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06:46 PM by Eric: 45 days is a long time, but it goes by so fast Kids | Personal

Yes, I know, long time no update. Bad Eric, no doughnut. :)

So much to tell, although if you watch the gallery some of it won't be news. Ollie's second tooth popped out a while back, right next to the first. Jenny and I were coincidentally talking about when his second would appear, and I happened to look in his mouth--and there it was!

He's changing so fast right now. He's just started into 6-9 month clothes (at 8 months--if he stays on this growth curve he'll be 18lb. at a year, which means he'll be wearing 12-month clothes until he's about two :-P), so there are new cute clothes to wear. He's pulling up from sitting to standing all by himself, and in fact at this point I think he'll skip crawling. He can scoot forward if he wants to, but given that he can pull himself up, he loves to stand, and if you give him your hands to help him balance, he can shakily "walk" forward... All he really needs is balance and practice: I give him a month before he's walking. I could be wrong though, he seems to alternate developing physically and mentally, so maybe he'll get to cruising and plateau there for a few months.

He loves books; just going to Barnes & Noble and walking down the kids' aisle (or heck, sitting down with a book at a cafe table) puts a huge smile on his face. Not surprising given his parents, but very gratifying. :)

He likes being upside down, too; I think he's either going to be a gymnast or a monkey, and the jury's out on which. He's figured out he can hook his toes into my ever-present belt and push up (or, more often, out); today in B&N he started adding the step of dropping his head between his arms so that he's on the verge of doing a somersault down my chest. So naturally I just grab him and toss his knees over my shoulder so he's hanging there, and he's grinning and laughing like a maniac. I'm telling you, all he needs is a prehensile tail.

He gives kisses, too, lots and lots of kisses. I hope he stays this affectionate; I know the culture will try and beat it out of him, but when he hugs me or kisses me it really is the best thing in the world.

He starts daycare tomorrow, twice a week. I know Jenny's really stressed out about it, and so am I. I'm so used to seeing Jen and Ollie pop in and out, or come over to my desk at home to see what I'm doing/steal my glasses/give me a kiss, and now that won't happen on Tuesday and Thursday. It's kind of sad to be passing so much of Ollie's time off to someone else. I'm so spoiled working at home, I get to see all the firsts in person and not miss anything. So hopefully he doesn't, like, walk for the first time at daycare (or at least, if he does, they don't tell us ;)).

Speaking of firsts, just yesterday he figured out the "M" sound. He's been saying "Dada" for a while now, but the closest he could get to "M" was "B" (so Jenny has been "Bob" for a few weeks...). Then yesterday he said "Mob", which was pretty close, and then he said "Mom" very clearly. He grins every time I say it back, and I've noticed when he gets upset sometimes he'll say "Mommommommom". Which kind of hurts a little bit, even though I try hard not to let it; I know sometimes he's going to want her instead, and he ought to. But I'm selfish like that. :)

Tonight might be another breakthrough, we'll see. He's not been sleeping well lately, although he's getting better at napping (hour naps aren't uncommon at this point, and we can often get away with just two naps a day even). At night, though, a lot of times he won't even go two hours without waking up, which is tiring, especially since he virtually never sleeps past 6 or so. So tonight Jenny and I decided to make another go of mild sleep training, so after his bath and a feeding, I put him down in his crib with Gertrude (his stuffed hedgehog, the closest thing to a lovey we've been able to identify), kissed him goodnight, and left rather than rocking him almost asleep (or to be honest, all-the-way-asleep, more often than not). He seemed to think it was playtime at first, making his "bobbobbobbob" noise and shrieking periodically, but then he got bored or lonely and started crying. After ten minutes I went in and tried to soothe him (without picking him up), but when I left a minute or so later he started crying harder. Jen left at that point (she has a class she's been going to), and I was expecting all kinds of difficulties, but at the end of the next 10 minutes, just as I got up to try soothing him again, he suddenly quieted down and went to sleep.

I am now going to probably jinx myself by checking on him, because PARENTHOOD is an anagram for PARANOIA (not really, I can't back that up, but it should be).

Nope. He's still alive; I can see him breathing. The worst part about this is that all the baby books say that 6 months (or double birth weight, which Ollie just hit) is when you should try sleep training, but they also say that SIDS is a risk until 1 year, and you shouldn't let them sleep on their stomach until then. The paradox is that by 6 months, they can roll over anytime they want to, usually (Oliver could), and left to his own devices, Ollie will sleep on his stomach. So: let him fall asleep on his stomach and POSSIBLY DIE, or start sleep training? Or poke the bear by letting him fall asleep, then trying to turn him over without waking? You can't win for losing.

Speaking of not winning for losing, at Jen's continued urging I embarked on a weight gain program. I added an 800-1000 calorie milkshake to my daily intake (ice cream, whole milk, whey protein, banana, chocolate syrup), drank it religiously for two weeks without eating any less at meals... and lost five pounds. What. The. Hell. I'm still spotty about eating breakfast though, so maybe if I add that it will help. If I drop another five I think USAID is going to start airlifting supplies into my back yard (which at least would help with the grocery bills). :(

Edit: Also, I know the site is wonky and comments are disabled. I upgraded Movable Type and it screwed everything, so I have to basically start over. Sorry, folks. :( You can always e-mail me your comments, I do love e-mails...

Edit the Second: Okay, so he woke up at 8:20 and cried, despite my best soothing efforts, until Jen got home and fed him at 9:40. Ah well. Maybe next time.

08:14 AM by Eric: Sleep! Yay! Kids | Personal | Sports

So sleeping has been kind of a rollercoaster the last few weeks. For some reason there was a period of about 4 days where Oliver decided that sleeping for more than an hour was completely uninteresting. This was, to put it mildly, not much fun. We tried everything: earlier bedtime, later bedtime, feeding before bath, after bath, rocking, bouncing, white noise, no white noise... Possibly coincidentally, he got his first cold the day before this started, so he was all congested; we put a vaporizer with some Vicks in the room as well, so we tried using that, not using that, nothing worked.

And then after several days he just went back to sleeping. We both knew, intellectually, that that happens; it apparently tends to happen right before they take a developmental step. That doesn't really prepare you for four nights without sleep, though: nothing really can. :)

After that things actually got easier, so maybe that was what happened. Jenny read a helpful book that talked about the EASY pattern (Eat, Activity, Sleep, You) that seems to work. The idea is that you feed them, play with them/keep them active until they get tired (usually an hour to an hour and a half), then they take a nap while you do You things, and then repeat. Every baby has their own schedule, but we managed to find Ollie's pretty quickly, and like I said it's been very helpful. The first few days he only seemed to want to nap while being held (specifically, held upright against my chest) so my You activity was to sit down and watch hockey while he slept snuggled up to me. :) Yesterday, though, he had a really fussy morning, Jenny had trouble getting him to nap at all. About 3 she asked me if I could swaddle him (I'm better at swaddling him tightly enough that he falls asleep before he works himself free; more practice) and get him down for a nap. He woke up after about 15 minutes, but settled back down again and slept until 5. I think his longest nap to that point was probably 45 minutes, so a two-hour nap was completely unexpected. :) We were actually a little worried he wouldn't sleep well last night because of it--but then he slept from 8pm to 5am, which was incredible. He woke up a few times, but always settled himself back down without either of us having to get up, and after Jen fed him at 5, he slept until 7:30 and then just quietly lay in his crib until about 8. I have not slept so well in months. :) So hopefully that week of no sleep was him figuring out how to sleep better on his own, and things will continue like this for a bit. Of course, traveling and changes in routine are supposed to cause sleep issues, and we're traveling each of the next three months, which could be "exciting".

Ollie continues to develop every day, of course; he's holding his head up without any problems now, and he loves being in the Snugli when we're out. The grocery store and Lowe's are both favorite locations, since there's so many people and shapes and colors to see. Best of all, he and I can go out for two or three hours at a time and leave Jenny home to work, which up until now has been hard for her to do. Apparently Ollie roller over (tummy to back) yesterday, but it happened while Jen and he were at a friend's house and he hasn't duplicated the feat for me. :) He's stuffing more and more things into his mouth; his favorite is still both hands (at the same time), but he also tends to enjoy gnawing on hands, knuckles, toys, etc. It's actually a little disconcerting to have your three-month-old suddenly lean over and start gnawing on you like a little velociraptor, but I guess it makes him happy. ;) He's still really talkative--we got him a Bumbo chair so he can sit up, and he loves to sit in that thing and talk to us. I can't wait until they're real words. ;)

He's very interested in the pets lately too, he watches them all the time and occasionally reaches out towards them. They're great with him (to the point where we have to stop them giving him kisses all over his face) as well.

Hockey has been lots of fun lately. I scored another goal: I was set up in front of the goal after I joined a rush, and the forward who had dropped back to cover my spot shot/passed it at me. I managed to deflect the puck up and over the goalie's shoulder, which was very cool and exactly what I was trying to do. Managing to do what I was trying to is an exciting and not-exactly-common event, so... ;) I've been seeing the ice better lately too, doing a better job of keeping my head up and looking around to find the best pass rather than just blindly dumping it ahead. The team has kind of been on a roller coaster, but with one exception all of the games have been fun even when we lose. The exception was a win a week or so ago where one of the other team's forwards deliberately ran over our goalie on a breakaway and separated his shoulder, so we've had substitute goalies since. It sucks to see someone get hurt like that, especially since I was the one who gave up the breakaway. :(

10:13 AM by Eric: Quickie update - Oliver Kids | Personal

So this is just a quick update, I promise a long post later with more info and I'll add pictures when I get a chance.

Oliver Grey Kokai-Means was delivered at 5:33 this morning. He weighed 7 pounds, 15 ounces and was 20.5 inches long, blue eyes (of course) and blonde/brown hair. He is the most beautiful baby ever, and lest you think I'm just being a new dad, I'll point out that all of the nurses have said so too, and they're not biased. ;)

Unfortunately, due to some complications during labor, Oliver experienced severe respiratory distress at birth, and he is making a steady recovery in the neonatal ICU of St. David's hospital. He seems like a perfectly happy, healthy newborn boy, and we're hopeful that he'll be home by Jenny's birthday.

(This post was actually written on 1/10, and pre-dated, just in case anyone is wondering. No, I did not rush home from the hospital to blog about our baby. :))

08:57 PM by Eric: Things you just don't do, part 3,427 Kids | Personal | Sports

Never, ever, ever ask a pregnant woman, "you got twins in there?"

Particularly if you are the waiter who is depending on her good graces for your tip. It's rude, it's thoughtless, and it makes you like like a moron who ain't never seen a pregnant woman before. And you don't get tipped very well, for some reason.

Jesus. It amazes me how people (at large) view pregnancy. I don't know if it's a consequence of modern life (where, the birth rate being what it is, pregnant women are a relative rarity), or of the images displayed in the media (where pregnant women are all impossibly skinny and never more than 3 months along), but you'd think these people had no idea that you could actually grow a real person in there! (Which is particularly interesting when combined with the fact that "newborns" on TV are invariably like 18 months old--you have these skinny, tiny women giving birth to 20-pound babies. Physics, anyone?)

In other news: I played hockey (well, went to the hockey class) last night for the first time since August. It was great fun--a pair of my friends were there, and some other guys I knew, and it was great being part of it again. One of the guys told me I looked just as good as the last time he saw me play--which is nice, but probably not quite true; I did fall down at least once. ;) My ghetto gloves lost their protective coating of duct tape halfway through, unfortunately. Hopefully my new gloves get here soon. :)

We had a really busy weekend; normally we take Sunday easy, just read the paper and have breakfast, maybe clean some stuff, take a nap, etc.; yesterday, aside from hockey, we had to get up early to make the sugar cookie base for a fruit pizza (quick tip: do not use olive oil in cookie recipes that call for "1 cup oil"; just trust me on this one), which we took to a brunch with several people from Jen's school, hosted by one of the administrators there. That was fun; she has 3 very friendly, very large dogs (Great Pyrenees), and I'm a sucker for big fluffy animals. :)

Saturday Jen went out to the mall with some friends; I stayed home and cleaned, mostly. I ended up in a grumpy mood; the weather here has finally swung towards winter (gray, cold, rainy) and I think I'm addicted to sunshine at this point. Plus I was really missing hockey (which was why Jen told me to go on Sunday); I'm not a super social person most of the time, but I really love hanging out with the people there and getting the exercise.

So anyway, we're thinking taking it easy next weekend will be good; we're really hoping Ollie decides to come out and play soon. It's been such a long process that it's getting really hard to be patient any more. :) He is at least head-down (ultrasound today confirmed it), so that's one worry pretty much out of the way.

I'm also excited about the new kitchen sink and faucet. We picked it out last week and picked it up this weekend, and we'll be putting it in over Christmas (I am not attempting plumbing without Dad around to walk me through it ;)).

Work is muy busy right now. We have a big deadline tomorrow and a bigger one the 15th, so there's lots of extra hours and weekends for a lot of people (not so much for me, fortunately). It's exciting, though; in a few weeks all the stuff I've been working on for months will finally be in the hands of real users (even if only in limited numbers). I can't wait to hear back from sales and through our forums how people react to it.

09:58 PM by Eric: Birthday Update 2006 Personal | Travel

I don't know what to say about my birthday this year, really. It was a pretty good weekend bookended by some of the worst travel I've ever experienced (and I've experienced my share of bad travel). We flew out Thursday morning on Continental, after getting up at 4am to make our flight. Every single time we fly Continental, going all the way back to 1999, I've sworn never to fly them again, and like a total idiot I do.

This time, there was a windstorm in Houston the night before we left, which meant that all the crews worked extra hours, so there were no crews available to fly the next morning. Delays all around. Okay, fine, whatever. But that meant the airlines had to rebook everyone in order to not miss connections all over the place, meaning no kiosk check-in. It was a study in comparative staffing strategies. The Continental desk had 4 ticket agents. Two of them were working the first-class line (length: 5 people, and not growing). Two of them were working the "steerage" line (length: 300 people and growing). The American Airlines desk right next to it had 12 agents--and no line at all.

As an extra insult, we could have driven to Houston, made our original connection, and had none of these problems. (Although, as you'll see, that plan would really not have worked out well later.)

So we get to Louisville, where some Cocoa Trios from Borders finally add something positive to the day. The rest of the weekend was pretty fun; Jen set up her parents' new computer, and I hooked up their new home theater system. Then we played pool. :)

Friday night we went to the L&N Wine Bar, which was pretty good. Their creme brulee is very good, and the drinks looked really tasty. The rest of the weekend we pretty much just hung out, watched TV, played pool, etc. Lots of fun. And I got lots of cool gifts, for which I am very grateful. Jen and I played an inaugural game of the latest edition of Trivial Pursuit already. ;)

Coming home was, if possible, even more annoying than getting there. The flight itself was fine, not late or anything, but it took us an hour to get our bags and the car was dead when we got to the parking lot. Apparently it's a miracle it drove at all before that, because the cable that runs from the battery to the starter had corroded into green powder. I won't belabor the point, but we got home at 3:30 am and I had to go back the next day to get the car towed.

Wednesday we had the car seat checked to be sure it's safely installed, then went shopping at the new outlet mall and the new Ikea store.

Thanksgiving day we spent largely cleaning and cooking; we had dinner by ourselves, then had friends over for drinks/dessert/Beyond Balderdash, which was loads of fun. I ate way too many tasty desserts. :) Today's been more relaxing, finally; I took a nap, did some Xmas shopping, and then Jen and I played Pikmin 2 for a while. And there's still two days left in the weekend, so things are looking up. :) 

11:10 PM by Eric: Her Wish... Personal | Work

...is my command, so I'm posting an update. :-P

I voted today, at an elementary school cleverly hidden in the woods near our house. Not that it mattered a bit, of course; Austin invariably goes heavily Democrat, the rest of the state heavily Republican, and every two years we consider walling them out and they consider walling us in. ;)

About the only votes I actually cared about were the ones funding local parks, central libraries, and theatre, all of which passed (though the theatre vote was closer than I would have thought; maybe Austin's not as arts-friendly as I thought).

Work is taking interesting turns. I've been advocating for a more open discussion of upcoming versions of our software; in the past we've been relatively tight-lipped, but I think our customers would be better served by learning about and discussing some things earlier on. It's a balancing act, of course, but this week I got the go-ahead to post about something I've spent a lot of time working on. It's not completely public, but it is available to any member of our blog site, so while I can't exactly say "go read it", at least our customers are getting a chance to learn about and think about it. I'm looking forward to what they have to say. I kind of envision part of my role being an advocate for third-party developers and system admins, so having dialogue with those people is really helpful for me (and very interesting as well).

We had a very fun baby shower (thrown by our good friends Shannon & Stephen) last Sunday. We stuck with the "favorite childhood book" theme that worked so well in NYC, so we got some very interesting gifts, all of which Ollie will love, I'm sure. I've taken to reading a book (or story) or two each night before bed, out loud so that Jenny, Ollie, and whichever of the animals cares to listen can hear it. I have to practice my dramatic reading skills (including voices ;), after all.

Nothing else of particular interest to report; I'm looking forward to our trip to Louisville for my birthday, we're planning a post-dinner Thanksgiving party that should be great, and Christmas (and Ollie) can't get here soon enough. :)

10:17 PM by Eric: I Don't Believe In Time Personal | Work

It's hard to believe it's already the end of October. (Of course, it would be easier to believe if it weren't still hitting 80 every day. I want Fall, damnit!) It seems like it was just a few months ago that we were carving pumpkins with our (still child-free at that point) friends Stephen and Shannon, not a whole year.

Of course, on the plus side, that means hockey is back on. :) We had Alec over last night to watch the Canadiens lose to Buffalo (after Janne Niinimaa guaranteed they'd win--smooth move), which was lots of fun. We have startlingly similar taste in books, too, which is cool. :) Also went out to a birthday party on Saturday that was a lot of fun. We don't stay out late very much anymore, so it was novel in that respect; we ended up hanging out in a neat little park with some friends until it got too cold.

Work is settling down a little bit again, aside from a minor crisis on Friday afternoon (why is it always Friday afternoon?) that I had to handle; it's been really busy lately, but at the moment I'm working on some estimates for the release after this, and it's hard to feel the same sense of urgency about that kind of thing. :) Tomorrow I'm supposed to take my work-provided pair of monitors in and exchange them for brand-new flat panels, which is cool. It certainly will give us back some of the dining room table--those 21" CRTs take up a lot of space. I should also be getting an IP-based phone this week, so I will no longer be tying up our phone line every morning for teleconferences. Which doesn't really matter to anyone but me (because I'll finally be able to hear everyone else in the meetings) and Jen (because she hates me tying up the phone), but hey. :-P

Nothing happening on the Ollie front. He's pretty active most days, which means Jen gets worried when he's not active, but he generally gives her a kick or two if she asks if he's OK. The class moves along; last week we simulated contractions (using ice cubes). It's all very interesting (actually, I'm finding it very useful to get a clearer picture of what my role will be, what kinds of things I will need to do and think about--I might be getting more out of it than Jen is, in some ways, although she does enjoy practicing the relaxation exercises).

Also I'm kind of getting the writing bug again for some reason. I might just ignore it until it goes away, I might not. It's been hard to start writing simply because the last time I did, I somehow managed to not save about 3/4 of what I wrote. I have the Word doc, it's just a lot... shorter than I remember it being. Which is frustrating, but I guess it's all still up in my head, so no great loss. Sometimes I think about trying to write and publish a novel or something, just to see if I could. And royalty checks (however small) certainly wouldn't suck. ;)

09:54 PM by Eric: I Don't Know What to Title This Post... Personal

Not much to report lately. Jen and I have finished pretty much all the prep work for Ollie, so we're down to waiting; something neither of us are particularly good at. We've been to two of our birthing classes thus far--last week we watched videos of births, which I hadn't done since Health class in middle school. It strikes me as a little odd that people actually allow the filming of their baby's birth and the use of that footage in documentaries, although I guess I could just be a pretty private person. :-P

This was actually a really good weekend. Yesterday we re-re-re-(how many years have we lived here?)-did the front yard with some new plants, some new mulch, and compost (please come back to life, front yard!), then we went to the apartment of some friends of ours for awesome homemade sushi and tempura. And weird but amusing Canadian comedy shows (of course, we have a history with those). :)

Today was slower paced, but very nice. We lazed around with pancakes (and real Maple Syrup, thankyou Fi and Simon!) and the NYT, took a nap, and then I challenged Iron Chef Jenny (or vice versa) to Battle Chocolate Chip Cookie. I think it's a draw, which just means we have to do it again. ;)

So, that's pretty much it. Nothing else to report. I would give you hockey updates, but I'm not playing hockey, so... ;)

We're all fine, here, now--how are you? (Cookie for the reference.)

02:51 PM by Eric: Victory over the dots Personal

We finished the dots today. :) All in all it wasn't nearly as bad as I had thought it might. It was a lot of painting and a lot of work, but I think the result is well worth it. As Jenny says, nobody can accuse us of failing to stimulate Ollie visually. ;)

10:32 PM by Eric: Seeing dots in my sleep... Personal

Yes, another day of dots completed. We've finished all the "low-hanging fruit", so to speak, so things are kind of slowing down. That said, we're two large circles away from finishing two walls entirely, which is exciting, and the door and window/closet walls should be relatively easy.

11:13 PM by Eric: Polka Dots Have Eaten My Evenings Personal

I jest, of course; I didn't paint any dots while Jen was out of town (it really is a two-person job), so tonight was night 3 of dot painting. I think it's going along quite well. A couple more days and I think we might be done.

10:04 PM by Eric: More dot progress Personal

So Jen and I have spent more time on the nursery; four more photos in the gallery. I've mismeasured some of the dots, so it won't be exactly the way dad drew it, but I still think it looks really great so far.

The big circles made out of small dots aren't nearly as bad as I had worried they might be; just put a small nail in the middle of the circle and measure out the radius of the circle in a length of string, one end tied to the nail. Do the four "compass point" circles (E, W, N, S) first, then just use a tape measure and the string to divide out where the other circles should be. (For example, once you've done the "N" and "W" circles, measure the distance between the nearest points of each; in our case this was 29 inches. Divide that in half to give 14.5 inches, and put a dot [we'll call this the "NW" dot] there. Measure from that dot to either the N or W dot--in our case about 14 inches. Divide by 3, giving 4.33 inches; pull the string out until it crosses the tape measure at 4.33 inches from one of the existing dots--that's the center point of your next dot. Do the same thing 4.33 inches from the other existing dot, and that's the last dot in that quadrant. Multiply by four and you're done. It's easier than I'm probably making it sound. ;)

Anyway, Jen came up with the nail, and the measuring idea was mine, so it's a good thing we're together; either one of us might have had a lot more trouble alone. ;)

Anyway, I think we're making good progress--this represents probably 10 hours of work so far.

