|I first tried the _Ama Ebi_, or Sweet Shrimp. They were still completely raw, just like everything else on the plate. You pick one up, put it on your _hashi oki_, your "plate" so to speak, and rip the meat from it. Coil it up, pick it up with the chopsticks and eat! It really did live up to its name, a bit sweet on the tongue, nice feel. After you finish, you place the head/body skeleton on the side with the others, and then send it back to get deep fried. (More on that later)|
|Then Ann suggested I go for the _Maguro_, or Tuna, next. I tried two different types, a _Toro_ which is fatty, comes from the belly of the fish, and _Yellowfin_, which was less fatty, much redder, comes from I seem to remember the back. Both of them were good, I preferred the redder, less fatty variety, but I'd have both again. (Shown here with rice, although ours was just the meat)|
|After this, Ann suggested moving onto the _Hotate_, or raw scallops. Her serving suggestion was to take one of the lemon garnish and work some of the lemon juice out of it with my chopstick to flavor the scallop. I did, and it was OK. Not my favorite of the plate, in fact, I let the remaider of the scallops be split between Ann and Jim.|
|Then I tried the _Tai_, or Red Snapper, the _Hirame_, or Halibut, and the _Saba_, or Mackerel. All of them were OK, I was impressed with the variety of mouth feels, tastes, etc. Some of them were fishier than others, but I managed to like each one of them once I got a bit braver about using some of the garnish on my plate to moderate some of the fish taste.|| |
|Once we finished off the first plate, Jim ordered some Spicy Tuna Rolls and Ann ordered a Crunchy Roll. This was a pretty good dish. It consisted of a roll of rice containing shrimp tempura, cucumber, and spicy mayonnaise wrapped in _Masago_, or Smelt Roe. It was pretty good. First time I had Smelt Roe (eggs), they were really sweet in the mouth. Yum.|
I woke up this morning to sounds of birds calling in the forest behind my apartment. I hadn’t really noticed their absence over the winter, but when I heard them calling this morning I realized they had been missing all winter long. Welcome back!
Am I the only one who thinks it is one of the great cosmic jokes that snow is white, especially in the springtime?
I mean, it is white. A white color indicates that it is reflecting most of the light frequencies it receives. Doubtlessly, this includes any infrared heat energy.
Just what the poor snow needs in its quest to become water!
Only the real dirty snow, with lots of suspended black yukkiness gets to melt sooner. Why must snow consort with dirty dirt in order to melt quicker?
What a beautiful day today!
Got to take the bike out for a spin this morning. Identified a bunch of stuff I wanna get at the Bikemania Sale at Erik the Bikeman, also need to get the bike in for a general tune-up. There are a bunch of squeeks that weren’t there last fall!
Hopefully will be able to bike commute to work tomorrow…I’m kinda bummed since we lost our shower in the move. I’m definitely open to any ideas as to the best way to continue to commute in the absence of showering facilities. I’ll try it tomorrow and see how it works showering before I leave for work. I’ve read that getting rid of all the germs beforehand makes the situation a bit more managable at the end of the ride. Should also be aided that it shouldn’t be more than 50 degrees tomorrow morning on the ride in, should keep me cool.
I don’t know if I’m entering a new phase of my life or what. For the past few weeks I’ve had this feeling growing inside of me that some big change in my brain’s wiring was about to occur. With each passing day this feeling grows larger and fuller; even lackluster accomplishments like presenting “The Project” seem to fuel this feeling. I haven’t felt this energized to “create” for many, many years.
I can’t concentrate today.
I don’t know if it is the weather outside (absolutely beautiful for October 11th in Minnesnowta) or the weather inside my head (partly cloudy with a chance of showers at times) but I keep on thinking of the weirdest things. Flashbacks to dreams I’ve had, daydreams about future plans. What to do…
I guess I’ll just go back to trying to figure out the beast “The Project” has turned into. I give it identical input, I should get identical output, shouldn’t I? It IS a computer program! I’m guessing it is a timing issue somewhere, but those are notoriously difficult to track down when you’ve got five different things going on at once. (And this time I’m just talking about the code…not including the things in my head)
OK, so now I’ve moved back towards the other way. Only I know why.
For this brief bit while I’m on this side of the pendulum’s swing, the question which came to mind was about laughing.
Do we know why we laugh? I mean, people laugh when they are nervous, when they are happy, when something funny happens…I’ve even seen people laugh when they cry.
I’ve personally seen monkeys and other species laugh. Dolphins seem to laugh, although I don’t know if this is a trained behaviour or a natural one.
I’ve heard reports of elephants mourning their dead. Do they laugh, too?
Decided that I needed to try and lick this cold/strep once and for all and stayed home today. Really wouldn’t have helped to go into work anyways, as I can hardly talk. All weekend it fluxuated between getting better and getting worse, I finally broke down last night and took some Nyquil. Funny, I know some people who get knocked out by Nyquil, can hardly make it back to bed before they are deep in slumber. For me, it seems like a mere suggestion - I still had a bit more difficult time than usual falling asleep, and I woke up plenty over the course of the night.
So, today is to be spent resting, not speaking and reading Thoughts Without a Thinker: Psychotherapy from a Buddhist Perspective by Mark Epstein. It is an amazing book, and deserves an entry of its own after I complete it.
I went to bed too early last night I suspect. I was incredibly worn down, but I had these unusual dreams all night long. Not quite nightmares, but I could definitely see and hear that my subconscious was trying to explain something to my conscious. I know I left a lot of unfinished business up in my brain last night - I didn’t get to spend the normal time I do in reflection before drifting off to bed.
Spent most of the day today cleaning and picking up the place.
The highlight/biggest chore of the day was the 3.5 hours of work I performed in the kitchen area. As much as I love this apartment, the kitchen is always been a bother. It’s just simply too small. Coming from the Hudson house with its 650 sq. ft. kitchen the apartment’s 250 sq. ft. kitchen simply doesn’t have enough storage nor counter space to hold all of the kitchen gadgets I’ve accumulated over the years, nor enough counter surface to prepare a meal. Couple this with a dishwasher which rarely gets the dishes clean to my satisfaction and things end up piling up pretty quickly into a mess.
Still got a lot of work to do before November 21st, when I’m holding Thanksgiving here at the apartment. (I’ll have the party room, too, but since none of my family has seen the new pad I think it is only proper that I make this place presentable as well!) Still need to work my way through the clutter which is my living room/dining room area, sort through the 1000’s of photos/other memorabilia which came over in Twinkie from my parents’ house and decorate the blank walls a bit.
No lucid dreaming this morning - I woke up with a splitting headache. Must have been dehydrated or something.
Anyway, one of the most wonderful aspects of living in the particular apartment I do is my two sliding glass doors look out to a large wood. During the summer, the entire windowscape is filled with green leaves - as winter approaches the leaves change color, fall down and expose all the barren branches.
You might expect the beauty to disappear at this point until the snow visits us and everything turns white. While certainly the snow is a welcome relief from all the brown, the fun part of this time of year is watching Mr. and Mrs. Squirrel collecting everything they need for the upcoming winter months.
See, Mr. and Mrs. Squirrel live in the tree hollow right outside my apartment. I only see them in the summer when they make the trek down the tree trunk to visit the ground. However, in the fall, winter and early spring I see them jumping from tree branch to tree branch performing their daily chores (and hopefully playing a little at the same time).
This morning Mr. and Mrs. Squirrel were busy collecting leaves for their drey (another name for their nest) when they got a visit from Mr. and Mrs. Blue Jay, also frequent visitors to the trees outside my apartment windows. There was a bit of bickering back and forth - doubtlessly Mr. Blue Jay prbly forgot to bring the hot dish Mrs. Blue Jay made as a gift for Mr. and Mrs. Squirrel. Poor Mr. Blue Jay. They quickly left and Mr. and Mrs. Squirrel went back to their day.
Daylight Savings Time
has left us for the winter.
I miss end-day sun.
