Saturday, December 29, 2007
Friday, December 28, 2007
My dad spent Christmas Day fixing the brakes on their Tahoe. We took it for a drive to the lake, which is replete with curvy, hilly roads and amazingly beautiful scenery. It takes some confidence in your brake job to test it out on a boat ramp.
My New Year's Resolution involves very aggressive debt elimination. I'm so sick of paying more interest than my 401k earns. It doesn't make sense. I'm raising rents and paying down mortgage principle, rehabbing a now vacant property which is holding me back, and getting ready to start taking a healthy profit out of my real estate holdings and get more diversified. My goal by the end of the summer is to unload two or three houses and use the equity to pay cash at a foreclosure auction for an abode in Texas, since my career is pushing me in that direction. I'm not in a rush to move there, so why pay retail?
On the geek news front, a company in Switzerland has made an amphibious electric car and the darn thing doesn't even float. It doesn't have to; it's air tight. Check out Rinspeed's new submarine concept car named "sQuba". No emissions. Carbon nanotube body panels. James Bond cool!
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Even the office newsletter bears good news. It's going to be slow next week.
No visitors this week.
I took Monday and Wednesday off, Tuesday being Christmas Day. I'm glad to have some down time.
No hockey until Jan 6? I might develop withdrawal symptoms.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
The rink at the Carriage Club has a small parking lot full of very expensive cars on one end, and State Line Avenue at the other end. I've seen some near misses. I would hate to be driving up State Line Avenue and take a puck in the window, or worse, get a massive dent. There's not much traffic on that street during the late hour when we play, anyway. Shots that go over the glass on that end of the rink end up in Kansas. The pucks that go over the glass into the parking lot, so far, haven't inflicted any known damage.
Friday, December 14, 2007
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
In my net stumblings, I found robotkid.com. This guy finds strange videos, particularly music videos, and mixes them together using XOVOX video mixing/scratching software. It's like Sid & Marty Krofft meet DJ Icey. What a trip? I'm going to have strange dreams now. I digress. Just check out an example.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
The niece and nephew rode down to Oklahoma with me, and that's always fun. On these type of trips I get to listen to a lot of Radio Disney on Sirius, which is mostly vapid teeny bop music. The return trip was no fun. I got 30 minutes away and realized my backpack wasn't in the vehicle, so time was wasted returning for it. By the time we reached the higher altitude portion of our trip which goes over Big Cedar, a 2500 ft. ridge in Eastern Oklahoma, there was a soupy thick fog and one could scarcely see the brake lights of vehicles only a few car lengths ahead. After that, it rained and rained the whole way. We stopped at Fort Smith, Arkansas for dinner, and proceeded to Joplin where we stopped for a car sickness incident. . . in pouring rain with no service station in sight. By the time I recognized the problem, got the Jeep from 70 to 0, got out into the rain to grab a plastic bag out of the back, the one strapped in a child seat had coated herself and the seat. It had to be about 35 degrees. I did some minor clean-up, but in the name of comfort proceeded to the next truck stop to buy paper towels and wipes, use restrooms, get gas, change her clothes, and get going again. It was midnight-ish when we got home. It was 9 hours later.
So far this week, I've been playing catch-up at work, which is typical following a holiday, and I've worked out twice and played hockey twice. Tuesday night I was playing at the Carriage Club and it was my first outdoor hockey game. I look forward to more! Brisk is the word.
And now, you can vote for your favorite presidential candidate based solely on their cookie recipe. Some of these recipes look really good.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
I found that the grocery store now stocks these Omega-3 Eggs, which come from grass-fed, cage-free chickens which are fed flaxseed, so the eggs contain more Omega-3 fatty acids and 17% less cholesterol. And the eggs taste better than the regular Grade A Large eggs. I can vouch. Maybe I'll eat more eggs now. Life just keeps getting better.
I spent quite a bit of time outside this weekend, because the weather was amazing. I raked enough leaves to bury an SUV. Not that I tried, but I think the trees had more leaves, or they all dropped at the same time this year. There's also a very large pine tree in my back yard which is probably a goner. It has been gradually dying over the past couple of years, and only the very top is still green at all. The problem is that the safest direction to fell the thing is right on top of the fence, and right near my neighbor's storage shed. I think I have a few months before it's totally dead to figure out how to dispose of it. If the wind blows it down on the neighbor's shed, I hope she has her insurance premium paid up. When my other neighbor's tree crushed my shed, I got an insurance check to replace it. And I did. I wish the shed was about 40 feet closer to the house, though. I'd use it more. It's mostly just a garage for the lawnmower.
