Mon, 31st Oct '05, 10:05 pm::

Tonight was fun. I had so many kids come to my house for trick-or-treating. It was awesome. I still have a lot of candy left over, but I did give away a hell lot of candy too. And I gave the nice expensive stuff so the kids were like 'ooooooo this is good candy!' I even had a glowing pumpkin sitting on the tree stumps outside my Florida room so everyone could see I had candy. I think about 35-40 kids came over trick-or-treating between 7pm and 9pm. Fun stuff. Anyways, time to hit the sack.

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Mon, 31st Oct '05, 1:40 pm::

All day, I've been saying "Happy Diwali" to every one who wishes me "Happy Halloween!" Kinda funny. Hey, you celebrate your holiday and I'll celebrate my festival :) Right?

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Sun, 30th Oct '05, 8:15 pm::

Just finished cleaning my entire house. So many chores completed - laundry, dusting, vacuuming, dishes... My house is all sparkly :) Time to sit back and unwind in front of the TV now.

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Housing-bubble and real-estateSun, 30th Oct '05, 12:25 pm::

Anyone who cares whether or not there is a Housing Bubble in the US real-estate market right now should read The Fool. There's a big discussion over at Fark with many saying there is no bubble outside of a few places and many saying it is nation-wide.

A housing-bubble is when everyone is buying homes at prices higher than what they're really worth. Now obviously, the physical price of construction a house is pretty much the same anywhere in a large country like US except in remote locations like mountains because shipping and construction is more expensive there. So if a two-bedroom/one-bathroom house in middle of Kansas is $50,000 then it should be the same in New York, California, and Florida. Of course it is not, mostly because of the L-word - location, location, location. The location the house is built in, determines how expensive the house will be and if the location happens to be in a rich-neighborhood in Hamptons or Beverly Hills, even a moderate 6,000 sq. ft. house will be close to millions. The same house in rural Indiana would be way below, and with probably ten times more acreage.

I bought my house in June for around $150k on a 30-year fixed mortgage. This means that for the next 30-years, I will pay a fixed monthly amount to the bank and at the end of 30-years, I will own this house fully and won't have to pay anything to live here, other than taxes etc. Now suppose I pay $1,000 a month in mortgage in year 2005. That means even in year 2015 when my salary will be hopefully much higher because of inflation and job promotion, I will still be paying a fixed $1,000 per month. Due to the fixed nature of monthly mortgage payment and rising salary, paying monthly mortgage should become easier and easier every year. This happens when you get a 30-year fixed mortgage. Of course, I could still sell the house anytime and move to a different neighborhood and choose to rent or own property again. But if nothing changes, I pay a fixed mortgage a month and gradually build equity.

Equity is my share of the house mortgage that I've paid up, added to the increase in house value since I bought it. Suppose I bought a house 10 years ago for $100,000 and have paid $40,000 towards the mortgage principal. Now suppose I can sell the same house today for $250,000. Then my equity is $40,000 + ($250,000 - $100,000) = $190,000.

Notice how I said "mortgage principal" and not "mortgage." There's a difference. These fixed x-year loan mortgages work on an amortization basis. Amortization is when you borrow some money (called principal) and instead of just paying interest each month/year, you also pay part of the original principal. So suppose you borrow $100,000 from a bank to buy a house at fixed 6% annual interest, then each month, you have to pay $100,000 x 6% / 12 = $500 interest. This is just the interest. If you pay $600 each month, then the $100 above your $500 interest goes towards paying off your principal. So if after the first month, you paid $600, then $500 goes towards interest on $100,000, while the $100 goes towards reducing $100,000 to $99,900. Now in the second month, you only have to pay interest on the principal of $99,900. This means if you still pay $600, your interest will be LESS than $500 and your payment towards the principal will be MORE than $100. Each month you will be paying less interest and more principal. Your last payment will go 100% towards the principal and no more interest. Then you will have paid off the loan.

