Just noticed the posting date, there... so, Merry Christmas to all for whom it is denominationally appropriate and good tidings and best wishes to all!
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
- I guess we aren't as extravagant with the heat as I thought we were. I was positively baking on the cab ride into Logan this morning (ok, yesterday morning) and waiting around at JFK. I normally wear a fleece around the house, and yet I was overheating in just jeans (unlined), T-shirt and a light button down. I'm pretty sure it wasn't just my body chemistry gone awry from lack of sleep given the number of stocking-less short skirts and be-sandaled feet I saw in the terminal waiting for my connection to Burbank.
- I not sure I should be grateful or concerned of the apparently more-limited water processing done in New England. All I can say for sure is that there are a lot more chemicals that I can smell (some kind of chlorine, but also seemingly something else) in the water at both JFK and in L.A. I'm thinking I'm a bit dehydrated from all the flying and the general distractedness I've been experiencing in the last few days leading up to today's (yesterday's) travel, but I'm being deterred by the smell and have only been drinking juice and tea in any kind of quantity so far, which is to say, not much at all.
80 degrees and sunny today in L.A. -- nothing to complain about there.
Friday, December 21, 2007
Originally uploaded by tallasiandude.
Just documenting the cute; he's been climbing onto my shoulder since we got him as a kitteen. (kitty teen)
Last day of work tomorrow before the holiday and the honeymoon. (w00t!) But still lots to do before getting on the plane early Monday morning.
Monday, December 10, 2007
I've been pretty much out of commission since Friday with some kind of bug. I thought I was mostly back yesterday, but I guess I got a little cocky (I saw a client in the afternoon), and ended up almost back to square one last night. Anyway, not really feeling up to doing much else, so just a few thoughts and observations:
- It's probably been the longest that I've been sick since I started having regular acupuncture treatments almost two years ago. I'm pleased that I've only had a moderate cold maybe once in the last year, but I guess I'm kind of bummed that I've been laid up for over 3 days now. It makes me wonder whether the new assistant who works at the clinic doesn't have the same skills as the previous one or if maybe I need to reiterate that one of my original treatment goals was to keep my immune system up to snuff.
- Does anyone else find that they can't remember what it's like to feel healthy when they're sick? Over the weekend, I kept noticing myself doing little check-ins: Am I better now? How 'bout now? Is this better? Is this how normal feels? It's like a bunch of kids on a road trip asking "are we there yet?" Answer: no. (Also interesting that the opposite is true.)
- It figures that the nicest weather we had in the last week was yesterday and the day before when it got into the 40s. I was finally starting to ramp up the miles and was looking forward to a longer run on Saturday and I ended up not leaving the house. I barely left the bedroom.
- It also figures that I'm sick over the weekend. Of course, it was probably the stress from preparing for a meeting on Thursday that pushed me over the edge in the first place.
- Started reading the Golden Compass series. I'm enjoying it so far, but it's kind of a bummer when reading makes me tired. Geez, when am I supposed to find time to read if not when I'm home sick? Sucking it up and reading anyway. Probably part of why I'm still sick today.
- Being able to sleep on and off all day -- good.
- Not being able to fall asleep at night after sleeping on and off all day -- not good.
Also, less computing -- good... So I'm signing off now.
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Woke up around 4am this morning, dreaming about some crazy Nerds animal launcher to capture some accumulated in-game collectable item (small nautilus-shaped radio/TV sets?) and thinking about user interfaces and gameplay and then recognizing an underlying rate-matching problem that mapped into a problem I've been trying to solve at work. After lying in bed for an hour trying to figure out a workable algorithm (I hate it when the solution only makes sense in the dream state), I finally realized I wasn't falling back asleep. I think I was also hungry.
All that, after lying in bed awake for at least an hour after going to bed a bit after midnight
last night a few hours ago.
So I got up a little after 5, and tried to capture some of what I was trying to work out in my head. (Sadly, not much progress.) And installed some new anti-virus software* while I was at it. And had a cookie and some warm Ovaltine.
I did have this crazy idea that I might try going for a morning run, seeing as I was up and all -- I'm still trying to figure out how to fit the workouts into my schedule these days -- but a quick check of the weather seems to indicate that it went from unpleasant to inhospitable in the hour since I was up, dropping from a balmy 16°F to 10°F between 5 and 6.
Productive, and yet, not so much.
Ok, I think that's it for my gripe this morning.
*And, hey Norton Anti-virus? Since when does "dismiss pop-up window" mean "accept the query as to whether to restart my machine right now?" God I hate it when installation programs to that.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Thought I'd mention that we went to this thing called "200 tubas" which is apparently an annual event that's held at Faneuil Hall during Thanksgiving weekend. It's basically an all-tuba orchestra that plays a 1-hour concert of Christmas carols. They did a headcount and apparently there were actually only 103 tubas this year, but it was still fun.
Really, really cold. (can't-feel-my-feet-cold) But fun. But cold.
And then we went to Wing's kitchen and had Pork as big as your head.
A good day.
Except for the cold part. Did I mention that it was cold?
I guess it's just been a little confusing since it hit the low 60s on Thanksgiving Day.
We decided to punt on the deferred New Zealand honeymoon because things never did quite slow down enough for us to actually plan the trip. We're settling for two weeks and change in Hawaii tacked onto some holiday travel in California -- life could be worse.
We scored some frequent flier tickets on American, so we just needed to book the inter-island flights because we're planning on flying into Lihu'e, but out of Honolulu.
My mother pointed me to a travel search engine called Farecast which purports to track the trends in airfare prices in order to help you decide when it's a good time to buy your plane tickets. Seems like a pretty clever tool -- I had been googling for exactly that kind of information for the New Zealand trip. Unfortunately, it only seems to hit the major hubs in the major markets -- so LAX, not Burbank. O'hare, not Midway. (well, sometimes) Honolulu, not Lihue or Hilo or Kona.
