This is the website of Abulsme Noibatno Itramne (also known as Sam Minter). Comments here or emails to me at abulsme@abulsme.com are encouraged... or follow me on Twitter as @abulsme.

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December 2005
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Rapping Amy

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Oh, perhaps that would be “wrapping”. Same thing though, no?

So, a couple days before XMas, I take Amy to the mall to get a few things for Brandy. After we are mostly done shopping, Amy sees the charity gift wrapping booth. She gets a couple things wrapped, but then asks me “Can I ask them if I can help?” I am dubious and say I think you have to sign up for that in advance. But she is persistant. Eventually I say she can of course ask, just be prepared for them to say no. A few seconds later she comes running up top me “They want to know how long I can stay!” I say we could probably manage at least an hour. She runs back and tells them, then she is back to where I am jumping up and down saying “THEY SAID YES!!!”.

Amy then proceeded to spend the NEXT FOUR HOURS wrapping gifts at the mall charity gift wrap counter. Until the mall closed. I stayed for the first half of that or so, then switched off with Brandy who watched her for the rest of the time.

The whole time she was increadibly serious and professional and very intent on doing a good job and being helpful to the customers… not a bit of squirming or playing or getting off task. Just four hours of wrapping.

And then she was BEGGING to come back the next day to do more.

Yup, that’s Amy for ya.

Meadowyear

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It was just pointed out to me a little bit ago (I did not remember on my own) that today was an anniversary day. I tried to check the exact one year date and time, what with the whole year is 365.242198781 days, not what the calendar actually says thing, but there was the little problem that neither Brandy nor I remember the exact time of the event. But just guessing, it still puts the anniversary today. Most likely sometime in the next hour or so. So I shall post…

It has been exactly one year since we closed on the house here in Palm Bay.

The picture above is from the golf course out back. Note the screen is finally on the house. Woo!

Anyway we still love the house, but it has not been trouble free. With the unmet expectations at work finances were always tighter than what we expected. The screen destroyed by the hurricanes in 2004 was finally fully replaced just last month (and the contractors did not do a perfect job). We have fought with roofers over a persistant leak on the flat roof over the lanai. And because the screen wasn’t up we didn’t use the pool as much as we thought. Oh, and just today after struggling with various people to get the pool heater up and running for Cynthia’s visit we were informed that the propane tanks and lines and maybe the heater itself needs to be replaced. (Serves us right for not even looking at the heater until a couple weeks ago.) Anyway, all that fun sort of house owner stuff. So, we’re ready to move on and find something nice, albeit a bit smaller and with no pool no doubt, in Seattle.

Which brings us to… what was the one significant thing I did today, on this one year anniversary? I talked to the relocation coordinator that has been assigned to me to help get this place sold. Just the preliminaries. We’ll have a real meeting with him Monday.

Perfect timing, eh? :-)

Book: The Gentle Giants of Ganymede

imageAuthor: James P. Hogan
Started: 14 Dec 2005
Finished: 26 Dec 2005
246p / 13d
19 p/d

So from pop Physics to an old school 1978 era hard scifi paperback. This kind of story really excited me as a teenager. There is practically no plot. Here, let me give it a shot:

  • Scientists investigate old alien wreck
  • The aliens show up unexpectidly
  • People make friends with the aliens
  • The aliens visit Earth and like it
  • The aliens decide to leave again

Yup, that’s it. The whole plot. Now, that is not all there is to the book, it just isn’t a plot driven book. It is pretty much all about exploring an idea and some scientific “what ifs”. Over the course of the book the author goes into more detail and reveals more of the puzzle as his characters go through the investigative process. But mostly we have exposition. I kept seeing the big flashing “exposition” sign as I went through the book. Whole discussions that you would read but think, these characters would not actually discuss this in this way, they are reviewing facts both would know. This conversation is for the reader’s benefit only.

But that’s OK. This is a sequel to Inherit the Stars. And then there are three more in the series after these two, the most recent of which was published just this year. I’d read the first three as a teenager. Haven’t ever read the last two. Together they tell the story of scientists uncovering the past history of the solar system. The biggest surprise being the true origins of humanity and how they interacted with a race called the Minervans in pre-historic times. Then it explores some of the impacts of what happens when the two species meet again. At least that’s where it is as of the first two books.

It didn’t capture me quite so much as when I was young, but the whole construction of the scenerios and the slow unwrapping of what happened still facinates. As I said, it isn’t about the plot, it certainly isn’t about the characters, both of those are just the bare minimum needed to support a construction that will allow the exploration of a few scientific ideas. “What would an intelligent species act like if it evolved a non-predator species”. “What would the process be to unravel information about a past society if we found just a few remnants”. Etc. You don’t really need the story part, but it makes it a little more “fun” than if it had just been written as an academic paper. But yet, it is that academic speculation that is the core and what makes it fun and worth reading.

Treos Actually STILL Swim… Sorta

I’ve been meaning to write an update on this almost since my post back a little over a month ago. As you all may remember, I dropped my Treo in a bucket of dirty mop water. It stayed there for a good half hour before it was rescued. I was convinced it was dead.

