Slow Week

So it’s been a wacky few days.  My laptop’s death kind of threw me for a loop and I was shopping around for a good deal on a new one over the last weekend.  Work has been nuts.  Got some excitement on all fronts, though.

I did find an OK replacement laptop at a decent price with my discount from work.  I’ve liked the ThinkPads that I had, and I stuck with Lenovo when buying a new one.  I’m sure I’ll be happy enough with it.  One thing I DEFINITELY wanted to do this time is get a brand new machine, instead of muddling around with a used one.  I STILL have a bad taste in my mouth from a really poor ebay experience like 4 years ago…

Lorch also came into town last weekend and crashed at Casa del Bocko for a couple nights.  He had to fly out of Mitchell at the crack of dawn on Saturday because he was shooting for a documentary on the Honor Flight.  It’s a really cool program, and all three of us (me, Lorch, Michelle) all agreed we wished we could’ve gotten our grandfathers signed up when they were around.  So hey– if you know or are related to a WWII or Korean War vet, check it out.  Seriously.

Anyway, it was nice to hang out with Lorchie and watch the Brewers together.  We had some beers at The Harp, and we grabbed a pizza at BBC.  We talked about getting ready for attending Wordy’s wedding this summer.  I am looking forward to the vacation, for sure.

So, later in the week here, I got a call back from my old boss up in Oshkosh.  She had a good reason to call, as I had been in there on 4/23 for an interview.  I got offered a job as the Assistant Director for Operations back at the old UWO FAO.  It’s a really good professional opportunity, so I took it.  I didn’t say much about it to many people as I decided to apply and go through this process, for a variety of reasons:

  1. It was the least qualified I felt going in to an interview in quite a while,
  2. I knew I’d have to field a lot of questions about my plans for the future, as I just moved down to Milwaukee about two years ago, and I didn’t feel like addressing those until a new job was a sure thing,
  3. I thought I might jinx it.

So, it turned out well.  Here are the answers to some of those commonly asked questions that immediately come to everyone’s mind:

  1. Yes, Michelle and I are doing just fine.  I think we’re really good, in fact.
  2. Having stated #1, no I’m not in a big hurry to move back to Oshkosh.
  3. Having stated #2, yes that means I’ll be commuting for a while.
  4. Having stated #3, yes I’m OK with that.
  5. Having stated #4, yes I’ve thought about what it will cost.
  6. See #4.
  7. This doesn’t mean that I’m “giving up” on any creative aspirations that I’ve had related to my English degree.  It just means that I’ve recognized that I have a strong base of knowledge and experience in this area, and I might as well use it to my advantage.  It’s a stable, well-paying vocation for the time being.  I can work on other things in my free time.
  8. I’ll be starting there June 1.

Anyway, I appreciate your interest, and I look forward to speaking with you soon.  I’m going to do the books for the month and finish watching this ball game…

Another Little Linux Project

In case you didn’t infer it from the title of this post, there is some serious geekery ahead.  You’ve been warned…

So last night, just before I went to sleep, I fired up the laptop to do whip out a little blog post for Friday, and in the midst of doing that, the system just totally froze up.  Like, it came to a screeching halt.  And when I tried to reboot later, I had a system that would power on, but not actually boot or do anything useful.  I did just a little troubleshooting, and I figured out that that problem lay somewhere besides the hard drive.  That was good and bad.  Good that I still have that data, bad that I now have no way of accessing it (for the time being).

So, during the day today, I spent a little time shopping around the internets for new laptops.  Wanted to get the lay of the land and figure out what could be had at what price.  I have recently been thinking about a netbook for later in 2009, but without a reliable, “full-size” laptop to fall back on, I’m just not sure.  I looked at the offerings from Dell, Lenovo, and HP, and I decided that if I am getting a new one, I should probably go ahead and get something with a 64-bit processor.  I’d like a new machine to last a while.

This got me into researching the advantages and drawbacks of 64-bit Ubuntu.  There’s a thread in the forums there where they’ve been discussing it for about 2 years now, but the good news is that at this point, there don’t seem to be any serious shortcomings at all; in the early 64-bit days, there wasn’t enough software that worked on those processors, but this is no longer an issue.

So, blah-blah-blah, reading-reading-reading, and I realize, “hey– I think my desktop machine, although not a dual-core, could run a 64-bit OS…”  Kept hunting about on the ‘tubes, and ultimately found that, yes: my P4 HT processor can do it.  What with Ubuntu 9.04 hitting the web just a couple days ago, this seems like a reasonable time to give it a try.  I had been planning on waiting for the bugs to settle out of the new version, but I figure if I’m going to make a big change like this and do a clean install, I might as well go for broke.

