Monthly Archives: January 2002

Hump day

Another warm, almost hot day here. Temperature is supposed to be over 80, under sunny skies. Welcome to January in North Carolina, kids!

So plans now have us possibly attending Tourney of Ymir in a few weeks. This will be interesting – I was in the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) for seven years, from 1992 through 1999. The last event I attended was up in Maryland in 2000, and the last local (NC) event I attended was…Tourney of Ymir, 1999. More on that in a bit.

Read more ramblings about the SCA and disaffection and fandom politics…

Well, this explains a lot.

President lacks features

WASHINGTON, D.C. (GP) – Millions of Americans watching the President’s State of the Union address on Tuesday will mistake him for a box of lentils or other common object.

That is the implication of a newly-released study which found that a very small percentage of US citizens can successfully pick the President of the United States out a line-up of everyday objects.

“Most Americans will think they’re looking at a plate of peas or a test pattern and wonder what that voice is,” said one researcher who worked on the eight-month study.

When placed amid an aggregate of utensils and other easy-to-find consumer items, the leader of the free world was accurately identified by an average of 1.7 out of 100 shoppers. This held true even when the focus groups were prompted by a small mustachioed man with a megaphone saying, “Ok shoppers, which of the items in front of you is the President of the United States?”

Read the whole article here. Truly Onion-worthy, even if that isn’t the source.

Miles away…

On a day like today, that’s where I’d like to me: miles away. It’s sunny and in the mid-70’s, and likely to stay that way through Thursday. Hmmm…it’s supposed to cool off this weekend but still stay warm-ish and sunny. I need to scope out more possibilities for hiking.

Work is still keeping me busy, though this week is a bit of a breather. Next week is going to be hell, though – large-scale batch with not enough equipment, space, or manpower. What fun! Thank heavens that should be the last one for a few months, at least. After that, it’s on to conductive adhesives for attaching heat sinks to circuit boards. That should be a fun project, if only because it will take me out to Indianapolis for a few days at some point to use their equipment out there. Hmmm…I need to track down some folks I know out that way and give ’em a shout.

Plans are shaping up for the next few months. Looks like while we’re at Technicon we’ll be leading a panel on “What is Furry?” At least that’s the plan at the moment, this may change. I’m just concerned that we don’t step on the toes of the furry group up at Virginia Tech, but one of the organizers of that group was the one that said we’d be welcome to lead the discussion. So, it should be interesting. I’m not sure what tack to take, but probably start out with the least-outre’ parts of furry, mention spiritual aspects later, and only mention the freakshow stuff that has hit the media at the very end, marginalizing it as much as possible. I’ll have to kick ideas around with Takaza.

Well, work calls…

It’s a beautiful day

…and I’m stuck inside all day. It figures.

Saturday was almost what I’d hoped for: a nice, lazy day around the house. takaza got us motivated around 2 PM, though, and we went out looking for ceramic tile stores for possibilities for the kitchen backsplash. The two places I knew of turned out to be closed, of course, but we did walk through Lowe’s and a carpet/tile place where the salesman ignored us completely (he had to be gay – what straight man would ever wear a black turtleneck?) I’ve got a line on some other places, though. I’m looking for someplace that has lots of sample boards set up so we can evaluate some different design possibilities, then we’ll buy a couple of sample tiles and see how the colors work in the kitchen.

Anyway, after that we stopped by Target, CompUSA (bleah – high prices), and K Mart, where I was reminded of why K Mart is in Chapter 11 – dirty parking lot, dingy store, surly help, and lousy products. We did buy a crosscut paper shredder, though, since I’ve been getting paranoid about all the credit card solicitations and such that we receive getting fished out of the trash, even though I tear them up before disposing of them. Naturally, after we bought it at K Mart, Dan saw an ad in a Target circular on Sunday witht he same thing for $10 cheaper.

Anyway, Donald and Janelle invited us over for dinner, and we spent the rest of the evening with them and Thomas, chatting and noshing. Whee!