I got a late start this morning, but still managed to make it to the polling location, my local firestation, by 9am. I’ve voted at this location for the past two years; this was the biggest turnout I’ve ever seen. (Which makes sense, of course, since this is the first presidential election I’ve participated in while in this precinct) The city, thinking ahead, covered all the “No Parking” signs along the main road. But the cars even spilled onto the side street.
I walked inside, expecting a long line, but found only a tiny little line. As I stood in the line to get my ballot (which didn’t take longer than 2 minutes) I noticed 3 people over at the registration table. All of them were younger looking; I’m sure from the looks of things this was the first time they had voted. After I got my ballot I listened to the instructions (I’m sure as bored as I am having to repeat the instructions the exact same way all day long is even worse!) and walked over to my “booth”.
After voting both sides of the ballot, I walked over to the optical scan machine, slid in my ballot, got my sticker and walked off.
Was in and out (including marking the ballot for some 20-odd judgeships) in under 15 minutes.
Yesterday my mood reflected the weather: Overcast, sporadic showers, daily high reached in the morning.
Highlights of my day included:
I hope that my day today reflects the weather outside, too. Calm, cool and sunny.
Last Friday, the phrase of the day was, “Lemony Snickets”
Monday it was “Lab Work”
I’m pleased to announce the phrase of the day today is “Binomial Nomenclature”
Spread it far and wide. Announce it from the rooftops. Celebrate its wonderfulness.
A list of the weekend chores:
I totally accomplished nothing tonight (and have very little to show from the weekend) on my list.
I didn’t finish cleaning the pad.
I didn’t get my iPod resyncing correctly.
I didn’t get the Durand Family Turkey Day shopping done.
I didn’t get the kitchen cleaned.
I didn’t finish building Gumby/Pokey.
I didn’t get anymore words written for my Novel.
I did finish two loads of laundry…but there are at least 5 more loads yet to be done.
I did listen to a bunch of CDs and waste time playing Wings of Fury on my Apple IIe emulator.
Went into the dentist this morning to have my toothache looked at by a professional. I decided to go to the Park Dental in Edina; they had a cancellation so I grabbed a 10:00am appointment with Dr. Berg. I had gone to the Park Dental in Eagan for my crown, so I thought it would be handy to stay within the system so that my records would transfer over.
Got in, had to fill out all the new patient forms anyway. I’m guessing this is just a precaution, as I know they could access my old records so they could call me about the cancellation. (I hadn’t given them my phone number when making the original appointment) Mandy was the assistant who walked me back. A few x-rays later they had pinpointed the cause of my pain…had an infection inside the root of my #7 tooth had spread up and down my jaw and in the soft tissue. They were rather taken aback by how advanced the progress was considering the pain had only started yesterday around noon.
I’ve never really had a lot of dental work done…my teeth are generally in pretty good shape. I had one filling about 10 years ago, another couple of fillings about 4 years ago and then the crown on my rear molar 2.5 years ago. When I heard root canal I began to get a bit concerned…everyone seems to dread them, and considering my pain tolerance being so low I was worried what I had gotten myself into. Dr. Berg had really good chairside manner, explained what he was gonna do, showed me the x-rays and then added in a little humor to relax me a little. The worst pain was the novocain injections…after that it was just listening to the drill and hearing the file sliding against my tooth enamel.
After the root canal was done and the temporary filling in place I still had quite a bit of tenderness in my gums. Dr. Berg decided to slice open the gums to allow the infection to drain a little bit quicker. The taste was awful…luckily, Mandy was ready with her suction and got most of it out before it got too bad. I left with a bunch of gauze rolled up in my mouth where the incision had been made. I took the prescriptions over to Target, picked up some soup and waited for the prescription to be filled.
(Warning, vile details ahead)
On my way out to the car I began to shiver…mostly in my jaw, but my body began to shiver as well. I turned on the heat, warmed myself up and drove to work. Once I got to work, my shivering continued…I realized I needed to get some water and food in me ASAP.
I started telling my story to my coworkers; about how unexpected the root canal was while I cooked up my soup and drank a bunch of water. Got back to my desk, took a sip of the soup and put it to the side. It just didn’t taste right. I swallowed my painkillers and amoxicillin, tho, and tried to get to work.
Had a meeting at 1, which I forced to be moved when I couldn’t make it in this morning. I began preparing for the meeting…when all of a sudden I exploded. This awful brown liquid came shooting out of my mouth, all over the laptop and desk. When the second urge kicked in, I managed to grab the trashcan and direct it in there. Sadly, JManDoo and another coworker got first row tickets to this amazing display. This is the first time in my adult life I’ve thrown up…I hope it is the last time. I wiped down the laptop and desk, packed up and came home. On my way home, I called up the dentist and asked for an alternate antibiotic.
He wasn’t sure if it was an allergy to the antibiotic or if it was because I had swallowed so much blood and infectious material from the gum incision, but he thought getting a second antibiotic would be a good idea nonetheless. I came home, ended up napping for a few hours.
I’m hoping that the pain will subside as the good doctor told me it would over the next few days as the antibiotics kick in. Ouch.
I’m slowly getting better. Replacing gauze every few minutes is starting to get old, but I’d rather do that than taste that awful crap oozing out.
I think I eliminated the amoxicillin as the cause of the throwing up incident earlier, too, as I threw up again on my way to picking up my second type of antibiotics (and hadn’t taken the amoxicillin again since earlier). Managed to get the car pulled over to the side of the road just in time to jump out and let loose all over the road. Let people try and figure out what THAT puddle was from!
I’m gonna head to bed here shortly, as I think the need to replace the gauze has ceased for the time being. Hopefully the doc was right and I’ll be back on my feet happy go lucky tomorrow morning. Here’s hoping!
Woke up every four hours last night, took my vicodin, a glass of water and went back to sleep.
I haven’t been able to keep any food down for the past 2 days or so. I picked up some bananas on my way into work, been eating them here at my desk. So far, so good, they are staying down just fine. I feel a bit of energy returning, too. I’ll have to move up to something with more substance here this afternoon, try and get some food into me so I’m not dragging so much.
Swelling has gone down a good deal, but it is still there. Hopefully the antibiotics (which I’ve also been able to keep down) will help out in that department.
If 10 were perfectly normal, 1 was on my death bed, I’d put myself around a 4 today. (Which is up from a 2 yesterday afternoon)
Well, I made it through the night last night using only ibuprofen instead of the vicodin I had been using. Still not sleeping well, but I have been managing to keep food down and the rest of my digestive system is slowly working again.
I made the call at noon today that I was gonna go forward with the Durand Family Turkey Day tomorrow, so now I’ve got some catching up to do in that regard. Need to do the grocery shopping I was gonna do on Thursday night, get all the food stuffs, defrost the turkey, prepare the cranberry sauces and roux tonight. Then get to bed early so I can get up, brine the turkey and get everything going tomorrow so I can still make it to the movie in the morning while the turkey is cooking.
Be a hectic afternoon and evening, but I’ll be much happier tomorrow when everyone comes together and we get to celebrate together before we have to split up.
‘course, tomorrow night I’ll be busy packing for the trip, since I leave for that on Monday at 4pm. Seems like the weather will be beautiful down in Texas, can prbly get away with wearing shorts most of the time. (Much to the chagrin of my sister, I suspect, since it’ll be obvious I’m from up north when I’m walking around in shorts in 70 degree weather!)
I’ll be writing a bunch of journal entries as I have time and getting them up as soon as possible.
Finally made it back to work after feeling yukky most of Wednesday afternoon, out almost all of Thursday and half of Friday. We’ve got a new customer turning up on Wednesday night, which considering I was going to be gone after 3 today I knew we had to get sealed before the end of the day. Managed to squeeze in a quiet 30 minute lunch at Noodles with New Theresa which about my only downtime of the day. Otherwise, I moved from project component to project component making sure everything was lined up (or at least could be by the remaining staff after I left). Finally got out at 4, ran home, packed until 5 minutes before my parents arrived.
