January 2004

31. January, 2004 - tonight’s the night

Well, here it is, the long awaited day of my housewarming party. I’ve got most of the big work done, but there are still plenty of small details to be attended to before the evening, most notably I have to get the fridge in the basement onto a level spot and plugged in, so it can start chilling the five-gallon keg of mead I hope to have tapped during the party. I also realize that I probably should have picked up a spare tank of CO2 so I’d be sure of being able to actually dispense it. Oh well, I’ll figure something out if that becomes a problem.

30 January, 2004 - baby it’s cold

Not much here today. Something to do with the three-for-one beer deal last night, perhaps.

29. January, 2004 - changing attitudes

I’ve had a few readers comment that they aren’t thrilled by me talking about Bush and WMDs. Well, that’s understandable. Few people are going to change their opinions about the situation. But there are too many evenings in the bar when I hear the refrain of Bush Lied! and I think that people need to look at some of the facts behind that. It’s pretty clear that Saddam Hussein had biological and chemical weapons at some point, and it’s also pretty clear that one of the reasons given for attacking Iraq was because of the fear of those weapons. I don’t think a reasonable person could argue either of those facts, and yet some seemingly reasonable people still do.

I think that the weapons of mass destruction (a horrible name) weren’t the primary reason for attacking Iraq, they were a convenient (and UN-provided) excuse. I don’t think the excuse was needed, but it’s a lot easier (politically and diplomatically) to say We attacked Saddam Hussein to remove his capability to use WMDs than it is to say what I think was the real reason: We attacked Saddam Hussein to drag the Middle East kicking and screaming into the 21st century since that latter wouldn’t go over very well.

We’re still seeing how things will play out, but if there ends up being some real change in the Middle East, I think that will be a good thing. I don’t expect to change a lot of people overnight, but I also don’t think the vast majority of people there need changing. Just the ones who want to use weapons of terror against the U.S. They need to have it explained to them that that sort of behavior just won’t be tolerated. I think overthrowing the Taliban and Baath Party explains that fairly effectively. What remains is sorting out the unteachable. That’s probably going to prove pretty difficult, as years of experience in Israel has shown.

If you want a slightly different way of presenting almost the same views, Mitch Berg’s The Big Mean World Awareness Test might be fun for you.

28. January, 2004 - mixed bag

More shovelling yesterday. I cleaned out some of the area in front of my garage. Initially I was just going to shovel out enough space so I could set out the trash and an old dishwasher, but realized that I should clear the path for my car, so I wouldn’t end up with an ice-patch right where I need traction in order to pull into the garage. In the course of shovelling, I met a neighbor across the alley and talked to him until we’d both cooled down. Then I later met the neighbor’s son who finished clearing the area between our garages. I guess the upside of the snowfall is that it gets many of us outside at about the same time in the winter, so I won’t have to wait until spring to meet everyone who lives near me.

27. January, 2004 - snow aftermath

On the home-improvement front, I think I have all the new phone wiring done. All that remains there is to unhook some of the older wires, put new ends on them, and connect them through the junction-box I’ve set up in the basement. I also got the shelf hung on the wall, so I can move the networking hardware into the basement, and I think I’ve got all the ethernet in place. I’ve got a new doorbell button for the front door (the old one works, but you have to really mash it, and most people don’t) and hooking that up (probably tomorrow) should complete the low-voltage wiring work.

I’m also planning an evening of furniture-shuffling later this week. I’m aiming to both get things ready for the housewarming party on Saturday and get close to a layout I can live with in the long-run. As in any game of sokoban, I have to get some other stuff out of the way first, but it was time to haul out some of those boxes filled with the packing paper from the move anyhow, and with recycling day being tomorrow, I’ll have some hauling to do this evening.

26. January, 2004 - snowy (mis-)adventures

Yesterday I had planned to drive up to mom’s for dinner. In fact, I even got halfway there, but that’s when I ran into some weather problems. When I left home, the weather was pretty good, but when I got past Forest Lake on the freeway, suddenly I was in blowing snow that made driving pretty hairy. I called mom, and the snow was coming down even harder at her place, and she told me to turn around and head home.

weather radar from about 11pm yesterday

On the way back, it seemed as though the line where the snow started really hadn’t moved much. Not too surprising since very little time had passed, but when I got home and looked at the weather radar, there was a C-shaped loop of snow around Minneapolis. And as I looked out the window during the day, that continued until after I went to bed. Looking back at the radar archive (there’s the reason I have that weather link at the bottom of each day), I noticed that it wasn’t until about 11PM that the snow had finally reached Minneapolis, even though mom continued getting snowed on the entire time.