But still, it did a pretty good job finding flights for us. And I thought the user interface behaved a lot better than Sidestep, a fare aggregator that the SOOTTAD often uses. The filters responded quickly and didn't make the page jump around. I also liked that it sends you to the airline website (or at least, it did for me), when it figures out that it's cheaper. As an aggregator, Sidestep would often send the SOOTTAD to some discount site like CheapTickets.com (no link because it's N/G) that she vows she will never use again because of all the headaches it created when we had to change a ticket over the summer. When she uses it now, she finds the fare and then manually goes to the airline site.
Anyway, Farecast found some good prices on Mesa Air for our island-hopping and sent me to their reservation site. Which was very considerate, except for the part where Mesa only seemed to operate within the central plains of the continental U.S. I had to poke around before I found Go! Hawaii, one of the subsidiaries of the Mesa Air group. I wandered through the Customer Care page in order to find it because I missed the direct link the first time around.
Anyway, cheap tickets. Couldn't figure out how to sign up for their membership program, but that probably isn't a big loss since I don't think I'll going to be flying there all that much. (nice thought though, huh?) Now we just have to hope that nothing funny happens to this airline or our flights between now and when we get to the islands.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
So a few weeks ago we finally found some time to do some yardwork. We were planning on just doing a first pass of leaf raking, but once I got going on the leaves under the deck, I pretty much had to clear out all the other crap that was down there.
Somehow I thought this post was going to be more interesting. Oh well.
For what it's worth, we're keeping the crab.
I had every intention of doing Art Everyday Month this year, what will all the craziness of the year theoretically behind us -- moving into the new house, finishing school, setting up the new business, selling the old house, getting married. Y'know, stuff. But I guess it wasn't really *every* intention, seeing as I got as far as starting the above drawing on the first and only just got around to "finishing" it this afternoon. (and by that I mean that I've done enough for it to be presentable, even though it doesn't really feel done.)
Life often seems like a never-ending sequence (an infinite series?) of "almost there" moments where things are largely sucking and it seems like you just need to turn a corner and everything will fall into place and it'll just be smooth sailing from then on. (you mean like in Iraq? No, not like that. Well, yes, kinda... in the never-quite-turning-the-corner way as opposed to the unfailingly-optimistic-in-a-delusional-if-not-cynical-way way)
Anyway, things keep feeling like they're going to settle down and get back to "normal." Except that they're not. There's always something coming up on the horizon. Things are good, but invariably there's always something that's a little crazy going on in the background, some crisis we're managing or some crazybomb that's about to go off.
But, you know, things are good. Always with the step back and the happy sigh. And it still feels like we're making progress. Maybe it *is* fair to think of it like a mathematical infinite series. As in, mathematical convergence.
Anyway, I'm feeling a bit out of it these days, but I haven't been able to put my finger on what the dealio is. The head feels like it's in a funny place. I've felt a bit disconnected. Things seems strangely unfamiliar. Maybe it's just that my routines are gone and I have to develop new systems.
So I went to the well. Although it's really more like I found myself in my well, and I've been trying to find a pause between all the stuff that's been going on to take some time to process things a bit.
The well isn't really a bad place. It's a concept I took from Haruki Murakami's "The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle" where it's something of a reoccurring theme. It's a place for introspection. A quiet place, hidden away, separated from the systems, the chaos, the crazy of everyday living. Maybe it's its own little crazy, but it's at least in a more manageable form-factor.
So it's the start of the Turkey day long weekend. I figured I'd have some free time while we're at the SOOTTAD's parental homestead, although we've been put to work for a good chunk of the time we've been here already. But I may still have a chance to find that pause. Hopefully I'll at least get a few of the catch-up posts out to let you know what I've been doing and thinking about recently.
And, of course, if not, hopefully this'll do for some of the explaining.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Corny, but they have a point:
"Some 'Vampires' Prefer Energy Over Blood"
The latest estimates show 5 percent of electricity used in the United States goes to standby power, a phenomenon energy efficiency experts find all the more terrifying as energy prices rise and the planet warms. That amounts to about $4 billion a year.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
A few weeks ago, my friend JBar thought she had been the victim of the stupidest thief on the planet. Someone had apparently stolen her credit card number online, but all the stuff they had ordered with it had ended up at her house. The connection was made when she started receiving a bunch of random shipments, including a package of "colon flow" supplements, a bunch of Disney DVDs and nine bottles of wine. She was annoyed because she had to deal with getting all the charges reversed (fortunately, she didn't have to actually pay anything -- go AmEx), but we had a laugh about our incompetent constipated and alcoholic pedophile.
My brain clicked briefly with the memory that both the SOOTTAD and I had recently had our credit card numbers changed out from under us because Citibank had apparently discovered that some retailer had had their records compromised. Yeah, changing all my automatic bill-pays was fun. Anyway, I guess I figured it was going around, but other than that I didn't think much else about it.
And then the SOOTTAD got an unsolicited order of multivitamins. No idea where that came from, but she didn't have any time to deal with it, so it sat in her office for several days. And then while she was away on business earlier this week, another package of vitamins showed up. And a book order from Scholastic -- apparently she was added to some Scholastic book club.
So it looks like it wasn't an isolated incident of incompetent crime.
The SOOTTAD spent most of the morning talking to customer service representatives (arguing with some that were exceedingly more incompetent than others), calling up retailers, having charges reversed, dealing with shipping packages. In the process, she even discovered that someone apparently even created a fake gmail account with the standard FirstnameLastnameNumber@gmail format.
Just some annoying, juvenile hackers who are having a laugh? Or maybe they're manipulating the market by increasing sales of particular targeted businesses. (Or driving them to ruin by tying up their customer service or eating the costs of return shipments.) Or maybe it's just theh trial run of some more systemic attack... on the nation at large! Terr'ists!
Seems like some crazy movie plot: an underworld organization plotting to undermine the American Way of Life(tm) by disrupting our system of commerce.
But, of course, I'm only kidding. Well, half-kidding.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
It remains to be seen how much I actually play with it given that I presently only know two people who currently use it. I'm apparently hanging with the wrong demographic, whether it be socially, chronologically, geographically or some combination thereof.
