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Archived Entries from December 2004


Now This is Insomnia...

Groan. And I even had a glass or two of red wine last night after dinner. Note to anyone who has never tried "Shake 'n' Bake": don't. No offense to the redhead, who thought she'd cleverly trick our son into thinking he was having fried chicken when he wasn't (and no, nobody was tricking anyone--I'm just being funny) but that was, well, terrible. Bleck. She had made chicken livers for our Christmas Eve party, and the recipe called for Shake 'n' Bake and bacon and toothpicks, and we had a package left over, and I agreed that it wouldn't be a bad idea to actually try it with "real" chicken last night. No need to do that again.

And yes, there's an extra package of chicken livers too. And if it is going to be sixty degrees outside again today, I'll use those for what they are supposed to be used for--catfishing. Both reservoirs are still frozen over, but the river won't be. Heck, I should get dressed and go now (okay, maybe not...). I've only pulled one catfish out of the river, and it was a few years ago (and it wasn't very big). Fishing in the river is a bit different than the reservoir(s) because, well, the water moves. Normally, I'd just put a chicken liver on a treble hook, toss it into the water, leave the spool open and the line slack, and when the line starts "running" then I know that I have hooked a catfish (well, it is usually a turtle, and also quite often a bullhead, but sometimes it is actually something I want). With the river, the current takes up the slack right away, so it gets to be a bit trickier (more tricky?).

Well, television news is going to be nothing but more tsunami coverage, so I guess I'll read a few blogs and then hopefully go back to bed. Maybe I'll be lucky and the redhead will have graced us with a new post.

Speaking of my orange-haired wife, yesterday she filled out the on-line form to take the civil service exam at our beloved University. Oh, by the way, our basketball team is still number 1 in case anyone hasn't checked espn.com in a while... Anyway. It would be wonderful if she got a job at the big U. Before I start thinking of carpooling scenarios, I guess I should calm down and realize that getting hired is a long, drawn-out, pain-in-the-neck process, and filling out an on-line form doesn't guarantee anything (and, unfortunately, I have no weight to pull either). I think she's nervous, and I'm kinda nervous too, because this would all be too good to be true. Either way, we'll continue to make do. The most important thing was getting away from that nasty woman at the last job. Anyway. I've got my fingers crossed (well, no I don't, because I don't believe in that kind of thing...).

Yay! Almost 5:00 a.m.! Groan...

Posted: Friday, December 31, 2004, 10:56 am
Mood: Irritated | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


The last remnants of the Old Republic have been swept away...

Okay, maybe not.

But OS 9 has been put to rest in the Nerdrium.

I had previously done all my consulting work on my OS 9 drive and backed up to my OS X drive, and when Quark 6 arrived those two duties were flip-flopped. Today I did extensive backups of the stuff on the OS X drive to my Linux server, and took the plunge and erased the OS 9 drive completely. I am now in the process of backing everything up to the newly erased drive before proceeding.

Phew. There isn't anything much more nerve-wracking than having to click a button that says "initialize" (or whatever the heck it says...), no matter how many back-ups have been made, and how absolutely certain I was that I was erasing the correct drive.

The next step for me to do is to take the time to go through the various "Other Desktop Stuff" and "Mike's Stuff" and "Saved Stuff" and my home OS X directory and sort all those gigs worth of garbage into some sort of organized system. I mean, I'm still dealing with crap from two computers ago. And the concern isn't necessarily hard drive space, but my semi-OCD behavior that makes me frustrated sometimes when things are cluttered--virtually or not.

And I still need to add a third hard drive--120 gig--which will give me a total storage space of 200 gigs on this machine alone.

The new video card and monitors are on hold for the time being. Now that I've given up on getting them before the end of the year they actually get bumped down the list somewhat. My Linux server desperately needs to be rebuilt, and most of those components will come from our WinXP machine (which, of course, means that machine will need new guts). I'll probably go with an Athlon 64 for the new XP machine, even though one of my pals tells me that the 64-bit version of Windows is, for all intents and purposes, a beta version (if it isn't literally still in beta...) and that you have to go hunt down 64-bit versions of all drivers. Ick. I'll just use my current XP Home license for the time being. I'm looking forward to building another computer.

And now my son wants to make the evil switch from OS X to WinXP because 1) many web-based (Flash-ish stuff) games won't work in OS X, and 2) he has to play Jedi Knight 2: Outcast on "mom's computer" because the version we have is for Windows. As much as geeky dad wishes everyone in the world would use OS X, it can't hurt for the kid to become Windows savvy. So at any rate, I need to build him a computer as well. Or maybe I'll buy the parts and then supervise him doing it. Then, when Windows freezes up and he comes to bug me I can say "you built the damn thing--you figure it out." Tee hee.

All pipe dreams at this point. The more time I spend farting around writing in this silly blog and not working, the longer it will be before any of this materializes.

Posted: Thursday, December 30, 2004, 9:56 pm
Mood: Optimistic | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Rested

After having had our holiday party the other night, everyone was just zonked yesterday. Good thing for "007 Nights of Bond" on Spike TV! It's good to get a yearly reminder of just how cheesy those movies can be (and just why Austin Powers is so damn funny...).

We all went to bed rather early--I think I was out by 9:00 p.m. I got up today at 4:30 or so (not insomnia--7.5 hours of sleep is more than normal for me...) and took a shower and got dressed because I felt, well, kinda gross. I figured I'd eat something quick and get to work on some consulting stuff so I don't have all of it to do on Sunday. After eating and watching the news, I think I just want to go back to bed. It's too dark out to work. Or something. I think I'm just being lazy.

I wonder how much longer the nightly dreams about rushing water are going to last?

In other news... I think I successfully got out of having to go visit my dad (up near Chicago) although he didn't sound pleased yesterday when I told him. I even played the "why don't you guys come down here" card. After all, his car is newer than either of ours, and him getting on the interstate and driving for a few hours is a lot different than us and two impatient kids getting on the interstate and driving (and that is sort of misleading--my kids behave wonderfully in the car, but he doesn't need to know that...). So we'll see what happens. I'm not in the mood for "that family" stress right now, and I really hate that drive up I-57...

I really should get started on this pile of work. But you know what? I think I am going to go back to bed instead.

Posted: Thursday, December 30, 2004, 12:11 pm
Mood: Content | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Sunny and Warmer

It must be 60 degrees outside right now (and it snowed only three or four days ago). Unfortunately, the reservoir is still covered in a thick layer of ice, so my plan to take the kids fishing has been foiled (and I figured it would be frozen, which is why I went to check things out first without them instead of getting their hopes up...). Oh well.

We had our holiday get-together last night with a few of our friends. It was a lot of fun. We drank a boatload of red wine, which is always a good thing (until the next morning, that is). We played some euchre and also took turns playing that arcade game joystick thing that my son got for Christmas.

I really should get working on my pile of consulting work, but I think I'll put it off one more day. I just really have no desire at the moment.

My dad has called twice and wants us to go up to visit them in Chicago, and again, I have no desire. I'm going to try to see if they will come down here. We'll have to see how that all plays out.

Posted: Wednesday, December 29, 2004, 7:50 pm
Mood: Lazy | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


A Merry Christmas

Note: Yes, it's four in the morning again, but this time I don't even care....

We had a wonderful Christmas yesterday.