11:39 PM by Eric: Prepare to be impressed... Personal

Y'all (oh yeah, I said it) better be impressed by the latest photos of Ollie's room, because (as my dad warned us), those dots are kind of a pain in the ass to paint. ;)

Although the big circles made out of 3" circles will be way more painful, I'm sure. Still, I think it looks very cool even partially done. My wife and dad are both geniuses--one for coming up with the idea, the other for designing it and putting it on a 12"×12" grid so we can easily paint it.

10:58 PM by Eric: Animals are funny people Personal

Riley and I have a new bedtime ritual. I take my allergy pills, then he hops up on the vanity and I pour him a glass of water, which he drinks while I'm brushing my teeth. He hops down when he's done, I empty out the glass, and we all go to bed.

I know a lot of cats like fresh water, but he has no interest--whatsoever--in the running faucet. He wants a glass of fresh water. It's pretty amusing, although I think Jen finds it funnier that I will actually indulge him. ;)

11:46 PM by Eric: September Update Culture | Kids | Movies and TV | Personal | Reviews | Work

Yeah, so these things seem to be monthly, so here you go for the month of September. ;) I'm just kidding... or am I?

Anyway, last weekend was lots of fun. Sandy flew in from Florida (between all kinds of crazy business trips: we appreciate the stopover! ;)) and hung out all weekend. We went to the Botanical Gardens, and also a nearby collection of animals who had been rescued. Many of them had been people's pets, which makes you wonder about humanity (I mean, who thinks a bobcat would make a good pet?) I did feel bad for the coyote, Martha, though; she had grown up on a ranch with a family and dogs to play with, and now she's stuck in a small cage with no entertainment at all. She just paced back and forth, back and forth, and she really reminded me of the poor dogs at the Humane Society, the ones who keep hoping their family will come back and find her again. Some kids came by while we were watching her, and the way she perked up was kind of heartbreaking. The vultures were kind of cool, though, especially since it was feeding time (yum, rats!). Jen was a little squicked out by that, though.

Anyway, like I said, it was lots of fun. We went to see The Illusionist at the Alamo; I really liked the movie. It was all stylish early-1900's Vienna, and magic, and love, and an ambiguous ending (I love ambiguous endings), and Jessica Beal's te-herr-ible "Generic Euro" accent didn't detract too much, seeing as she didn't have all that many lines. I liked Edward Norton's role a lot, though, and Paul Giamatti did a good job too. Anyway, if magic and intrigue in Imperial Vienna sounds interesting, you should definitely check it out. We hit the Texas State History Museum as well, which had an interesting exhibit on Braggin' (It's not braggin' if it's true!), including a Cadillac covered in rhinestones (the glitteriest car I've ever seen) and an actual, working, VW Beetle made from wrought iron (which was amazingly cool). All in all a fun visit, with a very nice mix of activities and full-out lazy relaxation. My kind of holiday weekend. :)

Lately work has been madly busy. We have a major deadline Monday (I've been working 10- and 12-hour days, highly unusual for us), and another at the end(ish) of October, and somewhere in there we're moving offices. Well, I say "we", but I'm not moving offices, because I already did. I packed up my office at work, including my work PC, and brought it home, and I now work from the dining room 4.5 days a week. (The other half day I have to be onsite for meetings etc.) Working from home is, in a word, delightfullyawesome. It's definitely nice to have separate work and home PCs--easier, at least for me, to keep the two activities separate and be able to "leave" work even though I'm still here. I feel more productive, able to concentrate better; I couldn't imagine working in a cubicle farm again. A private office, maybe. ;) The lack of commute is really, really nice. It does take some discipline, but I guess I don't really find that all that hard to manage.

This weekend we're just kind of chilling. USA Baby was having a huge sale, so we picked up a full-body pillow for Jen and a car seat/stroller system. We also took down the popcorn ceiling in the nursery (which is terribly messy, by the way; there's fine white dust everywhere), I primered it today, and will be painting it tomorrow. We need to do the polka dots soon as well, just to get that room totally done and ready.

Ollie is really active lately, and he's pretty strong. It's very weird (in a cool way) to feel him kicking or punching. Today Jen said she tapped her stomach and Ollie immediately kicked her there, so she may have invented a new game. ;)

Charlie is finally back down to his ideal weight, but Cara managed to put on five extra pounds in the meantime. The dieting never stops here, man; we just take turns. ;)

Anyway, aside from Sandy's visit, my life is all about work and Ollie, so not much else to say. I hope all you guys are having a good time of it. :)

10:40 PM by Eric: Kung Fu Master... or something Personal

So in the last week or so it's become possible for me to feel Ollie kicking/punching/whatever else he's practicing in there. The midwife today mentioned that it should feel gentle, like gas bubbles--but Ollie is nothing like that. Jen says it feels like someone punching her from the inside, and I believe her--when he lands one where my hand is, I can feel something in there pushing out. It's an odd sensation; I'm sure it's a lot more odd for Jen, though. ;)

I'm really ready to meet Ollie. I mean, I know he's going to come out small and uncooperative and sleep a lot at first, but every time I see a small child out in the world I get this silly smile on my face. I mean, I worry sometimes too, but walking out of Central Market and passing a woman making goofy faces at her baby in the shopping cart makes it hard to hold onto anything but the anticipation. :) Of course, I have the easy part of the job at the moment, which doesn't hurt.

Today was my first official day of working from home full-time. Yesterday afternoon I loaded my workstation into the Passat, brought it home, and set everything up in the second office (a.k.a. the dining room). It's so nice--I got up at 7:25 this morning, took a shower, made coffee, and I had fixed my first bug by ten till 8. And then I had a second cup. :) The only downside is that it's somewhat harder to resist the effort to take a nap in the afternoon, but I can deal with that.

Work itself is very very busy. During my afternoon one-on-one with my boss yesterday, he asked me what I had done that morning and I totally blanked. We laughed about it, but there's so much going on right now that it really is hard to keep track of what I was doing once I'm on to the next task (well, at least for me, but I guess I'm kind of absentminded at the best of times). I've been mentoring an intern, which is definitely a new experience for me; I'm accustomed to the "walking encyclopedia" role, but direct mentorship is something I haven't done much before, so I'm glad for the opportunity.

This weekend should be fun. Sandy's coming in, we'll hit the Bat Festival and maybe some other stuff. St. Louis was so long ago (for all of us ;))... it'll be great to hang out again.

Finally, congrats guys! You know who you are. ;)

07:46 PM by Eric: Weird... Personal

I have absolutely no idea what this is, but it's definitely full of affirmation. ;) Jen found it while we were looking for the Austin Papas e-mail group.

It actually works with any random address, actually... try <yourname>.youaremighty.com, for instance. Or this one. :)

10:18 PM by Eric: Truism Personal

Sanding is, by far, the least enjoyable part of carpentry. I often wish I could just toss whatever it is in a big drum full of sand and roll it around for a while, or something. :-P

10:29 PM by Eric: Five Days, Six Nights Personal | Sports

No, it's not a vacation. :-P An anti-vacation, in point of fact. This is Jen's last week at TIP. I know going in we both thought it would be fun for her, that the time would fly by. Instead it's been quite the reverse; Jen made the comment Saturday that it's a good thing she's mostly dissociated the whole thing from Duke TIP, because as an experience it would otherwise have polluted the fond memories she had of her own time there. Which is really too bad; I had hoped to send our own kids there someday, and from Jen's experience, I wouldn't do so if they paid me at this point. And I'm not even talking about the things Jen has had to deal with--just the way the kids are treated and the program is run. To be honest I'm not sure whether to blame their expansion away from the Duke campus (and the resulting loss of central program culture) or the societal changes (technological and otherwise) that result in parents who panic if their kids don't have cellphones and threaten lawsuits for any imagined breach of idyllic perfection. I will never be that parent, I want my kids to learn independence, learn to deal with problems on their own, learn to make friends and experience technology as a tool, not a substitute for their own intelligence and creativity.

Anyway, Jen was in town again this weekend; she and some new friends managed to make it to one of my games for the first time this season--against the team that won the championship last season. We won, of course (it's totally her fault our record's no good... ;)), which was lots of fun. It's funny, we tend to play very well against this team (both seasons), I don't know why. I still have no points this season (2 penalty minutes, though!) which is kind of disappointing since I won't be playing this fall (or next spring). I'd like to get a goal before I have to lay off for a while, but we'll see.

I can't decide if I like the Mary J. Blige version of "One" better than the original, or vice versa. I told Jen I liked the original better earlier today, but then I just listened to the new version and I can't decide. It might be novelty, though; the song is a classic either way.

I need something new to read. Lately (okay, like the last eight years) I've been on this intelligence sort of kick, but I feel like I haven't read anything challenging on the subject in a while. There was a good article in the NYTimes magazine today about intelligence (short version: heredity rules if your environment is sufficiently challenging to allow you to reach your full potential), and I wrote about an interesting study about learning to program over on my "other" blog--the one that nobody ever reads unless they need help with the Windows Scheduler ;)--a few days ago, but I feel like there must be something new and exciting in either related philosophy or science. Hofstadter has a new book coming out, which is exciting, but I'm thinking about looking for something to read on the plane to NYC.

Which is a separate excitement. Work is pretty busy right now; I have a metric ton of work to do before Sep. 15, and I can definitely use two weeks of R&R; I know at least some of it will be spent Kokai-style "commando raid" vacation, but hopefully I can sleep in at least once. ;) Either way it should be fun, with everyone from both families in one place, plus Simon & Fiona.

Sorry, I'm a little scatterbrained right now. I've got so much going on mentally that I've had trouble sleeping, something that hasn't been true since probably sophomore year of college, when I considered it a relaxing day if I got to sleep before 2 a.m. ;) I probably left something out of this update, but I can't "feature" what (as they say in Deadwood ;)).

10:16 PM by Eric: Dogs, showers, paint and hockey Personal | Sports

I actually had a really good day today--the sort of day that could only be made better in a single way, and that's if Jen were here to share it.

I slept in (as much as the animals ever allow), had a leisurely cup of coffee, then gave the dogs baths (so they're fluffy and they smell good now). Of course, since the dogs were clean I had to wash Charlie's crate (since if he'd laid down in it he'd have needed another bath at this point), and then I had to sweep the house in case there was any dust or dirt that might undo the baths as well. :) They were really good about the baths, usually Cara goes all "oh my god I can't believe you're abusing me this way", but today she just kind of sat there and accepted it. Charlie does this hilarious thing after baths where he rubs up against anything he can find--couches, chairs, beds--as if trying to wipe off the water or the conditioner or something. Of course both of them shed something fierce after a bath, so I've been brushing them every hour or two.

After that I cleaned myself up (it's amazing how wet and dirty one can get cleaning two dogs) and went to Lowe's. I bought the supplies (including most of the paint--excluding the polka dots) for painting the baby's room. My mom commented on how matter-of-fact I am about that at this point ("painting the baby's room"), but to be honest, we're 4 months into this and I'm more or less used to the idea now, you know? ;) Jen and I got some super cute baby outfits while she was in town. Our baby will be dressed up in growling, stomping dinosaurs, or a sweater that makes him/her look like a monkey (complete with hood with ears), or a hooded towel made up to look like a crab. (My mother found that last very funny, we'll have to put pictures up once the baby is made to look like a monkey/crab/etc.)

Lowe's was also having a sale on a combined normal/handheld shower head, so I went ahead and grabbed that, figuring that it would be useful for washing both dogs (sadly, I bought it after I washed the dogs--tactical error there) and babies at some point. Even better, that allowed me to take the shower head from the guest bathroom and use it to replace the POS $2 (I am not kidding, I priced it at Lowe's) shower head that was in the master bath. Which should be nice.

Then I played hockey this evening. Our hockey team isn't doing as well as last season--I don't know if I jinxed us or not, but we're 1-4-2 on the season, tied for last place. Still, it's a lot of fun, we just aren't scoring enough. Every game we've lost has been by a single goal, so it's not like we aren't competetive, we just can't finish off the other teams. It does feel like the level of competition has gone up--there's an "informal" league, with no refs, as well, and I think a lot of the more marginal players dropped down to that, so the regular C league is more difficult by comparison with last season. Also, the last few games the refs had gone completely crazy; two games ago, we spent nearly the entire second period short a player (at one point we had four players in the box at the same time), which is just nuts for a rec league. I took my first two-minute penalty in that game, for cross-checking (which was nonsense--the blade of my stick was on the ice; it should have been either elbowing or boarding, if they were going to call anything at all. :-P) Either way, any day I get to play hockey is pretty much a good day, and I'm used to being on last-place teams, so it beats not playing at all. :-D

Other than that, not much to report; work has been busy but not unreasonably so, I'm at least getting to work on new-ish problems. Missing Jen a lot, of course, but there isn't much I can do about that. :-P

10:04 PM by Eric: Gravity exerts an irresistible pull.... Personal | Sports

Last night was our fourth hockey game of the season. We lost the first two, both by a single goal; the first one we really should have won, the second was just a hard-fought game. We won the third game, 7-1. To be honest I felt kind of bad about that one. You'd think it would be fun to have a game like that, but I always remember the times I was on the losing end of those games and it's hard to enjoy it.

Anyway, like I said, last night was the fourth game of the season. We ended up coming back from a 2-0 deficit to tie it, but it felt like a win, the way we played. Our opponents were the best team in the league (same team that won the championship last season), so a tie isn’t bad at all (we can do better, though. ;)) After the game, our goalie stood up in front of everyone and announced that I had had a “monster” game, my “best game of the season, by far”, and that I was “absolutely everywhere on the ice”. I think I blushed. :) Anyway, it was a really good game; I had lots of great defensive plays, stopping breakaways, cutting off passes, etc.

I did have one big fall, though, which everyone teased me about mercilessly. The captain said he was taking up a collection to have my skates sharpened. :) We had the puck in their zone, 2nd period, we were getting lots of good pressure. Curry, one of the forwards, got the puck at the left wing and saw me completely open at the blue line. He passed it to me, perfect pass, and right as he did my legs just shot out from under me. Nobody within 20’, a perfect pass, and I just BAM! fell down. What’s worse is that, as I was laying on the ice, the puck was coming straight towards me. I mean, STRAIGHT towards me. If I hadn’t moved it would have hit me right in the middle of my stick. Of course, like a total idiot I tried to lift my stick (as I’m laying flat on the ice) to take the pass with the blade, and the puck goes under the stick, under me, and out of the zone. Brilliant!

Anyway, like I said, I had a good game--almost had a goal. I had the puck all alone against 3 defenders, I faked past one, ended up right in the center of the ice with the 2 defenders in front of me. I seem to find myself in that situation about once a game, so I've been trying to make it work for me. My current move is to cut right just a bit to get the defender between me and the goalie, and then shoot the puck through the defender's legs, so the goalie has trouble seeing the shot at first. This time, I’m pretty sure the shot hit the post on the far side, it was a really nice shot and I don’t think the goalie really saw it. Eventually one of those shots is going to go in, it just didn’t happen that game.

I've also noticed a number of Spoonerisms coming out of my mouth lately. After the game I wanted to talk about the fact that especially in the second period, it's important to keep our shifts short so we don't get tired and caught out of position (which is why we were down 2-0), only I said it was important to keep our "shorts shifted". You can guess what kind of jokes were made at my expense at that point. ;) I actually really like this team. Everyone on it is always in a good mode, there's teasing and camaraderie in the locker room. Jen says she approves of their teasing me all the time, and frankly I agree; it's a really great group of guys and I'm glad to be a part of it. What's even better is that I know other guys on nearly every team in the league (last nights' opponents are pretty much the exception), so there's always someone to say hi to or trash talk before the game. It's a lot of fun, and it makes me wish I could play hockey every night. :)

Playing games without Jen in the audience is kind of weird. She'd only missed a few games before this season, and I was pretty used to looking up and seeing her in the second or third row, reading her book at period intermissions or cheering during play. I keep looking for her, and of course she's not there. She'll get to see my game this Saturday, though, so hopefully I'll have another good game. :)

As far as work goes, it's pretty busy right now. We have our second-most-major deadline of this entire release coming up, and everyone's scrambling to get ready. I'm in the middle of a really frustrating problem (been working on it about 14 hours thus far, with no resolution). It doesn't help that making brand new code work exactly like the old code did six months ago--which is what we're doing--is one of the more tedious, uncreative jobs in programming. It has to be done, and it will be worth the effort at the end, but any programmer will tell you that solving new problems and writing new code is much more fun.

Aside from work and hockey I haven't done much; I have a million things to do to the house that I just haven't had the time to do, and we're supposed to hang out with some friends for July 4th, but other than that my social life is essentially nonexistant. :) Sorry. No new baby news, either; we won't know the sex for another 5 weeks, and that's really the next big milestone. I've actually only told 3 people at work, partially because everyone who knows Jenny is pregnant seems to only talk to her about that sometimes, and I don't want that to happen. Of course I'm also a pretty private person in general.

11:27 PM by Eric: Stuff and Nonsense Movies and TV | Personal | Sports

An update, at last! :-P

Anyway. Last weekend Jen and I went with some friends to see Over The Hedge. Jen and I both had qualms about seeing it; from the trailers, we both expected it to be not-very-good. We were wrong. It was said afterwards that it's the best animated movie Dreamworks has made; better than Shrek, and while I don't know that I'd necessarily give either the nudge myself, OTH is definitely a worthwhile viewing experience. The Grand Theft Auto sequence in particular is awesome, as is the movie version of Ben Folds' "Rockin' the Suburbs". And stay through the credits--it's worth it (partially because the end credits themselves are well-done and interesting), unlike the ending of X-Men 3.

I also watched the first part of Robots this week. Despite the program guide's generous four star rating, I found it completely uncompelling and deleted it after about twenty minutes. I, Robot, on the other hand, was entertaining if not particularly thought-provoking. It's Will Smith, what do you want? ;) Constantine was not terrible, for a comic-book movie. If I see it in the $5 bargain bin at Wal-Mart, I might pick it up. I'm a sucker for storylines involving an eternal war between Heaven and Hell with humans as proxy combatants, though. Tomorrow should result in Resident Evil: Apocalypse (which I had watched approximately half an hour of, while programming on a laptop in a client's home at my previous job) as well as The Maltese Falcon (which I've never seen, but I like noir and Bogart, so...) and even more excitingly, the first episode of the new season of Deadwood. I've missed Al Swearengen's poetical utterances, truly I have. I find it interesting that Robots was something I deliberately Tivoed, while I, Robot was a Tivo Suggestion--I submit to you that perhaps the Tivo knows me better than I know myself. Of course, it also recorded Prince William and Hide and Seek--so perhaps not, after all.

This week we also moved Jenny to College Station for the next two months, more or less. Which isn't much fun. I have plenty to keep me busy, including lots of work stuff (enough that I worked for a few hours today, which is not usual for me at all) and yet more home improvement Activities™, but I am accustomed to intense Jeopardy duels, and it takes all the fun out of an entire category devoted to the Oz books (not the movie!) if Jen's not here. :-P

Our parents banded together and gave us an anniversary present of a digital camcorder (for obvious reasons), so if I can manage to lay hands on a DV cassette sometime soon perhaps I will encourage the pets to do goofy things I can put on the site. Or something. I dunno. It seems like a wonderful piece of equipment, though; I can understand why people do things like this or this, when digital film technology is so accessible. I even know a few people who I'm sure would be happy to be extras in a Firefly fanfic... ;)

The hockey draft was this last week as well. One of the players from my spring team is a captain in the summer league, and had intended to try to keep the team together as much as possible. This is complicated by the fact that aside from himself, he only gets to "protect" a single player, and further by the fact that three of our players got drafted into the next league up (including my defensive partner, all unwitting). Still and all, it looks like the core is there, and it should be fun regardless. I got a little bit of an ego boost when I found out that apparently I was selected in either the third or fourth round of the draft, which seems fairly early for someone in their second season. Not that any OHL or NHL scouts are likely to be darkening my door anytime soon. And it's only a small ego boost, as I can depend on Jenny for a realistic (by which I mean occasionally depressing ;)) appraisal of my "mad hockey skillz", as it were.

This weekend's project, aside from "entertaining the dogs" (via early morning trip to the dog park) and "dealing with crunch time" (viz., working today) is "cleaning the garage". Anyone who has lived in a house with a garage for more than ten minutes knows precisely what I mean by that. :)

Last night I had a bout of insomnia, and ended up out on the hammock in the back yard at about 2am. It's worth noting that, by 2am, the mosquitos appear to have quit for the day and, in June in Austin, the temperature is literally perfect. I almost slept out there, but it on further reflection I supposed that to be a bad idea and merely enjoyed it until I felt sleepy. :)

A final thought: reading the Baroque Cycle sure does turn me into a wordy son of a gun, doesn't it?

09:45 PM by Eric: This is not a Mighty Ducks movie Personal | Sports

Sadly, my life is not a Mighty Ducks movie, and so, though we are indeed a plucky ragtag band which has had our problems, my hockey team did not win the championship game. In fact, we pretty much sucked for the entire game. :-P The final score was 2-1, but that was only because our goaltender had an amazing game. The other team was working us over like crazy, making good passes, frustrating our rush, getting off good shots all over the place. We just couldn't seem to get our flow going, start connecting on passes.

On the plus side, I did have two very solid slapshots, both on net, and I did have fun (although I took a slapshot off my thumb that left it swollen and sore for two days), so I can't really complain. There was an after-party, with barbecue (it's Texas) and beer (apparently my defensive partner's dad is a brewer for Shiner Bock, and procured a keg of what will be next year's Anniversary Special). I partook of neither, since we don't eat meat and I'm not drinking until/unless Jenny does (it only seemed fair), but I did spend about 15 minutes swapping hockey stories with a 14-year-old. :)

Anyway, it was a great season and I can't wait for the summer season to start.

09:47 PM by Eric: 180, 9, and 6 (or 3) Kids | Personal

180, 9, and 6 (or 3) are today's important numbers. 180 is beats per minute. 9 is weeks. And 6 (or 3) is people, depending on whether you only count homo sapiens or not.

More specifically, 180 beats per minute is the rate of the heartbeat Jenny and I listened to today. It's the heart rate of our now 9-week-old fetus, who will make six (or 3) people in this family. Yes, Jenny and I are going to have a baby, on or about December 27th. Jenny believes it will be a boy, though of course there's no way to know for another 2-3 months at least.

The prospect of being a parent is a bit tremendous. Partially this is because Jenny and I have been reading scads of books about pregnancy and parenthood. In some ways this is a terrible idea, because these books are largely very scary. :) Still, I have definite ideas about the kind of parent I want to be, and the kind of parent I think I will be, and Jenny will be, and overall I'm optimistic. I'm generally optimistic about things, so I guess that's par for the course.

