Thursday, November 26, 2009

Astrobiology? Sure, why not!

In what I think is a stroke of brilliance, I have figured out how to turn a bad habit (wasting hours reading astronomy web sites) into a Work Related Activity. I'm teaching an Astrobiology course this spring! I'm capping the enrollment at 30, so if I make a fool of myself, there won't be too many witnesses.

Now, time to see what's on Astronomy Picture of the Day.

zero percent credit card offers are back!

I found a few new 0% credit card offers, after they had all but disappeared for the past few months. Good timing, since soon it will be time to apply for some new cards, in what looks to be yet another year of free money from the Big Banks.

There are some subtleties, but the basic strategy is: 1) get a bunch of credit cards with 0% promotional rates for 12 months; 2) extract funds from each card up to 89% of credit limit; 3) deposit funds in reward checking accounts; 4) make minimum payments every month using on-line bill pay; 5) pay off balances just before 0% period ends; 6) wait 30 days for credit report to show paid off balances; 7) rinse and repeat.

Its so easy I don't know why more people don't do it. But then, probably most people would spend the money from the credit cards, and therefore be totally screwed. Also, the 0% offers with no fees do require a bit of looking around to find.

With interest rates on savings accounts and CDs being so low, reward checking accounts are pretty much the only safe place to keep cash and get a good (5%) yield. These are FDIC insured, completely liquid, and offered by a host of small banks, mostly in the rural south. A pretty good list of these accounts can be found at high yield checking account deals.

Its good to have hobbies!

recovered from bike wreck

I went for my first run since my bike wreck almost 4 weeks ago. Everything seems to be working. I'll probably run again tomorrow.

Although I hadn't run in a month, I have been swimming a lot, and doing lots of weight lifting the past few weeks. I definitely prefer running, so its good to be back at it.

Note to self: Do NOT fall off the bike again!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

new post

The triathlon & biking seasons ended with some mixed results.

I'd been having some trouble with sore hamstrings for several weeks before the Longhorn half-iron triathlon on October 25, so I hadn't been running much, and had been substituting lots of biking and swimming. In the race, I swam well, biked very well (top in age group), but bonked about half way through the 13 mile run, and had to do the survival shuffle for the last 6 miles. There is just no way to do a good triathlon without a good run.

On October 31 I did a 16 mile bike time trial in Gruene, TX, which went well, 37:46 on a fairly difficult course.

The next day, Nov. 1, I did a 2-person 27 mile team bike time trial in Gruene, with my biking buddy Jon H. We were going very well for the 1st 12 miles, then I took a turn too fast, and wiped out pretty hard. After taking a minute to make sure nothing was broken, I got back up and finished the last 15 miles. We still averaged about 24 mph, but were not nearly as good as we should have been. I ended up with a lot of road rash and 3 stitches on my hand. Two weeks later, I am still sore in a few places, but getting better every day, and I am pretty sure there is no real damage. That should be the last time I take a turn too fast on a bike, lesson learned.