Today, while watching the Chiefs almost beat the Colts, I played in a poker tournament with a $100,000 prize pool. Out of 20,000 people, I came in about 5000th. I didn't play loose enough for 10 minute blind increases. You have to really gamble at that pace. The top 3000 got paid, and the prize for 1st was $17,000+. I learned to pay more attention to the tournament blind structure. I had won my way into it via a $2 satellite tournament in which I had won 1st place, so I wasn't out much money by losing. I missed a couple of draws, which really hurt my stack, then never got any cards after that. The blinds got me before I was in the money. 3000th place got $17. That would have been nice, considering I had only paid $2 to get into it. I had missed some opportunities by not playing looser early on, and missed some draws, which I should have folded to save the stack I had built up. Oh well, not my best, but the cards weren't helping.
I scored in our hockey game tonight, but we lost by a few points. One of our leading scorers hit the crossbar of the goal 3 times and hit the post twice. If he had shot those a few inches lower, we would have won. Most of my shots hit the goalie right in the pads. It's frustrating to get so many chances, and not get points onto the board (well, except one point). My hat's off to their goalie.
The "We Cheer for Beer" crew was cheering for us again. I hurried up to the bar to give them our free team pitcher after the game, because nobody on my team drinks after the game. Then, I stuck around while they cheered and beered for a team who has bought them seven pitchers so far this season. While there, some players on another team bought them two more pitchers, because they were terrified to have them cheering against them. That's my whole reasoning, too. I'd rather have them cheering FOR us than AGAINST us. Their cheers are crude, disheartening, and sometimes distracting. I'd rather be entertained by them than annoyed by them.
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Monday, Tuesday, Friday- Jeans
Wednesday & Thursday- BUSINESS CASUAL
You don't hear the word "y'all" in Kansas City very often. When somebody does "y'all" me, I do a double take.
Since my last post, I've visited Cocoa Beach and had a great crab cake sandwich at a Captain J's, a beachside bar near the Ron Jon Surf Shop, which I also patronized. That was Friday. It was a strange day to leave the frosty ground of Kansas City, sleep on the plane to Orlando, grab a rental car and arrive on a sunny beach about 45 minutes from the airport. Since there was a hurricane in the Atlantic, the surf was up. . . way up. I saw some 10 foot waves, at least. My intention was to learn to surf on this trip, but those waves were enormous, and the surfers who were out there really knew what they were doing.
Later, back in Orlando, we found the Boston Lobster Feast, an all-you-can-eat seafood buffet. I ate two lobsters and half my weight in crab legs and peel-n-eat shrimp. The next day, we hit Epcot Center, which takes almost half a day to explore, then quite a bit more time to enjoy the rides and restaurants. I think the kooky Ellen Degenerous Energy ride with multiple animatronic dinosaurs was the highlight, if not the least thrilling ride. Mission Space won in that category. We didn't brave the line for Test Track. 70 minutes of estimated wait time was too much of an investment of our limited time. We had a show to catch at Downtown Disney. La Nouba is better than your typical Cirque du Soliel show. I would argue that it's the best one, because it retains a circus feel, has triple the number of feats of human weirdness, and doesn't try too hard to be something else, like their Vegas shows (but the contortionist in the Zumanity show at New York New York takes the cake!). After the show, we hit the clubs at Pleasure Island, the clubby area of Downtown Disney. After a brief tour of clubs featuring bad music or rotating dance floors (or empty dance floors), we ended up a the retro disco club where the ratio of fun people was much greater. Serendipitously, I met up with a going away party for a lady who is moving to Kansas City. Tons of fun. Sunday, we went to the Magic Kingdom before the park opened and as soon as the rides opened, we hit the major ones in rapid succession before any long lines formed. We did Thunder Mountain, Space Mountain, The Haunted Mansion (fave), and the "It's a Small Hell" rides in the space of 90 minutes. In one boat ride, all seven levels of Hell are represented, and set to the same music, over and over and over. I did spend a minute staring at the Dumbo ride wondering why anyone would wait in a line for that, and less time than that staring at Splash Mountain thinking it would be a bad idea to get wet at 9am on a cool morning. We managed to catch our afternoon flight back to KC, and I still had time for a nap and my regular Sunday league hockey game. I spent most of Monday recovering.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
I noticed that the Ron Paul grass roots folks have put the message out to infiltrate the Republican National Convention by becoming elected delegates by any means necessary:
While on YouTube learning how to become a delegate by stealth and deception, I also found this video of some Germans testing their iron stomachs by doing 108 (I counted) flips on the whirl-a-puke ride.