I don't mean to be melodramatic or anything; clearly we're not the first people to have a baby in this world. :) It's just a bit personally overwhelming at times. I think it will be quite the adventure.

10:07 PM by Eric: Playoffs and etc. Personal | Sports | Work

So the season has ended; my team finished in third place. The final stats for the season are available online here. If you drill down into the stats, you'll note I got no goals, no penalty minutes, and a single assist. Go me. ;) Still, I feel like I had a great first season and a lot of fun. The handful of pictures Jenny was able to get before the camera battery died are up in the gallery. I'm in black with a white helmet, #79. (I would have been #13, but someone else on the team already had it).

Being in the top 4 teams meant we got to enter the playoffs, which are a simple single-elimination tournament. Our first-round game was last night, against the 2nd-place team. Of our 4 regular defensemen, one was recovering from salmonella and the other had just gotten new skates (and isn't really comfortable in them yet) since the steel runner in his old ones shattered during a game earlier in the season (seriously). The referees seemed to kind of have it in for our team; we took 7 penalties to I think 2 for the other team, although I honestly think there were an equal number of offenses on either side. We did score first, one goal in the first period, but the second period kind of fell apart on us and we gave up two power play goals.

Fortunately, one of the things this team is very good at is coming back from a deficit, and we really went to work in the third period. My defensive partner scored a beauty of a wrist shot off a faceoff during a 4-on-4, leaving us tied. We had several more great opportunities, including one where I cut off a clearing pass, passed to a forward at the side of the net, and ended up with the rebound and a wide open net. My shot was a little off balance and someone got in the way of it, and we ended up with about 8 players involved in a scrum in front of the net--most of us laying on the ice. The puck ended up right in front of me, and I saw our center about three feet away, standing up. I very carefully used my stick to push the puck towards him, but as soon as he touched it the ref whistled us for a hand pass (which was nonsense).

Time wound down and ran out; unlike the regular season, there are no ties in the playoffs, so we went to a 5-minute 4-on-4 sudden death overtime. We played for about 3-1/2 minutes, with some good chances on both sides, until a miscommunication ended up with us apparently having too many men on the ice. (I'm not completely sure there actually were too many men, but that's what was called.) One of our centers, my defensive partner, and I ended up as the 3 in a 4-on-3. I was really excited to get tapped for the 4-on-3, since it indicated a lot of trust from my captain and teammates. Less than a minute later my partner got the puck in our zone. He had some time, so he held it, and the center started yelling for him to ice it all the way down. Instead, he very calmly passed it straight up the middle to the center, who fought off the lone defense in his way, broke in on the goalie, and beat him 5-hole. It was an amazing goal shorthanded in overtime, and the crowd (friends and family as well as the teams waiting to play the next game) started yelling. It was great. :)

So we're into the championship game, which will be played next Monday. We've played our opponents three times: beaten them twice and tied once, so we feel like if we play well we have a great chance. Either way, I've had an amazing time this season and I'm really glad I got to play.

In other news, yesterday and today my company held the annual conference for our independent resellers, consultants, and other developers. This year it was held here in Austin. I was scheduled to judge an annual competition yesterday, but I had to bow out at the last minute because I needed to make it to my playoff game. Today I gave a 25-minute presentation on recent improvements to one of the tools we sell. It was very well received, although I have several notes on things I can do better next time I get the opportunity. It was very interesting to me to meet all these people who build an entire ecosystem of software based on our stuff, and hear their perspectives on how things are and should be. Being an insider was a new experience for me too; all these developers wanted to know what's coming down the pipe, and how things work, and I have to keep in mind what I am and am not allowed to state publicly. It was very cool taking questions and being able to give good answers. Hopefully I'll get to participate in the conference in years to come as well.

01:46 PM by Eric: It was fun while it lasted Personal | Sports

Of course, as soon as I brag about it, the streak is over. :-P We lost yesterday, 2-1, leaving our streak at 5-0-1. Ah well, time to start a new one.

In other news, I finally got the new floor in the bedroom put down (again). It's nice to have that out of the way, even though between putting floor down and hockey I'm pretty tired and sore. :)

07:53 PM by Eric: Yes, I'm still here. Personal | Sports | Work

I'm really bad about updating this thing. Sometimes I'm not entirely sure why I have it. :-D

Anyway, hockey has been going great. All of a sudden my team is on a tear; we've won our last 5 games, the most recent with a substitute goalie. In that stretch we beat the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place teams (we were more or less in 4th place for most of it). As of this last game we are tied for 1st place in the division with either 1 or 2 other teams (the latest games haven't posted to the website yet).

Of course, I still don't have a goal, an assist, or a penalty to my credit. I'm the only player on the team who has not missed a game of which that is true. :) Partially it's just luck; I've certainly had chances for goals or assists. Mostly it's due to the fact that I tend to play a defensive style; my partner tends to play pretty offensively, joining the rush or pinching to try to hold the puck in, which means I'm covering back in case he gets beaten. Still, we're winning and I'm having a great time, so I'm happy.

Work is going well. I've been working on my presentation for our reseller/developer conference, which is coming up very soon. I'm a little nervous;hopefully it goes well. No hecklers, that sort of thing. ;)

The garden hasn't died yet. We've been watering more than we did last year, and that seems to be helping. The bell pepper plant from last year has actually grown quite a bit, so here's hoping it feels productive this time around. This weekend I'm going to put up the new mantel and re-lay the floor in the bedroom. I'll be painting the guest room this summer, and I need to find some way to keep the stupid transition pieces attached to the new flooring (I think I'm going to end up drilling into the concrete and screwing them down) and then hopefully that will complete the inside of the house for the time being.

Also, for some reason, yesterday and today I've been thinking a lot about Neil. I'm not really sure why; maybe it's that all the flowers around here are blooming. I remember noticing on the way back from Houston that the bluebells were blooming along the highway; they were kind of heartbreakingly pretty actually. Either way. I still miss him a great deal, especially when I cut up bell peppers or broccoli.

10:43 PM by Eric: Update! Personal | Sports | Work

Sorry about the lack of updates. I got busy again. Or got lazy again--take your pick. ;)

I won't recap the games individually, but our last 3 games have been a loss (a really bad loss; our captain got injured and one of our players got ejected for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty), a tie (0-0; our first shutout), and a win (in which I played like crap; see below) respectively. Aside from the really bad loss (which wasn't fun for reasons other than losing the game), the season so far has been lots of fun. I feel like I'm learning something every time I'm on the ice; I feel more confident every game, and I feel like every game I find some way to make a good contribution, even if it's not scoring (and it's not; I have 0 goals/0 assists on the season--but 0 penalty minutes, too ;). I actually kind of love blocking shots, partially because I find it incredibly frustrating when other people block my shots, and turning that around is very satisfying.

Anyway, I got really, really sick last weekend. I played hockey Sunday afternoon, felt great, had a great game (the tie, which we really should have won but for their substitute goalie playing like a pro), came home, had dinner, and then spent much of the night throwing up. Oh, and massively delirious. Apparently I was a real pain in the ass; I don't remember much of it. Monday morning I felt slightly better but was weak as a half-drowned kitten and still shaky, so I stayed in bed all day. Wednesday, we played our next game, and I was very obviously still tired. I couldn't seem to stand up on the ice at all; I fell down even more than usual (and usual is fairly often--my teammates call me the "Tasmanian Devil" for my signature spin-around-and-fall-down routine). Fortunately I don't seem to have relapsed, and we have a 10-day layoff to the next game, so I have time to recover.

We just finished a major milestone at work. The project that's been taking up the time of the majority of our developers for the last 3-1/2 years has finally come to a closure point, and from here on out we're going to be starting to pull that code into our existing applications and actually shipping it to customers. This isn't really new for me, because the stuff I've been working on has been the actual shipping applications, up until the last 3-4 months. Lately I've been getting things in place to significantly improve our infrastructure to make that migration easier; after Monday that will all be done (we'll be using .Net 2.0, SQL Server 2005, and Team Foundation Server--all really cutting edge stuff) and I'll be back working on actual code, which will be nice. I'm really a code monkey at heart. :-D

Some of the stuff I've been working on (and will be working on) is really cool; I'll be helping present some of it at one of our annual conferences, aimed at our resellers and other people who customize our application. That's very exciting for me; I often envy the situation of the various Microsoft developers who blog about their work and have very active, engaged communities, and this is kind of a similar situation for me. Although I've worked on applications for end-users at other jobs, this is the first time that I'm really starting to get directly connected to users/developers who aren't actually on my team or working for my company, and that's pretty cool.

01:06 PM by Eric: Song Lyrics Personal

It's funny how you can coincidentally start listening to a particular song that somehow fits right into your life.

And I would have stayed up with you all night
Had I known how to save a life

From How to Save A Life by The Fray.

03:42 PM by Eric: A not-too-bad day Personal | Sports

I had my third hockey game yesterday. Our first two ended in 2-2 ties; the team we were playing had won both their games (one of them 6-1), and is in first place in the league, so we knew it was going to be a challenge. To add to the difficulty level, our captain (who works for SXSW) wasn't going to be there, and as it turned out we were actually at least 3 people short of our full team. Jenny and several of our friends came to root for my team. They apparently had quite the party up in the stands, with cider and rum, beer, chips, etc. They also yelled quite a bit, especially at the referees (who were terrible--missed several really blatant calls, including a trip on what would have been a breakaway). It was fun playing in front of people I know and getting cheered on. :)

Nonetheless, we started the game working hard; we haven't been getting many shots on goal, so we tried to step that up and just shoot the puck more. We had some great chances, but nothing was going in. Fortunately we were doing a good job holding them off as well; they scored once, but all in all we were playing well. The second period we actually kind of took over; we spent a lot of time playing in their zone, getting some good passing and some great shots. Unfortunately their goalie made a lot of good saves and we just weren't getting to the rebounds.

In the third period things kind of fell apart for us. You could tell we all started to get tired; all of a sudden they were getting lots of chances, including rebounds, and they started piling up the points. I think we were down 3-0 maybe halfway through the third when we got a bit of a break; one of our forwards was getting pressured by two opponents in the neutral zone; he'd drawn them to the left side, so the right side was wide open. I yelled at him to put it off the right boards, and he banged it perfectly off the right side. I picked up the puck and skated in, along with two teammates, for a 3 on 1 chance. I stickhandled around the last guy, who challenged me rather than just trying to slow us up and give his teammates a chance to backcheck. This time when I broke in on the goalie I made sure to get the shot off, a low wrister that rebounded to the left--where my two teammates were waiting. After a flurry of shots and rebounds, I circled back up to my right defense position, since I didn't want to give up a goal. Our forwards kept pounding away, shooting the puck and retrieving it, and about 20 seconds later it finally went in.

Unfortunately that was pretty much the last hurrah; after a wicked wrist shot beat our goalie from an impossible angle :-P to make it 4-1, I ended up as the defender in a 1 on 1 break. Unfortunately as I tried to transition from skating backwards to skating forwards so I could keep up with the guy, I tangled my feet and, in Jenny's words, turned some kind of crazy double toe loop thing and crashed to the ice, leaving him to go in and score.

So the game ended up 5-1, but for all that I think that if we'd had all our players it would have been a lot closer. We just got too tired to keep up with them anymore, and they took advantage of it. Hopefully next time we play them things will be more even. :)

Overall I think I played well; I made a number of good passes and heads-up plays. I did take one hard shot off the inside of my calf that stung a bit, but as I'm ordering sturdy new shin pads today or tomorrow, that should take care of that. :)

After the game I showered (though I wish the rink had hot water...) and we all hit Opal Divine's for drinks and snacks. Then Jen and I came home and had fried chicken (yum...) for dinner, and watched Jeopardy until Jen fell asleep, at which point I rocked the board. :)

Overall it was a lot of fun; I wish every Saturday could be that good. It was especially nice after this week; Jen and I keep finding things around the house that are related to Neil, which is really hard. There are a couple of our better pictures of Neil up on top of the TV cabinet, which I think is nice even when it hurts to look at them. I wish we had more pictures of him, but he was a little camera-shy. I've gotten to the point where I can mostly discuss it with random people without feeling like I want to crawl into a hole and cry for a while, which I guess you could call progress. I still kind of feel like he should be here, though; like I should walk into the bedroom and his cage should be there, with him hanging out on top of his castle. He never is, though. Which sucks.

Edit: Actually, looking at the stats online, it looks like maybe we were only missing one person (the captain), and we actually had the same number of players as our opponents. Jen said it looked like they had more people, but maybe not. Of course the stats aren't perfect; our goalie is listed as getting an assist on our goal, but that's because one of our forwards was wearing the goalie's spare jersey. :)

06:10 PM by jenny: On fights and losing them Personal

Neil lived in a purple palace with a purple castle to sleep in. He raced around his cage at top speed, sending bits of litter out the corners as he peeled out. Neil loved cantaloupe, blueberries, cheerios, broccoli, and peppers. When he ate watermelon the juice ran down the corners of his mouth and stained his white fur red and we called him a vampire piggie. When Neil was a baby he climbed his castle and out of his aquarium and scaled a book case (a height of a foot above the aquarium) we don't know how he did it. Neil and I used to play a game called "reverse lion tamer" where I would open my mouth and he would insert his entire head. He was not scared of the cat and would blithely ignore the paw fishing around for him until we screamed at Riley. When Neil was excited he would bounce around on your chest like a piece of popcorn popping while chittering. When he was scared he would whistle softly. When I held him in my arms with his head on my chest he would butt his head up under my chin.

When Neil's eye was bad they said he might not even live and he got his sight back.

When he broke his teeth off he grew them back.

It turns out that Neil probably had a very inner ear infection that gave no symptoms. This ear infection went on so long it seeped into his bones, his nervous system, and his brain. Neil could not fight hard enough to win this battle.

And neither could we.

Neil died today, at 6:30 am at the specialist vet in Houston we took him to. We were supposed to plan a course of action today for the newly developed nervous system problems but it was too late to plan. We had promised him that if he lived until Monday the special vet would make it all better. He lived until Monday but she didn't make it better.

Neil was supposed to live at least five more years.

I loved him very very much and I miss him very very much.

03:00 PM by Eric: Little lost guinea pig Personal

Neil died this morning about 6:30 in a hospital in Houston. He fought through more things than anyone could have asked. I miss him.

As with everything else, Jenny says it better on her blog.

10:40 PM by Eric: Valentine's Day Personal

This year was an interesting Valentine's Day. Jen and I very rarely do anything super special (last year was an exception)--it's right in the middle of her semester, and I'm not all that romantic at my best. :-P

This year I was planning to make our "special dinner" staple (Salmon in Puff Pasty with dill cream sauce, and asparagus with lemon-butter sauce). Unfortunately we didn't have any puff pastry, so I stopped on the way home to buy some and accidentally picked up puff pastry shells instead. Which would be great for making little fruit tarts, but aren't really useful for packing salmon into. :( So I fell back on the phyllo dough we still had. Which was old, and dry, and cracking all over the place, which made it kind of difficult to wrap around the salmon and rice. A little creative brushwork with the egg-and-water "glue" helped quite a bit, fortunately, and it turned out all right.

Then, of course, the raspberry creme brulee took longer than expected to cook (probably my fault--I put cold water in the pan instead of starting with boiling, so it probably took forever to get up to heat), so by the time it was done cooling Jen and I had fallen asleep. So I broiled the sugar on top, wrapped them up, and popped them in the fridge for another day. Hopefully they turned out good. :-P I don't know what it was, today was just not a good cooking day for me. In retrospect I should have made the brulee on Monday.

All in all it ended up being a good Valentine's Day. Jen gave me some very nice gifts, and I officially signed up to play in an adult ice hockey league; the new player evaluation skate is next Tuesday, and the draft is the Thursday after that, so we'll see what happens. :)

08:21 PM by Eric: Our Guinea Pig is a Local Celebrity Personal

Jenny took Neil in to the vet today for a progress check on his eye (which is doing extraordinarily well, all things considered), and it turns out he's a local celebrity. Apparently the specialist we went to see in Houston (who took a CT scan of Neil's head for us) used his slides at a conference this weekend, which the vets here in town went to see. So when Jenny walked into the vet today, and the vet tech found out that he'd had a CT scan last week by Dr. Antinoff, she all but asked for his autograph. Which I find hugely amusing. :) Everyone knows his name.

11:07 AM by jenny: Photos of Christmas Personal

Just wanted to let you all know that we have added a gallery for pictures from Christmas this year. So far it has our tree (beautiful), our fireplace (slightly less beautiful), and Neil's Superhot-Decked-Out Christmas Palace. More to come.

09:57 PM by Eric: Oh Bother Personal

Today was one of those days where nothing seemed to go right. I spent the morning trying to figure out why adding tax to orders was coming up with the wrong numbers, only to discover that the person who told me it was, was using the wrong tax percentage to verify. Then I spent the afternoon trying to track down a ghost in the machine; a bug that didn't actually exist. My own fault, of course, as I broke a rule that I've spent the last month trying to get someone else to follow. :-P

On the other hand, when I organized the garage tonight (ok, I admit it, when I've had a bad day I put upbeat music on really loud and clean things) I found an ice hockey helmet we inexplicably bought for Jenny back in St. Louis when she expressed a brief interest in roller hockey. This means that I can ditch my crusty, rusty, stinky old roller hockey helmet for a nice new one actually designed for ice hockey. So that made me feel better. :)

Work in general is pretty busy right now. We pushed RC1 (that's Release Candidate 1 for you non-programming types) to our QA department this afternoon, so we're moving right along. I'm going to be interested to see this go out to customers and hear exactly what they like and don't like about it. :) I also have some ideas for things I want to change or add in the next version, not that I think Product Management will leave me a whole lot of time to do so. ;)

Looking forward to the cruise. Tonight I learned that cruise lines' (or at least Princess') customer service people not only don't bat an eye at potentially weird requests, they actually can answer your question in an entirely satisfactory manner. So kudos to whichever nice fellow (Christopher?) I spoke to.

10:41 PM by Eric: I have the smartest dog in the whole world Personal

Picture this: yesterday evening, Jenny is making my birthday dinner. I'm watching hockey in the living room. Cara is standing in the kitchen watching. Jenny says to Cara, "It's Eric's birthday. You should go snuggle with him." Immediately, Cara walks out of the kitchen, into the living room, jumps up on the couch and cuddles up against me.

Seriously. The dog understands spoken English. She's awesome. :)

Charlie, of course, is at least smart enough to follow her lead, and cuddled up on my other side. Which is not a bad way to spend a bit of one's birthday evening, I have to say.

12:01 AM by Eric: What does your birth date mean? Personal

What does your birth date mean?

Your birth on the 17th day of the month suggests that you are very lucky financially, because this date indicates a solid business sense.


Although you are probably very honest and ethical, this birthday enables you to be shrewd and successful in the world of business and commercial enterprise. You have excellent organizational, managerial, and administrative capabilities enabling you to handle large projects and significant amounts of money with relative ease.


You are ambitious and highly goal-oriented, although you may be better at starting projects than you are at finishing them.

Finally something halfway accurate. :)

A sensitivity in your nature, often repressed below the surface of awareness, makes it hard to give or receive affection.

Er. Okay.

Seriously, if I believed in numerology at all, this would have put paid to it. :-D

06:06 PM by Eric: Life is complicated Personal

Okay, so I would have added Neil to the banner already, except that my computer committed suicide about two weeks ago and the first replacement motherboard I got was bad. So I am operating in a close similitude to the dark ages before the Internet. It's scary.

Random word for today: "nekoneko", from Indonesian. It means "to have a creative idea which only makes things worse". I feel a deep resonance for this word in my own life. ;)

Good news, though; I have finally learned a proper hockey stop. In the words of my hockey coach, it's "kind of shaky", but at least it's there. Only took me 6 months to learn it. :-P

Hopefully I'll have time for a longer update soon.

10:32 PM by Eric: A terrible lack... Personal

It has been brought to my attention that there is no Neil on my banner. This is obviously a grievous oversight and will be corrected. Soon.

08:49 PM by Eric: Pure deliciousness Personal

Who's hungry?

10:46 PM by Eric: Easy going? Ha! Personal

I am often described as "easy going". I suppose in a lot of ways I am, but at this point I don't think it's a term I'd ever really choose to describe myself. I am remarkably anal about some pretty trivial stuff, and I'm sure it doesn't make me particularly easy to live with. Fortunately for me, I am married to the most patient, loving woman this earth ever produced--a stroke of fortune so great I could be unlucky the rest of my life and still come out ahead.

Oh, examples? Okay. Here's the kind of thng you'd have to put up with if you were Jen:

  • I cannot abide towels not being hung up after use. I mean, cannot abide like it grinds at my soul for entire days when I think the towels may not have been hung properly. And by properly I mean folded to within 1.0mm of "in half" lengthwise, then hung precisely doubled on the towel rack. I swear. Like nails on a chalkboard. Really.
  • If I don't load the dishwasher, it gives me the heebie-jeebies as if someone were not merely dancing, but seriously Lord of the Dancing on my grave. There are glasses that go in the far left row, and nothing else is allowed to be in that row, lest horror and chaos engulf the household. The bottom shelf of the dishwasher must be as symmetrical as possible given the layout; if there's a large plate on the right, there had better be one on the left. Again, horror and chaos.

This is all just so all of you know what Jenny has to put up with on a daily basis. I would bet money that nobody who ever lived with me would ever be wary of my wrath should a towel not be properly folded. Fortunately, none of you have to. :)

This ramble brought to you by Eric and his Extremely Anal Saturday, in which he rearranged the dishwasher before turning it on. For no better reason than it made him feel better. I swear, some nights I'm not half so relaxed as Adrian Monk.

Oh, also, I have the most patient, loving, wonderful wife in the universe. That is all.

No, wait, that's not all. Tonight, we got a pizza stone. It came with a wooden pizza peel. I am so excited I nearly forgot to rearrange the dishes in the dishwasher. Whoever comes over next gets free awesome homemade pizza.

10:50 PM by Eric: Argh! Personal

So this week has been all kinds of annoying. Lately it seems like something is continually going wrong; a different thing each week, mind, but continually. This week, the data drive in our fileserver--that would be the drive hosting all of our music, our nightly backups, and all of our photos--decided that it didn't have anything to live for. It's more annoying than anything else; the drive is less than a year old, so it will be replaced under warranty. The music files are all replaceable: the ones that aren't on either my Zen or Jen's iPod can be reripped as soon as I have the time. I even have most of our photos on a backup CD in our fire safe. The pisser is that all the photos I took on vacation in August are gone, since I hadn't backed them up to CD yet. Those were some of the best photos I've taken, I think, and I'm really grumpy that they're gone. Oh, I still have the ones that I posted to our online gallery, but those are all 800×600, not the original 1600×1200. All in all it's just a huge irritation that I really don't need right now.