And yes, the Santa cat is out of the bag. It was like pulling teeth to get them to admit it, but they knew, and I knew they knew, and in the end they knew that I knew that they knew. My son was most hesitant to admit it, but later in the evening my daughter confessed that the two of them have had several "secret meetings" to discuss handwriting, sleigh-and-reindeer logistics, and many of the other inconsistencies inherent to the "Christmas lie." My son, at least, is (I think) pretty much in the "we're not going to get a lot of presents now" mode. Settle down, chitlins. For starters, Christmas is 364 days away......

The Millenium Falcon has already been constructed, and I'm sure the AT-AT will commence early this morning.

My son is thrilled. He didn't get a large number of things this year, but he's quite cognizant of the fact that the presents he did get are pretty hefty items. He got some pretty cool things from Papa and Grandma et al. as well, including a game that I can't wait to play today--"Fact or Crap." I guess the days of me telling him that he isn't allowed to say "crap" are over. Oh well.

While my son is in to good ol' standbys like Star Wars and Legos, the new thing for my daughter this year is some phenomenon called "American Girl." She got American Girl books. She got American Girl clothes. She got an American Girl DVD too, I think.

Of course I can't go on without mentioning that my dear old sister-in-law got my daughter the new version of the "Easy Bake Oven." And of course we had to use it last night. Grrr.... After mixing the ingredients and making a complete and utter mess, and then waiting for an eternity, my daughter produced two dinky soft pretzels. She took a bite of one. My son took a bite of the other. And then both got pitched.

What Aunt Molly needs to realize, however (and of course I normally would never direct a comment directly to someone that I know may read this at some point...) is that at some point she is going to get married and have kids. And I won't be a 20-year old college student on a fixed income. Easy Bake Oven? Pshaw. Your kids will be getting drum sets, and electric guitars, and, well, let's put it this way--I'm going to go to the toy store and ask them "what's the loudest, most obnoxious toy for this season?" And that's what your kids will be getting for Christmas. You have been warned. Easy Bake Oven.... Groan.

My wife loved the lime green (she says that it apparently is "sage") night gown that I got for her. She's also thrilled with the books I got for her, and I think she's pleased that between her mother and myself she was inundated with new kitchen towels.

I made out pretty well as well. The redhead got me a black leather checkbook cover so we can finally pitch the old plastic one. It matches the leather coat she got me last year. I commented "now I just need a matching pair of gloves." Lo and behold, they were in my stocking at the in-laws' house. Aren't I cool now... (So even though I don't have any money, it might look like I do--now I can be like everyone else in Villa Grove who is broke but looks like "a playa.") Seriously, though, I am quite pleased. I also got new blue jeans that I was desperately in need of as all of my old ones are starting to wear out.

And honestly, the best part is still sitting around with family and enjoying the day. The kids were happy, the redhead was happy, and how could all of that not make me happy? I was tickled pink. I had fun at the in-laws' house as well.

Shall I just say "it was a good day" and be finished? I think so.

Posted: Sunday, December 26, 2004, 10:50 am
Mood: Happy | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Like Clockwork

We had a pretty good day yesterday. I went to Tuscola and picked up some last-minute things that I thought of yesterday morning, snuck off with the kids to my in-laws' house to wrap the redhead's presents, and helped (somewhat) with said redhead's preparations for the Christmas Eve festivities that will be held at our house this year.

I got my G4 mounted underneat my desk structure thing, so hopefully it will make less noise now.

We did get to see I, Robot last night and I thought it was absolutely awesome. Very, very cool.

We ended up ordering pizza (that they screwed up, of course--they forgot the pepperoni, but it was no big deal) for dinner. I had a couple of beers with the movie and a glass of wine or two.

All in all a pretty nice, relaxing day.

And now, of course, it is 4:00-#$%&ing-o'clock in the morning and I'm wide awake. Groan.

Oh well. I guess I'll get back to my "scanning all the old pictures of the kids" project...

Posted: Friday, December 24, 2004, 10:35 am
Mood: Blah | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Long in the Tooth

Thank goodness I have the redhead to guide me through life.

Apparently I spoke most incorrectly when I said a while back that one of my posts was getting "long in the tooth."

I was thinking in terms of me jabbering on and on and going nowhere, when in fact the term refers to something being old.

That is, when someone tries to sell you a horse (this is what she told me) and tells you it is X number of years old, you look at its back teeth, which get longer year after year. So if it appears the horse is actually older than the seller claims, you might say "it looks a little long in the tooth...."

Or something like that. Living in the boonies is all about colloquialisms and how they are used. (Quick visit to m-w.com to make sure I am using the word "colloquialism" correctly...)

Basically you take an adjective (adverb?), add an animal, and then finish with a location, and that's how you make your point.

"Heck, he'll be deader than a jackrabbit in a huntin' lodge..."

Or maybe.

"Golly, that kid'll be fatter than a mushmouse in a sassafras factory..." Whatever that means. Yes, I realize that sassafras is a tree or "the carcinogenic dried root bark of the sassafras used formerly as a diaphoretic or flavoring agent."

On another note, it snowed! Right as planned! Woo hoo! Right now outside it is whiter than a lab rat in a laundromat. Wheee....

I am not doing a damn thing today. No work. No consulting. No thinking about work.

Battlestation and I, Robot are all that are on the agenda.

And when my son scores more "kills" than me, I'm simply going to reply "Yeah, that and 50 cents'll get you a cup of coffee at Super Pantry..."

Posted: Thursday, December 23, 2004, 12:53 pm
Mood: Ornery | 1 comment| Article URL | Post a comment
 


Only an hour more to go....

I need a break desperately. I worked for almost five hours when I got home last night (and that was after wrangling with monitors, etc.). I'm worn out.

I just finished doing the layout for our monthly 4-page newsletter at work. It was an easy one this month--everything seemed to fit right off the bat. Wonderful. The bosses are proofing it right now and that should then be out of the way shortly.

Then it's off to Murph's for a burger and some beers, and then off to--oops, I can't say. The redhead might read this and ruin the surprise. Suffice it to say my therapist is helpful in more ways than one and gave me some good suggestions yesterday--one of which I have verified on-line. I'm thrilled this is going to work out.

Then it's off to pick up a bundle of consulting work to keep me moderately busy during break (deadlines of two weeks are much easier to accept than "need it tomorrow" like it has been for the past month).

Finally I need to head to Pages for All Ages bookstore and then to WalFart to finish up and hopefully, hopefully that will be the end of my shopping for Christmas.

Have I mentioned that I'm really ready for the holiday season to be over and done with? Sheesh.

It is freezing in my office. The huge 30-year old single pane windows may as well be wide open it is so cold in here. Every time I hear the wind blow outside I feel a draft. Brrrr....

Posted: Wednesday, December 22, 2004, 4:15 pm
Mood: Anxious | 1 comment| Article URL | Post a comment
 


Tropic of Capricorn

The winter solstice occurred at 7:42 this morning. And that's great news--it makes me very optimistic. Starting tomorrow the days will start getting longer. Sure, only a few minutes at time, but longer nonetheless. That means today is the middle of my seasonal depression, theoretically, at least. The snow and cold that are forthcoming don't bother me.

In a week Christmas will be over as well. Thank goodness.

The borrowed monitor is working, and working well, so it wasn't the video card. Which is a good thing, I guess.