Monday, October 22, 2007
At work, I've been busy being busy. Friday morning there was a protracted conference call and verbal holy war over how best to extend VLANs between two data centers for disaster recovery. After the call, I explained to Rakesh that I had stood my ground for taking advantage of our MPLS core to provide internet redundancy and told him I liked some of the Dallas engineers' ideas, but we need a way to test it. His eyes lit up and he said, "Let's build it!" He gestured to a cubicle which contains a sort of makeshift lab which is made up of whatever Cisco gear is laying around at the time. It's mostly old crap that we've pulled out of customer networks (and our own network), which has been replaced by newer technology. But, if you put the latest version of IOS on them, you can emulate our MPLS core network, as Rakesh and I did on Friday by sketching a network map, assigning addresses, and configuring routers ALL DAY LONG. We tested every possible failure scenario and a few impossible ones and found some ways to make our network more resilient. The ability to mock up our network core and break it in sadistic ways was very enlightening. We even attempted to implement some of the suggestions from the conference war by some of our fellows in Dallas who don't understand MPLS, just to grab the error messages and email them to the group. It was a great validation of our combined experience. Now our lab looks kinda ghetto, all stacked up in an empty cubicle, but most network engineers would drool over the opportunity of having over a dozen routers and almost as many switches stacked together in one place to test design scenarios.
Friday, October 19, 2007
One of the things I noticed when I was visiting Kansas City on business before moving here is even highway overpasses are adorned with art. I learned that 1% of every city project budget goes to art. The funny thing is they're spending $14 million on a new auto impound facility and $140,000 of that budget goes to art. Making an impound facility look attractive is going to be, well, interesting art.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
If you're not running this as your screen saver, you should consider it. It lets scientists use a portion of your computer's processing power for the good of humanity when you're not using it. Right now, my computer is trying to find target molecules to block the replication of the Dengue virus. The potential drug developed could block similar viruses like Hep C, Yellow Fever, and West Nile Virus. If you leave your computer on, it may as well be doing some good.
Monday, October 15, 2007
On the topic of hockey:
St. Peter and Satan were having an argument one day about hockey.
Satan proposed a game to be played on neutral ice between a select team from the heavenly host and his own hand-picked boys.
"Very well," said the gatekeeper of Heaven. "But you realize, I hope, that we've got all the good players and the best coaches."
"I know, and that's all right," Satan answered unperturbed, "We've got all the referees."
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Sunday, October 7, 2007
Tonight we had the most competitive hockey game of our season thus far, despite the crappy ice surface conditions. Our game started 20 minutes late, then I figured out why. It was too warm in there. It was the second period before the puddles of water froze up. If it's too warm in the building, why would they put down more water anyway? Why not just shave it? Anyway, there were a lot of penalties in this game, because it got heated. We were down 2 to 4 with 2 minutes left in the game and managed to get 2 to tie it up. We won in the shootout. Exciting stuff, if you were there. I have been giving away the free pitchers of beer that each team gets to the "We Cheer for Beer" folks, and they cheered for us. It seemed to make a difference in our game. I'd rather have them cheering for us than against us, so I always run up to the bar and make the transaction to purchase their loyalty. Nobody on our team drinks after the game these days, anyway, because most of the team drives all the way from Whiteman Air Force Base. This group of 20-somethings wear these gray hoodies emblazoned with "WE CHEER FOR BEER" and they have a poster which they tape to the glass with a heading that says "Our loyalty can be bought." It has all the team names and a rubber stamp in the shape of a rooster for each pitcher of beer they've received from each team. "The Refs" are also listed, but have apparently not bought any beer for them, because they cheer very heartily against the refs. If no kids are present, the cheers are positively crude, and they get belly laughs from me for a few of them. It's pure entertainment, and the drunker they get, the louder they get. I give them style points for creatively drinking for free every Sunday while getting to see some hockey in the process. If you decide to come to one of my games on Sunday, please sit near the "We Cheer for Beer" section for maximum entertainment value.
Saturday, October 6, 2007
This silly Eckrich vehicle was parked outside the distribution office where I was working. I felt compelled to make the cab driver wait for me while I took a picture of it.
