(part of brett's logjam.)
15 October 2009
Looking up at the chandelier in the rotunda inside Jamestowne Settlement. I’ve spent a lot of time there of late.
10 April 2009
When I first discovered I was going to become a father, I was really overwhelmed by the feeling of WOW.
The second time is just as awesome, but a lot less nerve-wracking. It’s just plain exciting.
Merrystar and I are expecting a baby girl sometime around July 28th. T is very excited about his new little sister.
As are we all.
28 February 2009
Yeah, I took another vacation, this time down to Marco Island, Florida.
I, along with much of my family, had the flu down there. But really - there are worse places to have the flu.
The first few days were foggy. That’s okay. I like foggy beaches.
And then it was windy, and then it was calm. Very, very calm.
More photos are on Flickr.
21 January 2009
I finished up my year-long project in November with a lot of delayed vacation to take and a need to do something very mindless for a while. The mantra I’d learned at Trilogy still remains: shipping code is the only thing. And we shipped, and shipped it on time, but I was really ready for a break.
So I used most of my vacation to take most December off and do a whole lot of nuthin’. And that meant a whole lot of not doing stuff on the internet, which was a surprising relief.
Instead, I picked up a video game. World of Warcraft, to be exact.
You know what? Tons of fun. Love it. It’s gorgeous, immersive, and exciting to explore. But I’m also glad that I’m trying it out now, in my mid-thirties with a family and job, and not in my single early twenties. I totally see why people spend to much time on it.
But best of all, even though I was online, I didn’t feel any stress about it.
The stress of being online is the stress of wanting to do quality work for you to see. Is a post well-written and interesting, is this tweet funny, is this picture any good? All small questions that aren’t a big deal unless you’re really ready to set it all aside.
The only stress I felt in World of Warcraft was how to kite some mobs, or apply my DoTs in the best order. I mean, c’mon — the worst that can happen is that you die and have to spend a few minutes running back to your corpse. It’s not a high pressure situation.
Anyhow. I spent a lot of time on my vacation running around with my wife and kid. I twittered about it, a little. I played some video games and took a few pictures, some of which will be making their way online.
There just seems to be less of a rush now.
4 December 2008
I came back from my two-week vacation this week, ignored my overflowing inbox for two days, and then demolished it in under two hours. No stress, just 800 email messages gone and me getting back to work.
Here’s how I did it.
- Archive everything into a single folder and use search. In Outlook, I create a rule that puts a copy of everything that comes into my Inbox into a folder called Archive. I always have a copy filed away without ever having to think about it.
- Don’t manage tasks out of your inbox. Read each email and ask: do I need to do something here? Put it on your task list and then delete the message.
- Delete ruthlessly. Once you’ve extracted whatever information or tasks you have from a message, delete it. Don’t leave it hanging around in your Inbox taking up mental space — it’s already filed in your Archive!
- Read in Conversation view. Most Outlook users top-post (it’s the default), so any given message will contain the entire thread in it. Conversation view (or Threaded view) lets you delete the entire thread once you’re done.
- Work in chunks. Spending all day in your email is a good way to not get any real work done; process it twice a day and then get back to work.
I’m really a big fan of deleting my email. Deleting is satisfying. It says: I have extracted what I need out of this message, and it no longer serves any purpose. Deleting is also quick. It is a single button to push, a single action to take. There is no thought about where to file a message — just remove it from the queue.
My strategy is directly influenced from two places: The Best Outlook Tip in the World, and Merlin Mann’s Inbox Zero series. I used to be a compulsive Ctrl-Shift-V email filer, but watching Merlin’s Inbox Zero video really changed how I thought about email.
This system may not be right for you. It’s not even always right for me.
But this week, it worked pretty well.
31 October 2008
The kids got an early start this year, but the 7-8 hour was pretty quiet. Only had 85 total, down from last year’s record of 91.
Trip wanted to be Sock Man this year, so Merrystar made a great costume for him. He even wore it!
But aside from one house in his grandparents’ neighborhood, he was still more interested in handing out candy than going out and collecting it.
Ah well. Marches to the beat of his own drummer, and all that.
30 October 2008
In the eight years I have been writing this site, I don’t think I’ve ever come out and talked about politics. I’ve linked to technical articles with political undercurrents that I think you might like, but never talked about my own feelings about politics. Given that I have pretty strong opinions about just about everything, no matter how small, this is kinda funny.
But it’s also kinda sad.
I have been politically Independent since I was old enough to vote. I have never come out and told people who I was voting for, let alone who I think you should vote for. Why should I? Make up your own damn mind. That’s what it’s there for.
But by not speaking out, however, I’ve been a passive recipient of the Bush Administration’s steady assault on the rule of law over the past eight years. Habeas corpus? Gone. Fourth amendment? Gone for the 75% of the population living with 100 miles of a border. Legalized torture, willful disregard of the Geneva Conventions, illegal wiretapping, unprecedented expansion of executive powers, massive federal debt, and a shattered economy? We have them. (And that’s just the short list!)
Not this time.
I am voting for Barack Obama and Joe Biden next Tuesday. And I think you should, too.
I considered John McCain’s candidacy for a long time. I was impressed by his campaign in 2000, and that favorable impression lasted for a long time. But the last eight years have left us with a very, very different America, and a very different John McCain.
- We need someone who can run their campaign based on people’s hopes, instead of people’s fears. I am tired of being afraid of my government.
- We need someone who is articulate, intelligent, and open to new ways, instead of experienced with the old ways of getting things done. I have had enough of the old ways.
- We need to have someone who is careful, considerate, and who listens to other people’s advice before acting.
After watching Barack Obama for the last year and a half, I think he is the man for the job. His speech on race, A More Perfect Union, is a gutsy yet thoughtful look at race in America. While his speech to the Democratic National Convention shows that the man can talk the birds out of the trees, it was A More Perfect Union that first made me go, I want this man to succeed. Listening to any political figure talk about a complicated, messy issue and acknowledge that there are many shades of gray in between black and white gave me great hope for how he’ll address other issues.
And I have not been disappointed.
I know that many of you do not live in a state where you think your vote will matter. But it does. Don’t throw it away. Even in Texas, don’t throw it away. I live in a swing state that was never supposed to be a swing state. But with the belief and hard work from a lot of people, that’s changed.
It can change where you are, too.
Listen: I haven’t forgotten Barack Obama is a politician, with all the fallibility that goes with that job. I don’t believe that he’ll deliver on every single campaign promise. I don’t even expect that he’ll deliver on most of them.
But he’ll deliver on one of the biggest — hope for a better future — and on another — that with hard work we will get there.
So get out there and vote for Barack Obama on November 4th.
24 August 2008
I got the Eye-Fi Share this week. It is generally great, but has some quirks.
- Uploads to local folder/iPhoto and Flickr
- Easy to set up
- Dead simple to use
- Does just what it says
- Slower writes than other SD cards
- Can’t do burst photography
- Movies are limited in length
- Only works on one wifi network
- Burns out batteries pretty quickly
- Photo uploads hammer network
- Camera is yet another thing to check
Overall, I’m happy with it. The burst mode thing got me at a birthday party, but I got over it. It’s really simple to use, and making me consider Flickr as a primary photo repository.
20 August 2008
8 August 2008
Amazon rolled out a Universal Wish List feature, which lets you add anything from any online store and add it to your Amazon Wish List.
Ten years ago at Trilogy we rolled out something very similar — a single site designed to centralize your wishlist with items from all over the web. It worked well technically, but not financially.
I’m glad to see the idea reappear and be so well executed.
26 July 2008
Earlier this week, I had an email exchange with Banjocat about keeping track of what I’m up to. (She’s a senior Human Factors person, so when she talks about these things, I listen.) See, brettpeters.org was intended to be the place where my non-internet friends could keep up with what was going on — but sadly, it wasn’t working as well as it should.
Mostly, it’s Twitter’s fault; the volume of posts overwhelms the non-follower. Archiving them to LiveJournal didn’t help, mostly because no one knew I even had it! And reading the different flows via the badges on the front page is disjointed and lacks flow.
I’m taking Banjocat up on her suggestion that a quick summary of keeping track of me online is in order, and then doing something about the scattered pieces.
The short version: non-internet-obsessed friends go here, maybe here, and if you don’t know where my son’s site is, email me. Zen Masta Steve and Iron Chef Meat might find this interesting, too. And this is good if you’re pressed for time and need a laugh.
You don’t have to follow anything else. Not even this site.
The long version:
First, I post things from me to only six sites:
- Nobody Wants a Stylus, where I talk about iPhones and other technical babble,
- Brett’s Logjam, which has turned almost entirely into a personal log, and I haven’t been sure of where it’s going for about eight years now,
- Twitter, which is a 140-character stream of chatter from my cell phone. The bits that other people like wind up on Favrd or Favotter,
- Flickr, for my photographs,
- My son’s site, which is both the most active and the cutest of all my blogs,
- And, the latest, I just started a blog for Yahzie, my MkIV turbo Jetta.
(As an aside: frankly, this is crazy. It’s not as insane as my elsewhere page is, but it’s still insane.)
Second, I post things from other sites to only one place: Appendix A.
The last time I was in a consolidating mood, I dumped everything into this feed. That didn’t work: normal posts got overwhelmed by little trivial updates. People should be able to choose what they want in addition to getting it all in one place. Some folks are happy reading these infrequent updates. Others try to follow the Twitter firehose, while others just like the pictures.
With all this in mind, I went ahead and created Brettbot-147, an automated site that pulls from my two main weblogs, Twitter, and Flickr. You can read it on the web, follow it in an RSS reader, or even subscribe to daily emails.
I have something similar already in place for my kid’s blog, which if you don’t know the URL just ping me for it. I’ll leave my car’s blog and Appendix A alone for now.
Holy crap. I totally have to redo my home page.
25 July 2008
Well, about two weeks after getting whatever-virus-that-was, I’m finally on the mend. Sadly, my son is now sick, so it balances out.
(Hopefully, it won’t hit him as hard as it hit his parents.)
A few odds-and-ends:
- I am both sad to see Cameron Hunt leave professional web design behind, and glad to see him moving on towards things that make him happy. No matter how good you are at something (and Cameron’s got mad skillz, as the kids say today), you’ve got to do what makes you happy. Best of luck with what comes next, Cam.
- A hearty welcome to all the folks coming here from Jason Snell’s Macworld podcast on the MacBook Air. I would like to say that CoolBook fixed my MacBook Air problems, but I’d returned it under the 30-day period and gotten a black MacBook instead. No hard feelings with the Air, though — maybe next time. You may enjoy my iPhone blog, Nobody Wants a Styl.us.
I’ve got some changes coming up with some of my sites, but I’ll leave those in the bag until they’re ready to escape.
20 July 2008
Well, if it feels like the flu, aches like the flu, and behaves like the flu, I’ll call it the flu. Ugh. I hate the flu.
It’s been a rough week. I lost my voice early on, but finally started feeling human again on Thursday. Of course I pushed too hard on Friday and paid for it yesterday. Fatigue is the real problem right now.
Having talked to about a half-dozen people who have had this (including Merrystar, who had the exact symptoms before it went into a sinus infection), it pretty much runs 2-3 weeks barring complications. Nearly everyone reports complications, either a sinus infection or bronchitis.
The fatigue reportedly lasts a few weeks after the coughing, aching and fever go away. I’m reading the collected works of David and Leigh Eddings to keep my mind busy while it passes.
Fortunately, Trip seems to have escaped the worst of it; his biggest problem right now is that he’s decided to get up in the middle of the night and talk to his mother, which is not doing either of them any good. Well, that, and also that I’m really short-tempered right now with a voice like a very angry bear. No, really — I could seriously sing lead vocals for Morbid Angel. It’s that deep.
Tip: tired kids don’t take well to being growled at, at any volume. Just sayin’.
So… how’re you doing?
12 July 2008
It’s been an intense few weeks here as my project kicks into high gear. This past week has been a rollercoaster, where it looked like the entire thing was about to go off the rails until it didn’t, and by Thursday night I was breathing huge sighs of relief.
Merrystar’s recovery from her first sinus infection continued apace, and I thought we were out of the woods yesterday.
Sadly, I slept 9 hours last night and woke up with the first-stage symptoms of the virus that took her out 2 weeks ago.
HINT: when you’re paler than your red-haired wife, you’re NOT doing well.
As much as I’d like to write about the iPhone 3G / Mobile Me / iPhone 2.0 OS launch, or even play around with them, I’m going to sleep this weekend and see if I can avoid losing the next two weeks.
Wish me luck.
1 May 2008
This weekend I realized that I have a few guitars too many, and resolved to either get them into playable shape or get rid of them. I kept one acoustic and one electric, and put the rest up for consignment at Amory Music in Five Forks.
The Ibanez GSR-200 bass guitar isn’t worth dwelling on too much; it was a serviceable instrument that I never played. Seriously — I got it twelve years ago in the event that I might play bass again, someday, in some theoretical band. I won’t miss it, because there’s no history between us. We’re strangers.
The Jackson JDR-94 Reverse Dinky and I, however — we have history.
Dark blue, with the crazy-aggressive reverse Jackson headstock, it wasn’t a wallflower. I don’t have many concert pictures from the mid-nineties, but I used the Jackson (pictured here, in concert with The Lozenges) the way it was meant to be used: to play grinding, grungy metal and alternative rock. Good times.
I don’t have any studio-quality tapes from that time to let you hear how the guitar sounded back then. Heck, I don’t even have any good quality tapes from that time. But I dug up an old practice tape of mine from 1994 with a band called Mostly Harmless, which at least preserved the noise from the jam sessions. (“Sound boards? We don’t need no stinkin’ sound boards.” sigh)
You can hear the Jackson on the tracks below:
(I did mention the production quality is non-existent, right? Right.)
On the first track it’s the rhythm guitar, and somehow manages to not cut totally loose until the 5:30 mark. The second track has no such qualms: next to the drums, it’s the loudest instrument in the room. The third track is sadly missing the guitar solo at the end that is present on a few other versions, but the rest of the mix on those takes is so bad that I can’t in any good conscience put it online.