Monday, October 22, 2007
...why we don't have cable and don't watch network television.
We've been following the Sox game on the radio and internet and there were several plays that we had heard described that we were hoping to see -- Ellsbury's big catch in left field in the 9th (apparently a huge diving catch). Matsusaka throwing Martinez out at first. Some of the errors.
So we turned on the tube and surfed the few local channels we could get. And what do we get? Well, we did get one highlight reel which covered all the hits and the final catch by Coco Crisp to end the game. Ok, anything else?
Well. A lot of coverage of the crowds outside the park. A lot of talking about the crowds. Police presence in riot gear keeping the crowds under control. Ok, now they're showing the players celebrating. Interviews -- those guys love the interviews. Wow, that WBZ correspondent covering the guys on the field is annoying. He just angrily shushed some guy off camera while he was interviewing Terry Francona. More talking. Lots of talking about nothing. More interviews -- players in the dressing room. More talking. Gobble, gobble, gobble.
Oh look, more shots of Kenmore square and the thinning crowds. And they're talking about the police again.
Um, could we maybe get some more highlights?
UPDATE: ok, WHDH is interviewing Theo and they just showed Matsusaka's throw-out play. Point to channel 7.
UPDATE(23oct2007): It occurred to me that this is largely my own fault for being too cheap to have cable (or to have even bought an antenna) to have been able to watch the game in the first place. So, my bad. Of course, it doesn't make the local sports correspondents any less annoying.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
So it looks like I have to buy F'ing Visio, again. That's another $500 down the Microsoft toilet for the 2007 version, and that doesn't count the $200 I sank into the bad 2003 version just a few months ago when I had to start spec writing for the contract I'm on. Joy, joy. The original website where I bought it is now an empty GoDaddy-parked husk of an apparently fly-by-night storefront.
Sucks for me.
And I'd just like to mention how annoying the Micro$oft Office info page is -- full of stupid, unnecessary, bandwidth-hungry animations and dynamic pull-downs, and apparently ...films? ...on how awesome Office is? WTF?
Friday, October 12, 2007
I did a Windows Update and I got the blue screen of death.
That's a confidence builder, I gotta tellya.
This isn't actually the first time it's happened. I'm not sure when it started, but I've noticed it the last several times I've installed the latest set of Windows updates that required a restart. Consistent behavior, actually, for the three most recent installs. It's nothing like my first experience with NT in '99 when my machine would routinely crash 2-3 times a day (usually after a few hours of unrecoverable design code), but it's still annoying.
And maybe I'm just being paranoid, but it seems like the start-up cycle is a lot more sluggish, and I don't remember the icons refreshing halfway through. And can someone tell me why my volume control taskbar icon disappears every time I reboot after a full shutdown? I'm not sure how long that's been happening since I started routinely putting the machine into standby mode. (since it took so long to boot up cold.)
I was pretty happy with XP-Pro. But I guess just about anything would be compared to my experience with XP-home -- random shutdowns, strange screen refresh behaviors, driver incompatibilities and really kludgey file structure. XP Pro seemed to be much more stable, but that seemed to be a only short term condition. I suppose this is really just what you have to expect when you take a piece of software and add layer upon layer of patches month after month. It's inevitable that the software is going to become painfully inefficient.
I really need to start getting familiar with some of the new Linux distributions. My laptop is eventually going to die and I'm going to have to replace it at some point and I'm deathly afraid of having to switch over to Vista, or any other Microsoft operating system for that matter.
In other news, we just tested out our new HD projector, an Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 1080. The initial assessment? It's teh awesome. (not to be confused with "awesome") So far the only downside is that we haven't gotten the real screen yet and we got to bed around 3am last night due to, um, "testing."
Friday, September 28, 2007
I think this is the fourth night in the last six where I haven't been able to fall asleep. Tired. Sleepy even. But I just can't seem to drop off to sleep.
Almost makes me want to try this, although the waking hours certainly aren't particularly useful if you're trying to participate with most of the world around you.
Have I mentioned BAH*?
UPDATE: to answer Leah's question in the comments, and for full disclosure, here's the list of things that I can think of that I've tried over the past few weeks:
- meditation (which really is kind of like reiki. Or vice versa.)
- hot shower (I'm a life-long night showerer. I don't sleep well when gritty or sticky.)
- warm milk (with Ovaltine)
- staying up later
- visualizing the comfy feeling I have in bed in the morning when I don't want to get up
- being mindful of the images that play behind my closed eyelids
- visualize constantly dropping into deeper layers of consciousness/reality.
- avoiding computer stuff right before bed
* not to be confused with "baa." Seriously, does counting sheep actually work for anyone?
Saturday, September 22, 2007
I'm finding that I have recently developed the habit of using the word awesome to describe a certain flavor of experience that I'm having or have had at a particular time. And generally in these instances, when I say awesome, I mean totally sucked balls or completely useless piece of shit.
So the SOOTTAD and I finally got a chance to play with a particular undisclosed object we've acquired in the past few months, and I think you follow me when I say that the only way that I can adequately describe this object is that it was totally awesome.
Saturday, September 15, 2007
While I did recently finish rereading the first Chronicles of Thomas Covenant (which I had first read sometime during high school -- man, I missed a lot of details back then), I really just wanted to mention a few articles that I've stumbled across on the 'net over the past few weeks and wanted to mention, for one reason or another.
A group is its own worst enemy
It's largely writing in the context of social software development, which I find interesting in and of itself despite the fact that I'm not a social software developer, or even a regular old ordinary software developer, but rather because I find the whole massive online community phenomenon totally fascinating and a bit frightening as someone who only skirts the edge of social network applications and whose spouse harbors a significant distrust of the lack of privacy on the net.
I also find it interesting because one of the things that I really value in life is the connection and community I have with other people, and I've fallen into the trap (if a trap is really what it is) of wanting to be inclusive and wanting things to be fair. And oftentimes, I equate fair with equal, which may not always be the case, but which is probably one of the simpler ways to deal with things because at its core, it at least *seems* fair. Even when it's not. But regardless, I've seen groups get too big for their own britches and implode, I've seen the inclusion/exclusion behavior, I've had the unfortunate experience of trying to "protect the group" when the group had no formal rules or protocols for doing so. It was helpful to read something that gave me some perspective on the social dynamics.
