Archives: February 2006

Fri 24 Feb 2006

Where I Am

imageThe building just north of the parking lot to the east of the tennis court. Southwestern corner. Click the image for the full interactive Google Map. It ain't perfect, but it will do for six months. After that, we'll find something else. Or we might wait a little bit longer than that. We shall see. Spend the time building up cash reserves and getting to know the area and such. But not too much longer than that. This is not a forever place. I hope. :-)


Abulsme - Fri, 24 Feb 2006, 18:37:08 PST
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Here I Am

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I am at the place I'll be the next six months. Woo! And I have broadband again! Woo Woo!

And now, time to head back to work for the rest of the day.


Abulsme - Fri, 24 Feb 2006, 13:02:26 PST
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Thu 23 Feb 2006

Deprivation Leads to Depravation

In just a few minutes I'll be leaving work and heading home. I have one more work related thing to finish (after I make this post of course) and then back... well, not home. To the corporate housing I've been in for the last 45 days. My check out is later today. I need to be out and have my keys returned and such by 19:00 UTC. 18 hours from now. Which means tonight I have to put all my stuff in my car except what I will need first thing in the morning. Then tomorrow I get up early, pack up the remaining stuff and go check out before coming to work.

Then in the afternoon I'll leave work early and go actually sign the lease and move into the apartment which will be home for the next six months.

This new place will be completely empty. I will have a couple suitcases with some clothes in them and a computer. After my next triup to Florida I will bring back an air matress, and perhaps I'll get a cheap desk and chair for the computer, but that will be it. I have no plans to get anything much more than that until everybody moves in June and some of my actual furniture comes.

Furniture be damned, what is the most notible missing item? That's right... no TV. I ended up getting a 2 BR instead of a 1 BR since the last 3 months of the 6 month lease there will be 3 of us. As part of a compromise to balance off the additional cost, I will not be getting DirecTV, Cable, or even a cheap TV with rabbit ears. I will be going 3 months with no TV.

Here is what I figure... I don't need it. I get news online most of the time. Look at all the "Sites I Check Daily" listed on the left of my home page. I can even get good streaming radio news if I don't want to read it. If I don't have a TV, I will most likely read more and spend more time catching up on things (email top ten anyone?) and learning new and productive things I can do with my computer. Well, that's the theory anyway.

But then there is also reality. It's not like I'll need to go without any TV shows I really want to watch. Stupid behind the times notions from the MPAA and RIAA aside, I don't need no durn TV. In places where there is a convieniant way that does things "by the book" I will use them. Netflix for movies (or old seasons of TV shows) to watch on the DVD player on my iMac is wonderful. iTunes Music Store to get the handful of shows worth paying for that they actually have for $2 each... fine. (Although the resolution sucks...) But for everything else I really think is worth watching... well, be there a "by the book" way or not... there be ways.

The TV industry as we know it is dead. They just don't know it yet. They know they are in danger and are fighting like hell to buy off all the needed law makers to enforce old broken business models that have been obsoleted by technology through bad laws and intimidating lawsuits and by mandating that technology makers intentionally break their hardware to restrict what you can and can't do with content... They may succeed short term... but long term... 10 or 15 years from now the way entertainment is delivered will be vastly different from how it is done today. Not saying it will all be free or that copyright will go away. But the "big media" of today will have to adapt drastically and accept the new methods of distribution... or they will be replaced by new content sources that do. They are beginning to understand now with music as the iTunes Music store gets the billionth download yesterday... tv and movies are next... magazines and newspapers have already started to make the shift. And eventually books will go too. It is just a matter of time until someone finally makes an ebook reader that doesn't suck.

Oh well. In any case, even with such things, I'll be watching a lot less TV than I have in many many years. And that probably is only a good thing. The challenge of course will be to do useful things with that time rather than just spend it all rocking back and forth on my air mattress in a fetal position while hitting refresh on stupid websites waiting for them to post new stuff. :-)


Abulsme - Thu, 23 Feb 2006, 16:42:02 PST
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Yummy!

