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Archived Entries from January 2006


Bamba vs. Chipotle

I must apologize for the absence of completely inane posts. I've been so maudlin lately, for whatever reason, that my normal diarrhea of the mouth (hands?) has been in remission. But I started taking my St. John's Wort again a week or so ago, and yes, my mood is much improved.

Oh, and I went to plug my dad's 19 gig drive into my work computer today so I could get the data off of it for him, and I looked around, and stood there confused for a minute... Duh. Hey moron, the G5 uses SATA, so no, it doesn't have an extra spot to plug in your dad's drive. Duh. (Yes, there's an IDE channel for the superdrive, but the cable for it only has one connector on it and is just long enough to reach the superdrive--sure, I could probably have unplugged it from the motherboard and run a separate cable, which I thought about doing, but then where the heck are the power connections? Okay, I realized, this isn't a machine that I need to be hacking apart for my dad's old tax returns....)

ANYWAY....

Tod and I went to Chipotle again today. I had eaten at one in Chicago a few years back during a break from ColdFusion training. One of the web sites that our instructor was lauding was the Chipotle site (all Flash--ick to me...). So I figured "well, probably like Bamba." NOT like Bamba. For starters they don't grill your burrito--they steam the shell for a few seconds (just long enough to make it mushy). Then they cover it with lime (?) rice or something--not spanish rice (which I wouldn't want anyway, given the choice...). Not very much meat, lots of lettuce, and their hottest "hot" sauce is mild at best. And I had to stand in line behind like 50 people. I wasn't impressed.

But when one opened on campus I figured I'd have an open mind. Okay, a partially-opened mind... (My first thought was "Bamba is perfect--why on EARTH would I try some other form of burrito...")

So last Monday Tod and I went to Chipotle. It took longer than expected, even though there weren't that many people in front of us. I stopped the woman at the start to make sure I got neither rice nor beans. I chose their spicy beef (and did it as a "fajita" so I could get peppers and onions), lettuce, their hottest salsa, and cheese. And it was actually pretty good.

Tod wasn't thrilled with his--he agreed that the rice was a bit much.

So we went back today. Tod ordered a burrito with the pork stuff but forgot to say that he wanted it fajita-style so they skipped the peppers and onions (but they had to be told several times to not put rice on it).

Okay, see? This is really so pointless. I sound like I'm in junior high, bitching about the service at a fast food place.

At any rate, they made Tod's burrito with the wrong meat, and my burrito with the wrong meat. Hello? It still tasted okay, though. I guess....

I think Chipotle will be added to the weekly line-up, but I certainly don't think it is in the same league as Bamba. It's a bit more expensive for about half the amount of food. And it would be nice to get salsa on the side. I guess I'm just spoiled by having eaten at La Bamba for as long as I have.

Harrumph. Chipotle--a mexican chain that is owned by McDonald's--why did I ever think it would be anywhere in the same league as Bamba.

How nice. A "Seinfeld" post. About nothing. "What's up with that?" (And for the record, I never thought Seinfeld was that funny. But then again, I don't think Monty Python is all that funny either. And I don't get the humor in the Guinness "Brilliant!" commercials at all....)

Damn, and I forgot to tell my dad the Dubya "Brazilian" joke when we were there yesterday... I may have to call him...

Posted: Tuesday, January 31, 2006, 12:36 am
Mood: Happy | 1 comment| Article URL | Post a comment
 


No, I Will Not Fix Your Computer

I need to order another half-dozen of those shirts....

Sunday I had to drive to 'burbs because my Dad's iMac is screwed up. Wonderful.

It was booting to a terminal window ("What the hell is 'Darwin?'"). And of course, since it was doing that, I couldn't access it remotely (grrr...). He had just run an updater (he was at 10.3.9) and after re-booting his computer was no longer the fun, shiny, happy thing that it once was. I did a bunch of research at home last week but couldn't pin down his problem on any one thing. I resigned myself that I was going to have to make the drive.