Childhood TV viewing can cause teenage problems
Not to vilify TV or anything, but I'm kind of glad we don't have cable right now. Still looking into buhgiant front projection systems, FWIW.
How Callous are Republicans?
National news just depresses me these days. Well actually, in general. And it seems like the politicos are all about Iraq, Iraq, Iraq and troop numbers, and staying the course or bringing them home. It's rhetoric, media posturing, politican partisanship and it's all bullshit. They fucked up. We're there. If we stay, it's going to continue to suck balls. If we pull out, it's also going to suck balls. It will probably suck even more balls, actually. In the meantime, ya think maybe you guys could maybe try fixing health care?
Matt Miller comes up with the HCCAT, the "Health-Care Callousness Assessment Test":
"Question 2: Do you believe individuals' buying their own solo health insurance can be the answer to the problem of the uninsured? The only noncallous answer is no. The problem with the individual market, as anyone with the most innocuous ailments can attest, is that profit-seeking insurers want to cover only younger, healthier people who don't need insurance. The very idea of individual insurance is an oxymoron, since insurance is about spreading risks across a group. Group coverage creates little socialized-health republics in which the young subsidize the old, and the healthy the unwell, with all those in the group paying the same premiums."
Doctor Warns Consumers of Popcorn Fumes
Yeah, I mostly stopped eating this stuff after I learned that it was full of trans fats.
The 411 on High-Fructose Corn Syrup
Too bad it's not actually the 411, it's more like a ... ok, I don't have a clever phone-metaphor. Basically, it's just saying: "ooh, HFCS is bad, whoOOOOOoooo!" It'd have been nice if they could have actually linked to the research or something. Not that I don't believe it or anything, just sayin'.
Vitamins 'could shorten lifespan'
More advocacy for eating a balanced diet rather than trying to make up for your deficiencies through pill-popping. Feeling pretty good about that soup that's cooking on the stove right now, made almost entirely from vegetables from the CSA community farm. (the onion and organic chicken were from the supermarket. And I think the zucchini was from the SOOTTAD's parental homestead.)
Things that Running Teaches You About Life
The funny thing about this article is that while I don't wholly disagree with the author's conclusions (I see value in what he's said), I feel like I take away a much different set of lessons. Running isn't about weight loss for me, although it is about staying healthy, both physically and mentally. Anyway, here's my take:
- This is not a race. Sometimes when I go running, I need to remind myself to slow down -- I'm focusing on conditioning, I've trying to avoid injuries. I time my runs, but it's really just feedback to let me know how I'm doing.
- Sometimes, even when it is a race, it's still not a race. Again, with the feedback. And the sense of accomplishment. My plan is still to run a marathon next fall -- when I hit, um, a particular age milestone. I wonder if this will still hold true if I'm trying to make a qualifying time.
- Enjoy the scenery. Look flowers! Critters! Whoops, car! (Have you smelled the grapes yet this fall?)
- Remember to breathe. In. Out. In. Out. Good stuff.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Thursday, August 30, 2007
We're looking into getting a HD front projector for our new "playroom" instead of one of those buhgiant flatscreen LCD TVs. I've been cruising some of the online forums and review websites, so I feel like I have a pretty good idea of what's out there and what our options are. The hard part now is figuring out which one to get.
Traditionally, you'd go to the store, compare how things looked on the different models, weigh the costs and then make a decision. The problem being, where do you go to actually SEE what the projected image looks like?
- The high-end audio store we went to for our new speakers didn't have any projector systems on display (although the sales rep had a recommendation for us).
- The SOOTTAD and I rode over to the Best Buy on Sunday to see what they had, and what they had was a shelf with FAKE display models and an apologetic sales guy who thought the only difference between different models was the number and type of input ports. (And a prospective buyer whose totality of experience with projection systems that was driving him to buy one was that he'd seen a projector setup and THE PICTURE WAS HUGE AND IT WAS TOTALLY AWESOME!)
- I went to a Tweeter store today -- they actually have a home theater demo room (Score!), but they only demo one projector, the 1080p Sony VPL-VW100. Which is better than nothing, I suppose -- at least I now understand that a high-end projector with the highest resolution currently available with a given throw distance and display size will give us what we're hoping for. Helpful, without actually being all that helpful. Like learning that it's dark at night, or that rain is wet.
- The local high-end audio store says that they have a demo room, but it appears to be, once again, a single model, and in their case, one of the senselessly expensive models. May go anyway -- it may be a 720p projector (or at least has a native resolution less than the max 1080), so maybe I can see whether the resolution is adequate for the screen size and viewing distance that we're hoping for. Perhaps their webpage is just hopelessly out of date.
Ugh.So, does anybody know how one can actually see how well these things perform? Do people who buy them just buy them sight unseen and rely on the "expert" discussion in the online forums or online review sites? Are we being just soooo last cenury? Do these things not matter to "normal" consumers? Was the BestBuy guy actually speaking truth when he said the different models were all basically the same and we should just make a decision based on price?
What's the standard operating procedure these days for the modern consumer of the high definition front projection system?
Inquiring minds want to know.
UPDATE 01Sep2007: Did some Googling today, and this looks promising... (too bad their website doesn't actually tell you when they're open)
Towards the end of my run yesterday, I was on a section of the Charles River Walkway that passes through Waltham as it approached dusk. The light was already starting to fade, but I noticed a short woman and her dog walking slowly along one of the larger grassy areas that bordered the path.
I assumed that she had just gotten up or had simply been standing motionless because I hadn't seen her until her movement caught my attention. And in my head, my brain immediately came to the conclusion that she must have been quietly taking in the sunset, admiring the late summer sky as the colors slowly faded beyond the trees. She walked casually, and I imagined that she was lost in thoughts about the transient beauty in the world, the value of each moment in the sea of moments in our lives.