Nice map of my new home town:

Cancer risk from air pollution
(Seattle Times)

And the article:

Where the worst air is
(Warren Cornwall and Justin Mayo, Seattle Times)

The huge red cranes at the Port of Seattle aren't even visible from here. But it's what's invisible that's the problem. The air in this part of Seattle, some of it wafting from mammoth cargo ships idling at the port, is some of the unhealthiest in the state and the entire nation.
You can definately tell the difference day to day. Sometimes it is crystal clear and you can see the mountains and it is absolutely beautiful. Other days the haze is thick and you can't see across the water. And yet more of the time, it is raining, so you can't see anything anyway. :-)


Abulsme - Thu, 23 Feb 2006, 10:34:29 PST
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Wed 22 Feb 2006

Reorg #1

It only took 36 days... just about a week ago I had the first change in my command chain.

Jeff -> Kal -> Mark -> Llew -> Sam

became

Jeff -> Kal -> Scott -> Llew -> Sam

when Mark left the company to spend more time skiing.

Rumor has it this is just an interum step though, and there may be another change sooner rather than later. Thankfully though, none of this is anticipated to significantly change what we are doing. Just maybe put us somewhere where we fit better. Which is fine.


Abulsme - Wed, 22 Feb 2006, 11:39:47 PST
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Mon 20 Feb 2006

DVD: The Red Violin

imageOver the weekend I watched the next Netflix movie I had. The Red Violin. I really have absolutely no idea how this one got on my list. I certainly had no memory of it from when it was out or anything. It is the story of a violin as it moves from hand to hand over the centuries. And of course the stories of the various people who's lives it touched.

It was an odd movie. At each juncture when the violin moved to a new owner, the movie changed languages. So of course I turned on the subtitles. I can't imagine watching this without any subtitles. But I suppose if you knew all five languages you could do that. (I think it was Italian, German, French, English and Chinese... of which I know one.) Yes, this was not a movie intended for a mass audience that would get blockbuster crowds. :-)

It was good though. Slow paced but thoughtful. And very pretty both with the pictures and the music. Definately an art film sort of thing. Even with Samuel Jackson in it. But it kept me engaged and interested. I liked it.


Abulsme - Mon, 20 Feb 2006, 20:08:34 PST
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Sat 18 Feb 2006

Mall Chess

So a few hours ago I went out and drove by what will be my apartment in less than a week. They had cleaned up some stuff, but clearly were not done fixing up the place to be ready to move in. Nearby I found a place to get the money order I'd need to move in. (Easier than a cashier's check given my bank's closest branch is Indiana.) That taken care of, I went looking for food. Right across the street from the apartment complex is what looks like a little strip mall. It has a Barnes and Noble, a Circuit City, a Sports Authority and a bunch of other stuff. I discovered though that it also had a hidden indoor Mall type area. Mostly a food court (although a nifty one with non-chain type places and a wide variety of food). But some other stores. And... at one end between the food court, a grocery store and a board game store... was this:

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There was a whole area in the mall filled with people playing chess. With chess clocks and nice sets and all. (Not hundreds of games or anything, but there were probably around six games going.) The highlight was the giant chess set. Two people were playing and there was a croud of people on all sides watching. The giant board plus some of the other stuff was obviously set up as a semi-perminant feature. You do NOT see this in Palm Bay.

Maybe I'll like this area after all. :-)

Which reminds me, a couple days ago, since I have a usable computer again, I decided to once again start playing chess, not just against people on ICC where my rating has fallen so low that it is hard to find opponants now, but against the computer again. I'm working my way up through the Chessmaster 9000 personalities starting at the lowest rated and working my way up. I'll play one until I win, then move up to the next one. The first bunch should be easy. They are really really bad players. And then it will get harder. Hopefully this way I'll actually improve again. I seem to be a much worse chess player now than I was a number of years back... and I was never very good.

I've been considering posting the games I play. But does...

[Date "2006.2.16"]
[White "Abulsme"]
[Black "Cassie"]
[TimeControl "120+12"]
[Result "1-0"]

1.e4 g6 2.Nf3 Na6 3.Nc3 Nb8 4.Bd3 Bg7 5.O-O Bxc3 6.bxc3 f5 7.Bb2 Kf8 8.c4 b5 9.Bxh8 bxc4 10.Bxc4 c5 11.Ng5 d5 12.exd5 Ke8 13.Qe2 Nh6 14.Nxh7 Bb7 15.Nf6+ Kf8 16.Rfe1 a5 17.Nh7+ Ke8 18.d6 Be4 19.dxe7 Qd6 20.Nf6+ Kxe7 21.Nxe4 Ng4 22.Nxd6+ Kd7 23.Nb5 Ne3 24.Qxe3 Kc8 25.Qe8+ Kb7 26.Re6 g5 27.Qe7+ Nd7 28.Qxd7+ Kb8 29.Re8# 1-0

Mean anything or have any interest to anybody reading this?