Before I did I gave him a specific part number and told him to go to Circuit City and buy a new hard drive. I think part of the problem is that his current drive is only 19 gigs (I've had to clean it off before when it has been filled up with mp3s) and I wanted to make sure that he not keep running out of room. Well, I should clarify that a bit more--not only is it troublesome to run out of room, but then my dad starts doing things like "What is this program? Do I need this or can I delete it?" Which then prompts a phone call the next day "Hey, Mike, my external CD burner doesn't work any more--what happened?"

So not realizing that the slot-loading iMacs (or some of the earlier ones, anyway) had that silly IDE channel handicap that only allows them to see drives 128 gigs or smaller, I told him to get a 200 gig drive (it was only like $50 after rebate or something). Well, he spent another $20 and got a $300 gig drive. That's not much fun when you install it and the system only sees 128. I guess I should have done some research first. Ooops....

So I go to install Tiger... You know what? I know why Jobs decided to name these operating system instances after jungle-based felines. It seems every time I start messing with a new one my response is "Grrr...." Okay, that was bad.

So I start the Tiger install on the brand spankin' new hard drive. After 30 minutes or so, the status bar is halfway across the screen and we're somewhere around "Installing Epson Drivers" and then *poof* it just stops. "The software could not be installed. Please try again." What?!?! Please try again? That's all I get for an error message? You're kidding me.

So I tried again. And a third time--all failed at the same place.

Grrrr.... I'm starting to suspect that this whole problem with the last OS update is hardware related (and I still do).

I grabbed the Panther CDs and tried it that way. And get this--it does the first CD fine, I load the second CD (and go eat lunch) and when I come back up the installation has quit. "Installation has failed. Please try again." WTF? I could have had WindowsXP Professional up and running on a Dell by now....

It gets even better. I reboot the machine and Panther starts up, like nothing is wrong! I created a couple of accounts, and then started running the Software Updates, assuring my dad that when it finished with the final 10.3.9 update I was certain that we'd get back to it booting into a terminal window. ("Single-user mode," right?)

Nope. Everything worked fine. Ran Software Update multiple times, and no problems. I installed most of his software back onto the machine, rebooted a bunch of times, and still nothing. It was "working."

So now I'm just plain confused.

Oh well. At least I was able to finish up the re-installation of WindowsXP Professional on my sister-in-law's laptop after we got back home last night. (I even had to go find video drivers and stuff, and it still was easier than that damn iMac...).

I'm just happy to be back at work...

Posted: Monday, January 30, 2006, 1:27 pm
Mood: Exhausted | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Woo Hoo Wireless!

So my router died.

Oop, no--it really didn't. But I did absolutely awful troubleshooting and thought it died.

My Nerdrium computer stopped being able to access the Internet. But the cable modem had all the lights on that it should have. I shut things off, turned things back on, etc., etc. The goofy part of this troubleshooting that made me think the router was bad was that trying to hit the router itself was painful.

Hmm. That still doesn't rule out the router, but I'll get back to that....

So I went and bought a new Linksys router, but got one with wireless capabilities. I was slightly worried about how much coverage it would have in my house when coming from the basement furnace closet (before the other one "died" my thoughts were about running a wire up to the kitchen and putting a WAP on top of the fridge...) but I figured that at least it still had four wired ports so I may as well get it now and if I buy a different wired-only router later, so be it.

Anyway....

The wireless coverage is perfect. All throughout the house. And I love it!

Well.... After hooking it up yesterday, the PC worked right off the bat but the G4 didn't... Hmm... The PC switched itself to DHCP and was able to connect. The G4 (all my three Nerdrium computers used static IP addresses originally...) would not. But it would hit the router....

The long and short of this is that my cable company changed their DNS addresses. So anything runninng DHCP on my network would be fine, but my three computers with static IP addresses had invalid IP addresses.

So I wasted money on a new router...

It works now. And I'm happy I finally had an excuse to get a wireless router, even if I'm now very much doubting that the wired router is actually broken...