Sunday was just fabulous. A group of nine of us took a three-mile hike out at Jordan Lake. It was a gorgeous day – blue skies, temps near 70. Dan was in shorts, but then he figures anything above 50 degrees is shorts weather. He’s weird, but I love him 🙂 Anyway, the walk was mainly through conifer forests with a small scattering of what appeared to be oak and tulip trees. The combination of a heavy coating of pine needles and leaves and the fact that the trail isn’t apparently heavily-used made navigating a bit more interesting than usual; after a bit of losing the trail, I wound up taking the lead (lead dog and all that…) and keeping an eye out for the trail blazes. And as a bonus, we got to hang out with Cliff, the spastic husky!

Afterwards, we hung out over at Donald and Janelle’s house and made grillables and things that are bad for us (mmm, mushrooms sauteed in garlic and butter…). I sauteed up some peppers and onions to go with some grilled Italian sausage, and life was good. The usual Sunday night gaming session was to follow (there’s a group of about eight of us who have a weekly Mage game running) and I announced I was dropping out. It’s unfortunate, but I’ve missed a lot of games since last September due to commitment ceremony and convention planning, and in the time away I found I didn’t much care what was going on with the game or my character. Rob put it best: he’d rather have people either in or out, not halfway in, dragging down the group. Everyone took it well, so it’s cool. I’ll probably still show up on Sunday nights since there’s a couple folks who don’t game but just hang out, chat, and play other games like Fluxx and stuff. Plus, that gives Dan some time alone at home every week, which is also good – I love being with him, but there’s also times that it’s good to be apart.

There’s more to ramble about, but for now I’m off to get some work done…

Links to giggle by

Blogsurfing: it’s an addiction.

Some fun blogs I’ve turned up lately:

And finally, remember that it’s always important to check if your ass is too small.

Procrastination and lack of motivation

I have in mind lots of projects, but never seem to quite get around to them.

One thing that is going to get done soon is putting in a tile backsplash in the kitchen (picture taken before we moved in, but you get the idea). I think that will really change the look of the room, and brighten it up from the omnipresent beige. takaza and I need to work out what colors we’re going to use still – we need to stop by a tile store and see what our options are. Who knows? If we get motivated enough today we’ll head and do that.

Once we get that done, the next step would be tiling the master bath. It has a nice garden tub and shower, but the walls are vast expanses of (again) beige. Some nice tilework would really revitalize things. The trouble is, we’re stuck in that perpetual homeowner quandary: how do you spruce things up and not make it too individualized? We’re only here for a few years, so every project has to be viewed from the standpoint of how it affects resale. Yeah, I’m a mercenary fucker, so shoot me.

Then there’s the bookshelves that need to go on either side of the fireplace. We’ll probably need to get someone in to do those, although what I have in mind is pretty basic: a cabinet base on either side, with shelves above (leaving enough room for a television to sit on top of the cabinet base on the left side). Given enough tools, time, and inspiration, that might even be a project we can tackle ourselves, but that’s at least a year off.

.–. .- –. . -… .-. . .- -.-

Last night was a blast. We joined Donald and Janelle, Thomas and Sherry, and Rob, Janet, and Ian for dinner at Errico’s Ristorante. Dan split a pizza with Sherri (pizza with meat, meat, meat, and a side of meat 🙂 while I had a very tasty stromboli stuffed with sauteed elk, basil, and mozzarella. After the meal, we had a chance to chat with the owner and also the chef – both very pleasant fellows. Even though the service was spotty (they’d been unexpectedly reviewed in Friday’s News and Observer and the resulting influx of people left them short on wait staff), we’ll definitely be going back, hopefully for one of their wine dinners. Yum!

Will the real Friday please stand up

OK, THIS is Friday. And thank heavens for that.

Very busy day at work here, mostly working in the lab. One of those days where everything that can go wrong, does – broken glassware, spilled heating oil, that sort of thing. No major crises, but lots of tedious little things.

Looks like a nice weekend lined up – nothing planned for Saturday. I like that. I think it’s important to have a “cat day” every so often, even if I am canine 🙂 Read the paper, finally watch the Babylon 5 movie we recorded last weekend, maybe tinker with my computer a bit more (and finally reinstall Windows 98). Probably make some more bread, too; Dan tells me that the multigrain bread that I improvised earlier this week is perfect for sandwiches.