Phew.

Posted: Wednesday, December 22, 2004, 1:34 am
Mood: Optimistic | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Monitor Problem Solved

I've found a temporary solution to the monitor situation, which involves borrowing one from a friend until I get around to getting the flat panels and new video card, etc. Sheesh. What a pain in the neck.

At least I'm not going to the mall again today. I can't stand the mall. I think I did pretty well yesterday, There were only a couple times that I distinctly remember feeling claustrophobic and wanted to just turn and run out of the place, although by the time I left my skin was red and blotchy and my core temperature was up several degrees. Looks like I'll go to WalFart tomorrow afternoon.

The small group I work with is having a luncheon tomorrow, and not a fancy gathering like it was with all of Extension. This will just be the three bosses, a couple of other APs in our group, and the graduate students. We're going to go to a tavern on campus and have lunch and some brewskis. What a perfect thing to do before going shopping! I can tolerate stupid people at WalMart much better if I'm half-lit.

In fact, I told the redhead a while back that every department store should have a small mini-bar for people like me. I'd get along so much better with the stress of shopping if I could go have a cold one and watch a ball game for 15 minutes.

For some reason I started stressing about the silly pool situation, and my neighbor, D.A.D. One of the people I worked for is married to a rather prominent local attorney, and it just so happens I fixed his powerbook a while back. I think while we're in the "off season" I'm going to call in a favor and get some legal advice from him about how I should handle the situation, because I'm not spending another summer listening to D.A.D. bitch about me emptying water, some of which ends up on the ground on the other side of my fence. Stupid woman....

I'll be happy when work is over with for the week--well, the year I guess--I really need a break.

Posted: Tuesday, December 21, 2004, 3:26 pm
Mood: Fair | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


For Pete's Sake...

So get this....

I lament about the whole monitor thing. I stress about it. I waste all sorts of processor cycles worrying about spending money before the end of the year.

Then I find my Excalibur. I pull it from the rock. Woo hoo!

Then Lancelot takes it from me.

Grrr....

I rally the troops and circle the wagons. This isn't a big deal. Wait until next year. While I'm not a loser Cubs fan, I am a loser White Sox fan, and pretty much all of us sit and wait. And baseball sucks anyway. Especially that arrogant ass Milt Pappas! Anyway...

So I come home tonight and need to get a single paper typeset.

And the stupid monitor for my G4 is dead.

"It's dead, Jim."

You're kidding me.

Nope.

Plugged it into my laptop (via a DVI to VGA adaptor). No dice. Again--you're kidding me.

If it is any comfort, Mozilla for Linux renders my web pages just as properly as Safari does.

Now what do I do? I had work to do tonight...

I think I'll go to Circuit City tomorrow and grab another 19" CRT. Groan.

This really, really is starting to get on my nerves.

And I'm having a hell of a time finding what it is I want to get the redhead for Christmas....

Posted: Tuesday, December 21, 2004, 4:22 am
Mood: Blah | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Blue Monday

I guess "Gray Monday" might be more appropriate. It is cold outside, and the whipping winds don't help things. Brrr..... So much for global warming.

Only two days of work this week for me, which is cool. I think I can hack that. Hopefully I'll be able to get out of here for a couple of hours today or tomorrow and get some shopping done.

The redhead took the kids to see "Lemony Snickets" yesterday while I worked. Apparently they had a good time, although my son is now officially a "the book is better" snob.

Speaking of the redhead, she's started looking for a job again, apparently. I told her back in November to not worry about it until next year, because I don't think many places other than retail stores will be hiring until after the first of the year. I think people are spending more time planning parties and doing their shopping, etc., and aren't worried about filling secretarial positions. As long as she finds something she is happy with, I'll be happy.

Actually I'll just be happy period when the holiday season is over with. Yes, I'm kind of a grinch.

Okay, two days of real work today, and I have to get all of my consulting work taken care of by Thursday. I moved my therapy appointment up a day so I won't have to make a special trip on Wednesday. Dang, now I won't get to see the skinny angst-ridden hippie girl that has the time slot before my appointment.

Oh well. I just hope today goes by fast.

Posted: Monday, December 20, 2004, 2:45 pm
Mood: Fair | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Okay, I've Calmed Down...

So I don't get the monitors this year. No big deal. I was so bound and determined to spend money by the end of the year so my tax burden isn't monstrous, but at this point, I don't think spending $700 is going to make much of a difference.

I'll relax and take my time. And another opportunity will present itself.

And this way I've freed up $700 for last-minute Christmas stuff, and I won't have to be worried how we're going to get through Christmas break (since I'll get one more consulting check next week, and then won't get another one until next year...).

Oh well. Speaking of consulting, I'd better get busy....

Posted: Saturday, December 18, 2004, 9:39 pm
Mood: Pretty Good | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


I am so #$%@ing mad right now....

I went back to WalMart.com this morning to place my order for those monitors, and now they are out of stock.

I'm about to go ballistic.

I should have placed the order last night, whether or not I thought I was going to get a check today.

I'm so mad I can't see straight right now....

Posted: Saturday, December 18, 2004, 3:36 pm
Mood: Livid | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Well, I Survived....

As if there was any doubt. I'm so bizarre sometimes.

I hung out with the perfessors for a couple of hours and had a few short glasses, well, plastic cups of wine. It was fun. The secretaries seemed none-too-thrilled to be there, but I chatted with some of the profs and had an okay time. There was a lot of food--I didn't have any. Heck, I had a super burrito at Bamba at 11:30--there was hardly room for sandwiches a few hours later!

I've solved my flat-panel dilemma. Here's the situation: MacMall is selling 19" flat panels for $299 after a $90 mail-in rebate. One rebate per household. Must buy before the end of this year. And I don't have a credit card anymore.

I was going to offer a couple of friends half of the rebate money to let me write them a check for the full amount ($389 + tax and shipping) to have the monitors ordered to two different households. Kind of a hassle.

When the redhead and I were in Sam's Club last weekend, they had similar 19" flat panel monitors for $388. Now by the time I give up half of the rebate, plus pay for shipping, we're getting pretty close to it being a wash. I struggled with this for a day or so.

Today I went to Sam's web site and they have them marked at $423. Now we're getting further from it being a wash (I assume it was a one-day sale or something last weekend)....

For grins (get this) I go to WalMart's web site, and they have black 19" flat panels for $299. No rebate. No baloney. The only problem? On-line orders only.

So now I'm back to my credit card dilemma.

Tonight I went to WalMart's site and added a couple to a shopping cart, created an account, etc., and went to payment options.

They'll take a check payment electronically, on-line.

And I thought Papa John's was cool for letting me order pizza over the internet.

I expect a consulting check tomorrow or Monday. And then those two flat panels are mine.

I'll deal with the video card part of it later.

Woo hoo!

Posted: Saturday, December 18, 2004, 12:56 am
Mood: Awesome | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Christmas Party

The party just started.

And I'm trying to quell a panic attack of sorts.

I still don't like being around people, even if most of them are people I work with.

This is so bizarre.....

Posted: Friday, December 17, 2004, 8:42 pm
Mood: Anxious | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


It's Going to Be a Good Day!