Of course, Seagate does offer a data recovery service. I could send them the drive and see if they can pull anything off of it; they probably could. Misfortunately, the service starts at $500, and ramps up pretty quickly from there--a fact they do not reveal on the website. You have to call the (very polite and understanding) service to find out that little tidbit. Sometimes I think I'm in the wrong business. :-P

Neil is somewhat better, but still wheezing and sneezing after the first course of antibiotics. Apparently the bacterial culture revealed that that strain of bacteria should respond to these antibiotics, so we're to refill the prescription and keep going. Fortunately Neil loves the antibiotics. I am sometimes afraid he's going to bite off the end of the eyedropper in his haste to get to it, he likes it that much.

Work is kind of crazy right now. We're into the final development weeks for our next major release, and there's still lots to do. We're feature complete at least, but we're trying to get all current high-priority customer reported issues fixed in this one as well, which is going to be ... interesting.

Being a Swiss Army Knife (the analogy I always use in interviews) has its drawbacks. The major one is that invariably I end up getting thrust into new areas of our application(s) every few weeks, which means I am always trying to hoover up as much new information as I can, as rapidly as I can. I'm really good at it, something my boss pointed out directly in front of me yesterday, but that doesn't mean it isn't hard work. I always appreciate the stretches where I can relax and work on code I understand at a deeper, more comfortable level. Unless that level involves working in VB6, in which case it's kind of a toss-up. ;) Anyway, starting tomorrow I will be doing intensive work on a particular set of API objects we provide, all of which will be entirely new to me. So here's hoping iBO and I can be friends. :-P

11:18 PM by Eric: Just a quickie Books | Personal | Work

Okay, so a quick update before I crash for the day; I have to get up at 5:45, after all. (In case you're wondering, I have to get up that early to catch the bus, in order to be at work by 8:30. Jen and I are riding the bus at the moment because gas is outrrrrrrrrrrrrageous and we're poor after August. :)

I played hockey Sunday for the first time in roughly 2 months. I'm still a little stiff. :-P It was fun, though; nothing like puck-in-the-corner drills to work out any lingering stress or aggression. Hockey is kind of funny, because nobody ever thinks of me as a sporty person. I played varsity tennis in high school, and soccer at various points, and now both roller and ice hockey, and yet when you think of sporty people I'm never one that comes to mind. I'm a little disappointed that I didn't get to play in the league this fall (and I'm sure I won't this spring)--between the cost and my crunched schedule (spending 4-1/2 hours a day on the bus kind of squeezes your free time), there's just no way. Maybe next summer.

Work's been good. We apparently had a gangbuster August in sales and are shaping up for a good September. Our salescritters are evidently very excited about the new stuff we're putting in the next version, including specifically mentioning a feature that I worked on pretty heavily. I've never worked in retail software, and while 90% of the job is the same as it was at Boeing or LG&E or Darwin, the other 10% is completely different. :) I guess that's true of any job, but retail software just seems really different somehow. I need to think about that when I'm less tired; maybe I can get a decent post about that. In general work is really good; sometimes tedious, sometimes exciting, but all in all it's one of the two best jobs I've had, and I'm really happy with it.

We took the dogs in for their annual checkup today. Charlie is kind of fat. When we got him he was about 50 pounds. Last year he was about 62. Today he was 74 and change. I hope he doesn't have a thyroid problem; we should know in a few days. On the other hand at least a thyroid problem would be treatable, and would explain how he can gain 25 pounds on a diet of less food than the one that keeps Cara at about 55 pounds. :(

The plus side of riding the bus for 4 hours every day is, of course, that I have lots of time to read books. I've been going back through the Wheel Of Time series (next book in October!), at about a book every other day. The later books have some warts, but overall I still love that series. Jen and I went to a library book sale which was unfortunately kind of lame; nothing like the St. Louis one where they'd sell you a box full of books for like $2. I miss that. :)

You meet the strangest people riding the bus, though. I mean, I usually have my defenses against meeting people well in place; Zen headphones in, nose firmly in book, but there was this fellow at one stop last week who pretty much took the cake for "non-scary" weirdness. He wanted to talk about physics, and Einstein, and psychology, and computational theory, and neurology, and ghosts and UFOs and whatnot. It was one of the most wide-ranging 15-minute conversations I've ever had. His grasp of physics was a little incomplete, and we didn't spend too much time in computational theory, but hey, at least he was thinking about stuff. :)

Okay, I think that's about enough of a brain dump for right now. I'll try to expand on some stuff from this post over the next few days.

Also: Cheese. That is all.

11:07 PM by Eric: Returning to the Real World Personal

Editor's note: I've been "working" on this post since Saturday, so in the interest of expediency I'm just going to post it. I promise more details um... "soon". Really. Promise. :-P

So after two weeks of vacation (and nobody even threatened to fire me!) and two weeks of houseguests before that, life is finally returning to "normal", assuming I even remember what that is. :)

First, my brother Ryan and his girlfriend Katie were here for a week. It's nice to be getting along with Ryan again; there for a few years I worried a bit. We had a lot of fun hanging out with them. After four weeks, I can't remember specifically what we did, though I do know it included a trip to the Alamo. :)

After that, Simon and Fiona were here for two weeks. I took the second week of that off, and had an incredible amount of fun. We had a great time at Six Flags (skip the Rattler) and tubing down the Guadalupe River (margaritas in plastic bottles are definitely the way to go), plus the pub quizzes, not to mention just hanging out and playing Age of Empires or whatever. It's really sad that we don't live closer so we could hang out more.

Then last week Jen and I went to Padre Island (not South Padre) with Jen's family. We did some really fun things--toured the USS Lexington, which was interesting, visited the Corpus Christi Aquarium, went horse riding on the beach, and saw baby green sea turtles being released. I've posted pictures; unfortunately it looks like about 24 of the pictures somehow got deleted off the camera, including the close-up face-on shot of one of the baby turtles. Which absolutely sucks. :( Still, there are some nice shots in there. The best part about our digital camera is the fact that we can take upwards of 600 shots before swapping out the card or downloading to a PC, and with that kind of space even I can take a decent photo or twelve. ;)

11:18 AM by Eric: Perfect Day Personal

Okay, maybe not perfect, but yesterday was a good day. It started out kind of slow, with a visit from the mold exterminators, who were very nice. They liked our animals, which is generally a pretty reliable litmus test. :) After that I went and got a long overdue haircut at my favorite salon (yay for pre-cut scalp massages), then Jen and I visited our new favorite liquor store, the Grapevine Market. It was Tequila Day, so there were four or so little sample stands set up with different kinds of tequila. Each station had a mixing/shooting tequila and two sipping tequilas, and would happily feed you samples, either in a margarita or straight up. Not a bad way to spend an hour or two (especially since their lunch menu looks yummy), and we came home with four new wines to try. Jenny's stated goal is to have a completely full wine rack (a feat never before attempted, let alone achieved) before our friends descend upon us this summer. :)

After that we took a nap. A lovely, relaxing, nap. Followed by dinner - barbecued chicken, one of my favorites.

After that, we hit PetCo for some supplies, then Barnes and Noble, and then came home, watched part of Dark City, and then fell asleep.

All in all a pretty satisfactory day. More Saturdays should be like that. Also, more weekends should be 3-day weekends, but sadly nobody down here seems willing to do that--one thing I really miss about Boeing.

02:47 PM by Eric: Fifteen thousand, four hundred and sixty-FOUR, baby! Personal

Just a quick update to announce that I passed SolArch this afternoon, which means I am now a Microsoft.Net Microsoft Certified Solution Developer (MCSD). (Kind of a cumbersome title, you think?) Incidentally, the number sure has gone up from when I checked it last month...

10:44 PM by Eric: Some kind of update Personal

Okay, since my adoring fans are clamoring for an update, here's a sorta kinda stream of consciousness covering whatever I remember of the last month (while the cat does a square dance on my lap), in rough reverse chronological order.

Today I passed the Microsoft Developing Web Applications with C# certification test, leaving me one test (Solution Architecture) shy of my full MCSD. There are fewer than 13,000 MCSD's worldwide, although I confess that I'm still not quite as cool as the 9-year old Pakistani girl who became the youngest ever Microsoft Certified Professional. :-P

At work I've been getting comfortable with Virtual PC. Right now on my computer at work I have three virtual computers running: Windows 2000 (US), Windows XP (England), and Windows XP (French). This is the awesomest thing ever, especially if you are responsible for making sure your company's software works on international versions of Windows--which, coincidentally, I am. Seeing the familiar Windows UI in French is pretty cool.

Speaking of internationalization, I want to hunt down whoever wrote the Date object for Javascript and beat them with a copy of some large, heavy tract on internationalization. I realize that way back in like 1995 when Javascript was invented we never expected people in those <sarcasm>tiny, useless third world countries</sarcasm> to ever actually get computers, but it's been 10 years, people. Get in on the damn global village already.

I saw Revenge of the Sith Tuesday (my company paid for all us programming geeks to go see the noon showing at the Alamo Drafthouse, which was nice). They showed an hour of various things before the movie, including clips from the Clone Wars animated series, a takeoff on COPS called TROOPS (imagine Stormtroopers getting called in to break up a domestic disturbance, their eventual solution being to shoot both husband and wife and burn down their house), and, believe it or not, the first 10 minutes of the honest to goodness 1978 Star Wars Christmas Special, which was so bad that Lucas stated in an interview that if he had a time machine and a sledgehammer, he would use them to make sure nobody ever saw that film. And frankly, given the first 10 minutes, I say give the man a time machine. ROTS itself was good (not great, but good). It didn't redeem the first two movies; ROTS is the only one I feel any impetus to purchase. Still, it was very pretty, and reasonably minimal on the terrible dialog. Apparently Jar Jar actually does have a single, solitary line in the movie; he says "excuse me" when someone bumps into him. Admirable restraint on Lucas' part; I was expecting some kind of vaudeville show or tap dance or something.

The previews before ROTS were all very interesting. The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe looks very pretty (and the trailer at least was cinematically quite similar to LOTR, surprise surprise), and if the story is done well it could be an excellent film. Batman Begins looks at least passable, though the Batmobile kind of makes me want to retch. But hey! Katie Holmes! :) Stealth looks like the perfect summer blockbuster: fighter jets, explosions, etc etc.

Geico is currently my hero, since some pleasant fellow rubbed up against our Passat in a parking lot, denting the wheel well, and neglected to leave a note or insurance information. $1700 damage, plus car rental, of which we will only pay $250. Of course, we'll see if they're still my hero in September when we renew our policy, and unfortunately they weren't willing to pay for the oil change and torn CV boot (~$400 total). Sigh.

My grandma (dad's mom) was just here for a week-long visit. It is still rather shocking to me that she's 83. I don't know why, though. I guess I always felt like it was other people's grandmas that were old. :-P

I finally started playing ice hockey. Well, not "playing" so much as "taking lessons", but same thing. Every Sunday I suit up and get out on the ice for a thoroughly exhausting hour. I am having an absolute blast. I'm starting to actually get the hang of stopping. It's not at all like stopping on roller blades. For one thing, if you fall down on roller blades, you stop. Not so much on ice though; you just spin into the wall like a moron. :) Hopefully by the time the next season starts up I'll be in decent playing shape. If nothing else I should have massive leg muscles, at least if the instructor and his damn suicide drills have anything to do with it. Incidentally, I wasn't sure whether to be comforted or worried when I learned he was qualified in Combat Life Saving by the military. Currently I'm going with comforted. :-P

Okay, I think that's pretty much popped the stack. If anything else comes to me you all will be... well, okay, not the first to know, but definitely in the top 10. :)

Edit: Added link to the TROOPS short film.

07:42 PM by Eric: Photos of the new bedroom that ate my life... Personal

So as promised, here are a couple of pics of the new bedroom, a.k.a. "What Eric has been doing for the last two weeks".

As you can see, the walls are very blue. We put in glossy stripes to kind of call to mind sateen sheets. It looks very swank, I think--Jen's taste in decorating is as refined as her taste in life partners. ;) Incidentally, the chair is as popular as I thought it would be--Charlie especially likes to sleep in it. With luck I can get a shot of him in it, it's so huge it makes him look like a puppy again.

This shot is from the door, and shows off the new curtains. The picture really doesn't do them justice; they actually are mostly blue, with a golden sheen to them that you can only see at an angle, which works out really well.

The floor is the same as we put in the office and guest room, so NO MORE CARPET for us. Yay! On the downside, in the morning it sounds like the dogs are tap dancing, which is even more impossible to sleep through than their previous morning routine. Ah well.

04:26 PM by Eric: Power Bars Ahoy Personal | Reviews

For those of you who don't know (which is probably everyone), the personal trainer Jen and I consulted with has told me I need to add calories to my day (this will not come as a shock to anyone who knows me) and add about 12 pounds. To this end I have been advised to eat breakfast as well as some sort of mid-day (and mid-evening, if I can manage it) snack.

Jenny has taken to this idea with great relish. We have had several shopping excursions where we go down the entire power bar aisle looking for the bars with the most calories. We then pile varieties of these bars into a shopping cart, and I go home and eat 1-2 a day in addition to breakfast, lunch, dinner, and an apple.

Since I have to eat these (so far mostly) godawful power bars, I figure someone might as well get some entertainment (or would that be infotainment?) from my experiences, so I'll be reviewing each bar as I try them. All scores are on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being "Oh my god I can't believe I put that in my mouth" and 10 being "Fill up the shopping cart tasty". Different flavors of the same bar will be added to the original bar review, so check back often for updates! And may god have mercy on my soultastebuds.

The Reviews:
Peanut Butter Rage
Clif Bar

10:22 PM by Eric: My dogs are barkin' Personal

I have no idea where that phrase comes from, but it makes me giggle, so I've been using it lately. Also variations on it: my wolves are howlin', my cats are meowin', my guinea pigs are whistlin'. :) So I'm easily amused. :)

For those of you who don't know, I started a new job Tuesday, working for a company that does association (membership management, fundraising, etc) software that's used by non-profits and other associations. It's a larger company than my last job (if still several orders of magnitude smaller than Boeing), so more structured and better benefits. And no travel. On the down side, I'm back in VB6 land for the moment (ack), but at some point I should get to live in C# world again. I hope. <overdramatic>Every time I load the VB6 IDE I die a little inside.</overdramatic> At least I found an add-in that enables mousewheel support in the VB6 IDE... that was a serious failing. :)

Jenny and I joined a gym this weekend. It was exhausting, but good.

In home news, we finished the office: new floor, new paint, new curtains, and new office chairs. It looks remarkably nice in here. Except for the stack of books that have nowhere to live for the moment. We actually entered all of our books into a spreadsheet while we were reloading the shelves. Yes, we are major geeks--but at least we'll know what we already have next time we raid a library booksale. :) We got some new living room furniture this week... it's very large. Also it's covered in Teflon, which I feel is really the killer app for furniture. I mean, who doesn't want a couch that can't be punctured, can't be stained, and to which pet hair refuses to adhere? Also, if there is ever a shootout in our house I am totally hiding behind the loveseat.

I feel like I have a lot of things to talk about, but not really anything to say. Work is much better, free time is good, exercise is good, and my whales are singin'. ;)

08:31 AM by Eric: I love the smell of sawdust in the evening... Music | Personal | Reviews | Tech

...it smells like... victory. ;)

So Saturday we ripped all the carpet out of the office and bought enough new laminate flooring to replace all the carpet left in the house. Unfortunately the laminate needs to acclimatize to its new environment (you know, sniff around, set up its den, mark the perimeter... oh wait) for 48 hours before installation, which meant that the office was empty all weekend but for stacks of laminate--which meant that the front hall was full of office furniture, and the living room was full of stacks of books. (We have a lot of books. It doesn't seem like nearly so many when they're on the shelves, but we could build fairly substantial forts out of these stacks of books, and still have paperbacks left over for ammunition...)

So last night while Jen was at a New Works (er, sorry, The University Co-op Presents the Cohen New Works Festival) meeting, I spent 3 hours putting the new floor down in the office. I think I've gotten the hang of this flooring, since that was all it took. Tonight I'll do the closet and the bedroom hall, put in the mouldings, and then we can reassemble the office.

I'm really digging my Creative Zen Touch. My first impressions were that it is a bit more substantial than Jenny's iPod, specifically slightly heavier and slightly wider. I'm okay with that; it's still pretty small, and the extra size is due to a larger battery. So far it seems as if the claims of ~24 hours continuous play life are more or less true (it's hard to say because I'm not using 96Kbps WMA or whatever the claim is based on; I have both high bitrate MP3s and some WMAs that were automatically converted). I am a little disappointed with the software integration. The Touch isn't yet 100% compatible with Windows Media Player; you can copy over all the songs on a playlist (or all songs in your library), but you can't copy over the playlist(s) themselves. Supposedly a firmware update due in March will bring it up to full MTP compatibility, after which AutoSync should make life wonderful, but until then I have to use Windows Explorer to create playlists. I didn't bother to install any of the Creative software (except the required drivers), since I've never had a good experience with Creative software. :)

As far as sound quality, I'm very happy. I'm not sure I can hear any difference over Jen's iPod, but it might be the default earbuds; the sound is very clear, though. The player's interface is interesting; it does a very good job of not ripping off the iPod without sucking. It has a touch-sensitive strip used for scrolling; I've read a lot of complaints that scrolling through long lists is painful since you have to repeatedly stroke the strip. Apparently none of these people discovered that if you stop at the end of the strip and hold your finger there, the player will keep scrolling. :-P Anyway, so far I'm really happy with the player itself. The carrying case is annoying, though. It's very protective, but once the player is inside the case the only control you can actually access is the power button; you can kind of get at the volume buttons through the elastic sides, but the play controls are all covered by a stiff protective guard. It's really a shoddy design. The worst part is that nobody makes MP3 accessories for anything but the damned iPod; there's no such thing as a third-party Zen Touch case. Sigh. I'll probably post an update to this once the new firmware comes out.

10:00 AM by Eric: Best Valentine's Day Ever Personal | Work

So yesterday was, of course, Valentine's Day. This year Jen and I went to a place here in town called Zoot--one of those places where the servings are small and they have a designated waiter just to bring you pieces of bread. ;) We had a lot to celebrate this year; I hadn't planned it that way, but yesterday I got the last of 3 and a half* job offers, and it was a doozy. So I'm changing jobs, to one with no travel, no long hours, more time off, and a much better salary. I'm really excited to start working with these guys; my interview was great, I really felt like I would fit in well there. They seem like a company that puts a lot of emphasis on treating their employees well; they told me that pretty much everyone they hire is either there for a very long time, or gone almost immediately because they hold their employees to very high standards. I'm not afraid of high standards as long as I'm taken care of. :)

So Jenny put on this very nice new dress, in which she looked totally hot, and I put on my very nice new suit, and we had a wonderful evening. The presents this year were great too; I got a Creative Zen Touch (which I've been wanting since approximately forever; I figure I'll use it for a month and post a review, though from what I've read and my 4 hours of use so far they're nice devices ;) ) as a "congrats" present, and some very nice shaving products and the Band of Brothers DVD set as actual Valentine's Day gifts, so on top of the job thing I'm on about cloud twelve. :)

* Oh, the half offer was because a company I had talked to a while ago randomly e-mailed me to see if I was interested in a job. It's flattering to know I made that much of an impression. :)

02:23 PM by Eric: Holy wow - gmail invites Personal

So I glanced at my gmail account today (which I pretty much only use for mailing lists) and I have 50 gmail invites to give away.

If there's anyone who doesn't have a gmail account yet, and wants one, let me know. :)

10:20 PM by Eric: I'm not dead yet... Personal

So much as work has tried to kill me lately, I'm still ticking over. I've spent every other week since mid-December in Phoenix, worked a couple of weekends, a couple of 70+ hour weeks, and one marathon company strategy meeting. I need a cigarette, or at least a week off. Neither will be forthcoming, of course.

On the plus side, January marked the first deployment of our next-gen software, the software that's spent the last year gestating in my head and which I've spent the last 4 months actually building. Not to come off as totally arrogant, but the software is probably the best I've worked on, and certainly the best I've written. As much pain as the last year has cost me, I feel like I've learned an incredible amount, and really started to get good at this software architect stuff. Along those lines, I am now officially 60% finished with my MCSD--and officially certified as a Microsoft Certified Application Developer--having passed the SQL Server test earlier today. Only Web Applications and Solution Architecture stand in my way. Then I'm going to Disneyworld. Or something.

I'm really digging the new Battlestar Galactica series on Sci-Fi. I was a little leery; they tend towards some cheesy stuff (Chupacabra: Dark Seas springs to mind), but BSG is probably the best non-HBO original series I've seen in a very long time. Watching an episode of it does produce this intense desire to go play Homeworld some more, though, which I'm sure Jen considers an unfortunate side-effect. Here's hoping the series doesn't get canceled.

02:12 PM by Eric: Shockingly, shockingly late Personal

Okay, so this entry is only about 4 days late. But a very happy, belated birthday to my inordinately loving, beautiful, and incredibly wonderful wife. Who is a year older than she thought she was. ;) I love you dearest.

11:54 PM by Eric: Home again... briefly. Personal

So yes, we're back in Austin again. Of course, I'm popping out to Phoenix later this week, and working the weekend, but it's all good because it means I get Jen's birthday as comp time.

I have the ROTK EE. And it is good. :)

The drive up to Louisville was seriously the least fun drive I've ever had in my life. Things were going great, a little rain, but I was bopping through Arkansas with the radio going when the temperature dipped below freezing. The road froze pretty much immediately, and then the rain turned to snow, and we had hard packed snow on top of ice on the roads. And then we had a shitload of cars in the ditch, the median, and occasionally the trees. It was a very convincing argument against buying an SUV, I'll tell you that much--all the cars I saw off the road were upright, but none of the SUVs were still on all four wheels. It took me 4 hours to go 90 miles just west of Memphis, that's how bad it got. The best part is that there wasn't a single snowplow or salt truck that I saw in Arkansas, and the ones in Tennessee were spreading salt (by which time it was below 18° F--genius, guys) but not plowing (very helpful...) Eventually, after about 9 hours of white-knuckle snow and ice driving, I gave up and sacked out at a Motel 6 (whose manager was kind enough to waive their policy of one dog per room). By the next morning TN and KY had managed to plow one lane (note: not always the same lane. I'd drive 15 miles in the right lane, then have to dodge over to the left lane for the next 15 miles. I bet the semi drivers were even more delighted than I was) pretty much the whole way. So the trip ended up taking about 24 total driving hours instead of the 16-17 it would have had the temperature stayed above 32. Lovely. But at least I survived it unharmed.

