Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Oil spill in the sky!

I realize rain does not normally constitute a bloggable event, but this is Phoenix. We're talking about a place that just a few years ago went from October to February without so much as a hint of rain. The day before Thanksgiving? Rain. Hold on, let's try that again, gang. The day before Thanksgiving?! RAIN!! Better. Good not great, we'll work on your enthusiasm later. On a seemingly related, but probably completely non-sequiter note; Sometimes those in charge of all that karmic energy give you some back. Sometimes it's good, like finding that extra $5 in a pocket or stepping off a curb funny but just sort of stumbling and looking like an uncoordinated giraffe instead of breaking an ankle. Other times it's bad, like pulling a muscle in your back while playing basketball a couple days before a big holiday break, or having your boss call out and put you in charge. Anyway, I get my good back in what I consider to be very small amounts. Like today, I had been planning on taking the bus for the past week instead of riding my bike and Karma was kind enough to not only NOT rain on me yesterday as I rode home, but to also wait for a day when I would be riding the bus to rain. Look, Karma, I appreciate the gesture, that really was very nice and considerate of you, but I have to confess, if you're reading, I'd like to save up whatever positive energy I manage to accumulate and cash it in with a phone call from the UN (see previous post) or the long-promised promotion here.

Anyway, it was a gorgeous morning at sixty degrees and rainy. This is weather I think most of the country would kill for except maybe Seattle...something about Seasonal Affective Disorder. Here are a couple other pictures of downtown Phoenix on a rainy November morning.

Monday, November 24, 2008

nervous ha-ha'ing

You know that feeling in your stomach that you can't help but laugh at? It's that feeling you have when you get really good news and realize that the reason it's good news is because it's about a bad situation. Like reading a bottle of Enablex 'Guaranteed to prevent bladder leaks for 24 hours' ha-ha, that's great! but in your mind you're thinking "I'll bet the 25th hour is a nightmare AND I still have a leaky bladder *FROWN*". Or going to the emergency room to hear "because of the pain associated with this procedure your co-pay will be halved" ha-ha, excellent! except 1.) you're still in the ER and 2.) there's more pain on the way. I think the word for it is...bittersweet. Those select moments where the only good news is that there is no more bad news (at least for now).

My bittersweet moment today came as I was paying rent. My lease is up Dec. 31st and I went to the office today to pay the final month's rent and discuss with MsDub (who, by the way, is just about the best leasing agent/office manager out there) my options. First a little back story: I would really like to escape Arizona. I have considered taking the AEPA and getting certified to teach so I can bail, but I'm not there yet, I consider that to be Option: Final. Ideally the UN would call me up and say "Aw shucks, you don't need to know French yet, we'll teach along the way, c'mon son!" and I'd be whisked away to a different hemisphere. I think the more likely scenario is that I get a job elsewhere in the states in some university's IT department (preferably someplace with some skiing, I'm looking at you University of Colorado at Boulder and Southern Oregon University). So why not get a job and hopscotch my way out of dodge? I'm almost done with my Master's and while it's an online degree and I don't have to be here for it, ASU is paying and leaving would change that (note: as long as I'm enrolled on Day One of the semester they'll cover the costs, so I could still be out by the end of January). Also, a new job recently opened up here that I may consider applying for, better pay, more challenging work, better title, we'll see. So I'm on the fence; I want to leave, but I'm not quite ready to ditch the free Master's degree and start over elsewhere unless it's something or someplace I really want. The bittersweet news of the day? All I said to MsDub was "My lease is up at the end of the year" she said "Oh my, already?! Well you can go month-to-month with no fee or sign a new lease with no increase since we haven't had any rent increases since you moved in."