I do continue to keep /home on its own partition, so I never lose my personal data, program settings, etc., but I will need to reinstall all my software.  I found an easy way to do that, but with the switchover from 32- to 64-bit, there will probably be plenty of packages in that list that I can’t use anymore.  I’m hoping that the ones that won’t work will simply error out in apt.  One thing that I imagine will actually work BETTER with a 64-bit OS is the video card support– I am running the server kernel on my desktop machine at present, in order to take advantage of the 5 gigs of RAM I have installed in this 32-bit environment.  I had to do a bit of dicking around to get the nVidia drivers to work appropriately with this kernel (the standard one was easy).

Well, my disc image will be done downloading in a few seconds, so I’ll be back to report to myself here on how it went…

Days of Summer

It was a helluva nice day here in Beer Town.  I regretted being at work, considerably.

Lorch came down at the end of the day, though, because he needs to be at Mitchell to work at about 4:00 tomorrow morning– seriously.  So we went out for some beers and a pizza, and we watched the baseball game.  What a game for Yovanni, eh?  Pretty cool for him to throw his first-ever complete game down in Houston, with most of his family in attendance.  And great for the Crew to pick up another win…

After that, we watched an episode of Flight of the Conchords.  It’s a pretty damn funny show.  But it’s so dry, I’m not sure Michelle will even be into it.  I mean, the humor is brittle.  It could snap off right there in your hand.

OK, time for sleep.

The Heat Is On

I happened across a post on Lifehacker today about the video offerings at I ended up turning on this episode of Frontline that first aired back in October, but it is, of course, still relevant right now (seriously, a total coincidence that I watched it on Earth Day).

I thought this was a great in-depth piece about about the issues facing our nation and world regarding energy consumption, global climate change, and their ramifications for the economy. It’s a investment of time if you choose to take a look (a little less than 2 hours), but I wanted to make it easy for you… enjoy.

Nutritious AND Delicious

I felt like having some chocolate milk after my dinner.  I also felt like a beer.  Fortunately, I found a delightful compromise that still needs a name (unless it has one already):

  1. Prepare a tall glass of chocolate milk (I used a Spy’s Demise glass, for those of you in the know), leaving room for about 3-4 ounces of liquid
  2. Add approx. 2 ounces of Kahlúa
  3. Add about 1 ounce (maybe a little less) crème de cacao
  4. Mix well (might be even better shaken with ice)
  5. Enjoy

A Shining, Glistening, Near-Blindingly Bright Example:

In the course of my lifetime, sports journalism has gotten completely out of control.  There are hours upon hours upon HOURS more of it than is even remotely necessary, and I blame this development entirely on ESPN.  Competition between networks may spur on the never-ending spiral into mindless sporting minutiae, but there would be no need had there never been an ESPN.

I guess it’s nice that all these people who work in 24-hour sports journalism have jobs, because what else would they do ((My God, what would Craig Kilborn’s life have been without SportsCenter?)), but is any of this information and the myriad methods of digesting statistics worthwhile knowledge?  Barely.  Just… barely.  It’s slightly worthwhile because the reporter needs something to talk about on TV, but what kind of chicken-and-egg argument is that?

I got an email today from the K-Bear, mentioning that the Detroit Lions settled on a new design for their uniforms.  I popped over to the Great Network’s website for a nugget of info on the topic (maybe just an example of the design), and I was met with this lead story in their NFL section: Mock Draft for the Ages!  Yes friends, the work they’re doing over there today is asking the burning question: what if every player EVER were eligible to be taken in THIS YEAR’S NFL draft?  You can follow the link for all the details but the summary is thus:

Who gives a holy freakin shit?

I don’t discount the value of sports on a basic level; obviously there is something about physical competitions that have kept human beings interested for thousands of years.  Sports help us pass the time, they promote civic pride, and they give us a glimpse of what the most physically skilled among us can do with the human body; which in and of itself is occasionally an amazing spectacle.