Didn't think so. :-)


Abulsme - Sat, 18 Feb 2006, 18:21:35 PST
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30 kilovists!

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On 30 Apr 2005 at 00:33 UTC Matt sent me an email with the screenshot above saying he was the 30,000th visitor to my site and asking if he got a reward or prize or anything for it. Well Matt, here is your prize: You get mentioned on this post. (Took me awhile to get to that email, oops.)

As I post this Sitemeter is showing 58,435 vistors since July 13th 2003 when I first turned on Sitemeter. At the current rate that means about two weeks until it hits 60k. Who will it be this time?

(Of course, I must point out, sitemetere is flawed in several ways, most prominantly that I still haven't put it on all the really old pages on the site. But that's OK.)


Abulsme - Sat, 18 Feb 2006, 14:26:23 PST
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Wed 15 Feb 2006

Jeff Sighting

Nothing too significant, just wanted to mention that Monday at lunch just a few tables over from where my group was eating in the cafeteria was our CEO sitting and eating with three other people and laughing very distinctly occationally. Didn't talk to him or anything. I just note that at my company two companies ago, you never saw such a thing. The C-team level folks (and several levels down from that for that matter) had their own special mahogany lined dining rooms and such and would pretty much never think of having lunch in the regular cafeteria... let alone wearing jeans. It is an interesting distinction.

Now, that other company is a 69 G$ company and this one is a 16 G$ company (market cap), but still...

My directly previous company did not have a cafeteria and has a market cap too small to sneeze at (or would have if it was public, which it is not), so the comparison does not apply.


Abulsme - Wed, 15 Feb 2006, 15:11:48 PST
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Tue 14 Feb 2006

First from Cronus

Suffice it to say that I got Cronus all set up last night (including 6+ hours just migrating all my stuff from Zeus with the automated migration assistant). I played with it quite a while. I am very pleased. I just wish one of the WiFi networks I can now see with enough strengh to be useful was not secured, but NO, they all had to put passwords on them, so I'm still on a 56k modem... Oh well. Ended up having less than 2 hours of sleep and oversleeping after spending many hours exploring the new machine. I am late for work now. So I will not write any more before running out the door. But I had to make the first post from the new computer...


Abulsme - Tue, 14 Feb 2006, 09:11:32 PST
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Mon 13 Feb 2006

Dick's Shooting

I'm not going to say anything long winded about it. Just wanted to mention that I've been extremely amused by the whole Dick Cheney shooting his friend thing.


Abulsme - Mon, 13 Feb 2006, 10:53:59 PST
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Mail Problems

Just so yall know, I (and Brandy and Amy) are having the same mail problems as Rebecca. It has been going on for a little over a week now. It is being worked on, but may take another week to resolve. Basically, if you send me email at my normal address, it takes up to several days for me to get it (although every once in awhile something randomly seems to get through in less than 12 hours). And if I send an email, it takes the same kind of time frame for it to get to where it is going.

I do have several other personal email addresses, but I don't like using them and check them much less frequently (cause they usually only get spam). If you know one of those personal addresses, feel free to use it if you like. (If you know it, don't use my work email though, I try to keep the personal mail completely seperate. Thanks.) So, bottom line, if you need to get to me in any sort of timely fashion... call me.


Abulsme - Mon, 13 Feb 2006, 09:42:12 PST
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Sun 12 Feb 2006

Running to the Piedmont

image

Yesterday I put in all the paperwork for an apartment. Six month lease. A two bedroom rather than a one. That way we'll be a little more comfortable for the last three months of the six months, when Brandy and Amy will both be with me. It is not where I would want to live long term. But it will do for six months. My move in day is the 24th. The same as my move out day at the corporate housing I am in now.

Everything is reserved and the initial deposit in, but I don't sign the actual lease and give them the cashiers check for the rest of the initial money until the 24th. And before then I have to make arrangements for electricity and broadband too. I'll try to get that done later today. Ah... broadband! That will be such a relief. 56k is so increadibly frustrating!!

