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Archived Entries from December 2008


Still Remodeling

Well I have completed the floor installation for the big room downstairs--I probably won't do the Nerdrium until this Spring when the fishies are back outdoors.

We still have a lot of work to do.

Now that the last pieces of the floor are down I have turned my attention to the stairs (I had to take up a bunch of them and redo part of the final corner of the room because there was a fricking nail underneath one of the boards that I didn't detect until well after I had put a bunch of floor pieces down).

I realize that this was a "school house," that is, that it was built as part of the local high school's "building trades" program, but seriously. Some of the stupid stuff that is wrong with this house makes me wonder if there was any sort of adult supervision, and if so, if that adult had any idea how to do things the correct way. The basement stairs are ridiculous. Rather than putting down the risers and then putting the treads on top of them, the kids put all the treads down first, flush with the back of the stringers, and then nailed the risers onto the front of them. And they didn't have boards wide enough to cover the entire height (width) of the risers, so they have like a 1 x 8 with about three-quarters of a piece of ripped 1 x at the bottom of the riser (so they were all kicked in over the years. Seriously? I mean, I'm a computer geek, and not a construction worker, but it seems plainly obvious to me that the tread should sit over the top of the riser. (And of course, I'm right...)

So I have to take the stairs apart and make new risers and then shave some width of some of the treads (because they cut the stringers themselves, and the tread widths vary slightly, so some of them have a lip that hangs over and some of them don't....).

Once that is taken care of I'm going to nail flooring parts to the top of the stairs and stain some lauan and put that on the fronts of the risers and on the side of the stairs.

Then we have to do wainscoting on the bottom third of the walls, add the chair rails and bottom trim, and then we should be good to go.

Oh, wait. I have to fix the walls where the closet was and paint. But the closet is gone and the floor is installed, and I consider that those things were the hard part. It's all downhill from here.

We used the Dean's tickets for the Illinois basketball game yesterday and all four of us went to the game (the redhead and our daughter sat in the good seats in B section and Alex and I sat in the "bonus ticket" seats up in C section). We won, but not like we should have. We're going to get blown out of the water at Purdue tomorrow, methinks. (Meknows?)

We're 12-1 right now, and if history is correct a team needs 20 wins to make the tournament. I looked at our Big 10 schedule, and I can't for the life of me find 8 wins in that schedule. Sorry, but we're not that good and the rest of them are that good. Oh well. Supposedly we're supposed to have an awesome class next year and an even better class the year after that.

Come on, Wildcats. Go Big Ten.

Posted: Tuesday, December 30, 2008, 3:03 am
Mood: Happy | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Basement Remodeling

Most of me is not irritated, but part of me is irritated because the #$&*%@! Chicago Bears driving me frickin' crazy. The score was still 0-0, but I've already shut the game off. Ron Turner is the worst offensive coordinator ever. And the Bears defense--which is their trademark--is "fair" at best. Falling for a fake punt. Carrying a punt that wasn't caught into the end zone (and then challenging it? Seriously?).

A lot of the rest of me is not irritated. Mostly, because I shut off the %$#@&! Bears game. They don't deserve to go to the playoffs, and even if they do, they'll get squished like a proverbial insect by any of the 12 (or however many) other teams that are also, albeit deservedly, in the playoffs.

Enough of that.

Today was Day One of Christmas break for me. Forget that the redhead and I stayed home because of the weather last Friday, and that I of course had Saturday and Sunday off. Today was the day break started.

My pal Darren picked me up bright and early this morning so we could go to Benoud's and get the new floor for the basement. After hemming and hawwing about manufactured hardwood (which is what we have upstairs on the mezzanine) I settled on laminate for the basement. Nineteen boxes and five packages of the felt underlayment stuff later, and we headed back to VG to unload. Except that this is a "basement." And I didn't get the vapor barrier plastic stuff. Looks like another trip for me....

So the first thing that had to happen for our basement remodel is the removal of "the closet."

This "aftermarket" closet had to go. Too much room. Too much junk. Too much of a collection-point of junk. And besides, that's where my bar is going (if that ever happens).