Anyway, I guess one of my tasks this morning is going to be heading outside and shoveling the couple inches that fell here. There’s supposed to be more during the day, but I’ve found that getting out there first thing in the morning helps a lot since it keeps any overnight accumulation from getting packed down into ice by people walking to work or school in the morning. Just one more joy of being a homeowner.

25. January, 2004 - ooh look! pictures!

Yesterday I went over to wander around the Ice Palace. Ran into a couple ex-neighbors in line and we talked while winding our way into the gates and gabbed a bit, but nothing worth blogging about. Since I’m light on links today, I’ll try and make up for it with pictures, I guess.

A few notes about visiting the Ice Palace:
The Long Line
The Long Line to Get In
Ice Palace and Cathedral
Ice Palace and Cathedral
The Courtyard 1
The Courtyard
The Courtyard 2
The Courtyard 2
Ice Sculptures of King Boreas & a Horse
Ice Sculptures of King Boreas & a Horse
Ice Horse
Ice Horse
The Queen of Snows
The Queen of Snows?
Vulcanus Rex
Vulcanus Rex
Detail of the Exits
Detail of the Exits

24. January, 2004 - what to do?

Oops. I almost forgot that today is the twentieth birthday of Macintosh. That would have been bad.

I find myself awake reasonably early on a Saturday, with a long list of items that need doing, but nothing that really wants doing, if you see the difference. In fact, I’ve been slacking pretty hard (oxymoron alert?) the past couple days, and think today might be a good day for some recreation, rather than trying to get things done. Maybe a trip to the Ice Palace or something…

Yesterday morning, just after the daily blogging, I headed outside to shovel the sidewalks. It was nice, since there were a couple inches of light, fluffy snow, and I made it outside before anyone had tramped it down. I got to talk to a neighbor gal from two houses north of me. I’m slowly meeting the neighbors, and they all seem like fairly nice folks so far.

I also got the invitations for the housewarming sent out, which involved buying a new ink cartridge for the printer. Ugh. I did a greyscale design, figuring that I could print that with black-ink only, but my printer insisted on doing some of the greys with colored ink. Rather than redesign, it was easier to just go buy the color cartridge.

My other big accomplishment yesterday was catching up on some sleep. I didn’t realize how tired I was in the morning, but after eating some lunch, I decided I needed a nap. Five hours later I woke up, feeling fairly refreshed. Wow. The strangest part is that it didn’t screw up my sleep schedule last night at all. I went to bed about the normal time, and woke up about the normal time this morning. I guess I just needed some extra down-time. Yeah, it means that not as much work got done as probably should have, but I’m not going to worry about that just now. Monday will come soon enough.

23. January, 2004 - One month

It was one month ago today that I moved in here. Seems longer somehow.

22. January, 2004 - light up the ice

The big news on the home front for this morning is that today is the first day with my new shower. Woo! No longer will I have to put up with the shower-on-a-hose which provided little more water than standing out in the rain, but instead I’ve got a real shower head, mounted on the wall that seems to provide a decent stream of water. It’s odd, but that cheers me quite a bit. The thousand dollars I spent on having a plumber do it hurts a bit, but realistically, it wasn’t the kind of thing I was going to get done anytime soon myself, and it was bugging me every single morning, so looking at the price that way, it’s not too unreasonable.

Also of note is that I finally got all the boxes in the living room (well, except for the three (three? yes, that many) boxes of miscellaneous computer stuff) unpacked or moved into the basement. It cleared a lot of space in the middle of the room and makes it easier to see how the room might look when I push the furniture around a bit in order to get things arranged in a way that makes more sense to me. Another small step towards making my house a home, but those steps have been adding up, and it feels like home before I hit the one-month mark of living here (which will be tomorrow). I still need to figure out where the rest of the computer equipment (mostly the scanner, and a couple printers) is going to live so I can pull the relevant bits out of those boxes, but I might have a plan for that, thanks to Steph stopping by to play paper-dolls with my house yesterday evening. Thanks!