Contrast that with my trip to Las Vegas over the weekend. I went to the Mr. Olympia finals to see how Ronnie Coleman would do. He came in fourth. I thought Victor Martinez or Dennis Wolf would win this year, but Jay Cutler won it again. I saw another Cirque du Soleil show and went clubbing. I hit a churrascaria at Planet Hollywood called Pampas, which was outstanding. I didn't have time to gamble even one dollar before it was time to head back. The best part of the whole weekend was the Mr. Olympia Weekend Expo. I got to meet Forrest Griffin, Diego Sanchez, Stephan Bonner, and Kieth Jardine at the Xyience/UFC booth. I bought a very cool UFC shirt. I saw Lou Ferrigno and got some other bodybuilders' autographs. It was very inspiring. I haven't missed a workout since. I got a ton of free stuff. Everyone wants you to try their protein drink mix or creatine supplement or thermogenic fat loss pill or arginine/nitric oxide muscle pump pulmonary vasodilator substance. I got some free t-shirts with marketing schlock on them and enough energy drink mix to last me a long time and enough thermogenic pills to keep me hopped up for days if I decided to take them. I'll stick with my tribulus terrestris and vitex agnus herbs and whey protein from GNC and Wal-Mart. And if I need a thermogenic, I'll stick to coffee and tea as a caffiene source, raspberries and cayenne pepper for my capsaicin ketones to get lean. Most of the stuff they're pushing now has sucralose as a sweetener. Chlorinated sucrose. Doesn't even sound good for you. That stuff makes me feel awful and promotes extra bathroom visits. The last thing I need is something else to promote atrophy of my thymus or put stress on my liver. Bleh. To promote all the supplement crap, there were a lot of really big people there. . . and one midget.
Saturday, September 22, 2007
There's an ambiguity in that survey which is still bugging me. If you "support" embryonic stem cells, does that mean you "support" or "oppose" embryonic stem cell research?
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
Monday, September 3, 2007
"Brief Overview of Congressman Paul’s Record:
He has never voted to raise taxes.
He has never voted for an unbalanced budget.
He has never voted for a federal restriction on gun ownership.
He has never voted to raise congressional pay.
He has never taken a government-paid junket.
He has never voted to increase the power of the executive branch.
He voted against the Patriot Act.
He voted against regulating the Internet.
He voted against the Iraq war.
He does not participate in the lucrative congressional pension program.
He returns a portion of his annual congressional office budget to the U.S. treasury every year.
Congressman Paul introduces numerous pieces of substantive legislation each year, probably more than any single member of Congress."
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Monday, August 20, 2007
Monday, August 6, 2007
Friday, July 27, 2007
The cabling is being completed in the conference rooms. Please do not move the conference room tables around; this will damage the power and data cables. This could be dangerous as well as damaging.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Sunday, July 8, 2007
Saturday, I got to babysit my little niece, Claire, while everyone else was out. We played soccer in the yard, went to the Sonic for a quick dinner, watched Ice Age: Meltdown, stopped by my house and rode my lawn tractor. Well, we mowed my yard. In my big back yard, I just slowed it down to about half speed and gave her the wheel. The mowing pattern was, uh...interesting. She zigged and zagged a lot and steered very clear of any tree branches. Some areas got mowed 4 or 5 times, while a few strips did not get mowed, but she had a blast! (And I laughed until my side was hurting.) Then we played a game of Sorry. I didn't know they still made that crazy game. You can't even get started unless you draw a 1 or 2 card, so I thought I was doomed when we went through the entire deck and I only had one piece out of the Start area, but when I started getting Sorry cards, that turned out to be the best thing. It was a close game. It came down to the end where the next person to draw a 1 card would win. It was me.
Rewind to the 4th of July. . . I saw the craziest stuff on the block where my brother lives. The folks across the street buy fun fireworks, which are cool to watch. Like every year, they grilled, played music, and everyone had fun. Then, they swept the street, and it was over. For the past couple of years my brother's family has had a corresponding party and thrown in some additional fireworks. Not everyone had legal sized fireworks. After the kids had gone inside, I saw a mailbox get blown to bits. I saw a watermelon get vaporized. Then the neighbors down the way or their guests got way out of hand. I was already worried about their negligence after they set off a couple of artillery rounds outside of the tube, and the sparks were coming over to where we were. Then, one kid next door got his leg burned by an explosion which dented an entire car door and blew out one of the windows. They took him to the hospital. I'm told it was an M-80, but whatever it was had more than the legal 50 milligrams of explosive. The concussion pulled my hair to one side. In retrospect I'm surprised that the police were not called. The party next door was over at that point, anyway. That kid could have lost his life.
Wednesday, July 4, 2007
I got a kick out of this story.
"Albert Gore III, son of the former Veep, has been arrested in southern California for driving over 100 mph in a car stashed with marijuana, vicodin, xanex, valium, and adderol. But at least he was driving a Prius!"
I didn't know a Prius could do 100 mph.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Monday, June 11, 2007
Sunday, June 10, 2007
I'm still following the Legoland development. The press is saying that the city is pretending to consider other locations, because the citizens are speaking out at hearings about the potential traffic nightmare. It sure hasn't slowed down the dirt moving equipment.
I felt tired today, so I did very little but rest. I needed it.