I took a moment for myself to appreciate the failing light. And as I passed her, I noticed...
...that she was talking on her cellphone.
So I guess all that other stuff was just me.
A few minutes later I saw two girls walking together on the sidewalk who seemed to be engaged in a bubbly conversation with one another. (At least, that's how it sounded to me as I approached.) And as I passed... Nope. Just one girl talking on her cell phone, and her... friend(?) quietly accompanying her, destination unknown.
TECHNOLOGY: bringing people together.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
I just spent over $600* getting the driver side seatbelt fixed in my car.
And apart from the whole money thing, it makes me feel pretty stupid and useless that I couldn't figure out how, if it was possible, for me to fix it myself. It's not like it's the fuel injection system or something; it's a SEATBELT! BAH! I thought about trying and then managed to convince myself that it was probably hooked into a bunch of stupid crash and braking sensors and that was the end of it.
On the plus side, we've been all ecologicalibly-minded and crunchy-granola and rode our bikes for all our errands on Sunday, which carried over to dropping the car off and then biking home yesterday, and biking back to the shop to pick up the car today.
And 2 days of working from home and not driving to the office. Bonus.
* And they also nailed me with a $5.94 hazardous waste disposal charge. FOR A SEATBELT!
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
Originally uploaded by foodnerd.
I haven't felt like I've had much time to post, or had much to post about, but I finally got around to updating the About page. Quite a bit has changed, and I guess I'm a little sad that I didn't bother to save some of what used to be there. But one of life's lessons is that, oftentimes, once you've done something, it can't really be undone. And at that point, you just have to let go and move on.
Anyway, all the big craziness of the year is finally over. Well, mostly, anyway. The wedding, the travel, the house sale, school, massage certification and licensing. There's still plenty of leftover crazy to go around -- we've got thank you notes to write and we're finally starting to take some baby steps getting the new house in proper order, but otherwise it's just everyday normal crazy.
In the last week, I took my car to the shop, had the SOOTTAD's car insured and registered in Massachusetts, played some ultimate, worked in the garden, ran shopping errands, went to a BBQ, a baby shower, a birthday party and a roofdeck concert eavesdrop (the Police concert at Fenway Park) and finally broke down and installed the window A/C* units in the bedroom and the SOOTTAD's office.
There always seems to be something. We're still busy, although I'm happy to say that it doesn't feel crushingly so. Maybe there's something about our lives that really is unusual or extraordinary, but in this, I think it's just business as usual. There will always be things that we need to take care of, planning, working, fixing, building. We have projects now, and when those are done, there are already plenty of others that are waiting in the wings. It never ends.
...although a bit hot and sticky, at the moment.
* Unfortunately, no A/C in my workspace at the house, but I should be back in the office-office for the rest of the week.
Monday, July 23, 2007
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Thursday, June 14, 2007
I got a new cellphone for the massage business. The idea was to provide a separate number that would provide clean boundaries between my personal life, my engineering life and this new massage business, while also providing a separate voicemail where I could provide more business information than I would on my own cellphone.
And so far, I've received 2 voicemails in some slavic language (I think it's Russian, but I'm not entirely too sure), 1 voicemail that was a recording selling loans, 1 voicemail from a live person trying to sell ads for the WeeklyDig. And today, I got a text message for some loan website.
Up until the last one has just been an annoyance. I try to check the voicemail on a regular basis, and actually spending the time to listen to a junk message just wastes my time. The text message however, costs me money, since I don't pay the flat rate to send or receive them. (I find that the flat rate has so far always exceeded the expense of paying on a message by message basis.) Sure, it's only 10 cents a message, but it's 10 cents I never should have had to pay in the first place.
I called Verizon Wireless about it, and basically there's nothing they can do. It's some "Premium Message" that apparently originates off the internet that they have no control over. (I really hope that means that it costs them money.) The customer service rep told me I could reply with a message to unsubscribe, but I'm a bit confused since I never subscribed to any messages in the first place. I don't even really use this phone.
The concern, of course, is that if I don't unsubscribe, I'll get more messages. But if I do unsubscribe, that unsubscribe message is also going to cost me money. And worse, I wonder if, as with Spam, you respond to one of these spam messages, they then know the line is "live" and they'll put me on a list that that will receive more messages from different addresses from the same unscrupulous spamming "marketing" company or sold to other spammers.
Fuck. I swear, the assholes make it really hard to have a kind and compassionate attitude towards the world sometimes.
Anyone have any suggestions?
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
We thought it was bad enough when we discovered that the MBTA had closed the Arlington Station Entrance and exits for renovations through 2008. It happens to be the station closest to our wedding venue. Thankfully people can still use the Berkeley entrances, but it's a slightly longer walk, and doesn't open up right at the public garden. But at least people will still be able to use the station.
Today, JBar forwarded this gem published on the Globe's local news site:
Summer repairs on Green Line will halt D branch trains
"The shutdown will commence on June 23, 2007*."
Great, thanks guys.
At least there are supposed to be bus shuttles and extra express buses. And the notice says something about "distributing materials and making other preparations for the major production work activity." Hopefully that means the lines will still actually be running. But who knows?
We'll cross our fingers and hope that peeps will still be able to take public transportation and get to the ceremony on time.
UPDATE: just called the MBTA and it's confirmed -- they're shutting down the D line from Riverside to Reservoir starting on the 23rd. Yeah, thanks Boston, we love you, too.
* For those that didn't pick up on it, that's the day we're getting married.
Monday, April 23, 2007
Saturday, April 07, 2007
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
This is just a mild rant. Apologies in advance.
So I've mentioned that I'm studying for the National Certification Exam for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork. Anyway, I picked up the review book at the school that was being used for a review class. Didn't go to the class; figured I'd get just as much info reading through the book, and it'd be easier to schedule my own time rather than block out the time to attend the class -- plus I think I saved fifty bucks.
