"And everyone here
Knows everyone here is thinking about somebody else
Well, it's best if we all keep this under our heads
I couldn't tell if anyone here was feeling the way I do
But I'm lonely now, and I don't know how
To get it back to good"
-- Matchbox 20
Four and a half months since my last entry. Not a record for me by any stretch of the imagination, but needless none the less. And, to be honest, the only reason I'm probably blogging tonight is because I've already slept, but it's 00:53 EDT and it'll be a while before I can either go back to sleep or go into work.
There've been some changes over the past four months. The biggest one, by far, is that I quit my job. ("Quit my job." It sounds so... sudden, like I was engaged in a classic shouting match with a mindless managerial troglodyte, and just up and quit. The truth is, it was a 14 month process.)
I liked RABA. It was an incredible company to work for (when it wasn't Capita). The pay was better than I deserved, the benefits package was nothing to complain about, and there's no better desire for a geek than to work at a company where 90%+ of the people are smarter than you.
So why did I leave? My boss asked me that question - hell, everyone's been asking me that question, and few people understand the answer. It wasn't for the money; I took a significant pay cut. It wasn't for better benefits; I took a hit there, too. It wasn't for a specific job; I didn't know exactly what I'd be doing next. Instead, it was for - oh, I don't know - peace of mind.
RABA is a consulting company. Consultants, while they get their paychecks from one place, actually work for everyone else. In theory. Obviously, you're still expected to watch the bottom line, chase down future business, and be a good employee of the company. While at the same time trying to do the same for the people you are consulting. It's serving two masters. (Well, three, really, because I've always considered that I work for myself first, even though I'm not an independent consultant.) And while the conflicts were few and far between, they were there. And because of what I did and where I worked, it mattered. Really mattered. (I apologize if that's rather nebulous. Either you know, and you get it, or you don't, and you won't.)
Since I had no family, known financial obligations, and too many angst-filled nights, I did what I felt was the only logical choice. In a time when everyone is leaving for companies like RABA, I traded it all in for a chance to work directly for my long-time customers.
It took a while to negotiate past all the red tape. But I did it, and even though the hour-by-hour work experience is currently much worse than where I was as a contractor, I am much happier.
Of course, now I have no vacation, so it looks like I'm going to miss yet another Perl Conference. (Not to be confused with Yet Another Perl Conference, which I'm also going to miss.) And I sincerely doubt that this change is going to free up enough time to resume any work on Parrot or Perl 6. (And, believe me, I've no delusions that the impact one way or the other would be anything but negligible to the Perl community at large.)
I'm still playing volleyball. I got picked up on a great (reverse) coed 4s team this summer. Not great, as in our level of play - we're currently 5 of 6 in A league - but great in the sense that they are the first team in a while where I like (and like playing with) everyone on the team. Too bad S. has a boyfriend.
But then again.... During the lengthy interviewing process this spring, I met L. during one of the evaluation periods. We only talked briefly, but she made enough of an impression that I filed her away for future reference. As it turns out, she started the same day I did. Neither of us knew anyone else in our orientation class, so we kind of gravitated to each other. (Well, to be honest, since I'm shy and she's outgoing, I probably gravitated more to her than the other way around. But she at least remembered who I was.)
It was refreshing to see everything through a fresh set of eyes, all full of wonder and excitement. I had long grown too cynical to realize just how incredible the job could be - (another reason to question why I wanted to work there directly!) - and, like watching kids at Christmas, watching her made me excited all over again. We've been casually emailing each other since. It's been enjoyable.
I dug out an old, horribly-produced tape I made back before I left for Saudi. Half the songs I can't remember how to play, and I obliterated the first half of the first song. Luckily, my music is incredibly repetitious, so it's not like anything was truly lost. But I figured out how to hook everything up to my computer and record it, so I now at least have a digitized version. (And, somehow, even with an analog recording of a bad tape, the recording sounds better than the tape did - less hiss and noise.)
It was quite the adventure trying to change all my mailing lists and contact info off of gtemail.net and raba.com. I was going to build a server to hang off a friend's T1, but I couldn't get the hardware to work right, and I discovered that it was cheaper to just use a hosting service. So I'm now at coept.us - coeptus: a beginning, an undertaking. There's a blog there that I'm also not posting to.
Went out and spent the sixty dollars necessary to build my own Alton Brown ceramic smoker, and I smoked my first pork butt, as done on the Good Eats episode "Q". Best pulled pork I've ever had. And it makes an even better BBQ pork.
