Monthly Archives: April 2002

Fun LJ Stuff

Found this over in the ever-entertaining lj_nifty community…

Ever wondered how many people are on LiveJournal? Geographic distribution? Age distribution? Well, there’s a way to find out.

Let’s see…at age 34 that means that, uh, 96.93% of LiveJournal users are younger than me. Well, that’s depressing.

Caveat (added at 16:30 EDT): I note that if you add up the numbers listed for each age and compare that to the total number of users, you’ll find that only roughly 50% of the users have reported their age. You could say that the graph shows a representitive sample, but I’ll be optimistic and say it’s a self-selecting sample and therefore statistically invalid. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it 😉

A whole new week!

It’s a Monday morning ramble, whee.

The weekend was quite nice. We had all kinds of plans to run errands on Saturday, but Dan wasn’t feeling well (sinus headache again), and I though that he would enjoy napping in the nice semidarkness of our bedroom rather than venturing out into the bright sun. So we bagged the errands for that day and instead just sort of hung out and noodled on computers. I started the reinstallation of Windows 98 on my desktop PC – I don’t use it for much anymore besides ripping MP3’s, burning CD’s, and transferring files to and from my MP3 player. I’m going to set it up as our guest computer (for those that don’t bring ther own and can’t hook into our wi-fi network). The reinstallation process was fairly easy, but tedious. Nothing like trying to dig through five-year-old floppies looking for sound drivers and hoping that they still work. Still, looks like I’ve got everything up and running again.

Sunday we did finally get out of the house, hitting Kohl’s to exchange some shorts (size on the sales tag didn’t match the size on the tag sewn inside), Lowe’s to check out their vertical blinds (for the living room), Wellspring (aka Whole Foods Market) for coffee and some excellent fresh-ground hamburger, and Lowes Foods for the usual weekly groceries. Oh, and Eckerd, for my shiny new prescription of Protonix. Holy crap! That stuff is expensive. Even with $50 covered by insurance, it still cost me $60. I can’t afford that every month, so I need to either look for alternatives or find a cheaper source. Or maybe only take it as needed, I dunno. Suggestions are welcome.

So today I have to putter around work, waiting for materials to come in so I can run a reaction Tuesday or Wednesday. Not too bad, gives me time to write in my LJ (obviously) and make further inquiries with lawyers about what is necessary to establish a civil union in the state of North Carolina (a combination of Powers of Attorney, estate planning, and other contracts, as near as I can tell). Oh, and I need to go to Homo Depot at lunch and put in the order for vertical blinds – they have what we wanted, and Lowe’s didn’t. Only thing that sucks is that it’s going to take three weeks to come in, but we hope to have them up before Memorial Day. It’ll be nice to have a bit more privacy and it should cut down the A/C bills, too.

Oh yeah – I need to set the Tivo to record Good Morning America tomorrow. Thanks for the heads up, mirkowuff!

Wednesday we’re having the Gang over for games and pizza, a last-minute party thing before Dan goes in for his surgery. He’s worried about it, but I think things will be so much better afterwards (well, after the recovery period anyway) that it will all be worth it.

Well, I’m off to attempt to be useful…

Feeling pretty accomplished today – got the problem with my big project resolved, which will break the logjam there. The downside, of course, is that it’s going to ramp up again therefore and leave me little time for much else. I’ve got a built-in rest break next week, though, with takaza‘s surgery, for which I’m taking Thursday and (probably) Friday off. Hell of a way to get a vacation, eh?

Still trying gather new and interesting stuff for my MP3 player. Naturally, MP3.com has piles of good stuff (and a lot of crap), and it’s tough to sort through all the available material – in addition to there being a tremendous amount, their user interface sucks. I found a new site called Emergent Music that has useful reviews and classifications of unsigned bands – this is exactly the kind of thing I’m looking for. I’d love to find a couple of new artists I’ve never heard of and buy their CD’s from them directly if only to give the record industry the ol’ f*** you. Anyway, if you know of any sites that have good reviews of little-known bands, let me know!