So I move out of this place the morning of the 24th. I move into the apartment on the afternoon of the 24th. Then the morning of the 25th I head back to Florida. I'm actually staying longer than a weekend. A previous engagement that existed before I started the new job. Taking Brandy and Amy to a concert (Moody Blues) that Tuesday night. Twas a Christmas/Birthday present for Brandy. And then once that is over, Amy and Brandy are flying back to Seattle with me for the rest of the week. Amy has interviews for schools. I think one is scheduled so far, but more will be scheduled by the time we get there.

It will be a busy week.


Abulsme - Sun, 12 Feb 2006, 20:07:56 PST
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Sat 11 Feb 2006

One Month Down

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I didn't note it when it happened, but yesterday (Saturday the 11th) at 03:29 UTC it had officially been 30.4368 days since I initially walked in the door of the building to start my new job. In other words, it had been a whole month.

It actually has seemed to go by quickly, because I am having fun and enjoying myself. And learning a lot. And also, more importantly, I can say the transition from being purely in a learning mode to actually being able to contribute finally started to kick in this last week. At least I feel like it did. I am still getting up to speed. No question about it. Several people have told me that it took them six months to feel like they really knew what was going on. But I have started to more actively participate in discussions and add things and I've been doing a few things that I can actually point to and say I did something and finished it. Now, nothing too horribly significant yet, but I'm getting there, and people seem to be pleased with my progress, so that is good.

By the end of the second month I hope I can say almost all of my time is doing things which actually contribute to the group rather than most of it being learning and getting up to speed time. The learning is fun, but I am here to actually contribute and move things forward, not just learn for my own sake. I'd say the first two weeks were almost 100% learning. Third week I probably managed 10%-15% productiveness and the rest learning. Fourth week I think I was getting over 30%. I'm hoping to be over 50% this coming week. Ramp up is necessary, but sucks. I want to be DOING stuff as quickly as possible. I'm getting there though.


Abulsme - Sat, 11 Feb 2006, 20:07:02 PST
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Thu 09 Feb 2006

I am DUN

Since Cronus seems to be coming early, I went to the Apple Store this afternoon and grabbed a USB modem for it. Didn't think I would need that since it was due to arrive in March, so I hadn't ordered it bundled. But while I was there I also grabbed a Bluetooth Dongle from Zeus. I figured I could get the bluetooth thing all figured out, cause that will be faster that dialup on Cronus. Now, Cronus will have bluetooth build in and thus will not need a dongle. But with Zeus I need it. Now, I can't get incoming calls while I am connected with Bluetooth, so I would still need the old dialup for other times... OK, so I could have just bought nothing and used Cronus's bluetooth only (just not stay online all the time) or just bought the USB modem... but...

Anyway, I have the Bluetooth set up now on Zeus. So I am connected to the internet via my Treo on the Sprint network. It is averaging 3 to 4 times faster than the dialup did. And that is a huge difference! It is not fast... but it is no longer PAINFUL like the dialup was. Plus, the dialup would randomly hang up occationally or just stay connected but slow to almost zero speed, both of which were very very annoying. This is MUCH better. I suddenly feel like the computer is usable. I can surf the web and get other things done without going away for ten minutes between each click.

This is very nice.

Of course, Cronus will arrive in a few days. And then I'll move to an apartment within the next two weeks. And shortly after that I'll have real broadband back. But this is a huge improvement over yesterday!

So for now... bluetooth on Zeus after about 5 UTC when Brandy goes to sleep back in Florida. Dial up between 12 UTC and 5 UTC if I really need it. Then once Cronus arrives same thing for as long as I am here. Then once I move to an apartment all Bluetooth (just not all the time so I can still get calls) since I won't have a landline there. Then soon after that I'll have broadband again and all will be right with the world.

Anyway... long and boring... but I was quite excited about it. The internet suddenly works again! (I can't believe I can remember when 56k was fast... urgh!)


Abulsme - Thu, 9 Feb 2006, 21:23:29 PST
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Cronus has Shipped

I've been checking my order status page at least daily, sometimes more. As of my checks yesterday, they still said they expected Cronus to ship on March 1st and arrive by March 8th. (I'd just gotten regular shipping.) That's what it had said ever since the moment I ordered it.