Well the closet came out today. While the first owners of the house built "the closet" to apparently withstand a concussion grenade, I eventually won the battle and removed the entire structure, shelves and all.

I'm going to have a curious electrical situation as far as the track lighting goes (I'd explain it right now but I'm sure nobody cares and I'm not in the mood to take the time to get into it, no mater how much I like to explain random non-important things in great detail...).

I'm exhausted. I'm out of shape. I'm getting old. I'm surprised that I can move right now.

I still have a flat tire, and the redhead has to go to work tomorrow, so I'm not sure how I'll get the vapor barrier stuff. Maybe I'll drive the Aurora with the donut up to Sears, drop off the bad tire, then go to Menard's for the vapor barrier stuff, then pick up the tire, and hope the donut makes it back home. Or change the tire in the mall parking lot. But that'd be dumb because the donut is on the back (where it should be) but if I'm blowing $100 on a new tire in the middle (actually, technically, the start) of winter, then I want that tire on the front.

Life is such a pain in the ass sometimes.

Thankfully I've been removed from the yearly estrogen-laced Christmas scheduling issues. And this year has been a hoot. Yikes.

Damn stupid Bears.

Posted: Tuesday, December 23, 2008, 3:06 am
Mood: Half-Irritated | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


End of Semester Number One

Well I survived my first semester of graduate school. I got 20 out of 20 on my term paper, so I finished the semester with 101.5 out of 100 points. Yay for me.

I'm signed up for two classes for next semester so we'll have to see how that goes. Hopefully those two classes will be as fun as the class was this semester.

Well the redhead and I stayed home yesterday due to an overnight ice storm Thursday evening. We probably could have made it to work for the afternoon, but just took the whole day off. She has to work Monday and Tuesday next week but I'll be off for the next two weeks or so. On Monday Darren and I are going to Menard's to get the new floor for the basement.

I blew a tire on my car on Wednesday. And of course it was a front tire so I had to jack up the back of the car, put the donut on the back, then jack up the front of the car and swap that tire. And I've been driving around with Jeff's floor jack in the trunk of my car for months and just recently took it out and put it in my garage. So I got to use the little crappy screw-type jack that comes with the car. Fantastic. It only took me about 20 minutes, but I froze my butt off.

Today I filled the tire up and looked for the hole. I found what looks like a piece of metal which I suspect was the original problem, but after filling the tire my heart sank. I had a huge rip in the sidewall--I can plug a hole in the tread, but a rip in the sidewall means a new tire. Oh well. Another hundred bucks down the toilet.

Coley Goofus graduated today so we're going to his and Molly's house tonight to celebrate. Should be fun.

I think I'm going to go take a nap.

Posted: Saturday, December 20, 2008, 8:20 pm
Mood: Happy | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Service Pack Three

The kids and I have been telling the Windoze PC for, well, months now, not to let it install Service Pack 3 for Windows XP Professional. The dire warnings it gives for "back up everything before you do this" scares me a bit. Seriously? Did you guys test this out at all before you rolled it out?

Well I've had enough and have let it start the installation. We can install Office and whatever else there is if necessary. And I can get the data back off the drive if M$ decides to hose it. And this is the most prolific software company on the planet? Yikes.

For the record, I'm typing this in Firefox on Fedora Linux 9 (I think this box is on 9). We don't have "OMG backup everything or you may lose it" moments with Linux.

My Linux Administration class, my first class of graduate school, finishes up this week. Our last assignment was due yesterday. Friday we have a four-page term research paper due. I'm writing mine on the subject of SVN, or "subversion." I suppose I ought to get busy, since it is due Friday. Yikes.

Anyway. School is the least of my worries.

After Christmas break the "powers that be" are going to ask us all to take four to six days off without pay to help deal with the budget crunch on campus and with the state. I don't know how I'll be affected since the funding that pays me doesn't come from the state. I'm sure job cuts will come as well. I'm not worried about me at all (maybe 1%) and I'm not really worried about the redhead (maybe 10%). I know the economy is in a pinch, but the University has been underfunded by the same damn people up in Chicago that voted for our corrupt governor yet complain that their kid can't get into school here and that tuition keeps rising.

