Thursday, February 05, 2009


Milestone & millstone

The Site Meter widget told the story. My blog was approaching a quarter of a million hits. It had taken three and a half years and about 600 posts. I thought to myself, “Wow. If I only had a dollar for each hit, I'd be one-fourth of a millionaire.”

Then I thought, “Wait a minute. I do.”

Yes. I did. It was sitting there in my checking account. It was a stunning sight: a six-digit number (plus two decimal places) right there on my computer screen when I logged on to my bank account. Damn. Look at that. I have more money than the FDIC insures. It would be a bad idea for my bank to fold right now.

It was a fluke, sort of.

Years ago I managed to pay off the mortgage on my residence. My lack of expensive vices allowed my salary to outpace my expenses, creating a growing surplus. It finally reached the point where I purchased an investment property and allowed the rental income from it to cover most of the monthly mortgage payments. Good deal.

Thanks to the virtuoso management of the nation's economy by our beloved 43rd president (my hero!), mortgage rates have dropped significantly. I decided to try to refinance.

Oops. All the good deals are for one's primary residence. Investment properties don't qualify.


Then: inspiration! I could get a really good loan deal on my paid-off residence. I could use the proceeds to pay off the mortgage on my rental property. In effect, I was shifting my mortgage from the investment property to my residence. The numbers worked nicely, too, since I'd be saving a few hundred bucks each month.

I did the paperwork, signed the application, and got approved. I gave the bank the information for the mortgage company that serviced the loan on my investment property. Then the money showed up.

In my checking account.


It was an awkward situation. Almost dangerous. I visited the bank.

“I have too much money in my checking account.”

The bank rep called up my checking account on his computer screen.

“Whoa! Yes, you do. We deposited the loan in your checking account? Why didn't it go directly to your mortgage company?”

“Beats me. But let's get it out of there and on its way to where it needs to go.”

The bank rep worked his magic, filled out forms, got my signature. A wire transfer was effected. My checking account was restored to its real-world level, comfortably inside the FDIC ceiling (very comfortably inside the FDIC ceiling, I'm afraid). I was a mere mortal again, although one with a paid-off rental property and a brand-new mortgage on my home. That's acceptable.

And today I'm on the verge of attaining a quarter of a million hits on Halfway There. The excitement mounts. Who will be number 250,000?

An eager world awaits.


Anonymous said...

I'll keep on visiting. What does the lucky one win?

Unknown said...

Thank you for a wonderful post. I enjoyed it very much.

Zeno said...

Thanks, guys!

What does #250,000 win? That's a tough one, João. The money is gone, you know. Vanished into the maw of a mortgage company. I'm no longer drowning in liquidity. ;-)

Rev. BigDumbChimp said...

I like cheeseburgers.

If I win can I have a cheeseburger?

(notice I refused to use leet speak in hope of increasing my chances)

Anonymous said...

You did it with math, but this little bugger got 250K despite math:

SUIRAUQA said...

Came to here via Pharyngula... Enjoyed your post... particularly, the image of the stacked up dollar bills warmed the cockles of my heart... and a sigh escaped - Ah! For Liquidity...

Is there a way to know which is going to be the 250000th?

Runcible Brevard said...

Are you the owner of Zeno's Motel,
on I-44 in Rolla, Missouri? I've
seen the signs, but I never seem
to pass it.

Scott Hatfield . . . . said...

When a blogger named Zeno proudly announces that his blog, Halfway There, is about to reach the landmark of 250,000 hits, doesn't that imply that he'll never ever reach 500,000 hits?


As every moment goes by, I come closer and closer to my death and thus the prospect of heaven. But as more and more of my life is lived, there seems less objective evidence for a supernatural realm than before. One could then conclude that I will die, but never get any closer to heaven. I must alert Jerry Coyne!

Seriously, Zeno...congrats!

Zeno said...

Thanks for your comments, folks. Yes, Kausik, there is a way to know who was #250,000 because Site Meter tracks that. However, the hits came so fast once PZ called attention to my milestone that the data nearly scrolled off Site Meter's "last 100" display. I just caught it, though: #250,000 was at the University of Maryland in Silver Springs and was referred here by Pharyngula (of course!).

I have no idea how many hits we'll get today, but it will be awesome.

Anonymous said...

FYI, there is only one Silver Spring in MD.

Plus, the University is in College Park.

Interrobang said...

The university may be in College Park, but their server is in Silver Spring, apparently. :)

Congratulations, Zeno. You will note I did not arrive here by way of Pharyngula, although I read there, too...

Neil Bates said...

Heh, funny idea there about Zeno's paradox and reaching a limit (per Pharyngula.) But actually, many philosophers (arrghhh!) consider it possible to go through an infinite series itself (not just cheat by saying you're covering the continuum and the series is just a mathematical fiction.) IOW, look up "supertasks." Supertasks do use the Zeno series or similar, but you define an idealized event (rather than a proportional distance etc.) at t = 1/2, 3/4, 7/8, ... and so on to cover an infinite set (Aleph null, not the continuum) in a finite time.

It is also possible to compress infinite space or time by transformation into a finite extent, using for example x' = ATan (x) or x' = x/sqrt(1 + x^2). That means, if we accept mathematical transformation as "real", that even if our space is infinite, "something" can be beyond it ... really. Even this singing green alien can't get out there. Hey, that's where God lives! ;-)

Anonymous said...

Even though I didn't win the cheeseburger as RevBDC suggested I'd still like to congratulate you on your great blog.
Muitos parabéns, amigo!

Zeno said...

Interrobang is exactly right. The U of Md visitor sported a handle and a Silver Spring location, which I presume indicates the site of the university ISP rather than the university itself.

João: Muito obrigado!

Anonymous said...

Many UMD faculty/staff/students live off-campus, and Silver Spring isn't too far away. I'd wager it's someone connecting from home.

And to the Rev., because pedantry is an occupational hazard of mathematicians: I think you mean you avoided lolspeak's "I can has cheezburger?" leetspeak would look more like "C4n 1 h4v3 4 ch3328ur63r?"

Zeno said...

The two official languages of Halfway There are English and Portuguese.

And perhaps the occasional soupçon of French.

Neil Bates said...

Leetspeak: seems to me "pwned" is already passe ...?

Kristjan Wager said...

Congratulation on your milestone. I have quite a way to go before I reach that one with my blog. Am still below 50K after blogging for 2 years

Anonymous said...

Congrats, Zeno!

No kings,