It was a nice vacation, though. I got to see my family more than I expected, which was nice; I especially liked hanging out with Ryan. Christmas day was busy as anything; Jenny's whole family came over to my parents' house for dinner, so the place was pretty packed.

I think my favorite was New Year's Eve, though; we headed back out to my parents' house and hung out with my mom and my dad's mom, drank a lot, had a dinner consisting entirely of appetizers and cheesecake, and played 4-person Gamecube games until 1 in the morning. It rocked. :)

So we're here, ready to start the new year. I hope everyone else's holiday was good, and everyone had fun.

Tonight has been spent repairing our Tivo; the hard drive is dying, and it's just barely out of warranty. So I took the opportunity to crack it open and put in a new hard drive, 3 times larger than the old. :) I also dropped a new drive into our server (the old, small one being full) and a new power supply into my desktop (the previous one having died in like October), so it's been all about Mr. PC Repair Man tonight.

08:32 PM by Eric: This will be my last communication... Personal

(Last, that is, until the new year. ;) Two more days until I pack up two dogs, a cat, and a guinea pig and drive 18 hours to Louisville. (I swear, every time I say that I think I must be in some Muppet movie--I'm half tempted to try to rent an old Studebaker for the trip...) I'm excited, though; I haven't seen Jen in weeks and weeks, and Christmas is always an exciting time in the old haunts.

Work has been very crazy lately. The client on one of our houses decided it would be a fabulous idea to have his house done in time for him to have a New Year's party in the place. Now, I can totally understand where they're coming from--a New Year's party is a great chance to show off what I understand (not having seen the house yet) are some pretty sweet digs. But you have to wonder, when he decided that, did he even consider what that would mean for the people actually making that happen? Did he think about people working 12 hour days a week before Christmas? If he did, would he have cared?

Anyway, I spent all last week in Phoenix. All in all, it was far from the worst trip out there; we were working in our PHX office, not in the client's house (working on site is stressful and not much fun...), and probably 75% of the central equipment was already set up and ready to test, which was pretty novel. The worst part is that I have to go back out the week of the 3rd... and Jen and I are driving back from Louisville on the 2nd. Now that's ... lovely. Really.

I went to a Christmas party last night, the Austin Museum of Digital Art (in the person of my coworker Rob) was throwing it. It was a pretty decent party (though I could have passed on the grab-bag gift I got...), with some interesting people. AMODA seems to attract a lot of different people; architects, musicians, visual artists, financial people, etc. I think I ran into about 4 or 5 people who are computer programmers "just to pay the bills", which is new for me (at least socially; I've worked with a fair number of those, and cleaned up after many more...). Normally my crowd--at least post-undergraduate--is people who do what they're doing because they really, really like it. I guess sometimes it's good to be reminded that there are a lot of people out there who don't or can't do what they really want to for a living. We did have some interesting conversations about the nature of hobbies, though, which followed on the heels of my finally getting around to reading Hugh McLeod's How to Be Creative essay. That was a particularly interesting read for me, because--as much as I stoutly maintain that real software engineering is a truly creative thing--I still often find myself with the desire to build a bookcase, or write something, or go sit in a store and paint really crappy chinese ships on overpriced pottery. :) I like what Hugh says about sovereignty, and the need to not make it about getting rich or indeed even showing anyone else what it is you do. Most of the stuff I do end up writing is for Jen, and thus at least one other person knows about it, but sometimes I do get the urge to write (it's almost always write) something totally for myself. Creativity is a strange beast.

Getting back to the sovereignty thing; someone last night made the point to me that he likes the "pressure" of some sort of deadline, even in his hobbies. I can see where that would be useful, but to me it really is all about the sovereignty of the hobby. The stories I like the most are the ones I write on my own schedule, or at least the ones I'd had kicking around in my head for a long time before I committed them to paper. When I took Intro to Creative Writing, that was certainly true; the stories I just tried to sit down and write to the assignment were just not, to put it one way, as authentic and--again, perhaps just to me--as interesting as the ones where the writing of the story happened to coincide with an assignment.

Anyway, I'm sure next year will be a good one; not without its stresses and tribulations, but with many good memories to be made. Catch you on the flip side...

08:56 PM by Eric: Good... or bad? Personal

Ha. I got drunk dialed by my own wife last night. I guess I'll go with that's a good thing. ;)

11:09 PM by Eric: Untitled Update, or, Eric is Lazy Personal

So yes, my birthday was Wednesday. Thank you, thank you, I have survived another year. Shocking, innit? ;) But then, Jenny and I saw a play in which the point was made that people act as if you get older all at once, on your birthday, as if something changes, when really it's gradual, infinitesimal, unnoticeable in real life. Birthdays are strange in that they're at once a tiny step -- a rollover of the clock from 11:59 to 12:00 -- and a quantum leap -- underage to adult, minor to legal drinker, twentysomething to thirtysomething, normal working adult to "eligible for retirement" oldster. Anyway, that's the pithy thought for the week: when exactly do those things "change"?

As for the event itself, it was even more low-key than the time I invited 30 people and 3 showed up. I worked from 6:15am to about 5pm, went home and made dinner, and then Jen and I went to UT to do callbacks for her show. I spent 3 hours sitting in a college desk in the hall taking photos of prospective castees and handing out sets. Then we went home, had raspberry martinis, and crashed. Oh, yes, and somewhere in there Jenny surprised me, against all orders, with a copy of Half-Life 2. Which I am greatly enjoying. :)

This weekend was even more crazy full than usual, and yet somewhat more relaxed. I mean, we only saw 2 plays, both of which were pretty short. Both were fairly disturbing, but that's also kind of par for the course this semester. Saturday we spent about 10 hours at the Alamo Drafthouse, watching a marathon of Degrassi (both Junior High and High). I confess I had never even heard of this show before, but it was enjoyable. In retrospect, I think we should have played the drinking game, but oh well.

It's rainy as hell here. I want it to stop. I need to mow the lawn, among other things.

This week is a short week; I am really looking forward to a four-day weekend. Work is very intense -- if good -- right now, hopefully it will slow up again after the new year. Weekend after next Mom and Dad and Ryan are coming down, which is exciting. The week after that I am spending in Phoenix, which is less exciting (but will earn me my next free ticket from SWA). I'm going back for another full week right after we get back from Xmas vacation. I think the universe is taking vengeance on me for complaining that I really wanted to finish off that free ticket; really I would have been happy with a one-day, in-and-out trip, but I guess it's not to be.

I think the best part about this Christmas will be that I'll get to spend time with all three of my grandmas in a one week period, which has thus far happened exactly once (at our wedding).

Not much more to say, I'm afraid. We get up early, work late, and go to lots of plays. Terribly exciting, I know. ;)

12:38 PM by Eric: Petals Around The Rose Personal

I ran across an interesting "game" (more of a puzzle) called Petals Around The Rose today. There's an interesting story attached about how Bill Gates responded to the problem.

I figured it out, by the way. ;)

08:56 PM by Eric: What's behind door number 1? Personal

Today while cleaning the office it occurred to me that our closet door is like some sort of game of chance for our dogs. On the one hand, it holds the leashes, which means that opening that door could lead to going for a walk around the neighborhood--always exciting. On the other, it also holds both the luggage and the vacuum cleaner. The luggage is itself a kind of lottery--it could mean we're all taking a road trip, or it could mean Jenny or I (or both) are going away for a few days. The vacuum, of course, is purest distilled evil, though Charlie tries very hard to act nonchalant. ;)

And they never know which it will be until I close the door, and by then it's too late. Poor guys. :)

03:51 PM by Eric: I am so getting Jenny this for Christmas... Personal

Perfect for when I'm out of town... a pillow that mimics your SO's arm so you can snuggle....



01:45 AM by Eric: I want to hold you high and steal your pain away Personal

It's 2 in the morning and I'm sitting here worrying about Jen, wishing I could be with her right now, wrap her in my arms and do even the tiniest thing to make her life better right now.

I love you baby, and I hope you're okay.

10:38 PM by Eric: Tap tap... is this thing on? Personal

Work is a sharp series of ups and downs lately. On the down side, I hate Mondays, especially Mondays that are nothing but a series of meetings (don't get me wrong, for meetings they weren't too bad...), and double especially meetings where the office manager ordered lunch--but no vegetarian sandwiches. Nice. Also on the downside, there's some kind of a memory leak in our major application, and every time we come up with a theory I manage to put together a test that shoots it down. Of course, the test suite is looking more complete every day... :-P And then of course there's the project where the primary piece of control equipment is on the fritz, and we've now systematically eliminated every single component of the system from the problem, to no apparent effect. Tomorrow I start eliminating combinations of components. Yay.

On the plus side, we have a contract to do the house of one of the ten richest people in the world. On the down side, it's in Phoenix. On the plus side, we're on track for probably half a dozen more projects this year. On the down side, they're all in Phoenix too. Also, I am too busy to take advantage of the free MCSD tests. Maybe next week I can take the second test--hey, I'm only 4 months overdue for it by now...

Actually, things are not as bad as I am probably making them sound right now. Yes, work is stressing me out, but I have two major projects I'm troubleshooting, one I'm trying to complete (and trying to get the phone system to talk to me is a bitch and a half) and four more I need to be gearing up on. It could be worse... I could be sitting at work and playing Solitaire all day. :) Instead, we discussed some neat new toys like the AMX MAX MMS, which is a content server that can store up to 7.3TB of straight-from-DVD-movies and/or CD music and stream up to 25 simultaneous feeds from a SATA RAID 5 array, over ethernet.

I wish I had something more interesting to say; I'll blame it on being up since 5:30 this morning, though. Maybe tomorrow will be better. And maybe I won't post again for 2 weeks. This site sort of goes like that. :-P Sometimes I think it would be nice to have a weblog like Chris Brumme or Cyrus N, where I could talk more or less specifically about my work, but unfortunately I don't know how many people out there are really interested in the intricacies of integrating with an Advent security panel, and the more generally interesting parts of my job (that would be the clients and their crazy, crazy houses) I'm not really supposed to discuss. :-P So ah well.

Also, because Jenny is sick and cranky I will humor her by mentioning her in this post. Right... ------> HERE <-------. See, my love? ;) Anyway, she is back in town, and I am glad to have her here, even if she is sick and cranky and makes me get up at 5:30 in the morning three days a week. Not least because she tells me I have sexy hair. ;) ;)

12:06 AM by Eric: "Bach"ing it up Personal

Jen flew off to Pittsburgh today to drive up to Boston with her sister and spend the weekend with her Nana, so it's just me [Ed: and the dogs, and the cat...] all weekend. I grilled up some Veat today (somehow managing to be grilling during the exact time period it rained... it started as I put the chicken on and ended 5 minutes after I took it off) with a new barbecue sauce I'm trying (Stubb's Spicy, if you're wondering). BBQ'd chicken is so incredibly yummy. It's fantastic hot off the grill, but I inevitably end up munching on the leftovers later that night... cold BBQ'd chicken is a leftover delight from my childhood. :)

Texas is having certain predictable results on my food, actually. No, I'm not eating steaks or anything like that, but since we moved here, I've completely lost my taste for Tostitos Salsa, once my favorite -- it just tastes too sweet to me now. Right now I'm digging Leal's salsa, which you probably can't get anywhere else but is really, really tasty. :) Same with the BBQ sauce, if to a lesser extent: I am getting spoiled by the variety, though the fact that most of them include Worcestershire Sauce (including anchovies) does keep the variety somewhat smaller than the salsa choices I have.

03:46 PM by Eric: Back from Yuppie Week--er, North Carolina Personal

Tennis, golf, sailing... ah, what a week. :) Though we did play poker, go bodysurfing, drink a lot, and wander around small beach towns in North Carolina too.

I was in Phoenix most of the week before--Friday I went from Phoenix to Raleigh with a very brief stop in the Austin airport. The vacation was nice, I'd been doing 15 hour days in Phoenix, and 10+ hour days for about the last 6 weeks, so I was WAY ready for a bit of vacation. The beach was lovely ? Zach and I spent a couple of hours one day bodysurfing, which was very cool. We also took a sailboat cruise on the Neuse River, which is briny where we were (half seawater, half fresh water), so it had a bunch of ocean life in it. We saw a half dozen small jellyfish, three stingrays (two of which appeared to be mating), an osprey, and a whole bunch of jumping mullet (kind of fish, apparently). There wasn't much wind (kinda disappointing, I miss sailing) but it was still fun. I guess they get a lot of bull sharks in there (someone was attacked earlier this month, 200 staples, but she was being towed behind a powerboat at the time, which sounds remarkably stupid to me? :). This was a big boat, 43?, so not too much like the old catamaran my parents used to have, but still fun. I guess the captain had sailed her old 36? boat solo to the Bahamas etc, which sounded like heaven to me and hell to Jen. ;)

The second day we were at the beach there were a bunch of big fish--not dolphins, but a couple of feet long easy--jumping very close to us. A couple of them jumped about 20 feet away, which was exciting. The ocean was great, perfect temperature, except the last day, when it was a little cold.

All of the guys played golf one day, which was? interesting. I had just enough decent shots to actually be frustrating. I almost hit a (moving!) car with one shot, which was briefly exciting. Other than that I gotta say golf is still not my favorite sport. ;) We did discuss a few times how my upbringing was very sort of ivy league/New England--sailing, golf, tennis, horses, about all I was missing was polo. ;) I told Jen I?d love to have a sailboat someday, but she?s skeptical of the whole idea.

Also, there was poker. And Jenny did clean us out the first night, it's true. But we were playing five-card draw, not the real stuff that night. ;)

Anyway, it was a nice week and I got a pretty decent tan -- managed to only burn my shoulders and my nose, and apparently my elbows (weird).

10:47 PM by Eric: I have no idea what to title this entry. Personal

Work is craaaaaazy at the moment. At least I seem to be keeping pace with my task list; that means I'll be fine right up until about Wednesday of next week, when all hell will break loose. Though I suppose it's possible that things will go more or less according to plan. I keep getting compliments from my bosses, which is nice. It'd be nicer if there were some other developers I could spread the load to, but it's a bit late for that now.

Random thoughts. Spider-Man's problem is that he has no way of telling whether there's a serious problem, or just some cop in a hurry on his way to a domestic disturbance. He and MJ could be in the middle of some intimate time, and he hears sirens, and he has no way to tell whether it's worth getting involved in or not. How much would it suck to swing half way across the city only to discover that the perp was in cuffs by the time you got there?

Batman has partially solved the problem, I mean, he's got the Batsignal. Of course, that really only works if it's dark out, or at least really cloudy. I guess he relies on criminals not committing major crimes on sunny days. Which probably works out all right in Gotham, come to think of it, since the sun doesn't come out during the entire Batman movie (there was only 1). That wouldn't work for Spidey, though, because the sun shines in New Yorkwhatever city that is.

Good Eats drives me nuts. Every episode I watch I'm like, "damn, I need a pizza stone and a peel," or "damn, how did I live this long without a mandoline," or "holy cow I need a digital thermometer with a 12 foot lead and which can outgraph my old TI-85". I don't really need any of these things, but the show does tend to (unintentionally, I think--then again, it may just be really good advertising) reinforce the "better cooking through gadgets" idea. To be fair, a lot of Alton's tips don't require any gadgets at all, and I love the show, it just drives the gadget freak in me absolutely nuts, that's all. Also, the man has like 16 kitchens, and that makes me jealous too. :-P But a 99 cent pizza stone, how can you not want one of those?

03:58 PM by Eric: Two more weeks... Personal

Two more weeks until Jen and I get to disappear into North Carolina for nine days with her fam. I can't say how much I'm looking forward to that, in so very many ways. :) Work is very stressful... we're winding up one project that had to be usable for a party the owners are having tomorrow, and we have a major major major project getting installed starting next week -- which I am flying off to vacation half way through, so my stuff has to all be done by then.

August should be decent, though; work will have slowed down, Jen and I should have some time to hang out, take the dogs for lots of walks, etc.

We're going to see Spider-Man 2 tonight... looking forward to that, since I hear it's much better than the first. We were planning on just waiting till we could get it on Netflix, but it does sound good. Plus we haven't been out on a date since Harry Potter (the night before Jen left for Louisville), so it's definitely time again. :)

I am so looking forward to hanging out with Tony and Laurie and Lindsay and Tom and Val... seeing them and my own family twice a year is one of the few things I really regret about Texas. (Dressel's is one of the others. ;)

Two more weeks... and this is a three-day weekend (office is celebrating Independence Day on the 5th)... yay!

12:22 PM by Eric: Meme: Books that ought to be read Personal

1. Name a book you love no matter what anybody says.

The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. Say what you will about the thinly veiled Christianity, but my dad read these books to me when I was sick once, as a kid, and they hold a special place in my heart.

2. Name a book you loathe no matter what anybody says.

Can't think of any I loathe right offhand, but J.R.R. Tolkien's Silmarillion is mind-numbingly boring no matter who says it's not. The man had a mind for detail, he was creative as all get out, but damn he should have hired a ghostwriter to make stories out of his material. :) Thank god for Peter Jackson, that's all I'm saying.

3. Name a book you think is undeservedly obscure.

We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families. The true story of the Rwandan genocide, one of the decidedly less shining moments in recent history. Reading news stories about current events in the Sudan--and other places--makes this book all the more painful (and relevant). This is what the U.N. should be for, not running multibillion dollar oil-for-food scams and letting the Syrians write Human Rights resolutions.

4. Name a book you think is undeservedly famous.

Ah, this one is even topical. James' Joyce's Ulysses. This may be something like my lack of appreciation for certain forms of abstract art, but it seems to me that the only thing worth admiring in Joyce's work is the sheer amount of determination it takes to write that much nonsense down. Ulysses is at least more readable than Portrait of a Young Man, though, I'll give it that much.

5. Name a book you think you ought to read.

Harold Abelson & Gerald Sussman, Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs. Or maybe Richard P. Feynman, The Feynman Lectures on Physics. The list, written in 6-point Times New Roman, probably would stretch to the moon and back, actually.

6. Name a book you think I ought to read.

See #3.

08:35 PM by Eric: Tumbleweeding Personal

So it turns out the fact that the server has 4 times the memory and about 6 times the processing power is irrelevant to the problem. Ah well. 500 clients isn't too shabby, I guess.

The problem with the Internet is that just anybody can come along and read whatever you put out there. No, that's not actually it. The problem with the Internet is that too many people know where my website is. (Yeah, like what, six people or something?) ;) I'm kidding, but there is a real point there. Sometimes you want to post about, oh, just random stuff, or rant about something, or what have you. I guess that's why people put up anonymous LiveJournals, eh? (Ah, the completely private LiveJournal entry: the offsite, password-protected journal your little brother/mom and dad can't read. It's every teenager's dream. :) Anyway, nothing concrete, just rambling about the strange sort-of-public persona we all seem to be acquiring these days.

I gave Charlie a bath today; I really think there's nothing more pathetic than a dog sitting there begging to know why you hate them so much. Unless perhaps it's a cat asking the same question at the top of his lungs. ;)

01:03 AM by Eric: Goin through the motions Personal | Tech | Work

5 more days, plus a bit, until Jenny is back in town and life is back to normal. Been working so hard that I don't have the energy to do much by the time I get home (my current mantra is "just survive until July 17th"), but the imp of the perverse has seated himself firmly on my shoulders -- I can't sleep. I'm just all kinds of out of sorts right now. I guess having work scheduled out until October 11 for a hard July 12th deadline will do that to you, though.

I am at least proud of the work I'm doing. I was running our major application on my laptop today (just a Pentium M with 512 MB of RAM), and it handles at least 500 simultanous clients, each sending commands at random intervals between 0 and 1000 ms. Considering it's all code I wrote myself (in about 3 weeks), I don't know if that's more a tribute to my mad skillz or the ease of developing in C# -- the truth probably being, as it so often is, somewhere in the middle. (I'm so humble it hurts to be me sometimes... ;) ) The only reason the app starts to have issues at 500 clients is that it appears that the Winsock buffers start to fill up (probably due to the fact that 512MB - VS.Net - SQL Server - Outlook 2003 - misc other stuff does not leave massive amounts of memory lying around free) and the socket starts throwing WSAEWOULDBLOCK exceptions.

Anyway, I'll be interested to get the app onto our real server and see if/how far that extends the client limit.

And now back to your regularly scheduled non-programming post. ;)

Actually, I am toying with the idea of starting up another blog just for programming etc, to kind of segregate the content. Of course, it would mean that if I start posting to that more often than this blog Jen would beat me up, but maybe we can reach some kind of compromise. ;)

Okay, brain too fuzzy to write more. Going to try to sleep now.

07:44 PM by Eric: Allllll byyy myseeeeeeeelf... Personal

She says she loves me, but then she celebrated our anniversary by going out to dinner with her parents, and without me. I tell you... ;)

Anyway, I stayed in, watched Miracle, and made one of my favorite recipes from my childhood:

English Muffin Pizzas

Plain English Muffins (2-3 halves per person)
Pizza Sauce
Mozzarella Cheese
Parmesan Cheese
Any other pizza toppings you like

Preheat oven to 350°. Split the English Muffins and toast them in a toaster until crispy. Spread pizza sauce, toppings, and cheeses on muffins and place in middle rack of oven for 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly. Turn on broiler for 2-5 minutes (watch it carefully) until cheese is a nice golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool for as long as you can stand it, then gobble them up (half the fun is burning the roof of your mouth ;).

08:21 PM by Eric: Self-Labeling Kitty Cat Personal

So today Riley walks by me and I notice something a little strange...
Riley with a yellow tag on his butt.
Looking a little closer...

The tag says 'Jenny and Eric'
That's right, the cat has affixed a tag to his butt claiming us as his owners. He's a little strange. :)

09:27 PM by Eric: Memorial Day Weekend: Fun and Games Personal

Being the wild and crazy kids we are, Jen and I started off our mad, mad Memorial Day by taking in a movie--Shrek 2--at the local cinema. (Side note: the local cinema has very nice chairs, but is not steeply canted enough for my taste. I give it a B+, with a nudge for its relative cleanliness, but docked because they refused to sell Jen a student ticket.)

Anyway, the movie itself. It is as all the reviews have said: Ha ha, funny movie, tries too hard, story isn't as good as the first one, and Puss in Boots steals all of his scenes. (To be fair, it is quite hilarious in parts, and well worth the inflated ticket prices.) Also, there's a scene where the fairy godmother breaks out Bonnie Tyler's I Need A Hero. And stay through the first round of credits.

Saturday, we got glasses. See Jen's page for photos, if you dare.