Well, in fact, about a week of drying later, I put the battery in, and while a little wet, it worked!!! I was shocked, but yes, it was a fully functioning Treo!

Uh, well, mostly. Every once in awhile it just resets randomly. At first it wasn’t that often, but now it seems to be happening pretty frequently. I may have to use the insurance I have on the thing, pay the deductable, and just get a new one. But I’m not giving up on it quite yet!

I just got a bluetooth headset for it for XMas, and a few days earlier I’d finally gotten MobiTV up and running and working on it. And after having not had it set up for a bit, I put SnapperMail back on it and am getting my personal email on it again. So it deserves a shot darn it! I can live with the occational random reset! :-)

Seriously though, I imagine I’ll have to do the replacement thing sooner rather than later and be on to yet another Treo. This one has managed to live through a lot though, what with me dropping it in the pool once and in mop water a second time. It is remarkable it works as well as it does!

DVD: Fantastic Four

imageSo one of Amy’s presents from Santa was the Fantastic Four DVD. She watched it during the day, then insisted that we all watch it in the evening. I was slightly curious about it when it was in the theater. Superhero movies are often fun. Usually mindless, but fun. But I was nowhere near curious enough to actually go to the movies. And I probably would not have gone out of my way for the DVD either. But if Amy puts it on and asks me to watch, OK.

And yup, it was a cute little movie. No plausibility whatsoever of course, and big plot holes, but if you ignored all that… Oh, and the fact that Sue Storm was not convincing in the slightest as an actual smart person… well, then it was just fine. And I never followed the comic, so was not worried about the changes from the original story. So I just had fun. You got the origin. You got some “oh my, how do we deal with these new powers”. You got Ben being all sad. And then you got the big battle thing at the end. Pretty much all that was advertised. If you don’t expect any more than that, then tis a good thing.

Pile O Presents

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Belated Wilma Pic

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A couple of people asked about this picture, so even though it has been more than awhile since Hurricane Wilma passed us by, I figured I’d post it. Here is me making a lap of our pool in near tropical storm force winds while various tree branches were flying around. Just minutes after this picture was taken a big branch snapped off one of our trees and flung itself into the pool. If I’d been standing there when it did, it definately would have hurt quite a bit. While I was doing this, Brandy was yelling at me to come back in side. I wonder why? The winds were barely even tropical storm force at the time! Geeze!

A Little Bragging

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I’ve been meaning to do this for a long time, but other things came up and I didn’t get to it. Just want to do a little of the “our girl is so great” thing for a moment.

First lets start with the stuff at the school. Way back a month or so after Amy started at the new school Amy was having a few adjustment issues to the new place, and we were having problems with one of the teachers in particular. In the end we got most of the things worked out, but one of the results is that they wanted to do some tests on Amy cause she wasn’t doing as good in school as expected. We were trying to explain the reasons why, but they were not listening.

Anyway, in November the test results came back. They did not find any of the learning disabilities or problems they were looking for and thinking might be the issue. Instead, they found what we knew… a Mensa level IQ and indications that the problem was simply that she was bored and not being challenged enough. So, a couple more follow up tests later, she got admitted into what they call “GSP” which is the special class for gifted kids. She started the next week.

And she has of course been absoutely thriving. It is only one day a week, but the change was immediately noticible. She is excited about it and engaged, and it carries over to all her other schoolwork too. She does her homework on her own in aftercare before she even gets home rather than it being a fight in the evenings to get it done. Etc. In addition to what actually happens in the class there is also just the effect of knowing she is in that group. It makes a big difference.

Although we did not get to do so literally, we at least figuratively got to shove the GSP thing in the face of the teacher who said “You think she is smart? We can’t see that. She needs to PROVE IT.” OK. Here ya go. Take her out of your class once a week and put her into a class that actually knows how to deal with smart kids and challenge them and interest them, and see what happens…

Anyway, we were proud of Amy for doing the battery of tests and coming out on top, and even prouder at how she has been doing since she started the new classes.

And in addition, the music continues to go well. She’s been preforming with the Brevard Children’s Chorus. And continuing taking lessons on her double bass, as well as piano lessions and guitar lessons. She’s all about the music. She got to solo on the bass in her school orchestra’s performance a couple weeks ago. All in all, doing very well with all three.

Anyway, she has been doing great.

Now, if we can just get her to clean her room…

The Success of the Butter

I have been negligent in not posting this earlier, but I had a backlog of my own stuff I wanted to get to to post. (I still have a few things in that list I haven’t gotten to…) But now that I am enjoying my break between jobs I have a little time here and there.

Anyway, I just wanted to officially congradulate my friend Rebecca on her continued rise to stardom in the poetry world. The latest is the news below, now several weeks old:

My News
(Reb Livingston, Cackling Jackal)

I found out that my poem “That’s Not Butter” originally published in MiPO’s Gabe Gudding issue was selected by Billy Collins to appear in Best American Poetry 2006.