Like so many things, though, following sports is prone to spilling over to obsession.  24-hour sports networks help promote that ((Truly, all niche cable networks promote their respective vice or obsession, do they not?)), but of course it is ultimately the viewer that drives that programming.  Personally, I know how easy it can be to slip into a pattern of obsessive cable-watching.  I have fought countless battles over the years with such networks as TNN, Comedy Central, History Channel, National Geographic, SpikeTV, VH1, and yes, ESPN.  Some of the most gratifying days I can remember are the ones where I suddenly realized, “Hey, I haven’t turned on the TV to watch [insert program or network here] in weeks.  And I don’t care at all!  I guess none of it really matters…”

And it doesn’t.  So, loosen your grip on the remote, oh ye 2nd-floor Nelsonites ((When I lived in Nelson Hall, there was an eerie yet distinct difference between the men who populated most of 2nd floor (they watched a LOT of sports and were generally known to be some breed of jock, either actual or wishful) and the ones like me on the 4th (they played a lot of cards, really knew how to drink, and overall had a more unique mix of personalities.))!  The world, she is a’turning!

The Scope of Computers, circa 1967

A somewhat interesting read that I had today on the Modern Mechanix blogthe article was originally published in Playboy in October 1967.

Later on this evening, Michelle and I are headed to Riptide for dinner.  Lent may be over, but that doesn’t mean we can’t love a seafood Friday…

Hope your weekend is swell.

Very Basic Steps

I grant you that I am a coffee snob– not of the highest order by any means, but I have a fairly particular set of criteria that need to be met in order for me to truly enjoy a cup.  I understand that for a LOT of people, drinking coffee is less about the enjoyment of the beverage, and more about getting a fix.  That is to say, they couldn’t give a shit what kind of coffee it is or what it tastes like, as long as it resembles coffee.

I have to take issue with this, for the same reason that I would take issue with someone that insists on drinking the milk after its expired– there is NO JUSTIFIABLE REASON to put yourself through that.  Let me go over just a couple basic steps you can take to improve y0ur coffee experience, all of which require virtually no effort, and none of which I routinely observe people doing:

  1. Wash the carafe on a daily basis. Most folks keep the coffeemaker in the kitchen.  The sink is right there, and there is probably dish soap nearby as well.  For those of you at work, if you have running water (and if you’re making coffee, you probably do), there’s no excuse not to as least wipe that mother out every day before you fill it back up.
  2. Wash your cup on a daily basis. Hey, why not take BOTH to the sink at the same time???
  3. Make an effort to clean the coffeemaker itself every 2 months or so. Do I sense a theme here?  Absolutely!  Yes, drinking the rancid remnants of pots gone by is affecting the taste of your beverage.  Mix up a clear vinegar solution (mostly vinegar), drop an empty filter in the basket, and run the vinegar through on a regular brew cycle.  Follow it up with 2 or 3 rounds of fresh water, just to rinse everything out.  I know that this is the hardest of the three steps, and the one least likely to be taken, but it does make a difference.

All right, then, back to my very mediocre cup of work-brewed coffee…

Quick-Moving Saturday

This day just flew by me before I really realized what had happened.  Ended up being out a little late on Friday after all the baseball excitement, so I got a late start.  Lots to be done around the house, and I also watched a movie that Brian lent to me.  Eagle Eye was OK, but it could have been quite a bit better.  Another interesting take on a Skynet-type problem that wouldn’t actually ever happen.  But like I said, it wasn’t awful.

Did some laundry while I was watching this evening’s Brewers game.  MediaPortal is totally worth the trouble on my TV box if for no other reason than the DVR features– being able to pause the live game while I was running up and down the stairs changing loads was nice.  If there were:

  • a browser extension, in order to use hulu and netflix within MP, and
  • a decent music library included

… it would pretty much rock.  I might try Boxee for Windows to see how that works out.  The thing I would like best is to do all the video watching that I need to on computer, WITH the remote.  Having to plug in a keyboard or mouse is a pain.  Ah well, minor thing.

I would like to sneak in my blog-o-riffic birthday salutations to my mom, right under the wire here ON her birthday, 4/11.  Love you, Mom– hope it was a good day…

If I miss all of ya on Sunday, have a happy Easter.

The Opener

It’s a wonderful day for a home opener for a variety of reasons.  Being on Good Friday made the menu a little more complex than ususal (we bought fish to put on the grill), but the weather’s supposed to be OK, and of course it’s just good to get back to the park.

Here’s hoping the Crew’s late travel back from San Francisco combined with their suspect pitching doesn’t doom them today in the presence of all these Cubs people.  Let’s get the bats rockin, folks!

If I don’t talk to you, have an enjoyable and blessed holiday weekend…