Strategic errors in reporting

And now into the longer rant for the day… I’ve had a chance to read the paper Bounding the Global War on Terrorism which says the invasion of Iraq was a strategic error and while I’m not going to try and argue with Jeffrey Record (at least not today), who wrote the paper, I might have some issues with Bob Johnson, who wrote the AP article about it. Reading it, I see where Mr. Record says that the invasion of Iraq was a distraction from the global war on terror, but in spite of the quotes in the headline and body of the article, the exact quote is:

Of particular concern has been the conflation of al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq as a single, undifferentiated terrorist threat. This was a strategic error of the first order because it ignored critical differences between the two in character, threat level, and susceptibility to U.S. deterrence and military action.

What that says to me is that equating al-Qaeda and Saddam is an error, and saying that they’re a single threat is also an error. It also says that the invasion of Iraq was a distraction from the global war on terror but the paper never says that the invasion of Iraq was a strategic error.

Strategically, Operation IRAQI FREEDOM was not part of the GWOT; rather, it was a war-of-choice distraction from the war of necessity against al-Qaeda.

But as I've mentioned here before, there was intelligence that there were biological and chemical weapons in Iraq (just ask the Kurds), and that Saddam Hussein was planning to sell some to Al-Qaeda. Whether that intelligence was right or not, it was deemed credible enough that Bill Clinton thought reining in Saddam would be a good thing back in 1998.

The headline also implies that it’s the Army War College saying this. But right there on page ii of the paper it says:

The views expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.

That standard boilerplate says to me that it’s a paper written by someone at the Army War College, but doesn’t necessarily reflect the college’s views. As it turns out, Jeffrey Record’s a visiting professor there, and not even part of the permanent staff.

Regardless what you think of the paper, the article talking about it is misleading, as is the headline. I definitely disagree with the conclusions of the article, and that’s all that most people read (if they even got past the headline), rather than digging more deeply to find out what the paper that’s cited actually says. As Paul Harvey says …and that’s the rest of the story.

21. January, 2004 - careers, politics

A few folks I know have been thinking about their jobs and trying to decide whether to stick it out at a company they don’t especially like, or move on to something else.

That’s obviously a big decision and one on which you probably shouldn’t take casual advice from someone who can’t even spell "Palm" correctly (yeah, I’ve left the typo from yesterday in place), but when I think about my career, there have been three big transitions. The first was when I decided to quit being an intern for big companies and bail on the computer business for a year and a half to go drive school bus. The second was when I packed up my life and moved from MN to CA to work for Apple for a year. And the third was when my group got laid off at WAM!NET and I took the opportunity to start my own business.

When I took time off to drive bus, I was intentionally turning my back on computers for a while. But another part of what I was doing was admitting to myself that I wasn’t ever going to finish my Bachelor’s degree, and needed to quit getting hired as an "intern". When I took a job at LaserMaster again, I’d bought a Macintosh and was busy teaching myself programming on the Mac. I learned how to do technical support over the phone, and more importantly, learned what kinds of problems real customers have before I started doing any real programming on LM’s products. That was more of an education than most people get out of four years of college, at least in my eyes.

When I went to Apple, I ended up in support again, but this time developer support. I learned a ton about programming the Mac in that year, since I had to figure out how to solve other people’s problems, usually a few per day. Again, I got a huge education, and again I doubled my salary.

My third big change was starting my own business. In the four years since I’ve done that, I’ve gotten a huge education again. This time it’s been less in technical areas and more in fuzzier stuff I’d avoided in the past. I didn’t pump up my salary, but I’m doing more work that I actually like, and I’m not sure what kind of price-tag to put on that.

I guess where this is all going is two ideas. The first is that sometimes you have to make a change in your career in order to get ahead. The second is that when you do make a change, there’s often an opportunity to learn more than you expected, and that education can set you up for the next change. If I hadn’t started learning the Mac while I was driving bus, I never would have been able to get hired at Apple. If I made a good name for myself at Apple, I probably wouldn’t have been able to make my own business work. Working at a number of differently mis-managed companies didn’t hurt either, but I don’t think the education I’ve gotten (and am still getting) from that has paid off yet.