Anyway. I think we're starting a game of Scattegories....

Posted: Saturday, January 28, 2006, 1:32 am
Mood: Happy | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Ugly Button

You folks might want to skip this one. Okay, you've been warned...

I had a dream last night (well, really early this morning) that my mother was alive. That my previous existence without her was Matrix-like, and that the reality of it all was that she had been alive this whole time. She was at our house. We were sitting around the kitchen table laughing and "catching up" and carrying on.

At one point I heard the sound of a small piece of plastic hit the wooden floor. I looked down and saw a button that had fallen off of someone's coat. It was an ugly button--think 1970s-ish designs. It was swirled red and black and probably an inch in diameter. I picked it up and noted aloud that I would put it in the drawer for safe-keeping in case it would be needed in the offing. My mother looked at me in shock and said "Why on earth would you save a button. If you need one later, just go get on later." I couldn't believe it. "You're f-ing kidding me, right? I mean, you made me the way I am now!" I wasn't upset, but I was a bit taken aback. (And no, I don't hoard buttons, so I don't know the significance of that part, but I sure understand the sentiment of this whole conversation--my weird idiosyncracies, many of which I can't explain, do have an easy explanation: I act like my mother....).

We continued carrying on and I thought about how happy I was. I knew I had to be dreaming. But at some point, in the dream, I went to bed. And woke back up. And my mother was still there. It was true. She was alive! The other reality wasn't real.

And then I woke up. In my bed. Next to the redhead. In a dark room. 3:30 a.m. on the clock. Mom's still dead. It will be 21 years next month.

Sigh.

Posted: Tuesday, January 24, 2006, 2:11 pm
Mood: Maudlin | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Blogspam

I suppose it had to happen eventually.

I figured that I was a small enough operation that I would go unnoticed by both the Spam Empire as well as the mining guild. Okay, enough dumb (and bad) Star Wars references...

Needless to say, I've been getting a good number of "fake" comments made to my blog lately. And they are pretty sneaky--they get posted to very old entries, so that they aren't readily noticed because they don't show up on the main "recent entry" page. However, every time a comment is posted, I get an e-mail message at my home e-mail address just to let me know. My inbox had been busy the past couple of days...

It's not that big of a deal. I just open up CocoaMySQL, click the "comments" table, click "id" to reverse order it, and then delete the top however-many rows.

I don't know that trying to implement a "human test" is necessary at this point (a la "Blogger"--putting up a semi-twisted graphic of a bunch of letters and making the comment poster enter the letters to verify that they are a person and not a script...). I thought of several similar methods on the way to work this morning--either writing a few words in cursive and scanning them (I'm sure a dozen different words would do the trick for my "small operation") or even just making graphics of some words using bold Times--words with "fl" ligatures in them (any scanning software I've ever used reads an "fl" ligature as a capital A... they don't like lower case "m"s or "n"s either. Anyway...)

As it turns out, I get very, very few legitimate comments anyway. So rather than jump through a bunch of hoops I'll simply make any new comments "unverified" and only display "verified" comments. And in that e-mail that I send myself I'll create a one-click link to verify or delete a comment that has been submitted.

And hopefully this won't get out of hand and have me dealing with 50 comments a day. (Hell, I ought to just send my wife and jnsys a password and skip the whole verification nonsense altogether....).

And yes, other than bitching about blogspam I still have nothing interesting to write about. I'm still just not in the mood. C'est la vie.

Posted: Friday, January 20, 2006, 2:47 pm
Mood: Perturbed | 2 comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Blogger's Block

The redhead asked me today why I haven't been updating my blog.

Nothing is wrong.

I just don't feel like writing anything.

Maybe by the end of the week. I think my brain is still recovering from this whole conference registration stuff.

Posted: Wednesday, January 18, 2006, 8:06 pm
Mood: Indifferent | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Fedora

Nothing like making my life WAY harder than it needs to be.

Here comes Captain Obvious....