However, if each month you only pay $500, that is your exact interest, then you still owe the bank exactly $100,000 at the end of every month, year, or decade. And when your loan term ends, you have to somehow find $100,000 to return to the bank! And THAT is the mistake everyone is making right now, buying expensive houses on short-term interest-only loans.

Interest-only loans are great if you KNOW what the hell you're doing with every last penny you have. If you are a common person who is better at welding cast-iron or programming in PHP, you most probably aren't too good with making the most out of your interest-only loan. However, the problem is that when you were thinking of buying a house and realized that every house you want is out of your price-range, your mortgage-lender/bank suggested that you go with interest-only loans. At that time, you wanted a two-bedroom/one-bathroom house in a nice neighborhood but could only afford $1200 a month. Since every house was $200,000 or above, your monthly mortgage on 30-year fixed would be over $2,000. However, if you went with interest-only loans, then you could in fact pay just the interest on $200,000 and live in your dream house! The mortgage broker said "Don't worry! After 3/5/10 years when you have to pay the full principal of $200,000 in ONE day, you can just sell this house for way over $200,000 and buy another one that's even bigger with the extra money you make. Or you can just refinance when the interest-rate falls lower and get an even better deal."

Except that, interest rates right now are about the lowest they're gonna get unless US economy changes drastically. And that you will only be able to pay off the interest-only loan if in fact your house will be worth more than $200,000 after 3/5/10 years. So what happens if three years after you bought the house on a variable interest-only ARM 3/1 loan, the real-estate market crashes and the interest rates shoot up? You get totally screwed. And that is what everyone is afraid of right now.

If there is in fact a housing bubble, then at some point in the near future, it will pop. When the housing bubble pops, nobody will be able to sell a house for a profit. Normally, that would be fine because if you don't make a profit, you don't get screwed - you just don't get the extra money you were hoping to get. However, if you were RELYING on that profit to not be screwed, because you had an interest-only loan, then well, when there's no profit, you are royally screwed. Bankruptcy and foreclosures will abound. And that's what everyone is afraid of. The realtors selling houses will try to maintain face, saying there is no bubble. They say it is localized to only specific places and not nation-wide.

I honestly hope they are right. Because if they're not, many people are going to be, literally, homeless.

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Fri, 28th Oct '05, 7:15 pm::

Another great day at work today. I solved a lot of little problems and one big problem. I love it when stuff works. I got home and sat on my lawn chairs for a while, just sitting and relaxing in the beautiful weather. I need to go to the beach. It's so gorgeous :) Things are finally back to normal *touch-wood*

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Thu, 27th Oct '05, 11:20 pm::

Just got back from seeing Rusted Root play at Jannus Landing in downtown St. Petes with Lanie, Natalia, and Vai. I had an amazing time. I love it when the band can connect so well with the crowd... it's like one huge 500-people band. Had some good Thai food before the concert and now I'm hungry again.

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Wed, 26th Oct '05, 11:55 pm::

Dave & Liz came over for dinner and made some tasty beans 'n rice :) Even though I can't cook for my life, I have friends who can, so it all works out. Plus I have all the kitchen utensils, spices, and the food stuff. Watched some Comedy Central after that and just about to go to bed. Things are getting chilly here in Florida. It's all good :)

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Wed, 26th Oct '05, 7:25 am::

A lot of people don't know what "irony" and "ironic" mean. Here's an excerpt by George Carlin that explains it very well:

Irony deals with opposites; it has nothing to do with coincidence.

If two baseball players from the same hometown, on different teams, receive the same uniform number, it is not ironic. It is a coincidence. If Barry Bonds attains lifetime statistics identical to his father's, it will not be ironic. It will be a coincidence.

Irony is "a state of affairs that is the reverse of what was to be expected; a result opposite to and in mockery of the appropriate result." For instance: a diabetic, on his way to buy insulin, is killed by a runaway truck. He is the victim of an accident. If the truck was delivering sugar, he is the victim of an oddly poetic coincidence. But if the truck was delivering insulin, ah! Then he is the victim of an irony.