20. January, 2004 - more spam coming

Well, my plan to try and be pro-active about work yesteday fizzled a bit. Got hit with another fire-drill that derailed part of the day. But I’m going to try again today. The difference in my mental state is big enough that I’ve realized I need to take control of the work I’m doing. I wouldn’t be surprised if that causes some friction, but the alternative isn’t very palatable.

In a follow-up to the “my mac has insomnia” tale, I moved the cradle for my Samsung i500 Plam-Phone to a USB hub, rather than having it plugged directly into the computer and disabled Stuffit AVR and the problem went away (yes, I’m running 8.0.2, and wasn’t seeing kernel panics, but I still am suspicious of their software). No idea which of the two was the culprit, and I don’t really care at this point, since my computer will now sleep through the night.

19. January, 2004 - back to work

Well, it’s back to work for the week. I think I’m starting to get the chaos around the house in hand a bit. Stringing the network and phone wires over the weekend helped a bunch. It’s a change to the house that’s going to be reasonably permanent that I made. That breaks a mental barrier of some sort, as did getting out the drill and putting (well, putting back) a hole in the living room floor where the network wire comes through. As Bill said at the time, It’s yours now.

Today I need to get out and get some more phone connectors and wire. I was initially thinking I’d string cat-5 everywhere and use the wires I needed for phones and such, but I think I’m going to scale back on that plan and use real phone-line for the phones. If I install regular telephone wires for the phones, I won’t have any compatibility problems at the ends, and I’ll still have spare wires. It’ll be cheaper wire than cat-5, plus it’ll be visually unique down in the basement, which I think will help in organizing all the wires that are going to be coming to the junction boxes for the phone and network connections. I’m figuring this out as I go, but that seems like the right decision to make today.

The other mental hurdle that got jumped this weekend is that I’ve quit concentrating on “unpacking” and started thinking more about ways I need to change the house. I’ve got the essentials mostly unpacked (at least until spring), now I want to get changes made before I worry about unpacking all the boxes. From here on, when I unpack a box, I’d like to have a semi-permanent location for the stuff that comes out of the box – a place where the things belong – rather than making a pile and telling myself I’ll sort it out later.

But the main focus today is going to have to be on paying work. That’s also new here, since it’s the first time I haven’t been reacting to demands from a client, but am instead doing the work I know needs doing, and planning more than a couple hourse into the future. It’s how I like to work, but part of the reason this past month has felt so hectic is that I wasn’t planning my work, but rather just trying to keep my head above water. I’m making a conscious decision to change that today. Wish me luck.

18. January, 2004 - oof

Good day yesterday. I got to lounge around in the morning doing basically nothing. In the afternoon, Bill and I strung a couple cables, one for phone and one for ethernet. The phone cable works fine, and I expect the ethernet will too, but I haven’t tested it yet, since I need to get some power near the basement end of that line to run the devices that’ll be living down there. Then it was off to BW-3 HarMar for the PeTA gathering, where much fun was had, along with more than a couple beers. My head’s a little fuzzy this morning, but it was worth it.

In other news, my Macintosh is puzzling me. It wakes up for no apparent reason after I’ve put it to sleep, even if I disconnect all the USB devices. The system log tells me it’s getting woken up by a keyboard event. I suspect there’s something that was installed along with Stuffit Deluxe 8.0 that’s screwing up my system, but I’m not sure. I am sure that I don’t like it.

17. January, 2004 - wrapping up the week

Yesterday afternoon I went to Dinkytown for lunch. I had to stop by the bank and post office, so the walk was worthwhile, and it turned out pretty well, too. Here’s the story. Lunch was at Burrito Loco. I needed to pick up a menu so I can order delivery, and got an urge for what passes for Mexican food here in MN. For the uninitiated, they’re an awful lot like Chipotle, including having the corn salsa now.

After lunch, I stopped by Dinkytown news and shopped for a magazine to read, and talked to Indra Patel, the owner. He says at the rate things are going, he may have to close the doors next summer. Apparently too many people are doing their reading on some interweb thing, and between that and the increased competition from the University of Minnesota Bookstore in Coffman Union, he’s not selling enough to pay the rent. So if you tend to read obscure magazines, stop in sometime and help him out by buying something.