Well, a little over an hour ago, I unexpectedly got an email letting me know that it had indeed shipped and was on the way. It has just been picked up by FedEx in Shanghai, China. According to the email from Apple, it should arrive here in Seattle on the 14th. That would be Tuesday. Woo!!!!

Of course, this is earlier than expected, so I am not actually fully prepared. I had expected to be in a real apartment and with broadband access before I got it. So I didn't get the external modem dongle thing. I should be able to use Bluetooth DUN on my cellphone, but then of course when I was online I would not be able to use my phone. So I may have to make a run to the Apple Store this weekend for one of those modem dongles, so I can keep dialing up at 56k until I do move into a real apartment and have broadband and all. It will be a shame to run a nice new machine like that on a 56k Internet connection... but I'll manage. :-)

It is on the way! Woo!


Abulsme - Thu, 9 Feb 2006, 00:40:11 PST
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Wed 08 Feb 2006

Scatterbrandy Returns

For the first time in many months, Brandy is driven to post on her blog.

There is a time...
(Brandy Donaghy, Drunken Sailor)

So I understand that there is a time for everything, and that there is a REASON for everything. And we don't always understand the reasons. Whether it's a single omnipotent entity, a matrix of energies, a whole flock of lesser dieties, or just a few mostly insane highly intelligent beetles from the fourth galazy to the left who have had a few extra doses of their meds, somehow, us mere mortals lare left to just accept it and live with it. In any case it's bulls**t. I have had the crappiest last few months and so I am really leaning toward the alien bug theory. Unless that is, I care to fall back on the spiteful child's toy morble thing...
Read the whole thing.

I only wish her inspiration had not come this way. It has been a very rough few months indeed. :-(


Abulsme - Wed, 8 Feb 2006, 23:56:11 PST
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Travel Agent is to Kayak as Real Estate Agent is to X

This is very cool.

2 Web Sites Push Further Into Services Real Estate Agents Offer
(Damon Darlin, New York Times)

Two real estate Web sites are starting to offer services that could change the way real estate is bought and sold online.

One site, Zillow.com, which will be introduced today, will help consumers obtain more accurate real estate sales information — to the consternation of some real estate agents.

A smaller site, Redfin.com, introduced an unusual new service last week that might be even more disruptive to the real estate industry: the feature automates the process of bidding on a house online.
(via Memeorandum)

I think Zillow is overvaluing our home by a little bit though (based on conversations we have had recently with an agent about the current slowdown in the market). I would of course be very pleased if that was not true. :-)

The other site (RedFin) is starting out in the Seattle area, so maybe we'll check it out some too.


Abulsme - Wed, 8 Feb 2006, 17:16:37 PST
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At a Snail's Pace

The little snail that could - Snails are faster than ADSL

Calculations that were conducted after the experiment, explicitly proved that in spite of the relatively, very slow, speed of the biological carriers, the Snap system succeeded in transferring data faster than any other conventional technologies, existing today.
(via BoingBoing)


Abulsme - Wed, 8 Feb 2006, 16:40:17 PST
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How Bill Did

"The Road Ahead" 10 years on
(Geoff Richards, bit-tech.net)

Gates turns 40 and, clearly feeling on top of his game, he collaborates with Microsoft's Chief Technology Officer, Nathan Myhrvold, and Peter Rinearson, to write his vision for the future - titled The Road Ahead. The book is pitched as Bill's "bird's-eye view of the undiscovered territory on the information highway - an authoritative, thought-provoking, and very readable travel guide for the journey. In this optimistic and refreshingly realistic book, Gates looks ahead to show how the emerging technologies of the digital age will transform all our lives."

It occupies the top slot on the New York Times' bestseller list for more than seven weeks and goes on to sell over 2.5 million copies.

[...]

Well, William, it is indeed now ten years later. Let's take a stroll down memory lane and see how many changes you correctly predicted and how many were wide of the mark.
(via Digg)


Abulsme - Wed, 8 Feb 2006, 10:04:33 PST
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Tue 07 Feb 2006

Something in My Eye

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Sunday morning I woke up. I put on my glasses. I realized that the left lens was missing. It had been lose and popping out all the time, but I just pop it back in. This time I just wasn't sure when it had fallen out. When I fell asleep I think I was still wearing my glasses. I took them off and put them to the side sometime in the middle of the night. Long story short I couldn't find the lens. Its probably still in a blanket or sheet or something. Brandy is still looking.