Sunday. I don't really remember what we did Sunday. Oh. We acquired two new lamps for the living room. And watched approximately 400 contiguous episodes of Law and Order: SVU (the first season was really terrible, I'm talking Sex and the City Season 1 terrible here). And grilled out, with some really good chipotle-flavored marinade.

Today we took the dogs to Bull Creek Park and went wading (/swimming). Charlie swims like a crocodile; he's heavy enough that only the top half of his head is above water. It's mildly amusing. Then we watched--surprise--more Law and Order (starting to get into better episodes now). And killed some heathen infidels in Age of Mythology.

So now there are only 4 more days till Jenny jets away to lollygag in the sun in Louisville for three weeks, and 4 days is never long enough for my taste. I could always leave here Friday afternoons about 4 and get to Louisville 19 hours (counting the time change) later, and then do it in reverse on Sunday, but that seems like Jenny will veto it. :-P

Hope everyone had a good MDay; I know a lot of people who spent the weekend dodging funnel clouds. Here's hoping nobody caught one.

10:06 PM by Eric: Victory at last Personal

I am--finally--declaring victory over Arborio rice. Tonight I cooked Vegetarian Jambalaya (substituting Arborio rice for the farro--incidentally, if you do want to use farro, note that it's called "spelt" in North America--otherwise the nice people at Central Market will be terribly confused) which turned out very well. Maybe Fiona's visit was the final thing I needed to master the arborio. :)

Jenny says: "Very, very tasty. Two thumbs up."

Oh, by the way: this recipe makes a lot of jambalaya. Use a big pot and invite company. :)

08:00 PM by Eric: Backyard photos Personal

As promised, new photos of the house...

The backyard swing, wreathed in flowering vines.
The backyard swing, with all of its vines flowering.

The garden, with green stuff shooting up all over.
The garden in full blown growing mode. Amazingly, nothing has died yet. :)

The new deck furniture.
The new deck furniture, after having hacked out enough of the rosebush to allow them to peacefully coexist.

02:33 PM by Eric: Okay, quick update... Personal | Work

I probably will have little time or inclination to update the rest of this week (stop laughing), so all my adoring fans will have to make do with this.

Yes, we spent most of last weekend and yesterday cleaning the house from top to bottom, and breaking it from bottom to top. This latter bit is really a very annoying trend. We just "finished" the front yard (well, sort of, it still needs about 327 plants and a new ledge to replace the rotted one--but at least it looks nice!) The new patio furniture makes me very happy, especially as the weather has been Austin Beautiful™ lately. I've been dying to take a good book and a beer out on the back porch after work, and just have not had the time. But Fiona is coming in tonight, and Les Thursday, and I'm sure there will be plenty of hanging around in the backyard drinking. :) And then of course there's the BBQ this weekend. I do have pictures of the house, particularly of the very pretty wooden swing (currently swimming in white flowering vines), the garden (which is fast approaching Eden proportions--or at least starting to produce little baby tomatoes and bell peppers), and the new deck furniture. I will try to post those tonight.

Work. Work is stressful. Critical projects have a way of self-destructing at 9pm lately, and this trend is also very annoying. I have one project right now that reminds me of those Engineer Days at school where people would compete to create harnesses in which eggs could be dropped and expected hoped to survive. Except that this particular egg fires itself downwards at very high velocity and contains about a tablespoonful of nitroglycerin, and so at this point it has been fitted with parachutes, streamers, airbags, jet thrusters, alarm sirens, and even springs to bounce it back up into the air when it hits. It hasn't crashed in about a week, which is an improvement. (This project is a living lesson in the hell of supporting legacy software; all of our other projects continue to behave themselves.) If nothing else, this is great practice in troubleshooting recurring problems. :-P

09:52 PM by Eric: Why does my heart feel so bad? Personal

Jenny and I went to a play last night, called The Shelter, written by a friend of ours. On the way there, as we were getting off the highway, there was a woman standing on the median with a sign (this is not an uncommon thing in Austin -- in Seattle, they sit on the sidewalks and play music. In Austin, they stand in the median and hold signs) that said "My Doggy is in the pound. Two days left to get him back. Please help."

Anyone who knows me knows that this is hitting below the belt. I didn't have any cash at the time, but I still feel awful about not helping her. Oh, I know, she might not even have a dog, whatever, but I keep thinking about how I'd feel if I were homeless and my dogs got taken away, and I feel terrible for this woman.

After the play we went to a local Mexican food joint and had chips and salsa and very expensive (but tasty) margaritas with some of Jen's schoolmates. (As an aside, it feels really weird to call them schoolmates. But I don't know what else to call them. Colleagues feels too old, coworkers isn't accurate... it's a problem.) We had a lot of fun.

I hope the woman gets her dog back.

06:23 PM by Eric: I promised, so here they are Personal

House pictures, as promised.

This one shows off the two new (expanded) beds we just put in, along the front of the house and around the tree. The gravel bit in the foreground will become the third bed as soon as we get around to it.

This is the other part of the front side, showing off one of the two new garage doors. :)

And here's a comparison "before" shot. This is slightly unfair, since in this photo stuff is blooming, but in another few weeks our yard should catch up -- the roses in the back yard have already gone all exuberant.

09:58 PM by Eric: Er... maybe not. Personal

Okay, so no picture. Unfortunately, the picture I took included the seven paper bags of yard waste we now have standing in front of the house, and doesn't show off the complete house anyway. Maybe tomorrow.

12:00 AM by Eric: Yard work is exhausting Personal

Another day working in the salt mines yard. :) We've pretty much finished ripping stuff out of the front yard, at least; today we put in the new bed around the tree, dumped some dirt in the beds, and planted some dwarf yaupon hollies and some Mexican heather. I'll snap a picture tomorrow and post it.

The garden isn't dead yet. I consider that a minor miracle. Maybe it's the bowl of beer I put out there last week.

Worked an 18-hour day on Thursday; I don't recommend that. Got on a plane at 6:30 am, flew to Phoenix, flew back that night, got home about midnight. But my boss gave me yesterday afternoon off as compensation, so it wasn't all bad.

I have a very strong urge to write some code tonight. The problem is, I don't know what code. I don't want to do work, and nothing else really seems appealing at the moment. I need to make a list of all the software-related things that bug me and figure out which ones I can solve, and which ones I can just download free tools for. :)

10:56 AM by Eric: Stuff and nonsense Personal

Since it's been about 2 weeks since my last update, I guess I'm due again. :) I keep thinking I should just force myself to post something on a daily or semi-daily basis. I dunno.

Anyway, last week was pretty horrendous at work. I worked something like 50 hours, despite taking Friday off, and spent Tuesday and Wednesday in Phoenix. Just a tip to anyone thinking of doing so, but do anything it takes to avoid flying into Austin during SXSW. Every single flight into Austin the whole week was oversold, which meant that if you didn't make your flight--and early enough that you actually got a seat--there was no way you were going to get a seat on any other flights. One of my coworkers unexpectedly spent three extra days in California because he got bumped from his original flight. And even if you made your flight, it was guaranteed to be 100% full--largely by people who don't travel much or well (envision rows full of kids who entertain themselves by banging on the seats in front of them). It was not a fun trip.

This week was better; only 47 hours of work, and I even (finally!) got to spend some more time on the next version of our major software. I'm really starting to get a handle on VB.Net and the framework in general, and doing some very cool things with Remoting and Reflection. Getting a handle on VB.Net is a very good thing, considering I'm planning on taking the first of my 5 tests for my MCSD next Tuesday. :) The practice tests are pretty easy, so hopefully it goes well. Also, we have a new employee starting Monday, who knows Java but not VB, so I'm going to be spending some time teaching him VB.

Let's see, what else... I'm kind of on a design kick lately... been reading The Design of Everyday Things and The Evolution of Useful Things. They're really interesting books, and anyone who designs anything should probably read them. I also want to read Peopleware and The Mythical Man-Month. It's funny... as much as I don't want to be a manager, I'm finding all of these books and topics very interesting. Of course, it makes sense to read them as a non-manager too, since the information can be useful from both sides. I've been mostly lucky thus far in having the luxury of choosing good bosses, but that might not always be the case, and managing your boss is a great skill to have. :)

Other things that really interest me lately: Network theory. I want to read Six Degrees. RSS is proving interesting; I started subscribing to feeds a few weeks ago, and there are some really interesting ones out there. I'm particularly enjoying the ones from Microsofties. Having direct conversations with the people who actually write the tools I use on a daily basis is just fantastic--I still haven't found any feeds by OS developers, but pretty much all of the major .Net Fx developers seem to have good feeds/blogs.

04:50 PM by Eric: Guest Bedroom Personal

We finished the guest bedroom today. Two shots below, for the viewing pleasure of those of you who might be visiting us:

Yes, the room is a little bit dominated by the bed... but then, we thought our visitors would prefer a Queen size. ;)

10:47 AM by Eric: Remodeling or, where the heck did all our money go? Personal

Another expensive weekend: we bookended it by purchasing a new bed (Friday night) and new garage doors (Sunday night), and somewhere in between we put up the moulding in the guest room (which was at least cheap; 43¢ per linear foot). The new garage doors in particular will give the front of the house a much-needed facelift (as well as alleviating our fears that at some point the garage door will just collapse onto the car as we pull in or out). I'm sure all of you planning on visiting us will be glad to know that you can now select from a queen size bed, a futon, or the couch for your sleeping accommodations. :)

Unfortunately, I developed a low to mid-grade case of whatever Jen's had, which is moderately annoying. I'm home sick this afternoon so I don't infect my coworkers. Will probably sleep a lot. :-P

08:56 PM by Eric: Spong monkeys Personal

So apparently, those annoying little creatures in the Quizno's commercials are spong monkeys.

Now I know what to call all my friends at Boeing. :D At least until April, I guess.

03:33 PM by Eric: Priceless Personal

Table Saw: $99.

200 square feet of laminate floor padding: $40.

240 square feet of Cherry Ship Deck laminate flooring: $200.

Replacing some truly cheap, ugly carpet with something that looks like beautiful hardwood: Priceless.

I would like to thank my parents for the table saw, the Habitat for Humanity Restore for the cheap materials, and my wife for her patience. :)

09:30 PM by Eric: Valentine Personal

Okay, so our Valentine's day wasn't exactly what most people would call ideal -- we cleaned, put in about 2/3 of the new floor in the guest room, made dinner, and are now browsing the 'net -- but I've had fun, and so has Jen, so I guess we're all right.

Incidentally, if you buy a bottle of Chambord, and use the included recipe to make raspberry martinis, note that the result is very very very very alcoholic -- roughly 3oz of pure alcohol in each one. I'm having trouble typing. :)

Anyway, the point of this post is that sometimes it still startles me how grateful I am to be who, where, and more importantly, with whom I am. I love you, baby.

As for gifts, I got a nice 3-speed hand mixer. It was very handy when whipping the cream for the chocolate expresso pots de créme. ;)

Hope everyone else had a good V-Day. ;)

09:34 PM by Eric: Why are weekends so short? Personal

I swear this weekend was no more than four hours long. We got up on Saturday, cleaned some of the house, went to the grocery, and went out with one of Jen's old classmates from Butler -- at a very cool bar downtown called Lounge (try the White Martini, seriously). Could become a regular hang-out spot for us. Sunday we got up and went to the dog park for a few hours with Megan, Nick, and Tupper, which was pretty fun. Came home, Jen did homework and I wrote some code, we watched the halftime show (what did I think? 1. Totally planned. 2. Meh.) and went to bed. And that was it. I mean, I missed a day in there or something! Sigh.

01:44 PM by Eric: Handwriting on the computer Personal | Tech | Work

Jenny showed me this nifty site called Fontifier, which takes your handwriting and turns it into a TrueType font for use on your computer. It's not perfect (it's missing a lot of glyphs), but it's pretty cool. I've actually set up an alternate skin for the website so you can read it in my own handwriting, if you like. You'll need to download and install this file (on Windows, drag it into the Fonts folder in your Control Panel), then click here.

Just got back from another trip to Phoenix. This one went really well, we got everything done early for a change, and the owners were apparently very happy with us. Our last few clients have been really happy, which is great news; we're really starting to get this thing down. It's going to be a good year for us, I think.

Riley got his staples out Friday, and Cara's ears have cleared up, so hopefully we can avoid the vet for a few months. It would be nice to be able to pay to replace the garage doors and redo the yard and garden.

This site is turning into just a personal journal; I haven't seen anything worth writing about in a while, I guess. Sigh.

Edit: I forgot to upload the font file to the webserver. I'll do that tonight. Meanwhile, laugh at me for making such a rookie mistake. :-P

Edit 2: Okay, the file is uploaded now.

06:36 PM by Eric: A quarter century! Personal

Happy 25th, love of my life. :)

08:50 PM by Eric: Yeah, yeah, I never post. Culture | Movies and TV | Personal | Tech

Okay, so the Kokai-Means family has returned from Winter Break and I'm sure you're all dying to hear about it. :)

Christmas this year was really good. I got some very cool gifts (such as a gift certificate for classes at the Texas Culinary Academy, a nice table saw, and a Tivo). We spent a good day at my Grandma's house. Ryan was unexpectedly really nice, which made me actually feel a little bad about not giving him a really nice gift. For the first time in a while I actually have a little hope that he'll turn out to be a decent person.

Jenny just got back from a jaunt to Florida; she hung out with her grandma, ate a bunch of bad food for no discernible reason, and rode the new Mission to Mars ride at Epcot (I am so jealous.)

The Tivo fascinates me. It reminds me of the way the Internet felt when I first discovered that, and even the old phone BBSes before that; in some ways it's a little primitive (for god's sake, stop recording BET) but, in a similar fashion to the way the Internet brought information, entertainment, and communication to my fingertips, any time I wanted it, the Tivo brings me whatever I want to watch, when I want to watch it. It's fantastic. I don't have to miss the (rare in Austin) Blues games, I don't have to go out and buy the Family Guy DVD set (though I probably will anyway, at some point), I don't have to remember to scan the TV listings for Band of Brothers reruns. I just tell Tivo to do it for me. Now I just need to triple the capacity and wait for the new service that lets you burn shows from the Tivo to DVD via a PC, and we'll be set.

01:11 AM by Eric: Happy Holidays Personal

Jenny and I put up our tree this last week, and finished putting the presents under it today. It's not much, but then neither of us really feels like going all out when we won't be here for Christmas itself. The fireplace really needs a mantel, though.

Happy holidays, everyone.

11:15 PM by Eric: Curiosity is driving me mad Personal

Okay, so Jen has been working on a weblog entry for about an hour and a half now, it has something to do with New York, and she won't tell me what! It's driving me crazy, crazy I tell you.

Ah, it's up. And I think it's very cool.

09:51 PM by Eric: Handy Man Personal

Tonight I feel like a handyman. I hung my new pot rack and fixed the bathroom outlets (though that latter was just a matter of finding the other GFCI outlet in the garage and pressing the Reset button...). Hanging the pot rack was a bit ticklish, because it's heavy, and there's really only one well-placed joist (by the way: studfinders are very useful). Hopefully it stays up there.

Yay me.

11:19 PM by Eric: My wife is mad at me Personal

Jen's mad because I never update this thing. So she should be good to go for another two weeks or so now, right? ;)

Anyway, Thanksgiving weekend was a riot. I know Jen didn't have as much fun, and I would obviously have preferred if she wasn't feeling bad, but it was still a heck of a lot of fun. And I know I will never look at trees in quite the same light. On the plus side, we did determine that Jen thinks UT is the best school anywhere, which is good to know. Let the flood of Longhorns-branded items commence.

Other tidbits: Unturkeys are pretty good (the gravy tastes completely different than it smells, which is a Good Thing™), the Two Towers extended edition rocks, so do Office Space and my new luggage, and I am still not a fan of early-morning flights. :)

All in all, a fun trip, and I'm definitely looking forward to Christmas break. I never would have expected it, but my family (including my family-by-marriage) is some of the best friends I ever hope to make. That would be the only downside to living in Austin, I suppose. Did I mention that it was 70° today? :)

And yes, dad, I don't think it's a bad thing at all that I've grown up a lot like you.

Hook 'em Horns!

10:16 AM by Eric: 26 Personal

So yes, happy birthday to me.

It's funny... last night as we were going to bed, Jen asked me what I did for my 17th birthday (since my birthday is on the 17th). It just so happens that, for my 17th birthday, I attempted to have a birthday party. I handed out invitations to just about everyone I thought might come--25 or 30 people in all, something like that. My parents made a big pot of chili for dinner and then stayed out of the way.

3 people showed up. Cris, Tammy, and Jay. Story of my [high-school] life.

Naturally, that led into a discussion of other bad birthdays (such as the one where I finally realized that two people I had been really close to were completely out of touch with me and didn't seem to really care), bad gifts, etc. It struck me again that my birthdays are very seldom particularly worth remembering. Actually, the last two birthdays I had were probably the best since my childhood; I'm a low-key person, but I like going out with a group of friends on my birthday. St. Louis was pretty good that way.

Anyway, to shake off the maudlin thoughts, I've had several phone calls and an e-mail already today, I have a pot rack* coming in the mail, and I'll get to hang out with people and open presents over Thanksgiving. (It's interesting, sometimes, how much like my father I continue to become. Dad always got his presents at Thanksgiving because his birthday is the 29th...) And life in Austin is pretty good, so I'm looking forward to spending year 26 here.

* My birthday present from Jen. I will be so glad to get those pots and pans out of the cupboard.

11:29 PM by Eric: Head west, young man Personal

So I'm winging off to Phoenix again, for the second time in three weeks. Only for tomorrow and Friday, at least. I'll try to write a longer post on the plane, and see if I can't snap a couple pics of the place, if Jen will let me take the camera.

Also, Riley provides us with a moment of comedy gold:

Yes, he's sleeping in the bathroom sink.

11:22 PM by Eric: Pictures of Riley Personal

Finally got around to snapping a couple shots of Riley and uploading them to the gallery.

Ignore the background, it's only our still-hugely-messy office.

12:13 AM by Eric: Why I love Jenny, reason #327 Personal

Spoken today at Barnes and Noble:

Eric: Do you want something to drink?

Jenny: Yes.

Eric: All right, let's mosey on over to the cafe.

Jenny: No.

Eric: Why not?

Jenny: Because I'm feeling contrary.

<insert helpless laughter>

Perhaps this is one of those things you just have to know Jenny to find amusing, but I thought it was great. :-D

03:10 PM by Eric: First week recap Personal

So yes, I started my new job this week. I spent Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday in Phoenix, working at a very posh private hangar, so the week went by pretty quickly. I think I'm going to be spending a lot of time in Phoenix for the next few months, so mid-week updates may be rare for a while. Anyway, the work--while intense--seems like it will be a lot of fun, and I'm getting along pretty well with all my new coworkers (a must in a ten-person company).

Jen and I have a plan for the landscaping around the house, which I'm sure will keep us busy for any number of weekends once we get started. Being a homeowner is certainly interesting; mowing the lawn is a lot less annoying when it's your lawn, at least so far. Maybe that will change after a few years, who knows.

Jenny and I saw Lost In Translation last night. It was good, but not quite as good as the reviews ("Bill Murray's best movie ever" etc) had led me to believe. Worth a viewing, though.

09:09 AM by Eric: Road warring Personal

Ah, the weekly flight from Austin to St. Louis. :-P Let's just say I'm not going to miss laying over in Houston Hobby for an hour or two twice a week.

I did get to see the Arch for probably the last time as we flew by at a couple hundred feet, which was kind of nice. The Arch was always my "last leg" landmark, coming back from Louisville; I always knew that when I finally spotted it over a hill I was home again, and the rest was just a quick half-hour hop, skip, and jump through the city. The Arch is thus a comforting landmark to me.

I guess I haven't formally posted it, but yeah, I do have a new job, in Austin, starting next Monday. I met everyone yesterday. I'm really looking forward to starting there; it seems like the job will be extremely interesting.

10:34 PM by Eric: Phil Collins stuck in my head Personal

Specifically, that "so you're leavin'…" song. I had a great weekend hanging out with the families, most especially with Jen. I got home 3 hours ago, and already I miss her rather crushingly. I do get to see her again next weekend, which is top-notch.

Actually, in this last weekend I feel like I can kind of see the shape of things to come. The odds that Jen and I will ever live in Louisville again are pretty slim (since Louisville is currently eviscerating its arts scene), and the odds that Conner, Lindsay, or Lauren will end up near us is similarly small (though I would be happy to be wrong about that), which means that a couple of times a year we'll all descend on the same location, have a frenetically fun weekend or week, and then scatter again, leaving everyone feeling a little tired, a little lonely, and a little sad. At least, if my own feelings are any indication. It's nice to have acquired such a great second family; it's like a double bonus on top of having met such a wonderful woman.

Now all I have to do is find a way to live in the same city as her. :-P

Also, the flight back was not so much fun, which is unusual for Southwest. It wasn't really their fault, though; the dipshit in the row in front of me spilled his Heineken all over my backpack (which is fortunately water-resistant, so while the backpack smells like Heineken at least my clothes don't). Then I arrived home to discover that my soap exploded all over all of my bathroom stuff, which was a pain in the ass to clean off. Yargh.

10:36 AM by Eric: Dreaming of Austin Personal

So I had an odd dream last night. I dreamt that Lindsay and I were helping Jenny move into the dorms at UT Austin (which was weird enough; I can only imagine that it was some amalgam of memories helping Jen move into the dorm at Butler). As we were carrying a load of stuff across the dorm lobby (this dorm was apparently a high-rise, with a hotel-type lobby on the ground floor), I saw my old AP English teacher and drama director, Mrs. Berry (though I am suddenly unsure if that was actually her name). She moved to Texas (in real life) just after the end of my senior year of high school, which made me feel sorry for the juniors as she was a great teacher.

So anyway, I saw Mrs. Berry across the lobby, but I had a heavy armful of stuff, so we ascended the high-rise looking for Jen's room. It took us a while to find, as the place didn't have any straight hallways longer than about 4 feet. (This particular image may have come from that bionic office I linked yesterday.) By the time we found the room and came back down, Mrs. Berry was gone. It was a very odd dream, especially since I haven't thought of Mrs. Berry in a while (probably not since the last time Jenny mocked me about Guys and DollsBye Bye Birdie), and I had almost forgotten she moved to Texas. I don't even know where in Texas or whether she's still there.

Also: T minus 81 hours and counting.

01:26 PM by Eric: More Accumulated Wisdom Personal

Jenny's post on Accumulated Wisdom has inspired me to post some things I have recently learned.

  1. Don't keep black pens in your shirt pocket.
  2. If you are going to be foolish enough to put black pens in your shirt pocket, carefully check all your shirts for pens before washing them.
  3. Should a pen escape your insufficiently vigilant watch, OxyClean is surprisingly good at getting ink out of clothes.

