halloween, costumes comments edit

Halloween this year was a three day event that started on Friday at work. This is Halloween in the Product Engineering department:

Halloween in Product

Pretty crazy, huh? We went to lunch like that and all these little kids kept coming over to our table wanting to meet Spongebob. Too funny.

Of course, Monday (today) starts my vacation, and the Friday before vacation wouldn’t be complete without the sales guys having a lack of preparation which translates to a state of emergency on my part. Which is to say, at about 1:30p I was told that some customizations needed to be done to a product demo for a sales presentation that was going to take place.

Normally that sort of thing is fine (though I admit I have a sour attitude about the whole thing because I moved to the product engineering department partially to get away from that damn demo), but then they showed me the “customizations” they wanted done.

“Customization” isn’t really the proper word to describe it. It was more like “functional overhaul.” They “only had four things” on the list, but each of those items was like three days’ worth of work. All to be done by 5:00p that day. Riiiiight.

When we made the demo, we built in a certain amount of customizability. You can change colors of the site, logos that appear, any of the text on the various pages, and you can internationalize it so it’ll appear in any language you want. You can’t, however, add or remove functionality from the demo because that would require you recompile the application and redistribute it. No can do in three and a half hours. You also can’t change the sizes or locations of things - we have a very specific set of CSS styles that get applied to the demo, all of which allow for color change, but once you change size and/or position of any elements, it affects every other element and you end up with a huge mess on your hands. Things are set up just so. This is also not a trivial thing to do.

Everything they wanted was either a functional change (no) or a size/position change (also, no).

I talked them down to sticking within the bounds that were originally set by the demo requirements - change the colors, text, and logos and call it a day.

I got those changes completed and sent out almost right at 5:00p, amidst the barrage of phone calls, emails, drop-in visits, and instant messages that happened to flood in right at the end of the day. It took me a half hour just to set up my out-of-office email message and voicemail because I kept getting interrupted.

Friday night was a hockey game, and I celebrated our win the next day by taking a nice afternoon nap. Ah, but I do love a good nap.

Which takes us to Saturday. Saturday night was the annual Halloween party at my friends Jason and Tracy’s house. (I’m sure I got some possessive punctuation wrong in that last sentence, but bear with me.)

Here are Jenn and I, ready for the party. Jenn was Snow White with a costume of her own making and I was a crewmember from Alien.

Jenn and me, ready to

Jason and Tracy always have cool parties, and this was no exception. The highlight of this year’s party was a team tournament of shot glass checkers. Two teams of five, but the whole party was crowded around cheering. Great stuff. I’m not sure who won. Heh.

Stuart, a friend from work (pictured above as Count Dooku from Star Wars, Episode 2) came to the party and brought me a replacement for the Timmy doll that was so rudely stolen from my cubicle at work several weeks ago. Very cool. Those are hard to find, and I’m happy to have Timmy back by my side. I will bring him to work and chain his ass down so the fucking cleaning staff can’t make off with him again. Stuart is the man.

Jenn and I pretty much closed the place down around 1:00a or so (the party started at 7:30p, so that’s a decent party, even though it didn’t last until like 7:00a the next morning; I’m no all-night partier, that’s for sure).

Sunday Jenn and I went to see The Grudge, which I heard was dumb but which I thought was reasonably decent. You can’t expect too much from horror movies, and this did get me to jump a couple of times, so I liked it. Didn’t hurt that Sarah Michelle Gellar was in it, redeeming herself for the career sin that is Scooby Doo.

Sunday night, of course, the trick-or-treaters were out in full force. We live in the kind of neighborhood that parents figure is “safe” for trick-or-treaters, which translates into caravans of cars, trucks, SUVs, and minivans dropping loads of kids off and trolling up and down the street like the support crew for a long-distance relay race. We bought a 44 oz. bag of candy (those bite-size candy bars… not the “mini” ones, the ones slightly smaller than that), handed out two pieces to each trick or treater, and that didn’t quite last 35 minutes. We busted out our own personal stash of candy and that got us another 10 minutes, at which point we turned off the porch light and listened to the army of kids continue to knock and ring the doorbell. (I don’t know about you, but when the porch light went off, it meant the house was out of candy. That doesn’t click with today’s youth.)

And now it’s Monday, my first day in San Andreas. I’m looking forward to it, and I’m considering posting sort of a travel journal from the trip. Pends on how ambitious I get, which means it probably won’t get done, because, you know, I’m on vacation.

personal, windows comments edit

Just like everyone has that “I forgot to back up and now my ass is in a sling” story, lots of folks who have learned from those experiences have at least one “My ass was in a sling but I had backups that saved the day” story.

That just happened to me.

I was working on a product demo that required the installation and use of the Loopback Network Adapter to ensure the demo wouldn’t come up on the local network, only my machine.

So I installed it, did the demo work, and went home for the day. Everything was peachy.

Got in this morning, booted up, and none of my networking connections worked - only the Loopback Adapter. I tried to disable it, but it wouldn’t disable. Everything was hosed. I tried several things, including attempting to disable/re-enable all of my network connections and removing the Loopback Adapter completely. Rebooted several times over the course of that with no luck. And then…

…System Restore saved the day. There was a system checkpoint saved from yesterday morning and once I restored to that point, everything was back up and running, minus the stupid Loopback Adapter.