It seemed like a reasonable enough book -- it broke the subject matter into several sections and chapters and had review questions. I was a bit disappointed that it didn't come with a CD or something, since this was going to be my first time taking a computerized standardized exam (yes, I think that dates me a bit), but my concerns were somewhat mitigated because the book indicated that you could access several practice tests online with a handy-dandy passcode that was protected by that crappy silver stuff that you find on lottery tickets and game pieces at McDonald's. (Do they still do that? Is that dating myself again?)
So anyway, the book.
Basically, I'm unimpressed. I'm going to resist calling it a steaming-pile-o-crap simply because I have no other points for comparison, but really, pretty crappy. But I am going to enumerate (ironically, in an unenumerated list) my issues with the book. I'm hoping to find it at least a wee bit therapeutic. Because, you know, it's all about growth and healing.
Anyway, here we go:
- The book includes little notes in the text (which they call "display boxes") which provide "practical applications, additional explanations, and real-life examples for the material covered in the book." Great. Seems helpful. Except for the part where the authors consider the information included within them (and solely within them) important enough to create practice questions on them. Sorry, if it's important enough to be tested on it, it's probably important enough to be part of the main text of definitions.
- Y'know, I'm really glad you provide practice questions -- it's helpful to go through a few questions to see if you've understood a section, or conversely, to determine whether you need to study a certain section of material. Great. It'd probably be more helpful if you'd provide practice questions after every chapter rather than say, after the first 22 chapters, 100 pages into your 300 page review book. Whaddayathink?
- And while I'm at it, it'd be nice if the questions you're asking for a given section could actually be answered by the information in the chapters that make up that section. (ok, maybe part of this problem was that some of the answers might have been found in those stupid "display boxes" mentioned in item one, er, I mean that first dot there.)
- But you know, I'll take the ones that were in different sections, if you'd at least make sure the answers were provided SOMEWHERE in your book.
- Oh, and when you provide practice questions, it'd be really nice if your answer key ACTUALLY HAD THE CORRECT ANSWERS IN THEM. I found 3 errors that I had to confirm by corroborating them with the text and with my old class notes and textbooks. It made me wonder whether some of the other answers were sketchy. Especially when it was unclear what material was being used to derive the answers.
- and when you say "additional practice exams," I generally take that to mean EXAMS, as in, several exams. If you use the same questions and just mix up the order of the questions and the order of the multiple-guess answers for each question, that doesn't count.
- And I'm sorry, even if you're going so far as to call a reordered test a different test, um, you're only providing three tests? Way to underachieve, guys.
- And incidentally, not fond of questions that test for pattern recognition of text rather than understanding concepts. Ever heard of a paraphrase? Especially since I can't be certain that the National Certification Board is going to use the same choice of words as you. An example:
Name the technique that uses the palpation of tender points to guide the positioning of the body to reduce the tenderness.Do I really understand that? No. Did I get the question right? Yes. The second time I saw it. Do I feel confident that I'm ready for the real exam? No.
(a) Muscle energy
(b) Myofascial release
(d) Structural integration
From the text: "Strain-counterstrain is a technique that uses the palpation of tender points (or trigger points) to guide the positioning of the body to reduce the tenderness, ..."
- And, by the way, the "full index" (that they hype in the preface) is not, in fact, particularly full.
I suppose one way of looking at it is that the authors' choice of organization forced me to review more subject matter because I had to spend additional time scanning through whole sections, multiple whole sections, to figure out answers to some of the questions. Not to mention my own class notes and old textbooks. Hey, thanks guys!
Anyway, annoyed, but done now. Hopefully I'll do alright on the test on Saturday.
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
So, we're pretty much settled into the new house, but there are still boxes of crap littered about, as well as new islets of detritus that are forming where systems have yet to be put into place. We just need a little time, but unfortunately, that's the one thing we don't seem to have much of these days.
Oh, and the bed we bought in February hasn't shown up yet. (We're expecting it this week. Fingers-crossed.)
The SOOTTAD has been managing the final stages of our exit strategy from the old house as well as managing its updates and repairs. But meanwhile, plenty of wedding stuff has begun backing up in our queue. We finally signed a contract with a photographer that we really liked but, um, invites? Right. Yeah, they should probably go out in the next few weeks and we haven't even come up with the wording that's going to go on them.
Oh, and I'm taking the National certification exam for massage (technically, the National Certification for therapeutic massage and bodywork) this Saturday. Which is good, because the National Cert. exam is required for the Newton practitioner's license which I'll need for the space I'm renting with a friend and classmate. It's a room in a Chiropractor's office... and the lease started Sunday. So there's a bunch of stuff that needs to be dealt with for that too.
Oh yeah, and the project at work is in the final two week stretch.
So, of course the last thing I needed was to be selected as a juror in Federal Court.
Thursday, March 22, 2007
It is perhaps ironic that I have to log into my Google account in order to access my Blogger account in order to bitch about how my online identities are converging. Or perhaps it is simply telling. Or appropriate.
Regardless, I'm annoyed.
Flickr wants me to link my account to my YahooID, and frankly, the idea makes me a little uncomfortable. I remember back when they first announced that this was happening that there were some people making a stink about it in the forums, and others who couldn't see what the problem was.
Perhaps it's just more evidence of the generation gap that was described in a recent New York Times magazine article -- the gap between those who try to keep a certain amount of privacy online and those who put themselves completely online, their private life, public.
Sure, to be wholly anonymous nowadays, you pretty much have to be off the grid entirely, but I'd like to think that there's still a middle ground somewhere in there that I can carve out, with a little anonymity through obscurity and obfuscation, at least. I probably want people to find me if they're looking hard enough, but I don't really want to just drop it in their lap. A bit paradoxical, I suppose. Or like the article says, maybe I'm just fooling myself:
And after all, there is another way to look at this shift. Younger people, one could point out, are the only ones for whom it seems to have sunk in that the idea of a truly private life is already an illusion. Every street in New York has a surveillance camera. Each time you swipe your debit card at Duane Reade or use your MetroCard, that transaction is tracked. Your employer owns your e-mails. The NSA owns your phone calls. Your life is being lived in public whether you choose to acknowledge it or not.