"I pull my shirt off and pray
Saving myself to suffer the heatwave
Pull my shirt off and pray
We're coming up on re-election day"
Umm..., how many of you knew that the Saudis were holding elections today?
"Boy, you're gonna carry that weight
Carry that weight a long time"
-- The Beatles
Update on my diet. 29 pounds lost as of this morning. 21 to go.
"My zippers bust, my buckles break
I'm too much man for you to take"
-- "Weird Al" Yankovic
Somewhere in the second half of last year, I finally hit 50 pounds of surplus weight (as compared to when I was in the best shape of my life, courtesy of the United States Marine Corps).
I had been creeping on it for a while. Since I play volleyball a lot, my knees were really hurting from jumping around with an extra bag of dog food strapped on. All sorts of problems.
Most of it is the unfortunate result of pure laziness. I cook at home five or six times a year. I cook at some friends' house far more often, but still no more than once or twice a week. I don't eat breakfast, eat lunch from about 10:30 to 4:00, and then have a huge dinner (invariably fast-food) in front of the TV. And let's not forget the four, five, seven, ten!!! cans of soda I drink a day.
So for New Year's, I watched "Super Size Me". While I don't think it was a real eye-opener - I've known what junk I've been putting in my body for years - it was a catalyst for me to actually make some lifestyle changes. They say that you can't change a behavior until you are really ready to, and I guess 50 pounds finally made me ready.
Losing weight wasn't a New Years Resolution. I didn't realize until later that I had even watched the movie on New Years. But I've lost twelve pounds and three inches so far this year, so I'll take it.
My dietary strategy is fundamentally "quit eating so damn much". (I'll spare you the legends of my eating habits.) I'm not counting fats, carbs, or calories, but I am making smarter choices about the food I eat. I'm eating breakfast, I'm snacking on fruit, and I've added these strange things called "vegetables" to my diet. I'm eating at home much more often. I've also been soda free the entire time.
The longest I've ever been able to go without soda since boot camp (where I didn't have a choice, and, quite frankly, had greater miseries in my life to worry about) was four days. After four days, the cravings and the headaches became too unbearable. Thirteen days, no headaches, no cravings.
I used to eat mostly because I was bored. Now that I'm eating better, I find that I'm not bored nearly as much (probably because I have much more energy for actually doing things). And my knees don't hurt nearly as much when I play volleyball.
"Fifteen feet into the night
Just seconds from the edge of light
Echoes darkly footsteps retreating
Or is just my heart that's beating?
"A whisper of windfall in the air
Descends on me without a care
As I contemplate the frigid moon
Moaning out its lonesome tune
"A vision dances across the floor
Silhouetted at the door
I close my eyes, wishing away
The torturous tricks my eyes will play
"And so the window beckons me
And I strain my eyes so I may see
Fifteen feet into the night
Just seconds from the edge of light"
-- Glass Curtains
Go on when I close my eyes
Every second of the night
I live another life"
I'm just showing a cow-orker blogs. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.
I've been having weird, vivid dreams for about a month now. It's driving me crazy.
"You ask so many questions
What answer should I choose?
Is this schizoid paranoia
Or just existential blues?"
-- Tom "T-Bone" Stankus
The Google cache for Google claims, "Google is not affiliated with the authors of this page nor responsible for its content".
"Like the pine trees lining the winding road
I got a name, I got a name
Like the singing bird and the croaking toad
I got a name, I got a name
And I carry it with me like my daddy did
But I'm living the dream that he kept hid"
-- Jim Croce
Since the U.S. news scene is being saturated with Reagan, here's what I remember most about our 40th president: on the day he was shot, I was furious because the news coverage pre-empted Scooby Doo. (The second most memorable is visiting an aunt in Dixon, Illinois, who lived a couple blocks from where the Reagans lived.)
Trivia Question: What was John Hinckley's middle name?
"And now I'm standing on the corner, all the world's gone home
Nobody's changed, nobody's been saved
And I'm feeling cold and alone
I guess I'm lucky, I smile a lot
But sometimes I wish for more than I've got"
-- Moving Pictures
So I celebrate the installation of the new microwave by, of course, going out to eat. Not that that was what was intended. I actually went to Savage Fest. (That's Savage Fest, not a festival of savages, nor a festival for Fred Savage.)
Not that Savage Fest is what I intended, either. I actually went to ask a friend of mine about the previously ranted electric stove situation. I had simply forgotten the Fest was this weekend. (Actually, I went over Saturday, and was reminded it was this weekend, although it was rained out that day. Between yesterday and today, I forgot again.) He wasn't home yesterday; he went to see Troy. (His critique: "I'm surprised that critics aren't commenting on how blatantly anti-war it is.") So anyway, I went over again today, and went down to Savage Fest.