I managed to sleep past my 4:00 a.m. insomniacs meeting this morning, and didn't wake up until after 5:00, which was perfect! I got the kids' lunches made, and was able to head out the door shortly after 6:00. I even stopped and topped off my tank because the 20 cent gas price jump hasn't happened in Villa Grove yet so I figured I may as well fill up before that happens, even though when it comes right down to it, I saved myself $1.60. Oh well.

At any rate, I got to work bright and early, which I haven't done in a long time. And it's wonderful. The hallways are dark. The sun is just starting to rise. It's dark in my office. Mmmm. Just the way I like it.

Have I mentioned that people around here totally drive like jerks? It's unbelievable to me sometimes just what morons some of these people are. Someone in one of those mini-SUV things with those stupid glowing blue headlights whipped past me on one of the University-owned roads in the South Farms, where the speed limit is 35. I had a lot of fun watching as they zipped along only to just miss the light a half-mile or so ahead of me. It was even more fun sidling up to them at said red light. Tee hee. Slow down, you ass.

And I still don't understand the people that a) speed, b) don't stop fully for stop signs (and often go when it isn't their turn), and c) just generally drive like idiots--yet when they get to their destination they just sit in their car/truck. If you are in such a hurry, why not get out and run to your office or job or whatever. Some bonehead in his extended-cab pickup (with a topper!) didn't stop at one of the four-way stops close to my office, went out of turn, and then proceeded to not give a pedestrian who was crossing the street the right of way. There was a reason I was waiting to turn left--because someone was getting ready to cross the street. So this guy to my right runs the stop sign, it isn't his turn, and then the woman crossing the street had to stop midway because this jerk practically burns rubber in her face as he peels through the intersection. Whatever. Moron. I turn left behind him, we go another block where he proceeds to run the next stop sign and make his right turn. I stopped, all the while enjoying listening to the soothing classical music coming out of the speakers in my car, and then made my right turn. He whipped into the parking lot next to our building, and I proceeded to the next driveway entrance and entered the parking garage. I parked, got out of the car, put my coat on, grabbed the CD from the radio, gathered up my digital camera, the newspaper, Chex Mix for the Christmas party this afternoon, and basically took my time. Finally I locked the car and headed for the office.

And as I'm approaching the building, here's this jerk, still in his truck, with the engine running, just sitting there.

Why the big hurry? So you can get a good parking spot and listen to "Bob and Tom" for 20 minutes before you have to do whatever it is you do for a living? "Ooh, Chick farted. Hah hah hah. We're so funny! Look, that girl has boobs! Hah hah hah." I don't understand how "Bob and Tom" are funny either, but that's another story.

I guess I just don't understand.

So our sub-set of the department is having our annual Christmas get-together this afternoon from 3:00 to 5:00 in the conference room. Normally I avoid these sorts of things, but this year is apparently different. I caught word yesterday that one of the professors I work for has some bottles of wine he wants to get rid of, so some paperwork was filled out and yesterday the approval came from campus that we could have booze at the party this year. Quite cool. And fortunately for me the mother-in-law made eighteen-odd pounds of home-made Chex Mix and gave us a 3-gallon bag of it, so I took a third of it and found a Christmas-y bowl in the cabinet, and that will be my contribution. Well, and I'll probably stop and pick up a bottle of wine or two when I'm out shopping this morning.

Okay, this post is getting a little long in the tooth...

Posted: Friday, December 17, 2004, 1:11 pm
Mood: Great! | 2 comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


NEW!

I just made a little change to the front page--I'm sure nobody will notice but me but something hasn't made sense for a while.

For starters, the little "NEW!" graphic I created took up too much vertical space, in my opinion, and pushed the start of the page further down that I would like, so I replaced it with just the word NEW! in bold red type.

But the NEW! in and of itself is kinda silly. It is always there. While I update with some frequency, it really is misleading.

So....

Now I check the current time (unixstamp, of course) any time someone visits the page. If the current time minus the time in the database is less than 5,184,000 (that would be seconds, and that works out to being 24 hours), then the word NEW! appears. If I haven't blogged in three days, what is up is hardly NEW!.

Of course, now I have to not post again for 24 hours to make sure it goes away.....

Posted: Thursday, December 16, 2004, 10:12 pm
Mood: Blah | 1 comment| Article URL | Post a comment
 


Almost Friday

I got my car back with the shiny new tires yesterday. It rides much better now--I really had worn the other ones down pretty far. Hopefully this weekend I can get my new brake pads installed. And I really, really, need to figure out where the electrical short is in the brake lights (at least I assume it has to do with the brake lights). Oh well.

At least one of the people I work for put the kibosh on the whole Coldfusion bulletin board (or as she called it "dating service"), so I can go merrily back into PHP-land.

I still don't know why anyone would want to develop things for a proprietary platform to begin with. Our academic license for our server still cost thousands of dollars. "Oh, well ColdFusion is written in Java so you can run it on any platform." For starters, you can run PHP on any platform, and it doesn't use Java. And most importantly, no, you can't run ColdFusion on any platform--because it doesn't work on Mac OS X. Groan. Anyway.

I got 90% on my computer science final, so I'll get an A for the class. How nice for me. And I'm sure before I know it class will be starting up once more. Again I groan.

The end of the year is creeping up on me too quickly. I have too much computer equipment to buy so that I can write it off, and not enough time to get this all taken care of properly. I think if I can get the two monitors by the end of the year so that I can qualify for the rebates, I'll do that and worry about everything else later. I'll just have to be more proactive in spending money on geek stuff next year so I don't end up in the same situation that I am this year.

But I'm totally looking forward to building a few new machines. That's just as relaxing as planting plants as far as I'm concerned.

Oh well. I don't know much else for now.

Posted: Thursday, December 16, 2004, 9:42 pm
Mood: Pretty Good | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Why 4:00 a.m.?

When I'm suffering from bouts of insomnia, why do I wake up at the same damn time every morning? Why not 3:00? Or 5:00? It's always right around 4:00 a.m.

Which stinks because I get up for a while, watch some Headline News and eat something, and by the time I go back to bed, it is 5:00-ish. If I were getting up at 3:00 and going back to bed at 4:00, that would be great--plenty of zzzs before having to get up for the day. But instead, I'm going back to bed at 5:00 and having to get up an hour later.

Which doesn't exactly work like it should.

And just what the hell am I losing sleep over right now anyway? My radar scope is clear. I have some consulting work to do but the huge crunch is over with, so there are no worries there. Christmas shopping for the kids is taken care of for the most part. I have a few things to get for the redhead, but that's no big deal.

Hmmm. Meditate on this, I will.

Posted: Thursday, December 16, 2004, 10:28 am
Mood: Tired | 2 comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


New Tires!

I got my spankin' new tires put on today. And the ride is unbelievably much nicer. (And Mooney's cleaned my rims too--they sparkle!)

On a sour note, we somehow lost one of the plastic caps that cover the lug nuts on the Aurora tires. Groan. I sure hope Mac's Auto Recycling has one...

I should just trade that damn thing and get the redhead a newer car. The beauty of used Oldsmobiles at this point is that all of the old rich people that bought them new are panicking and thinking that they need to unload their car because Oldsmobile is now defunct. Duh. Because Buick mechanics can't work on an Oldsmobile.

Okay, I need to play some Battlegrounds with the boy....

Posted: Wednesday, December 15, 2004, 11:44 pm
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More Insomnia...

The redhead was just giggling in her sleep. I hope she's dreaming about me.

