate loans.

You see, every big bank and its brother has suspended their student loan consolidation plans as of last July, so finding a lender is much more of a pain these days. AES, the service through which I have my federal loans, has a listing of consolidation lenders, but there are all small, local Pennsylvania banks. If I were to go with a small bank lender, I’d rather do it with someplace local to where I’ll be out in California.

Another option I’ve been investigating is the US Department of Education’s Direct Consolidation Loan, which FinAid and Fastweb point to in light of the banks’ suspension of consolidation programs. I am eligible to consolidate all my federal loans in this program, and I would get a decent interest rate, and right now it’s my strongest lead.

But, I wanted to double check with you, internet, to see if anyone has heard more about this program? I’ve searched for reviews or potential horror stories (I don’t want to get myself into something akin to Sallie Mae) but haven’t found any. If anyone has stories or experiences with the Direct Consolidation Loans, I’d love to hear of them!

Writer’s Block: Left Behind

Today’s Writer’s Block question on LJ is: What do you want done with your body after you die?

I’ll be donating my body to science! Let me explain my reasoning..

A few years ago I had the unfortunate luck of having to go through many, many funerals in a short span of time, and I remember making some noteworthy observations.

Funerals are expensive. Caskets are expensive. Burying people is *expensive.* The stressful responsibility of paying for and orchestrating these purchases falls on those who are grieving and probably the least deserving of the burden. It seems like an awful system, in a way. During this time, I thought, how could I make my funeral less of a painful ordeal to my family?

From living several years with Scott during the time when he was often working and teaching in the gross anatomy lab at UofL, I learned some things about the cadavers that I hadn’t known. After being dissected and used in class, the bodies are gathered and cremated, and the school holds a nice little memorial service for all of them. The ashes are then returned to the family, if they want them.

What a nice system for the family! When I die, the university will take care of moving my body. My family won’t have to purchase a casket, and look…FREE cremation! So much less stress!

Sure, they won’t get the ashes right away, but that’s partially a good thing. That way, if they DO want to get a fancy urn for me, they’ll be doing it sometime after the initial grieving process, and probably while in a much better state to consider that decision.

And yes, someone will cut off my arms and legs and head with a bone saw so that I can fit in the cremation bag, but the family doesn’t have to deal with those details.

Oh…yeah…and some students learn some stuff blah blah whatever.

In spite of this plan, I STILL have not completed the paperwork necessary to authorize the donation. Part of this is because I’ve been between primary doctors, but I think that the next time I go to see my Pittsburgh doctor, I’ll bring it along. I also have to have a few other people sign it, but I forget exactly who…I’ll have to look at it again.

ANYWAY! Looking for a way to make your death less of a pain in the ass for your family? Consider donating to science! Just sayin.


Well, the tumultuous 48 hour dog saga draws to a close. Attempts to get my landlord to meet the dog and negotiate the pet agreement were unsuccessful. I sent him a lengthy email about it and we had a phone conversation, but no such luck. Resounding no.

In thinking it through, the thought of trying to find a sublet for 4 months and move and juggle my stuff would be too stressful for me to create a conducive environment for the dog, so I’m just going to wait it out.

On the bright side, at least I will still get to work with Minnow at the shelter as often as I like , and maybe I *will* get another chance to adopt him after I graduate.

On the flip side, GODDAMMIT!

Thanks to everyone who’s lent advice and support and whatnot.

I feel like I’ve had 3 months worth of drama packed into 2 days!

Brick Wall #1

Internet, you’re so good at giving advice! I’m just going to keep on thinking out loud.

So I’ve hit my first brick wall in the adoption process. I asked my landlord about the process for doing the pet deposit (he’s known there’d be a chance I would adopt a dog since last spring) and he sent me the paperwork.

The pet agreement has a section on specifically prohibited breeds, one of which is the pit bull. It also prohibits any dogs mixed with any of the listed breeds. Drat!