Hmmm…another night of lazing in front of the Tivo. We’ve got The West Wing, The Amazing Race, yesterday’s Survivor recap, plus tonight’s Survivor if we want to watch that on time delay. Ain’t no way we’re going to see all of that. And who knows, someday we’ll actually watch the two movies we have sitting on the Tivo (Local Hero and Magnolia). Plus a really good documentary about a 100-year old black lesbian who grew up and lived in Springfield, Illinois – I’ve just seen the first part and it’s a fascinating first-person account of the history of central Illinois.

Time to go!

Afternoon puttering

A slow, quiet day here at work. Not a lot of those lately, so it was kind of nice.

I was able to figure out how to redesign some of my web pages using CSS. Nothing to show for it yet, but I’ve gotten the look the way I like it on my local copy, and that’s a start. Next I need to update the content of my coming out page and transfer the style over to the other pages on the site. I suppose I should figure out how to break the style out of the individual page and just use one style file for multiple pages.

Yeah, I do this for fun. Weird, ain’t I?

Hmm…$175 round trip from Chicago to RDU for Memorial Day. I have the germ of an idea on how we might get a certain someone down here for our party, whether they want to come or not. We’ll be in touch with some of you out there to see what evil plans we can develop.

Judging by the latest Midwest Furfest newsletter, I reckon it’s time to get my butt in gear and get the online registration pages up. Lots to do there – hosting to negotiate, merchant account to line up, websites to integrate. This will be fun because this is going to have to be a group effort, with some web page design, some paperwork shuffling, and lots of administrative sleight-of-hand. My goal is to get everything live by Memorial Day – wish me luck.

Out of the frying pan…

…and into the fridge?

After having a weekend where the temperatures were up into the 90’s, the high tomorrow will be in the mid-60’s. A welcome respite from the heat, but I could have used that when I was mowing the lawn yesterday. Gahh.

Nice that things are easing up a bit at work this week. Still plenty of stuff to be done, but within a more sane timeframe, thank heavens. I’ll be working on three different projects this week, including one that’s waaay behind (hey, they were working on it for a year and a half before handing it off to me, and they don’t have a customer for the product yet – they can wait.)

Got my federal tax refund deposited into my checking account on Friday – that was worth a several-thousand dollar boost. Pity it’s all going to Visa (and not making as much of a dent as I’d like). Fortunately, next month is also the first month this year where I get three paychecks (the joys of getting paid every two weeks – 26 checks per year when you only have to pay bills 24 times per year), so that’s even more money going into the Big Plastic Sinkhole. But what the heck, I was able to splurge a bit with my state tax refund and buy Takaza and I each one of these, which makes working out much, much nicer. Right now I’m listening to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban at a rate of a chapter per day as I walk on the treadmill – it really makes the time fly by. Plus, it’s fun to lift weights with a good jig or reel playing in the background. I’m going to start mining MP3.com for new and interesting music. My latest addition: an interesting set of Eurodance stuff. Not what I typically listen to, but the driving beat will be good when I’m on the recumbent bike.

That’s about it for now. Hmm…note to self (and someone else): need to see what plans are for New Year’s Eve this year…

Always playing catch-up

I’ve been wanting to write in my LiveJournal this week, but haven’t much had a chance, unfortunately. Lame excuse, eh? Ah well…

Since Tuesday, work has pretty much kept me occupied. I’ve had one project that has pretty much been eating all my time and really wearing me out (and leaving little time for LJ entries from work).

So anyway, Wednesday and Thursday were a wash – work, gym, home, eat sleep, repeat. Pretty boring.

Friday, well…Friday I had the day off because I had an appointment for an esophageal endoscopy. For those coming in late, this is because I was diagnosed with gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD) and the doctor wanted to check to see if there was any damage to my throat from the acid reflux. takaza took me in to the doctor’s office and waited patiently in the waiting room to take me home. After taking my temperature (normal) and blood pressure (elevated – I can’t imagine why), the nurse took me back to a large room with 16 different cubbies arrayed around a central nurses station. In every cubby was a bed and each was surrounded by a curtain. Just about every cubby was occupied. Geeze – seems like they had a real assembly line set up there.