I've spent the past few years learning how to install Apache and MySQL and PHP and stuff like that the hard way--compiling from source code and manually starting and stopping the services, etc. I'd say "I'm a moron" but I really didn't know any better, and didn't know even where to begin.

For some reason the package installs of things scared me. To be honest, I think it all goes back to the fact that RHEL 2.1 used the "old" version of Apache httpd (1.3) by default, and I wanted to use 2.0, so I did it all by hand instead.

Needless to say, using the package installer is much, much, much easier. Sheesh.

Yeah, I know what I'm doing. Heh.

Posted: Monday, January 09, 2006, 3:16 pm
Mood: Happy | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Golly, I'm sure talkative tonight...

At therapy last week I expressed that I didn't need anyone else in the world (basically, that I had grown distant from "my" family) other than my wife and kids. And that if asked to take the three of them and colonize Mars and never come back to Earth again that I'd do it in an instant.

She asked me to write about it. All about it.

Writing used to be a sub-hobby of mine. I actually finished writing a book once (it was awful...).

Other than this for-the-most-part useless blog, I don't write much anymore. I wish I would. I wish I could.

Family. Work. Family. School. Home. Family. When do I have time to sit and be quiet and relax and write? (Well, other than now, but I'm not in the mood to write right now, well, other than this...).

You know when I have time to write? To clear my head and think?

For 30 minutes in the car on the way home from work. That is when I could write.

I wrote two chapters of the "Mars book" in my head last week while driving home. It's all gone now, for the most part, of course. I think tomorrow I may go buy a hand-held cassette recorder. I may not be able to write/type when I drive, but I can sure talk outloud and transcribe it later. Right?

"What would it be like if you and your wife and kids were tasked with colonizing Mars?"

Oh, just you wait--I'll have an answer soon. A rather lengthy answer.

Okay, I'm going to take some NyQuil and force sleep upon myself. This is getting ridiculous.

Posted: Monday, January 09, 2006, 5:36 am
Mood: Wired | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


This isn't good...

It's 11:16 on a Sunday night and I'm wide awake. I don't have any remote feeling of being tired (if that makes any sense...).

But I have to get an early start tomorrow. This isn't a good thing.

And I've read about all of the news that I can handle.

Oh, tomorrow is going to be rough...

Posted: Monday, January 09, 2006, 5:18 am
Mood: Wired | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Quick Funk

I think being aware of the dark emotional cloud makes it go away faster. I told myself I was going to try to have a positive mental attitude about it, and whether or not that helped (well, or my wife essentially telling me that I need to get over it) I don't know. I'm certainly not headed back up--that's for sure. But the sin curve hit the x-axis and levelled off, as if halfway down the rollercoaster it switched course onto a perfectly level set of track. Interesting.

I think I'm still suffering somewhat from an emotional hangover regarding the conference registration stuff. I was unbelievably relieved to leave work for the day on Friday.

On Saturday my daughter had her first horseback riding lesson. I was going to take her but the redhead really wanted to go, so I went over to our friends' house and drank beer and watched Illinois lose to Iowa instead. After last year's loss in the national championship game I told myself that I wasn't ever going to get worked up about a sports team ever again. They're college kids, not professional athletes. Although, I'd still be happy if neither North Carolina nor Kansas ever won a game ever again. Okay, I need to stop that....

Later that evening those same friends came to our house for a while (they didn't have their kids) and we hung out tossed a few brewskis back. All-in-all it was a pretty fun day.

Today (believe it or not) I actually finished up all the typesetting work that I had to do (woo hoo!). It feels really good to be all caught up for once. I keep telling myself that I'm getting really sick of having to do this, especially now that the redhead has her new job, but jeez--after adding up the numbers today, this is really easy money. For this one book I'm already up to having earned enough for three of the 19" flat panel monitors I have my eye on (no, not Apple ones--cheaper "regular" 1280 x 1024 models...). Now I'm getting anxious to get the rest of the stuff back so I can do the corrections and submit a bill to them!

