Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Weigh ins #25-29, Honeymoons, Newcastle United and the FBI and Plex Success!

Time to take a quick dive through our accumulation of rubbish in the last few months from January until now!

Weigh in #25 was 15oz

Weigh in #26 was 18oz

Weigh in #27 was 11.5oz

Weigh in #28 was 22oz

Weigh in #29 was 12oz.

With these five weigh ins we're standing at a grand total of 562.5oz or 35lbs and 2.5oz after 48 weeks so well inside our target. The next earth day is only 4 weeks away so the experiment is coming to an end, but not the practice of buying wisely, recycling, and composting, so our amount of waste going to land fill will be kept as low as we can.

This next year I think I'm going to try and cut out all of my junk mail. I've tried mailing back those business reply envelopes, but that is just petty!

I've signed up with Catalog Choice to see if I can get rid of those blasted "redplum" coupon things the postman delivers once a week. I'll let you know how successful I have been.

On a similar note to opt out of all those annoying pre-screening credit offers you can call 1--888-5-OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688) or visit OPTOUT

That should remove your name for 5 years. I think you can remove it permanently as well if you chose. Remember the next time you legitimately apply for credit it will put your name back on their mailing list so you'll have to re-register to opt out.

Talking of credit, you may or may not know that I walked away from my condo in what's called a "strategic default". In lay mans terms I stopped paying my $400,000 mortgage on a place that was then worth $170,000, and let the bank carry the can.

I heard many horror stories of what would happen to my credit, so I got my credit scores just before I stopped paying my mortgage in April 2009, and then I recently did the same thing in January 2011, some 6 months after the foreclosure.

So here are my pre and post-foreclosure scores

April 2009 :

Transunion = 737
Experian = 734
Equifax = 756

January 2011

Transunion = 721 (a drop of 16 points!)
Experian = 684 (a drop of 50 points)
Equifax = 716 (a drop of 40 points)

So not the whole doom and gloom the financial sector predicted, but then again they were trying to pray on my fear!

There is one slight catch however. They'd started adding grades to the scores so as well as my score I am graded C by Transunion, a lowly D by Experian and a C by Equifax.

So would I rather still have my good scores and grades or $380,000 of debt? I'll let you figure that one out!

Just after I got my new credit scores Ananda and I headed out on our Honeymoon; a few days in Tahiti and then almost 4 weeks in New Zealand. Here's a few pictures just to wet your appetites for when we get round to some serious editing!

This is the swim up horizon pool bar at our resort in Tahiti. The weather was superb for the three days we were there and snorkeling in the lagoon was so fun...... until I spotted a massive moray eel on the last day! Only drawback about Tahiti is it is very, very expensive for food! We got a sweet deal on the resort though, only $120 for three nights!

Next up was New Zealand and an amazing time in my most favourite place in the world!

This is Ananda kayaking in the beautiful Able Tasman National park. Truly beautiful in itself but throw in a pod of dolphins swimming around us, sting rays and beautiful song birds and you begin to get a better idea!

Most of you might recognise Mt Ngauruhoe as Mt Doom in LOTR. We had a great one day trek up amongst the volcanoes. If New Zealand is my most favourite country in the world then the Tongariro National Park, a double World Heritage Site is my favourite place, ANYWHERE. It truly is a magnificent and sacred place to be.

When I moved to New Zealand back in 2000 it was the best thing I had ever done in my life. I was so lucky to land on my two feet sharing a house with some amazing room-mates. Here's two of them, Nick and Verena, who in the intervening time have got married and grew another room-mate of their own, Oliver! It was great to catch up with them, all too briefly though.

This is the Whangapoua crew from a wonderful weekend at the Arcus's beach house, which doesn't really do the place full justice. Award winning beach compound might be a better description. It was a great opportunity to catch up my dear friends and to see their kids and to see how they have all grown up too in the case of Leon and Gracie. An unforgettable weekend of sun, sea, fun, food and friends. Thanks guys!

Well coming home after that was a big strain on me, as I so long to go and live there again.

My first day back at work didn't help this mood too much since my computer at work had been confiscated by the FBI! Welcome home Graeme!

To cut a long story short I had downloaded a bundle of programs called Tor that allowed me to log into the BBC website as if I had a British IP address and was therefore able to listen to football commentary of the mighty Newcastle United!

Unbeknownst to me, that also opened up my computer, gloriously labeled as "Property of the US Government", to be an anonymous server for anyone that wanted to use it. All that the two Counter Intelligence FBI agents would say when they interviewed me a week later was that "a bad actor" had been using my computer as a "node".

Since birth it's been a pretty rough ride being a Newcastle United fan. We're basically the equivalent of the Boston Red Sox in terms of not having won the Premier league since 1927 or something, (famously throwing away a 15 point lead in 1992 I think to finish 2nd!!!), but surely adding the FBI into the mix is not something any ordinary football loving fan should have to deal with!

Still, the FBI had not broken my resolve to be a Newcastle United fan, Fat Mike Ashley on the other hand.........

I've yet to break it to my wonderful in-laws that I'll have to become a San Diego Chargers fan since that's their home town, and no doubt I will bring the Newcastle United curse with me to their team. Sorry Jeff!

So after about 6 weeks I finally got my two computers back, and yes my honeymoon photos were on them, so I can someday soon get them out there for you to look at!

Finally good news and some pictures Bruce wanted to see! Thanks to good fortune and luck, our former company has been bought out for almost $1 billion dollars. Some might say that may be a bit on the cheap side since the drug, once approved will be a multi-billion dollar seller, but hey I'm not complaining about the wonderful abundance that's been presented to us!

When I started at Plexxikon, I instituted the traditional British Friday lunch time trip to the pup in Berkeley called Jupiters, which some of my American colleagues took to with, quite literally, flying colours!

Despite the odd reprimand over some post-pub lab safety issues, they were some of my happiest moments there, and indeed it was during one of these visits that I first got the inclination that my now wife had a bit of a crush on me!

So what better place to celebrate our collective good fortunes than at Jupiters!

Here's some pictures and the odd commentary!

In honour of Bruce, I gave my vegetarian habits a rest for the evening and had the world famous "Cassiopeia BBQ chicken pizza"

John and Graeme discussing if they can buy out the Oakland A's, or maybe just build a new all seater stadium for them, so about 200 seats then.

The gangs all here!

The Jihad reunited for the first time since that fateful June day..... Bugger I'll probably have the FBI back on my case now....

And as usual the last to leave were .....

Thanks for reading and see you next time!!


  1. Thanks Graeme! Nobody looks younger or thinner, but it's great to see the gang again. Unshaven appears to be the latest West Coast look.

  2. yeah, Ben's Robin Hood look takes a bit of getting used to!

  3. Whoops that last one should have said "Graeme said"