I was deposited in one of the cubbies and told to change into the standard-issue modesty-free hospital gown. After I was changed, the nurse tucked me into the bed (it was chilly there!) and installed an IV catheter in my arm. Next, they wheeled me into the darkened procedure room where I met my gastroenterologist. She injected something into my IV and as the ceiling started melting, I commented that that must have been the Demerol. That was pretty much the last thing I remember.

I woke up (i’m told) shortly thereafter to find myself back in my little cubby and Takaza walking back to be with me as I woke up. That made me feel much, much better. (Side note: this whole thing reminded me that we really need to get a lawyer and sign all of the powers of attorney and legal papers so that each of us can be present for medical procedures and make decisions as necessary). I was predictably woozy. The doctor explained to Takaza that from what she saw everything was just fine and there were no problems. I entertained Takaza for the next 45 minutes by asking what the doctor had said, then forgetting and asking again. Finally, I was mostly over the Demerol and they let me go home. I took a nice nap and felt fine after that – not even a sore throat. I even felt good enough to join some friends for dinner that night a local steakhouse.

Saturday was a fun, low-key day. Some early-morning hiking with friends, followed by some yummy pizza at Homegrown Pizza just down the road from us, then some fun games back at our place, then dinner at a local Mexican joint. Good food, good company – it was fun way to spend the day.

Today…well, not much on the table for today. Leftovers from yesterday for lunch, then I have to mow the lawn while Takaza does laundry. Mmm…domestication. What fun.

Random stuff on this beautiful (but hot!) day…

Don’t know that it’s a beautiful day outside? You might want to go here.

I’ve been spinning my wheels a lot today. The reaction I was supposed to run got halted in its first stage because I couldn’t get the in-process testing to work properly. It’s on hold until tomorrow, when I’ll start it up first thing.

Or second thing, really. First thing, I have to meet my good buddy Drew from Handyman Connection so he can finish off the ceiling repair in the living room. Yeah, I decided to bring in a pro, because the patch is in the middle of a smooth ceiling, right in front of the patio door. Any flaw in the repair will be quite noticeable in the light and shadows that come through the patio door, so I figured I’d best let someone who knows what they’re doing take care of it. It’s a hundred and fifty bucks for a sheetrock repair, which galls me, but it’s an investment in the future resale value of the house, too, so I’ll console myself with that. At least I saved myself the cost of the plumbers by fixing the shower leak myself.

Been having great fun playing with the new MP3 player – got approximately 1,300 songs on it now and working to get them all organized into some usable fashion.. The latest problem is figuring out how to easily tote it around the gym. It’s about the size of a Walkman cassette player, but it’s a bit heavy for a portable audio gadget – about 12 ounces. I’m afraid if I put it in the pocket of my gym shorts, it’ll pull them right down 🙂 I think what I want is something like a canteen that goes around the waist for hiking, but that the belt is detachable – that way I could use it for both the canteen and the MP3 player. Le Monde du Wally didn’t have what I was looking for – I might have to try Target, or (heaven help me) REI.

Finally, we have this, courtesy of User Friendly‘s Link of the Day: If you think your neighbors are bad, you haven’t seen the dreaded Redneck Neighbor. Scary.

Who are the people on your interstate?

More proof that it’s a small world coming up.

So, to continue the story from Sunday: following a tasty breakfast (thanks, Mom!) we hit the road at about 10:30. We figured we’d try a shortcut through South Carolina, cutting off the boring stretch of I-85 through Gastonia and Charlotte, to reach Carowinds which is south of Charlotte, on the NC/SC state line. So I’m driving along, about a mile and a half before our exit, when I notice a car in the left lane pass quickly, then suddenly slow down. It takes a moment to register…red Explorer…rainbow paw, cool…Maryland plates…hmmm…”I’d rather be playing pinball” license holder…holy crap, it’s Brophey! I pulled up next to him and waved and he almost drove off the road 🙂 We both pulled off at the next exit and had a nice chat. He was headed from Atlanta to Baltimore, and just happened to pass by right before we left the interstate. It was a pleasant surprise, and kind of livened up the trip.

