personal, halloween comments edit

Or, more to the point, new blue computer. As in, IBM. But first, a quick rundown of the other events of the weekend.

Friday night (Halloween) I went to the Winter Hawks game and watched what essentially amounted to a colossal game of Pong. I wasn’t into it, the nonexistant crowd wasn’t into it, and the team wasn’t into it. They really kicked it in gear for around five minutes there, but that just wasn’t enough to hold my attention too well. I flipped through a magazine for some of it because I was irritated and bored with the poor hockey. The goalie now makes stupendous difficult saves but will watch the puck travel slowly through the five-hole like there’s nothing he can do about it. Maybe time for a trade?

Saturday morning I took my car for an oil change (Acura “free lube for life,” baby!) and helped out my parents at their garage sale. It was maybe 40 degrees Fahrenheit out all day long but buttloads of people showed up. I was taking the money and I couldn’t keep up with it! It didn’t help that my parents didn’t have half of the stuff marked.

When all was said and done there, I got rid of a bunch of crap and raked in around $20. Not the most colossal haul ever, but it’s more room in my apartment and $20 I didn’t have before. Maybe I can buy, like, a Coke at the hockey game.

Saturday night I went to a Halloween party over at my friends Jason and Tracy’s house. Their parties always rock. I was much more happy with my costume this year than with my costume from last year, and folks were suitably impressed. Played a little air hockey, played a little pool, and generally hung out. I look forward to the next one. I’d have parties at my place but I don’t know enough people who’d show up (I’ve tried that before).

Sunday I spent most of the day hooking up the new computer. I got an IBM ThinkCentre M50 with a 2.66 GHz Pentium 4 processor, 1GB RAM, 40GB HDD, NVIDIA GeForce4 MX 440 video card… it rules. I hooked that up and was finally able to plug in all of the devices I’ve got because of the miracle of USB. Plus it recognized them all automatically, which is exactly what it should do. It just doesn’t get better than that. It’s so much faster, so much better, I don’t know why I didn’t upgrade before.

Oh, yeah I do. Cost.

I got a good deal on this, though, and it works like a charm. Love it. I only ran into two problems, both related.

First, I wanted to put my modem from my old computer into this new one. So I took the modem out of the old one, popped open the case on the new one and… saw that all of the cards in the new computer are low-profile. Which means they’re half the size of the full-height cards. Which means my old modem is two times too high to fit in the new computer. Dammit. So I’m searching for a new modem.

Second, I wanted to hook my scanner up to the new computer. The scanner is a SCSI device, which means I need to move the SCSI controller from my old machine to my new one. Which means I need to pull that card out of the old machine and… yeah, that’s right. It’s two times too big, too. So I’m searching for a new SCSI controller.

I went to Fry’s and picked up a USB 2.0 160GB external hard drive so I have loads of space to store all of my media files and documents. Why didn’t I get another internal drive? Only enough room for one drive in the low profile box. I got it for $200 after rebate, though, and that’s not too bad considering the price of 160GB drives and the price of external drive enclosures. It even comes with different faceplates so you can customize the colors and stuff on it.

Today I ordered an external USB 2.0 DVD+/-RW/CD-RW drive from Best Buy. $200 after mail-in rebate and I’m good to go. That should be here in the next couple of weeks.

I’m kinda digging this whole low-profile-and-external-drive-combo thing. Makes it easier to use the hardware elsewhere, take it to a friend’s house, etc. Or if you don’t need it, but you’re taking your computer, you don’t have this full size tower case to lug around. Pretty cool.

Oh, I also finally bought a car power charger for my iPod. I’ve been caught too many times without battery power in there. No more!

halloween, costumes comments edit

[Grammaton Cleric... or Neo from The Matrix (6k
image)I wore my costume to work today because we have a company Halloween costume contest. Plus, I figured I went to all the work of making it and I’m only going to one party, so I should make some use of my effort, right? So I did.

Went to the contest at noon and found that about 11 of us dressed up, with varying efforts. People all morning had commented on how cool they thought my coat was and they were pretty impressed that I had made it myself. I have to admit, I’m pretty pleased with myself and with how it turned out - it’s a good looking deal. Even though nobody’s seen Equilibrium, so I just copped out and said it was Neo from The Matrix. Same difference, right?

Anyway, the contest had four categories - funniest, most original, scariest, and coolest. Of those four, I got the scariest costume. Scariest? You know what? I didn’t question it. I don’t win anything ever, so I wasn’t looking the gift horse in the mouth on this one.