But I left for Seattle without my glasses. I am wearing my contacts. I will have to wear my contacts indefinately until Brandy finds the lens and mails me my glasses. I have never worn them for more than a day or two at a time. It still takes me over half an hour to put them in. They still feel like I am constantly sticking my finger in my eye. I am not really super fond of contacts.

But I guess this will make me actually get used to them. Maybe by the time I have my glasses back I will not actually want them back. We shall see. I don't think so though. I am craving them at this very moment.


Abulsme - Tue, 7 Feb 2006, 19:50:44 PST
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Deskification

image

Roughly what my desk looks like. (Via the crappy camera on my phone, sorry!) Thrilling, eh?

As of today (well, yesterday, but I was stuck in airports) I have an office mate. It was nice to have a solo office, but I knew that was not going to last long, because they seem to be pretty rare here, and also because, well, my boss shares an office, so the chances of me not sharing one while he did for any longer than a couple weeks were pretty slim. :-)

My new office mate is a developer named Ian. He's Australian. I've only spoken to him for a few minutes so far, but I'm sure he will be a fine office mate.


Abulsme - Tue, 7 Feb 2006, 12:17:46 PST
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Mon 06 Feb 2006

Another State

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I am in Salt Lake City for my layover. I had not been in Utah before as far as I know. So I'm now at 39 states (plus DC). 11 states to go.

(Map from World66.)


Abulsme - Mon, 6 Feb 2006, 16:49:05 PST
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Another Day

Well, I made it to Atlanta. But because of weather delays my flight into Atlanta didn't get into the gate until boarding was already done for my flight to Seattle. I am now rerouted to a flight to Salt Lake City (after a four hour layover here in Atlanta...) then once I get to Salt Lake a 3 hour lay over before I catch a flight to Seattle from there. Fun. I am very tired too.

They really should have those napping pod things like I've heard they have in Japan. I'd pay $20 to have a nice private little pod thing to sleep for the next few hours with an alarm set to ring an hour before my flight or something. Yes, that would be cool.

I could have gotten a direct Atlanta to Seattle, but instead of waiting here four hours in the Atlanta airport, I would have had to wait seven hours, and at least by the scheduled time, it would have gotten there later anyway. Yawn!

Anyway, this will mean I miss work entirely Monday (although I may try to do some things remotely while I am at airports, I'm not sure how much I'll be able to get done... this wireless at the Atlanta airport sucks and keeps cutting out). I'll end up getting back to Seattle something like 21 hours later than originally scheduled.


Abulsme - Mon, 6 Feb 2006, 08:09:45 PST
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Sun 05 Feb 2006

Another Night

Got to the airport Sunday to catch the plane back to Seattle. Canceled. Bad weather in Atlanta where I would have been changing planes it seems. They put me on the first flight in the morning. So I have one more night here and will miss some of the work day on Monday. I don't mind the extra time here at all of course. But at the same time, I'm trying not to miss too much work while I'm still in my first month!


Abulsme - Sun, 5 Feb 2006, 19:55:23 PST
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Sat 04 Feb 2006

Goodbye Princely - Good Dog!

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Abulsme - Sat, 4 Feb 2006, 15:00:08 PST
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Fri 03 Feb 2006

Sad to Head Home

I'm leaving for the airport in mere minutes to head home to Florida for the weekend again. Unfortunately, it will be a sad trip home this time. (See the second paragraph here.) But it is needed. Sigh.


Abulsme - Fri, 3 Feb 2006, 11:33:29 PST
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All Better at School

Brandy called this morning to let me know she had just gotten out of the parent teacher conference for this grading period. She was all prepared to go in fighting again. But instead... it was all positive. The teacher said Amy was doing very well, that everything that had been a problem earlier in the year no longer is, and that she is doing great. A's in Math and Science. A strong B in reading (her weak area) but that is a strong improvement and is still getting better. And she is much mroe organized than before. She is getting things done. She is turning things in. In fact she is finishing what she needs to do well before the time allowed and is asking for more. (Which is what we've told her to do when she is assigned something she thinks is boring and stupid, rather than not do it because it was stupid and boring, which is what she often used to do.) In any case, she is doing great.

