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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January 2006
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Breathing Money

Today I got paid for the first time by my new employer. They pay monthly (like my employer two employers ago) rather than every two weeks (like my previous employer). Given the transition time, that meant more than a month since the last full paycheck. Plus Brandy was not ever able to go back to work after New Year’s because her back just would not allow it. So she was not getting paid either.

(Had I not mentioned that? We had tentitively planned on her quitting in February to concentrate on getting the house ready for sale anyway, but when it got to the point where she had missed three weeks of work and there was no end in sight as she still couldn’t be up for more than an hour or two at a shot, she went ahead and told them she was not coming back… at this point, more than a month after her back got aggrivated, she is once again mostly functional, but still not to the point where she could do 8 hours a day at a desk job.)

Anyway, this last month was pretty tight because of the paycheck gap. But more so, the last two years were almost always tight because first in 2004 there was the one month gap between jobs that time around, then there were extensive moving expenses that were paid out of pocket and only later reimbursed, then there was savings for the down payment on the house, then there were moving in expenses at the new house (and many other things needed at the new house like washing machines and furniture and such) and then that is about when (cough) issues started happening with the inflows of cash being significantly less than had been planned on, and then there was a huge tax payment (because I had underwithheld in 2004) and then there were (cough) even more issues with getting even less cash inflow (significantly less once again) than expected… etc. So really, things have been in one way or another, to one degree or another, “tight” since about February 2004. I of course blame this 95% or more on what I was coughing about above. We were budgeted (primarily meaning our choice of which house to buy) in a way that was fine for what was promised, but which was barely sustainable with what was actually delivered, which was very significantly less.

As of this morning for the first time in essentially two years, I feel like I can breathe some… We can’t go crazy. We’ll be paying both rent and utilities for me in Washington, and mortgage and utilities for Brandy and Amy in Florida for the next five to six months. So expenses for the short term will be much higher than what will eventually be “normal”. But there is enough to deal with that and with a few things (like a new computer) that have been delayed for years now.

We’ll still have to plan and be careful (not TOO many large discretionary purchases… me ordering the new computer to replace my five year old G4 Powerbook will probably the only one short term) but for the first time in it seems like ages, we won’t be worrying about the small purchases, and if we can even afford to order a pizza without putting us at risk of not making the mortgage. Or having to go to the coin star to make sure there was enough to pay for food for the week. Or having to get loans from family or friends to pay for needed household maintenance that could not be put off. It hasn’t been exactly THAT tight the entire time, but it definately was more than a few times.

It is good… VERY good… to be able to breathe a bit again.

Depressing Weekend

Saturday I went out and looked at a few apartments. None really grabbed my interest and I started getting upset about the housing situation again. Bleh. Main decision out of Saturday was to not think AT ALL about possibilites of where all three of us will stay once Brandy and Amy join me in the summer, but JUST about a place for me for the next few months. Cause my standards are a lot lower for that. I don’t need something that great for just a few months. And we can worry about the other later. Oh well. Sending out a whole bunch more availability inquiries off rent.com today. I need to make a decision in the next couple of weeks.

Sunday was worse though. I’m do not believe I have mentioned this on the blog before, but we found out in November that Princely, the dog Brandy got before she got Amy, has terminal bone cancer. Most likely with just a few months left. There really were no viable treatment options especially given that Princely was already 11 years old (which for a 100+ pound dog of his breed is a good life). All we could do was give him pain killers and such and keep him as happy and comfortable as possible for as long as possible. He has still been in good spirits and happy. With a limp, not able to walk as far without getting tired, but dealing with it and generally still seeming like he was enjoying life. Gradually getting worse, but still getting along and seeming happy. This weekend though he took a serious turn for the worse. Time is running out. The “few months” back in November are now almost up. Looks like I will be flying home this weekend to be with Brandy and Amy… and Princely… to cut things short before he is really suffering. If it looks necessary, I will fly home before the weekend.

Like I said, depressing weekend.

Amy’s Field Trip and Stuff

This field trip was almost a year ago, but Amy just got around to posting some pictures and her captions a few weeks ago. Then she threw in some random pictures from more recently as well. It’s posted at my .Mac site since that was easiest for her to do quickly. In any case, here it is.

“VIEWING” MEMORIES

A FEW MEMORIES SAVED FOR ME AND OTHERS. TO BAD YOU WEREN’T THERE TO SEE THEM UP AND PERSONAL .