I walked away with a bag of M&M’s and the DVD The Sixth Sense, which is a great movie that I don’t have yet.

Amazing how a small reward and getting recognized for your accomplishments and hard work can make all the difference in the world.

It looks really rockin’ with the wind going on and all.

personal comments edit

I’ve been busy. WAY busy. Between hockey, housework, and other chores, I’m just not getting any time to relax. It’s becoming a little more than I can stand. Hockey’s fun, but I continue to maintain that once the season starts, it really cramps the schedule.

Jenn’s still not done with her costume. I can only hope she’s got it done by Saturday for the party.

We went over to my parents’ house last night to help them make a flyer because they’re selling their house. While my dad and I did that, Jenn and my mom went to Costco. We tried to finish before they got back, but we didn’t and for a short while it looked like it was going to turn into a too-many-cooks-in-the-kitchen sort of thing.

But we got it done, and Jenn and I got home with enough time to price all of the stuff that we’ll be putting into the garage sale that my parents are having on Saturday, which I will be helping out with after my oil change that morning. We have to take our stuff over there tonight because there’s a hockey game tomorrow night and we won’t have time.

The company all-hands quarterly meeting happened today. Among other things during the meeting, they recognize certain individuals who give an outstanding effort towards the betterment of the company. Recognized people get a $50 gift certificate to a local restaurant (or wherever they happen to get certificates from this quarter). After they recognized several engineers who helped out with different efforts, the VP of marketing got up there and said he had one person he’d like to recognize.

He described the person as helping to enhance the outward appearance of the company and make it look more professional. He said the person put forth quite the effort for our recent user conference and went the extra mile to ensure that everything was provided for. I almost tuned out, but then he said that the person was “the guy behind the new corporate web site.” Huh? I didn’t do anything for the user conference… so that must mean…

That’s right - the guy who handed me the graphics to base the web site off of was the guy who got the recognition.

He basically handed me screen shots, folks. I did all of the implementation work. The magic that makes the site functional? Me. The new dynamic navigation system that allows easier content management on the back end? Me. The templated standardization and easy updates to the global look and feel? That would be… me. Oh, and the server hardware and software upgrades and security enhancements on the back end were also me.

The guy who got recognized did come by and say that, technically, I was the guy behind the site, while he was the guy in front of it. Which was very cool of him to acknowledge, but it’s interesting to see that what the rest of the company, outside of my department, sees is that he did all this work. And, of course, when it was my boss’s turn to speak, he threw in the “Travis did the back end work” comment, which was also nice. Not quite on the visibility level as the previous recognition, though.

Our department, Corporate IT, got recognized very briefly for “all the good work we do keeping things together” and we’re going to get to go to lunch at a “reasonable place.” Cool. So they recognize this other guy for accomplishments he didn’t even do and he gets $50, and our department gets recognized en masse and gets a $7.50 lunch. Sounds fair to me. What do you guys think?

Anyway, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t stewing over this one. I’d like to think that I do some pretty good work around here, and the people who are directly involved with my projects - who know who’s doing the work - are pretty damn happy with the stuff I produce. I’d like to think that if you want something done, anyone can do it, but if you want it done right then you come to me. And that’s the kind of product I turn out.

Getting pretty much snubbed like that in front of the company has left a bad taste in my mouth. It makes me wonder what the point of working so hard is if you’re not even going to get credit for the work you do. I’m sure others out there have gotten more than their fair share of this kind of thing, but this is the first time I’ve been out-and-out ignored for my efforts. So if I seem a little pissed off, that’s why. And if you don’t like me complaining about it, you can fuck off. I did the work, I should get the credit - even if that doesn’t entail any sort of monetary reward. My work, my credit, end of story.

traffic comments edit

Today’s Traffic Asshole is actually from Tuesday, but I got busy.

Every Tuesday I go downtown Hillsboro to get my allergy shots. Heading down there, I ended up getting behind this fellow:

Slow does not equal safe (5k

This fine driver decided that it would be somehow safer to drive 25mph in the 35mph speed zone. Here’s a message to all of those “safe” drivers out there:

Going 10 miles per hour under the speed limit doesn’t make you a safer driver, it makes you a traffic obstruction.