If a Kurd, after surviving bloody battle with Saddam Husseins army and a long, difficult escape through the mountains, is crushed and killed by a parachute drop of humanitarian aid, that, my friend, is irony writ large.

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Mon, 24th Oct '05, 7:35 pm::

I think this is the first time in my life that the "Law" is actually working in my favor (so far so good). My car's windshield cracked pretty badly from a falling branch at work today. I drove it home but it's not that safe to keep driving around with a windshield that can collapse anytime. I called up my insurance company and they're gonna fix it tomorrow between 8am-12pm. Hopefully I won't miss much work. Well Hurricane Wilma passed over us without much damage. It was just bad-luck that my windshield cracked. It's the end of October and hurricane season ends on November 30th. However since we have a cold front coming, I don't think there's gonna be any hurricanes in the next week or so.

The funniest part was listening to the weather today. Weather-folks are known for never being too strong and never being absolutely precise. I was kinda amused to hear the weatherman on radio say: "Chances of rain today: 100%. Chances of rain tomorrow: 0%."

Anyways, had some food Indian food today at India-Grill down on Central Ave. with my friend Lanie. She's fun to chill with but because she's busy working on nights and weekends, our schedules seldom match. Lunch works though because both of us are free and my work is near her house. I'm just glad that so many people in Florida love Indian food :)

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Thu, 20th Oct '05, 1:20 am::

Oh and I just watched the new South Park episode. Classic! "I broke the dam! I BROKE THE DAM!!!!!

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Thu, 20th Oct '05, 1:15 am::

Had a fun evening. After an awesome day at work (Ive been working on some really cool web-programming-stuff), I went to the St. Petes State Theater to see Veruca Salt with my friend Liz. Her boyfriend's out of town and I'd promised her that we'd do something fun. The music was pretty good and we shared a large cheese pizza. Liz was born and raised in the area so it's kinda funny that everywhere we went, she ran into people she knew from somewhere. And since she's so friendly, I get to meet all her friends. I miss that, running into people. I've moved so often to so many different places that I rarely run into anyone I know. I don't even know the last time I ran into someone.

Anyways, the big news now is Hurricane Wilma. Wilma's supposed to hit Florida within two days. I don't think I will have to evacuate but I'm gonna be prepared. It just sucks that we're gonna be hit by a hurricane so late in October! I thought the hurricane season was over for now. Guess not. If Wilma's gonna go on the LBAR (pink) path as predicted then I just might have to go and buy wood and board up my house - too many glass windows all around. I'm just hoping that it goes further south without causing any damage.

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Sun, 16th Oct '05, 8:15 pm::

When I came here five years ago, I had to learn the "American" word for pretty much everything. Mostly it was something trivial like it's called a "Trash Can" here and not a "Dust Bin."

One phrase that got me a lot of weird looks was "Long Distance." Everytime I wanted to make a Long Distance phone call on someone's phone/cellphone, and asked them about it, they would give me some VERY WEIRD LOOKS! Most just said "WHAT THE #$%#" and went back to doing whatever they were doing.

I remember this one incident back in Jersey when I was on the campus bus and needed to make an urgent Long Distance call to a family member in Texas. I asked the girl sitting next to me if I could borrow her cell and she smiled and said "Sure" as she handed it to me. I politely asked her if she has Long Distance and she said "WHAT THE HELL YOU FREAK?!!!" and snatched back the phone. It was a long bus ride that day.

Of course, I wasn't really using the exact phrase "Long Distance" but another substitute that I thought meant "Long Distance." You see, in India, for "Long Distance" phone calls, we use the term "Subscriber Trunk Dialling," or the acronym STD. Incidentally, STD stands for Sexually Transmitted Disease in US. Oops!