Wednesday, June 6, 2007
I agreed to play hockey with the Whiteman Bombers again in the Fall. A big portion of the team is in the Air Force and it's hard to have a solid season when half your good players keep getting shipped to Iraq. We sort of dominated our division through the play-offs, so they moved the team up a division. I welcome the stiffer competition, but I fear we may have to adjust to a faster game. I don't think I'll have a problem, because of my experience in the Tuesday night game at the AMF Ice Chateau (aka King Louie). I discovered a pace of hockey which rarely occurs at the recreational level. Most of the players are current or former Division I NCAA players. Many of them are high school hockey coaches or referees. Since AMF is closing that rink, that game is moving to Pepsi Ice Midwest.
Tonight, the captain emailed the team photo we took when we won the championship game.
We get a theme park which is supposed to open in the Spring of 2009 and attract visitors (read: additional traffic). The project includes the construction of a 30,000 square foot Sea Life Aquarium. I might like to see that. Maybe we'll get some more good restaurants, although Summit Crossing already has some great places to lunch.
I'm skeptical about the whole thing, but I'll try to post pictures of the progress. It's actually very impressive so far. And the baby geese are cute.
Tuesday, June 5, 2007
To my shock, the time sheet I submitted last night was approved, then "revoked". My contract ended on May 31, and I had submitted time for June 1 and 2. I resubmitted my time sheet before I got the email explaining what was going on. I was told that my contract was extended through August, but I had to submit it a third time to only include hours through May 31. Confusing? Yes. I threatened to walk out when I saw a "revoked" time sheet in my inbox. I told the project manager, "I don't work for free. Ciao." Before I could get to the car, my manager was on my cell phone explaining the situation. The program manager for the client I'm working with was in my cube within minutes to assure me that I wasn't working for free. Wow. It feels good to be in demand. The system through which I submit my time belongs to Bell Canada. They subcontract through Sapphire Technologies, who writes my paycheck. As of June 1, Capgemini, the company where I work is dealing directly with Sapphire. So, my time submission, if the system is agreed upon, will be done by entering my hours into the Capgemini system (aka Replicon), and then faxing or emailing a screen shot of the approved time sheet to Sapphire. The other system was quick and easy, but I still had to also enter my time into Replicon. Now, I only have to do it once. Nobody has answered the question of when I'll get paid for all the hours I put in this weekend, though. That's going to be a fat check. :-)
I was happy to get an email from my cousin Deb tonight. I'm glad to know she's doing okay in Shreveport, and her daughter got a 4.0 her second semester in college. It gets harder, but I guess she'll figure that out. Moving off campus next semester might have an effect.
I dug around on my computer and found some fun pictures from Vegas.
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
I'm in St. James, Minnesota, which is 110 miles southwest of Minneapolis. There's really not much here but farms, and I find myself repeating everything I say, because nobody can understand my accent/dialect, or lack thereof. It's thick here. I'm in the Super 8, which is tolerable, but the bed is too firm and difficult to get used to. I'm waiting to see what free Continental breakfast includes before I decide if I should trek across the parking lot to Happy Chef, which looks like a Village Inn with neon beer signs in the windows. It appears to cater to truckers, mostly. I have a day of work here, then I go back to Minneapolis tonight and fly out in the morning. I'm traveling with another network engineer who is a character. He grew up in Ada, Oklahoma, lives in Texas, but carries a California drivers license. We met at the rental car counter and talked the entire way here. He's traveled the world as a Marine, worked on an oil rig in the Gulf, and is currently dodging some kind of alimony suit by drifting as a networking contractor. I thought he was going to wreck the car when he found out I was from Southeast Oklahoma, too. I wonder if he's met Joe from the Unix team, who is from Durant and stops by my cubicle every few days to give me trouble. They'd either get along great or not at all.
Monday, May 28, 2007
Ronnie Coleman was a guest poser, as well. He's virtually a mountain.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Tuesday, May 8, 2007
I got a 96 in that class. I got 100 on the final. I guess I over studied. It felt good to slam dunk it, though. I think if I can take more interesting classes like it, my Masters degree will be a breeze. I'm already using what I learned in that class in my work.
I'm still about a day behind at work, but I had to knock off early to go buy Lisa a gift. I had a $50 Best Buy gift card, which I was given at work for my effort on a successful project. I figured I could put that with some cash and get something really nice for Lisa. And I did. I hate their broken ass TV. It's blurry and the green gun shoots too far to the right, so everything light in color has a green halo on one side, and sometimes you have to beat on the side of the TV to get the picture to sync up. They had an open box deal on a Hi-Def plasma TV, so I splurged a bit, since I watch more TV at their house than I do at mine. A gift for the whole family, including myself. Hey, I saved a lot of money by using my comps in Vegas, winning at poker to pay for miscellaneous stuff, and my phat tax refund was about to burn a hole in my bank account. . . and I love Lisa to death. Happy Birthday, girl.