Well, and I shouldn't talk about it, but I think I may have found a loophole of sorts with the University's promotion process (more like I've discovered something that is basically hidden in plain sight...). I talked to my boss about it, and he agreed to talk to me about going forward with it, so while I can't really talk about it, I can say that I'm quite excited. Well, I'm "cautiously optimistic." To say the least!

Wow. I'm beat. I should head to bed, but while I'm mentally tired I'm totally wide awake physically. Sheesh.

Posted: Monday, January 09, 2006, 4:17 am
Mood: Tired | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Roller Coaster Heading Down

Hmm. I wonder if I am allowed to use markup in my Title form field? I guess we'll find out...

The conference ended today. I had to actually play I.T. dude for a while this morning with a laptop and a projector--what fun. Not.

Even less fun was having to come back to the office and mess with a PDF file that was created for one of the guys here that has some links in it that do funky stuff. I think I dislike Acrobat about as much as I dislike Powerpoint. Anyway...

The conference seemed to go well, and things may finally start slowing down for me at work. Wait, no they won't. We have another grant submission thing coming up. Drat. Maybe by Spring my workload will lighten somewhat.

And I still haven't gotten around to doing the freelance typesetting corrections that I was supposed to do over break. Ooops. I'll try to get to them this weekend.

I'm just plain worn out. And while I'm not in a funk or a bad mood today, I sense that a cloud of gloom is on the horizon. The only thing worse that feeling glum is knowing ahead of time that you're going to start a funk, and not being able to do anything about it. Oh well. I'll try to keep a positive mental attitude and maybe we can get through this after just a quick rainshower and not a week-long thunderstorm.

Is it Friday yet? Sheesh.

Posted: Thursday, January 05, 2006, 7:35 pm
Mood: Exhausted | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


All Is Well

Just a short post to note that everything went off without a hitch today at the conference. Out of about 800 total registrants (lots of walk-ins!) we had 3 or 4 problems, and I can honestly explain each of them away as user error on the part of the registrant, or, well, an error in our office (that wasn't mine).

In other words, my big nasty database registration thing worked as it should have.

Phew.

I need to be more confident. I need to quit being such a worry-wort. I expect the worst in most situations. The glass is always half empty (if not more!).

I know what I'm doing. Sure, my solution isn't always the most graceful solution, but it usually works.

It's good to be a nerd.

Posted: Thursday, January 05, 2006, 12:50 am
Mood: Relieved | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Worst Day?

Well, today could end up being the most stressful day of the year for me. The Crop Protection Technology Conference is today. This is the conference that I had to do all of the on-line registration database/credit card stuff for. And today at the Illini Union, 500+ people are going to show up and claim to be registered. And if I did everything right, we should have a perforated receipt card thing and a nametag for each and every one of them.

If, however--(shudder). Let's not even go there. It all worked fine. It all worked fine. It all worked fine....

At least if this is the worst day I experience this year I'll have gotten it out of the way early, and then maybe the other 361 days can all be seen as an improvement. Or something.

Okay, off I go...

Posted: Wednesday, January 04, 2006, 11:28 am
Mood: Optimistic | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Some Things I Need to Talk About

I'm in therapy.

I have been for the past, well, I'm not sure--year and a half? Actually this is my third attempt. My first was right after my mother died in 1985.

And this is complicated stuff. And much more complicated than I even expected it to be.

I thought going to therapy the first couple of times was just another way for people to feel sorry for me and give me an excuse to be whiny. Jesus. The honesty of beer....

I've grown angrier. I was a geek, and my geek world was shattered when my mother was no longer there to tell me that being a geek was good enough. I've fully fallen into the bully jock kicks loser's ass mentality over the years. Well, or something like it. My first instinct is always rage. RAGE. I don't think--I want to fight. And that doesn't do me well because, well, I'm not a fighter. Sure, I lifted weights for a long time after my mother died. And yeah, I ran a bar. I was a bouncer and got into lots of fights. I had a legion of goons to back me up.