Got on the road around 5:15, out of town and traffic by 6, didn’t turn out too bad. We stopped for 45 minutes or so to have Famous Dave’s in Owatonna, otherwise we’ve been driving down I-35, the spinal column of America! The back of my dad’s 300M is absolutely perfect for me and my Dell laptop, just enough room to flip open the screen to just the right angle and everything works great. Indeed, I’m writing this (and all the backentries) from said position.
It’s great to finally have some downtime after the past 5 days or so. Either I was sick or completely running on adreniline and stress in order to accomplish something on time. As I told people from work…after the past few days, it might be nice to just throw on the headphones and stare out the window. Which is what I plan on doing next.
Woke up at 7:00 this morning. My sister and Davin would arrive at 7:30 to pick me up from the hotel so we could go to Central Market and pick up a bunch of items. We got to Central Market a bit earlier than we thought, since we took the George Bush Tollway out to Plano. After picking up some Starbucks, we headed over to it. It wasn’t quite what I thought it was gonna be. Listening to my sister and brother-in-law talk about it all the time it made it sound like a farmer’s market. This was just a gigantic supermarket.
Least that’s what I thought before I stepped inside. (I hadn’t looked at the website, which would have clarified things quite a bit, I suppose!) When you walk in you land in the produce department, like many supermarkets. But this really was like a farmer’s market inside. The produce department was unfinished, kept around 65 in order to ensure the produce remained fresh. The selection was huge - it really rivaled many of the farmer’s markets I’ve seen. Everything was properly presented, either on ice or room temp, cranberries floating in a “bog”, etc. You’d select your produce, put it in a bag, then walk over to one of many stations. At this station you’d put the produce on a scale, punch in the produce’s number and a sticker would print with all the price information on it.
You then moved into a gigantic butcher area, which rivaled any butcher’s shop. They not only offered ANY cut you wanted, they would steam your seafood selections for you while you finished shopping. Then you walk into a huge wine section with row upon row of fine wines and champagnes. Next up is a huge section of bulk dry goods, then a huge bakery with every type of bread I’ve ever seen (and many I hadn’t!) Top it off with your ethnic foodstuffs, spices, imported goods, florals…I could go on. It is an amazing concept - I can only hope we get one (or someone starts a similar concept) in the Twin Cities area soon.
We then headed back to their apartment, hung out, played a little XBox and read passages from “America: The Book” which I brought down since I saw it on their Christmas list and wanted to give them a little taste of it since I had picked it up a few weeks ago when it first came out. It was a huge hit…we all ended up reading a few pages aloud over the course of the day. Michelle and I checked into work, then my parents arrived and we started the tourism day.
We picked up lunch at Cheddar’s. I was excited…if you know me, you know how much I love Cheddar’s “Smashers”. My sister claimed to eat there all the time, ‘cept she had never heard of them. I didn’t believe it, but sure enough, it wasn’t on the menu down here. I’ve had it in the Rockford, IL, Ann Arbor, MI and Des Moines, IA locations…unbelievable. I managed to get a close second…a chicken tender platter with mashed potatoes and gravy for dipping sauce.
After the meal, we headed down to Dealy Plaza to visit the Sixth Floor Museum. It was a truly moving experience, which I’ll write more about later I think. We spent most of the afternoon there, even viewed the display on presidential TV advertising, which was upstairs on the 7th floor. I really enjoyed visiting such an important place; you could feel the grief still floating through the air 40 years after the fact.
We then scooted home, relaxed around the apartment while Davin did some cooking, I took care of a bit of work that cropped up on our way home and the family visited. We headed out to dinner at “On The Border” which was excellent chain Tex-Mex. Yum. After visiting some more back at the pad, my parents and I said our goodbyes for the evening and headed back to the hotel.
Quite the wonderful day. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, obviously, so the feast is the primary focus of the day. Hopefully we’ll get some gaming in as well…I have a feeling Trivial Pursuit is in our future! Yay!
We decided to sleep in this morning…but considering all three of us (my parents and myself) need to share one bathroom we still needed to get up at a semi-reasonable hour in order to get over to Michelle and Davin’s house around 11am. On our way over we stopped by Starbucks…my mom wanted coffee, and I like their “Iced Lemon Pound Cake”. A yummy treat.
We got over to the apartment and were greeted by a wonderful scent permeating the air. Davin had been cooking and preparing our Thanksgiving feast for hours…all kinds of wonderful smells were about, the ham was in the oven being glazed and bathed in various sugary substances. The turkey was still out on the patio being brined, snacks were out and we all began our day of grazing.
My mom and Davin are VERY into football; my dad and sister are into it as supporting spouses; so we flipped on the games and that filled up most of the attention in the room. I spent some time on my laptop, reading books, paying a bit of attention to the game and the conversation around me.
Around four we sat down to dinner (and told the Tivo to finish recording the afternoon game). We had a great meal - Davin did a wonderful job. The ham was especially well done; he had used the cola method of cooking it, combined with a glaze made from cherries, sugar, etc. It was soooo wonderful. The rest of the meal, including but not limited to the turkey, dressing and wild rice soup was excellent. On top of it all, it was made even better by the fact that Davin did all the heavy lifting/work…I just sat back and enjoyed the meal.
The rest of the night we cleaned up, visited, watched “The Bourne Identity” since I had forgotten I had seen it. (I had seen it…just missed parts of it for some strange reason) Around 11 my parents and I left - it was obvious that Michelle and Davin were beat.
I haven’t seen the sun for DAYS!
Where did it go? I’m guessing it is somewhere above all the fog, clouds and general uckiness outside.
Least if I don’t get the sun, I want snow on the ground! Seeing all the brown leafless trees above ground and the semi-green grass on the ground doesn’t help brighten things up at all, either!
*sings in his deepest Bing Crosby voice*
“I’m…dreaming…of a whiiiite Christmas”
Commenting has been restored. I will now return to eating my:
Chipotle Barbacoa Burrito
Be sure to keep the liquid nearby…that salsa gets hot after a while!
Today is the day I usually take off work each year to attack the shopping list.
I prefer to take a weekday off so I can enjoy all the shopping, rather than have to battle the even larger crowds on the weekend. (Not that I usually get it all done today…most of the time I end up battling the crowds on the weekend anyway. But getting a bunch of it done today certainly helps the sanity on the weekend.)
As an added bonus today, I’m going to meet Sneebish for coffee today. Haven’t seen her in real life for 8? years or so. Should be a good break in the middle of the shopping excursion.
Full steam ahead!
Melancholy today. Partly bored yielding to mostly confused as the day progresses.
…for a white Christmas.
In the meantime, I’ll be freezing my booty off!
Yes, that’s a HIGH of 0 on Thursday.
This last week has been a hectic one - not only have I not been keeping up my site but I’ve fallen woefully behind keeping up with everyone else’s blogs. Bloglines 920 articles that are unread. Ugh.
What’s been keeping me busy? Well, between finishing all the chores leading up to the holiday AND work-related projects coming to a head I have hardly had time to keep up with real-life communications.
For those of you wondering…this also means the home theater system mentioned previously has yet to be opened. Which is just as well…it will be more proper to open it up after I open up the rest of my gifts. Something about it being a Christmas gift just screams to me not to open it early.
I’ve got some really exciting presents I just can’t wait to give this year…but I must not write about them here. Least not yet. The receivers may find out what they are getting before they get it - which would be rather unfortunate from the surprise perspective.
There’s also some exciting things in store for Damon’s Daemon in the new year. Right now, the first feature will be starting Feb 1. My mind is already a flutter (in its spare time) thinking about the wonderful things I’m gonna try to write. Hopefully I’m gonna get close to the NaNoWriMo total of 50,000 words.
Now I lay me down to sleep. Got a lot to do tomorrow, even tho I thiink most of my retail shopping visits are over after the grand tour I made tonight. Whew! Smooth sailin’ from here.
Well, it is the day after Christmas morning. The apartment is filled with evidence of the recent holiday. On the one side, I’ve got piles of wrapping paper, tissue paper, shirt boxes, price tags and tape. On the other side, I’ve got my home theater system, boxes filled with all the booty from the Christmas gifting.