This trip was less about gambling and sightseeing as it was about shows and night clubs. We met up with the Tricia, Adam, and JoLynn at The Wynn and grabbed a bite to eat. We got a cab to the Tropicana to see The Bodies exhibit. It had sort of the same effect the second time.
Ka was an impressive show, technically, but the costumes could have been better. The night started out great, but Carmen missed half the show because she disappeared during a lull for a bathroom stop and a drink refill and ended up helping a hysterical Scottish woman in one of the bathroom stalls and missed most of the rest of the show. The MGM staff was impressed by how she calmed the woman down and gave her some comps. All of us got escorted to the front of the line at Tabu, an MGM Grand night club with a long line. The plan was to head back to the Fazed party, then to another night club. Carmen wasn't down with that plan. . . and very drunk. She wanted to skip the Fazed party. So, it was like dragging a mule to get her out of there. The cab stand line was too long, and so was the walk (holding Carmen upright) through the casino to get to the monorail station. There was no winning. An hour later, one brush with celebrity (Mayweather was in the hotel lobby where we were helping Carmen get out of high heels so she could even walk), one fall (Carmen staggered into a column and nearly fell through a window), and an altercation with security (as Carmen insisted on getting into Zumi to take pictures despite the roped entrance), and a few more instances of Carmen getting separated from us (while we went to the restroom or otherwise kept walking while she was taking pictures), we FINALLY made it onto the train to the party. I had to tell Carmen off to finally get some peace about going directly to the club. She sobbed on a bench while we waited for the train. It was like babysitting a four year old. Our priorities were clearly in conflict, but she was in no shape to be alone and clearly not thinking about Tricia and me. When we got to the party Carmen was still ready to hit a club right away, but still not sober enough. I decided to stick around a bit longer. The rest of the group from Ka/Tabu finally rejoined the party and she left with them to the club. I told her to call me when she got there, but had forgotten that I had silenced my phone at the show, so I missed her call. I stayed at the party a while longer and went back to the hotel room via 7-11 for snacks. She had locked the night latch, so the door wouldn't open, she was passed out and not answering the door or the room phone or her cell phone. Security used a cool tool to open the latch, so I could get in. I was glad to be able to finally rest. Carmen sober is fun. Carmen drunk is both entertaining and frustrating. I don't think she ever realized that the reason we didn't go to the club she wanted to go to was because she was too out of it to actually do so. Taking an hour to leave MGM Grand didn't help us get there any sooner.
The next day, following apologies, Carmen pretending not to remember how she got a knot on her head, a good stress relieving work out, and some hanging out independenty, Carmen and I saw Le Reve. That was an amazing show! We tried for a while to get into Tryst, but the line was ridiculous. We ended up at the Rio. They have taken out Bikinis and put in Lucky Strikes, which is an ultralounge/club/bowling alley. The place just has a cool vibe. VooDoo Lounge is fun, but it was a little too windy on the roof. We closed it and headed to Drai's, which is an after hours club. The music was good there, and the crowd was interesting.
The next day, we got a couples massage, even though we're not exactly a couple. It was nice to really, really relax at the spa. The steam room made me want to build a sauna at home. We met up with the Fazed bunch for dinner and a show. We saw The Second City at The Flamingo. It was total improv comedy. It was like watching a long uninterrupted episode of Who's Line is It Anyway? But funnier and uncensored. They even had a rap song called Nappy Hoes, an homage to Imus which included all the words that white people can't say. A black couple got up and left the show. After that show, Carmen met up with Tricia at The Mirage to see Love, which is a Cirque du Soliel show with The Beatles music. I'm told it's great, but I played poker instead. I had doubled my buy-in playing tight, but started gambling and ended up back at even. We walked around someand checked out Treasure Island. I played some slots, thenwe called it a night. We got about two hours of sleep before we had to get up to go catch our plane. I slept on the plane and did conference calls when I got back. I slept like a baby last night.