No wonder the girl snatched back her cell when I asked her "Do you have STD?"

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Sun, 16th Oct '05, 12:55 am::

HAPPY B'DAY NICK MARTIN :) Hope the Big apple treats you well.

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Sat, 15th Oct '05, 5:35 pm::

I'm pretty excited to release a software library for people who program in PHP, called - PDFB Library. PDFB Library makes it very easy for even novice PHP programmers to generate high-quality dynamic Acrobat PDF files. The library allows you to take any PDF file, then overlay text, images, and barcodes (Code 3 of 9, Code 128, Interleaved 2 of 5, and UPC-A), and generate a new PDF dynamically. Obviously non-programmers wouldn't be interested in something like this but for programmers that have to write hundreds of lines of code just to make a decent invoice or packing slip printable, PDFB just might save a lot of time. I'm releasing it for free hoping that there'll be thousands of others like me who would benefit from it.

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Sat, 8th Oct '05, 7:00 pm::

I just found out that the one of the two lime trees in my backyard is orange! I think the one is key-lime but my friend Lynn says it's tangerine. Wikipedia says, "Lime is actually an ambiguous term in the context of fruit, referring to a number of different citruses with typically round, green to yellow fruits.. generally containing sour pulp, and frequently associated with the lemon." The fruits are not ripe yet but once they are, I'll pick them and probably make something good with them. Who knows, maybe Key Lime Pie!

I think I have a pretty interesting set of vegetation around my house - three Mexican Fan Palm Trees, Orange Tree, Key-Lime/Tangerine Tree, Aloe Vera, and a few other trees I don't know much about. I need to start taking more care of the yard. Now that my health's getting better, I will be able to. Plus soon it's going to get cooler and much more pleasant. Here's to another Florida "Fall" and "Winter."

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Sat, 8th Oct '05, 11:10 am::

OH MY GOD!!!! 7.6 Earthquake is HUGE! My family members and pretty much everyone I know live quite away from the epicenter so I don't think there's going to be any personal news. But still, this is another big one. And a lot of lives have/will-soon be lost :-(

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Tue, 4th Oct '05, 8:55 pm::

Had an awesome day at work. Mmmmmmmm chocolate cake! And ice-cream too :) Went to the nice restaurant again this year that my boss & all took me last year. I had some superb veggie shephard's pie.

Oh and here's my friend Avni's e-card :)

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Tue, 4th Oct '05, 12:00 am::

Happy B'day to me!!! I'm TWENTY-FIVE! Quarter of a century!!!

And my friend Tamara has (as awesomely usual) sent me a hilarious e-card already.

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Mon, 3rd Oct '05, 11:55 pm::

Had a great night out tonight with my new friend Jen. We went down to Blue Fugu on St. Petes Beach where I had some awesome veggie sushi. We didn't do much except play with my kitties after that. Tera totally took a liking to her. She rarely lets anyone other than me hold her so it was surprising to see Jen play with her. Giga was being playful as always :) He's running around my house right now too!

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Sun, 2nd Oct '05, 3:20 pm::

I'm absolutely feel like my health's improving. I still feel very weak but at least my cough has subsided considerably. Woke up late this morning but have been feeling so weird all day. Watched two movies that I'd seen before - Garden State and Shrek 2. Had some food and am doing the laundry. I hope in a few days I'll get all better.

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Sat, 1st Oct '05, 8:05 pm::

I'm feeling soooo much better it's amazing. Since Thursday, I have been on a new antibiotic Ketek that is different from other antibacterial agents and since 6pm yesterday I've been feeling so much better. I had a good night's sleep and since I woke up, I've only coughed once about every 20-25 minutes. Compare this to just Wednesday when I was coughing non-stop for 30-60 seconds once every 2-3 minutes. I totally feel like this medicine is fixing whatever respiratory bacteria I had and hopefully in a few days I might get better. Of course, minor coughing will still last for a few weeks but I already feel like a new man.

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