Usually, being the good geek I am, I have to take off the day after Christmas from work in order to play with all my new toys. This year I’ve got a natural day off in order to do just that!
So, away with the pre-Christmas preparatory wrapping paraphernalia!
In with the treasure!
The only reasons I left my apartment, from 00:00:00 01/01/05 until my departure for work this morning, were related to obtaining food stuffs.
I had visitors. I slept. I ate my “Holiday” Fruity Pebbles, which I got on sale for a buck a box at Cub Foods on New Year’s Eve. I watched a little TV. I read. I spent hours updating, cleaning up and resyncing my iPod back to my central music library. I lost at Trivial Pursuit, this time to only one opponent. I listened to lots of music. I made amends with some, reconnected with others and generally feel like I’m entering the year on solid footing.
Welcome to the 2005 rollercoaster of life. Hang on for the ride; keep your hands, feet and other objects inside the vehicle at all times. If you feel dizzy or overwhelemed, close your eyes; the feeling will pass with time.
One more quote…then I swear I’m done! Quoteth Mr. T:
“I love it when a plan comes togetha!”
I think we all loved it today. “The Project” proved itself to be every bit as valuable and extensible as I designed it to be, and it handled its first real-world challenge with only minor coding changes. (I might bump up the version to 1.0 just to celebrate!) The mad ninja code I wrote in a matter of three days (including a complete rewrite because of a silly Microsoft undocumented feature) plugged in beautifully - and with the rewrite it ended up working even more elegantly than I had originally thought possible. In the end, the customer project was finished only 3 hours late (3pm instead of noon) but we still got it done today thanks to some last minute scrambling by JManDoo and I. (Truth be told…not that we need excuses, mind you, but I should point out that we lost 3 hours yesterday because of some Fishwall issues…so we really came out right on time!)
It felt good to see everything working like we had planned…even moreso after we were told in no uncertain terms by “people who know” that what we wanted to do was impossible. IMPOSSIBLE Muahahahah!
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!
I don’t think I’ve seen this much fluffy snow fall so far this year here in the great state of Minne-snow-ta. It is so wonderful to see everything all white and pristine…makes all the bitterly cold temperatures worthwhile when you get soft snowfall like today. I feel like throwing on the snowpants, running outside and making a snowman. I wonder if it is sticky enough snow to make snowballs? Might have to test that out tonight as people leave work…heheheh.
I got 3.5 hours of sleep last night ‘cause of work-related issues.
Gimme a break, k?
In other news, I’m very happy that 89.3 / The Current / KCMP has been continuing its strong performance. My iPod use has been cut dramatically while driving, for sure. (I may even be able to part with it long enough in order to get its battery replaced) Not all of the music is my favorite, but the variety is perfect. I actually get the feeling that a higher intelligence (rather than computer) is mixing up the tracks. Last night I heard a Soul Coughing tune (a live Casiontone Nation) spun right before a Madvillain track (Money Folder). The two worked perfectly together…woot!
As I mentioned in the previous post, I’ve been working quite a bit more than I’m used to as of late. Therefore, I took today off from work to let my mind rest a bit.
Last month was incredibly busy at work. I knew most of it was coming - yes, I even knew that considering the stress I’d be under I’d prbly get sick, too. (I did, of course) Nevertheless, it was exhilarating to participate in such a huge project at work, seeing everyone put in the effort that they needed to in order for things to go off with hardly a hitch. We changed almost everything over the course of the previous month; almost every customer was affected. To have only one customer encounter a major issue with the change is quite a testament to the skills and hours everyone contributed to make it a success.
The rest of life has been pluggin’ along as well. The biggest surprise involved a change in the management here at my apartment building. Mary, who’s been here for over 4 years, moved next door to me just before Christmas. It was a mixed blessing - it was wonderful to know I had a responsible tenant next door to me after the previous two were so horrible. Then for Christmas I get a new surround sound system and I then I worry about disturbing her!
All of a sudden, in the middle of the second week in February, I leave my apartment to head off to work and there are 4-5 movers carrying things out of Mary’s apartment! I peer inside, see no one moving about and begin to wonder. On my drive out of the parking lot to work, I notice a huge moving van in the circle with “Northfield” written all over it. “The manager is moving out?” I say to myself incredulously.
I keep an eye out for Mary in the office, only to be disappointed time and time again. I begin to wonder if she had passed away or something similar, since it was all so sudden. Eventually I catch a glimpse of her working in the office, but that then makes even less sense. Finally, nearly 3 weeks later, just before the end of the month, posters go up inviting everyone to her going away party.
Come to find out, she bought a place down in Northfield a few months ago. She advised the management company she was moving, gave plenty of notice and thought they would make some kind of announcement to the residents about her leaving. She didn’t tell anyone in the meantime, hoping that it would be a smoother transition. When her final day approached and there was still no announcement, she took it upon herself to let all of the residents know what was going on, still not knowing who would be replacing her. She’ll be missed, for sure.
Today’s agenda has three things on it:
Seems like a good list of things to do on a day off, doesn’t it?
The previous post sat in draft state since Monday, jamming up the portion of my brain responsible for blog updates. I knew I had to get it out there, and nothing else pending wasprocessed until I got that status toggled to “Publish”. So, an update on the previous week:
That’s not everything (my life isn’t THAT dull and boring!), but it is the stuff I found blogworthy over the past week.
The 2005 Facial Hair Experiment is Over
Bloomington, Minnesota (PRSOURCE) March 23, 2005 - With a pull of the razor, Damon Durand’s accumulated facial hair was removed this past weekend. “I haven’t looked back,” Damon exclaimed today in an interview.
Reviews and polls were mixed during the two-week trial - most people responded that Mr. Durand looked good with facial hair, but they also indicated that he looked good without it, too. Among those that expressed a preference, only 15% of respondents indicated Mr. Durand looked better with the manicured facial hair growth.
“Considering the upkeep and my facial hair’s ability to capture bits of almost everything that came in contact with my mouth, I thought it best my facial hair and I parted ways,” Mr. Durand explained at a press conference.
For those still interested, Mr. Durand advises that they can still tune into OfficeCam most Thursdays and Fridays - most weeks he lets his facial hair grow unchecked. “Most weeks I let it grow out during the week,” Mr. Durand explained, “cause frankly, even daily or semi-daily shaving just seems to be too much work that early in the morning!”
3pm, Mostly Cloudy, 64 degrees!
I left for work this morning driving my Beetle. I didn’t even make it a block down the road before I turned back, unlocked Twinkie and drove it into work instead. Windows all open, breeze running through my thinning hair, the wind causing the sleeve of my shirt to flutter.
Absolutely beautiful day…ahhhhh.
Welcome spring…I can’t wait to get the bike lubed up and hit the pavement. woot!
The last item deserves a bit of comment, I think. It is so wonderful to see the business finally get turned around…and wonderful to see our corporate leadership (CEO, the Board) not only recognize their own contributions, but realize the role every employee played in the accomplishment. From very large projects which save us hundreds of thousands of dollars, to the little efforts like making sure all the lights are turned off when on one is around (“Hey, you’re spending MY profit sharing on those unused lights!”) we all performed together to bring in a great year.
So, for all the reasons above and more, I am in a celebratory mood. I forecast many Oreos and Northwood’s Creme Sodas this weekend…
4 days to go until the 30 mile Ironman Bike Ride!
Since I started the biking season last Thursday, I’ve biked as often as I could (considering we’ve had quite a bit of rain as of late). I started with a 17-mile day last week, followed by another 17-mile day Friday. (Friday also saw my odometer roll over 1100 miles as well!) Monday, I took a wonderful ride on the way home past the video store to drop off a movie, which brought me all around the construction going on around Highway 169 and a 12.5-mile day. Finally, today I broke 20 miles between the commute into work this morning and a nice tour around Normandale Lake and Hyland Park Reserve this evening.
More than 66 miles so far? I think that’s a great start…and I should be able to squeeze in some riding over the next few days as well.