It’s a good guitar, and I hope it finds a good home with someone else. If you’re looking for guitars in the Williamsburg area, please consider stopping by Amory Music and giving it a try.
But it’s time for me to let go, and move on.
27 April 2008
I seem to be on the mend; I actually enjoy taking bird pictures again.
My ear is healing well, with substantially fewer periods of dizziness or pain. It’s still a bit numb, but as the nerves were cut it’s expected. (Apparently, it’s going to itch a lot when they regrow.)
I am cautiously optimistic about regaining some hearing. I think it’s a little better, especially in crowds. I’d like to see the hearing test results in a month or so before really believing it, though.
Mostly, I’m glad it’s all over with. Less thinking about ears, more listening to birds.
The weekend was filled with a welcome set of domestic activities, none of which were beyond my abilities; mowing the lawn, planting some trees and bushes, putting together a bookcase for T.
This is a modest list, to be sure.
But I take great joy that these tasks were merely exhausting, not debilitating.
It’s a welcome change.
11 April 2008
Okay, enough about computers. I’m tired about talking about computers. All sorts of stuff happened this week. Non-computer stuff! News!
Like … notebooks!
I got a new set of notebooks. Really cool notebooks: Field Notes notebooks.
These are most excellent notebooks. I like them even more than my pocket Moleskine. The paper quality is excellent. They fit well in the pocket. They are really well made. They ooze utility.
But, still… notebooks.
If it’s not your thing, it’s not your thing.
(Notebooks, I say!)
(I should probably call it a night.)
3 April 2008
Recovery takes time, I wrote. And usually longer than you want.
I’m showing improvement over last week. There were a few setbacks, like the ill-fated trip downtown, or anytime Trip accidentally bonks me with his head. But if I can avoid the occasional blows to the head, or overexerting myself, things have improved.
One of my friends noted that I looked really haggard in the previous post, which is probably true. I got a shave (thank goodness), but now I could really use a haircut. The left side of my face and head is still noticeably swollen, though it’s slowly returning to normal. The incision is healing well, there are no problems with taste, and the pain is usually manageable. The ear is still a little numb in back around the incision, but the bruising is mostly gone.
I had my post-op on Monday, where my doctor removed the surgical packing from the outer ear. There is still foam in the middle ear, behind the eardrum, which will eventually turn into a thick ooze and drain out the eustachian tube. But in the meanwhile, it’s causing a certain amount of dizziness, particularly when I turn my head too quickly.
The dizziness is damned inconvenient. It comes on suddenly and leaves me nauseous for hours, which I don’t think it was doing before. Or, perhaps, I’ve attained a general state of well-being where I didn’t notice it because I felt like crap all the time. My doctor assures me that dizziness is very normal at this point, so I try not to freak out about it… too much.
I drove my car on Monday, which went okay, but I had a dizzy spell and couldn’t drive back from my in-laws. I haven’t driven since. I also put on my glasses for the first time on Monday, and even with lightweight glasses it’s too uncomfortable to do for long. The arm rests on the incision, so I usually go without. After two weeks I’m used to the fuzziness.
The variable hearing is still present, and I have no idea if my hearing has improved because of the surgery, or because I no longer have an inch of foam on top of the eardrum. It’s really weird.
Also, my doctor was suitably impressed that I shared the pictures online.
There’s not really much else to report; no satisfying conclusion to reach with this post. It’s simply another week with a new eardrum. I think I’ll keep it.
1 April 2008
Today is one of my favorite days of the year. It’s a day where silliness and craft are celebrated; where a good joke is one that can be played even though the other person expects it.
Sadly, I don’t have any jokes today. But I do have the Muppets.
I mentioned that I love April Fools’ Day, right?
24 March 2008
I twittered today:
Post-op recovery sucks. Little things defeat you. Big things are inconceivable. And it’s amazing how many big things there are to do.
Today was my first day without painkillers in a week. The picture in this post was taken yesterday, when the pain was still really bad, but the drug fog was even worse. So I gritted my teeth and stopped taking the Vicodin. It wasn’t great — there were plenty of things that you still can’t do because they hurt too much, and sudden motion is definitely to be avoided — but it wasn’t terrible.
I came enough out of my fog to remember that I really hate having a beard, and shaved it off. I joke that I shave because Merrystar hates it, but really it’s me doing the hating. I feel better with it gone.
I’m not back yet. I still get really tired at the simplest things, and just don’t feel up to most anything. My ear sticks out and I can’t wear my glasses. I can’t drive, or fly, or lift up my son to rock him to sleep.
But I feel a little better today than yesterday. I’m recovering. It takes time.
21 March 2008
Before my eardrum replacement surgery, the doctor asked me if it would be okay if students observed.
“Of course,” I replied.
“What about pictures?”
“Totally!” I said, excited. “But only if I can get copies!”
So this is why, a few hours later, the doctor was handing my wife totally gross medical pictures of my ear. She’s all, “ew, what are these? He told you to take them? Why would any sane person want them?”
(The funny part is how our mothers reacted. Merrystar’s mom was also confused and grossed out; mine said “Cool!” I guess some things really are learned behavior.)
Anyhow, pictures. Gross, icky, surgical pictures. Of my ear.
I has ‘em. But I have a distribution problem.
See, I don’t want to subject my wife to looking at them again, and she’s one of the primary readers of this weblog. On a normal weblog, I’d hide them ‘below the fold,’ in the extended entry field so that it wouldn’t show on the main page.
Only, uh, I customized this back in the dark ages and used that field for something else. Oops.
So I thought, and thought, and thought, and then remembered that Flickr lets you have guest passes to private photo collections. That would work, right?
Yep. That would work.
So, if you’re feeling brave enough, I invite you to look inside my ear at the before and after pictures.
(But don’t say I didn’t warn you. Merrystar’s right: they are gross.)
17 March 2008
I basically worked myself into a funk today over tomorrow’s surgery, worrying over every single far-fetched worse case scenario, no matter how implausible. (And some of them were pretty implausible.) I turned a molehill into a mountain. So, my apologies if I was overly dramatic — I’ve had a hole in my ear for over 20 years, and it’s been a part of my identity for that long.
But it’s time to let go of that and move on.
I’d also like to thank numerous people who stopped and shared their own battles with hearing loss, tales of ear surgery gone right, and general well-wishes. I really appreciate you taking the time. I really do.
My surgery’s scheduled for just after 9AM tomorrow in Richmond. Merrystar will be with me, and I should be done around lunchtime. Twitter will, as usual, have the latest news.
And it will all be good, tomorrow.
(Well, good news from me, at least. No comment on the mortgage securities markets.)
15 March 2008
A bit of a surprise announcement: I will be going in for ear surgery on Tuesday. My left eardrum is almost totally gone, the bones in the middle ear are damaged, and the mastoid bone surrounding the ear is filled with material left over from a series of massive infections. The surgery will replace the eardrum, examine the ossicles and possibly replace them with prosthetics, and drill out the infected mastoid bones. This will, in turn, help stop the repeated infections I’ve had over the past few years, and is the first step towards regaining my hearing.
The backstory on this is long and somewhat painful — literally, since it involves having one’s eardrum ripped out — so I will save it for later. Suffice it to say, if you ever wondered why I am a very active listener, yet can’t hear you when other people are talking … well, now you know.
I have mixed feelings about this surgery. I am very nervous about addressing a problem that has lingered for two decades; every time we poke and prod at the problem, the news gets a little worse. Until they open up the middle ear, there’s no way to gauge the extent of the damage. The reconstruction has a chance of making my hearing worse instead of better.
But I’m also a little excited, because I’m finally doing something about these problems. The problems are there. Ignorance of them doesn’t change anything.
4 March 2008
I was thinking about some of the things people have said about Gary Gygax’s influence, especially how:
Gary Gygax saved more lives than pennacillian (sic). When I was 10, he was 39. He knew he was writing a book for 10 year olds… but never talked down to us. He was the only adult presence in my life from the time I was 10 to the time I was like 15 that didn’t preach, didn’t talk down and didn’t have any parameters.
I, too, was 10 years old when I played my first Dungeons and Dragons game, and this observation really hit me tonight. There was no pandering, no dumbing down of concepts to fit an adolescent game. We may not have understood all Gary and Dave put in front of us, but it challenged us to learn and grow into it. Statistics, economics, cartography, linguistics, storytelling, history, tactics, drama — all were part of the great Dungeons and Dragons tapestry. What’s the difference between a halberd and a glaive-guisarme? Which weapon is more effective, one that causes 1d8+4 or 1d12? What happens when you walk into a town with buckets of gemstones and unload them on the local market? These are questions that this crazy game posed to kids, and you know what? Kids learned.
I credit Dungeons and Dragons for vastly expanding my vocabulary, too. When my High School Literature teacher came across a passage in Gogol that talked about a wraith, I already knew what it was and moved on. When someone asked the teacher what a wraith was, and the bluffed, five hands immediately shot up and corrected him.
I remember how he looked around, more than a little startled, and asked how we all knew about this alternate name for a spectre.
“It’s in the Monster Manual,” I mumbled. Everyone who had raised their hand nodded, and the rest of the class looked at us with a mixture of awe and pity. (At least we didn’t tell him how many Hit Dice it had.)
Years later, one of my co-workers complained to a group of us that a client had corrected her use of e.g. in an email. “Who can keep them straight, anyway?” she vented.
“But e.g. is ‘for example,’ and i.e. is ‘in other words,’” I replied, puzzled. (Admittedly, this was not my best management moment.) Silence fell on the group.
“Do I dare ask how you know that?” asked another co-worker.
“The first edition Dungeon Master’s Guide,” I replied, promptly. “I learned all the latin abbreviations from it when I was a kid.” They still had that mixed look of awe and pity, but I felt nothing but thanks to that book for making me figure out i.e., c.f., n.b., e.g., etc..
So, thank you, Gary Gygax, for all the great things that you gave us. Little or big, we are better for them.
27 February 2008
I ordered the new series on the textual history of The Hobbit as a present for Merrystar, but my motives are not exactly selfless.
17 January 2008
Jim hit me up on IM earlier today to tell me to take a deep breath, because Office 2007 is not the spawn of the devil.
He proceeded to enthusiastically enumerate the ways in which Excel 2007 is superior to its predecessor — so enthusiastically, in fact, that I gave in and just let my hate for the new look go. I may not like it — especially PowerPoint, argh — but I’ll give it some time, and see if it’s just the learning curve or actual flaws.
Mostly, he told me (without so many words) to go play in Excel, which I did, and honestly did make me happy.
(But I still don’t think the Ribbon is my Very Special Friend, Jim. I remain suspicious of the Ribbon’s intentions.)
12 January 2008
Her: You can’t really be rooting for the Giants.
Me: No, but I want them to win tomorrow.
Her: You have never, ever, in all the years I’ve known you, rooted against the Cowboys.
Me: That’s true. And I’ll certainly be rooting for T.O. and Romo and all the rest tomorrow. But I want the Giants to win for three reasons:
Her: I’ve got to hear this.
Me: First, they fought with honor against the Patriots.
Her: How very Klingon of you.
Me: Thanks. Second, Jerry Jones.
Her: Okay, you still hold a grudge there, got it.
Me: And third, because I want the Packers to have home field advantage next week, so they can go to the Super Bowl.
<brief moment of silence, watching the snow fall on Lambeau Field>
Her: That’s a good one.
Me: I thought so too.
Her: So I’m going to ask you something, and I’m pretty sure that I’m opening up a can of worms that is better left unopened.
Me: <nervous now> Okay. Shoot.
Her: What does this “Digg It” button actually do?
Her: <raises eyebrow>
Me: I’m thinking.
Her: You look like I’ve asked another one of those questions.
Me: Well… yes. Why do you want to know?
Her: I see them everywhere, and they might be useful in promoting different Wikia sites.
Me: Okay. You know del.icio.us?
Her: Yes. You have an account there. It has the funny “dell-issy-ous” URL.
Me: Right. Ever actually visited it yourself?
Me: Okay. Well, it’s kinda like del.icio.us, and kinda like slashdot.
Her: <confused> Like, the current directory?
Me: No, the root directory.
Her: No, the current directory.
Me: No, the root directory.
Her: They may have changed something, but every Linux distribution I’ve used in the last ten years has the root directory at slash root.
Me: Right. But slash dot is the root directory, and dot slash is the current directory.
Her: No, slash root is the root directory.
Me: The directory at the top of the tree. The slash directory.
Her: The slash directory, not slash root?
Her: <calmly> Why didn’t you say that to begin with?
Me: MOVING ON, I‘m talking about the site, not the directory.
Her: Oh. Are they still around?
Me: Yes, but they’re about three weeks late with news, and overrun by freetards, so nobody reads them anymore.
Me: I can’t believe I just used a Fake Steve Jobsism.
Her: <delightedly> That’s that Apple guy!
Me: <Groans, buries face in hands>
Her: I’m sorry. But that’s so much fun to do to you.
Me: I know.
Her: Please, continue.
Me: I’m not sure that I want to.
Her: I’ll be good.
Me: I doubt that. Where was I?
Me: Right. So. Digg is a site like slashdot, where users vote for stories — “digging them” — to see what makes the front page. And then they bury stories once they become stale.
Me: So, it can drive traffic to your site very quickly if something gets popular, slashdotting it. There’s that term again.
Her: Got it.
Me: But, that traffic is mostly composed of hyperactive, attention deficit disorder fourteen year olds with civility problems.
<long period of silence>
Her: So, the “Digg It” button summons a horde of wiki vandals?
Me: Likely not your target market for quality contributors.
Her: I probably shouldn’t have asked.
Me: Can open, worms everywhere?
I don’t normally do self-portraits. Call it a character flaw, but I find the rest of the world far more interesting than the face I shave in the mirror every day.
This was a different day. This was the day I discovered that one of my immediate family members has cancer.