This in addition to what seems like other good news of poeting success every few weeks from that quarter. Congratulations Rebecca! And Happy Rebeccamas!

The New Thing

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So… what is this new thing to which I am going? Many of you who I speak to regularly by email or by phone already know at least some of it, but I’ll post some more here.

I don’t yet have a good sense of just how sensitive the new place is to employees mentioning them or talking about them or anything else on blogs and such. I know some companies are relaitively open to such things, others absolutely forbid it, and most are in between. Untill I hear any otherwise though, I’ll stick to the policy I have generally had since this website existed, which is to not mention my employers by name and not to ever discuss any specifics of what goes on at work. Generally, not to talk much about work at all, and when I do do so to be very high level and vague.

So anyway, where am I going? Well, without mentioning their name, think ecommerce, think books (and other things), think Seattle. Oh, and I tend to link to them every time I read a book. There, just about anybody should be able to figure that out.

So, what will I be doing? Well, I don’t know all the details and specifics myself yet, so no danger of saying things I should not. But I’ll be working managing projects related to data mining, and extracting useful (and profitable) information from the huge amounts of data collected by the company every day. In addition to managing existing projects, I’ll be expected to help come up with ideas for new projects and new ways of collecting data and extracting useful information from it. That will be the really fun part.

In the all day interview with a variety of people I will be working with I just got a sense of excitement over the kinds of things I would be working on. It will take some of the product and project management I’ve done over the last few years, merge it with some of the web stuff I did before that, and then throw in a healthy dose of logic, mathematics, algorithms and analysis that I love, and have dabbled with occationally for fun, but haven’t gotten to do for “real” since college. I am hoping that this will be a real blast. Fun projects to work on, surrounded by smart people, the right resources and support to get things done, real ownership of projects, etc.

And yes, the job is in Seattle. This will be yet another big huge change. And yet another move.

A couple years ago I figured just how often I’ve moved in my live. This only counting the “full” moves where I take all my stuff and move it somewhere new, not the many back and forths between parents and such when they lived close enough that I did things like alternate weeks as a child and such.

Lets see:

Madison, WI => Durham, NC => Tanzania => Mozambique => Durham, NC => Indianapolis, IN => Washington, DC => Durham, NC => Frederick, MD => Pittsburgh, PA => Washington, DC => Alexandria, VA => Plainsboro, NJ => Yardley, PA => Melbourne, FL => Palm Bay, FL => Seattle, WA (or nearby suburb)

By the time we actually get fully to the Seattle area I’ll be only a few months from 35, so lets just call it 35. 16 moves in 35 years. That is moving about every 26 months. If you only count moves since I graduated college it becomes 7 moves in 13 years. Which is moving every 22 months or so. That is a lot of moves! Sigh! I had really hoped that I’d be in Palm Bay for many years. But given the situation at my previous employer that just was not feasible. And this opportunity would most likely have been worth a move even if the current position had been going well and I had been happy.

So, how are we doing this?

We could have opted for a “quick move” getting out of here instantly (or close thereto), then trying to sell the house remotely. Two problems with that.

First, there is some fixing up we want to do on the house as we put it on the market. Just a little additional work, things which we had intended to do all along but will now accellerate, will most likely raise the selling price by considerably more than they cost to do.

But second and more importantly, having myself changed schools in the middle of a school year, I know that is not fun. Plus if we moved right NOW, chances are we would not start out in the same school district we will end up in, and that would be yet another school change for Amy. She’s already been in one school for 3rd grade, another for 4th, and two different schools for 5th. Hopefully for 6th we’ll be able to put her somewhere that will let her stay with the same group of kids for longer than a year.

So in order to accomidate both of the above items…

Looks like we’re going to become a long distance family for a little while. I’ll be heading to Seattle on the weekend of Janusary 7th and 8th. I will start on the 9th. Brandy and Amy will stay home. Amy will finish 5th grade. Brandy will get all the things that need to be taken care of on the hose taken care of. There will be some sort of temporary housing for me from the company for a few weeks, but after that I’ll probably get a studio apartment or some such on a 6 month lease if I can find such a thing. The goal will to be to move into something perminant (or at least semi-perminant… good for a couple years at least) once Amy’s school year is over and the whole family moves.

In the mean time, I’ll get back on weekends when I can. It probably will not be every weekend. The first month I might not get back at all. This will really be difficult. The whole long distance thing is not fun. These few months will probably seem to be much longer. Tons of phone calls, emails, IMs and those visits as often as possible to be sure, but it is not the same as coming home and being together every evening.

But we know it is needed, and know that in the long run it is for the best.

Anyway, there is definate apprehension about the transition period… that will be hard… and the fact that when we do move, we will definately be moving into something smaller.

However, the new position is very exciting and seems like a great opportunity. It certainly beats any option that existed here in Florida… by quite a large margin. I am very excited about it and while those two thing may be difficult in the short run, in the long run almost everything should be better at the new position and the new location.

So… Seattle here I come!