I also stopped by Erik The Bikeman last night and went over a bunch of stuff. I brought in my Arkel Briefcase Pannier and explained to them how difficult it was to pedal properly when your feet are so big. (My foot hits the bag if I pedal on the ball of my foot, so I often pedal from the arch, a big no-no!) I think we decided the best approach was a front wheel rack, which it looks like they can order for a reasonable charge. My pannier will then hang off of the side of the front wheel instead of the back, which the bike guy assured me would take me only a few blocks to get used to once it was installed. Getting my pannier out of the way also lets me think about picking up some clipless pedals, which is something on my list for this year.
In addition, I complained to the guy about the difficulty I was having getting a comfortable riding position this year. It might just be that I’m pushing myself harder than I normally do at the beginning of the season, but this year I definitely don’t feel as comfortable in the saddle as I have done previously. He suggested I take the plunge and get myself a good pair of biking shorts to replace the cotton shorts I predominantly wear while biking which have seams in the wrong places, no padding, etc. I chose a pair of Mt. Borah Mens Baggy Shorts which I wore today much to the relief of my booty bones. :)
Weather is looking up for Sunday…I’m excited, it will be great to get a 30-mile in this early in the season. Speaking of weather, I have dumped AccuWeather after their horrible site redesign and have switched back to Weather Channel. Weather.com not only offers a spyware-free desktop weather applet, but you can customize the information depending on your needs. My Weather.com profile is setup to not only give me one-click access to hourly weather (important when you’re trying to figure out when the rain will really arrive) but it gives me a wealth of information such as sundown, daylight left, humidity, clothing suggestions, etc, which is perfect for an outdoor fitness enthusiast like myself.
There are tiny snowflakes falling here in Eden Prairie right now.
None of them are sticking, of course…but, I mean, WTF?, mate! Here we are, days away from May 1st, and we still have snow?
I’ll do a full write-up tomorrow…but I agree with much of what I’ve heard from critics and the few fans that got a sneak peek alike…this is, certainly, the most exciting and fun Star Wars movie of the most recent 3 episodes.
It was a great show. I’m no huge Star Wars fan, (unlike my Bro-In-Law, who wrote up this thoughts here), but I do plan on seeing this one again. ‘specially on the ultra, Ultra, ULTRASCREEN! Heh heh heh…
Tonight was the first game of the inaugural season of WAKA Kickball here in the state of Minnesota…and the City of Lakes, Minneapolis specifically. I had signed up a few weeks ago and had been waiting with great anticipation ever since.
WAKA, or the World Adult Kickball Association, has been around since 1998 and has been spreading around the US ever since. Our division, the MN Twin Cities Division has 6 teams, all averaging around 18 players. We play over on the soccer fields near Lake Calhoun, which makes for a beautiful setting and easy access for me via the bike routes if I ever chose to commute to the game via bike. Our season is 8 weeks long, plus a playoff event afterwards. You can find me/us at both 6:30pm and 7:15pm each Thursday night. I was assigned to the “Lake Minnetonka Purifiers” team, headed by a veteran player from one of the many DC divisions. (The league started, and is particularly popular, in the DC/Virgina area as you can see on this page over at the WAKA site which lists all the divisions)
I got to Lake Calhoun Park a bit early, which was perfect since I got to see the previous game between the “Uncle Rico Raiders” and the “Sexy Ball Kickers”. It looked like everyone was having great fun playing…and I was eager to get out onto the field, if for no other reason but to get a better chance of getting blown by some wind to keep the gnats away.
As the first game wound down, our team gathered together and did introductions. We got our official team jerseys and picked out our starting positions. (We’re the white team, which means I’ll be giving Era a workout this season in an attempt to keep the t-shirt nice and clean!) Soon we were walking over to the playing field and prepared for play.
After the referees read a standard rule and disclaimer, a game of rock/paper/scissors was used to decide who would kick first and who would field first. We won the toss and chose to kick first. Our kicking order was decided in rough alphabetical order, which placed me, the left fielder, second in the line-up between our center fielder and pitcher. Jason, the center fielder, kicked a single, and I kicked a single as well. Now we were rollin’!
We went through the first two innings with hardly any scoring pressure. I think we were all trying to establish our bearings after not playing for 10, 15 or 20 years. It wasn’t until the third inning that our batting order choice finally clicked in just the right way. We scored 9 runs in the top of the third, unanswered by our opponents when they were up to kick. In the fourth inning, we picked up an additional 3 runs and limited our opponents to 2 points in the bottom of the inning. The fifth inning was scoreless on both counts, leaving us with a point in our “Wins” column with a final score of 12 to 2.
On the defensive side, I only dropped two fly balls; otherwise, I think I must have caught 5 or so fly balls during the course of the game. In one particular case, I lunged forward to catch the ball as I ran up to catch it right behind the third baseman and felt it slip through my hands. I did manage to deflect it under my body, came down hard on it but had it wrapped up underneath me. I heard my teammates yell for me to send it to second, so I rolled off to my side, located second base and threw it over leaving just enough time for the second baseman to catch the ball and tag the runner.
After the game, we went over to the Uptown Bar and Cafe, the league bar and tossed back a few drinks over conversation. They have certainly got the best hot dogs I’ve had in a long time…and at $3.50 for a hot dog and a cold Grain Belt the price was certainly right, too.
Of course, now I’m paying for all the crazy plays, moves and lunges I performed over the course of the game, but it was so totally worth it. I enjoyed every last minute of the game…the team I’m on has great chemistry right out of the gate, and I really loved getting to play kickball again after all these years. I had forgotten how wonderful it was to play - all of the excitement of reaching home plate, watching that pop-up just drop right in the pocket gaining our team a base hit (kick).
Well, the old adage, “Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should” certainly applies to me today.
Sure, getting to tell stories of great diving catches, lunges back towards a base after an overrun and bringing home the first game in the “Wins” column were quite ego-boosting, walking around like a crippled old man wasn’t all that great!
My muscles aren’t sore…I think I have my biking to thank for that. However, the impact of a bike ride is nothing compared to running full speed towards a base, only letting up at the last minute and having all 300+ pounds of me push down on my legs when I try to stop on a dime. It feels like each of my joints are crying out in pain today!
In other news, the Twin Cities WAKA League photos from Week 1 were posted today. Frustraiting you can’t download full resolution photos from the gallery site, but they did manage to catch quite a few great shots (including some of yours truly, as you’ll see below!)
The second week of WAKA kickball was a promising outing. My team, the Lake Minnetonka Purifiers, was hot off a 12-2 blowout of the Number One Spot team from game 1. Our captain, Joshua, would finally be joining us after finishing his finals at school. All of our team would be in attendance (we only had 11 of the 17 people on the team at the first game). The outlook was incredibly hopeful.
As you might guess from above setup, this week’s game against the Godless Whores did not go as well as our first outing. We managed to pull in 5 runs, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the 6 runs the GW’s brought in. Disappointing, to be sure, but luckily we’ve got many more games yet to play during which we’ll be able to prove our unmatched kickball prowess…
A few months ago, I audited the contents of my iPod, Janine, against my collection of CDs and pulled out all of the CDs that needed to be reripped to complete the complete digitization of my CD library. I finally got down a few weeks ago to working my way through the CDs yet to be imported and watched my music library grow in size as I imported them into iTunes.
I knew it was going to be close…but with 50+ CDs left to go, Janine finally complained she had all that she could handle. The entire 40GB had been filled up at 8399 MP3s. (I rip my tunes using LAME with —alt-present standard which usually yields a 170kbps to 210kbps VBR file)
I managed to fit everything I had my using the “Only update checked songs” option in iTunes and unchecking the Holiday music and old podcasts. However, if I’m gonna squeeze in the remainder of my collection I’ll need to get the ratings in order so that I can sync based on ratings, which to me seems the best option at this point. I’ve already got a headstart on this…I’ve rated most of the music I’ve ever listened to, but there are many, many tracks I imported in my mass ripping efforts that hadn’t been listened to yet, and thus, doesn’t have a rating.
I finally drifted off to sleep last night around 2am. As my eyelids began to droop, I got to watch quite the show outside as the winds and rain battered the outside the apartment window. Lightning all over, trees being whipped back and forth by the wind, it was all there.