Also, the season premiere of Law & Order: Criminal Intent last night was good. It was all about sordid, polygamist architects, and when you mix that with Vincent D'Onofrio's patented "Weird Insight" character, that's guaranteed good plot material right there.

Also, the theatrical trailer for Return of the King is out, and damn if it doesn't have me all shivery.

Finally, there are only roughly 103 hours between now and when I get to kiss Jenny again. This week cannot possibly go fast enough. (Actually, I forgot the time change: 102 hours!)

09:50 PM by Eric: Life in Limbo Personal

Sandy, Mark, Ryan and I watched the second-to-last summer episode of "The O.C." tonight. Watching shows like that—Sex and the City, Queer Eye, The O.C., that type of stuff—is one of the things that really makes me miss Jen. I enjoy watching the show with my friends here, but I miss the way we used to sit on the couch together, dogs at our feet, and laugh and groan at the characters and plots. I know it will happen again, hopefully in the near future, but right at the moment I really miss my wife. :-P

There are other things, of course; when I have a good day at work (like today), I want to come home and tell Jen about it while I make dinner. I want to hear how her classes went today, see my dogs go nuts when I come home. I miss hanging out with my best friend every day of my life.

It was a good day at work, though; that was cool, since lately I feel kind of like I'm just doing busy work. Not that I don't understand; when an employee is leaving on an unknown schedule, it's chancy to give them any significant projects. But I got to have some interesting, thought-provoking conversations on software engineering today, which was nice. It's a little unnerving seeing how my career goals have solidified the last two years; I do have Boeing to thank for that. Also, having read the design patterns books I did really is having an effect on my software designs. That's something I definitely wish we'd covered in the grad class I took on Software Engineering, since it would have helped a great deal when we were redesigning all of our software the last 18 months. (And a big shout-out to my Software Engineering prof…) Still, I feel like I'm gaining a certain amount of skill at finding situations where the design patterns I already know would be useful, so hopefully I can start detecting new patterns soon as well. That makes me a major geek, but I enjoy it, so what the hell. :)

Had some interesting thoughts on kids today too, but I'm still mulling those over. May post about them tomorrow night. Last thing: I love you, Jenny. :)

09:43 AM by Eric: Who are these people kidding? Personal | Tech

Seen on a job posting today, under "Required Qualifications":

4-6 years .Net experience

Never mind that .Net wasn't even formally available before early 2002, and didn't exist at all 4-6 years ago…

09:09 AM by Eric: Stranded in St. Peters Personal

So Jenny, the dogs, and the car have all moved to Austin, leaving me here in St. Louis. I feel like I'm kind of in limbo: our St. Louis life has basically ended, but my life in Austin has yet to begin. It's a very frustrating feeling. And it's odd to feel homesick for a place you've only been to three times, but that's how I feel.

10:43 AM by Eric: England debriefing Personal

So yes, we've returned from England, though neither of us wanted to. (I might have been a little more willing to had we been going straight to Austin, but that wasn't the case…) It was a great trip, a wonderful break from the stresses I've been under lately. (Click more to read the full report.)

12:32 PM by Eric: Who lives there etc? Personal

Some random interesting links:

Who Lives There? - characterize your zip code by the kind of people who live there. Of course, the MicroVision one for our new neighborhood is completely different from the PRIZM one, so who knows how accurate they actually are. :)

CDBaby - interesting "indie" CDs. The cool part is being able to discover new artists who sound like famous artists you like.

Rhapsody (listen.com) - unlimited music for $10/month, plus $0.79 to burn any song. Might have to look into this when we get broadband again.

12:17 PM by Eric: Cause I'm movin' out Personal

So today's the last day of apartment habitation for us. Hopefully forever. The walls are re-primered, the door frames repaired and restained, the rooms cleaned and the fridge emptied. Tonight we're off for Chicago, next week for England. I'm really hoping this will be a good vacation… I'm tired of being so stressed out.

Of course even on vacation I won't be completely on vacation. I'm taking a pair of books to learn all about Design Patterns, and I'll have to mail off some resumés before we leave the country. But at least I might get to sleep in a couple of days.

01:25 PM by Eric: Bridesmaids dresses Personal

So Jen tried on the bridesmaid's dress with the attendant jewelry last night, and she looked breathtakingly beautiful. I'm really looking forward to having this gorgeous woman on my arm at Fiona's wedding. :)

01:36 PM by Eric: Moving is very stressful Personal

So the house thing is done. There were a few very tense moments: there is nothing quite like being informed that the lender screwed up and you need an additional $6,000 literally as you are packing up the truck 48 hours before closing—fortunately that got worked out with no harm done. There were a few very cool moments: watching the dogs gambol in their brand new back yard; putting all of the dishes away, including the ones you've had in a plastic tub for 6 months, and still having space left over; lying in your new bedroom and falling asleep for the very first time, and realizing that as new and as strange as this place is still, it nonetheless feels like home. Yeah, we're happy about the house. Didn't want to come back to St. Louis.

As expected, once I updated my resume with our Austin address, I've started getting a little more interest. I'm hoping things will really take off in the next week or two, so that after Jen and I return from England we can both go to Austin at the same time. I'm looking forward to some new challenges.

I'm pretty worn out after this weekend, though. I'd say I'm looking forward to sleeping more tonight, but it's hard to really look forward to sleeping in a sleeping bag on top of a concrete floor barely softened by some thin carpet. ;)

06:46 PM by Eric: House photos Personal

Finally got around to putting up the photos of our new house!

02:56 PM by Eric: Life is speeding along Personal

Jenny has returned to town. Her haircut is very cute, though I confess I'm curious to see it post-hair dryer and curling iron. ;) Happy to have Jen in town again… Over the years I've gotten used to having my best friend around all the time. Jenny's a much better kisser than my cell phone. :)

On the other hand, Jenny being back means that June is over, and where the heck did that month go? Fortunately the house thing is going smoothly… homeowner's insurance (check!), appraisal (check!), moving truck (check!), hotel room (check!), and only 9 more days to go until we sign The Big Bad Paperwork.

Becoming a homeowner is a very strange thing… today I caught myself thinking that the lawn will go untended for about a month between closing and coming back from England, and should I hire someone to cut the grass once or twice while we're gone…? This is not something I would have thought to catch myself thinking, you know?

Job hunting continues to be a little slow. Still hoping the change of address will help; I'm currently getting a couple of calls a week from recruiters, most of whom are in the St. Louis area (and obviously missed the bit on my resume where it says we're moving to Austin…). If I were getting those calls from people in Austin instead I might well have a job. :( Most surreal recruitment call I've received: being recruited for a job in Alabama… working for Boeing. Um, yeah. If I wanted to work for Boeing, I'd use the internal job posting system, you know? And last I checked Alabama was not within commuting distance of Austin. Ah well.

11:05 PM by Eric: House update and old friends Personal

Well, in a bizarre twist of fate we actually have a contract for a house, all signed and everything. The house we're buying is actually the first house we put an offer on; apparently the fellow was rather surprised we walked after his initial counteroffer, so we put in another offer on it. We ended up paying about a thousand more than we wanted to, but getting the fridge, washer, and dryer, so whatever. This was our first-choice house, so it's nice to have a signed contract for it. Now about that job…

Also, I meant to mention it last week and forgot to. As Jen, Mom and I were in line to get our boarding passes headed from Louisville to Austin, we bumped into Sam, an old college classmate and friend. He was on his way to San Francisco to spend the weekend with his girlfriend; we somehow both ended up on the same flight from Louisville to Dallas. Very cool to see and talk to him again; it's been a long time since I saw any of that group (and of them, I suspect Sam might be the only one really still willing to talk to us).

It is not much fun to come home to an apartment empty of dogs and Jenny. Not much fun at all.

House hunting was not quite as productive as we had hoped; we saw about 20 houses on Saturday, revisited 5 on Sunday, and picked 3 we wanted to make offers on. Made the first offer on Sunday night, and Monday the fellow came back with an offer that was a) more expensive than his original asking price (?!) and b) wouldn't appraise anyway. People are weird about selling their house. To make a long story short, we passed on even trying to negotiate with him. Made the second offer yesterday; haven't heard back yet. Hoping for the best, but trying not to be too hopeful in case we get shot down. :-P

I had a job interview Saturday as well—a completely informal not-really-an-interview-but-really-an-interview lunch, anyway. Came out of it very excited about the job. I was the first person they'd talked to, as they had seized the opportunity to talk to me while I was in town anyway. Like I said, I would be delighted to take this job if it were offered. Again, trying not to be too hopeful…

Tonight I went and finally saw Matrix Reloaded. As for whether it was a worthy successor or not, I'm reserving judgement; I just don't think anyone can really say until the third movie comes out. It's possible that some of the slightly disjointed stuff will make more sense once some of the meta-mysteries get resolved (assuming they do). Overall it was reasonably enjoyable.

Okay, I have to respond to Lileks' post about M:R. I actually have two parallel responses to his criticisms, one of which spoils the plot twist and one of which doesn't (for the spoiler versions, hit this).

03:10 PM by Eric: Comedy gold Personal

I would just like to draw everyone's attention to this hilarious picture Jen took today:
Charlie in a baseball cap

06:16 PM by Eric: Status update Personal

Well, Jen and I have sort of finalized the list of houses we want to look at in Austin next week. We have between 23 and 30 houses to look at, plus/minus any new ones that pop up or any that get bought in the next few days.

I'm actually really looking forward to it. The thought of having a back yard to hang out in and watch the dogs play in, and not having to walk up a flight of stairs to get to the front door, and not having to be annoyed that the neighbors have just left one of the grocery carts outside their door (and thus outside ours as well) again… well, it seems like a fantasy world, that's what. We have what seems to be a good realtor, though, so that probably helps. :) It amazes me how many people go looking for houses (or better, try to sell one) without the help of a realtor. Yeah, 7% of the cost of a house is a fair amount of money, but having observed my mother for years, a good realtor will earn that money.

09:26 AM by Eric: Congratulations are in order Personal

Jenny graduates and receives her Master's degree (actually, it's an AM, stands for something Latin I can't recall at the moment) today! Congratulations Jen!

10:50 PM by Eric: Exciting weekend Personal

Busy weekend… we went to Louisville and hit the infield for the Kentucky Derby… photos here. Lots of fun. The infield is a crazy, crazy place. We even managed to more or less break even, as I picked the winning horse in the Derby. Played Beer Pong with Jen's family, then street hockey the next day, ate brunch at Lynn's, and had a two-family cookout. Fun all around, though I'm a bit tired out and definitely sunburned.

10:42 AM by Eric: State of the Eric Address Personal

Sorry about the slow updates recently… everything's been so busy I just don't have any motivation to post much the last couple of weeks. I'm hoping to read a couple of interesting books in the next two weeks or so and review those.

Anyway, Matt's service was very nice. Jenny has several posts that are highly worth reading (the weeks of 4/13 and 4/20), so I won't try to out-write the writer, but I will say that I wish I'd had a chance to meet Matt before his shunt collapsed.

The house hunt is going well; our realtor has dug up at least a couple of houses we'd like to look at in person. All sorts of vast home improvement projects are springing to mind… though Jenny is puncturing many of them with her usual impeccable logic. :) The job hunt is going not-so-well… apparently the market in Austin is rather tight at the moment. I'm trying to remain optimistic about it, though, as there is still time.

We had a pretty good day yesterday, though we were both pretty exhausted after all the driving and the emotional rollercoaster of the weekend. Right after work we headed out to the Boeing Employee Roller Hockey Club. Jenny got a little intimidated and decided to watch; I'm hoping that next week she'll feel a little more confident. I played, though, and boy am I out of practice. The knee feels like it was never injured, though I'm not going to stop wearing my brace or anything. ;) After that we hit Blue Hill for dinner and a beer (it's just amazing how wonderful that can be), and hit the sack by 10. 9 hours later I felt quite a bit better (if a little stiff in a couple of places), so hopefully I won't be so tired today.

11:47 PM by Eric: On the road again Personal

So yes, we're moving to Austin. Texas, y'all.

Actually I hear Austin's a pretty cool town, so I'm looking forward to it… especially the bit about having a house. I'm not sure I'm so keen on the summertime high temperatures, though. Of course, 70-80 degree weather in November might make up for some of that.

Of course it means job hunting. If I could just work from home I'd probably stay with Boeing, but they seem to want me to work in an actual Boeing facility, which complicates things—seeing as the nearest Boeing facility appears to be in San Antonio and doesn't have any other programmers there. So we'll see.

10:26 AM by Eric: Weekend report Personal

Pretty wild weekend, for us. Saturday night we went out to dinner and then out dancing at Have a Nice Day Cafe for Christina's birthday; got home about 3 am, completely exhausted. I'm learning to enjoy dancing, which is something I never thought I'd say. :)

Unfortunately Cara decided to spend much of Saturday morning (between 3 and 9 am) throwing up wood chips, which meant we were both exhausted most of the day Sunday.

Last night we had an Oscar "party" (I think you technically need more than 5 people for it to be a party, but whatever). We printed out Oscar ballots from E Online and gave away a $10 gift card to Blockbuster to the winner. Lots of food, lots of alcohol, and a pretty good time. Jenny won the gift card with 12 correct answers; against all odds I tied for second with 10.

Some bad news: My ferret, Galt, has a tumor which has apparently gone critical in and around his lower spine; apparently he can't really move his hind legs all of a sudden. He's the last of our five ferrets; poor things really seem to get hit hard by tumors.

Some worse news: A friend of our family who has spina bifida is in really bad shape. He probably won't make it much longer. Matt has the kind of courage and spirit you don't see very often; I doubt I'd have put up the kind of fight he has. Atheist that I am I find myself hoping there's something good waiting for him.

12:34 AM by Eric: The corruption proceeds apace… Personal

Muhahahahahaha… Jenny has decided to read The Return of the King after we saw The Two Towers again tonight. She will be a geek, oh yes; she will be a geek.

10:17 PM by Eric: Pretty good day Personal

Today was just about the perfect day. Sunny, ~70°. We took the dogs for a 2-1/2 hour romp through Forest Park and the Central West End; they went swimming for the first time this year. Pictures to follow on the photo album as soon as I get around to uploading them. A little bit of job research tonight while eating cheesecake and drinking coffee at B&N, a nap this afternoon, and the NYTimes this morning. I couldn't construct a better Sunday if I tried.

11:19 PM by Eric: The secret to marital bliss… Personal

"I think the best thing about having married you is probably gazpacho. My life was sorely lacking before gazpacho."

Jenny, ruminating on the highlights of our joint life.

09:48 AM by Eric: Jenny's home… Personal

Finally, Jenny has returned. Unfortunately she spent most of yesterday feeling quite ill, but it's still great to have her home. Hopefully we can spend a few quiet weekends together before things get all crazy again.

06:35 PM by Eric: Personal Update Personal

Weather's nice today, sunny and about 50. The ground, however, is about as soggy as corn flakes left in the milk all day because of all the snowmelt.

Jen's currently driving somewhere in Connecticut with her mom and sister; I'm still sick (going on the 8th day) and starting to lose my voice, which could make the nightly phone call with Jen a little more difficult. :-(

03:05 PM by Eric: Weekend update and random thoughts Personal

The snow this weekend reminded me what it must have been like for people in ages past in the winter—stuck inside all day with no way to go anywhere interesting. Of course, they didn't have the Internet (not even the sad, fitful remnants of the Internet that DirecTV DSL's decomposing network can bring us, one heroic packet at a time), or electric lighting, or cable TV, so it's not like we were suffering exorbitantly or anything.

Sunday we performed our monthly clean-the-apartment ritual. It always looks very nice for all of about two hours, and then inevitably someone makes food and it's all over but the crying.

On the plus side, the food that "someone" made turned out really well: homemade oven fries (a.k.a. potato wedges) and grilled veggie dogs. They were so good I had the rest of the oven fries as a late-night snack. :) I must remember that recipe. Maybe I'll even write it down. :-P

About that whole Internet thing: I want to lay this all out so that if some future potential exploiteecustomer of Charter happens to check Google, maybe they'll be forewarned. We called Charter perhaps a half-dozen times over the last two weeks (after being assured that someone would figure out what was going on and call us back, and failing to do that for ten days or so). Each time we were told a supervisor would call us back. A couple of times they even did, but they never had any new information. Finally we started "getting hostile". This is a fairly time-honored tradition in my family; we tend to be pretty mild over the phone, but at some point we start getting irritated. After being told three times in two days that a manager would call us back within 2 hours (this after being told no, of course we couldn't just call up and expect to get a supervisor on the line, what did we think we were, valued customers?) and having them call back not once, I got a little testy on the phone. (I don't like to do this, because I worked with tech support guys for a while, and they're just some poor fucker sitting in a chair reading from a set of scripts for $5 an hour. But Charter earned it. Having been directly lied to, in person and on the phone, multiple times annoys me.) So I asked to verify that we owed Charter no money (we did at some point manage to get them to admit that if some other assholecustomer on their network was currently using the modem we were alleged to have, we couldn't very well have it and ought not be charged for it), I asked (well, demanded) that our account be terminated. The tech told me the single most astonishing thing in this entire parade of astonishing idiocy: he told me our account had already been terminated. So instead of actually trying to figure out why one of their alleged $250 cable modems was not where they thought it was, and instead of just giving us another goddamn modem and making $35 a month off us, and rather than just calling us back the first time and telling us to kiss off, they made us call them a rough total of twenty times and spend hours on the phone and in person harassing them. Charter Pipeline has got to be the most incompetently, amorally run enterprise I've ever heard of—Enron at least was halfway clever about stealing from their customers! So the short end of the story is this: Charter Pipeline sucks, and we're getting Earthlink DSL instead.

I was reading Penny Arcade and something Tycho said made me laugh in appreciation:

She might vote pro-geek in an election, but she's not a member of the party. It is as though she's come to terms with some disease I have.

This pretty much describes Jen's stance on the matter as well. :)

10:04 AM by Eric: Online photo album Personal

The last few days I've been using gallery to put up our own online photo album. Without further ado, I present: Jenny and Eric's Photos. All of the photos have been taken with the Kodak EasyShare camera we got for Christmas.

03:43 PM by Eric: Dreary Day Personal

Incredibly dreary day. Looking out the window is like sitting in the center of a large, upside down bowl; everything just turns into this white wall a couple hundred yards out. It's a very isolating feeling. On the other hand, sometimes—as when your coworkers have a million change requests for an application you didn't write and were only supposed to be peripherally involved in maintaining—sometimes isolation is a good thing. I know being isolated in our apartment with Jenny, the dogs, and a pot of coffee would be completely delightful, for instance.

03:14 PM by Eric: Lots of stuff… Personal

Okay, so, various stuff:

  • Dar Williams has a new CD coming out on Feb. 18. This completely blindsided me… good thing I'm subscribed to her e-mail list. ;) And she'll be touring St. Louis on April 29…
  • Charter Communications is on my shit list right now (and probably forever after). When I went to pick up the kit to install our cable modem, they gave me an empty box. When I brought the empty box back they accused me of stealing the cable modem (because, you know, I have nothing better to do than rip Charter off for a $99 cable modem…) and said they'd have to "investigate" it. The lady at the front desk actually had the audacity to tell me a bold-faced lie, claiming she'd checked to make sure the modem was in the box before she gave it to me. I said, "No, you didn't. I watched you take it out of the cabinet, copy down the number on the outside of the box, and give me the paper to sign. At no time did you open the box." She didn't have much to say to that. So now their warehouse is looking for the cable modem. I have zero confidence that they will actually look for it, or that if they find it, they will tell us so. The kicker is that our last bill included a $250 charge for a cable modem we're supposed to be leasing for $5/mo and which would only have cost us $99 had we bought the fucker outright. We are so going back to DSL when we get a chance. I hear Speakeasy is really great.
  • Breakups really suck, even when they're not yours. They're hard enough when you only like one of the people; when you like both of them, it's really unpleasant. I have had this driven home to me twice recently. The worst part is that getting involved is a bad idea, so you can't even act on your feelings really.
  • Finally, the museum exhibit William Gibson mentions at the bottom of this post sounds very cool. Too bad we haven't the cash for a jaunt to Barcelona (for oh so many reasons).
10:22 PM by Eric: Happy birthday Personal

Happy birthday Jenny!

12:41 AM by Eric: <furby>yummmmmmmm</furby> Personal

Jenny made me homemade bread. I am in heaven.

07:52 PM by Eric: Problem… Personal

I have a problem. I want to add a space on my homepage for a small thumbnail of a photo, and then link it to the larger version—these larger versions being certain of the pictures Jen and I take with that newfangled digital camera. The problem is that I don't know where to put the darned thing… there's just no space. :-P Time to for a mini-redesign on the front page again, perhaps.

12:11 PM by Eric: We now return you to your regularly scheduled post… Personal

So I sort of promised a more complete post. Here it is.

About Frisky: Jenny said it better than I would. It made for a rough Christmas. It's strange how many misfortunes seem to fall on that particular day.

My list of loot: the aforementioned digital camera; an away Blues jersey (by which Jenny proved her love for me: she'll let me embarrass her in public ;); a pair of quite good books (Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri, and Does God Play Dice? The New Mathematics of Chaos); a complete set of Winnie-the-Pooh office supplies (stapler, business card holder, etc); a rolling pin (yes, I am excited by owning a rolling pin); some nice fleece pullovers and a Get Fuzzy book; the Fellowship of the Ring Extended DVD (love it); the Memento DVD; Tori Amos' Scarlet's Walk; Mahler's 9th Symphony on CD; and a bunch of other stuff I'm either too lazy to type or too forgetful to remember at the moment. :)

It has been brought to my attention that Beyond Balderdash is an excellent party game, especially when you have a creative group of people to play it with. Note that prolonged exposure has been known to cause the complete and sudden collapse of chairs in some cases, however. :-D

Last but not least, through a hook-up I am not at liberty to discuss, I received a copy of Crossroads of Twilight yesterday—one day before the actual street date. Of course, I only got through about 120 pages, which leaves me nearly 9 million to go… not that I'm complaining. Unfortunately, A Feast For Crows doesn't come out till April.

07:44 PM by Eric: Back from winter break… Personal

So we have returned. We had some rough times, and we got lots of great gifts, among which was a digital camera. I'll probably post an actual summation of the trip later. For now, I'll leave you with this: All together now…

Cara and Charlie snuggling.


10:05 AM by Eric: Being evicted—in the digital sense Personal

So I see (via a report on a news site) that DirecTV DSL will be shutting down all ISP operations in no less than 30 days. Argh. We've been with these people since they were Telocity. At least it looks like there are other ISPs who can give similar (not quite as good, but reasonably similar) deals.