I've had a bottle of wine, and shouldn't be blogging....

Yeah, I'm stressed right now. I don't like Christmas. I don't like people that get politically correct about Christmas.

I don't know. I'm grouchy. Oh, here we go, the virusscan application is bitching about this update....

Sorry. SpyBot was questioning a registry change by the program from Microsoft. Groan.

If that box doesn't come back up, I'll just install Fedora Linux on it. We have a PS2, and a Wii, and an XBox 360--Alex will just have to deal.

I hate the holidays.

Posted: Wednesday, December 17, 2008, 3:31 am
Mood: Eh | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Alaska

So I mentioned a while back that I went out drinkin' with my pal T.K. from college a few weeks ago. While I didn't stay out as late as I had planned, we had fun and it was really good to see him.

Well he e-mailed me the other day. He turns 40 in June and his wife is throwing a party for him and he wants us (the entire family) to go up to Anchorage for it this summer.

I talked to him on the phone last night. Apparently there's this place that he loves to go to that is a pizza place, a Mexican-food place, and an old theater all connected together. The folks that bought the place removed every-other row of seats in the theater and they play second-run movies for like three bucks. Oh, and they brew their own beer, and T.K. loves their beer. T.K. takes his kids there and they can order dinner, have it brought to them in the theater, and there's a bar right in the back corner of the place. How cool is that? Well Julie (his wife) rented the place out for his birthday party

Oh, and she frickin' hired the BoDeans to fly up there and play a concert for his birthday!!! (Unbelievable!)

I talked to the redhead about it this weekend and we think that no matter what this is going to cost, it is really a once-in-a-lifetime sort of situation and we can't not go. And T.K. and his wife bought a bunch of acreage that butts up against a river that has awesome salmon fishing and they have a big fancy schmancy camper and he said we could take all the kids up there for a day or two. Then he asked me "would the kids like to go deep-sea fishing?" Are you kidding me?

So I have a lot of work and saving and stuff to do between now and June.

Oh, and I found out from him last night that he and his wife also bought a four-bedroom house in Hawaii. "It's so expensive to rent houses there and you have to work around busy seasons so we just decided to buy a house so we can go whenever we want." Maybe I should have given Chemistry 102B a better effort way-back-when...

It's going to be a long flight from O'Hare...

Posted: Monday, December 08, 2008, 10:33 pm
Mood: Happy | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Srsly, take two?

And for those of you that read my post from last night before I deleted it this morning, the legal folks at the University said "well, yeah, that's a neat idea but you can't do that to people" so that threat is gone. Phew.

But get this...

Not that I ever give them money now (typically I never "have" money--I go into and out of the grocery store with a debit card....). Really they have this policy? What, are they scientolofreaks?

I married a non-Catholic and one of my grandmothers and some of my aunts were upset about us not getting married in a Catholic church. Really?

Have some tolerance, people.

Posted: Friday, December 05, 2008, 4:53 am
Mood: Argumentative | 1 comment| Article URL | Post a comment
 


Srsly?

Well discretion is the better part of valor.

If you've already read the rant that was here, I hope you're as disgusted as I am.

I'll attempt to keep further opinions on the matter to myself, and we'll see how this whole thing plays out...

Posted: Thursday, December 04, 2008, 3:16 am
Mood: Half-Irritated | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


The Fibonacci Sequence

So the redhead and I have been "sort of" following the series Fringe on Fox.

I've been reading Cryptonomicon. And I won't fault Mr. Stephenson, but it was mentioned there as well.

And, of course, I've read both Angels and Demons and The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown.

Enough with the Fibonacci sequence already.

Mathematically the Fibonacci sequence isn't that impressive. It's about as boring as figuring out prime numbers. Seriously. (Although the prime number pattern is a lot more weird).