That was in the fast lane, too. At one point I was blocked behind him, and in the other lane was another slow-mover. I thought to myself, “Great - Mexican roadblock.” Then I remembered what area of town I was in and realized they very well probably were Mexicans. Ironic.

The picture I caught the guy in, he was finally moving into the slow lane, which was moving faster than he was. This is where he decided to cut in front of me, because driving slowly in front of me somehow makes people happy.

personal, music comments edit

As I was walking out the door this morning, I saw what I thought was a crumbly wet leaf sitting in our entryway. Having just vacuumed, I decided to pick it up and throw it out the door.

It was cat vomit. I had just picked up a handful of cat vomit.

That’s how my day started today. A handful of cat vomit. I guess you can only go up from there.

Friday night I went to a Winter Hawks game and watched them win, but it was a Pyrrhic victory at best. I never thought I could watch us win and think the game sucked so bad.

Saturday morning Jenn’s family was having family pictures taken. Since the mall they were having pictures done was halfway to the store I wanted to go to that day, I said I’d go, too, hang out at the mall while they were getting pictures, then Jenn and I could continue on to my target destination.

We got to the mall at 10, but the mall opens at 10, so we all stumbled around trying to find each other because we all came in different entrances. The photo appointment was at 11, but when we checked in, we found they were running way behind. I decided to walk the mall.

I probably walked 30 miles. Jenn’s family didn’t even get in until almost noon, then didn’t get out until nearly one. I have about an hour-and-a-half’s worth of tolerance for the mall, so after three hours I was ready to leave before I hurt someone.

Jenn wanted to get food, so we went to Denny’s. Now, Denny’s is not somewhere that I ever plan to end up, but we somehow actually planned to go to Denny’s that day. I won’t go into details, but I left there feeling I had consumed way too much grease and I realized again why it is that I never plan to end up at Denny’s.

After Denny’s we made a Costco run - I got my copy of the Indiana Jones trilogy on DVD - and a Fry’s run - I got Time Crisis 3, another light gun game, with the gun so I can play one person with two guns or two players.

Saturday night was another hockey game. We won again and it was better hockey all the way around, but it still didn’t really get me into the game. Oh well, right? A win’s a win.

Sunday morning we went to my parents’ house and washed our cars. It’d been like a month since I’d washed mine and it was definitely time. That took most of the morning, and then we went back home and finished up the chores that we didn’t get time for Saturday.

Sunday evening, besides watching Alias, we went to see the Cirque du Soleil production Alegría.

I’m a huge Cirque fan. I’ve seen Mystere in Las Vegas like three times, I’ve seen Saltimbanco and Dralion as they’ve come through Portland, and now I’ve seen Alegría.

While it isn’t my favorite of the shows I’ve seen, I liked it. It definitely reminded me of the classic circus, but with an upgraded feel so it appealed to the child inside an adult. There were acrobats and trapeze artists and a strong man and clowns… and all of it came together wonderfully.

The thing about Cirque, though, is that, for me, it means more than just seeing the show. Seeing Cirque somehow renews my faith in humanity. It shows me that there can be form without function and that’s sometimes a Good Thing. It shows me that you can be happy just for the sake of being happy. It shows me that creativity and beauty in the world aren’t necessarily dead, and that you can be rewarded for instilling great emotions in people.

I sit in my cube all day coding. I hate coding. Sure, it takes some creativity to solve problems programmatically, but when all is said and done, all you’ve accomplished that day is pushing bits around. Did it make any real difference? Is there anything to show for it? No.

Seeing these shows makes me realize I really should have just gone for the art school and not done computer science. Now I’m pretty much stuck where I’m at, and without the money and time to go back and learn the stuff I should have learned to begin with, I’m not qualified to do anything else. But since I can’t do that, it helps to know that style and art really aren’t dead, and even if I can’t generate them for other people, I can take part in the enjoyment.

I thought about maybe getting a job at the Cirque main office or something. Even doing what I’m already doing, but for a company where I fully believe in and support the product. (I mean, online banking software? Who cares?!) But then I also thought that once you see the underworkings of the beautiful machine, once you see that sort of thing every day… you may get anesthetized to it. Would it lose its meaning? Or would contributing to the effort be fulfilling? Somehow I don’t think I’ll ever have the opportunity to find out.

So I look forward to seeing the Cirque come to town, and I’m sad when it’s over. While I’m there, I wish I could take part in it, living the dream. Until the next time they’re here I’ll just hope to carry the feeling inside me.