End of a Relaxing Week

For most of this week, I attended a training program for work down in Madison.  I was able to catch a ride with an old Milwaukee colleague who lives in Sun Prairie but now works @ UW Colleges.  I got to meet Michelle for lunch two days, as she had to be on campus for various things.

It was really awesome to be closer to home!  I learned a number of useful things for my job during the course of the week, but one thing I found out for sure is that I need to be searching in earnest for work closer to where I live.  I watched Lorch commute like a madman for so many years, I figured there must be a way to handle it for at least a little while.  Turns out I am nowhere near as strong as far as this goes.  I have been at this now for about 9 months, and I’ve had it.

I was talking with Michelle the other day about how part of me wishes I could go back to some point where I knew I was happy with work, and with the prospects that were ahead of me.  She made a really good point: that if you figure those things out again now, and start working toward what you want today, then the future you will thank your present self for beginning to make yourself happy.

Have a good weekend…

WoRST Job Ever

The 80's Rewind, Labor Day 1999

A student came into my office today and looked at one of the pictures I keep on my desk.

“Is that you in that picture?” he asks.

“Yeah, sure is.  From back in the day…”

“Wow, you look really different in this picture.”

“Yeah,” I chuckle, “Yeah, it was a while ago now.”

“Yeah, I mean, you look… a lot happier in this picture.”

I laugh again.  “Well,” I say, “That’s, uh… ha.  Well.  Yeah, there’s probably some truth to that observation.”

Discount Post

DSC_0220Hey, I know that this isn’t very substantial, but to me it was huge (as in, took me about 6 hours huge).

Ever since I switched themes on the blog here back in the fall, I’ve struggled with finding an effective way to display photos.  I’ve had it on my list all this while, but today, I finally tackled the problems, and I feel like I have a nicer presentation of these images than ever.  I’m hoping this will lead to me adding pictures to the website more often.

So, if you’re interested, take a look at the Galleries page, and enjoy.

4 Seconds

The time between when I hit the ice and then hit the snowbank was no more than 4 seconds.

On Friday morning, I was driving up Hwy 151 to work, as I do 5 days a week.  It had snowed very lightly the night before, and the traffic dude on WIBA cautioned the commuters between Columbus and Beaver Dam in particular, where there had apparently been a number of minor accidents.

I’m not one to drive recklessly on my way in to work, but I’m not very likely to drive as slow as some of the folks out there after a dusting, either.  Traffic was moving along fairly well in the northbound lanes of 151, and I wasn’t far off my usual time when I cruised by the Columbus exits.  I was coming up on Beaver Dam in short order.  The road had some snow-dusty spots, but for the most part, I could see the pavement.  The cars in the right lane were going slow for a 65-mph highway; they were topping out somewhere between 64 and 68.  I usually go about 75 in this area (I live by a 10-over rule).

I passed a small sedan and carefully eased my car back into the right lane.  The traffic guy was usually a little over-the-top with his cautionary tales on a typical winter morning, and this was looking to be no exception.  I was probably less than 20 seconds ahead of the last car I passed when I felt the front of the car begin to swerve.

It’s kind of amazing how many thoughts go through your head in the short period of time between losing control of a vehicle and coming to a screeching halt.  As the front of the car began to sway, my first thought was, Whoa, OK, ease off the gas, keep it straight, slow down, but that was over really quickly when it became apparent that reducing speed was doing nothing.  They say you shouldn’t try to over-correct when your car begins to swerve, but it’s that split-second loss of control that makes you involuntarily do it; letting off the gas and holding the wheel straight doesn’t change the car’s momentum, and so you naturally pull the wheel harder and start to brake.

The back end swung out next, and I fought the wheel for another half-second, before realizing that the car was not staying on the road.  My next thought was just that: OK, I’m going off the road. I put my hands firmly at 10 and 2 on the wheel, and I straightened up in my seat.  I could see the snowbank on the right side of the highway, and the post with a reflector just ahead.  Although I was on a highway with numerous cars not too far behind me, I thought nothing of them.

Then I thought, Wow, I always sort of wondered what it would be like to be in a real accident. Technically, my first accident was when I was 15.  It was hunting season and I ran into my sister’s Mercury Tracer with the hunting wagon; a ’78 Ford Bronco with a 4×4 for a front bumper.  A few years later, I was behind the wheel of the Tracer when a high school kid who just learned how to drive rear-ended me, without any significant damage.  A few years after that, I was almost in a multi-car pile-up on College Ave in Appleton; this time, it was me and my Festiva that did the damage-less rear-ending.  None of those felt like much of an accident, though.  Cars were moving too slowly.  Damage was never that noteworthy.  This time, I was moving at highway speed.

My next thought, as I saw the snowbank screaming up to meet me was, I wonder how far I’ll go over the snowbank. It was so low, after all, and I was probably still moving at close to 70 miles an hour.  There was no WAY that a little snowbank like that, no more than a couple feet high, was going to keep me from careening into the ditch.  That lead me to think, I’ll probably get to use my medical insurance. Michelle has been saying I should take advantage of all that fabulous coverage I pay for and never use.  After that, it was I have kind of wanted to shop for a new car, and then, I wonder if it will hurt to roll over in this thing. A good thought to have, I think, was, God, this would be a stupid way to die. Then just before the bank overtook me, I thought, Brace for impact.

The right front of my Mazda hit the snowbank first.  It sort of bounced as the back end swung out toward the road and quickly spun around.  Then I felt the left rear hit the snow, and front swung around again, before smacking the snowbank a second time and wedging firmly in.  I looked up and noticed that I had missed the reflector post, and just beyond that, a bigger highway sign.  It wasn’t a major highway-speed accident, but that’s a good thing.

Since You Didn't Ask:

Thought I would share some commentary on a few salient topics of the day…

  1. I didn’t say that I liked the iPad, or that I thought it was cool, or that I wanted one.  I said that I think it will sell.  Granted, Apple is trying to carve out what I think is a pretty narrow niche in this handheld Internet device market, but for all the geeks I’ve talked to that can’t imagine how they would possibly use it or why they would want one, there are 2 or more parents that I think could.
  2. I think cutting off funding for NASA’s Constellation program is stupid.  Trying to encourage more funding in space exploration from private companies is one thing, but effectively giving up on a US presence in the future of humanity in outer space is another.  While we’re at it, let’s graduate a few thousand more physicists, chemists, engineers, and other scientists from overseas at OUR universities, then send them back home.  We obviously won’t need them to work at Starbucks or drive a bus or answer phones in a call center.  Those are them nice American jobs.
  3. On the other hand, at least there are some thoughts and ideas coming out of the White House this week after that State of the Union enema.
  4. I have been frustrated with the samba client and network manager on Ubuntu for long enough.  I finally found a fix that works for me (for now).
  5. After taking a stroll around our local Best Buy store, I’m realizing that a TV is one purchase decision that’s awfully hard to make exclusively on the Internet, no matter how hard I try.  You really have to see the screen, compare the sizes with your eye, and test drive them a little bit.  It also makes you antsy for one when you come back home to your 27″ CRT.

Other than that, had a straight-up weekend.  We went to Milwaukee on Friday evening for Tina’s birthday and had a nice time at Water Street Brewery & The Harp.  Saturday we stayed in, and Sunday was for housework.  Got the Super Bowl coming up next weekend, but I’m not sure it’s going to play too huge in these parts.  I am interested, but not riveted.  Speaking of the Super Bowl and TVs– have you noted the marketing blitz around this football game that all your electronics vendors are pushing?  Is it worse than ever, or have I not noticed it in the past?