The shortcut through South Carolina actually was a shortcut – it probably shaved about 15 minutes off the trip, and it was a pretty drive too. Carowinds was fun – we picked up our season passes (since we’ll be driving past Kings Dominion at least twice this summer and the pass is good there, too), and we got to ride Vortex (Arrow), The Hurler (woodie), The Carolina Cyclone (stand-up), Drop Zone (freefall-type ride), and Thunder Road forwards and backwards (their racing coaster). We skipped Top Gun and Ricochet, their new Wild Mouse, because both had too many people in the queue; most every other ride was walk-on.

We left at about 4 PM and decided to try a new way home from Charlotte, by way of Rockingham and Southern Pines. Let’s just say that this is not a short-cut and leave it at that. Bleah.

Greetings from…Anderson, South Carolina?

Well, I didn’t wake up yesterday intending to be here. I spent most of yesterday morning noodling with my new MP3 player and dumping about 1,300 files onto it (organization and playlists are still to come – that’ll take a while). After that, it was on to the one big job of the day: mowing the lawn. Since we’d let it slide for two weeks, it was a bit tall and the fact that it was still slightly damp didn’t help. With judicious use of the bagger (and a couple of passes over the thickest areas) we got the job done.

Now, before I’d started on the grass, Mom called. Dad had been away on a business trip since last Sunday, and it looked like he wouldn’t be back until late next week. She was home alone, just her and Bela, their schipperke. After a week at home alone, I think she was starting to wonder how good of a conversationalist Bela might be – starved for company is a good way to describe it 🙂

Well, takaza and I were wanting to drive someplace this weekend anyway, so we jumped in the car at about 3 PM and told mom we’d be there for dinner. Five hours later, there we were. We got a tasty dinner of roast beef, mashed potatoes, broccoli, and apple pie, plus good company, and Mom isn’t talking to the dog anymore – I think it was a win-win situation all around 😉

Today, we’ll be heading back home, with a stop at Carowinds along the way to pick up our Paramount Parks season passes and maybe ride on their new coaster, if it’s open. Gee, we really wish we could be up in Chicago for that oh-so-exciting staff meeting, but instead we’ll ride some roller coasters for ya.

Now, that was cool

You know, I didn’t write about it here, but a few months back I had a really disheartening experience. First, the background: there’s a collection of kids, mostly boys ages 10-14, that usually plays in front of our neighbor’s house across the street – sometimes in the street as well. No biggie, this happens in neighborhoods with lots of kids and lightly-traveled streets. I was driving home from work one afternoon and one of the older boys flagged me down. I rolled down my window.
Me: “Hi, What’s on your mind?”
Kid: “What’s that tag on the front of your car mean?”
Me: “The rainbow flag? That’s a symbol of gay and lesbian pride.”
Kid: “So you’re gay?”
Me: “Yes.”
Kid: “Ewww.”
And he made a face of disgust and walked away. I replayed that scene in my head a few times, and I’m glad I didn’t lie or try to evade him. I have had pride in my identity for eight years now, and there’s no way I’m going to change that for the sake of some neighborhood kid.

Not much ever really came of that, with the exception of one morning as Dan took out the trash to the curb one of the neighbor’s kids (the one I’d vote Most Likely To Encounter Law Enforcement) shouted “Fucking faggot!” to him. Infuriating at the time, but not worthy of much notice in retrospect.

So, why dredge all this up? Well, today I stopped for lunch at Pop’s (my new favorite local joint for burgers and shakes) and the Hispanic woman who took my order saw my car and asked me what the rainbow flag meant. When I told her it was for gay and lesbian pride, she smiled and nodded, saying she was a lesbian. We had an interesting conversation about how hard life is for gays and lesbians in Mexico which is why she came to America, and how it’s so difficult meeting gayfolk in this area unless you go to clubs or something. I gave her directions to the local gay bookstore, and some pointers on some places she might try (like the lesbian club in Durham) and she was very happy.