So after some funnel cake, but no sausages, it was off on an errand, and then to the Burger King for a quick bite to eat. As I'm sitting in BK, I find myself pondering their various slogans, including "flame-broiled".
In their commercials, they show patties of mangled moo-meat on a conveyor belt over flames; flames that touch the meat, I might add. That's not broiling, that's grilling. Broiling is a dry cooking method where the majority of the heat comes via radiant energy from above. There's no convection, and about the same amount of conduction, which is to say very little. But that's not the point of this ramble. The point is, if almost all of the cooking is via radiant heat, then who cares whether it's flame-broiled or electric-broiled or nuclear-broiled?
But I digress. This entry wasn't supposed to be about broiling. It was supposed to be about those stupid warnings that you find in product instructions. Here's my favorite for the new microwave:
Do not use your microwave/convection oven to dry newspapers.
The most baffling warning, given that it must be mounted to a cabinet above it:
Do not store anything directly on top of the microwave over surface when the microwave oven is in operation.
"Here comes that rainy day feeling again
And soon my tears, they will be falling like rain
It always seems to be a Monday
Leftover memories of Sunday"
-- The Fortunes
So I'm in the midst of replacing most of my kitchen appliances. The kitchen was remodeled in 1988, when the house had an extension put on. Most of the appliances do fine (considering how little I actually cook here), but they all have some little quirk to them, and 16 years isn't an unrespectable lifetime.
My microwave - a combination microwave/range hood model - seems to lose track of time on occasion, and microwaves have come a long way since the late 80s, so it was the first to go.
It took several weeks to figure out how to deinstall the previous model. Its age made finding documentation almost impossible, and it clearly didn't match any current installation procedure. Luckily, a friend of mine had previously deinstalled a similar model, and he helped me out. (That's a story unto itself.)
So anyway, picked up the new one yesterday, and got it installed today, after spending last night trying to figure out exactly how I was going to do it. (That's also another story unto itself.)
My refrigerator, besides being somewhat inefficient, had the water pump (for the ice maker and the water dispenser) go out. It's also a bit on the small side, so I decided to replace it, too. So off I went to the store with measurements in hand. Now I understand why my fridge was on the small side.
My available space was 36 1/2 inches in width, with 68 inches in heighth. (There's a small cabinet above the fridge hanging from a soffit.)
As it turns out, fridges that are around 36" wide are taller than 68", and fridges shorter than 68" are around 32" wide. Ugh. So I returned home to make sure I measured correctly - an act that got me a $65 discount from a sympathetic salesman. I had.
To the left of the fridge is a 24" deep cabinet extending floor to ceiling. To the right is a counter, with 12" deep cabinets above it. Now, the cabinet above the fridge is a 12" deep cabinet, but it was set flush with the cabinet to the left, meaning it isn't mounted on the back wall, only to the soffit, and not very well at that. So I took it down. I'll mount it in the garage or something. Anyway, more than enough room now. The new one comes next Sunday.
The last appliance I want to replace is my stove-with-a-burner-that-doesn't, and I came very close to doing that as well. The reason I didn't is because it's electric, and I am still thinking about converting it to gas, which is what the water heater, furnace, and fireplace happen to be. (The previous owners didn't convert because they had never cooked on gas before.)
Anyway, I had to pull out the stove in order to install the microwave today, and was quite surprised at what I found. Or, more accurately, what I didn't find.
There's no outlet. None. The power cable from the stove disappears into a three foot gash in the drywall that separates the kitchen from the garage. Even more baffling, this power cable goes up, to at least 6', because I could see it running up past the exhaust for the microwave/range hood. What the...?!
The stove is located along the wall where the door (to the garage) used to be, before the remodeling. My house is a rancher, so they've could have rerouted it either through the basement, which is unfinished under the kitchen but nonexistant under the garage, or through the attic, which is also unfinished over the kitchen and garage (although divided), but would make almost no sense. Cursory searches of everywhere but the attic have revealed no clues as to where the outlet would be.
So now I'm at a loss. If the stove end of the cable has the same power connectors as a new stove would have, I could simply reuse it with a new electric stove. If I can't, then not only do I not know where to plug the stove into, but I can't convert to gas because I can't disconnect the current stove. (Well, without leaving a hot wire laying around. Yes, I could flip the breaker, but I wouldn't trust that for a second.)
Why do I think I'm going to be tearing down some drywall?