Wait a minute. Er, maybe I should hope that she's not dreaming about me?

I get my new tires today, thank goodness.

I guess I have nothing to talk about. It's 4:30 in the morning, I'm wide awake, and that's normally a good time to blog. I guess not today. Oh well.

Posted: Wednesday, December 15, 2004, 10:24 am
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Lists

My therapist seems to think that my life would be much less stressful if I would start keeping a "to do" list. I think the idea is that I internalize a lot of things, and try to keep track of too much in my head, and then I get stressed when I feel like I'm not getting anything done. If I had a list not only would I be fully aware of what needed to be done, but I might enjoy some satisfaction of scratching things off one at a time when they are completed.

And I think she might be on to something. I e-mailed myself a list last night of things I needed to get done today, and got all of them done but one.

Blood pressure pills ordered, check. New tires ordered, check (I get them installed tomorrow--yay!). Get stamps and mail all the bills, check.

I'll take care of the last item on the list this afternoon when I go to the store.

And I actually dropped off consulting work today and didn't pick up any! I'm finally starting to get caught up with that as well.

It looks like I'm finally getting dragged into the world of ColdFusion. I have to make a bulletin board-type thingy for the national IPM center, and they will only take it in ColdFusion. (And no, I'm not reinventing the wheel--they don't want a "bulletin board" like all of the various bulletin boards all over the web, many of which are created in PHP and are freely available. It's kinda hard to explain, but should be easy to program, and I'll post a URL after it is finished....).

Posted: Tuesday, December 14, 2004, 8:51 pm
Mood: Content | 2 comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Child Prodigies

I was driving to work this morning, listening to a new classical piano CD that my wife bought me for Christmas (yes, I know that's two weeks away--she can't keep a secret for more than about 20 minutes. No offense, honey....) and started thinking about my daughter and her piano lessons. She practices all the time (although right now plays pretty much nothing but Silent Night...) and hasn't complained once about doing so. I realize it's only been a few months, but I'm thrilled that she enjoys it.

I was forced to take piano lessons as a kid. For years. And I hated it. And I wasn't good at it. And I wanted to quit every single day. I think my mother's motivation was that she maybe thought I was a prodigy (I'm not). My dad always talked in terms of "Oh, when you're older and at parties you can sit and play the piano and people will gather around and it will be all sorts of fun." Right. Now that I'm an adult and host social gatherings, we drink beer and wine and eat food and talk. Who wants to sit around a piano? Playstation 2, maybe, but not a piano.

As tends to happen, my mind started wandering around everything else I'm irritated about from my childhood. When I was in eighth grade I didn't participate in math class with the other students. Why not? Because once a week I went and took high school trigonometry at the local community college, along with another kid from a different school in town (and there were a half-dozen other kids in the class from surrounding towns).

And what on earth good did that do me? The redhead's Uncle Bill would say "that and 25 cents will get you a cup of coffee at Super Pantry...." The other kids in junior high thought I was weird. I was weird. What the heck good is there in learning trigonometry three years early if you're screwed up emotionally for a long time as a result of the circumstances tied to that learning?

My son is in a competition of sorts at school for something called "AR Points" (Advanced Reader?). Each kid is required to get a certain number of points each year, and some kids earn way more than that. Read a book, take a test, and then you are awarded points---the higher reading level a book is, the more points it is worth. There's a little girl in my son's class that has more points than he does. On the outside I would say that he doesn't care, but he does talk about it. He talks about things in terms of how many points the book he is reading now is worth compared to what she is reading, etc. And I think the grade school teachers foster this in the kids.

And what on earth for? My mother-in-law (who also happens to be a teacher at the school) seems to think that some of the teachers like to use kids in a "look what a great teacher I am" sort of way. And that irritates me as well. The kids are smart because I am smart, and the redhead is smart, and our parents are smart, and they are well-adjusted. They are not smart because of the teachers. The teachers don't create "smartness." And since when did "most AR points" become the barometer for how smart a kid is?

My kids are good students. They are not prodigies. And I don't want them to be.

I want them to be normal and well-adjusted. I want them to have friends, if they want friends, and I want them to be happy. If that means playing the piano, fine. If it means being on the football team, that's fine too. But I'm not forcing anything on either of them. And I certainly don't give a crap if either of them win the "most AR points" award this year. Yes, I'll be proud of them, but I'm already proud of them. I know they are both fabulous readers. I don't need a certificate from the school to tell me that.

My son got to represent the third grade in the "scholastic bowl" this year (along with the little girl that has more points than he does). And I don't know if I like that. Aaargh. Now I'm getting my brain and emotions all tied in a knot.

I didn't want to be different as a kid. I wanted to be like everyone else. And sometimes this stuff at school scares me to death.

I just hope the stinkpots turn out better than I did....

Posted: Tuesday, December 14, 2004, 6:18 pm
Mood: Apprehensive | 1 comment| Article URL | Post a comment
 


Happy Monday!

Where should I begin?

For some reason I am just in the most wonderful mood in the world right now. Those little pills I take are supposed to make me not be on a roller coaster anymore, but if I were still on the Emotional Express I would most definitely be at the top of the hill. The apex. The apogee, if you will.

It's snowing, which is cool. I mean if it is going to be cold and crummy outside, let's at least have some white stuff! And snow can only lead to one important thing... That's right--snow days. If school is cancelled because it isn't prudent for bus drivers to be out on country roads, then it certainly isn't prudent for me to make the 22-mile trek to work either, right? And snow days are perfect days to unwind. Nothing to do. Nowhere to go. No feelings of "what I need to be doing right now is..."

Just sit and relax and watch the snow and let worry drift away.

At this point, we're pretty far from a snow day--it's just flurries and I don't see that we'll get any accumulation. More fun to look out the window and watch snow fall than rain, I guess.

The redhead and I watched The Bourne Supremacy over the weekend. It was much better than the first one. I almost feel like watching it again I enjoyed it so much.

I got lots of work done this weekend as well. I'm tickled pink that I haven't had to boot into OS 9 in a good long while. My second hard drive seems to be filling up more quickly than expected, and I'm not sure why. I only have 16 gigs of free space available. I need to get that 120 gig replacement...

Ooh, and how fun it will be to start dumping OS 9 applications from the other drive and freeing it up just for data. What fun.

Virtual PC for my G5 arrived today. That means I can leave the laptop at home and quit lugging it around just to convert WordPerfect files.

Well, I suppose I should get to reading my e-mail from the weekend.

Time for lunch yet? I'm starving....

Posted: Monday, December 13, 2004, 3:01 pm
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Christmas Shopping

Well, I spent my day off working. Groan. It pays the bills, I guess...

The redhead and I went shopping this evening. We arranged for the kids to go home with grandma and hang out until we got back. The best news of the evening is that we stopped off at the smaller WalMart in Champaign on the off-chance that they would have the Lego Millenium Falcon (we had been at Sam's Club next door...). Champaign has an older WalMart, and then there is a newer Super WalMart in Savoy (just south of Champaign) that is four times the size and much nicer. We don't ever really venture into the old one anymore (well, I don't know what I'm talking about--I'm never out shopping anyway...).

Anyway, as it turns out they had ONE LEFT. Not only did they have one left, but they were on sale for $75 instead of $100. Woo hoo!