Friday, May 4, 2007
Then, Carmen crashed, I web surfed, I went to the Fazed party without her. It was a great time. Josh, the poker dealer, and Nathan, an all around interesting guy, and I went to the poker room downstairs to play some NLHE. I lost a few small pots, but finally won a big one. I played for a couple of more orbits. I cashed out up about $90.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Tonight, I'm baking. I volunteered to help the Kansas City Curling Club with their 4th Annual BBQ Bonspiel (curling tournament) this weekend. That involves being signed up to bring food. Betty Crocker to the rescue. I had signed up as an alternate. I got put onto a team which needed a fourth, so I'll be curling all weekend. It'll be a great change of pace.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Thursday, April 19, 2007
In my reading on the topic, I found the writings of Michael Welner, who studies these kinds of individuals who go off the deep end and conduct a catastrophe. He has developed a survey which ranks crimes as to whether they fit the community standard of "depraved"or not. It is becoming the legal definition, and he the foremost expert. His site explains it better than I can. The goal is to make the sentencing guidelines less arbitrary when people are convicted of "heinous" or "evil" acts. I found it mega interesting. http://depravityscale.org/
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Tuesday, April 3, 2007
I finally received my "free" Sirius radio (with the purchase a six month subscription) which I ordered in mid-December. The coupon was also good for a deeply discounted radio with the ability to pause, rewind, or store songs. I ordered it so I could have satellite tunes at the gym. After a few weeks of wondering, I gave them a call. According to UPS tracking, it was signed for by "PORCH" just before Christmas. I would consider that pretty much stolen in transit, because I never found it. I wonder whose porch they left it on. I called. They verified that the radio they shipped had been activated, but not by me. They said they would ship a replacement. Nothing showed up for a few weeks, so I called again. They apologized and generated an order for a S50 and a home docking kit. I received only the home docking kit. I called to find out when the radio would arrive and they realized that only part of the order was entered. The radio itself was out of stock. They have another model which is better, so they gave me an RMA number to ship the S50 docking kit back. They said to give them the tracking number when I ship it and they'll generate an order for the replacement, a Stiletto 10 with a home docking kit. I shipped the S50 kit back, but I lost the receipt with the tracking number. I think the wind took it when I was getting out of the car. I would have to wait for my FedEx bill to arrive to get the tracking number. A few days later it dawned on me that I could find it on the FedEx web site. I called them with the tracking number and they said they would get the order going once they verified that they received it. A couple of weeks passed, so I called again. The order had shipped. When I got it, it was another S50 home docking kit. I immediately called again. This time I got someone competent. I explained what had transpired and that I was goingto contest the charges on my credit card and/or involve a lawyer. He assured me that I would get my radio as soon as possible. I reminded him that it was the fourth time I had heard that. He put me on hold for a very long time. Then he said they were shipping an S10 with a home docking kit and a free car docking kit. I asked him for an RMA number for the S50 home docking kit, which is useless to me. Later, I checked my email for the order confirmation, and it was there with UPS tracking numbers for each of the parts. As far as customer service goes, they eventually got it right, but their system has flaws. The radio I got usually costs about 5 times what I paid. It stores up to 10 hours of audio. I bought the 2 year subscription and gave it to the owner of my gym. The music at the gym is a thousand percent better, and the annoying DJs and commercials are history. Mission accomplished, but what a hassle.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Today is another day full of fire drills. About the time I think I can focus on my project, I get blind-sided by something random. I'm gun shy about starting any meaningful work. I'll be glad when this calamity of a project is completed.
It was smoked turkey leg day in the cafeteria, but I got pulled into a meeting. The good news is that I made it to the Comfort Zone before they closed. I did not make it before they ran out of smoked turkey legs. I ate an IQF chicken breast over rice and a side of peas from a can with a dinner roll that resembled a lump of foam in texture and flavor, if not appearance. <sigh> There's an Italian buffet across the street with tastier options, but at least it was somewhat healthy.
Yesterday, as I was leaving the office, I was complimented on the work I'm doing by the manager coordinating the project. I got to spend a little time with my brother, but kept my distance because he and his son both suffer some kind of terrible sinus infection. My buddy Rolf is town, so we grabbed dinner and espresso in Brookside. More good times.
Monday, March 5, 2007
I had a good weekend. I watched some UFC fights with my brother's coworker compadres. I missed a Grinders outing and I skipped the Saturday workout, but I played hockey Sunday. What a great game. Every shot I took bounced off the goalie or missed slightly to the left of the post, but everyone on my line scored off my rebounds. We kicked their butts. They got less than 10 shots the whole game, and most of those came in the last period after we had a 6 goal lead and let up a bit.
Windows Media Player has generated the strangest "shuffle" playlist today. Lots of Boca 45, Dr. Rubberfunk, and Finger Lickin' Allstars on the funky side, with some Korn and Queens of the Stone Age rock mixed in. Some Scissor Sisters remixes to keep it light and some Boozoo Bajou to get my pulse back below 60. And some Gwen Stefani to remind me to take a break. I'll keep this mix on my handheld for a few more days.
The server guys are sending me more crazy last minute requests for the servers they are installing today. I needed to change gears, anyway.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
On a less exciting note, the company newsletter comes once a week in email and includes fun stuff, including auctions and raffles to liquidate old office equipment, a salsa cook-off, secret pal gift exchanges, etc. One of the items was The President's Challenge. It is a means to earn points online for physical activity. In 10 days, I earned 3600 points. You get about 100 points just for walking for 30 minutes. Playing hockey for an hour is 460 points. I find it to be a good diversion for mental breaks during the day, encourages some retrospection, and helps track whether I got enough exercise. I am in the 89th percentile for logged activity among my coworkers who participate and log their activity. I think if I were more honest about how hard I go when I'm not sitting at my desk, I might be the most active person participating. If I'm not playing hockey, I'm lifting weights, or skating, or dancing, or at least walking. When you see it in black and white, it's easy to pinpoint the lazy days.