The only use, as far as I'm concerned, for the Fibonacci sequence, is to teach computer science students how to use something called "recursion." Recursion is basically the act of a function calling itself. It very much "sort of" goes like this: you ask for the 1st or 2nd number of the sequence and it gives you 1 each time. If you ask for the 3rd number it goes back through and figures out what numbers 1 and 2 were, and adds them together. If you want to know the 55th number of the sequence, it goes back and figures out the values of the 54th number and the 53rd number. And to do that it figures out the values of the 53rd and 52nd numbers. And so on, until it gets down to 1 and 1. Then it runs all the way back up and returns the 55th value.

It's a great example of recursion. But mathematically, I don't think it is quite so cool.

Copy and paste this into "vi" in your OS X terminal window or Linux terminal:

#include <stdio.h>

int fib(int);

main() {
 int i;
 int numbs = 10;
 for (i = 1; i <= numbs; i++) {
   printf("%d ",fib(i));
 }
 printf("\n");
 return;
}

int fib(int x) {
 if (x < 2) return x;
 else return fib(x-1) + fib(x-2);
}

Note that we use a variable for the number of numbers we're going to calculate (numbs = 10) so that we don't have a magic number and make Scott Badman from Parkland College irritated with us...

Save it and compile it (uh, gcc whatever your file is called) and then run it by doing "./a.out".

Neat. Lots of processor cycles wasted and you get a neat looking list of numbers (creating the Fibonacci sequence without using recursion is actually lots easier, especially as far as processing usage goes).

But it's starting to ruin my suspension of disbelief. I realize that it is cool to some people. And a neat (somewhat) sequence in math. But seriously. The only thing I find this sequence for is in teaching recursion. Even my dad would think it was cool for only about 2 minutes.

Including Fibonacci in everything remotely geeky (was it even in an episode of Chuck not too long ago?) is getting tiring to me, as an actual card-carrying geek.

Let me put it this way:

Any card-carrying nerd would NEVER try to hide, disguise, or encrypt anything using prime numbers or the Fibonacci sequence. Because if I were nefarious, the first two things I would try would be those two sets of numbers. And then maybe digits of pi. Seriously.

If you want really nerdy stuff, read Cryptonomicon. The Waterhouses are pretty sharp. And I'd follow Shaftoe into war any day. Lizards or no lizards.

Anyway. Fibonacci, Schmibbonaci.

I wish I would have gone to my 25th grade school reunion. I don't know. My emotions have wavered up and down about the whole thing. My growing up period was very hurtful, and I do a lot to not think about it. I think that was what convinced me just to stay home. Or to just stay home.

I should have gone. Oh well.

Posted: Wednesday, December 03, 2008, 4:26 am
Mood: Fair | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


December

Well I was going to not post today purely out of protesting having posted every day last month. Maybe I'm just trained now or something.

We got our first winter storm over the past 36 hours. Driving to and from work today was awful. An hour there, and an hour home. I probably averaged 25-30 miles per hour on the two-lane artery highway that gets us from "down here" to "up there."

Either I'm still rattled by going off the road however-many years ago, or I've matured enough because I absolutely don't get in a hurry now. I don't care how slow the people in front of me are, I don't even consider passing anyone. We'll get there when we get there--neither work nor making dinner are worth the alternative.

We talked a while back about driving the redhead's silly SUV-wannabee thing when the weather is bad, but really, when it comes down to it, I'd rather be in the Aurora. It's heavier (believe it or not). It's lower to the ground. It's more aerodynamic (less likely to be affected by awful crosswinds). I don't trust that glorified minivan-like thing, but I know that my car is solid and built like a tank. Oh, and it's paid for. I'm perfectly happy leaving the Torrent in the garage. The heated seats work (and no offense, my spouse, but mine get hotter faster and get plain hotter period, than the ones in the other vehicle). And my stereo sounds better.

And I think the redhead's front tires don't have much more tread than mine do, so that argument is a wash.

I'm anxious to get started on the basement.

Alexander has now finished both Neuromancer and Snow Crash. Yikes. I'm still only about halfway through Cryptonomicon so I went to Pages for All Ages on the way home tonight and picked him up a couple of books to hopefully get him through the time it takes me to finish up mine so he can start reading it.

Okay, I don't have much else.

Posted: Tuesday, December 02, 2008, 3:27 am
Mood: Content | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


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