We are very seriously looking at private schools for next year in Seattle. The public school gifted programs are on a waiting list, and assuming we apply now, it might well be over a year before she actually got in. And the reports we have been able to find on public school quality in the area are pretty uneven. There are however a number of good private schools. Brandy is in the process of getting all the applications in right now. The deadlines for most of them were in January, but all of them we have called have said since we are just moving to the area now, they will wait for our applications and consider them. They are all very expensive though. Brandy is filling out the forms to apply for financial aid too, but we may or may not get anything significant there. We have to plan as if we'd have to pay out of pocket. If we don't get into the schools we want, we'll fall back on the public school system. But if we get in, we'll figure out how to make it work. That expense might very well balance off most if not all of any financial benefit gained from the new job and certainly would reconfirm the fact that we will be picking a place to live that is much lower on the budget scale.

But you know, it is just a question of priorities. Making sure Amy is in a setting where she will be able to thrive and do well and succeed is critical, and trumps most ofther concerns. Rebecca posted a few days ago about changes to priorities and perspectives that occur after becoming a parent (see here). Her's was in a very different context, and I was suddenly the parent of a 3rd grader (now 5th grader) and I missed the baby years, but same sorts of things. Priorities about how you spend time, and how you spend money, what matters and what does not... just change completely. And that is OK. Not only OK, but good.

Very proud of Amy this morning.


Abulsme - Fri, 3 Feb 2006, 08:02:15 PST
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Thu 02 Feb 2006

DVD: The Last Temptation of Christ

imageI'm not sure how this got on my Netflix list. Probably the same way many things do. It came up in a conversation, I realize I have never seen it, and I go add it to my list, just cause, hey, when something comes up in conversation, I should have the cultural reference point. In any case, this arrived from Netflix many months ago. I tried once in December (I think) to watch it on one of my plane flights back and forth between Seattle and Florida, but I was sitting next to little kids, and then things started happening on the screen that made their eyes go wide, so I stopped that and watched Buffy instead.

A few days ago I decided to try again. It had been awhile, so I started over rather than continuing from where I'd left off.

In any case, here are my conclusions. The movie to me was essentially three very distinct parts, so I will talk about them seperately:

Before the John the Baptist: William Dafoe is a sucky Jesus. Or he was directed that way. Or the book this is based on is that way. Fine, OK, this is before he "started" and I can understand some of what they are trying to do here in terms of showing this poor schitzophrenic man and the voices in his head, but... he just engenders no sympathy through his performance. He just stumbles around looking pitiful and depressed. Fine. Got the point in 5 minutes. Did not need 45 minutes of it.

During Jesus's ministry: William Dafoe is still a sucky Jesus. You get absolutely NO understanding why anybody would ever follow this man. They show more and more people deciding they should follow him and there are crouds and you see there is a "movement". But you can not see any possible reason for it. This Jesus shows no charisma whatsoever. You expect a David Koresh type of guy. Someone who is insane, yes, but who has an appeal, who is compelling, who you would understand why some people would be drawn to him and why many people might follow. Defoe's Jesus is someone that people would walk away from or ignore. His tone is lethargic and sleep enducing. Not something that would energize anybody to give up their lives and follow. Or even to change their behavior and do what this man is recommending. At least Judas is a bit interesting in this phase.

On the Cross: Here it gets at least slightly interesting. Finally the actual "last temptation" happens. Basically you get an Inner Light type scenerio. [I'm sure other places did that sort of thing earlier, but I just thought it was amusing to make a Star Trek comparison while talking about a Jesus movie.] Basically Satan gives Jesus the chance to live a normal life instead of dying on the cross. Jesus does not know it is Satan and accepts. He lives out that whole life, then at the end realizes the truth and begs to go back and do the right thing. Then he is back on the cross and the movie ends. Of course, this completely makes the whole temptation moot. Because Jesus did NOT have to choose. He got both. He lived the entire normal life, out to being an old man, then got to go back. Yes, there was supposidly the spiritual choice, and at the end of the life he saw, he had to choose to go back and die on the cross. But... he had already experienced the normal life. He gave nothing up. He was not presented that as an option and refused it. He accepted, lived it, then went and did the other as well. Perhaps that is the point, he DID give in to the temptation and thus really was just a normal man. I don't know. Of course, in the end it was all just the final hallucinations of an insane man slowly dying, so doesn't really matter.