And the AT-AT arrived yesterday (from Lego.com) and is in the closet of the Nerdrium.....

We made a few stops tonight and I think for the most part we are finished. I still need to get some things for the redhead, which I'll during extended lunch breaks next week.

Still no grade for my class yet--and I'm totally anxious to find out. I resigned myself to getting a B and now I'm almost certain I'll get an A.

I have to remember to call about tires on Monday....

Posted: Saturday, December 11, 2004, 3:11 am
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Unnecessary Test Anxiety

My final is now final. How nice for me.

I should get between 95-98 out of 100 points. School is so much easier now that I'm "an adult."

I need to calm down. Why the heck I get test anxiety is beyond me, but it is ridiculous. Oh well.

I was scared to death of this test, and it was a piece of cake. I need to get out of what-it-was-like-first-time-around mode.

Posted: Friday, December 10, 2004, 4:45 am
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Good Burrito!

I ran over to a friend's house this morning to try to help her share a couple of printers between her two iMacs, and stopped and got a burrito to go on my way back to the office. And I'm happy to report that it was awesome. Mmmm.....

It looks like I will be able to take Friday off, which is cool, because I need to get my Christmas shopping started (and hopefully ended).

We got our new phones yesterday. They are the most complicated electronic devices I've ever seen or used. I still don't know how to do anything with it other than answer it. And I still don't understand what the problem was with my old phone... And here I thought new phones meant better games and such that can be downloaded or whatever. You can download games, they just cost seven bucks. I already pay these goofs $80 per month for the damn phone service, and they want me to buy games from them on top of it all? What a rip off.

I still don't have any desire to study for my final exam tomorrow....

Posted: Wednesday, December 08, 2004, 7:45 pm
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And It's Only Tuesday...

I think I'm going to take Friday off, at least.

I'll be happy when this week is over with. The silliest part is that my actual job isn't causing any of my stress. I have that damn final to take Thursday, and as much as I tell myself that I have enough points as it is that the final doesn't really matter, I still can't help getting worked up about it.

I'm getting anxious that the end of the year is approaching and I still need to spend a bunch of money (that I don't actually have right now) on computer stuff so that our tax lady doesn't kick my butt in April.

I need to get a start on Christmas shopping. STILL.

Therapy tomorrow. Check. Final exam thursday. Check. Day off Friday to get caught up with consulting at home. Check.

Okay, talk to me Saturday, I guess. Sheesh.

I'm taking close to two weeks off around the holidays and hopefully I can unwind then. I feel like I have so much to do. I seem to be losing track of my hobbies and my free time and what it is I want to do. I need to run a new cat5e wire to my son's room. I need to rebuild several computers. Sheesh--I still need to put my damn brakes on (and that stupid Grand Prix is going to die within the next year, I'm afraid...).

How the hell has my life become so hectic??

I need to plant some plants. That will calm me down. I need to just buy 10 pounds of potting soil and a bunch of containers and start clipping the philodendrons at work until they look like they have buzz haircuts.

What a lame post. I'm worn out....

Posted: Wednesday, December 08, 2004, 3:12 am
Mood: Indifferent | 2 comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Rain and Rainbows

We had an odd Fall thunderstorm overnight and this morning. When I first heard thunder this morning while in the shower the low rumble made me think that my kids were wrestling around and bumping into walls. After a few seconds it got so much louder that it was apparent what was really going on. How odd.

The cool part is that the rain stopped shortly before I left for work, and the sun peeked out from behind some clouds when I was driving through the country on my way to work. And off to the west was a rainbow. And I could actually see both ends of it and most of the way up to where it would have met at the top but instead faded out. It was only visible for a few minutes, of course, but it sure was pretty cool to see.

I'll be happy when 2005 gets here. The boatloads of consulting work is really starting to wear me down. I just need to keep up the pace for a few more weeks...

I finished up my last homework assignment for the semester last night. There were a couple questions that I didn't answer properly, and I know I didn't, but at this point I think I just don't care anymore (I already have somewhere in the neighborhood of 95-100% of all possible points as it is--I wasn't about to stay up any later racking my brain for two little questions....). My final is Thursday.

I sure wish my travel voucher would come through soon--I want to go buy some presents with it and at least get started on my Christmas shopping.

Posted: Tuesday, December 07, 2004, 4:48 pm
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We're Number One!

There isn't much that is sillier than watching a sporting event between two teams that, well, pretty much aren't very good, and seeing the home team fans in the stands giving the "we're number one" sign to the camera. While I appreciate anyone that supports their local team, doing the "we're number one" thing when you, well, aren't number one, is just silly. Do "we love our team, even though we stink" or something.

Well, folks, after many, many years of being a sports fan, I can get up tomorrow and do the "we're number one" thing.

You see, the University of Illinois--my alma mater and current employer--has a men's basketball team that is ranked numero uno in both the AP and USA Today/ESPN polls.

It may not last longer than this week. And we may not win the Big Ten, let alone a national championship.

But for this week, I can wear my safety orange shirts (preferably ones with "racist" mascot symbols on them) and proudly proclaim We're Number One!

Posted: Tuesday, December 07, 2004, 3:15 am
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Gateway G300

I hope, I hope, I hope that my in-laws haven't bought a new computer yet.

They have an old PII 300 MHz Gateway (yeah, I know, they didn't ask me first....). It's been a pretty good machine, but, well, it's quite old. And most of the time when they complain that it is slow I reply that it is because they are out in the country using a phone modem and that is really the slow part but now, it's slow. I mean, slow. I maxed it out at like 384 megs of RAM, re-installed a fresh version of Windows 98 a while back, and added a second 2 gig hard drive. But it drags along. It takes forever to boot. I mean, it's painful.

My mother-in-law doesn't like change. Anything different will throw her off. Of course WinXP will be a change, but she'll figure that part out. She only uses Eudora and Word, and those will be pretty close to the same thing as the versions she uses now.

But by all appearances, that machine should stay the same.

If they don't buy a new machine (and I started scheming this a while back, and only later found that they were actually considering buying one) I am hoping to build a "sleeper" machine for them. "Sleeper" refers to my days of hot-rodding (not really). I used to have a 1969 Chevy Camaro way back when, and hung out with some gear-heads. While my car didn't have this feature, many older cars of that era used to list the engine size on the outside of the car. 327 was a small block chevy V8, while 427 was a big block, and 454 was the biggest (just slightly smaller than the Oldsmobile/Buick 455 "rocket.") My car actually had a 350, which was also a small block. At any rate, people had blowers and "tunnel rams" (intake manifolds that often had more than one carbueretor and were raised up from the engine)--all in the name of forcing the air into the engine at an increased rate (now all obsolete, for the most part, thanks to fuel injection). Anyway, if you had a blower (which I didn't) it was usually pretty obvious because it stuck out the top of the hood. "Sleeper" was a term for someone with a Camaro, or Chevelle, or whatever with "327" on their front fenders, but actually with a 454 and a half-height blower or tunnel ram under the hood (so as not to be visible outside the top of the car). The idea was that someone in their Corvette (probably with a 350, or maybe a 427 depending on what kind it was, year, etc.) would pull up alongside at a stop light and would want to race, thinking that the "sleeper" had a smaller V8. Lo and behold, the light would change and the Camaro would blow the doors off the 'Vette. Did I really just spend all of that time explaining this? Sheesh. My apologies.