I was jovial and positive on the phone. But after I hung up, I grabbed my camera to go shoot outside in a desperate attempt to not face it.
It worked about as well as you think it would have. Nothing held my interest.
Finally, I just sat down in the middle of the woods, put the camera on continuous shooting, and let myself think.
This is not a good picture of me. It’s not going to win any awards, or convince people that I should quit my day job and become a model. I’m not happy, or positive, or any of the things people usually associate with me. The lighting is going as the sun sets.
But it’s an honest picture, one that captures a moment that I pray I never have to face again, but know that I will.
And honest pictures should be celebrated for what they are, not what you think they should be.
Just like life.
31 December 2007
Meet Thievey, a ring-tailed lemur. He’s very cute, but he needs your help.
Consider doing something good and help Mike reach his goal before the end of 2007.
He’s got 3 2 1 lemur s left to give away.
Update: Mike reached his goal, but there’s still time to make a difference. The MGF is totally blown away by the amount of support they’re getting here ($10,450 + $167/month for the next year), but there is still more need.
You may also consider purchasing one of the Moon Bears from Vermont Teddy Bear (which we got Trip for Christmas), or a contribution to Defenders of Wildlife. There are still like three hours left in 2007! Go!
12 December 2007
Today was the first day of my December vacation: I am taking the rest of the month off. Aside from the holidays, I have no plans.
7 December 2007
During a warm spell in October, thousands of bugs swarmed my backyard, trying to get into my house. They were everywhere — coming through any hole they could find, flying about for a little while and then dying en masse in the house. Squishing them was counterproductive, as they stunk, so we just vacuumed them up.
I dutifuly called my termite company, they came out and informed me that they weren’t termites at all, but some form of Japanese Beetle. Dur, okay, I said, as long as they’re not eating my house, I don’t care that they don’t look like any Japanese Beetle I’ve ever seen. The hot spell passed, and the bugs eventually went away.
Well, the latest edition of my neighborhood newsletter contained a little gem: these bugs are Ischnodemus Falicus, who have moved in to the recently-marshified Lake Powell. They eat crops, and trying to eliminate them from anywhere but the source is doomed to failure. It took sending a sample of them to the Smithsonian to identify them (Virginia Tech didn’t know what they were), and not much is known about them.
Let me tell you, I can’t wait for spring. Ugh.
4 December 2007
Ain’t broke? Don’t fix it.
Now, if only I could heed my own advice.
I was seriously considering upgrading the software that runs a few of my sites to Movable Type 4.x to allow the use of the the iPhone/MT interface plugin. Yes, you read that right: I’m considering installing an entire CMS to get an interface for my phone. This plugin makes posting from the iPhone very, very easy. And a clean install of MT 4.x is actually quite easy as such things go.
But upgrading from an old version, with an extremely custom template and unsupported database? Very, very difficult.
So difficult, in fact, that I gave up trying to upgrade the existing installation and instead evaluated how much effort it would be recode several sites on the clean install.
And the answer? Way more effort than it’s worth.
My first upgrade attempt resulted in an unbearably slow system. This was not the desired outcome.
So, after several hours debugging processes, killing off all sorts of little performance-stealing problems, I opted for a clean Tiger (10.4) install and trusted my backups. Tiger was great in all the areas I remember, and weak in all the other areas I remembered (cough cough Spotlight cough).
After a few days of that, I thought that since there were enough other people having success with a clean install, that I would give it a try with a clean upgrade back to Leopard. In other words, I lost my marbles.
You know what? I have not been entirely happy with Hithlum since I started meddling. And really, there’s no turning back.
Leopard may be faster than Tiger, but it doesn’t feel faster. The 10.5.1 update helped stabilize some of the applications, and I’m sure that on a newer machine that I would be happy as a clam with Leopard. But instead I ask, was this really worth the time, effort, and money I spent?
I suspect that the answer is no.
(I don’t know why I bother. Future Brett never listens.)
6 November 2007
Paper spam sucks. It’s a waste of time and resources (both yours and the planet’s.)
Do something about it.
- Catalog Choice is a non-profit who gets you off of catalog lists. Free, and they do it well.
- OptOutPrescreen.com gets you off of firm offers for credit and insurance for 5 years if you do it online, permanently if you mail in the form they make up for you.
- Register for the Direct Marketing Association’s Mail Preference Service to get out of most everything else.
Okay? Go to it.
31 October 2007
Busy again this year; 91 kids, one more than last year.
Trip was more interested in answering the door than collecting candy.
He’s a funny kid.
21 September 2007
My car YAH is on the shop again. This is a fairly normal state of affairs for my VW Jetta; on my way for routine maintenance she’ll throw a CEL and decide to spend a few days at the ‘spa’.
In this case, she was going in for her 90k mile service and a headlight upgrade. Apparently a breather hose failed, causing a variable-speed fan to stay on max until it burned out, and several other parts of her engine need fixing. I am admittedly hazy on the details.
I just know that the repair bill will have four digits left of the decimal.
With that in mind, I am somewhat less excited about the headlight upgrade that I decided to treat myself and my car to. See, the Mark IV Jettas have headlights that scratch and cloud over, rendering them less bright than one might like. I watch the new cars pass me on I64 and wonder if that many people really drive with their brights on.
There is also this unshakeable guilt that we might have seen that deer coming last year with brighter lights in a wider dispersal pattern.
So when the headlight polishing had worn off, instead of dropping in the same OEM lamps for the GL/GLS model, I opted for the very cool GLX/GLI style, with integrated fog lights for better peripheral vision.
Yes. I pimped my ride, and all I did was add fogs. No smoked glass, no Angel Eye reflectors, no HID/Xenon upgrade kit.
I think I’d rather have an engine that runs instead of 19” wheels, anyway.
15 September 2007
Jackson Bohlender asked me for an interview earlier this week about my thoughts on the iPhone, the iPod Touch, and my computing background.
(I admit, it was a little startling to realize that I got my first computer 25 years ago.)
The interview is now up at his site.
9 September 2007
This may be heresy, but I have to ask it. Why are we (Rice University) still in Division I-A Football?
- It loses millions of dollars for the athletic department, turning a department that would otherwise be operating in the black into the red.
- We lose to I-AA teams. (Unlike Michigan, we weren’t heavily favored to win.)
- Yes, we went to a bowl last year, but that’s something that 53% of all college teams manage to do. And for Rice, it’s a rarity.
Does this sound like a good use of time, effort, and money to anyone else? I sure doesn’t to me. I’d love to see us ditch I-A football and concentrate on those things that we do well.
Like, you know, Baseball.
6 September 2007
Trip was playing with his dvdvdvdeees tonight when he saw that Merrystar was on her computer. He walked over, climbed up on the couch, and looked over her shoulder.
Her: “That’s Noah, and that’s his mommy.”
Him: “Dats Noah, and dats his mommy.”
Her: “Would you like to see pictures of Trip?”
Him: Makes agreeing noises. Merrystar calls up his site.
And then he reached out and tried to swipe the page on Merrystar’s Toughbook, just like it was an iPhone.
Me: “You’re going the wrong way.”
Her: “You hush.”
Him: “Boats! T-t on the boat!” more swiping motions, more of the page not going the right way.
I find it both wonderful and a little scary that my son knows that much about using my iPhone already.
After Trip had gone to sleep, we had the following exchange:
Me: “Finally, I found something your computer can’t do.”
Her: Swipes at my laptop screen. “Doesn’t look like yours can, either.”
Have I ever come out ahead in these?
Don’t answer that.
17 August 2007
Trip was in his playroom today when suddenly he got up and walked out.
“Trip, where are you going?” his mother asked.
“To get dada’s phone,” came the answer from our bedroom. A few moments later, he returned with my phone in hand.
“Who are you going to call?” I asked. (Keep in mind that he called Manila before his first birthday.)
“TT taking pictures,” he said, swiping at the phone to unlock it.
He had some problems aiming it, and ended up taking a lot of pictures of his feet, but he knew what he was doing with it.
I remain constantly amazed by this little person in our midst.
13 August 2007
I hadn’t realized it, but comparing this —
to this —
Shows what part of my problem with my backyard is: it’s featureless. Just a big plain of plants to be maintained at a 2-3 inch cut, with 35 feet of conservation area in the back. There’s nothing to focus on, nothing of interest. Just… green. Lots of green.
This would be desirable if I were playing football on a regular basis back there… but I’m not. (Even then, then I’d have to exterminate all the voles and regrade the soil. They’ve made it bumpy back there.)
Paths, and gardens, and slopes, and benches, would go a long way. We’ve already planted trees. More will follow. But maybe the problem isn’t just that I need a robot to do my lawn mowing; perhaps the backyard just needs to be more interesting.
‘Simple’ should never equal ‘boring.’
12 August 2007
27 July 2007
Looking through the The Items We Carry pool on Flickr, I see an awful lot of Apple/VW crossover things.
Yeah, I threw my pockets into the pool, too:
22 July 2007
Trip has recently learned how to ride on my shoulders. He’s not convinced that it’s the best way to get around, but it’s all right in moderation.
(Now that my father-in-law has an iPhone, hopefully pictures of me will become a little less rare. It’s difficult to remove one’s good camera when said camera is strapped in underneath a toddler.)
7 July 2007
It’s funny what putting the “web in your pocket” (dirty!) makes you reconsider.
For example, Twitter. Before iPhone (BiP), it was undeniably cool to be able to text status updates to my website. Where am I? What am I doing? Just check my home page! Oh look, I’m downtown, taking pictures. Or mowing the lawn. Or driving to DC. Or driving from DC.
Wicked cool, I tell you. And for many users of Twitter, it really was, because the service would spit those updates right back out into a variety of places - SMS, IM, web, even email. But for folks like me, with normal, sane friends who do not need to know my every move, that’s not very useful.
I found that I very much enjoyed the minimalism of Twitter. 140 characters encourages you to post without having to think too much about it.
But there were a lot of things about it that I didn’t like, especially when they changed their badges so that you couldn’t publish private tweets somewhere else. (This was the infamous login problem on my homepage.) Why put it all somewhere else for the world to pick over with their APIs and fancy-schmancy web services … all because you like texting in the entries?
I’ve been hitting the mobile Twitter site on my iPhone this week, when finally it hit me. Why do I need this if 1) no one I know in real life uses it, and 2) I already have a blog? I can send out
tweets blips all I want now that I have an actual web interface at my disposal!
(I dunno. Sometimes these things take a while for me to put together. )
Right. As you were.
3 July 2007
The iPhone may be my first phone in years I don’t hate. And it might be the first one you don’t hate, too.
12 June 2007
I don’t really talk a lot about my drive, because, you know, it’s boring.
But tonight was a doozy! Thunderstorms followed us the entire way home.
No, really. When I left at 6 I drove right into one. Stopped for dinner, back on the road at 7, get down past Quantico, blammo, right into a major storm.
7:45 pm, we’re still in the red:
It followed us the entire way down I-95.
A brief reprieve right outside of Richmond around 8:30, then right back into the red at 9:00:
Exciting stuff, I tell you! My headlights and windshield haven’t been this clean in months!
(P.S. The best part? It still hasn’t rained here. Just lots and lots of lightning.)
27 May 2007
When Merrystar and I lived in Alexandria, we devoted most of the bottom floor of our townhouse to our library. We had more than 150 linear feet of shelving (mostly Billy from Ikea) but we never, ever had enough.
The bookroom started out as a disaster, which turned into a bookroom, which turned into a library. We enjoyed it as such for the month that the house was on the market and the few weeks that it took to close on the house. That was really it.
Then, there was a moving related purge, and our books were packed into 32 boxes and moved into our new garage. And there they sat.
Bit by bit, Merrystar and I have worked through half of those boxes, but there’s been a dozen or so sitting in the garage for the last five or six months. Sitting. Taunting me. Waiting for something to prompt me to move them.
Like, er, mouse poop. All over the recently-cleaned garage.
So after much cleaning with masks, the remaining dozen boxes were unpacked last night. And the inevitable bibliophilaic crisis ensued. As both Merrystar and I rested, we asked the exact same question:
Why do we need all these books?
There are dozens of books that I want to keep. But there are hundreds that I honestly can’t answer why I have kept them, other than… what, exactly? Sentimentality? Utility? To impress others? (And who would that be, specifically?)
I don’t know if this is a universal crisis that all book collectors go through. Maybe it is, and only the serious ones get through it.
As for us?
I took a half-trunk load of books to the local bookstore today. (Store credit for those they can use, the rest to charity.)
And we’re just getting started.
26 May 2007
I wish I had talked more tonight.
18 May 2007
At some point, the madness will end, right?
17 May 2007
It’s been a long couple of weeks, with a lot of changes around these parts.
- I have a new phone, the Samsung SYNC SGH-A707, which is… well, it’s okay. I don’t hate it, which is saying something. It has odd limits on things that the RAZR didn’t (like which files can be used as ringtones), but the 3G is nice enough. The outer display broke in DFW during my mad dash through DFW, which would suck were I not planning on getting an iPhone sometime next month. (Oh, my precioussssss…)
- I took a new job within my current company. It’s good, but it keeps me very busy, and that’s all I’ll say about that here.
- I’m getting burned out on the whole photo sharing site thing. I like the free hosting, but not conditions around it. So less activity there than before, and not likely to be a lot in the public sections.
- Still, I take pictures when I can.
If anything, the next few weeks promise to be even crazier. And I suspect that’s a good thing.
3 May 2007
But that’s neither here nor there, is it?
Partial power is restored to the terminal, so I’m on the laptop again. Broke down and paid my fee to the wifi extortionists to get online. Foolishness. Free wifi may not be a god-given right, but it is certainly something that makes me think fondly of a facility. It’s like the rocking chairs in Charlotte: something that makes your stay nicer. Even if you take it for granted and don’t remember it, you won’t be irritated by it.
Now we’re delayed until 9:45. Shouldn’t have checked that bag; otherwise I’d be home by now. I only checked it because of the toiletries.
Can I pull it off the plane?
