Sunday, October 13, 2019

Mortgages are Weird

Mortgages are weird. You do this thing where you pay a lot of interest up front, and not much principle until later. Then you start thinking things like, "man, if I could just pay the principle, this thing would be paid off so much faster and I wouldn't owe as much interest!"

It's always been confusing to me too, but I think I've finally found a way of thinking about it that makes sense to me.

Imagine you have a bank account with $100,000 that pays interest. You retire, and think, "I've probably got 10 years left in my life, so what I want to do is take out the same amount of money every month for the next 10 years." You don't want to die with money left in the account. That would be a waste! You also don't want to use it up too early, then how would you buy food? (Is this sounding morbid?)

At first you say, "I'll just divide $100,000 over 12 months for the next 10 years." But you realize pretty quickly that because of the interest, you'll be left with a bunch of money left over at the end of 10 years!

If you just used the interest to pay yourself, your would never use all the money, of course. That's when you have a realization. However much you take out, it will mean less interest paid the next month. And so on, and so on as you take our more and more money.

So that's when it all comes together. You'll start by taking out money that is mostly interest, but a little bit of the original $100,000 (if you didn't, you'd never use all the money)! But since you took out a little bit of the $100,000, next month you wouldn't have as much interest, so you'd have to take out more of the original $100,000. If you were really clever with math, you could make it work out perfectly so that you took out the same amount every month, the ratio of interest to the originally $100,000 slowly changing over time, until you were being paid almost no interest and you had to take out the last of that original $100,000.

This is a mortgage, except the roles are reversed between you and the bank.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Good Music, 2016

Hi folks! I'm listening to a bit less music these days, but here are some albums and songs that I really liked in 2016 (though not all released this year):


  • Misty Miller - "The Whole Family is Worried." (Angry British Lady Rock)
  • Sky Ferreira - "Night Time, My Time" (Great Indie Pop)
  • Mike Doughty - "The Heart Watches While the Brain Burns" (Mike's best since at least Golden Delicious)
  • Tokyo Police Club - "Champ" (Just like regular rock n' roll but v. good.)
  • Moana Soundtrack (OMG please see this movie the music is so good.)


  • Lizzo - "Worship"
  • Big Data - "Dangerous" 
  • Meghan Trainor - "Me Too"
  • BØRNS - "10,000 Emerald Pools"
  • Bahari - "Altar of the Sun"
  • Mumford & Songs - "Ditmas"

Listen to all of these, please. Google Music Playlist

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

More Games of my Youth

Super Solvers Midnight Rescue was another favorite computer game of my early childhood. You can play it on

Funny enough, this was a reading comprehension game, but I didn't quite get that part. I just remember taking pictures of all the robots.

And while this is almost passé, Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego is surprisingly fun:

(We actually only had Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego, for our Macintosh LC, but the gameplay is basically identical.)

Monday, May 2, 2016

Think Quick!

When I was younger my parents had an IBM PC XT, and I was lucky enough to get to mess around with it when they weren't using it.

One of my favorite games was Think Quick! and now you can play it on

Please, relive my childhood:

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Bike ride in the Red Hook/Rhinebeck NY/Bard College Area (20 mi)

This weekend I was near Bard College accompanying my wife as she attended a conference at Bard College. Since I had nothing to do, I decided to bring my bike along, and on Saturday took a great 20 mile bike rid in the area.

Full credit goes to Ken Roberts and Sharon Marsh Roberts, who found this great route (and have many others in the area on their web site). It can be very difficult finding good routes as a visitor, so I am very grateful to them.

Anyway, the route is pretty much as they describe. Roughly 20 miles with gently rolling hills, never too steep that you get bored of them. In addition to Rhinebeck, where the route starts, and Red Hook, there are some neat sites along the way.

I stopped for a short stroll in Poet's Park:
I saw many farms and even vineyards:
And I had a look at Bard College:
The whole thing took just a bit over two hours, even with a few accidental detours. And Rhinebeck is a great place to get a bite to eat when you're done!

You can check out my ride on Garmin Connect (with full maps, elevation details etc.).

And you can see my full photo album.

Hopefully you can give it a try!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

It's true...

Nerds really do like Subarus.


Saturday, May 23, 2015

Extracting Base64 Images from Google Keep Archives

I love Google Keep! It's a nice-looking note-taking app with more features than I ever use.

But once I made the mistake of staring a photo album in Keep. (If you don't know, you can add photos to a note either by taking a picture or finding on on 'disk.') To my chagrin I discovered that there's no way to get these photos out of Keep.

So I was super happy when I saw that Google Takeout now exports Google Keep files. "Great!" I thought, I'll just download my whole archive and grab those files. Again, much to my chagrin, I discovered that the photos were not in the Takeout archive as JPG files, but rather encoded as base64 strings inside the html page. So for example, I have a note called "Dogs" and all the photos are base64 encoded inside that "Dogs.html" note in the Takeout archive.

This is seriously annoying.

So, I wrote a Python script to get these images out. It's called the "Keep Photo Dump."

To use it you have to have Python installed. At the terminal, you would run:
./ Dogs.html

and all the images in the file will be dumped as Dogs1.jpg, Dogs2.jpg, etc.

Hope this helps someone else.