That sound you heard where my eyelids narrowing into the most minuscule of slits as my brain tried to figure out what she was up to and my face tried desperately to conceal the joy at being treated like a person. You have to understand at my last apartment, we saw the rent go up $35 after our first six months then another $50 after our second six months AND we had a $200 month-to-month fee in addition to the increases. So to hear no month-to-month, no could have knocked me over with some sort of light, airy, tickle-inducing item. I left the office and felt a chuckle, a guffaw, a ha-ha welling up inside. This meant I had extra time to figure out what I wanted to do, where I wanted to go, and when I wanted to do it. HA-HA, sweet! bittersweet, if you will.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


It's here! It's here! Remember that post about ten days ago saying I'd know more about the XO-1 and how it works in a couple months? Dear readers you should know better than to listen to any of my predictions. So today I present you with, The Unwrapping. Early next week I'll try to get a post of it in action with some thoughts on design and usability. I've booted it up and played a little (only about 20 minutes at this point) and I will say this, I'll be brushing up on my bash scripting this weekend. Some initial thoughts: it is small, I mean tiny, I knew it would be, but still crazy small and it's hard to type with giant sausage fingers this is definitely meant for kids. I didn't realize it had a built in camera or so much in the way of built in activities like chat capabilities, journaling, music creation and editing, and writing. It also wouldn't let me see the wireless I have setup in the apartment (I don't broadcast the SSID) and it didn't have a way to manually input it somewhere (another reason to brush up on my bash). It worked quite well once it was connected though, I need to figure out what kind of browser it's using, it seems to trim off a lot of embedded media (it's a good thing). It also has an ebook mode that lets it handle a lot like my Kindle, I'll be loading up a book in the next couple days to give that a test run. Until then, stay geeky my friends =)

Monday, November 17, 2008


The Bears losing on Sunday was:
a.) awesome
b.) lousy
c.) huh-wha?

Obviously the answer is b.), but that's just my perspective. It's amazing how often that word is used and I have no idea how to really apply its definition. It's the old "look at it from someone else's point of view", in the moment I can't do it. Later on I can analyze, and often over-analyze, a given situation, but while talking to someone? I guess part of that is empathy. It's hard not to be selfish and only think of how what the other person is saying applies to and affects me. I guess that's why I have so much respect for people that are able to read and react to people. These people can recognize the right thing to say and do, and perhaps even more important the right thing not to do or say. Sometimes people need to vent, sometimes people need help, other times they might just need a second opinion and therein lays the true value of people-reading. Ever try to fix something or give help to someone that just needed to get something off their chest? I don't advise it.

It's all about perspective, point of view, lenses. For example, I love windy days. It's stormy, some clouds overhead, the gray sets in - like mood lighting, the smell of rain in the air, birds struggle to find a secure perch before the storm, and the wind whips through my luxurious hair. Except that someone is going to have to clean up all the debris afterwards. How had I never thought of that before? The grounds crew of my apartment complex must hate windy days. How many other things do I enjoy that make other people's lives more difficult? Wet, heavy snow is sure to ruin a plow driver's day. Getting computer components delivered the grotto probably doesn't do much more than annoy the UPS guy. Ordering my double-cheeseburger plain seems likely to agitate those cooking it up, not to mention slow down the rest of the process and make the people behind me wait even longer. I guess it's all about lenses...and it's taken me a long time to recognize I even had any on. What else don't I know?

This post was:
a.) awesome
b.) lousy
c.) a great cure for insomnia

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Wish List

Ah, what to do with a wonderful day off in the middle of the week? It's such a gorgeous day here in the desert; mid-70s, sunny, warm, not a cloud in the sky, this is the reason I moved here...the 110-degree summers, not so much. A nice walk through the neighborhood kicked off the day, followed by some cleaning of dishes, vacuuming of carpets, and washing of laundry all with The West Wing Season Two playing in the background (obviously we're setting up a giant WW marathon for my upcoming four-day weekend). Oh, and why not blog about your random, day-off activities, I might even start Twittering.