No. Plane’s not at the gate. Plane’s not at the TERMINAL? What?
I probably shouldn’t tell the Army squad who were on the flight that their weapons lockers were off somewhere else, should I?
How long of a drive is it, anyway?
Huh. 3 hours, 45 minutes.
How long to home?
3 hours, 30 minutes. I bet I can shorten that by taking the Scotland Ferry.
Have to go pick up my car later, though. That’s another 2 hours.
Shouldn’t have checked that bag. If I’d left at 6:00 when I woke up from my nap, I’d be home by now.
What are we up to, 10:00 am now? I’m afraid to ask.
Power’s back on in the terminal. That’s something, I guess.
And just to think: I get to drive another hour once I land to get home.
Glad I took a vacation day today. Yeppers.
Totally exhausted now. Still waiting for the funny part.
Tuesday morning I watched the sun rise over the Atlantic as a submarine steamed into the harbor of Newport News, flanked by escort boats. I stopped in Dallas, had breakfast with my parents, and went to work in Los Angeles.
Yesterday I left LA at lunchtime, got grounded by thunderstorms in Dallas, got close to Norfolk at 2:30 AM, found Norfolk closed, diverted to Raleigh-Durham, landed at 3:30, slept two hours on the floor, and now am watching the crews try to restore power to the part of the terminal where our plane sits. (My bag is checked, or renting a car to Norfolk would be done.). I don’t think we’re going to make our 8:30 departure.
Now we get to the funny part.
On the way out, I sent seven emails and read one book and one proposal.
Since leaving Burbank airport, I’ve sent 45 emails, written one proposal, made 8 calls (not including the ones to Merrystar), and scheduled 5 meetings. And now, written one blog post. I also learned how to check the weather radar on both my phone and blackberry.
Oh, wait. There was supposed to be a funny part. Nevermind.
29 April 2007
No shots of Williamsburg this weekend. Merrystar and I instead spent Saturday up in Maryland at a wedding:
I’m normally quite shy about shooting people in public. I take plenty of pictures of my family, but not so many of strangers. That’s unfortunate, as those shots usually turn out quite well.
I confess: it was nice to be at an event where people expect you to be taking pictures of them.
I am also happy to report that everyone remembered their lines.
(Congratulations, you two!)
4 April 2007
While, in general, I do not condone the new style of writing, I must say:
OMG, d00d. 1040 Schedule D is teh sux0r.
That is all.
26 March 2007
12 March 2007
As promised, I’ve been moving entries from The Blue Lamp Cafe and Flotsam and Jetsam into this weblog. The Cafe posts are complete, Flotsam will take a bit more time. This is mostly due to the nature of the posts, rather than the number (although that certainly plays a part in it, too.)
Honestly, it’s slow going. I’m hesitant to dive into the old posts; there are some that I feel I should bury, and others that I feel were written by someone totally alien, and then there are still others that make me think back to a particular day from years ago, and I wonder where the time has gone.
The oldest published entry in Flotsam and Jetsam is elaborate. from 1999. It was posted to a much different website than the one you’re reading now. I remember what I was trying to create when I first posted it, how frustrated I was when I couldn’t make that happen, and how I had to walk away from it all for a while and grow up before I could be comfortable online again. For several years it was the best post on the entire site. (It may still be, for all I know. That’s a scary thought.)
I’d done all the technical work for the import weeks ago, but it’s sat on my to-do list since then, daring me to attempt to edit my past. The temptation is there, and remains there, to just delete it all and present a blank slate to the world. I am not the same person who wrote those posts. I moved across the country, got married and became a father. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to just delete it all and start over from another point, say somewhere in 2005.
Reasonable, but dishonest, too. I was that person, and there was a lot of good mixed in with the bad. I guess this is what it’s like to come to terms with your past selves? Can’t change what’s happened, can’t unsay what’s been said, move on, there’s more to do. So mostly, I’m only editing the links, correcting the most egregious mistakes, and clicking Publish. It’s slow going, but not as slow as I feared.
Because, you know what? There’s a lot of cool stuff coming up ahead, and I need to get on with it.
28 February 2007
I’d like to apologize for the automated links for 2007-02-28 post that will show up sometime later today. Tonight was a banner night for web surfing, as I tried to both catch up on my feeds and try out Camino’s speediness with some traditionally slow sites in Safari. Like, cough, Google Reader, which bogs down in Safari under the weight of the hundreds of posts I’m trying to process. For weeks I’ve wondered about the users who raved about its snappy response; the UI is well done — tap tap tap goes the spacebar with no clicky-clicky required — but after the first 20 articles I spend more time waiting for a response than actually reading.
(Most everyone reading this already knows that I can read really fast: really, really fast when the occasion calls for it. Scanning news is one of those things.)
Camino handled the load far better than Safari did, letting me page through posts quickly, if not as fast as I might like. There’s only so much one can do to cut through all the AJAXy overhead. I grow less fond of AJAX with each passing day. I may soon find myself using AJAX in the same way Merrystar uses Flash — avoid, disable, and enable only when absolutely required.
The only drawback with the Safari → Camino switch is an aesthetic one: small Helvetica type isn’t weighted as nicely in Gecko browsers as it is in Safari, particularly at the lighter weights and smaller sizes. (Sub-10pt italic seems particularly affected.) Also, the line height seems to be crowded in text blocks, so that words seem crowded in a paragraph. It’s very subtle, but I’m known to be picky about my fonts.
(The partial solution is a simple ⌘+ to increase the font size, which makes the web a nicer place to browse anyway. The line height is still awkward, but less distracting than before. It’s still not as good as Safari.)
I’m happy to say that Camino really is chugging along well, and I may keep Safari off the dock and in reserve for specialized tasks. But it’s probably too early to see if there’s a significant difference.
But, back to the apology. The downside of this web browsing is that I’ve been hitting my del.icio.us links pretty hard, and the next post is likely to be pretty big.
Hopefully, you’ll find something interesting in amidst it all.
11 February 2007
Merrystar and I have this huge framed poster hanging in our living room that we know nothing about. She picked it up in the Netherlands sometime in the late nineties. We don’t know the artist, or the name of the print, but would dearly love to find other works by this person.
4 January 2007
I got a call from my old friend Katie tonight at dinner. I haven’t spoken with Katie in maybe nine or ten years, but I was in the middle of having my son smear sweet potatoes and cheese on my sleeve so I took her number and called her back after we’d finished and cleaned up.
She was calling for a reason, of course. Gracie is dead, she said, and my heart skipped a beat. She was killed in a traffic accident: a car ran a red light and hit a cab with her and her coworkers. It was over a month ago.
- 1 dead, 3 hurt in SF hit and run
- Hit-run kills woman in cab and injures 3 — suspect held
- S.F. District Attorney’s Office Files Charges In Taxi Crash
I couldn’t say anything. Gracie, dead? What? That couldn’t be.
Gracie and I worked together at Aromas Coffee in Dallas ten years ago. We worked together Tuesdays and Thursdays and were a great team. We had flow.
But Gracie’s dead. There’s a hole in my life now.
Gracie had a list of things that she wanted to do by the time she was 30. Katie asked me if I remembered it, which I did. It was a gutsy list, one that made Gracie strecth and grow and live her life.
“She did it,” Katie told me. “Every single one.”
I didn’t doubt it for a second.
Gracie was 31 when she died. There were memorial services and a benefit at Bar Crudo (where she worked) to aid Carina Lampkin and Mike Selvera, Gracie’s fellow co-workers and passengers in the taxi.
I had lost touch — I hadn’t seen Gracie since I lived in Houston, and talked to her only occasionally since then — and Katie couldn’t find me until after the memorial services were all done and the holidays had begun. So she waited until after the holidays to call. I appreciate that.
I’m not surprised by any of it. It helps, a little.
Goodbye, Gracie. Rest in peace.
22 December 2006
Watching Rice play Troy in the New Orleans Bowl.
Though it’s 34-10 (Troy in the lead), it hasn’t been embarassing. We’re losing, but we’re not embarassingly outclassed like so many games I attended in the ‘90s. It gives me hope for the future of the program.
3 December 2006
Tonight, we took Trip to his very first fireworks show.
The weather was pretty meh — drizzly and in the forties — but that didn’t dampen his excitement.
In fact, even though the fireworks only lasted 20 minutes (if that), he couldn’t stop pointing up into the sky and telling us about what he’d seen.
All in all? It was a good night.
(Also? I need to get a tripod if I want to shoot fireworks so that they look like fireworks.)
2 December 2006
I dunno. I turn around, and llamas are everywhere.
Llamas, llamas, llamas:
Life is like this sometimes.
20 November 2006
It’s Monday, which means, you know, Bad Karma Monday.
Went to work anyway.
Drove a lot. Worked a bit.
We saw one deer, in exactly the same place as last week. It was a big buck.
We did not hit it.
We came home.
Going to sleep soon.
Sometimes, happy stories aren’t very interesting.
But they’re happy nonetheless.
18 November 2006
Took the family down to the Farmer’s Market this morning.
I took some pictures.
17 November 2006
My mom pointed me toward the talented Leslie Riley’s blog today. Leslie taught a class (“Mixed Media Art”) in Houston that my mother attended and raved about.
My mom’s quilt (which she calls “in progress,” of course) is in the last row, far right. Her work never fails to impress me.
14 November 2006
Thank you, Edouard Benedictus, for giving us safety glass.
12 November 2006
parenting hacks: tell strong-willed toddlers what to do.
10 November 2006
Ugh. Spam. I hates it.
So I’d cranked my SpamAssassin preferences down, lowering the threshold to a 3.0 points a while back. All was good. No false positives, some false negatives. That’s the way it’s supposed to be.
Today I discovered someone was trying to get in touch with me all week, and her emails just kept getting caught in the spam trap.
Some days I don’t know about this email thing.
31 October 2006
26 October 2006
Up in Alexandria today to close on the house up there. Sold! All my anxieties were for naught.
Unfortunately, Trip is now sick with what we think is Fifth Disease, so the celebrations will be quiet tonight.
23 October 2006
Back online. Cable modem humming along. Boxes getting unpacked. Updating online addresses now.
More updates in a few days. (I’m on vacation, after all.)
20 October 2006
House packed yesterday, not by me. It’s strange to watch a home become a house. With boxes. Lots of boxes.
Slept there last night. Discovered that all my neighbors have locked down their wireless networks. Realized that this chapter is over.
Truck loaded today. Also, not by me. I am very glad for this, because, well, you know. We have a lot of books.
I took some time this afternoon to look around the very big, very empty townhouse that was once my home. Really. Big. Rooms. They take a lot of work to make right. (And a lot of stuff.)
It took us over three years to get everything to be really usable; we’d finally reclaimed the downstairs and the garage.
Tomorrow, the truck comes to the new house, and — with some work — we will have a home again.
(Hopefully, it won’t take us three years.)
p.s. Remember that cold that had everyone out last weekend that I’ve been valiantly fighting off for the good of the family?
Yeah. Ugh. Off to bed with me.
11 October 2006
May as well make it official: we’re moving out of the DC area.
Short version: leaving Alexandria for Williamsburg, keeping same employers, moving to be closer to in-laws and out of DC, because, well, you know.
We’ve been working on a house. It’s turning out pretty well. My biggest looming problem is that I now have a lawn to mow.
Well, that, and the move. The move still has to happen.
Things have been worse.
More details to follow, stress levels permitting.
4 October 2006
Congratulations, Alan and Juliet!
(They got married on Saturday.)
In case you were wondering, Merrystar and I both love Tim Gunn.
3 October 2006
6 September 2006
The two essential weapons in my anti-cricket defenses:
- 4D cell Maglite (to acquire the target)
- Justin Roper (to terminate the target)
If I haven’t mentioned it recently, bugs are the enemy.
5 September 2006
The good news from this weekend is that, in addition to our normal jaunt to Williamsburg, we had a very pleasant time visiting my aunt and uncle west of Wilderness Battlefield this weekend. Trip found rocks.
The bad news is that Trip got very sick Sunday night, ran a temperature all night, threw up, pooped all sorts of things that don’t bear mentioning, and cried a whole lot.
I stayed up with him, because, well, you know.
The good news is that he’s feeling better now. Not much better, but better.
The bad news is that it’s 1:06 and the tree frogs and crickets outside are very, very loud.
21 August 2006
19 August 2006
Ugh. First day of vacation, and Trip just broke my glasses. Sweet!
1 August 2006
And to think, Texas was hotter than this.
22 July 2006
6 hours of sleep this afternoon and I’m still not feeling better.
13 July 2006
We got it.
11 July 2006
My neighbor has taken to running on his treadmill at 6:05 every morning. This takes place in the room right next to Trip’s, so there’s this wonderful thump thump thump thump that usually brings him awake. (Loudly, I might add. Shared walls suck.)
To compensate, we’ve been putting the baby to bed at 7pm, which has had some success. Not a lot, but some. This teething, though, has got Trip all discombobulated. He was up and down all night.
This morning, the floor went thump thump thump thump. I got up. And the baby didn’t stir.
6:47, no more thump thump thump.
7am came and went, still nothing.
7:12, he decided to start talking.
7:25, he decided to tell jokes to himself and laugh.
7:30, kicking his legs. Going abababababababa. Did I mention that he has 8 teeth now? With more on the way?
7:32. Can’t believe I’m liveblogging my son’s wakeup routine.
7:37. Inbox empty. Working on essay. Son still making happy noises. At what point do I go get him up? 8?
7:44. It’s really interesting to hear him try out different sounds. He’s got some words down pat (“Up!” “Out!”) but he really seems to be working on sentences. He has a passable “I love you,” and
7:45. Time to go.
24 June 2006
Upon reading the post on fonts, Merrystar said:
“You mean Ctrl-X cuts? I never knew that.”
I rest my case.
22 June 2006
Post before the power goes!
Update, a few minutes later:
Power still on, but we’ve got two more to go:
14 June 2006
After Robert’s mother died, he asked for advice on perspective. I sent him my [sic] advice, which is really rather simple. Fifty years from now, no one will care whether or not I made great software. Quite a few people will, however, care very much about how well I’ve raised my children.