I'm still angry. I need to not be angry.

I keep thinking I have something to prove, and I need to stop. I need to stop doing that.

This is so awful.

I've detached myself from my family. My dad has re-married and had another son (hah--like 17 or 18 years ago...). My sisters (who are the same age as my wife) are grown up and married.

And I don't have any desire to go out of my way to deal with any of them.

That's totally awful. But that's how it is.

My in-laws weren't necessarily thrilled when the redhead and I decided to get married 11 years ago. I was 25. She was, uh... 22? No--she was 21. She turned 22 a few months after we were married. I think....

(So I was 24...).

I found another molecule, and we just fit together.

And her family took me in. It was tough row to hoe for a while, but their interests were never anything more than trying to help us out. And help us out they did--and it has been much easier now that I (we, duh) have realized to float like plankton and let the tide take us on our way.

Sorry for the cheesy simile.

So I've (we've, but she doesn't count 'cause she was already here...) rooted ourselves in this little town. We have two wonderful children who amaze us every single damn day. Even if they are stinkpots. We have a wonderful house (that yes, still costs a small fortune, but a small fortune for small-town people like us...).

Okay, I'm beating around the bush to get to the point of this.

My Christmas card from my in-laws was signed "Love Mom and Dad." (And no, wife, don't give me the "they just signed everyone's that way--mine was definitely addressed "Michael-"...)

They're my parents. Really.

My sisters are doing fine on their own. I think my dad has realized his mistake when he pushed me to arm's length.

And all of that was fine. I was happy to float with the redhead molecule through space. But her family took me in.

And now I feel guilty that I don't have much sympathy for my father.

Nothing like having a great parental experience that gets marred by the death of your mother and the total loss of interest by your father that then grows into a chasm once the youth in question becomes an adult (well, if I'm really an adult) and has lost all usefulness of any previous parental relationship. What an awful sentence. Blech. Yes, my degree is in rhetoric, but I got mostly "C"s.

I'm awful. I'm too detached.

But that's just it. I lost my mother, and was then shunned by my father when he found a "replacement."

Replacement. Bah! (Keep rolling, keep rolling....).

And in that time I had to fix my problem.

Until I finally found the redhead. Thank goodess for the redhead.

I love her more than my own life. She has given me two fabulous children. We have friends that are in relationships that are teetering on divorce--marriages much younger than our own. And I can't fathom that.

And she puts up with my and my whole "therapy problem."

"Get over it," some would say.

I'm trying. I'm really trying.

Posted: Wednesday, January 04, 2006, 4:47 am
Mood: Calm | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Hangover

Not a booze hangover, but a holiday hangover.

And it was only a matter of time, but I've finally gotten the cold/flu bug that has been lurking around. Cough. Lots of water, and plenty of DayQuil, and this thing will be gone before I know it. Just watch....

Today is the last day of my pseude-break from work (I say "pseudo" because I did have to go into the office for a couple of half-days last week...).

And ugh, that reminds me that this week is going to absolutely suck. The great big conference is later this week, and I'm going to have to be there. Which means being around lots of people. And even worse--I may have to actually interact with many of them. Not fun. Not fun at all.

I actually have some freelancing corrections to do today, but even though it is only 6:30 a.m., I think I've already decided to put them off until tomorrow after work. I need to get the tree taken care of today, and well, there is plenty of foosball to be played...

I sure wish the sun would come up so I can go take the garbage out to the street... What's the deal? Sunrise isn't until 7:15 a.m., apparently. Huh. I thought even though it was winter that it would be earlier than that. I guess that shows what I know (and how well I pay attention in the morning...).

I'm really, really going to try to not be a grouch today, but I don't know how successful I'll be. I am absolutely not looking forward to having to deal with this conference on Wednesday. Okay, I need to fire up the PMA generator, or this week will be miserable for everyone...

Posted: Monday, January 02, 2006, 12:46 pm
Mood: Blah | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


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