Sunday will have a bit more going on. Some friends have proposed going hiking at Jordan Lake, so that should be pleasant. I enjoy hiking with a group, though it’s an entirely different experience from when I hike solo, which is my preferred method. I like being able to hear the sound of the forest around me, the wind blowing through the trees, the small animals scurrying in the brush (and seeing an occasional deer). With a group it’s more of a social experience, talking and tromping through the woods. If the company’s good, it’s not so bad, but it’s a reminder that I need to get my butt out to one of the many trails in the area.

Enough of the future – gotta deal with the present. Off to check on things in the lab, then grab some lunch.

Almost but not quite

I woke up this morning, and the first thing I thought was, “Yay! It’s Friday!”

Then I realized it wasn’t. How depressing.

Anyway, after a late night at work yesterday trying to get stuff wrapped up, I’m off to Red Cross training all day today. This should be interesting since I’ve never had anything like it before. Plus, it gets me out of work all day today (I know, my work ethic is awful. Ah well).

Looks like one of my upcoming projects may include a trip or two out to Indianapolis. That would be kinda nifty – I haven’t seen our facilities and capabilities out there, so it would certainly be useful.

Hmmm…I just have time to tidy up a few things then head off to training. @whee

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

(Re: the music – What can I say? All the radio stations in the labs are tuned to the local 80’s station)

So we’ve begun preparations for our (suddenly) annual Memorial Day party. Last year we had four or five folks over and had a wonderful time just hanging out, grilling, and enjoying the company. Takaza and I have toyed with the idea of trying to make it into something bigger – maybe find a hotel, reserve some meeting rooms, something like that, a la the first year of Mephit Furmeet. It’s not beyond the realm of possibility, but certainly not for this year. First off, we’d need to get more in touch with the local furry community, but given the difficulty they have even organizing an occasional dinner out (and the fact that the average age of the group is most likely below 20), I’m not sure how well that would work out.

Naturally, not long after we sent the invitations, Mom called to remind me that we might want to come down for the hot-air balloon festival held in their town every Memorial Day weekend. We’ll have to pass, though I think it would be fun. Eek – they’re expecting 175,000 – 200,000 people? Might be a good reason to avoid it. Last time I attended (when it was in Greenville), it was more like 50,000.

It’s a linky morning…

Check this out: A Picture a Week, an amateur photographer’s attempt to get one good picture a week in his role as “street photographer.” While the pictures are good, what really captivated me was his analysis of what he learned in the 52 weeks he spent on the project. When I have time, I look forward to checking out the other Picture-a-Week sites. (link courtesy of Bifurcated Rivets)

Everyone is taking off for Further Confusion this week. Lucky sods. One of these days we’ll will actually be able to attend. I’m curious from an anthropological standpoint whether there is actually a difference between “East Coast” and “West Coast” furry conventions. I suspect not. By the way, I see from a recent announcement that Aetobatus and Loran are moving up in the world. Way to go, guys!

A few days after September 11, Doc Searles posted a remarkable commentary that has really stuck with me ever since: What tale are we spinnning? which describes The Fairy Tale of the Just War. Good thinking fodder, and something which only reaffirms my pacificist tendencies and deep and abiding suspicion of the “official story.”

More in a bit…

Slice of life (loaf?)

Note to self: Short journal entries get more comments than long journal entries 🙂

Back at work today and in the lab working. Finally getting this urethane taken care of – it’s not complicated, just time-consuming.
I took a break in the middle of the reaction to go to the dentist and get scolded by the hygienist for not flossing regularly. This is what happens when you move away from your parents: you pay people to give you guilt trips.

Just got word from our plant that the raw materials we need for a batch to be delivered to the customer by February 4 won’t be delivered until February 5. Hmm…this makes the logistics a bit difficult. I’ve spread word around that we’ll have about a two-week delay and no one is too upset. In the meantime it looks like I’ll be going to work on a thermally conductive adhesive for connecting heat sinks to chips on circuit boards. This will be interesting because it’s new technology to me – we’ll see how much fun it really is once I get started.

I got to play with the bread machine a bit more yesterday. That thing is fabulous! I wanted to make a multigrain bread, but didn’t have the “seven-grain cereal” called for in the recipe. I improvised with pulverized Wheat Chex and uncooked oatmeal – it came out just great. I need to work at it a bit more to see if we can come up with the perfect sandwich bread, though.