My point is that I'd like to get a mini ATX Pentium 4 motherboard, a 2 GHz processor (or so--for them 1.9 or 2.0 or 2.1 or 2.4 is really splitting hairs, so I'll just get whatever is cheapest), a new power supply (that has to fit their case) to power the P4, a 512 stick of RAM, and a 40 gig or so hard drive, with a new (low-end) video card and probably a CD-RW drive, and rebuild their gateway with new guts. It will still say "Pentium II MMX" on the outside, but if some jerk pulls up in a 900 MHz Pentium III, we'll blow his doors off. Tee hee. Being the benefactors that they are, they would never agree to this if I offered to pay for it myself.

Which is why I want them to not buy a Dell for Christmas. I want to do this for them. We aren't the poor starving family that we were ten years ago. Let me do this one thing. It would mean so much for me to finally give something back to two people that have done so much for me personally, not to mention my wife and kids and brother- and sister-in-law.

And for the most part it will be totally transparent to my mother-in-law. Same Gateway box. Same monitor. Same power button. Like I said, Windows will be a little bit different, but I still think she'll figure that part out--especially if I keep the same exact desktop background picture.

I really just hope that they don't get anxious and buy a Dell....

Posted: Monday, December 06, 2004, 2:14 am
Mood: Apprehensive | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Okay from the Boss

I just gently approached the subject of really, really wanting to see if I can swing the dual flat panels (and new ATI 9000 video card) by the end of the year, and the redhead gave her full approval. Woo hoo! I'm going to attempt to wrap up most of the Christmas shopping this week, and what I don't get done I'll take care of next week after U of I payday.

Quark 6 for OS X has some quirks (har) but for the most part not having to use OS 9 is way more than worth it. The main problem is that the goofiest situation I'm encountering isn't easily explained, so I don't know how to Google for it, or even ask others what they think. This may entail contacting an old MacFixIt forums friend that lives near Syracuse. Surely herr Doctor will know what I'm talking about....

One of the biggest things that I've noticed is that for the first time I'm seeing the age of my G4. For the most part it hums along just nicely (and any OS X-type pauses that I am aware of I am usually also aware of on my Dual 2 GHz G5 at work, so I know that isn't just that my home machine is slow....). I think the problem is that Quark 6 is so similar to Quark 4, which blazed along in OS 9 and doesn't quite go that fast in X, so I totally notice the speed difference.

I think that upgrading the final slot from 128 to 512 of RAM (for 1.5 gigs total) will offer some improvement. I may be getting a new machine next year, however.

Somewhere in and around all of this I still want to rebuild the PC and retire the poor Linux frankenserver for a newer model. Previously my biggest constraint was money, and not that I'm rolling in it now or anything, but now my biggest problem is time.

My final in my class is Thursday. There are 518 total points in the class and the final is worth 100 of them. I will enter the final being really, really close to 418 (I've missed a point or half-point here or there on homework, and scored perfectly on all the quizzes...). So I'll be really, really close to having a B locked up before even taking the final. Thank goodness. This has been a light blip on the radar screen for a couple of weeks, and today it became fully phospholuminescent (and I don't care if that isn't a word--my first degree is in Rhetoric, and along with that comes something called a "poetic license" which means I can make up words at will and there's nothing anyone can do about it...). I really don't want to worry about this all week. Doing the math today makes me feel a lot better. I'm not proud. A "B" is fine with me. Which also means I need 50 out of 100 (or so) to get an "A." I'm not going to study, nor am I going to lose any sleep over this. C's get degrees, and I have a full-time job and too much consulting work and two children to boot. (Cool, I just used to, too, and two in a sentence--I'm such a dork....).

I didn't get my brakes installed--they are still in the box on the floor in the front seat. Maybe next weekend...

Speaking of my stupid car, I started it the other morning and THREE out of the six cylinders weren't firing. It only took a few taps with a screwdriver to get them to puke out whatever was stuck in each fuel injector, but for pete's sake! I'll have to talk to Myrna and see if next year I can write off a Lexus (used, of course).

Well, I almost got caught up with the pile of work today, and managed to clean out the inside of my G4 and remove the old video card and get rid of the old 13" Apple monitor, so I'm pretty relaxed.

Oh, and in case anyone cares--no, Googling won't let you in on the source behind my "gateway to hell" comment, so I'll explain briefly. When I was in college, "the first time," in the late 1980s, there was a young woman named Erin Doyle who wrote for the "opinions" column of the student newspaper, The Daily Illini. Some of her columns were, well, a bit much. In one she wrote about how she and some friends took a trip to St. Louis to go meet a friend of a friend in some bar or something. At any rate, she and her friends got drunk and got thrown out of the bar (I don't remember all of the details, and for the most part they don't matter). She, of course, blamed everything on rude bouncers and bar staff, and not on the fact that she and her friends were all wasted out of their minds. The final line of this wonderful piece of journalism was as follows: "St. Louis isn't the gateway to the west--it's the gateway to hell." Tee hee.

Posted: Monday, December 06, 2004, 12:24 am
Mood: Accomplished | 1 comment| Article URL | Post a comment
 


I Hate the Holiday Season

But I still had fun with the family getting the tree yesterday. The best part was that we reached a consensus rather quickly. Normally we wander around Higgens' yard for what seems like hours, checking out each and every single damn tree before finally settling on one. (Mr. Higgens owns the hardware store in Tuscola, a nearby town, and has acres and acres of you-pick-and-we'll-cut pine trees...).

The best part is we got a tree that required no "maintenance." Normally, we pick out an 8-foot tree, and by the time I get done cutting off the dead branches at the bottom, and then breaking out the chainsaw to lop off part of the trunk, we have a 6-foot tree and I've wasted six bucks (2' @ $3/ft). This year we settled on a 6½ model, and it looks quite nice, and the chainsaw stayed dormant.

Well, it's 4:15 and I am up with thoughts of consulting and flat screen monitors. But honestly? It's just cool enough in the house, and I know that the bed will be warm.... I think I'm going to put off working for a few hours and get some more shut eye.

Posted: Sunday, December 05, 2004, 10:11 am
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The Circle Is Now Complete

I deleted the old consulting backup directory on my OS X drive, copied the current consulting directory from my 9 drive to my X drive, and now the directory on the 9 drive will serve as a backup and the newly duplicated directory on my OS X drive is now the live, honest-to-goodness, working directory.

How wonderful. No more OS 9. No more having to boot three or four times to get the second old crappy Apple monitor to display an image properly (it actually won't work at all under OS X, which is fine--I think I can swing getting both those flat panels before the end of the year...). No more manual backups of files--crontab is our friend!

Quark 6 seems to be almost identical to 4, which is sort of surprising. Mostly, I think, because it took them umpteen years to get it into production--I would have expected it to have been vastly different for some reason.

Well, the pile ain't gettin' any shorter while I'm sitting here gabbing away. If I want those flat panels, I had best get busy.

Posted: Saturday, December 04, 2004, 6:55 pm
Mood: Thrilled | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Friday! Yay!

How nice to be back in Illinois.

I rolled into work a bit late today, but still managed to get the last issue of the year of the Bulletin posted to the web. And had a burrito (yum!). And fixed a typo in the newsletter that we publish and posted that to the web.

I'm picking up brake pads on the way home.

I also called about new tires.