Anyway... all in all... bottom line... about 30 minutes of interesting material in a 164 minute movie. Maybe if you push it, an hour of stuff worth watching. But it was way way too long. And be it the actor or the director or the writer, the Jesus character himself was just never compelling or believable. I never felt sorry for him or sympathised in any way. I certainly wasn't inspired or anything of a religious sort of nature that would lead me to want to admire this man in any way. I just wanted to slap him and tell him to get over himself.

Anyway, worth seeing on the grounds that it was very controversial when it came out and is a cultural reference point of sorts... but that is the only reason.


Abulsme - Thu, 2 Feb 2006, 10:10:08 PST
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Wed 01 Feb 2006

Never Did Send One

Era Ends: Western Union Stops Sending Telegrams
(Robert Britt, LiveScience)

After 145 years, Western Union has quietly stopped sending telegrams.

On the company's web site, if you click on "Telegrams" in the left-side navigation bar, you're taken to a page that ends a technological era with about as little fanfare as possible:

"Effective January 27, 2006, Western Union will discontinue all Telegram and Commercial Messaging services. We regret any inconvenience this may cause you, and we thank you for your loyal patronage. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact a customer service representative."
(via Yahoo! News)


Abulsme - Wed, 1 Feb 2006, 09:43:49 PST
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Tue 31 Jan 2006

Cronus is Coming



Aphrodite: July 1994 to February 1998 - Power Macintosh 6100/60 - Hard drives named Mercury and Venus

Ares: February 1998 to February 2001- PowerMac G3/233 - Hard drive named Mars

Zeus: February 2001 to February 2006 - PowerBook G4/500 - Hard drive named Jupiter

Cronus: February 2006 to ??? - iMac 20-inch 2GHz Intel Core Duo - Hard drive named Saturn

Options:
ATI Radeon X1600/256MB VRAM
2GB 667 DDR2 SDRAM - 2x1GB
500GB Serial ATA drive

I ordered it a few hours ago. It should ship in 3-4 weeks. It was the hard drive that caused it to be so long. If I'd gone with the smaller drive, it would have shipped in just a few days.

Going with a desktop instead of a laptop was a tough decision. When I got Zeus I swore I'd never have a desktop as my primary machine again. Laptops were the way to go! But at this point I have a laptop from work when I really need the portability. (Although it is locked down a bit so really is only for work, and of course it is Windows... ick!). And I really wanted the big screen. And the power/$ is a lot more for the desktop. And as Ivan pointed out, I really abuse my portable devices. I can barely go a couple months without dropping them or otherwise hurting them. So... a maxed out iMac it was.

This was the big purchase for the quarter, and probably for the half. Maybe for the year. There are a bunch of other things I would love to buy, and really want, but this is it for now. I'm done.

This will be a long 3-4 weeks (plus shipping time!). I have managed to cobble together Zeus by propping one corner up with a stack of quarters and with some strategically placed tape, so now I don't actually have to squeeze the left hand side for the screen to work any more, but that won't last very long. And it is still painfully slow. Even with running some software in Rosetta I should see around a 10 times increase in speed over my old machine. The clock speed is only 4 times my current clock speed, but it is a dual, so that is really more like 8 times the clock speed when that is taken into account (kinda sorta not really but close enough)... and it is also jumping two chip families ahead. Not to mention I'll also have four times the amount of memory I have here, and 8 times the disk space. And I have been significantly bound by both physical memory and hard drive space (for virtual memory as well as files) for quite awhile now as well as by CPU. A significant amount of the time I have both CPU and physical memory maxxed out, and swap space for virtual memory would fill up the drive to almost 100% while the machine was thrashing and slowing to a crawl. And I will also have a working CD and DVD drive again for the first time in over two years. Yum!

This will be a nice upgrade.

I also ordered a bottom of the line minimal Windows laptop for Brandy today. She is without any computer ever since I took Zeus to Seattle (and Zeus was not working well enough anymore for her to use anyway, what with having to hold it just right for the screen to work) and she's been going nuts without. We'll replace that later this year sometime after Apple comes out with the Intel replacement for the iBook. At least that is my plan. We'll see how that actually goes. :-) Brandy should have her computer by Monday at the latest. So she'll have hers long before I have mine. But then again, I have my work laptop and Zeus at the moment, she has nothing. So I guess that is OK. :-)


Abulsme - Tue, 31 Jan 2006, 21:34:08 PST
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