Riding Cross Country

image

On January 10th my car left Palm Bay. Yesterday I got a call that it had arrived here (a few days later than originally scheduled.) Tomorrow they will deliver it. I’m sure it had a fun time riding across the country. It would have been fun to go with it, but that was not in the cards this time.

It will be good to see the Saturn again. Of course my GPS and XM Radio are still back in Florida.

But it will still be good to be in the Saturn again. :-)

Treo Number Seven… Or Two

One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six….

Treo number six (the first 650 rather than 600) jumped in the pool then recovered then jumped in a bucket of mop water, then mostly recovered.

But it was indeed a “mostly recovered” it would periodically reset itself randomly. And that seemed to be getting more and more frequent, and sometimes it would just lock up completely and need to have the battery taken out and put back in to go again. With all the resetting every few minutes it was draining battery very quickly and I was missing calls. This is all probably because when I let it dry after the mop, I only let it dry a few days, rather than a couple weeks like after the pool incident. All the instructions about drying phones that get wet say you really do have to allow a couple of weeks to get everything completely dry (especially when you can’t completely disassemble it). When I turned it back on there was still visible water in the screen. Oops.

Anyway, I lived with that for almost two months, but this is why I now have the cheap insurance that Sprint offers with their phones for a few bucks a month on your monthly bill. Eventually (about a week and a half ago) I decided that enough was enough, and it was time. A single phone call and a $50 deductible later and a new (refurbished) Treo 650 was on the way. Over the weekend when I was back in Florida I switched over. So I am now on Treo Number Seven.

By the time this one is, um, done, maybe the Treo 700p will be out. (I have no interest in the Treo 700w). We shall see. I shall try to avoid pools and buckets of mop water for the moment.

Cinema: Hoodwinked

imageWhen I was back in Florida this weekend one of the items on the agenda was a movie. Frankly, all three of us were too tired for much else. I had not slept on the red eye on the way to Florida. Amy had been bad and stayed awake too. And Brandy had only managed a few hours of sleep herself. We didn’t know what was on, just headed to the theater and saw what was on. Two other prospects were not starting for more than 90 minutes. Hoodwinked was starting in about 40 minutes. So Hoodwinked it was.

When it started my first frustration was that there was a spot in the middle of ths screen that was a little out of focus. Not so bad that it was impossible to watch, but enough so that you (or at least I) constantly noticed and was distracted by it. I yelled (well, muttered under my breath) “FOCUS!” a few times, but it stayed messed up.

Then the movie started. After about the first 20 minutes I was thinking “ARGH! This is horrible! I wish I could drive a spike through my head!”. It seemed like every joke was falling completely flat. The animation was not impressive. The plot seemed to not be going anywhere. Etc.

But then, luckily, it started picking up. Basically the transition came after Red stopped telling her tale and it moved on to the wolf. Then it started getting better. I started laughing at some of the jokes. I started being more interested in what was happening. By the end of the movie I had switched my opionion to it having been a strange little movie, but amusing and fun. So I’m glad I went. But oh my did it start slow!

Goodbye Nacho

One more post for today though. Yesterday (Friday) just as I was getting up, Brandy called me to let me know that Nacho had died overnight. Narcho was a very old budgie. When I first got her she was already a number of years old and had a big fatty tumor. She refused to eat when I first got her she spent two of her first three weeks with me at the vet. But then she got better, and she did well. I’m not even 100% sure when it was that I got her, but I suspect that the year started with a 1 instead of a 2. OK, I just looked it up…

It was June 1998. I still had Moira and it was right after Kiwi died. Nacho had been a breeder bird and was already a grandmother and several years old, but after three clutches had decided she didn’t like boy birds any more and would peck them when they came in her cage, so the breeder didn’t want her any more, so I took her. When Nacho was so unhealthy her first month or so with me, I honestly did not expect her to live very long. Instead, she got better, lost a huge amount of weight (she was a really fat bird when I first got her) and not only continued to live for another seven and a half years, but outlived Moira and Pinky and Brain who at one point or another all shared a cage with her. (And she outlived Kiwi too, but Nacho never met Kiwi.)

She was a grumpy little bird and didn’t like human attention. But she and her cage mates got along well. As she got older, her current cage mates (Cheese and Skittles) would sometimes help feed her or preen her. They took good care of her in her old age.