This comes on the heels of an odd day; 20 seconds after I met someone, she remarked that I didn’t look like the sort of person who does what I do. (She used fewer words, and professions changed to protect the guilty, but you get the idea.) She was one of the few people in the world who would actually know, too.
Hours later, I still don’t know how to take that compliment. It was a compliment, but it was also … food for thought.
I’ve been watching my son a lot lately. A few weeks ago he started jutting out his chin when he was concentrating on something. Last week he furrowed his eyes at Merrystar — at first, only at her, but now he does it to me, too.
Don’t get me wrong. These are cute mannerisms in a 13-month old. But when I realized he’s mimicking the way I clench my jaw and jut out my chin when I’m upset but determined not to show it, I broke down. I’m almost certain that the eye-furrow is him copying the way I glare at Merrystar in that instant when she’s irritated me and I haven’t got my temper under control —
These are not the things I want my son to learn from me.
12 June 2006
Merrystar and I are watching a few of our favorite Stargate and Star Trek episodes tonight:
- Stargate SG-1: “Fail Safe”
- Stargate SG-1: “Window of Opportunity”
- Star Trek TNG: “Cause and Effect”
We’ve both watched these episodes dozens of times over the years, and every time — every time — Data says, “a collision is eminent,” Merrystar yells “Imminent! Imminent!”
And every time, I wish Data would talk faster when he talks about depressurizing the main shuttle bay, and clearer when he talks about the collision. Every. Single. Time.
As it is clear that these television episodes about time loops have caused time loops within my own life, with the addition of “Yesterday’s Enterprise” and “Groundhog Day”, I hereby dub this the Infinite Recurrence series.
(Yes, I know “Fail Safe” has no time loop in it. We still love it. Deal.)
31 May 2006
logjam will be moving soon; this will be the last post at this URL.
Reports of the death of this collection of weblogs were somewhat exaggerated.
17 May 2006
Slowly returning to the land of the living today. Came down with a fever on Friday, spent the next four days in bed. (18 hours of sleep on Saturday? Whamanama?)
Today came the antibiotics and resumption of coherent thought. Catching up on email, though, may take a little longer. (Sorry if you’ve been waiting a while; first things first.)
8 May 2006
Now open: the blue lamp cafe.
(Yes, I’m trying out WordPress. Yes, I’m now running three weblog tools. It’s all in the name of research. Really.)
Update: Moving these articles back into the main weblog.
6 May 2006
So, my gallery software signed its death warrant tonight.
I recently upgraded (when will I fucking learn that this is not a worthwhile activity???) the gallery software to fix some bugs and “improve performance.”
Lies, lies, lies. I fixed some of the display problems — but at the cost of being unable to upload files in batches. All of the various upload tools are broken, except for the single-file HTML upload. And it can’t find ImageMagick anymore, even though nothing had changed. Brilliant.
Did I mention today is my son’s birthday? I had over 50 pictures to upload tonight, with grandparents awaiting with bated breath. Still not done. Seriously started looking at other solutions, including rolling my own scripts, because you know what? Screwing around with photo gallery software that people don’t bother to QA is a serious fucking waste of time.
I’ve been on the fence about Gallery since I installed it; I like a lot of the features (particularly the EXIF data and random image block) but there are other things that are just plain awful. It’s overengineered, too hard to modify, and strange things break all the time.
And I’m not just taking about the upload applets and remote gallery applications.
Well, right now I am talking about them. But don’t pick nits.
It’s too bad, because I had someone look at the gallery just last week and comment how cool it is. It is cool, but when it breaks, it breaks hard. Time to find a better way to share photos.
(Suggestions on new gallery options gratefully accepted.)
31 March 2006
Jake Zimmerman’s concession to area Democratic leaders a few months ago — who talked him into dropping his bid for the County Council and run instead for the state Legislature — has paid off.
As of 5 p.m. Tuesday, Zimmerman is unopposed for the 83rd District state House seat in mid-St. Louis County. He’s guaranteed election in November. No August primary, no frenzied fall.
And better yet, he has a fat warchest — $142,632, as of his latest report — that can collect interest over the next two years.
14 February 2006
The Blizzard of 2006 dropped about 10 inches here in northern Virginia.
Trip, someday you’ll get to talk about this one the same way I talk about the Great Blizzard of 1978.
Only with less snow.
(Sorry! Couldn’t resist!)
3 January 2006
On vacation, watching trees and birds.
Cheep, cheep, cheep.
15 December 2005
A strange set of circumstances leads me tonight over to Joel Splosky’s In Defense of Not-Invented Here Syndrome.
10 December 2005
Today was one of those tough, fast, hard days at work: everything seems okay until it really, really isn’t. And then? Shit → Fan. Not pretty.
So, in response, after losing myself in my family when I came home, it’s now time to kvetch about computers. It’s either that or move furniture around, and there’s a sleeping baby to consider there.
I got a lot of responses to my switch to a Mac, mostly positive. I think it’s worth making the point that once you’ve switched off Windows for Linux, you’ve already gone through the cognitive gauntlet of a foreign OS. That Windows → Linux transition is missing all the nice pretty shiny parts that OS X brings to the table. Aqua is definitely a step up from KDE or Gnome.
That said, I still have some issues with the Mac. (Why are you not surprised, dear reader?)
- My only hardware-related complaint is that the trackpad on the G4 Powerbook isn’t 100% reliable. Occasionally it decides to take a break. Following a tip on the net, placing your palm across the pad surface resets it and gets it going again. Unfortunately, the wrist angle is all wrong on that move for it to ever be comfortable.
- I’m having a damnable time getting the OAR/Address Book sync to work, so I can share contacts between work (Exchange) and home (Address Book). I suspect there may be something disabled on our server.
- I don’t even want to talk about the iCal/Exchange integration woes. iCal looks beautiful and easy to use. But without Outlook syncing, ploink.
- Passwordless ssh. I’ve spent hours trying to set up passwordless ssh between the Powerbook and my Linux server. I can go to my webhost without a problem, but for some reason the SuSE 10.0 box won’t allow it in that direction. (The other direction - server to laptop - is perfectly fine, so I just need to switch backups from push to pull.)
- iPhoto. Okay, I’m seduced by the square footage and photobooks, but not only is iPhoto doing bad things to my photo organization, it’s slow. That may be its death knell. I think my previous folder-based organization was actually better than trusting some big scary database. I’m not ready for Photoshop CS2 - yet - but I wouldn’t mind giving it a test drive.
- Adium wins the chat battle hands down after Trillian hosed my carefully-annotated contact list. The best part? Address Book integration. Rename once, apply the alias everywhere. Now when I work from home I leave Adium running and don’t bother with IM on the Windows boxes. That said, it still sucks when trying to actually remove people from your list. I just want to get my contact list below 500 people, people! Is it so much to ask that I not have multiple accounts on a single provider just so I can see who’s online?
And now for the heresy:
- I like Safari and Mail.app better than Mozilla Firefox and Thunderbird. Much better, in fact. The RSS features in Safari have changed how I read online, and I no longer read all my email in
pine. Perhaps it’s the punk rock reaction to popularity (I knew those apps when they were cool and outside the mainstream and buggier than a bayou, and now you young whippersnappers get all your fancy extensions and a million downloads!), but it’s more that I just don’t care anymore. Mozilla used to be miles ahead of the pack, but it’s lost ground again, and on the Mac it’s not quite the same experience, and hey! I have other things to think about these days.
See? Much better than talking about work.
8 November 2005
22 October 2005
Things were really bleak when last I wrote, and they got worse before they got better, but they got better. Someday, when it’s not so fresh, I’ll write about it. But not now. For now, it will have to suffice to say that things are better. (“Better how?” “Better.” “BETTER HOW?” “Better?” “HARLAN!”)
23 September 2005
21 September 2005
Years after I’ve moved away, I still consider Houston home. Every shot of the highways is familliar, every map a reminder of days gone by. I used to joke about living 10 feet above sea level; the lack of topography was funny.
And now Jim Cantore is there. You know what that means, right? When Jim shows up, you leave. Period.
Here are some sites you should see.
- The Houston Chronicle. Make it your home page for the next few days.
- Houston Chronicle’s map of the storm surge (and associated estimates of damage).
- The SciGuy blog, which was fantastic during Katrina and will continue to be so.
- The Weather Underground’s Wunderblog
- Images from the GOES satellites
- Live NOAA radio
- Wikipedia is a good place for updates.
- No idea what they’ll do, but Rice’s KTRU is always worth a listen.
- Remeber Tropical Storm Allison and the ‘500 year floods’? My college roommate John Paul does.
I know too many people still there - good luck to you all. Let me know if you need anything. Godspeed.
16 August 2005
In Hawai’i today. FOR WORK. Sheesh.
It’s very sunny here.
No one at work believes me that I’d rather not be in a sunny place. But it’s true.
You see, in my world, get a tan equals break out in hives and go into shock.
So I’m the only one on the beach in long sleeves and long pants. And in the shade. See? I REFUSE to enjoy myself on this trip! REFUSE, I TELL YOU!
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m late for my spa appointment.
(It’s actually very nice here, despite the sun. Better pictures to follow once I get something to read my CF card; untill then, you’re stuck with my camera phone.)
2 August 2005
Merrystar and Trip are spending the week down in Williamsburg at her parents, where my son is discovering the joys of ceiling fans in every room. So I’m on my own for a few days.
1) I am amusing myself by:
- A) Burritos!
- B) Blasting ABBA and Pantera!
- C) Watching Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, The 13th Warrior, and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country!
- D) Editing my photo albums!
- E) All of the above!
2) I am supposed to be:
- A) Getting some sleep.
- B) Filing old paperwork.
- C) Cleaning the house, or at least my office.
- D) Installing a new Linux distribution.
- E) Pimping my ride.
3) I miss:
- A) Merrystar.
- B) Trip.
- C) Both Merrystar and Trip.
- D) Chicken Pie.
- E) All of the above.
4) Things I really shouldn’t be considering, but am anyway:
- A) Pimping Merrystar’s ride.
- B) Converting Trip’s baby monitor into a house-wide stereo system.
- C) Dessert.
- D) Installing another Linux distro on Tsiolkovsky.
- E) Driving 4 hours “just to check in on the baby.”
Does anyone actually need an answer key for this?
28 July 2005
Today was one of those curve ball days.
Conference calls all morning, lunch, then a call from Merrystar. She’d fallen down half a flight of stairs - with the baby - but was okay. Panic, pack up to leave, more panic, calm down, drive drive drive, soothe nerves (mine included), get Trip to sleep, do some work, panic, calm down. Bruising, soreness, baby a little startled and needed lots of cuddling, but no lasting ill-effects. (That we know of.)
That’s a curve ball day.
Unfortunately, we’ve had many more curved than straight, recently. Merrystar’s been ill, to varying degrees, since Trip was born - and while there’s hope in that things are getting better, they haven’t gotten well.
Things were looking up… and today things took a turn down. Life is like that. I only wish it could have more of the up for Merrystar these days.
14 July 2005
4 July 2005
This gets easier, right?
Between my headaches (bad) and Merrystar’s continuing nausea (much worse), this has not been a three-day weekend I’d like to repeat.
25 June 2005
Introducing: brett’s daily photo.
Every day, this page displays a new picture from my life. Frequent subjects are: my son, Trip; my wife, Merrystar; my son, Trip; the occasional landscape; and my son, Trip. Had I pets, you better believe I’d take pictures of them, too. (With Trip.)
I hope you enjoy it.
(RSS and Atom feeds available on the last updated page, too.)
1 June 2005
I have been asked by one of Merrystar’s coworkers to use real units when describing my son.
What’s a real unit, you may ask?
Of course, under the old Julian calendar, Trip’s birthday is April 22, 2005, which means that he was actually early, instead of being late, but then his nickname would make less sense.
Have I mentioned that I love astronomer humor? It’s probably a good thing that I married one.
26 May 2005
That’s it. I’ve finally had it with this city. Today’s drive home was the last straw.
The roadways of Washington D.C. and northern Virginia are now officially my enemies. We hates them, we hates them forever, gollum.
7 May 2005
At home now from hospital. Everyone sleeping. Even me:
I can’t believe how tired I am, and I didn’t do any work!
Thank you to everyone who’s written so far - I’m still learning how to type with a baby in one arm, but I’ve read all your emails and am completely overwhelmed and touched. Thank you!
And a big thank you to Ryan, who kept this site updated while I was in the hospital. I owe you big!
26 April 2005
Finally automated those pesky front-page baby status updates. Look for those motd (message of the day) entries!
19 April 2005
For the record: I have conceived an intense personal dislike of Iceberg B15A.
13 April 2005
I’ve been keeping a countdown to Merrystar+’s big debut (16 days and counting), even though I know that I’m delusional - the baby will be born when her body thinks it is ready, my clock be damnned.
However, I like my delusion. It says - two more weekends, then on Sunday the baby comes! Clear the schedule! Safe. Easy. Predictable. Orderly. Neat.
I like neat.
But I also know it’s a fantasy, and that the baby will be here any time now.
(Huzzah! I can’t wait to meet him. Merrystar really can’t wait, because then he can kick me for a change.)
4 April 2005
As of yesterday, Plus is now considered full-term. We’ve renamed him “Kicky” in honor of his favorite pastime.
26 days to go!
1 April 2005
Have I mentioned how much I love April 1st?
Best day of the whole damn year.
31 March 2005
Merrystar’s at 30 days and counting; not that that number isn’t burned into my brain, because it’s not, but because I made the mistake of installing a countdown clock into Firefox so I see it every time I look at a web page. May 1. And then the rest of my life after that. I hope I get to sleep sometime.
Too busy to post much these days, or post, or answer my personal email, or surf the web, or do anything other than play a few rounds of theraputic games and then read some Old English grammar texts to fall asleep and do it all again tomorrow. The Old English is more necessary than you know.