So, the next time I ask myself if it’s worth it to have a rainbow flag tag on my car, I’m going to remember her smile, and the great feeling of finding someone you can connect with. Hell yes, it’s worth it.

A little housekeeping

So in celebration of extended daylight hours and spring and all that other stuff, I did a little sprucing up. Check out the new style for my journal. I’ll be tweaking it a bit over the next few days (need to improve the spacing of the headers and maybe change the date format), but I’m pleased that I’ve gotten this far.

Credit-where-credit-is-due Department: this is based on millenia‘s Millenial Paper style. If you want to mess around with the style of your journal, be sure to check out the lj_style community.

Fun with interest matching

(Thanks to genebreshears for the idea for this entry)

So, I don’t know if anyone has ever looked, but a while back (and occasionally again since then) I had fun dumping everything I could think of into my interest list. When they announced the cool Interest Matching service on paidmembers last week, I had a little fun and thought I’d see who came up on my list (note: I think this service is only for paid members right now). Interesting. I think that the “magic index” has less to do with how many similar interests you have with a person than the number of similar interests divided by the number of people who list those interests. Thus, if you like, for instance, “food” and 23,192 other people like “food”, this would give a low index number. However, if you like “chocolate-covered mothballs” and only three other people list that as an interest, the index would be much higher.

So, what did I get?
Click here to find out

Getting in touch with my technolust

OK, I have a new object of geek desire: this MP3 player. The little radios we have for working out are nice, but the reception at the gym is rather spotty at times and I’d prefer to be able to have something pre-recorded sometimes. I also like Takaza’s suggestion of renting audio books, ripping them, and storing them on each of our MP3 players so we can each listen to them at our own pace (then deleting them, of course).

It’s cheaper than an iPod and has about as much memory. The only drawback is the slowness of the USB interface versus iPod’s Firewire interface, but I’m willing to work with that.

All I need is the two hundred bucks…well, that may take a while.

Grumpy? Me?

I wasn’t much fun last night, I’m afraid. I was having one of those days where things seem to break all around me – first my car, then my computer. Bleah.

My car decided on April 1 that it didn’t want to start. No, not just wouldn’t turn over, the key wouldn’t turn in the ignition, period. April Fools! Not.

takaza came over to pick me up, and after I had called the local dealer (just a half-mile away) and the national roadside service, he managed to wiggle the key enough to get it to start. We took it down to the dealer and left it with instructions to fix it (along with giving it its 12,000 maintenance, which it needed anyway). The service rep found that she, too, couldn’t turn the key after she parked it, so that confirmed the problem.

So I got a call yesterday that I could come pick up the car. I asked what was wrong with the ignition, and was told that the technician couldn’t find anything wrong with it. Fortunately, it was the same service rep, and she assured me they’d look into it, and to hold off on picking up the car. Later, I got a call that they’re having a locksmith come and look at it, but that he couldn’t be there until this morning. Which is why I’m driving a shiny new Ford Focus this morning, since they’re providing me with a freebies rental. Not a great car, but the headroom in the Focus is surprisingly large. Pity it’s slow, Spartan, and uncomfortable. Anyway, I should get a call sometime today for me to pick up my Alero and all with be right with the world. And the ignition problem is covered under warranty, thank the gods.

Then there’s the computer. The laptop took a slight spill off the coffee table over the weekend and bent the wireless networking card. Now my transfer speeds have dropped to half (or less) unless I push the card a certain way, and even that’s not a surefire fix. This definitely means I’ll be buying a new wireless card soon – that’s about a hundred bucks down the drain. Damn.

These add up to being in a crabby, unsociable mood yesterday evening. Bless his heart, Dan put up with me, and I got over it eventually. Working out helped, too – good to work out your aggressions on the bicycle and treadmill. I’m feeling much better today, fortunately, and even have a blessedly light day at work, so I don’t feel so stressed out.