I wake up around 6:30am. I can’t read the clock…not all that unusual in the morning, due to the light coming in the window glaring off its display. Walk over to the bathroom…the light doesn’t work! Sure ‘nuff, the entire apartment is out. I checked the only wall-powered mechanical clock I have in the apartment, on the stove, and find out the power went out shortly before 4:00am. To eliminate the possibility that the power issue was contained within the apartment (circuit breakers, etc) I opened the door to the hallway…yup, only the bright red EXIT sign illuminated the hallway.
I felt so off balance yesterday when the servers were down. No personal email, no blog, no shell access. I missed 10 or so emails over the course of the day…the senders only knew my personal address and/or website. Considering that both of these were down until 4pm when they finally restored power at home, I didn’t get the message until nearly the end of the work day when email finally came trickling back into the servers.
Amazing how reliant one can become on their technology.
Circumstances at work yesterday required me to man our booth at the NAMB 2005 National Convention here in Minneapolis at the convention center. I ended up going in the place of our Director of Operations. As you might imagine, I was none too pleased with this outcome…but I came to grips with my lot in life and off to the convention I went.
After a bit of time in the booth, things get old quickly. So, I told my coworkers I was going to go look around at the other booths and made my way over to “Aisle 100” and started walking up and down the aisles. Being a vendor at the show and having only limited cargo capacity, I judiciously chose which chotchkies I picked up as I walked from booth to booth. I saw some amazing products…there really is quite a bit of domain expertise in the mortgage space, and a lot of it was on display as I walked the show.
As I’m walking the show, I notice a bunch of people in an obviously confused state over at the big Ellie Mae booth. They were trying to get the buttons Ellie Mae was giving away to flash. I stopped to contribute my problem solving skills to the situation…eventually we figured out that the light would start flashing once you clasp the pin portion of the button, completing the circuit. I pinned the badge on my chest, with the little LED flashing away, and continued to walk the show.
The next aisle over I had noticed a neat little giveaway that I figured I could use as an iPod holder here at work. I approached the booth, and out of nowhere, completely unexpected, I hear this shout from behind, “You’re our first winner!” I turn around and there are three representatives from Ellie Mae. I’m sure they saw the confusion on my face…I found out the explanation for the situation as they pointed to my Ellie Mae badge which I had put on minutes earlier. They invited me back to their booth and we proceeded back.
I still had no idea what I had won at this point…as we walk up to the booth I see a sign posted above the container I had fished my flashing light button out from earlier…
Be seen wearing this badge, win a Sony PSP!
My heart skipped a beat, I’m sure. I’d never really considered buying a $250 portable gaming system, since I’m not really a big computer gamer, but getting one free was certain exciting! I shook the VP’s hand and posed for the picture as he handed me my PSP, smiling from ear to ear. I spent a short bit of time discussing with one of their salespeople the issues we had run into when we tried to get Encompass to run in our environment, found out they were hosting the product themselves (with the same code fixes we thought would be necessary to make it cost-effective) and walked back to our booth, grinning, still a bit in disbelief over what I had just been given!
I’ll write more about my new PSP later on…suffice to say, today was unexpectedly a great day!
Last night, with the mere flip of a power toggle, IAI’s IT systems ceased operations.[Who's IAI, you might ask? More info on the history of IAI and my history with them below the fold]
Fifth Third had been slow to replace the IT operations of Paladin/IAI after the acquisition - the staff had continued to use many of the same systems they had beforehand. As systems were replaced, things were turned down, but the “core” of the Novell, Microsoft NT and Lotus Notes networks continued to operate. Last night, after one final replication off the Notes server to a spare workstation, all three networks ceased operations. Servers were turned down, UPS power turned off, cables unpatched and cleaned up.
Together we pulled out all the KVM units, at least 100 network cables, 8 phone lines, and 8 or 9 leftover server chassis. We had a chance to tell stories, stack up all the leftover equipment, even took a moment to admire the hack job we performed on move weekend years ago to finish the wiring job the electrician didn’t do in order to get the UPS up by SOB Monday morning. Mike Anderson had the honor of turning off THOR and ZEUS, the main Novell and Microsoft NT servers, respectively, and I turned off the UPS power. Thus was the end of the IAI IT Infrastructure.
It is fitting, tho, that there is going to be an IAI reunion party next month. Perfect timing? I certainly think so! In the lead up to the party I’ll be writing a bunch of nostalgic pieces about IAI…there are so many stories I was reminded of last night that I’ve never put down into words.
Although I think all two readers of this blog wished me a happy birthday already, I’ll make note of my 29th birthday here for posterity in case future cockroach archeologists dig up this blog after the nuclear holocaust.
My official birthday (it sounds like it may stretch out into a weekend-long celebration) was wonderful.
I worked today, but that didn’t mean that any fun was lost! JManDoo and his wife made me a cake, while I received many candy gifts from other co-workers as well. Lunch took the form of an outing to the Chic-fil-a Express down at the U of M, which was just as yummy as always. I shared my cake around the office, turned on the celebratory lights and put the finishing touches on a project that had been sitting on my plate for way too long.
My kickball games are always on Thursday night…tonight was no different. Even tho the temperatures at game time were over 95, both my parents and Kelly came to the game. My parents, besides bringing big “Happy Birthday” balloons to tie to their chairs, also brought little party-favor squirt guns for everyone on my team (I got a huge super soaker since, well, it was MY birthday!) Considering the temperature, the party favors were the perfect choice, since when not shooting each other they could be used to cool oneself down a bit!
The Lake Minnetonka Purifiers brought home an absolute victory over “Your Team Sucks”, which was absolutely the best gift the kickball team could have given me for my birthday! At the bar following the game, I also managed to avenge my team captain’s loss a few weeks ago to one of the black-shirted “Your Team Sucks” members in a 1-on-1 2-cup Flip Cup deathmatch. Even better!
Birthday with the family is on Saturday…stay tuned!
Earlier today, I rode the 50-mile Tour of Saints bike ride. The Tour of Saints describes itself as “not a race…a heavenly little ride.” It has both a 35-mile and a 50-mile course winding in and around the towns near Collegeville. My favorite part of the ride is that you didn’t need to decide which route you are going to take until mile 31. Considering that I had never ridden more than 34 miles or so in a single day, this option was a welcome part of the tour…I’ve always wanted to attempt a longer course, but my confidence wasn’t quite there to choose it right out of the gate.
I know I haven’t written in almost a week. Gosh…it isn’t like I haven’t been doing anything noteworthy…nor is it that I’ve had no time to update. Guess I’ve just lazy…oh well, just to catch everyone up.
Did stuff the rest of the week, too. However, as the week went on my allergies got worse and worse again…meaning things slowed down quite a bit as I coasted into the weekend. Dunno if I’ve got two allergies, one that struck earlier in the season and then another right now, or if it is something constantly there and I’m doing something else to bring it on. Wash the sheets, hermitically seal the apartment and start dropping allergy meds like they are going out of style. No messing around this time, tho…if more than a few days go by with no relief, I’m off to the doc to get this officially diagnosed and treated.
The culmination of a three-part series on my clipless pedals/shoes buying experience…it was just too much info for one post!
Last week, as you might have read here, was one of those weeks where biking just didn’t work out. When I did finally have some time over the weekend, I ended up trying to move from one air-conditioned space to another, avoiding the pollen floating around in the air.
Meanwhile, Erik The Bikeman has had my shoes and clipless pedals waiting for me to head over, pick ‘em up and get ‘em installed. For those of you who don’t remember, my Grandpa gave me my choice of pedals and shoes for my birthday. I had ordered everything almost 3 weeks ago…but just as the shoes came in, Erik’s started up their summer sale…and while I appreciate the prices during their sales events, the service is lackluster due to the large quantity of people vying for the attention of the salespeople. I wanted to have a nice relaxed time getting the pedals installed, getting the most out of the wonderful service Dave B. at the Eden Prairie location usually provides. I’ve never had clipless pedals before…I knew I’d need as much help as I could get!