So this is why everyone told me to get as much sleep as possible before the baby arrives.
24 March 2005
I’m still somewhat in shock; my second cousin Phil passed away suddenly this past weekend. I met him at my grandmother’s funeral, and he came to my wedding.
I wish I’d known him better.
YPSILANTI — Philip David Breckel, age 54, of Ypsilanti unexpectedly passed away Saturday, March 19, 2005, at his home.
He was born July 5, 1950, in Tecumseh to August and Dorothy (Williams) Breckel. Philip was a 1968 graduate of Adrian High School. Philip served in the U.S. Air Force from 1968-1972, where he did a three-year tour of duty in Frankfort, Germany. He was involved in the Civil Air Patrol and Boy Scout Troop 32 of Birdsall. Philip retired from the Ford Motor Co. Saline plant, in February 2004.
In addition to his mother, he is survived by his brothers, Steven Breckel of Phoenix, Ariz., and Allen Breckel and his wife, Kathryn, of Adrian; a sister, Carol Tesch and her husband, Tim, of Adrian; nieces and nephews, Jennifer Breckel of Antioch, Calif., Kayla Breckel of Phoenix, Ariz., Katie and Christopher Breckel, Amy Watson and Gwen Elliott, all of Adrian; two great-nieces and one great-nephew. He was preceded in death by his father, August H. Breckel, Jr.; and a sister, Linda J. Kruse.
Funeral services will be held on Saturday, March 26, 2005, at 1 p.m. at the Anderson Funeral Home in Adrian with Pastor Daryl Etheridge officiating. Burial will take place at Brookside Cemetery in Tecumseh, with full military rites conducted by the Tecumseh American Legion Post #34 and the Tecumseh VFW Post #4187. Visitation will be held on Friday from 2-4 and 6-8 p.m. at the Anderson Funeral Home.
Memorial contributions may be made to the American Heart Association or the charity of the donor’s choice. Envelopes are available at the Anderson Funeral Home.
12 February 2005
So Jim’s post about scrolling up for more is even funnier than you thought.
Jim and I work at the same company, which is a strange thing to mention because we don’t actually work together — he’s Finance, I’m Ops — but that’s how I know Jim. He came up to me one day and told me sotto voce that he understood I had a blog. One mixes weblogs and work very carefully.
Quick aside: some time later I heard him use ‘kitbashed’ to refer to a spreadsheet, a term which was greeted with some skepticism from our co-workers. I backed him up and assured them that not only was it a valid term, but that they were the odd ones for not knowing it. I mean, who doesn’t know about kitbashes?
Unfortunately, I may have used some or all of the following phrases in my defense which probably didn’t help either: Star Trek, Wolf 359, Best of Both Worlds, Dan Curry. I had the best intentions?
So, because Jim and I talk about anything but work at work (Battlestar Galactica, BitTorrent, Firefox, spy blimps), one day he asked me why my site is backwards from everyone else’s. There was a reason, of course — since the posts are anchored on monthly pages, it makes more sense to order those pages in forward chronological order. That way, you can start at a given point and read forward. (And if I was going to order the months that way, I may as well put the category pages in that order too.) If you wanted the latest entry, you could jump to it directly and then work your way up to see what came before it.
It makes sense, honest.
Jim doggedly pursued my reasoning and pointed out that on most pages (of any sort) you read down, not up, and that on a weblog you want to see the new stuff first. I persisted that when reading large numbers of posts, or posts spread out over long periods of time (as my infrequent readers often do), it’s easier to start at a given point and read forwards, down the page, month after month. Reverse chronology would mean they’d start at the end of a month and go down to the beginning, which spoils the flow of the story. C’mon - you already know what happens next!
Obviously, I thought Jim had a point, as that night I added the most recent entries — in reverse order — to the index. But the month and category pages I left alone, because it makes sense to me that way. (The category pages lasted until I tried to find something new in the Home Network category and I had to wait for the whole page to load. I flipped the order around without too much regret after that.) So even though I conceeded the point, you still have to scroll up to see more on this site.
And that’s why Jim’s post is even funnier than you thought.
My very good friend Claire recognized my need as an expectant father and sent me to the The Baby Name Voyager. I firmly believe that Java may make the decision easier. Or it may suck up several hours of my night tonight. We’ll see.
10 February 2005
We were having a nice quiet evening in the living room when Merrystar looked up and said:
I couldn’t very well argue that point.
9 February 2005
I’m now wandering between all three of our DC area offices, so I bit the bullet and got a universal (voice, fax, cell) number to follow me about. It’s on my contact page.
Now I just need to update my traffic page for all three commutes…
19 January 2005
Ugh. What a day.
Record-setting commute today; beat my previous worst by a full hour and a half. (The previous worst was Halloween, 2001.) Five and a half hours in the car today! For a 12 mile trip! Huzzah!
- 25 minutes, trip in. (Very pretty swirling snow, not sticking.)
- 1 hour, attempt to go home before snow hit. (Heavy snow, fruitless effort, stuck on hill, dodged sliding trucks, retreated to relative safety of office.)
- 4 hours, 10 minutes, trip home. (Fading snow to ice, six conference calls.)
There was little to no traffic this morning, except on the Key Bridge into Georgetown, and the snow was lightly blowing around. It was really pretty. I should know better. Things that look pretty in nature are dangerous. The next time I see snow like that, I’ll remember today. And work from home.
(In other news, I’m starting to feel almost human again, though Merrystar is bearing the brunt of the office cold right now. I got her chicken soup and chocolate cake tonight. Separately, of course.)
17 January 2005
Fever broke sometime in the wee hours of this morning; I won’t say I’m feeling better, per se, but I’m no longer shivering and sweating at the same time.
Dumb colds. At least I sound terrible, too - if you’re going to go through the trouble of being sick, at least get sympathy for it.
So we spent yesterday confirming that the baby industry is much like the wedding industry, with more attention paid to safety; purchased a crib, car seat, and rocking chair. Of course, only the car seat was in stock; the crib will take 12-16 weeks to special order, and the rocking chair padding will be 4-8 weeks.
Yes, that’s right, the crib will arrive at the same time as the baby. Shop early! Shop often! Sheesh.
Ever hear of JIT inventory? Yeah. Go tell babys’r’us or buybuybaby.
I shouldn’t be this grouchy about inventory systems. Probably time for another nap.
15 January 2005
I appear to have caught the annual office cold. Last night I didn’t last very long, and 11 hours of sleep later, I have no voice, am still draining, and am as pale as a sheet.
The stress at work this past week has been amazingly high: multiple projects launching, or trying to launch, or needing to launch but not launching. I lost my temper yesterday morning, which was both a good and bad sign: good because it’s better to express anger than hold it in, bad because I’m normally very calm at work. Add that on top of a frantic week, with a fantasically stressful client call on Friday afternoon, and I should have know I’d be knocked out this 3-day weekend.
Ugh. I hate being sick on the weekends. Especially 3-day weekends.
1 December 2004
I’ve got some Gmail invites — anyone want one?
3 November 2004
A conversation at work demanded I take the Geek Test. I scored 50.88757%, or Super Geek.
My only consolation is that history will eviscerate this presidency for what it has done, and what it will do.
It’s not much of a consolation, but I will take what I can get today.
1 November 2004
Updated: email stats. I’m still getting too much spam into my inbox (due to recent upgrades of SpamAssassin), but I hope things stabilize in November as the bayes filters retrain themselves.
19 October 2004
Wow! Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars was fantastic! I didn’t watch the show when it was on - stupid me - but this really grabbed me and drew me in. (Tears were shed.) If only Star Trek could return to this level of storytelling!
15 October 2004
I learned my lesson from last time and accompanied Merrystar to the doctor today so as not to miss anything else. And aside from the poking and prodding of my wife (which I’ll get used to, really), I got to hear the coolest sound ever: the wooshing of my baby’s heartbeat.
Whoosh whoosh whoosh whoosh whoosh.
Wow. This is so cool.
12 October 2004
Belatedly updated: email stats.
The inbox stats are still polluted because of
spamd problems. I made some changes with the procmail recipies to start filtering possible spam (2-5 spam stars):
:0: * ^X-Spam-Level: \*\*+ possible-spam
(This goes after the rule that directs everything that’s been tagged (5+) into the spam folder. We’ll see if it makes a difference.)
1 October 2004
Happy day 11,000 to me!
17 September 2004
Merrystar went to the doctor today and brought back the first picture of our child. She saw the heartbeat blinking. I’m so excited!
This is at 7 weeks, 5 days - due on May 1.
We call him “Plus” because Merrystar’s dad started calling her “Merrystar Plus” and the name stuck.
9 September 2004
I’m in California this week (Huntington Beach today), helping to prepare for the wedding of my good friends Ryan and Sarah. A few items to note so far:
- Other people’s weddings are much more relaxing than one’s own.
- No matter how much I like the place, I should not move to California. Like Merrystar, I break out in spots all over my exposed skin when I go outside.
- Board shorts have absolutely no give in them whatsoever and should be avoided at all costs.
Tomorrow we head down to Carlsbad to start the real prep work: hanging lights, posting signs, getting food ready for the beach party, artfully obscuring rusty signs that might interfere with my photographs…
1 September 2004
Updated: email stats.
Total volume continues to rise, and spam hit 78% of the total volume. This figure unfortunately underestimates the true volume, as SpamAssassin stopped working on 8/31 and let through 20-40 messages. (I lost track while deleting them yesterday. Pity.)
- Accounts: 1%
- Inbox: 6%
- News: 11%
- Spam: 78%
- Tech Lists: 4%
23 August 2004
So that’s what it’s like to find out you’re going to be a father.
I can quite safely say that I’ve never experienced anything like it: surprise, elation, not so much fear — a lot of ‘wow.’ I had to stop from running out and telling everyone I met in the hall, spamming my contact list, and getting on the phone to my entire family. (The phone calls were tonight, after the second test confirmed the first.)
Two weeks ago, Merrystar and I took a trip to Montreal. Originally, I was just going to share some pictures from the trip. This news is so much better.
Here’s my favorite picture from that trip of my favorite model:
Wow. Wow. Wow.
Thank you, Jeff, for choosing a soundtrack to celebrate my 30th birthday; Slayer’s “Soundtrack of the Apocalypse” is really quite appropriate.
20 August 2004
Happy day 10958 of life to me!
(For those keeping score, it’s also day 671 of my marriage, each one better than the last.)
15 August 2004
Updated: YAH’s gas and repair logs.
5 August 2004
Updated: email stats. Total volume was up again in July, though spam is still down from May’s high of 75.8% of total volume. That may be due to increased activity in Tech Lists.
Accounts 1% Inbox 6% News 9% Spam 68% Tech List 16%
16 June 2004
Merrystar’s grandmother died this morning. My thoughts are with my father-in-law; he and I talked about his mother during our weekend projects.
No date has been set for the memorial service yet.
17 May 2004
My car was rear-ended by a service truck tonight on my way home from work. I had stopped at a red light, several cars back, and the truck decided that it was time to go. I’m a bit tender around the midsection (front and back), but YAH seems to be okay.
I’m really quite happy to be home now.
27 April 2004
I’ve got to conduct an interview later this week — time to brush up on the Guerrilla Guide to Interviewing:
First of all, the #1 cardinal criteria for getting hired at Fog Creek:
Gets Things Done.
That’s it. That’s all we’re looking for. Memorize that. Recite it to yourself before you go to bed every night. Our goal is to hire people with aptitude, not a particular skill set. Any skill set that people can bring to the job will be technologically obsolete in a couple of years, anyway, so it’s better to hire people that are going to be able to learn any new technology rather than people who happen to know SQL programming right this minute.
6 April 2004
Did our taxes this weekend.
- Time to do form 1040: 1 hour, 30 minutes.
- Time to do dividends: 4 hours, 45 minutes.
Apparently, we’re not the only ones with problems:
The new system for taxing dividends has caused serious disruptions for investors and accountants trying figure out which dividends qualify for lower tax rates. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants says it is the biggest headache facing their members this year.
“There’s a lot of people tearing their hair out,” said Tom Ochsenschlager, the organization’s vice president of taxation.
Congress last year cut taxes on some dividends paid by stocks and mutual funds. The change applied to dividends paid since January 2003. Taxes on certain dividends were lowered to no more than 15 percent.
Dividends that do not qualify for the lower rates can be taxed at regular income tax rates as high as 35 percent. Dividends still taxed at the higher rate include money distributed by preferred stocks, real estate investment trusts and some foreign companies.
26 March 2004
Illness + business travel = blank periods in log.
15 March 2004
4 webcam views from the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility:
- West image shows Subaru at left and the twin Kecks at right
- South image shows UH 24” at left and Mauna Loa at right
- Northwest image shows the IRTF entrance at right overlooking Kohala and Maui
- North image shows west entrance of IRTF building
Images update every 3 minutes during daylight hours
I really should know better.
I was booking a business trip out to San Jose and made the mistake of looking up Merrystar’s and my favorite vacation spot, The Chrysalis Inn:
I didn’t need a reminder of how much I don’t enjoy living in Washington D.C.. Not tonight.
Hey, remember this window seat?
14 March 2004
11 March 2004
4:45 this morning: woke up to discover that Merrystar was on page 650 of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Mumbled something and went back to sleep.
10 March 2004
I add a new entry to ~/input about once every week or three; sometimes I forget, or life gets hectic and I don’t have as much time to read as I would like, or I’m just rereading old books and don’t think they really qualify as new inputs. (Tolkien is somehow excepted from this rule; I’m not sure why.)
However, when I add two 600+ page novels on a weekday, it’s almost always means that I’ve just gotten very little or sleep, I didn’t talk to Merrystar very much last night (sorry love), and am seriously considering the benefits of crawling into a nice, dark hole and sleeping for ten hours instead of working.
Today is such a day.
What was I thinking, finishing off the last 200 pages of Harry Potter Book 4 and all of Book 5 (870 pages) last night?
Oh, that’s right. I was thinking how much more I enjoyed thinking about the story than thinking about work.