Anyway, we've made it past Halloween which means, if I understand things properly, we've entered Christmas territory and it's time for me to begin my wish list for Santa. Recently I built a computer for a friend, The LoneKnight. I was approached by LK about a month ago and asked "If I bought the parts would you build me a computer". After a few minutes I had my drool under control and was ready to start researching, I'll spare you the really boring details and just delve into the mundane. Needless to say, we put together a machine capable of possessing SkyNet and walloping DeepBlue at chess all while safely playing Supreme Commander (or StarCraft 2). What are the specs you ask? Why, I never would have told...except you asked so nicely.

Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-EP45-UD3R LGA 775 Intel P45 ATX Intel Motherboard
CPU: Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550 Yorkfield 2.83GHz 12MB L2 Cache LGA 775 95W Quad-Core Processor
Power Supply: Rosewill 530W
RAM: Kingston HyperX 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400)
Video Card: Galaxy 96GGF6HMFEXX GeForce 9600 GT 1GB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported
Case: Rosewill Wind Ryder Dual 120mm Cooling Fans and Mesh Design Front Panel

So, yeah, quad-core processor, 4 gigs memory, 9600 GT series vid card and total cost was ~$730 (cue song; *I'm...dreamin'...of a*). Oh, and it came with a FREE copy of Assassin's Creed. How totally sweet is that? So I'd like to add my friend's computer to my wish list, as well as a new job, new relationship, new bike, new car, and a twelve pack of Leinie's Nut Brown. Thank you Santa.


Monday, November 10, 2008


Finally, a post about neato tech stuff, and served with a side of philanthropy to boot! The One Latop Per Child foundation is offering another Get One Give One program starting next Monday, November 17th. This year's GOGO program is being coordinated through Amazon in an attempt to limit the shipping problems that plagued last year's public offering. More info on the program here: and more info on ordering your very own here:

I missed my chance at one last year by about two weeks, this year, I'm first in line. It's an intriguing design and idea. The laptop itself (the XO-1) is setup with mesh networking and Wi-Fi capabilities. Basically that means it can see other XO-1s and devices with mesh capabilities (standard 802.11s) and communicate with them to create an ad-hoc network. If one of these devices has access to a wireless internet signal, it can use its Wi-Fi connection to provide internet access to the whole network. The idea is to bring internet access to rural children in developing nations. The operating system is a version of Fedora with the Sugar GUI and meant to be used by children of all languages, so it uses pictures and symbols to represent what is necessary. I'm still not clear on exactly how it works, but that'll change in a couple months once I have my hands on one.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Words of Wisdom

Ever been chatting aimlessly with a group of friends when you hear yourself spit out some advice and you think, "Wow, I should really give that a shot, that's some good advice"? I do. All the time. Why? I haven't the slightest idea. I suspect it has something to do with me being a complete idiot, or maybe it's the Persistent Head Trauma Theory. What is it about being on the outside looking in that makes it so easy to diagnose our friends' problems, but makes it so difficult for us to stop rationalizing and listen to our own advice?

On the topic of eloquent speech I don't know what happened but somewhere along the road I lost the ability to form coherent small talk sentences. This loss is most noticeable around attractive women, but it also manifests itself in everyday conversation with friends, co-workers, and gym acquaintances. Some of the more entertaining tidbits;
at the mailbox of my complex a young woman says
"Geez, they stuff twenty pounds of junk mail and two pieces of mail I actually need"
The response?
"Yeah they really keep the recycling business". Smooth.
Conversation with my ridiculously hot neighbor after a night of drinking
"Man, I'm just counting down the hours until I'm home in bed"
Thoughts Mr. Suave?
"Yeah, me too"
"I mean, my bed, not your bed."
"Not that it isn't a comfy bed. I mean it felt nice that one time I sat on it."
"Um, I'll talk to you later...I'm going to bed."
Discussing the upcoming vote for Prop 102 (defining marriage) with some co-workers
"If you were gay wouldn't you want the same rights as straight people"
"Psh, I'm only gay in my dreams"

I'd seek out a speech therapist but I think it's likely I'd just make inappropriate comments about how 'therapist' breaks down into 'The Rapist'.