So, tonight was the night. Tomorrow and Wednesday I’m busy with non-biking activities, and Thursday I’m supposed to pick up a ride with Kate. Biking over after work, get the pedals installed, absorb the training and tips Dave would offer and then take a nice ride back home to get used to it before Thursday.
Work’s been, frankly, work the last few days. Haven’t had much time to work on the answer to world peace…with activities both Tuesday and Wednesday I was really looking forward to tonight, another exploratory trip around Minneapolis with Kate. Be good to get out, show my allergies who’s boss and get my second chance to try out the new pedal system.
Yesterday in the office…
Worker A: (to Worker B) “I’ll get that to you in a minute.”
Worker B: (shouting) “55…50…45…40…”
Worker C: (interrupts) “You know, I don’t think the entire office wants to know how long you can last when trying to satisfy your woman”
Hopefully, the upcoming weekend will be a relaxing time. Another visit to the State Fair…and I’d really like to do some biking, too. We’ll have to wait and see if the ankle continues to be happy before I’d do anything, tho. I’d rather err on the side of caution, since I don’t want to miss the 30-mile Saint Paul Bike Classic next weekend.
I’ve calmed down quite a bit since my last post. The irritation was easy to put out of mind once I got to sleep…how, you might ask? Well, yesterday I spent all day in a meeting with some board members, last night playing trivia at Leaning Tower of Pizza again, this morning on a sales call, this afternoon in meetings, and finally got to do some real work the last hour or so of the day, which hit a milestone in an ongoing project that had stalled with all the distractions of the few days.
After all that, I gave myself the treat of a bike ride and Totino’s Party Pizza for dinner.
There were other happy events over the past few days, too. I had to wear pants for the first time since April 15th or so for the sales call this morning. After going through all the pairs of pants I had, the pair that fit the best was still about 4 inches too big around the waist. Even tho I haven’t seen any drop on the scale most of the summer, at least it means I’ve dropped those inches. Yay!
It’s been 2 weeks since I last wrote…what have I been up to?
There’s more, but those are other entries…
Things have finally calmed down, whew!
Monday night I took one complete night for myself. Cooked up some party pizzas, listened to music, did a crossword puzzle, read a bit, napped a bit. Absolutely beautiful in contrast to the hectic schedule I had kept up for the past few weeks. Tuesday, I biked to/from work, even tho the ride home at 11pm was absolutely bone chilling. Tonight was dinner at Buca and some computer shopping with a friend, very relaxed.
Ah, but Damon’s relaxation doesn’t make for good reading you say? Well, lemme tell you about this past weekend then…
A thousand pardons to everyone out there who cares to review, on a regular basis, this little corner of cyberspace.
Work has been crazy, and I mean CRAZY, busy.
Over the past month or so, I’ve had almost no social life outside of work. Working late almost every night - even had to work a few hours this past weekend. Trying to make a deadline that was unreasonable, but I knew I had to make it nonetheless, otherwise the next few months would be boring. (‘cause no one announces new products in December!)
Luckily, as of 7:30 last night, my crazy assignment has finally been turned down from a rolling boil to a simmer. This happened just in time, as tonight was my Mom’s birthday celebration at Kincaid’s. Not only would I never miss my Mom’s birthday celebration, but I’d never miss a meal at Kincaid’s, either!
Now that the meal is over, I finally had some time to get around to bringing three items out of draft, and there will be a few entries I’ll be writing over this weekend. Hopefully, they will include installing the new Gumby server into production. That’s what I’m working on now. ‘course, considering that it has sat here languishing in the server stack near my desk for most of the past month, I now need to upgrade things before I can even contemplate putting it into production. Oh well, might as well test the upgrade process before I put it into production, right?
As I left work today, my walk to the car was accompanied by the first snow I’ve seen since last winter. It doesn’t sound like we’ll be getting the massive snowfall they first predicted, but the fluffiness falling down was a wonderful sight…the reward I’ve been waiting to see since the sun started cutting its daily visits short.
Wow, I’ve only posted 4 times since November 1st. What’s wrong with me? Has my life become that boring?
Yes, in many ways I suppose. Been busy working on a huge project at work…been taking up the vast majority of my time. A few weeks over the past month-and-a-half I’ve been only at home to sleep, shower and dress.
There have been a few highlights of the past few weeks, tho. The project referred to above is quickly coming together, I’m nearly done handing over the project to our operations group, letting me move on to other things. Thanksgiving went wonderfully with everyone together, the turkey turned out perfect, the rest of the food was equally delicious. Continued good luck at Pub Trivia nights, even took a second place after a bitter triple-elimination following a three-way tie for first. Went to the Barenaked Ladies Holiday concert, along with everyone I know…least it seemed that way. Got Gumby/Pokey installed finally this past weekend…which is why you’re seeing a new style here. Still need to tweak it, add the menu back, get the rest of my pages fixed, but it will do for now.
There have been a few lows as well. My Beetle ended up needing to make a visit to the car doctors at Westside VW. The oil pressure light began flashing whenever it was running faster than idle…the cause was a clogged oil pickup tube. A couple hundred for the diagnosis and fix…but I can’t complain too much, only have 2 more payments left, then the car is completely mine. I figure for 2-3 months worth of payments I can restore my good ‘ol Beetle back into a decent shape, ready for another 50k miles or more.
For a reason I won’t disclose here, I ended up having very limited time this weekend to get some of my “Shopping To-Do’s” done. Luckily, all of the projects on my plate at work have reached milestones, allowing me to escape for my annual “Day of Shopping”. I enjoy taking off a day in the middle of the week, shortly before Christmas, to not only finish off some last minute shopping, but take some time to people-watch as they scurry around trying to finish off their shopping. I’ve done it each of the past 3 years, although I remember doing it selectively, on and off, for at least 10.
Today was a non-event, really. Slept in, combed through my list a few times, checked on the delivery status of all my online orders and then hit the road. As has often been the case, I drive up to Albertville, work my way through the outlet shops, then follow Interstate 94 back towards the cities. There’s an amazing variety of shops along that 40 mile stretch of road…and since you usually end up driving back towards town at the same time everyone else is trying to head out of town after their workdays, traffic is rarely a problem. (Try it sometime…I doubt you can find a more relaxed day of shopping anywhere else with more variety)
Today was the last day of my 5-day extended holiday weekend. Tomorrow I go back to work - by the calendar a “short” week, but, in actuality, it will be a very long, intense 3 days of work getting a new project out the door and into our customer’s hands. We’ve been working on this for more than 3 months now; it will be nice to see the fruits of everyone’s labors coming to fruition.
The weekend was go, go, go, with multiple Christmas parties and other family events taking up almost every last moment. I loved it. Sure, a few times it got tiring, or frustrating, or complicated, but all in all a wonderful weekend. In the gift department, I took in all kinds of wonderful prizes, some things I wished for, some things I didn’t even know I wanted. Got to play with many of the new toys today…what else is an extra vacation day like today good for? ☺ (OK, so I shopped the malls and then came home for a nice nap, too…but playing was foremost on the agenda!)
Every year the Saint Cloud State Student Radio Station, KVSC, organizes a 50-hour long trivia contest. I had wanted to play for the past 4-5 years…only I’d realize this when I heard the winners announced every year. This year, I got to join the team “Learned Pigs and Fireproof Women” since Kate, my biking buddy, has been a member of the team for years. They run an amazing organization, have a great playbook (which I’ve been sworn to secrecy not to reveal!) with all kinds of great strategies proved over their many, many years of playing the trivia game. I had been looking forward to the contest for over 8 months since I first met Kate and found out she played…
6 hours after I arrive home with the first carload from the Trivia weekend teardown, I awaken; to find out I had overslept. (Gosh, what are the odds of that, operating on 7 hours of sleep over the weekend!?) I rush to unload the front seat up to my apartment, drop off all 10 monitors at work and then head back up to Saint Cloud to collect everything else. When I pull in, everyone knew I was in a hurry to make the flight, so they all chipped in, helped load me up and within 15 minutes, I was leaving the PigPen again with a full car. I drop off a bunch of stuff at Kelly’s house, pick up her and her bags, then sprint back down to the cities. A quick repacking once I arrived home (less than 10 minutes) and my coworker, Theresa, picks us up and delivers us to the airport with almost exactly an hour to check-in, check our bags, pass security and rush down to the gate. Of course, one of our bags is overweight, so we had to move stuff around, only delaying our progress.
