Cerebral Gibberish

What's on my mind, might just blow yours.

Gas: Pain at the Pump – Reloaded

Posted by heymoe on December 7th, 2008

Gas Pump

A little over 6 months ago I posted about having to pay over $4/gal for Premium Gas. What seemed like a never ending upward trend in gas prices, due to wall street speculators in the energy-futures market (IE: Crude Oil), has seen a rapid decline in the last month or so. I mean why base the price of something on actual market fundamentals when you can have speculators look into their crystal ball and set the price of something based on what they think the future demand for it is going to be. It sounds like a Win-Win right.. NOT!

In any case, today for the first time in my current car, I paid under $2/gal for Premium Gas ($1.889 to be exact). Total cost: $31.50. Prior to today the cheapest I’ve paid for gas in my current car was $2.219 back on 11/2006. Yes, I’ve been keep track of my mileage, gas prices, etc during each fill-up pretty much since when I bought the car. Call me crazy I guess.

Any ways, It would have been nice if the government would have been proactive to curtain index speculation in the energy markets instead of waiting for a melt-down in the financial markets, which the goverment themselves caused by turning a blind eye on the mortgage industry instead of enforcing the regulations that could have prevented or limited the mess we are in right now but I digress.

Posted in Gibberish, Transportation | No Comments »

Work Layoffs

Posted by heymoe on December 5th, 2008

You're Fired!

There nothing like going back to work after a long holiday weekend just to have the company down-size / let go / RIF / ax / etc.. 10 of your fellow colleagues.

I knew something was wrong when I got to the office and saw one of my co-workers outside crying on the steps. Once inside the office I was told there was a all-hands meeting and needed to go to a conference room. Others in the conference room were chatting away like we normally do while waiting for a meeting to start and no one seemed to know what the meeting was about. I went back to my desk to setup my laptop as the co-worker who I saw crying outside walked by and made a comment to me that I thought was a little weird at the time related to a request they made yesterday. Walking to the break room to get a drink I noticed that a lot of managers had their doors shut talking with co-workers one-on-one. Leaving the break room I was blocked from taking the long way back to the conference room by another manager and was told to go directly back to the conference room.

Back in he conference room I started to put two and two together and realized that the company was laying people off. It wasn’t until several minutes later that the President of the company walked into the conference room to announce to everyone officially that the company was laying off 8 employees and 2 contractors.

This caught a lot of people by surprise especially since the company down played the effects of the current economic crisis on the company and made it sounds like there was no need to worry about anyone losing their job in a previous meeting we had a few weeks back.

A co-worker asked why the company spent a lot of time recently to hire on a lot of management and higher positions (Chiefs) just to let go 10 non-management positions (Indians) which left some of these Chiefs without people to manage. As to be expected we all got a nice horse and pony show / magic hands / tap-dance type answer to justify letting go the 10 people who do a lot of day to day work so that the managers will be around if the company should need to use them for possible future management needs like maybe buying companies that are falling on hard times due to the economic crisis.

In the end two co-workers in my group got let go and the whole ordeal pretty much left the whole company in a state of very low morale.

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Carolina Renaissance Festival 2008

Posted by heymoe on November 11th, 2008

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Last Saturday I took a trip back in time to the Village of Fairhaven in 16th century Europe. Travel back in time was as simple as hopping into my car and a little over 2 hours later I was there. No need for a DeLorean and a Mr. Fusion either.

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This year the Carolina Renaissance Festival was celebrating their 15th year. The festival started in 1994 on 6 acres of land and has grown to 22 acres over the last 15 years consisting of 10 stages, an arena for jousting, arts & crafts shops, food, games and rides for the kids and grownups alike and more.

This was my first visit to the Carolina Renaissance Festival and I’m wondering why it took me so long to go. I’ve only been to one other Renaissance Festival when I was growing up in Atlanta and it was nothing like this. Granted that was years and years ago so things have most likely changed. Any ways, walking into the festival you really get the sense that you are in a 16th century village.

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The buildings and other structures are real and functional. Not something that was built up temporally just for the festival and to be torn down when the gates close for the year. Now I’m sure the buildings aren’t 100% authentic but you still get the feeling of being in a different time.

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Then you have all the dedicated people (staff and guests) in their period costumes to add even more realism to the festival. This past weekend was one of the festival’s special / themed weekend which tossed in some pirates into the story line which reminds me of the whole pirates vs. ninjas thing at Animazement.

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I was surprised by how many things there were to do at the festival. With their 10 stages there is always some show sit down and enjoy. Then you have all the shops to wonder though while trying to talk yourself out of spending even more money. Then you can’t forget the jousting which has its own storyline that is played in out three acts during the day so you really have to see each act. I arrived at the festival at around 11:30am and was planning on staying no later then 4pm but ended up sticking around until the gates closed at 5:30pm. I really need to plan out my time better next time.