So it may be time to consider the possibility that young people who behave as if privacy doesn’t exist are actually the sane people, not the insane ones. For someone like me, who grew up sealing my diary with a literal lock, this may be tough to accept. But under current circumstances, a defiant belief in holding things close to your chest might not be high-minded. It might be an artifact—quaint and naïve, like a determined faith that virginity keeps ladies pure.
Back in the day, I only set up my Yahoo account so I could sign up for online stuff without getting my "real" email address spammed. Then my YahooID got tied to a bunch of my mailing lists when Yahoo! assimilated eGroups. That was the beginning of the end, I think. When that happened, all of a sudden my hidden email address was mapped to my "real" address and could be seen by groups of people that I actually interact with in the real world.
So now, if I attach my YahooID to my Flickr account, all those peeps will probably be able to see my photostream. Which seems pretty benign. Except, my Flickr account also links to this blog. And somehow, I've always thought of this blog as being a separate sort of thing. So if I link the ID, the connection's made. Probably fine, right? What's the big deal?
Well, if it's done, it's done. The internet sticks around.
And then how easy is it to out the SOOTTAD, who is fiercely protective of her personal information to the point that there are no unprotected pictures of her on our *private* online photo gallery. I don't even post many pictures of myself in order to reduce the odds of her being identified by association.
Except that the information is already out there. There is a picture of the SOOTTAD out there on the interwebs, with her real name attached to it even. And the Yahoo email address has always been tied to the Blogger account.
It just didn't have the reverse mapping from Yahoo to Blogger is all. Oh, F. I already linked to the blog on that stupid Yahoo360° page.
Like I said, maybe I'm just fooling myself.
Friday, March 09, 2007
So, I just switched over to Vonage last week. I've been really happy with the service so far -- cheaper with more features. I get voicemail notices via email. I can check my messages by calling in or online via the web. And I had totally forgotten that my phone supported caller-ID. Schweet.
So, what happens one week later?
Vonage Owes $58M in Patent Case
In a ruling that could have wide-ranging consequeces for the entire competitive voice replacement market, a federal jury Thursday found Vonage guilty of infringing several patents held by Verizon, and awarded $58 million in past damages and imposed a 5.5 percent royalty fee on future Vonage operations. ...
I see that things are operating business-as-usual around here.
On the non-technology front, we're hoping to be largely moved into the new house later this month. There's still lots of little stuff that needs to get carted over or triaged, but I was thinking that I'd finally have some more time to refocus on work, get more wedding planning completed and maybe even hit some side projects I've been setting, er... aside. But I forgot that I got called for Federal Jury Duty at the end of March through mid-April.
As always, perfect timing.
I expect we'll end up closing on the old house right around mid-June, just to properly gum up the works.
Thursday, February 15, 2007
'Course, seeing as lemons aren't really in season 'round these here parts, it's more like:
when life gives you three hours' worth of shoveling of hard packed snow and layers of ice... make art.
In other news, my lower back is now wicked sore, and I can barely hold a pen in my hand to write from all the shoveling. Oh, and we met some more of the new neighbors helping them get their car unstuck from the snow(ice)bank at the front of their driveway. (Which, incidentally, probably would have been unnecessary if the son had accepted my offer to help dig out the driveway. But, whatever.)
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
Well, school's done. We only have graduation left this coming Sunday and that'll be it. I'm going to have to spend some time reflecting on what I'm really going to do next -- plenty of half-formed plans that I've tossed around, but I need to give things a chance to sink and settle in.Of course, there's no shortage of things to do right now. Things are finally getting under control with the new house -- I don't even want to go into the saga involved with hiring people to refinish the floors on the first floor except to say that it was scheduled to be finished in the middle of January and we just had our last interaction with the contractor this morning. We still need to pack and move. And we've really kind of dropped the ball on that whole wedding planning thing... I think we were supposed to send out save the dates about two months ago. We still need to meet with caterers, find hotels for guests, invitations, flowers, photographer? honeymoon?
I finally got around to dealing with some mail that was lying around and as I looked more closely at my National Geographic renewal, I wasn't quite getting what it was saying about getting the January issue or the next issue until it finally dawned on me and my brain was like, HOW THE HELL IS IT ALREADY FEBRUARY?! It's like I completely missed January.
Anyway, my friend Leah tagged me with a meme, like, a million years ago, so I figured this might be a good time to have at it. It's called "5 things you might not know about me." And, of course, the problem that most people experience with this exercise is trying to figure out what people don't already know. People either already knew me before they started reading this here blog (hello, Dr.J) or things are fairly self-evident simply from what I've already written, even if I haven't stated them explicitly. (Hey, did you know I'm a bit insecure? Wow, really?) And then the big challenge: the SOOTTAD has instilled in me a great distrust of putting out too much personal information out on the interwebs, so I have to balance telling you about me, without, y'know, really telling you about me. And more importantly, without outting the SOOTTAD.
So anyway, all that has probably made this exercise more of a challenge that it's probably supposed to be, but hey, I have a history of overthinking problems, so it's really just par for the course.
Ok, here we go:
- After a shower, I always swipe off as much water as possible with my hands before towelling dry. I'm pretty sure I didn't away do this, but I haven't a clue when I started. I think I'm trying to make the towel have to do less work.
- In high school, I was the fry guy at the local Carl's Jr restaurant. I worked 3 hours a day (the lunch rush) and the moment my shift ended, I would drive home, strip off my brown polyester uniform and take a shower to try and wash the smell of grease off of my body. I don't think I swiped off back then. That job lasted about 2 weeks, and is the only time I ever worked in food service.
- I have the (unfortunate) habit of singing when I play certain songs on the piano (and guitar). The repertoire has dwindled somewhat over the years, but I'm still left with a handful of songs, including one or two by Billy Joel.
- I started using stippling as a drawing technique because it was easier to cover up mistakes. While it's not always an optimal form for creating certain textures, (wavy hair comes to mind, actually, all hair) for the most part I think it's generally easier to render recognizable images because it lets a viewer's brain do more of the work. It's sort of like the way we see specific shapes in clouds -- your brain trying to organize information into identifiable patterns -- and sort of how it's hard to draw clouds that look like specific things while still looking like clouds and not a drawing of those specific things.