My therapist seems to think I'd be much less stressed about life if I would make a physical list of what I have to do, instead of internalizing it. That way I could have some sort of closure with crossing items off that list. I think my goal is always just to keep the list short enough that I don't stress about it.

Hmm. Somehow that doesn't seem to ever work. Oh well.

I really need to get some Christmas shopping done soon.

Oh, here's a good story. My dang boy wants the Lego Millenium Falcon for Christmas. It's way too expensive, at just a few cents under $100. Groan. But it's Legos, and it's Star Wars--two of his favorite things and two of my favorite things. How can I not support the lifestyle of my little geek-in-training?

So then he decides he wants the Lego AT-AT instead. Also a hundred bucks. Then he wavered back and forth every day on which one he wanted. I figured I'd wait until he settled on one or the other. Easy, right?

Well I thought last night was that night. "Dad, I've decided. I just want you to get me the Millenium Falcon...."

Okay. Perfect. See, I told you this would all work out.

"...because I made a list today and asked Santa for the AT-AT."

Posted: Friday, December 03, 2004, 9:29 pm
Mood: Cool | 2 comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Home Sweet Home

Thank goodness to be back home.

Fancy hotel. Still not as nice as my frumpy little home.

My final is next week. I'm swamped with consulting work. I have a bunch of programming to do to fix the online grant proposal thing (even though I technically have a year to fix it, I can't sit still that long...). I need to put new brakes on my car this weekend and make arrangements to have my set of (already paid for as part of the deal of me buying the car) tires installed next week. I think I've rode the old tires to be bald enough.

My energy is sapped. Red wine is good. I need to get to bed.

Fixing the money problem was supposed to calm me down. Instead we've removed a problem that I focused so much time and energy upon and replaced it with the world--and my reply is fireworks in random directions. I am having a hard time dealing with this. I'm Reagan and there is no cold war anymore.

And who throws a shoe?

I mean, honestly.

Time for bed.

Posted: Friday, December 03, 2004, 5:20 am
Mood: Exhausted | 1 comment| Article URL | Post a comment
 


Okay, I'm Outta Here...

Apparently the meeting doesn't start at 8:00, breakfast starts at 8:00. Oh.

My clothes bag is all loaded up in the trunk of the car, so all I'm left with is my laptop and camera. I verified with one of the bosses that meeting starts, I make sure everyone can use the CD as intended and then I can hit the road. Because sitting around all day listening to a group of scientists arguing the merits of one pest management proposal over another would have me drooling in the corner half-asleep. Not that there's anything wrong with pest management--but I'm just the tech guy and I wouldn't expect any of them would want to sit in on a four hour discussion on server platforms or the like.

Hopefully I'll be on the road by 9:00. Thank goodness.

Posted: Thursday, December 02, 2004, 1:31 pm
Mood: Pretty Good | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Some Thoughts on Hotels

Or, I guess, just on this one in particular.

Upon arrival and settling in to my room early yesterday evening, I decided to just eat at one of the bars in the hotel. Sure, not very brave on my part, and Tony Bourdain wouldn't be proud, but this is St. Louis, not New Orleans or Paris or Bangkok. I'm sure the bar in the hotel can make a burger just as good as the bar two blocks away from the hotel. I've just driven 3 freakin' hours and I'm not in the mood to go walk around the "Gateway to Hell" (waaaayy old inside joke--if you care, try googling Erin Doyle, and maybe Daily Illini and St. Louis and Gateway, but that was long enough ago that I can't guarantee anything....).

So I went downstairs to the "Player's Club" hoping that they would have the Illini game on, which they did. There were two other people in the bar--seated at a table in the corner. I bellied up and the bartended asked me right away what I'd like so I ordered a beer and she delivered. Four bucks. Fine with me. Now I don't want to sound like a lush (even though I sorta am...) but I've been on the road for 3 hours. I'm tired, hungry, and of course, ready for a few beers. I asked if they served food in the bar and she gave me a one-sided piece of laminated paper that served as their menu (and of course the food is made in one of the restaurants in the hotel, not actually in that bar). I settled on a Philly Steak sandwich and turned my attention back to the game.

And two minutes later, my beer was empty.

And she was on the phone. And stayed on the phone. I looked in her direction several times and made eye contact, and moved my empty bottle to the little ledge part on the back of the bar--the universal signal for "I'm done with this one."

She must have been on the phone for 15 minutes. Then it occurred to her that my food was ready. She griped aloud that she thought they should have brought it to her instead of making her go and get it. So off she went.

And about 5 minutes later was back. "Do you need some ketchup." No, I need another beer. I need about another 4 beers.

I'm not one to make a stink and complain, or clear my throat and be obnoxious--I ran a bar for a long time--that kind of behavior is just childish.

But I tend to over-tip when I'm out, because I was once "one of those people." And this woman's tip just kept shriveling up while she talked on the phone.

After the second beer I headed back up the room to watch the rest of the game, chat with the redhead via Messenger, and drink the beer that I brought along with me that was now chilling in the bathroom sink under a couple of buckets of ice. I would have sat down there for another hour and drank six more beers. But nope. Terrible, terrible service. Did I mention that I was the only person sitting at the bar?

At any rate. I slept horribly last night. I think I'm spoiled by our new bed at home. And not having the redhead next to me probably didn't help matters either. Even after sitting up until close to midnight and having (checks garbage can) 8 more beers, I still woke up at 2:30 and then drifted in and out until about 5:30 when I finally fell back asleep. And of course I set the alarm to get me up at 6:15. Groan.

So I really don't like it that hotel bathrooms have full-wall mirrors (well, or just from the top of the counter to the ceiling the entire length of the wall) across from the shower and toilet. I don't want to watch myself pee, and I especially don't want to fling the shower curtain open and see my dumpy frumpy naked body in all its glory. Ick.

While it took forever for the water to start getting warm (I was actually getting nervous that I might not be taking a shower...) it did heat up sufficiently and the water pressure was pretty good.

And the redhead will be impressed--I even ironed my shirt.

Okay, I should finish getting ready now so I can get my bag out to the car and then just be left with the computer so I can check out before the meeting starts and hopefully be leaving St. Louis 20 minutes after the start of said meeting. And let me guess--breakfast will be donuts (which I don't eat) and coffee (which I don't drink) and probably fruit. No thanks.

Posted: Thursday, December 02, 2004, 1:04 pm
Mood: Blah | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Quark has Arrived!

So it took 7 days to go from Chicago to Davenport to Omaha to Sidney, Nebraska. Then someone finally figured out something was screwed up. And get this, in TWO days it went Sidney to Platte to Omaha to Des Moines to Davenport to Chicago to Urbana and to Villa Grove! Thank goodness. Apparently this is my punishment for using the cheapest shipping option.

Oh, and Illinois won today. Wake Forest, and the entire ACC, and Bill Self (and well anyone that has anything to do with the University of Kansas...), and especially Dick Vitale, can kiss my big white butt.

Well, I made it to St. Louis. This hotel is actually pretty cool. I have my own DSL connection, which was great when I figured out that the stupid power cord to the DSL modem thing was unplugged. Duh.

I hope I'm not needed at this meeting for very long tomorrow morning--I'd love to be home before the kidders get out of school...

Come on Hoosiers....

Posted: Thursday, December 02, 2004, 2:29 am
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