I really had a lot of fun at the festival and think it was well worth the price of admission, which wasn’t really that expensive. Especially when you consider all the stuff you can see and do that is included in that price. I didn’t really get a chance to sample the different foods the festival had to offer but the prices didn’t seem to be insane and you do seem to get pretty big portions for your money. I look forwarding to going back next year.

More Photos Here (PicLens PicLens Button)

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Posted in Events, Photography, Travel | Comments Off on Carolina Renaissance Festival 2008

It’s a Boy!

Posted by heymoe on November 10th, 2008

The McAleer Family

Awwww, Isn’t he cute!

Congratulations go out to Justin and Kelly McAleer on the arrival of Liam David McAleer who was born on Friday November 7th at 8:23pm Eastern or as Justin put it: when Liam’s reign of terror began. Justin shouldn’t have any problem remembering this birthday since Liam and Kelly now share it. Funny how that worked out or was it just part of Justin’s master plan 🙂 hehe..

It looks like Justin is actually going to have to start making use of their website. I’m sure there are a lot of family and friends wanting to see how Liam’s reign of terror over Justin and Kelly is going.

Any ways, rest up Justin and Kelly, you’re both going to need it.

Posted in Events, Home | No Comments »

2008 N.C. State Fair

Posted by heymoe on October 27th, 2008

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This past Saturday I made a trip to the 2008 N.C. State Fair to take in the sights and sounds (more sights really). Saturday started out kind of soggy but by the afternoon things were dry and by time I got to the fair ground around 8pm it was jeans and long-sleeves weather.

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Normally I avoid the fair grounds and surrounding area like the plague due to traffic but driving into the heart of the beast last Saturday wasn’t all that bad. I pulled into the first parking lot I came across which as I expected was a pay-lot charging $10 to park. I felt the price was a little steep but didn’t really want to drive around to see if I could find something cheaper which I’m sure is what the people who own the lots are betting most people will do. Looking at the number of cars they packed into the lot (really just a really large field), they made a killing. I later found out that if I drove a little further down the street I could have parked for free at the RBC Center. Oh well.

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I guess one perk of where I parked was it was a short walk to one of the main gates to get into the fair. Luckily I was able to buy my ticket using a credit card since I didn’t make a stop by an ATM on the way there which left me enough cash to buy some snacks and drinks. I really didn’t want to use one of the fair provided ATMs since I would most likely get bent over with fees.

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I brought along my camera and tripod to take some photos, especially to play around with some long exposures to capture the sense of speed and motion. The first ride I took some photos of was called the “Dream Catcher” which basically was a side-to-side swing that had a seating area at the end that spun around at the same time. Next up was the spinning swing ride where I experimented with using a long exposure + a rear curtain flash so I could not only get the blur effect of motion but to also stop the motion right at the end. I used this same process on the free-fall ride which I think turned out really well.

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On my way to the next ride to take photos of the fireworks show started so I quickly setup and started to shot away using different exposure times and settings and I must say I’m very happy with the results I ended up with and it made up for my failed attempt at fireworks photography last 4th of July. So after the fireworks stopped I moved to the next ride which I must say was the best ride to take long exposure photos of. With the ride’s multi-colored lights going on and off seemingly at random at normal speed resulted in photos with color, shapes and patterns that were amazing (at least to me they were). Each time I clicked the shutter I couldn’t wait to see what I ended up with.

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After taking some picture of some other rides I more or less packed up my gear and did more fair type activities like eat food. I started with an Italian Sausage dog all the way and water and for desert I had my first deep-fried candy bar (Snickers) which as good as it tasted I’m pretty sure it took a few years off of my life (hehe).

Before I knew it mid-night rolled around and the fair started to close. It really didn’t feel like I was there for 4 hours so I guess as they say, time flies when you’re having fun.

More Photos Here (PicLens PicLens Button)

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Posted in Entertainment, Events, Home, Photography | No Comments »

I Voted!

Posted by heymoe on October 27th, 2008

I Voted

Well over the weekend I received a letter from the Board of Elections which I was assuming was my voter card but as it turned out it was them telling me that I did not complete the application and directions on what I needed to do so I could still vote in this election.

The Board of Elections was kind enough to highlight the one YES or NO question that I did not answer and placed a sticker on the application that stated that if I answered NO to any of the YES or NO questions that I would not be able to vote.

Now I most likely wouldn’t have spent the time to write about this except the question that I left blank couldn’t be answered with a YES or NO. If I answered NO then I can’t vote in the election and if I answered YES, I would be agreeing to something on an official government document that does not apply to me.