Fortunately, there aren’t any more books in the series (yet), and the ones I haven’t read (2 & 3) aren’t all that long.
18 February 2004
Updated: zoom zoom.
New: take a gander at DC’s traffic.
Route 4 / Suitland Parkway
13 February 2004
Her: “How about instead of dinner and cards for Valentines Day, I get you Stargate Season 4 and you get it for me too?”
Me: “Have I mentioned how much I love you?”
10 February 2004
25 January 2004
From Animal Planet this evening: Vital Ground.
13 January 2004
14 December 2003
Congratulations, you two!
8 December 2003
20 November 2003
Wow, this has been one fucking stress-filled day.
And to think, it’s only going to get better!
4 November 2003
I really wish the sun would settle down already and stop sending out flares.
(Weird things affect your domestic life when you’re an astronomer’s spouse.)
19 October 2003
13 October 2003
“It’s today!” said Piglet. “My favorite day,” said Pooh.
10 October 2003
Grandma was admitted to the hospital yesterday morning. She hasn’t been eating in over a month.
I think I’m becoming numb to the waiting. I used to hate it, but now there’s nothing to be done about it.
27 September 2003
The lawn has been cut.
26 September 2003
From the St. Petersburg Times:
MARKEY, JAMES F., 83, of Brooksville, died Saturday (Sept. 20, 2003) in Brooksville under the care of Hernando-Pasco Hospice. Born in Lansing, Mich., he came here 19 years ago. He was a retired electrical engineer and served in the Signal Corps of Engineers during World War II. He was a columnist with the Clover Leaf News. He was a member and player with the Organ and Music Club of Clover Leaf. He was a longtime member of the Motor City Chapter of the American Theater Organ Society. Survivors include a sister, Katherine Skala, Grand Junction, Colo.; two nieces, Lu Peters and Connie Breckel; and four nephews, Ted Breckel, Ralph Skala, Everett Skala and Ed Skala. National Cremation Society, Brooksville.
Also at Hernando Today.
24 September 2003
Yesterday’s morning commute: 2.5 hours.
This morning’s travel time: 1.25 hours.
Normal travel time: 25 minutes.
Distance travelled: 23.4 miles.
There are days I really hate this city.
22 September 2003
Made it through Isabel okay. Some seepage in the corner of the guestroom either due to saturated soil or horizontal rain coming through the hole where the cable runs into the house. Will have to investigate. Lost water on Friday, but got it back on Saturday. Still under boiling water edict. Ignoring boiling water edict, using bottled water.
Stress of last week led to bad head cold. Merrystar sent me to bed and I appear to be feeling somewhat better. Amazing miracle cure!
Uncle Jimmy passed away this weekend. Mom and Connie and Kelly were all there. His life was a good one. I just wish I’d known him better.
18 September 2003
This morning in the Washington Post:
For ingenuity, simplicity, reliability, inexpensiveness — for grace, even, and for the ability to give comfort in a howling storm — it is hard to beat the humble sandbag.
It is an object of engineering haiku. It is perfectly designed to fulfill its large purpose with a minimum of resources. After the sandbag’s centuries of service in humanity’s stalemate against rising tides and apocalyptic deluges, no one has thought of anything better. A small amount of effort yields big dividends. Who could put a price on dry basements in Brookland and Capitol Hill, dry Smithsonian museums on the Mall, dry boutiques in Annapolis and Alexandria — all fortified against Isabel today with sandbags?
Isabel will be my 2nd direct hit by a hurricane - Gloria in 1985 was my first, and there was a spate of tropical storms in Texas. And then there was also the typhoon in ‘88 in southern China.
17 September 2003
My grandfather had an operation last weekend to remove more cancerous growths, and now my great-uncle Jimmy is in the ICU and being moved to the hospice. Grandma has been sick and isn’t sleeping well. Merrystar’s Nana has had several heart attacks and minor strokes. Dad just got back from Florida, Mom is on her way.
I can’t believe I’m crying at work.
I can be such a silly git at times.
11 September 2003
In the spirit of the day, I began reading Bruce Schneier’s Beyond Fear: Thinking Sensibly About Security in an Uncertain World last night. (Predictably, I stayed up far too late reading. What was that note to self again?)
Halfway through it, I think it’s fantastic - instead of focusing on one aspect or type of security, it’s concerned with how to think about and evaluate security, safety, and risk. Well done. Go read it now.
10 September 2003
I always worry when one of my hobbies winds up in the news.
4 September 2003
… and I’m even less likely to become one after this afternoon:
Fans headed to the Washington Redskins’ season-opening game tonight will have to contend with more than just the traffic crush that comes with having a prime-time sporting event at FedEx Field and a star-studded concert on the Mall around the same time that thousands of rush-hour commuters are heading home.
At the 86,484-seat stadium in Landover, many will encounter new parking arrangements that confused and maddened some fans during the exhibition season.
Having lost 5,000 parking spaces at the former US Airways Arena, where a shopping center is under construction, the Redskins have rented about 5,800 spaces at a patchwork of office parks along McCormick and Apollo drives in Landover. Fans accustomed to paying for parking at the Jericho City of Praise church lot will also be redirected; those spots are reserved for season ticket holders.
That’s my parking lot they’re talking about - Inphonic is right off McCormick. At 4pm the place will turn into a zoo - there’s already talk that we won’t be able to come back after lunch.
Thank you, NFL.
2 September 2003
No weekend - no matter how relaxing - would be complete without home improvement projects. Merrystar painted the doors in the upstairs hall while I touched up the stairwell, attached the tall bookcase to the wall, and hung new cellular shades in the living room. The shades look much better than the venetian blinds, especially on the double windows - can’t wait to put up curtains in that room.
I am so glad that those doors are painted! The old trim looked orangey-purple next to the solid white trim.
Let’s see… Watched Two Towers this weekend. Still has inexplicable logistics (elves at Helms Deep in four days???) but overall still quite good. Return of the King looks excellent - no surprise there.
Went to IKEA (listening to ABBA on the way) at Merrystar’s suggestion that we get a billy with doors for the bedroom stereo/CD collection - assembled and installed that on Sunday. Works very well, looks nice. Why is it we keep coming back to the billy? Oh yeah, that’s right, because they’ve changed everything to be funky and lime green. I put my foot down at anything larger than a lime-green breadbox. Even then, I think I’ll put my foot down.
Found the first couch we both liked at Ethan Allen - but it’s twice as expensive as it should be (and that’s on sale). Found another couch at IKEA - but it comes in dark brown leather only, other colors not likely to arrive before 2004-2005. Everything else is too deep for Merrystar. We just want a shallow couch, people! Argh!
23 August 2003
Visited a new bookstore: The Book Bank. It’s pink. And wonderful.
Found: many nice treasures, including the Anchor Atlas of History (Vol II), which I’ve been seeking since 1995. Merrystar found even nicer books, but I don’t know all their titles.
21 August 2003
Go help Ryan move! Buy his old AD&D books!
20 August 2003
Tonight is my first Red Plate dinner. Hooray for me! I’ve never had a red plate dinner before.
2 May 2003
So: this morning. Headache, couldn’t breathe, bed kept moving (dumb trains), I got up.
Went to allergist. Arrived fifteen minutes early. Signed in. Filled out new paperwork.
Led to the back, where the nurse took my blood pressure (130/90), made me breathe into a tube, and then back to the waiting room.
Left at 9am, after finding I’d read EW twice.
Buzzed by four or five Blackhawk helicopters on the beltway. Ah, DC.
Got into work at 9:35.
Got call from Doctor at 9:40. Brief, cordial, she said she’s sorry. Will call in the prescriptions, would like me to stop taking Drixoral because it elevates my blood pressure and try Allegra instead.
Her: what’s your pharmacy’s phone number?
I: I don’t have it here.
Her: okay, well, call us back with it and I’ll call in those prescriptions.
Thank you, come again.
Called back. Busy.
Called back. Busy.
Called back. Busy.
Gave up, went to 10am meeting.
Thought, it’s only 10am? Oh dear.
This is going to be a long one.
17 April 2003
Updated: Car Mileage Summary.
After a discussion with my sister about my mileage log (I believe the term “obsessed” was tossed out at some point), I’d like to point out that I only track four metrics at each stop: date, odometer reading, gas pumped, cost of gas. These go into a little notebook I keep in my armrest, and then once a month or so I update the spreadsheet.
Now, if I turned it into an interactive SQL-based web application, that would be obsessive.
Of course, now that I say it, that sounds like a really good idea…
I am not obsessed with my car! Honest!
Mom just called: Grandpa has come out of surgery to have part of his jaw and teeth removed and is doing well. Way to go, Grandpa!
8 April 2003
In the midst of an already bad day (headache + stomache + bad day at work) I received the following email from my mom:
Please call me when you get a chance…Grandpa went to the oncologist today and found out that they did not get the cancer…it has spread and one of his teeth is black, indicating its spread. So after having several scans, they will do surgery. Don’t know yet how far up into the sinus they will go, but they will make a prosthesis to replace the jaw they remove. His next appt is the 15th so we will know surgery date then. Nancy, Lane, and Joe are there now.
Perspective is a wonderfully painful thing.
3 April 2003
This whole week I’ve been excited about this weekend. See, it’s springtime here in DC again, the cherry blossoms are out, it’s in the seventies (hard to believe we had snow last weekend); DC can really be nice in spring. So, my thoughts have turned towards my George Foreman grill and having some friends over for a multipurpose cookout on Saturday.
A multipurpose cookout? Why not just call it a BBQ and get it over with?
- I have a great respect for real BBQ, and since I’m not smoking my own meat, it’s not really a BBQ,
- A proposal my wife was on recently was accepted by the VLA, and no one has thrown her or her team a celebration yet,
- I have a lot of stuff to give away before the move and thought having people over would be a good way to do so, and
- When veggie burgers and grilled vegetables get put on the menu, it becomes less of a meatfest and more of a cookout.
- It’s my party, I’ll call it what I want.
So, where was I? Oh yes. I’ve been looking forward to this for the past few days, invited a few friends over, the usual stuff. Aside from the possibility of rain (which is now receeding), things looked smoky good.
At the same time, I’ve been looking forward to going down to Williamsburg this weekend to pick up my wedding album.
So I’m on the phone with Merrystar last night and explaining all about the menu and how I think we’ll still have it, and then I break in to how excited I am about going to get the album, and maybe we could stop at the outlet stores on the way down at Potomac Mills.
Suddenly it hits me: I’m planning two events, in two cities, for the same exact time.
“Did you know you went to bed at 4 am last night?” my wife asks me. I realize it’s a relevant question.
“Uh, no, I didn’t,” I reply, though that explains a heck of a lot, like why I thought I could be in two places at once.
Note to self #47082: check to see if social schedule requires advanced technology before issuing invitations.
1 March 2003
So, yesterday I ran across a cute piece on the horror of blimps, right? It was funny, I laughed, I posted it, I didn’t think much more about it.
I didn’t think much more about it until sometime late last night, when my wife woke me, urgently mumbling something.
“What?” I said, not understanding.
“marble maumsdli hay hwa!” she said in a tone that brooked no opposition.
I admit, I wasn’t very awake, but that tone certainly got my attention. “One more time.”
“There’s a man in our room!” she finally managed to get out.
That, of course, was the cue for my entire adrenal system to go into overload, activating the reptillian part of my brain designed for fight or flight. Out of the bed I leapt, ready to do battle! Show yourself, coward! Seeing no enemy in the room, I rushed into the bathroom, then the closets, then off to do a room-to-room search of the house.
Whoever he was, he would *not* escape.
By the time I’d finished the top floor, I remembered that Merrystar wasn’t really awake, so I slowed down. I checked the house for signs of entry, and then returned to bed.
“I’m really sorry,” she said.
“It’s okay, dear,” I replied, still shaking from the endocrine rush. “Go back to sleep.”
“Okay. I’m really sorry,” she mumbled, and went back to sleep.
I finally fell asleep thinking one must be careful what you post - you may end up reliving it soon thereafter. When your weblog spills over into the Big Room, bad things happen.
26 December 2002
Yesterday I called my grandparents to wish them a happy Christmas and best wishes for today. Today might be Boxing Day, but it’s also they day my grandfather starts his radiation treatment.
Have I mentioned that I hate waiting?
17 December 2002
The only reason I’ve ever really used IM clients has been for work; Trilogy was ICQ happy, Optimal used Lotus Sametime, and now Inphonic is AIM crazy. But ultimately I haven’t been a huge fan of any given IM client, mostly because they don’t let me talk to everyone I know. Email does.
I mean, look at how many different contacts I have to provide just to let you IM me:
Madness, I tell you.
My requirements are pretty straightforward. I don’t give a flying fig about all the special whizbangs or interfaces. I want a contact list. I want to see their status. I want to click on their name and send them a message. (Okay, I do want a whizbang - encrypt the message.) I want to view a log of past chats. And I don’t want to have to know what the other person is using. I want it seamless, and I want it all in one client.
Unreasonable, you say? Nonsense. I recently made the acquaintance of a new player in the IM game, Trillian, and finally breathed a sigh of relief. Here, at last, was what I was searching for. Interconnectivity between the five major protocols, and encryption to boot.
Take a look and give it a try.
13 December 2002
Crash, bang. “Oh, ow.”
That’s all I heard before I catapulted out of bed, fully awake. I don’t remember if she said anything else; I was moving before I could think. Then I was in her closet, pulling storage boxes off of her.
“It snapped when I fell. Oh, crap.”
My wife has asthma, just like me, so I know to not make her talk too much and let her concentrate on her breathing. Furious, she was holding her ankle in obvious pain. She was sweating, her skin turning ashen gray. I was scared. I didn’t know what had happened. I didn’t know how bad it was.
“Are you cold?” I asked while looking for blood. No blood. I’ve heard it joked that guys are simple in a crisis: look for the red stuff, stop the red stuff, then treat for shock. It’s not completely bad advice. I looked at my wife’s face again - the skin around her eyes was dark while the rest was not. Her lips had no color. Shock. Treat for shock, Brett - then see if it’s broken.