- Despite the aforementioned issues surrounding the publishing of ever more personal information on the web, I do have profiles on several social networking sites, including MySpace. But for the very same reason, my MySpace page currently has 0 friends.
I'm not so much for the meme-tagging, which is probably best since there are only a handful of my peeps that actually do this blogging thing. (and there's that intrinsic Ponziness to it that does kind of bother me) But I will send an optional tag to the SOOTTAD, just in case she wants to participate. Despite feeling strongly against posting personally identifying information, she's mentioned that she's felt sad about being left out of the meme game by some of her food blogging peeps in the past.
Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Hope all y'all are doing alright; I'm hanging in there... not really ready to jump back into things just yet. School is just about over -- just one more day of class and graduation the following week -- but there's still plenty that's keeping me occupied. Maybe I'll try easing back into it sometime next week.
Thursday, January 11, 2007
Monday, January 08, 2007
Perhaps there's been a bit too much thinking today. Or feeling. Or something. But whatever it was, there was definitely not enough working that needed to get done. And here I am, thinking, or feeling, that I should leave it be and do what's left to do around the house before going to bed, and then going to bed, and I'm sitting here writing a post that I've probably started and cancelled at least six or seven times already in the last half-hour because I thought I should just leave it be because it clearly wasn't ready to come out just yet.
Does any of this make sense? (Don't worry, it gets worse.)
So after learning about what happened to Helen Hill, I was thinking about how these things happen, and what can be done, and what it all means. Which is to say, how do people come to do these terrible things? And, how do you go on after something like this happens? And, well, what does it all mean? And I came to a point where I was thinking about free will.
And it's just like you're watching one of the Matrix movies, and it sounds like a cliché as you hear Keanu Reeves as Neo saying in your head: "It all comes down to choice."
Jenny Davidson begins her post "Helen Hill chose to be good."
You can succumb to the darkness and wallow in despair or you can find the strength to stand up and try to make it work. It seems hopelessly cliché, and yet, it resonates. Maybe it's just that I've watched too many sappy movies, but there it is.
I've recently came to accept that the challenges we go through, the difficult times, while unpleasant, are a part of life. An essential part of life. 2006 was a pretty rough year for me, but I think I went through a lot of growth. I'm in a better place, I feel like I'm a better person. And I realized that without a lot of that hard stuff that went on last year, I probably never would have gotten here. Which is not to say that I'm going out of my way looking for trouble, just that when it comes, I try to accept it for what it is and then do the best I can.
So the idea of free will wandered into my brain sometime around lunch. Later in the afternoon, the SOOTTAD sent me the post by Jenny Davidson where she talks about an idea from a John Passmore book which mentions the Pelagian heresy:
One version of that idea is the thing called the Pelagian heresy, the assertion (contra Augustine, who believed that man could be redeemed only by God’s grace) that man could perfect himself by the exercise of free will.She later quotes an excerpt:
But we know from our own experience, as teachers or parents, that individual human beings can come to be better than they once were, given care, and that wholly to despair of a child or a pupil is to abdicate what is one’s proper responsibility. We know, too, that in the past men have made advances, in science, in art, in affection. Men, almost certainly, are capable of more than they have ever so far achieved. But what they achieve, or so I have suggested, will be a consequence of their remaining anxious, passionate, discontented human beings.It is through struggle that we can make ourselves better, and we can help and support one another through it.
Anyway, I feel like I'm rambling a bit, but this whole thought process was nagging at me. And I kept trying to leave it be, until I caught a little synchronicity in Today's Show with Ze Frank. (Of course, theoretically, it was ultimately my choice to post this, right?)
I think that what I wanted to do was provide a small counterpoint to my previous post. I know what to do. It's just that sometimes, I feel so drained. And I need to take a step back and gather myself together before digging in and pushing forward again.
Do what you can. And hope for the best.
I did not know Helen Hill, but it still makes me terribly, terribly sad. But the sadness is overcome by outrage to learn that she was murdered in her home. And it hits that much harder because she was a friend of the SOOTTAD's. As was her husband. As is her husband.
When the SOOTTAD told me about it, she described them as "two of the most purely nice, kind, loving, creative people I have ever met." And all I could think was, what is wrong with the world? What kind of world do we live in where such a thing could happen? Where such a thing could happen to people like this?
The headline in the New York Times -- "Just Days Into the Year, Killings Toll Hits 8 in New Orleans" -- seems absurdly distant. Same for the Shreveport Times. Another body count in a world full of violence. You could quickly scan it and wander off, troubled but largely untouched. I know these things happen, but knowing them, even once removed, cuts to the quick. The connection brings it into sharp relief, and yet it isn't necessary to have that connection to feel its impact. It was fundamentally a terrible thing to happen. A terrible thing to happen to anybody. It sparks anger, outrage and then more sadness.
And yet the despair currently surpasses the outrage right now.
I think about the insulated worlds in which I move. In school, I'm in contact with many people who want to be healers, people who want to make a living making the world a better place. Lots of warm fuzzies flying all around. A hopeful place. It makes me want to bring understanding into my perspective. People can be swept up by the tide of circumstance; desperation can cause people to do terrible things. But this seems to go beyond my understanding. I can't put myself in a context where one could do such a thing and still be within my perspective, my values, my world.
And I am left finding that I can only ask, how can you heal from a thing like this? All I can think to do is try and cherish all the good that we still have and do our best to protect and fortify it against all the bad that is swirling around us, but there seems to be something fundamentally wrong with that too...
The world's gone bad, and I wonder if it's gone past the point of no return.
Thursday, January 04, 2007
Also known as, what I did on my winter vacation...
Gotta get back to the everyday craziness -- it's been a pretty painful transition so far. There's still plenty more to be done, but it probably won't get dealt with in any kind of appreciable way until the SOOTTAD is back from Chicago for good later this month.