And now we pack

Well, we’ve cleared the TiVo (and got our weekly West Wing and Good Eats fix), so now we’re on to the business of finishing laundry and packing. Gotta stuff everything into carry-ons so we don’t have to endure the endless lines at check-in. Tomorrow morning we leave for the airport at 6:45 AM for a 9:40 AM flight. I suspect we’re going to have a LOT of time to kill.

Anyway, if you don’t see anything in this space for a few days, it’s because we’re off in Chicago for the weekend. I might steal Dan’s laptop and make a post or two, we’ll see.

Busy busy busy

Meetings here, seminars there, reactions in the lab – yay!

It seems that the day before your vacation, everything always falls into your lap, and today has been no exception. Looks like we’ll be making a 200 gallon batch of coating here (usually the largest we handle is about 20 gallons). This is the second time we’ve made the coating on this scale, and the logistical difficulties presented are numerous – pumps, hoses, filters, big-ass mixing equipment. I reckon it’s what I signed up for when I became a chemical engineer, but I’d prefer it if we were a little better equipped to handle batches on that scale. As a for instance, once we fill the tote tank with the material and are ready to ship it to the customer, we have to estimate the gross weight – we don’t have a scale big enough to weigh it.

We finally got the fume hood back into working order and I’ve started the urethane reaction again, but there’s no way I’ll finish it today. I’ll have to put the polyol into the oven (it freezes at room temperature) and pick up where I left off on Monday. This has been the easy part – starting next week I’ll be working with the isocyanates. Man, I hate isocyanates.

On the agenda for tonight: laundry and packing. Gotta make sure I don’t have any AK-47‘s or straight razors tucked away in my luggage for the airport security people to find. On the bright side, according to American Airlines all of their Chicago flights that have flown out from RDU today have been on time or even left early. That certainly seems promising.

The Zagat restaurant survey compiles opinions of ordinary patrons about restaurants all ovr the world. They’ve put up a page of quotes about restaurants that they couldn’t print. Some of my favorites:

Food is icky, tables are sticky, waitress has a hickey, stay home if you’re picky

Took a doggie bag home; the dog refused it

Seductio ad absurdum

Buy a six pack and eat at Burger King instead

——-

We’re busily making plans for the Chicago trip. Today, it appears we have added a stop by Whole Foods Market to get 365 Brand Canola Oil for Dan’s mom. Ooookay. Though the mayo made with it does taste better than your average brand…

Such a pity we won’t have time for Clearwater, while we’re up there, though. Nuts.

“Chamber” of Stupidity

…and speaking of TeeVee, they have a great commentary on Fox’s newest game show/horrifying-spectacle, The Chamber. The funny thing is the same thing happened to me when I went to watch The Simpsons:

So I check Tivo to watch The Simpsons, and it’s been replaced by a
half-hour of something called The Chamber. It appears to be a game show,
but instead of making the questions hard, they torture the contestants.
No, really, actual torture. With screams of pain and everything.

[…]

Honestly, watching this thing is an intensely uncomfortable experience
as the camera lingers on the grimaces of the contestants as they try to
remember their parents’ birthdays while strapped down in a chair. They
might as well come into my home and punch me in the face repeatedly.

What a wretched piece of crap. For this they rescheduled The Simpsons?

Well, that’s not promising…

Fume hood is still down. Looks like I’ll have to empty out another hood and move the five-liter reactor to that, along with all its attendant glassware, oil bath, vacuum pump, vacuum trap, etc. This is so going to suck.

AvantGo is my hero. Essentially, it goes out and grabs web pages (plus links to a user-specified depth) and dumps it to my Visor whenever I HotSync at home. Boring meeting? Got time to kill? Pull out the ol’ Visor and there we go! Here’s what keeps me happy, in the order I usually read them:

Daily headlines from The Advocate

– The latest from SciFi Wire

– Caustic essays on the state of television from TeeVee

Wired News headlines

– Headlines and in-depth analysis from the Christian Science Monitor

– The latest from the New York Times

– Entertainment business news from Variety

– News and commentary from ZDNet

– Top news from Flayrah (though I wish comments were also included, hint hint 🙂

– Movie times and locations in the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area from Movieminder

– Hard core geekiness from AnandTech

I see that LiveJournal has an update feature that utilizes AvantGo to update your journal – I might download that, I might not. If nothing else, it might be fun to play with on the plane flights to and from Chicago.