With my magazine in hand, I swung over to the Purple Onion to do a bit of reading. As I was ordering, I ran into Gordon, who I haven’t talked to for a couple years. We caught up on recent happenings, talked baseball (pitchers and catchers report to Fort Myers on February 22nd, you know), and basically hung out for a couple hours. A very enjoyable way to spend an afternoon.

Then after getting home and setting up the DVD and VCR (I continue to slowly make progress on the house), Gordon called me from Clean Water Action. Apparently I came up on the list for him to canvass. It was pretty funny listening to him try to give the regular spiel after we spent a couple hours hanging out yakking this afternoon.

Yesterday I mentioned I’d updated the blogroll over there on the right. Today I explain what exactly happened. First step was checking out the various blogrolling sites out there. I looked at blogrolling.com first. It’s flexible in that it’ll let you link to any damn site, whether it’s something tracked or not. Which means if you get a slightly different URL than the one that’s being tracked, the site will never show as updated.

Next up, blo.gs. I built a list there, and spent some time customizing the names I wanted displayed on things. Works fine on their site, but that doesn’t make it through to the HTML feed they’ll let me at. Feh.

So I grabbed Phil Ringnalda’s PHP blogroll. It needed a little massaging to make it fit in with the rest of my PHP (I understand why people just use echo for output, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it because that makes it a bitch to integrate the output with a site that uses templates), and while I was at it, I added some extra code to do the name-replacement.

Slap an extra call or two into the main-line site-rendering code, and there it is. There are still some kinks to be worked out, but they’re mostly due to people who don’t ping weblogs.com when they update. I’ll end up either applying a little social engineering or just writing a script that checks their site manually and then does the ping for ’em. What the hell, eh?

That’s enough rambling, I think. Time for some linkage.

16. January, 2004 - Happy Friday

Update, 10:30 AM CST:I’m now using blo.gs for the blogroll over there on the right. Seems like it’s working after I did some hacking about. More tomorrow, but if something over there looks wacky, please let me know.

Y’know how sometimes you start to do one thing, get sidetracked by a detail you hadn’t thought of, and end up doing something completely different? That’s been the story of my life lately.

When I first bought the house, I figured that one of my top priorities was going to be getting new phone and electrical wiring installed (and probably ethernet while I was at it). The existing outlets and phone jacks aren’t sufficient, and are poorly placed. Well, after looking at the problem a couple times, I figured it could wait, since I’m getting by with power-strips and cordless phones.

So yesterday, I figured I’d get the remaining boxes in the living-room unpacked, and generally try to get the ground-floor into a state where I could have a hope of hosting a housewarming party before the month is over. It started well enough. The curious box from a CD player I don’t have any more turned out to contain the scanner for the computer. A dish-pack box in the basement contained my laser printer. Okay. All well and good, but I don’t have a place near the computer to set up peripherals, and I don’t have the bedroom upstairs done so I can move an office up there. Plunging on, I set those boxes aside (in the living-room, where my office currently is). That’s not exactly progress, but they were at least out of the way of the rest of the boxes that need to be dealt with.

Okay, I can at least push the TV back into the corner where it’s destined to live, right? Oops. No I can’t. The phone cord leading to the DirecTiVo is stretched as far as it will go, and I not only don’t have a longer cord, but it would still end up stretched right across the front entry-way, which isn’t a very good long-term solution. This is when I realized that I need to deal with the wiring situation.

First a call to Bill, since he’s got some tools I’ll need. He’s willing to help, and we’ll tackle the wiring sometime this weekend. Then a quick trip to Micro-Center and about $200 later, and I’ve now got a whole slew of networking and phone wire, a couple jacks that I believe I can use to get the installation done, and a handful of various connectors I probably won’t need unless I hadn’t bought them, in which case they’d be critical. In any case, I won’t be embarrassed by trying to wire the house and not having any wire.

Coming home from the store, I stopped by O’Brien’s Decoy to pick up some supper. After chowing down on about half the meal (I used to always eat the whole thing, but I don’t feel an urgent need to push maximum density, so I restrained myself), I was still slightly more full than was comfortable. The obvious solution was to plop down in front of the TV to waste two hours of my life watching Dancing at the Blue Iguana. Yes, there are topless cuties, but that doesn’t mean you should let them improv for two hours because none of them seem able to tell a story. Liberal use of the fast-forward button just might save this movie, but you’ll be left with about fifteen minutes of stuff worth watching. Then it was time for bed, wondering why it is that Daryl Hannah doesn’t put at least a little more meat on her bones. She’d be a lot prettier if she didn’t look like a crack-whore, especially when she didn’t seem to be playing one in the movie.

