My birthday was last week Thursday and I had some PTO to burn so I decided to take Thursday and Friday off. Four day weekend, right?

It actually sort of started Wednesday when my team at work brought in a black forest cake and we had a mini-celebration in the afternoon. Nice.

Snap Circuits
ExtremeThursday, my actual birthday, I woke up and Jenn gave me my gift: a Snap Circuits Extreme set

  • 750 projects to help you learn about electronics. I’ve been wanting that for a while since I’m not really “electrical engineer” inclined and it’s pretty awesome.

Later that day my parents came over, Jenn got off work early, and we went out to lunch at Red Robin. After lunch, we saw The Hangover, which was pretty damn funny… and just a little gross in parts. We ended Thursday with a tiramisu we picked up at Haggen.

Friday was a pretty relaxing day where I took care of a few chores (like cleaning up the office) that I’d been wanting to get to and I started playing Dead Space on Xbox 360, which is a pretty freaky game I got from my friend Jason.

Saturday my parents came back over in the morning, we mounted the bikes on the car, and headed out to the Banks-Vernonia state trail. We didn’t ride the whole thing, just about an eight-mile round trip, but the first half of the trip was a slight uphill so it was a nice, light workout. The return half of the trip was awesome, though - we were able to coast almost the whole way back without pedaling. (We had a contest to see who could coast the furthest. Jenn won by a few yards.) Jenn also picked up my official birthday cake, a tasty lemon chiffon from Beaverton Bakery. (Yes, for those counting, that’s three cakes in four days. I do so love me some cake.)

Sunday Jenn and I finished up the weekend by going to see Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. I’d seen it already, but Jenn hadn’t and it was nice to see it again. Plus, it was pretty hot on Sunday afternoon and who can beat the heat better than the movie theater?

All in all, four days’ worth of fun and celebration, which was relaxing.

downloads, build, dotnet comments edit

It’s been a while since I touched these, particularly since I don’t use NAnt much anymore, but I got spurred into action by one of my readers (thanks Mark!). To that end, I did some updating to get things to work with a more recent environment…

  • Updated to .NET 2.0.
  • Updated to NAnt 0.86 beta 1.
  • Fixed nunitexec task to no longer output the “framework” parameter.
  • Fixed nunitexec task to properly quote only the value of command-line parameters.
  • Fixed alpharesx to output .resx files in 2.0 schema format.

Go get it!

I have a pretty extensive music collection on my near-full 160GB iPod Classic and sometimes I run across something that I haven’t heard in a long time and wonder why I haven’t.

Depeche Mode

This morning I’ve been listening to Depeche Mode 101, a live concert album they did in Pasadena, CA, in 1988. It reminds me of my first job.

Back in high school, when I was 14, I got a job at a local dry cleaner. I actually got notified of the opening through a long-time friend of mine and, for a time, we both worked there, though he left before I did.

It didn’t start out well, at least, it didn’t in my 14-year-old mind. My first task, on my first day, was to get a bucket and brush and scrub the walls in the tiny bathroom in the back. Pretty nasty.

As time went on I got more responsibility and, after a year or so, was tending the shop solo. I wasn’t running the equipment, but after the folks doing the actual cleaning and pressing had gone home, I’d stick around and handle the customers coming in to drop off or pick up clothes

  • write up the order tickets for people, play cashier, that sort of thing. I can still remember the general pricing structure - $3.80 for a shirt/blouse to be dry cleaned, $0.50 extra for silk or rayon because they needed to run in a separate load and took extra care when spot cleaning; $1 for a washed/starched/pressed men’s dress shirt.

When folks weren’t coming in, I’d clean the place - sweep up the lint that accumulated on the floor, mop, wipe down the equipment - and prepare things to be cleaned the next day - separate clothes into different bins based on which load they needed to run in, undo all the buttons on the dress shirts to be washed and bundle them into bags for washing, and so on. Eventually I got to a point where I could run the washer for the shirts and the Permac dry cleaning machine.

You’d get to know the customers who came in, what they usually brought in, how often, and so on. There was one lady who always came in driving this Porsche 964 Turbo with rear fender vents. We always looked forward to that - it was the coolest car we’d ever seen. She offered to take us for a ride in it, but none of us ever took her up on it.

It’s amazing some of the weird skills you pick up when you work places. I can still usually tell by feel if something has silk or rayon in it, even blends (faster than checking the label when pricing things). I can unbutton all of the buttons (sleeves, collar, front) on a button-up shirt in a couple of quick movements (gotta be unbuttoned for washing and pressing).

Anyway, hung on the back wall, above the giant washing machine (actual washing with water, for the men’s shirts), was this boom box with a tape deck. It was covered in the oily lint that got all over the place. The speakers were detached from the body and hung about four feet on either side of it. On the Saturdays when I was there minding the shop, I’d break out my 101 tapes and pop those into the boom box. I listened to them enough that they got demagnetized in places and the tape was sort of stretched and weird sounding in others. With Depeche Mode cranked in the background, I’d get into a work flow and take care of business.

It’s weird how music can make you remember stuff. Now, every time I hear 101, it’s like I’m back at the cleaners on a hot Saturday afternoon, waiting for that Porsche to roll in. Maybe this time I’ll take that ride.

Tears for Fears performs at the Oregon
ZooSaturday evening Jenn and I went to the Oregon Zoo to catch the Tears for Fears concert. I gotta say, it was awesome. Hearing the hits played live was so cool - the crowd singing along to “Head Over Heels,” dancing to “Shout,” and getting back to the original “Mad World” was not to be missed.

Michael Wainwright opened, played a nice set, and then joined Tears for Fears to round out vocals. He was a great “Woman In Chains,” I have to say. :)

The weather was totally agreeable - nice and sunny, in contrast to our B-52s outing. We kicked back, relaxed, ate an elephant ear, and took in the music. If you get a chance, see these guys live. If they come back, I’m there.