Thank you, Microsoft, for bailing my ass out.

General Ramblings comments edit

I went after work yesterday and picked up the strategy guide for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.

This thing is a monster. 272 pages. About an inch thick. By way of comparison, the strategy guide for the previous GTA game is only 176 pages.

I’ve refrained from playing the game, though, saving it for next week. Or at least this weekend. I know that if I start now, I’ll never stop. Like an addict falling off the wagon. (Where did the phrase “falling off the wagon” come from? Was there some wagon that addicts got on at some point?)

In the meantime, I’ve gone on a minor Amazon spending spree, cashing in on the Yahoo! Visa points I’ve acquired over the past year. To satisfy my cravings, I bought: the seventh season (and final) of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, indicating the end to a lot of money spent until the next killer show rolls around; a Star Wars Millennium Falcon (for the 3.75” figures - I never had one when I was a kid and now I really want one); and, on strong recommendation from a friend of mine, the Sony RM-VL900 learning remote, since I’m sick and tired of having to juggle - seriously - six different remotes because I can’t find a damn remote that just does everything.

I tried for the “Super Saver Shipping” deal on Amazon, where you get free shipping with your order over $50, but it would only end up saving me like $3. Somehow I bought a load of stuff that doesn’t qualify for the free shipping. (Granted, the Falcon comes from Toys R Us and the remote comes from DynaDirect, but come on.)

Thus, I am looking forward to cool things showing up in my mailbox very soon.

In other news, we watched Lost last night, and after having missed two or three weeks’ worth of shows, I don’t feel like I’m behind. Strange, but maybe the little “previously on Lost” segment at the beginning of the show summed things up. Then again, from the hour-long show I watched, I didn’t see a whole lot of plot progression. It was mostly some background and development on the characters themselves, giving insight as to why the people are the way they are. Interesting stuff, but you could sum up in a couple of short clips the development that occurred relating to the island itself. Intriguing, nonetheless.

General Ramblings comments edit

This weekend started the annual Thanksgiving Debate.

A little background: If tuna is “Chicken of the Sea,” then turkey is “Chicken of the Devil.” I hate turkey. I hate everything about it. Even further, I hate the whole concept of the “traditional dinner” - stuffing and cranberry sauce and greens and turkey and mashed potatoes and rolls and all that crap. Hate it. Hate it.

Not to mention I’m not altogether keen on the “large family gathering” thing. I can deal with immediate family members, I can deal with my grandparents, etc., etc., but I can’t deal with them all simultaneously. As Mom says, “it drives me bug-ass crazy.”

So. Thanksgiving every year involves me carting ass to two different houses - Jenn’s family dinner and my family dinner - just to get there and go through the whole “you don’t like turkey?” discussion. It goes like this:

Relative: You don’t like turkey?

Travis: No. I don’t. I haven’t liked turkey for years.

Relative: (Incredulous) How can you not like turkey?

Travis: Is there a food you don’t like?

Relative: Sure. I don’t like [insert food here].

Travis: How can you not like [insert food here]?

Relative: Because it’s gross. But turkey? Everyone likes turkey.

Travis: Well, obviously not everyone likes turkey.

Relative: Whatever. I guess you can just eat mashed potatoes and rolls for dinner.

Travis: Hey, that sounds great. That way not only can I continue sitting at the “kid table” and be kept from any decent dinner conversation, but I can also sit alienated at that table because I don’t want to eat what everyone else is eating. Fucking brilliant. While you’re at it, why don’t you just give me a paper cut and pour lemon juice on it?

And that pretty much sums up how the entirety of Thanksgiving Day goes for me. I have that same conversation with every single relative, over and over, until after dinner (which is at something like 4:00p… who’s hungry at 4:00p?!?!), at which point I’m ready to go into a coma from carb overload and that’s when people decide it’s time to play games.


I’ve declared a moratorium on Thanksgiving this year. I’m not going anywhere. I’ll be at my own home. If people want to eat with me, they can come over.

But no turkey.

Nope. None. I’ll go get some Chinese the night before and whoever’s eating at my house can have Chinese with me. I’m a big fan of the General Tso chicken.

Jenn’s told me that she doesn’t want to be there if I’m not having turkey. You’d think that’d make me cave, but in reality, I don’t care. If she wants turkey, she can haul over to the other side of town where they’re eating turkey.

An additional issue has been raised this year, beyond the turkey issue: We don’t have much furniture. We don’t have a full dining room set or a load of extra chairs or anything. We have a couch, a bistro set, a coffee table, and that’s about it. I admit there’s nowhere for people to sit, barring the floor, which is a perfectly acceptable solution to me and people in many, many other countries. I figure if people want chairs, they should bring ‘em.

Does that make me unhospitable, or a “bad host?” Maybe. But I don’t care. I’m tired of having the holidays turn into a rampant waste of my paid time off. I’m on vacation, but it’s a huge chore and only leaves me pissed off when it’s over.

Now I’ve gotta figure out how to tell Mom “no turkey.” We’ll see how that goes.