And that, dear readers, is why there is still a pile of boxes sitting in my living-room.

15. January, 2004 - almost a month

So it turns out that the problem I mentioned yesterday that I didn’t know if I could fix was fixable once I realized one critical fact: ATSUI is butt-slow when it’s drawing into a 1-bit bitmap on a machine whose video-card doesn’t support 1-bit mode (which is most machines now). Once I figured that out, I could choose to waste a lot of memory and draw into a full-on RGB pixmap, then render it down to 1-bit and see things get about 100x faster. It’s not every day you can make that kind of performance improvement, and I’m feeling a lot better about the software thing again.

While I was figuring that out, I was also on the phone with Paychex trying to get them to complete the change-of-address for my business. They make it (for at least a little while longer) much more complicated than it should be, since they make you file a form 8822 (PDF) with the IRS, then send them proof that the IRS has your change of address before they’ll actually put through the change. But they also file a form 941 (PDF) with the IRS every quarter, and that form has a handy little checkbox to tell the IRS that the address has changed. Due to my griping, they may actually check that checkbox for their customers (again, sometime in the future, but I’ve gotten assurances that they’re looking into it now – apparently adding a check-mark to the form is a major programming effort on their part) when their customers’ addresses change, and everything will be as it should have been. And it only took me about six hours of complaining altogether in order to nudge them into making that change.

A hint for dealing with publicly-traded companies: calling their Investor Relations number will often get you directly to a person who can bypass the maze of phone-menus and forward you right to the person who can help. But also note that this is powerful mojo, like using Jedi mind control or calling Amazon.com’s secret 800-number, so use it wisely.

One last thing before I get to the links – I realized this morning I’ll have owned my house for a full month tomorrow. I think I’ll celebrate by trying to at least finish getting the living room unpacked.

14. January, 2004 - In local news…

I woke up feeling better today, but after the way yesterday went, that wasn’t much of a stretch. Yet another Oh my god, we can’t ship with this bug that’s been in the code for the past six months! bug was found in some software I wrote. Thing is, it isn’t my bug, but a performance problem in Mac OS X 10.3, so there’s not a whole lot I can do about it. Not the kind of thing you want to try and deal with when you’re feeling under the weather.

I dunno. At this point I’m pretty discouraged by the whole software thing, and if I had any other ideas of how to keep my mortgage paid, I’d be awfully tempted to just power down the computer for a few months and do some mindless work.

13. January, 2004 - coming down with something

In spite of the threats of the horrible flu going around this winter and various other illnesses spreading, I’d managed to stay mostly healthy all through Christmas and New Years. But yesterday, it finally caught up with me, and I started feeling cruddy. I guess some bug has finally caught up with me, and it feels like I’m going to be spending the next couple days with a stuffed head and aching body. Hopefully that’s all it’ll be, but if the linkage is less, you’ll know why. And if the linkage is heavier than usual, it means I’m feeling well enough to lay on the couch with the laptop and surf the web a bit. I’m not sure which way this will go yet.

And as for the busy week I said I was facing yesterday morning? Well, some things just aren’t going to get done as soon as I’d hoped. I’ll worry about the details when I’m feeling better.

12. January, 2004 - the start of a busy week

Here it is, Monday. And today’s going to be a fairly busy one. I’ll spare you the details, but this has the looks of shaping up to be a pretty long week. At least this coming weekend will see an off-season gathering of the PeTA people which I’m looking forward to. I think the idea of that is going to help in getting through the week.

But I’m probably not going to have a ton of linkage during the week. If you miss that sort of thing, this would be an excellent time to contribute some links. Note that when I’m not running low like this, I tend to try and group the links together in topics, so if there’s a topic that you wanna see more about, the surest way is to submit a link or two and then I’ll work on filling in more. Having commentary with your links helps too.