So what was the question? The questions was: “If I have been convicted of a felony, my rights of citizenship have been restored.” . Well, I’ve never been convicted of a felony so answering YES isn’t the right answer and answering NO would mean I can’t vote, so I left it blank.

In any case, one of the other pieces of paper I received said I could go to one of the early voting locations to resolve my “issue” quickly instead of relying on the US Postal System which may delay the processing of my application until after Election Day.

So today I headed down to one of the early voting locations where I had to fill out another application, which didn’t have the YES and NO question I left blank on my previous application, then got in line to vote. Pretty much a painless process from start to finish.

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Capital City Bike Fest

Posted by heymoe on October 6th, 2008

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A couple of weekends back I went to the 4th annual Capital City Bike Fest which was held on Fayetteville St. downtown Raleigh. I’ve been riding motorcycles for almost 10 years now and currently own two (a cruiser and a sport bike) but in all that time I’ve never actually been to a big bike gathering. Now I’m pretty sure the size of this event is most likely no where near the size of the other big name bike events like Sturgis, Daytona Bike Week or Myrtle Beach Bike Week but I think it was it was a good start for me.

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There were bikes of all shapes and sizes and even though a high percentage of the bikes were Harley Davidsons, other manufactures had a showing there as well.

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I even saw what most likely is one of the most expensive iPhone docking stations available (see Photo).

I really enjoyed walking around the event and seeing all the custom paint jobs and accessories that people have come up with. One of the cooler mods I saw was a front wheel rim that was made of bulletproof glass (click for picture) so it looked as if it was floating magically in the air. Yes, I know it looks like the wheel is made of solid piece of chrome due to the spray bottle but it’s actually two spray bottles that the owner set up to fool people walking by.

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There was also a BMX stunt show which gave me the opportunity to try some action photography. They had a half-pipe ramp setup at one end of the street that the bikers would use to gain speed so they could do tricks off of a take off and landing ramp setup at the other end of the street with a car between them. They even pulled people out of the crowd so one of the bikers could bunny hop over them (click for picture).

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I wish I knew they were going to allow motorcycle parking on Fayetteville St. during the event before I left the else. If I knew that I would have road one of my bikes down there instead of driving. I also thought it might rain also which didn’t help with the decision either. Oh well, there is always next year.

More Photos Here (PicLens PicLens Button)

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Posted in Events, Photography, Transportation | No Comments »

Have you or have you not heard?

Posted by heymoe on October 6th, 2008

Well Have You?



Posted in Entertainment, Random | No Comments »

More Grownup Now

Posted by heymoe on October 6th, 2008

Me? More of a grownup? Say it ain’t so. It can’t be. What is this world coming to. 🙂

Well it’s true. Today I registered to vote in the county that I’ve lived in now for the last 8+ years. So now I can vote in the up coming election with the hopes that whoever ends up getting elected doesn’t screw things up even more then they are now and actually turns this country around and heading in the right direction. I’m personally still support the idea of rebooting the government and starting over from scratch more or less. It’s like having to re-install Windows every year because over time Windows get slower and unstable due to all the crap the gets installed over time so a fresh install makes everything better.

Posted in Cerebral, Gibberish | No Comments »

Frozen Credit Markets? Really?

Posted by heymoe on October 6th, 2008

With all the talk about banks failing, bailouts, mortgage crisis, record breaking losses in the stock market, etc.. You would think trying to get a loan or credit card might not be as easy as it once was. Before the bottom fell out, banks other financial institutes were just handing out credit / loans to anyone with a pulse.

A friend of mine recently got bought his first house before the bottom fell out and he was telling me all the hoops he had to jump through to get the loan that I didn’t have to do when I got my first loan or when I refinanced over 5 years ago. I mean when I refinanced the last time it seemed the process was pretty much: “Hey I like that rate, where do I sign?” and that was pretty much it.

Any way, imagine my surprise when I found in the mail today a credit card offer for a credit line of $30,000. This by itself most isn’t all that surprising but the bank making me the offer was WaMu. You know, the bank that was recently listed as the largest bank failure in American financial history.

I’m sure this offer will be honored by JPMorgan Chase who purchased the WaMu banking business from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) for $1.9B after it was seized by the Office of Thrift Supervision (OST) on September 25, 2008 but it is still funny I think. I mean, how frozen are the credit market if I can still get a $30,000 credit line from a bank that has failed.

While on the subject of failing banks: The new the new RBC Plaza building in downtown Raleigh recently opened for business and to celebrate they hired the Red Bull Skydivers to base jump from the top of the building but later canceled the stunt basically saying that will all the troubles in the market and banking, it wasn’t the appropriate time to have people jumping from a bank building especially with the Wachoiva next door which is pretty much in the same boat as WaMu.

Posted in Random | No Comments »

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