Friday, February 16, 2007
Back to work. :-)
Thursday, February 15, 2007
On the other hand, for Valentine's Day, I grabbed a single friend and we had barbecue at Big T's, the new BBQ place just south of LC's, which has really good food and better prices than LC's. And it has plenty of parking. And it's clean. I had the double-decker combo sandwich with sliced beef and turkey. I also had some collard greens and barbecue beans. The greens were the best. The beans weren't as good as LC's. The whole meal and a beer to wash it down was $10. I packaged the leftovers and took them home. I have a new favorite barbecue place. And I should have packed the leftovers for lunch today.
Later last night we went to Bar Natasha to meet up with his friends and hear an artist known as Vi Tran. He's pretty good. His buddy who played bass guitar, while he strummed and sang, looked terribly bored. The apple crisp item with ice cream on top, which someone shared with me was excellent. I never knew they had such good food in there.
On a non-food topic, I am working on the firewall which protects the customer to whose account I'm assigned. While I was away doing site surveys at the various facilities, a fellow consultant named Pradeep, who is either too good or too Hindu to tour a meat packing facility, who obviously has little firewall experience, has been putting incorrect rules in the configuration. One of the server guys grabbed me yesterday and said they can't work with him any more. I think I told the guy managing our contract the same thing. They need to replace him sooner than later. I had to go through the configuration and find the bad parts, remove them, correct them, then basically redo all of it.
Now, I'm writing this while i wait for the server guy to finish testing everything. Rework is a huge waste of time. I would rather be asked to do all of the firewall work than have to do all this clean up. I pointed out a typo, and asked Rocky to verify that it was indeed a typo. He laughed and said Pradeep spent an entire day trying to get that to work. He obviously failed. <sigh> At this level of the game, you can't spend an entire day overlooking something like that, then leave it broken. The words of my parents echo in my brain 20 some-odd years later, "Don't step over that clutter; pick it up!" An ethic that permeates my professional life, despite the clutter on my floors at home and on my desk.
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
It's too cold outside. It's 13 and windy. Going out for lunch? Nuh uh. I just grabbed some lunch in the cafeteria. At the station known as The Comfort Zone, where they usually have hearty food, they had a build-your-own taco salad buffet for $4.25. I mounded the shell full of lettuce, refried beans, taco beef with orange grease, and diced tomatoes with the condiments on top. I'm stuffed. It was pretty good. Beats the deep fried IQF items and reheated canned crap they've been serving. If the cafeteria selection looks less than appetizing, I make my way to the Pita Pit around the way. It's like a Subway with better meat selections and pitas instead of bread. And they stuff them pretty full.
I'm steadily getting my site survey documentation done. <yawn> Back to work. I bought a 512MB mini-SD card for my phone and filled it with MP3's. It looks like I'm on the phone, but it's tunez, yo! The new shuffle feature of Windows Media Player keeps the selections fresh. When I plug my phone in at home, my laptop charges the battery and puts a fresh randomized batch of music on the storage card. Thank you, Microsoft.
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
I shoveled a ton of snow out of my driveway this morning. It was eight inches deep if it was one. A water main burst at the end of my street and melted some of the snow off of the street, but the water department had my street blocked most of the morning. I dialed into the meetings today. I feel lucky to have gotten my shower before they shut down the water.
The road conditions on the way to work were not so good. I was slipping and sliding on several occasions. Turn into the skid! Even if you're headed for the ditch. . . it's the only way to regain control. Since it rained before it snowed, it washed the salt off the roads, then formed a layer of ice. Just perfect! So, the plows are helping, but they couldn't begin to salt the roads until the rain converted to snow. Last night was the first time I have heard thunder in a snow storm.
Monday, February 12, 2007
On Sunday, I went curling at one ice rink and played hockey at another. I count that as a work-out.
Well, I've been to two meetings today, and as is usual on Mondays in my new work environment, if you don't populate your Outlook calendar, people assume you're not busy. Nothing could be further from the truth. They have realized I know stuff, so they're piling on. I helped the server folks by configuring access into a customer's network environment remotely, so most of them didn't have to travel. I configured some access-lists in a firewall instance, and now I get copied on all such requests. Yikes. There are some high visibility tickets coming my way, too. These issues have short fuses. This is going to be a short lunch break.