11. January, 2004 - privacy? not anymore
10. January, 2004 - this is a weekend?

My computer and cell phone both tell me it’s Saturday, but it doesn’t feel much like a weekend. I woke up and looked at my to-do list and email, it’s going to be a busier day than most weekdays. Not only do I have a fair amount of work to do around the house, but I also have some work to do for a client. The past few weeks have been fairly frustrating, as everything from this client has been top priority, which I understand, but it’s meant that I’ve had less time around the house during the time when I was supposed to be “settling in” and getting the house so it feels more like home.

Yesterday morning Mark stopped by from St. Paul Plumbing, and we looked over the shower situation. What seemed like a fairly straightforward job to me has a few complications, and he left without doing more than scoping out the job, and promising to get back to me with some possible solutions on Monday. That’s not ideal, but at least the ball is rolling.

I need to spend today doing things around the house. I’m having a few guys over this evening to play cards, and need to get the kitchen (where the beer will be stored) and the dining room (where we’ll be playing cards) in good enough shape that we won’t be tripping over things as the evening progresses. I also need to get the stereo set up, and perhaps get some way to connect the iPod to it so we can have music during the game. It’s not a huge task, but it’s coming at a time when I’m feeling lazy.

As to feeling lazy, I’ve been doing a lot of that lately. There’s been a fair amount of stress shoved into my life in the form of some legal matters that I haven’t talked much about (and probably won’t until they’re done). Last Tuesday was part of that, and there are still more headaches on the way. Dealing with that while buying a house, moving, and trying to release software all at the same time has been a lot to try and keep straight, and it’s been taking its toll since early December. At this point, what I most want to do is spend about a week just sleeping, but I can’t do that just yet. Instead, Itook the day off yesterday, napping and watching TV after I’d dealt with the plumber and some critical email. I didn’t even leave the house, other than to stick my head outside to say hi to the mailman and pick up the mail.

So the short version is that I’ve got a busy day ahead of me today, but it’s mostly due to not getting anything constructive done yesterday. Tomorrow is booked up, too. And then it’ll be right back into the work week. I guess I did have a weekend, but it was yesterday.

9. January, 2004 - Moo! Damnit!

On the house front, I had to wake up early and finish my morning ablutions today because I’m expecting a plumber to arrive between 8 and 9 AM to make my shower suit my tastes more. And yes, I’m aware that I know at least one plumber and plenty of people who’d be willing to help, but Wednesday I just snapped over the shower and decided I wasn’t going to wait to get it fixed. I’m really tired of spending five minutes bent over (the shower head is mounted on the wall below the level of my shoulders) only to discover I still haven’t gotten all the shampoo out of my hair (the water flow from the shower is best described as “a gentle rain”). So it’s getting fixed today. There will be plenty of other projects for folks to help with.

The downside of this plan is that last night happened to be the night chosen for going out to tip back a few beers. Well, more than a few. I stumbled home a few minutes before midnight, and waking up about 6am wasn’t especially fun. It’s also kind of odd drinking with three married geeks. Between the four of us, we exuded an awfully powerful female-repellent field. But it was still a fun time, and there was a decent (or perhaps indecent) amount of ogling going on.

One of the interesting things about having bought a house is the number of people that I haven’t heard from in years who have come out of the woodwork to congratulate me on my purchase. I didn’t realize buying a house was such a cause for celebration, but there you have it. In any case, yes, I am planning a housewarming party, and I’d like to throw it in January, but I’m going to be a busy camper if I’m going to be ready by the 31st. Details to follow once the date gets closer. And no, I’m not looking for a housemate just yet. I still have to finish the work on the bedrooms before I have someone else move in here.

8. January, 2004 - a better day?

Sorry about yesterday, but on top of being worn out from stuff on Tuesday, I was scrambling to fix some last-minutes bugs in software I’m working on. At any rate, I’m hoping at this point that most of the unpleasantness is behind me for a while, and life can get back to something more like normal.

7. January, 2004 - I got a note

Dear Mr. Kotter:

Please excuse Dave from blogging today. After spending yesterday dealing with lawyers, Dave has an inner-ear problem… he hates to hear himself scream.


Epstein’s Mother

6. January, 2004 - no rambling today

Or at least not much. I’ve gotta scoot out the door early for an appointment so today’s just links.

5. January, 2004 - starting the new year

Today’s the start of the business year for most companies. Yeah, there were a few people working last Friday, but damn few. Today, everyone’s mostly back at work, and starting to dig into the problems they’ll be dealing with through 2004. Except for a few who got their walking papers sometime over the Christmas holiday season and are trying to figure out whether that was a lucky occurance or not.