She was a good bird. Goodbye Nacho. :-(

AAAAAHHHHH!!

I was going to post a quick picture of my office from my cellphone, but then I saw this and had to post it instead:

The ahhhhhh page

This page plots the number of results obtained from google for words of the form a{n}h{m}. For example aaahh would be represented by 3,2 and is found on the grid below at 3 down and 2 across. Hover over the square to see the number of google results, you can also click to see the results in google for yourself. The actual numbers that you will see will vary from what I found over time.

The results are coloured based on the log of the value. Cells that are bright red have more than 8000 google results.

There are a vast number of different variations of this word on the net. Even though I have examined so far up to ah(50,50), I have not reached the region where zero hits are common. In fact in the whole 50×50 grid there are only 16 zeros. Update: I’ve extended it to 60×60 now and at last there are places where there are several zeros together. Still there’s seven results at ah(60,60).

(via Digg)

That is just awesome. It reminded me someone of one of the old Abulsme charts I used to have up on my wall in college which is now in a box in many pieces after it got wet, dried, and started to crumble. I really do have to get some of those charts from back then online sometime. Or new versions thereof that are even better. Yeah, that’s it.

In any case, this post will make 10 days in a row of posts. Which is better than I have done in a long time. I figure I should savor that, as I will probably miss tomorrow (Sunday) as I will be back in Florida for a quick visit and will be spending as much time as possible with Brandy and Amy, and as little as possible online. But we shall see.

Stacking Pots

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The last Friday before I left Florida I spent all day at Amy’s school volunteering. My main accomplishments were picking up all the broken sharts of pots in their BioDome which had fallen when the shelves fell over. (The kids had put nothing on the bottom shelves and all the heavy pots on the top shelves, and the shelves were barely strong enough to hold the pots anyway.) After picking up the broken ones, I attached five of the shelf units together for added strengh (although in my opinion still not enough) and reorganized all the non broken pots onto the shelves with the weight in a better distribution.

After that I weeded their experimental marshland. Well, I cut a bunch of plants down with a kitchen knife. I’m sure they have grown back by now.

And then I went to the library and hung snowflakes and shelved books.

It was an exciting day.

But I liked the result of the reinforcing the shelves and restacking the pots.

Book: The Fabulous Riverboat

imageAuthor: Phillip Jose Farmer
Started: 11 Jan 2006
Finished: 16 Jan 2006
234p / 6d
39 p/d

I averaged 39 pages a day over 6 days, but the reality is that almost all of that was the first day while I was on the plane from Seattle to Florida. Then I read just a little a day until I finished it up.

This is the second of PJF’s Riverworld series. I am not home and can’t look up and find my records for when I last read the first one, but judging from when I bought this one, it was in 2002. So a few years ago. And of course I had read it before then many years earlier. The first one had Sir Richard Francis Burton as the main character. This one has Sam Clemens (Mark Twain) as the main character. The premise of this whole story is that everyone who ever lived on Earth from Pre history to about 2050 (minus children who died before age 5) are resurrected on this “Riverworld” which was obviously artificially set up and planned by SOMEBODY. The books are mainly the story of how society reevolves in this Riverworld, and the quest of a small group of people (many of them well known people from history) to find out who created this world and why.

It is a fun series of books. In 2003 the Sci-Fi channel did a made for TV movie very loosely based on the series. I think I watched it. But I have absolutely no memory of it what so ever. It must have really sucked and I wiped it from my memory. Ah yes, in the reviews on Netflix there are some gem comments like ” This was perhaps the saddest excuse for entertainment I have ever seen. I was embarassed watching it, and even more embarassed that I finished it. I want to apologize to the human race for having disgraced it by watching this movie.” Oh well, I put it on my Netflix list anyway.

But back to the book. It is fun to watch the various historical characters interact. There is a bit less of that and the clash between people from different places and times as there were in the first one, although there is still a lot. Mainly Sam Clemens and King John in this book. But there are a few other real historical figures. Just a fun what if. Nothing deep. The entirety of the plot of this book is about Sam trying to build a big riverboat to travel to the headwaters of the river where he thinks the mystery of the planet and the resurrection will be solved.

Pretty lightweight read. Good for the plane. In another few year’s maybe I”ll read the 3rd book in the series. :-)