The true sign of managing your job at work, at least to me, is that when I’m gone on vacation I don’t come back to piles of work that built-up while I was on vacation. Otherwise, vacation time is really just “delay time”. I was generally pleased, other than a few projects/tasks I knew were going to be waiting for me once I got back, I wasn’t deluged. Of course, that didn’t mean that the first week back would be a cakewalk. Nope, of course, a huge proposal needs to be sent off by the end of the week, tying up a huge portion of my days (and some nights).
Things haven’t really slowed down since then, underscored by the fact that on the night of February 28th, as if it was February’s way of giving me a send-off, I end up going out after work for an absolutely wonderful dinner, only to be called back to work at 10pm. Working until 4:30am the next morning, and having to be back into the office by 9am, it certainly was a long final day of the month. Made me wish I could create a leap-year-on-demand!
Somewhat fitting, as I was sitting at work tonight (late, but not nearly as 5am late as Tuesday night/Wednesday morning) helping a customer out with some data migration work.
“You have an unusual understanding of the problems of others.”
‘course, I’d like to think it is just as applicable in my personal dealings as my professional life. I wonder what they mean by “unusual”, tho…hrm.
A wonderfully productive weekend.
Just what I needed, for sure. Felt so good to wake up and not worry about parrying around items littering the floor in order to make it to the bathroom! Now I just have to get training…less than 8 weeks until the Ironman ride…and this year I’m going for 62 miles _(over last year’s 30 miles).
It’s been a busy few weeks, to say the least. Sure, last weekend I did a bunch of chores and found some good time to relax, but first thing Monday morning I was thrust back, neck-deep, into my professional life.
I didn’t get to leave for lunch until nearly 1pm today…only to find out it was a great day outside. High of 50 or so, the slightest breeze, sunny sky as far as the eye could see. Got back to work around 2pm…by 3pm, I realized that my heart just wasn’t into working anymore. I couldn’t concentrate; everything seemed to be blending into one gigantic task.
What’s a guy to do? I packed up my laptop, grabbed the nearest blank sheet of paper, wrote “Gone Biking”, propped it up on my desk and took off. Got a good feel for the temperature on the way home, threw on some warmer biking clothes, inflated the tires and headed out.
Before I knew it, I was down the big hill on East Bush Lake and proceeded along my “normal” route, around Lake Normandale, down Normandale Blvd, across on Old Shakopee. I was thwarted on my attempt to take the trails in Hyland Park Reserve, so I turned back out to the street, over to Bush Lake Road, then back up East Bush Lake Road to the apartment. 10.5 miles in almost exactly an hour’s time. Sure, not the speediest run, but that wasn’t the point - it was just to get out there and see what I still had left in me (and my legs) after a winter kept me indoors.
I’m thinking the 62-mile Ironman ride is within my grasp this year, which would be a great start to the season. 55 days to get myself there…even with all the spring weather, I’m sure I can do it. Last year I did 30 on the ride, and I started more than a month later.
I took off early from work on Thursday to go biking, rode to/from work on Friday (4 miles each way) and went out for a ride this morning. I left off 2005 with 1737 miles on the ol’ bike odometer…after these past 3 days, it now reads 1768 miles. Sure, it is messier on the roads this time of year, least compared to when I started the 2005 biking season, April 14th. However, I’ve got a goal in mind (doing the 62-mile Ironman) and a little more than a month to prepare for it, so I don’t care. Time to bike!
For Christmas this year, my parents gave me the gift of a Garmin eTrex Vista C, along with a bike mount. I wanted to bring a bit more of an analytical slant to my biking and a GPS seemed like a great tool. In my search for analytical software, I came across the hosted service, MotionBased. MotionBased offers you an opportunity of uploading your tracklogs and then it performs all kinds of analysis against it and offers you the results right through your web browser.
I’ve been waiting every since Christmas to try this setup out, so on Friday morning I mounted the GPS to my bike and used it to track my commutes to/from work. Both times, I completely misunderstood the GPS setup directions and recorded absolutely nothing of any use.
Finally, during my ride today, I finally got the hang of it and got a great tracklog of my recorded route. I uploaded it to MotionBased; you can see the overview they put together below. If you click through to the website, they offer all kinds of great ways to look at the data, from comparing your elevation/speed, comparing it against the weather, to a SVG-enabled method of watching your progress visually, like a movie.
You know those studies that claim that the more optimistic you are, the less likely you are to get sick? Well, I’m often held up as the poster boy around work. I’m hardly ever sick…and when I do get sick, my body usually forces me to bed early and the next morning I’m up and ready to go.
Evidently, I must have been really pessimistic sometime in the past week, or this must be one helluva bug. In either event, I felt the throat tickling on Friday night, by 3pm on Saturday I’m fully loaded on Nyquil (the real Pseudoephedrine kind, not the wimpy Phenylephrine formula) and popping Luden’s like they are going out of style. Nose blowing commenced shortly thereafter, then the deep cough and then the inevitable runny nose. Sunday night I’m beginning to feel better, but after a night filled with more awake time than sleepytime, I gave into the cold’s power and called into work sick today.
Having nothing better to do, my mind came to a few revelations today…
Now that all the work associated with this year’s KVSC Trivia Contest is behind me, it has been a busy week getting back into life. Trivia takes quite a toll, weeks of preparation, multiple trips up to Saint Cloud, weekends consumed with setup, nights consumed with computer imaging/building. That’s all over now…
‘course, coming back to work on Tuesday, I spent the first day and a half just getting caught up with everything that happened while I was gone. (I was gone for 2.5 days, keep in mind, but at the speed we’re moving chasing new business that was like 2.5 weeks) Carbon Leaf concert on Tuesday night, which rocked as always, then all the excitement over Valentine’s Day on Wednesday. Tonight I worked late, finishing up a project, then came home and finished my self-review around 11pm. (It was due at midnight)
This weekend? Sister’s birthday celebrations, need to go test ride the two options for my new recumbent bike, some much needed laundry and rest, I think. The chances that each of those will really happen? 100% on the first, 60% on the second, 50% on the third, 10% on the fourth.
Aren’t we Minnesotans supposed to stay inside, huddled around the TV during the winter months, only to emerge once the world thaws out? How can I be so busy!?!?
According to my MotionBased account history, I haven’t gone for a ride on my bike since August 8th, 2006. I got caught up in moving to the new pad, and before I knew it winter was upon us and the bike was put away. Work and a number of other things got in the way, too, but knowing how much I miss it I’ve determined that I’m going to try and get back into decent condition so I can attempt again the 62-mile, if not the 100-mile Ironman Bike Ride this year. I’ve got my work cut out for me, tho, based on my quick ride today. Today, about the same time as last year, I begin my path to Ironman…albeit with more of a whimper than a bang, as I just rode to/from work, but it was a start!
To anybody wondering, looks like everyone in the immediate circle of friends and family were safe from the bridge collapse. I almost said unaffected just now, only to realize there’s no one in the twin cities tonight that is unaffected by tonight tragedy. We’ve all driven over that bridge plenty of times, walked and biked under it many times, too. It could have been any of us.
To those that lost someone they care about tonight, my thoughts go out to you and your loved ones.
I’ve been really lame. I haven’t been updating this at all. Although life has been kinda run-of-the-mill, there are plenty of things I should have written about but didn’t. So, to catch things up…
All that, and our first “real” snowfall happened about a week ago, so everything is all nice and white.
Otherwise, I’ve been working too much, projects are piling up, what’s new there, eh? Soon Christmas will be here, then New Year, then the KVSC 50-Hour Trivia Contest. Maybe I’ll take the time to drop an update here about those? We can all wish, can’t we?
Happy Leap Day everyone!