Around here, it’s kind of the same thing. I spent yesterday mostly watching TV and generally just vegetating. The stereo didn’t get set up, and probably won’t until Saturday, when it will be time to make frantic preparations to host the monthly poker game. (Jim: remember you said you’d pick up some cards from Target for me.)

I’m not sure what today will bring, but I know it involves paying some bills and restocking the fridge. Beyond that, there’s a job I should either bid on or bow out of gracefully, but it’s a bigger job than I’ve taken on before (or rather, it’s obviously bigger before I start on it – I don’t think it will grow from a “couple month” project into a two-year gig as some other projects have). Overall, I’m fairly nervous about it. It would be a chance to make my business bigger, but I still need to figure out whether I want a bigger business in that way, and whether I can commit the time needed to do the job right. I’d rather pass on the job than take it on and end up doing it half-assed.

I guess that’s the big question for me in 2004. Am I going to continue to muddle on as I have been (with the modification of owning a house), or am I going to take some risks in order to have a bigger and more successful business? I think this Oldie but Goldie posted by VoWe this morning might point the way, but maybe a local PHP programmer will contact me looking for work and the plan will come together.

4. January, 2004 - slow sunday

On the home front, I got the kitchen unpacked yesterday. Well, all except for a steamer and a few other items in the last box, on which I just ran out of steam (pun not really intended). The plan today is to finally get the stereo set up (music has been coming out of my computer and boom box) and to clean out the pile of empty cardboard boxes that are sitting on my kitchen floor. But I was out at Manning’s last night, and am feeling kind of lazy today, so those plans might prove to be overly ambitious.

3. January, 2004 - new laws

I didn’t make a lot of progress on the home-front this week. Rather than getting more things unpacked and some of the smaller tasks done around the house, I spent time dealing with bugs in some software I’m trying to finish up. The most annoying thing is that these aren’t bugs that have been introduced recently, but rather problems that have been lurking in the software for months and have just recently been found. It leads me to think that maybe there’s a business opportunity out there for teaching organizations how to actually test their products. Of course I’m going to have to figure out how to sell the expertise I’ve picked up over the years, and more importantly, the expertise of my employee who’s really good at quality assurance (because he’s more obsessive-compulsive than I am).

One of the things I need to figure out around the house is how to get the grates for the cold-air returns fixed up. They’re nice wooden lattices, but because they were made while there was carpeting in here, they’re now about ¼″ too thick, so I need to buzz some wood off the back sides of them so I can fit them back into the floor again. I was thinking that the floor guys would do that with their big belt-sanders, but apparently I was confused, so they’re the one bit of flooring-related work that’s remains to be done on the ground floor. Anyone know someone with the right tools to finish that job? Professional help would be fine. Drop me a note, please. I need to get them fixed before I can have the house-warming, since having people falling into the heat ducts would be a bad thing.

2. January, 2004 - working out the bugs
1. January, 2004 - may this year suck less

Thinking back on the party last night, I’m struck by the different conversational openings I was hit with. There were two gals who served as a nice contrast. The prettier of the two opened a conversation with a question that I remember as Why don’t guys talk to me? I understand why women don’t, since I’m pretty, but why don’t guys want to talk to me? The other one spent a minute or two listening to a conversation I was having with another guy, and then sidled her way into the conversation. Guess which one I spent more time talking to?

That’s not to say that an abrupt approach won’t work to start a conversation with me. One guy at the party who looked familiar asked: Did you used to work at LaserMaster? Did you try to sodomize me at Toro’s of Aspen in 1992? I’d completely forgotten that he’d worked at LM (he was only there for six months, working in a different group), and apparently at some point in that booze-soaked evening over ten years ago (the same evening when Mel stole the framed poster from the men’s room, and where Aaron and I spent much of the evening trying to convince the bartender to make us a pitcher of manhattans, but that’s another story) he was standing at the bar, and I wanted a drink, so I’d come up behind him and, um, gotten a bit familiar while trying to get the bartender’s attention. We talked quite a bit last night, too.

Last Month
Copyright 2009, Dave Polaschek. Last updated on Mon, 15 Feb 2010 13:55:58.