Now, my first course of action is to see if this is negotiable. We’ve had a really good relationship with our landlord since moving to this house (the last time he came in to fix something he emailed us complimenting us and thanking us for keeping the house so nice). I also know that these sorts of blanket statements over stereotyped breeds are only to protect the landlord; if I had an aggressive dog and it bit someone, the landlord could be held responsible as well as me (the other prohibited breeds listed are pretty classic: doberman, rottie, german shepherd, husky, etc.)

The shelter requires me to bring in all of my roommates to meet the dog and make sure everything is square, so I’d like to ask if the breed restriction is negotiable and propose that the landlord come along as well to meet the dog. I also have a few other things working in my favor…

– I’ve volunteered at this shelter and worked with this dog specifically, so I’m already familiar with the dog
– I only have about 4 more months living at this place. Even if I stay in Pittsburgh after I graduate, I’ll be moving to a different place, so it’s a pretty short term to have the dog in the house.
– I would be crate training and keeping the dog limited to the first floor of the house
– The dog is 4 years old, so less fear of puppy-keeping destructive woes.

Even still, I want to word my email to him in the most positive way I can without sounding accusatory or overbearing, so I may need some help looking over drafts.

If, after this, the answer is still a resounding “no,” I have a few options left. One is to find a pit-friendly place to sublet for the rest of my stay in Pittsburgh, which would be a pretty crazy and stressful ordeal. The other is just to hold out and hope that Minnow doesn’t get adopted out from under me, then get him when I graduate.

I’ll cross those bridges when they come, though. As always, any tips on the matter are always welcome!

Thank you!

Thank you to everyone who gave me advice and encouragement regarding the dog decision!

I have placed my application and initiated the whole process, so we shall see! I think the only obstacle would be if someone is in line before me to adopt Minnow, but I haven’t seen any “application pending” signs on his kennel.

I’ll keep everyone posted!

The dog for me?

I may have found my dog.

Most of you know that about a year ago, I resolved that I needed a dog in my life, and started volunteering at the animal shelter. This was both to get experience with dogs, and to hopefully find *my* dog should he or she show up.

This is Minnow…


I’ve been working with Minnow a lot on my shelter visits lately, and he is a dear heart and a fast learner. He still has manners to work on, but for some reason, I find I have fallen in love with him among all the dogs I’ve worked with. I didn’t realize it until I came in one day and he wasn’t in his kennel. Normally when dogs or cats I’m fond of have been adopted, I react with “hooray!” But when I thought Minnow had been adopted, my reaction was sadness, alas!

It turns out he was just offsite for the day.

I never thought I’d ever want a male pit bull mix. I always figured I’d fall in love with a bigger, leaner, softer dog (like Brenna). But I am stricken by this pup!

The biggest obstacle between me and this dog is purely self confidence. My family never owned dogs, and so for some reason I have this mindset that owning a dog is something that I am incapable of doing, something beyond my possible realm of experience. I know this is silly, but it’s a real fear.

If a stray cat wandered in, I would have no hesitation in taking him in, knowing exactly how to care for a cat and make a cat a member of my family. But a dog, that’s different! What if I don’t know how to own a dog??

And then all the questioning factors come in..
Do I have enough money to support adding a dog to my family?
What if I end up having to move to California after school? Is it too soon for relocating the dog too?
Will I have the proper time to devote to the dog?

What if what if what if.

Logic grown up Lisa knows that she can handle all of these things, and emotional Lisa longs for the companionship of a dog. It’s weird self-doubting Lisa who thinks “maybe now is not the right time, maybe you should wait…”

But what if it ISN’T the right time??


A Question of Manners

Answer me this, Internet…

Which is the more polite action when someone is trying to sell you something…

1) Interrupt them early (like, at “we’d like to offer you…”) and say no thank you.

2) Let them finish their 10 minute speech that they are obviously forced to do by their supervisor and then say no thank you.