“I could use some water,” she said. Right. Task. Water is over there. Get water. Bring water. Clear away more stuff so she can stretch out the other leg, at least.
The minutes pass in a blur; I had gone to bed early and had just fallen asleep. Merrystar apologized, repeatedly. I told her to stop. She didn’t. I examined her ankle for obvious signs it was broken; too much swelling on the foot. Get ice. Apply ice. Elevate leg. Keep talking to her, don’t let her pass out.
A brief debate about the hospital ensues, ended by her comment, “I’m the one in shock. Do you really want me to make the decision?” I help her downstairs, just in case. We learn that Merrystar really can’t use me as a crutch - I’m ten inches taller than she is. I carry her to the couch. Ice, elevation. Her leg cramps. I yank the ice off and apply heat. Ice, then heat. It looks like bad, bad bruising, but nothing out of place. Some swelling. Merrystar keeps apologizing. I give up telling her to stop. We decide it’s not broken, or even sprained. Her toes wiggle. I get the space heater and a blanket when she gets cold. The terror and adrenaline fade. I’m exhausted again. I have to be up early, she knows it and keeps apologizing.
She’s able to go back upstairs on her own power. The shock has faded. It sinks in that it’s not life-threatening and no hospital will be involved tonight. We will see how it is in the morning. She gets ready for bed. I fall asleep, three hours after a crash and a bang, a slip and a fall.
5 December 2002
It’s a snow day (or at least a work-at-home day!)
Now if I can figure out how to work this stupid Outlook web client…
Snow snow snow snow snow!
Inches and inches of the stuff!
Of course my joy was quickly tempered by the sobering realization that I must drive through this stuff. With Washington DC drivers.
I miss snow days.
2 December 2002
More news about Grandpa: the scans show that his cancer hasn’t spread into his sinuses or throat. He begins radiation treatment very soon.
I just read an article in Wired about the effectiveness of prayer in treating illness. You should go take a look. When you’re done, please say a prayer for my grandfather.
25 November 2002
Grandpa has gone in for a CAT scan. Not much else to report: just a whole lot of waiting.
13 September 2002
25 August 2002
about being on an agressive round of antibiotics is the way it knocks your whole system down. Sure, it kills the infection, but it takes everything else with it. I’m not really complaining, mind you. I can regrow all the stuff I need. It just takes a bit of one’s energy. So this has been my to-do list for the past few days:
When one feels like this it’s less fun than it sounds. Ug.
24 April 2002
Evenings seem shorter on this coast than in Texas; I think it has to do with when prime time TV is scheduled. Even people who don’t watch TV are affected by the masses of people who do.
Merrystar thought I was a little nuts when I mentioned this, so I let it drop. Arguing the relativity of time with a physicist is a little like saying “I like to breathe air.”
We talked about wedding plans instead, since it seemed I could make more headway there. She had contacted the photographer down in Virginia Beach we’d met with and made arrangements; one major hurdle out of the way. Also looked at an online card/invitation designer that looked really good.
Two more boxes checked on the wedding to-do list; oh so many to go. Six months doesn’t seem nearly enough.
23 April 2002
At the beginning, what holds us back; the blank page, or the one with words?
There came a point where I had to start over.
Perhaps you know the point; something you’re associated with both repulses and fascinates you. You can’t stop looking at it, editing it, trying to make it work. It becomes something you detest, despise, denigrate; slowly, you stop hating it and hate yourself instead for staying with it. At some point - perhaps when your disgust with yourself becomes more important than your disgust with the thing - it’s too late. Time to reboot.
Perhaps you know the point; perhaps not. I hate to say it doesn’t matter if you do or not, but that’s because I don’t like being impolite to people, not because it does matter. It would be great, for the sake of understanding and politeness and civility and whatnot, if you knew what I was talking about, but if not, that’s okay too.
Regardless, I had reached that point with a something called a website and trying to fix it was too much to bear. Even thinking of it as something that needed fixing is symptomatic, I believe. It was’t broken per se - the pages loaded fine in most browsers, the layout was readable - but it wasn’t what I wanted for myself.
So I gave up, and started over. Does that make me a coward, or merely honest? I don’t know. I just flipped the switch in an automatic, thoughtless motion. The system isn’t working, so try rebooting.
Perhaps one shouldn’t dwell too long upon the thought that rebooting returns you to the very same system you just exited, without necessarily addressing the issues that kicked you out in the first place.
17 April 2002
As I was downloading pictures from Merrystar’s old digital camera, I came across this:
Doesn’t it look like one of those pictures taken from the ‘70s that was developed using those faulty chemicals that turned everything brown after a few years? All my childhood photographs are tan. The historian in me cries whenever he sees them, even though they match the old M&M colors.
2 March 2002
The past few weeks have turned into one protracted case of writer’s block. After all the effort to make this an easy-to-update process, and I’ve contributed a bunch of links. Woo hoo. Part of it has been real life: Merrystar’s hard drive crashed and I had to install a new one and rebuild her Windows partition, my Windows installation went haywire and had to be rebuilt, Linux isn’t cooperating with my internet connection, my laptop at work died, I killed two other computers at work…
Oh yeah, and there’s this rather significant life event to plan.
And the Olympics. Can’t forget those pesky Winter Olympics. Especially curling.
So part of it is quite easy to explain: writing is hard.
But part of it is because I feel that what I have to say isn’t interesting. I watch the signal-to-noise ratio drop on places like slashdot and I wonder where the hell all the content went. I read flamewars over separating design from content, wondering what the content feels about it all, where it went, and if it’s nice there.
Merrystar and I had an argument about that last one. Why should you use CSS if you design simply with the HTML 3 standards in mind, avoiding things like gratutious <FONT> tags? Assuming a small (under ten pages) site, if you kept your design simple to begin with, why spend the effort to change?
It’s like this creeping malaise has me in its grasp, saying “what you have to say is worthless, so sit down, shut up and fuck off.” The more I read, the more I watch, the less I talk.
I have become quiet and reserved. I don’t like it, not one bit.
24 January 2002
A lot of random items today.
- My previous rant about phones led me to go back and look for batteries on ebay - it was the NiMH batteries that died after two years of constant use. Well, they’re available for $10. This is much better than the $70 retail I had found.
After some consideration I decided to skip this generation of phones (the Nokia 8260 is nearly two years old), return to my old shiny phone and wait for another generation or two before getting a new one. Reduce, reuse, recycle.
And yes, I do feel sheepish for not having checked ebay before. Baaaaaa.
- I’ve been trying out Fog Creek Software’s CityDesk website content management system in the background. I set up a template similar to the low-bandwidth slashdot display and entered in these journal entries; having some FTP problems uploading to my host.
There are several features missing that I would really like, like timestamping and web entry. That and the cost of additional pages are keeping me a little hesitant to switch over, though I’m thinking of recommending it as a low-cost alternative to Lotus Notes for some of our clients. Last night I decided to stay with Slashdot for now.
- Finally got Mandrake 8.1 installed on my machine without hosing my Windows installation. Because my computer shipped with a Winmodem, I don’t have an internet connection yet - but I’ll fix that soon enough - knock on wood.
- The more I work with other programs, the more I come to dislike Lotus Notes’s interface and working with Domino. I’m not convinced when Lotus touts RNext as the answer to all my problems - I remember the R5 rollout. We’re still cleaning up from that mess.
- First warm day in a month or so here in Northern VA; nice to have a little bit of a break from the unremitting chill. I took a few minutes to walk outside and enjoy being away from my beige box.
- The new issue of Fudge Factor is out.
17 January 2002
Merrystar and I are off to Chicago this weekend for Grandma Texie’s memorial service. There will likely be snow.
Last night I kept thinking about something I’d read in Richard Manning’s Grassland where he describes the prarie as the place where motion is the most essential quality of survival; well, motion and high-capped teeth. As I fell asleep I kept seeing skyscrapers waving in the wind: giant stalks of grass telling me to move on.
I finally did it. Having purchased a new cell phone, I took the plunge and actually changed my cell phone number.
There was emotional trauma involved here. I’m not kidding. I was really attached to my 512 area code. It was more than just a phone number; for nearly a year, 512.632.6925 was my only address. I loved that number.
It’s always about gadgets with Steve.
Well, to be honest, it’s always about gadgets with me, too.
So now I’m trying to answer the question of what does one do with an old, barely-working cell phone? Does one:
- toss it in a drawer?
- use it as a stage prop?
- use it as an alarm?
- chuck it in the dryer?
- give it to the invading zombies?
I can recycle nearly all my old accessories, but what about the phone itself? Is it now just junk?
Suggestions gladly accepted.
11 January 2002
My maternal grandmother is dying.
She’s been sick for quite some time, and deteriorating rapidly over the past few months. This morning she stopped breathing, and even though the doctors resuscitated her, the end is very near. My mom is with her brother and sister in Chicago at her side.
I originally started this online journal because of the honest glimpses others gave of their own lives and the all-too-human conceit that maybe I too had something to say.
But honesty is hard. I haven’t written about my feelings: how much I hate my chosen profession, how frustrating I find my job, how sad I am at all the time I’ve wasted. Words seem so inadequate at expressing these feelings, so I remain quiet.
I play my cards close to my vest, I keep my temper under control, I remember that it’s easier to judge than it is to understand; I’m very good at staying silent. I’m so good at it that I have trouble talking about how I feel when I should, or when I want to. If I can’t remain quiet about the things that are truly important to me, I make jokes about them instead. But that’s just another way of staying silent.
It really bothers me now that I want to say something, I haven’t anything to say.
My family talked about Grandma Texie for nearly an hour at Christmas. I believe my only words were, “I’ll chime in when I have something to say.” I never did.
I had nothing to say then, but I do now.
Goodbye, Grandma Texie. I love you.
2 January 2002
If you’ve tried to call me in the last few weeks, you probably haven’t gotten ahold of me. Why? Because my cell phone is a piece of crap.
- I can’t get into my voicemail. At all. Even from land lines.
- I have a talk time of one minute before either:
- The battery goes ploink.
- The call goes ploink.
- Both go ploink.
- The buttons don’t work with the headset.
- It’s not sold in this country anymore, so getting a battery is more expensive than most phones now on the market.
- “We can’t fix that, we don’t sell that one anymore.”
My phone had a few screws loose, but it didn’t seem to affect anything so I used it for more than a year with it rattling about. I had them fixed when I was in Dallas. The guy returned the phone to me and said, “you must keep this in your pocket.”
“Yes, I do. How did you know?” I asked.
“The phone was full of lint,” he responded.
Apparently, the phone lint made my phone work, because it sure as hell isn’t working now. My phone must be like the Quantum Improbability Drive from Infocom’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Anyone else remember hunting for lint to make things work?
I should just throw this fucker into the dryer and forget about cool electric pheromones.
28 December 2001
I went to Dallas for the holiday and was amazed to discover a new highway (the George Bush Tollway) where no highway existed before. I was able to run up to Corinth to pick up Sarah for lunch in something like 20 minutes. When I went to school at North Texas, it took 45 minutes to get across the lake. That giant canyon they dug years ago is now a highway. Holy crap.
And the speeds at which everyone drives! I’m usually one of the fast drivers on the beltway doing 70 in the left lane. I couldn’t do 70 in the right lane of the Dallas North Tollway without blocking traffic! I was driving about with my father on Christmas Eve and we had a good laugh about getting passed while doing 80 in normal traffic.
Like father, like son?
17 December 2001
Merrystar’s adjusting to living with someone who can’t seem to stop asking questions like “are these idiots on the internet watching the same show I am?”, “is there any reason to drive 55 in the left lane of the Beltway, ever?”, and “will you marry me?”
(The answers are no, no, and yes.)
So Merrystar and I are engaged; I proposed this past Friday, she accepted, and there was much rejoicing. We have not set a date for the wedding yet, but I’ve been told there will be *no* Elvis in the ceremony.
Ah well. There’s always the reception.
Happy December, y’all.
30 November 2001
I’m currently helping Merrystar move from her apartment in Alexandria to our townhouse in Springfield. Her parents are coming up this weekend with a pickup to help us with the big things, and I was in there early today to let all the utilities guys in to turn things on.
The last time I moved it took a month to get the gas turned on, and two months for the phones to be straightened out. It’s strange to have everything taken care of before moving. It makes the lifting heavy boxes of books up and down stairs not too bad.
After about three weeks, my computer at home is finally rebuilt. I learned a few things:
- Upgrading Win98 to Win2000 will solve some of your problems. Because it feels guilty for having done so, it will introduce a host of additional problems to make up for it.
- Triple-boot systems, no matter how cool they are in concept, can be rather tricky to set up. This is especially true if 2/3rds of your system is written by Microsoft. Your hard drive may collapse under the boot weight.
- When your hard drive crashes, the period of panic is much shorter when all your data is on CDs you burned the week before.
- Lotus Notes is wonky no matter what OS you run. It is a fundamental axiom of this world.
So my apologies to all those to whom I owe email responses; they’re coming, honest. I’ve been restoring files from CD and should have my inbox back in the next day or two or three.
1 June 2001
What do you mean, that apartment is $1800 a month? It’s only got 600 square feet!
What do you mean, you charge me for a storage place with a huge freight elevator but not for having to haul it up to the second floor on delivery?
What do you mean, you have a 10 day delivery window?
Why does moving have to be so damn hard? Are our brains so wired to be habitual that we can’t uproot ourselves without all this trauma?
Or is the delusion that this should somehow be easy?
Yes, I’m making insane plans to throw my possessions into a big yellow truck, drive across the country, and toss them up two flights of stairs. Then I get to unpack.
Yes, I swore I would never move myself again. All I can say is that I swear a lot while moving.
However, and this is the good part, moving requires me to return to Texas: therefore I can return to Chuy’s. I’m sure the five months of east coast cookin’ has left my formerly-fireproofed tongue weak and soft, but I don’t care.
I’ll take a fire in my mouth over moving anyday.