01:40 PM by Eric: My first viking Personal

I saw my first Viking takeoff today. As I was driving by the runways at the airport I heard engines rumbling (and since I never hear commercial jets in the car with the radio on, it had to be a military jet); looked over and there's an Eagle standing on its tail. Just as it got too high to see (which took maybe 10 seconds from takeoff), the pilot started his rollout. Very cool.

For those not familiar with the term, a Viking takeoff is one where, as the aircraft gets up to flight speed, the pilot pulls back on the stick until the aircraft's nose is pointed straight up. Fighter jets are about the only aircraft that can pull this off, since it requires that the engines produce more thrust than the aircraft weighs. As the aircraft reaches its cruise height, the pilot will "roll out" the aircraft: he rolls it until its back is facing the direction the pilot wants to go, then pull back on the stick until the aircraft is level (but flying upside down) in the direction he wants to go, and then roll the aircraft over until it's right side up. Boeing has some videos of Viking takeoffs up on their media site; look under the F-15 Eagle section.

10:58 AM by Eric: Long time no update Personal

Yeah, so, things have been pretty busy lately. However, Jen's play is over, Thanksgiving is over, and Jen's grandma has returned to Florida, so hopefully some peace and quiet will bless us until Christmas.

I spent most of the weekend cleaning the apartment; it hadn't had a good cleaning since about mid-November, so it was something of a disaster. The laundry still isn't done, and I started the first load about 10:00am on Saturday. :-P I also still have to do some work on the office, but everything else is clean and smells nice. Now if only I could freeze it that way. :)

Charlie's training is progressing. Last week he was stubborn and unhelpful, possibly the least-well-behaved dog in the class. Yesterday we tried a different training collar which really gets his attention, and I found a treat he'll actually pay attention to in class. The short version is that he was probably the best-behaved dog in class, particularly at heeling (which he is usually horrid about)—he walked right at my side, watching me very closely. The other people in the class were very impressed (hell, so was I). Last week I came home incredibly frustrated, but today I'm optimistic. Unfortunately we're having class both the Sunday before and the Sunday after Xmas, which means that I (and possibly Jen, if she decides to come) will have to drive back from Louisville for those two classes. I am irked.

You have no idea how difficult it is for me to not stop by Barnes and Noble on the way home and pick up the Lilo & Stitch DVD. No idea at all.

Work is in one of those in-between phases. There's a certain amount of steady work (website changes, bugfixes, setting up a new trouble report tool, etc etc), but it's neither really cool nor incredibly stressful. Largely I think it will stay this way till the new year, which makes me happy. Downtime is good.

Oh, I almost forgot. We finally bought groceries again. Massive amounts of groceries. It's so nice to open the fridge and see real food again. :)

08:42 PM by Eric: Pictures of Charlie Personal

Yes, courtesy of my mom's digital camera, Charlie finally makes an appearance on the banner pic. Here's another picture of him, somewhat larger.

11:47 PM by Eric: Some observations… Personal | Tech

I had a pretty good day today… I'm taking a class on VB.Net, and training weeks are always easier than work weeks. I wasn't even supposed to take the class, but all my other teammates were busy. Lucky me, I guess. My observations after the first day: .Net kicks ass. I have never used a software package as polished, as well designed, and as powerfully user friendly as Visual Studio.Net, and that's saying something. VB.Net is everything I spent the last year wishing VB6 were; what I wouldn't have given for structured exception handling, to name just one thing.

We've enrolled Charlie in training. This week was just the owners, no dogs; learning how to teach our dogs, so to speak. Hopefully Charlie will pick up most things quicker than he has housetraining.

On the other hand, Saturday was the grand opening of the small dogs part of the University City Dog Park. The "small dogs" area is larger than most complete dog parks; the "large dog" area will be pleasantly huge, the kind of place where you can launch a frisbee for your Great Dane and not feel hemmed in. We took the dogs, of course, as well as my mom and dad, Conner, and Jen's Grandma. It was a romping good time, we even got on the evening news (briefly), and we may have discovered the secret to housebreaking Charlie (may, I say).

As noted, my parents and Conner were up this weekend to see Jen's play. It was, all in all, a very full but quite fun weekend. I realized this weekend that one of the things I love about my dad is that he's always ready to play. It's most noticeable when he sees a very young child—he gets this mischevious look on his face, he makes funny noises (some of which I have learned to duplicate), he's just a very fun guy to be around. I realized this because he was making a very strange sound this weekend because it seemed to totally captivate the dogs, Charlie especially. I think my dad's willingness to play has been a major influence in my own life; at least, I hope so.

Sunday morning—the morning of my birthday—we went out for a fantastic brunch buffet at the Millenium Hotel with my great-uncle Jim Cholmondelay (a.k.a. "Jim Who?") and his wife Jean. I have to say, it was one of the better starts to a birthday I've ever had. It's hard to go wrong when you start the morning with valet parking, champagne and St. Louis-style potatoes and finish it with chocolate-covered strawberries and more champagne.

Jen's play is (finally) over, so we can all relax a bit. It was a really good play, and despite the occasional hellish moment, I'm glad to have been a part of it. I met a couple of cool people, I learned a lot about how (not) to build a set, and I got to see a great production.

Jen reminds me that I should perhaps list what I got for my birthday. Her wish, my command:

  • Monsters, Inc DVD, and a Monsters, Inc. flashlight. (I love this movie.)
  • Three stuffed Stitch dolls (Elvis, a Hawaiian, and what appears to be a Vampire). Elvis is currently gracing my desk at work, because he's just too cool. Thanks, Laurie (who also sent me a very nice card…).
  • A black wrought-iron stand in which to display the octagonal UofL paving stone my mother gave me for some previous birthday. It actually seems to make quite a nice end table.
  • The Official Iron Chef Book from Lindsay. So far it's really cool. Really, really cool.
  • A long card (or short letter) from my Grandma Phyllis, and another from my Grandma Nancy. With any luck I'll see the latter at Thanksgiving.
  • Money from Jen's Grandma, and I have yet to decide how to spend it—one of life's nicer problems, fortunately.
  • A book called The Thousand Orcs from Conner.

It was a really good birthday, actually <inside_joke>(even if I did have to bake and ice my own cake. ;)</inside_joke>.

Oh golly, how could I have forgotten? Tangerine is incredible. Vegetarian comfort food indeed. Chicken fried portobella mushroom is super fantastic.

10:04 PM by Eric: Sleepy on a Friday Personal

Today was, weatherwise, the perfect fall day. Sunny, color all around, and just warm enough that you could drive around with the sunroof open and the windows down and it felt good instead of making you think about frostbite.

Which meant, of course, that Jen spent the whole day at work and I (aside from about 90 minutes at the dog park) spent the whole day cleaning the apartment from top to bottom and front to back. In the next two weeks, the following people will be visiting our apartment: Jen's family, Conner, Jen's Grandma, my mom and dad, and possibly Conner again. So of course it was time for a full cleanup, of the variety that hasn't happened since Into the Woods sort of sucked all the free time out of both our lives. I actually have been really tired lately… after I picked Jen up from work I actually fell asleep, ended up taking about a four hour nap (but I feel much better now).

Jen's show opened last night, and it was really, really good. I'm so proud of my wife I could burst. The set looked pretty good, too, if I do say so myself. I even got two entries in the program—Master Carpenter and a Special Thanks. Though they did spell my name right in one case and wrong (Erik) in the other. :-P

07:33 PM by Eric: The 6 Million Dollar Dog Personal

When we got up this morning, Charlie was limping. I took him to our vet, and it turns out he has severe hip dysplasia—his left hip is one of the worst cases she's ever seen, and his right hip is not much better. The left hip needs immediate replacement. Our vet's a GP, not a specialist, so she didn't have any exact figures, but she told us it would likely run between $1000 and $1500. Per hip. Fortunately for us, we've been pouring money into long-term savings (specifically our 401(k) plan), so we can take out a loan against that to pay for this. Thank god for that foresight—it's much nicer to pay back the money to yourself than it is to pay it to a bank.

If anyone would like to send along well-wishes (or a dog biscuit or two) I'll be happy to pass them along to poor Charlie.

10:24 PM by Eric: All alone Personal

So since Jen is spending six hours a night at rehearsal, I'm all alone every evening. It's odd how unused to this feeling I am—I get up at 7 or 7:15 in the morning, and that's the last time I see her until midnight or so, at which time it's just about time to fall into bed and do it all over again. It's surprisingly lonely.

On the other hand, apparently I'm to be listed as "Master Carpenter" on the programs. And I'm designing the show's poster/program cover (using a photo taken by Jen's youngest sister, Lindsay). So I guess there's a tiny little silver lining after all. Sort of.

07:11 PM by Eric: Close call Personal | Tech

I had a close call which ultimately turned out to be good news this week: the RAM in my personal computer died, and thus so did my PC. This is not normally considered Good News, but the RAM happens to be Crucial brand RAM, it's backed by a lifetime guarantee. I called them up, they shipped me a new stick, and I ship the dead one back to them. The only cost to me is shipping of the old stick to Crucial. Fantastic company, great customer service; don't buy RAM anywhere else.

10:15 PM by Eric: New member of the family Personal

No, we aren't having a child. But there is a new member of the family. He's a German Shepherd mix, slightly younger and slightly bigger than Cara. They seem to be getting along quite well, though I'm not sure how long some of the furniture will withstand their roughhousing. We're not entirely sure what to call him; the Humane Society was using Smoky, but he's not really a smoky sort of dog to us, so who knows. Pictures forthcoming as soon as we take some… and I need to edit my site graphic.

Update: Okay, so it turns out to be quite fortuitous that I was watching All Dogs Go To Heaven yesterday afternoon, because our new dog strongly reminds me of the protagonist—one Charlie by name. So we've sort of "renamed" the new dog Charlie.

09:53 AM by Eric: My favorite season Personal

The weather yesterday reminded me just how much I love fall. Sweater weather, just cool enough that you can see a hint of your breath in the morning, the kind of day that makes you want to take a big mug of coffee and sit out on a back porch somewhere just enjoying the way the air defines the word crisp. Walking outside in that weather is like a sharp shock that always gets my brain going—which at 7:30 in the morning can be a real trick.

11:59 PM by Eric: Complicated Culture | Personal | Philosophy | Politics

The world is a complicated place. It was a complicated place on 9/10/2001, and it's an equally complicated place today. I have no doubt that it will still be a complicated place on 9/11/2003 as well. 9/11 didn't simplify things, nor complicate them; on a macro scale, I don't even think it actually changed much.

This post was actually written on 9/12, but I have backdated it to the night before so that it will show up if anyone goes looking for that date on my blog.

09:56 PM by Eric: Ah, sweet addicting nectar of broadband… Personal

As you can no doubt see, randomtree.org is back online following the move. The new apartment is working out quite well, though there's still a lot of work to be done. Sigh. More later… I want to exercise this nice connection a bit. ;)

01:41 PM by Eric: If I had a million dollars… Personal

Or an extra $400, anyway: Olympus C-3030Z. Maybe I can get Jen to spring for one when we finally pay off some of this debt.

06:53 PM by Eric: Hail the conquering heroes… Personal

Yes, we have returned from our jaunt into the vast wilderness that is Orlando, Florida. :) 5 days of Disney parks is enough to exhaust anyone; we're all pretty pooped. Though we are also tanned, fairly relaxed, and we captured the elusive stuffed Stitch (we started hunting him shortly after seeing him at MGM on Monday morning, and finally succeeded early Friday morning at Epcot, after scouring every shop in every park between -- we snatched the last two. Apparently the little guy is popular. If I had a digital camera I'd post pics, but alas). Fun vacation, though I recommend flying over driving if at all possible.

Friday night -- our last in Orlando -- Jenny, Lauren, Lindsay and I went to Wolfgang Puck's restaurant at Downtown Disney, and I had the best pizza in my entire life. If you live near a WP, run, do not walk. The mushroom-mushroom pizza is fantastic. I also had a very decent Canadian microbrew called La Fin Du Monde; not really a pizza beer, but quite good on its own.

And to top off an already fun week, Jenny's grandmother gave us an original Atari 2600 machine with three games. Jen and I have decided to start a computer museum. :)

06:48 PM by Eric: What are you going to do now… Personal

We're going to Disneyworld!

Don't expect any posts till the 22nd or so… Jenny and her family and I will be partying down in Florida.

10:22 PM by Eric: Yummy… Personal

There's just something satisfying about stew that's been slow-cooked in a crockpot for 12+ hours. Not to mention the convenience of coming home, ladling some into a bowl, and having dinner ready instantly. I love stew.

10:43 PM by Eric: Puppies Culture | Personal

Friday night Jen, Lindsay and I went to see Lilo and Stitch… this is the best movie to come out of Disney in years. We were practically falling out of our chairs for the first half of the movie. Definitely a "buy".

If you still need some yuks after seeing L&S, head to Barnes and Noble and hunt down a book called I am Puppy, Hear Me Yap. Cute and amusing at the same time. The picture of the Aussie puppy (somewhere around 2 or 3 from the last picture in the book) looks very much like Cindy did when she was a puppy.

Then, Jenny, Lindsay, my Grandma Phyllis and I all took a day trip to see New Harmony on Saturday. It was a bit of a drive (2 hours or so each way), but well worth it -- it's a very interesting ex-utopian community, primarily active between the early 1800s and the Civil War. If you're into history definitely a place to check out.

Finally, Conner, Lindsay, Jen and I played roller hockey this morning for a few hours. It's been a long time since any of us played (and it was Lindsay's first time), but we had a lot of fun for all that. Great weekend, even if it did involve 16 hours or so in the car. :-P

09:37 AM by Eric: This post is brought to you by the letter X… Personal

I'm starting to get really tired of the letter X. In fact it is beginning to achieve the same level of dislike previously reserved for the small letters i and e, the phrase "information superhighway", and related phrases. XM radio. Windows XP. The Athlon XP. Aqua Extreme. OS X*. The XFL. Knock it off with the Xs already. Sheesh.

* Yes, I know it's supposedly "OS Ten". But it's an X nevertheless.

04:52 PM by Eric: If you could change any one thing about yourself, what would it be? Personal

My answer to the above question changes on a near-daily basis. But today, I think I would say, "I would make myself love dancing."

12:02 PM by Eric: My last name… Personal

Means: the 1923rd most common name in the U.S. Jenny's last name does not appear in the top 88,799. :)

09:26 PM by Eric: Anniversary Personal

Yes, yesterday was the one-year anniversary of our marriage. It went by very quickly, but seems like it was a long time -- as if we'd gotten to November, skipped a couple of years, and then started time normally again, if that makes any sense. Her family (minus Lauren), my family, my grandmas, my aunt Ginny, and my cousin Lisa all went out to Zephyr Cove Saturday for dinner to celebrate Jenny's dad's birthday, Lindsay's birthday, Ryan's graduation from high school, and our anniversary. It was a fantastically fun evening, for all my apprehension about it.

Jenny is in Louisville until mid-July teaching playwriting at the Young Writers' Workshop. Cara is with her, so the apartment is pretty lonely when I'm home. Every other time Jen's been out of the city, I at least have our dog to keep me company. The only bright spot is that that means I don't have to feel guilty about working overtime.

09:20 PM by Eric: domain follies… Personal

So somehow our lease on randomtree.org apparently expired this weekend, without me being aware of it. Fortunately I was able to reacquire it, with no harm done except a DNS outage that's lasted most of today. Quite irritating.

07:03 PM by Eric: My college sucked Personal

I wish I'd gone to UC Berkeley. I mean, UofL would never in a million years have a course on weblogs, taught by one of the co-founders of Wired magazine. What other fascinating once-a-week courses could I have taken to satisfy my myriad of interests?

08:50 PM by Eric: Of dogs and servers Personal

Today was supposed to be the day the Central West End Dog Association got together to put up the fence for the new dog park. I had of course promised Cara that as soon as we got the fence up she could "test it out". Turns out that the CWEDA didn't quite have enough money for all of the wood, and they just ordered it, so it wouldn't have been here in any case. So my promise turned out to be hollow. I hate that. Fortunately Cara's pretty forgiving; we took a long walk in Forest Park instead. I love living so close to such a huge expanse of open green space. It makes me happy. Even when the ragweed and trees are making me sniffly.

Also, I installed Movable Type on the server this weekend, and am now using it to blog. We'll see if Jenny sees the light or not, when she comes back from Philly.

12:50 PM by Eric: As Jenny and I grow Personal

As Jenny and I grow older and nearer to the point where we will be starting a family (not to worry, a few years yet), it occasionally occurs to me just how scary raising a child can be. Children, especially infants, are fragile, and there are so many things to keep track of -- this Salon article about breast-feeding vs. formula, for instance. The list of things infants and young children die from, even today and even in this country (a selection: diarrhea, lower respiratory infection, otitis media (ear infections), bacteremia, bacterial meningitis, botulism, urinary tract infection, and necrotizing enterocolitis), is frightening all by itself. The days that I end up thinking about things like this, and all the things that those thoughts imply, are the days when I feel paradoxically too old and too young at the same time. It's a very somber feeling, contemplating what it would (will) be like to be so immensely responsible for the very life and health of such a fragile little person. Awfully deep thoughts for an unpleasant Friday at work.

Speaking of work, this job has somehow made me dislike company holidays. How on earth could it do that, you ask? Well, my normal work week is 10 hours each day on Monday through Thursday, with Fridays entirely off. Working 8am to 6pm took some adjusting, but it's fairly normal now, and I definitely prefer it to working on Fridays. In any case, in order not to screw up the company payroll system, in any week in which I take a vacation day or which includes a paid holiday, I am forced to work a normal 5×8 schedule. This is because we are not allowed to take partial vacation days (a terrible crime IMO), among other things. So if there's a holiday on, say, Monday, then I end up working 4 8 hour days so that I can have that holiday off. Thus instead of 4 10 hour days and having an extra day off, I end up working 4 8 hour days and getting an extra day off. The difference between a 10 hour day and an 8 hour one is not even close to enough to make any real difference. So instead of lazing about this morning, I had to get up and come to work so that I could get paid for Monday's holiday. What I would like to do is work my normal schedule, and come in for 2 hours on Monday to bring the total (8 holiday hours + 2 normal hours) to my usual 10. Sadly, companies with over 200,000 employees aren't precisely flexible or responsive to individual employees' desires (well, at least those at the bottom of the food chain; I'll bet Phil Condit can take a half vacation day if he wants…), so I'm out of luck.

At least I get Monday off. :sigh:

I've also resolved to post longer posts; a link and a sentence probably isn't very interesting to the few regular readers I do have. This isn't instapundit, after all. :)

12:35 AM by Eric: Is anyone else completely unsurprised by this? Personal
05:07 PM by Eric: People who refer to their Personal

People who refer to their SO as "the boy" or "the girl"… they annoy me. I see this on a number of blogs, which makes me think it's reached some kind of critically massive blogger slang stage or something, but it feels so incredibly… detached. Like the SO in question is just J. Random Girlfriend, who could be replaced at any minute by any reasonably priced competing model (think dishwashers and refrigerators here) without a problem. Of course, for many of these people I suppose that might be true. But it still irritates me.

In other news, the drive back into town last night was horrific and impressive all in one. Illinois was one huge Severe Thunderstorm from Indiana to Missouri, and we drove smack through the middle of it. It was bad enough that at one point we actually pulled over and sat under an overpass for twenty minutes or so. There's something slightly nerve wracking about sitting under an overpass in the dark, with rain coming down so hard you can't see the street ten feet beyond the overpass edge, and having semis come roaring by at 60+ miles per hour. On the other hand some of the lightning was something to see… there would be cascades of lightning that would start at the edge of the southern horizon and ripple overhead all the way to the northern horizon, lighting everything up with pure white light, and then plunging you into darkness that seemed that much more dense by comparison. Of course, after 2 or 3 hours of that, my whole body was one tensed muscle group, and I'm a fair bit sore today because of it.

Finally, Morrowind seems like it's going to become an addiction, if I ever have time for it. Between the already huge world, millions of side quests, and complete non-linearity of the game, and its impressive flexibility (at one fan site I've already noticed a couple dozen user mods for the game, and it looks like it would be fairly easy to come up with more myself), this game could last years. Not that there aren't a few improvements I'd love, namely NPCs who actually seem to have lives and a multiplayer, persistent version, but this game is shockingly well done.

Okay, that wasn't finally, this is finally: It is occurring to me more and more often that in less than a month Jenny and I will have been married for a year. Life is an interesting thing.

11:10 PM by Eric: File this one under "disturbing things" Personal

File this one under "disturbing things": My web page comes up as the 6th result if you search MSN UK for "dead ferret pictures". See? Freaky. Jenny apparently came up under a search for "matchmaker Janeane Garofolo". Man, that HTTP-REFERER field is a freaky, freaky thing.

However, still scarier is the fact that I'm number 5 if you search HotBot for "free lesbian pissing pics", and 4th on MSN.co.uk for the same search. How I managed that I do not yet understand.

10:21 PM by Eric: I actually had something to Personal

I actually had something to post, but by the time I went to post it, I forgot what it was. :-P

So instead I'll just say: I'm glad I'm me. :)

08:43 AM by Eric: One of the most annoying Personal

One of the most annoying things about working for a company with 200,000 employees is that it's quite common to get someone else's e-mail. I've spent the last few days replying several times to various e-mails with a form letter that says, "I'm pretty sure you meant to send this to Eric C. Means, not Eric D. Means."

01:59 PM by Eric: Screwy weather this weekend. It Personal

Screwy weather this weekend. It went from sunny and nearly 90 on Thursday to 50 and raining cats and dogs on Friday, and then back to mid-70s the rest of the weekend.

In other news, something has seriously irritated my immune system. I don't know if the rapid weather changes made me sick, or caused the mold/tree pollen counts to shoot through the roof, or I just got "lucky", but Saturday afternoon I went from perfectly healthy to sore throat, congested, headachy, bleah. I still don't feel entirely well, though spending nearly all of Sunday asleep helped. We did go to Christina's for dinner and a movie (How to Kill Your Neighbor's Dog, starring Kenneth Branagh and some other people -- odd, but pretty good).

01:49 PM by Eric: Wow, what a gorgeous day. Personal

Wow, what a gorgeous day. It's about 80 degrees outside, sunny, not a cloud in the sky. I do not want to be inside today. Ah well, at least I don't work Fridays.

04:35 PM by Eric: I want to take a Personal

I want to take a course on Game Theory, but it does not appear that Wash U offers such. That's not cool. I wonder if SLU has one…

12:00 AM by Eric: In Memoriam Personal


12:00 AM by Eric: We put Cindy to sleep Personal

We put Cindy to sleep about 7pm EST today. Jenny and I managed to get to Louisville in
time to say goodbye and tell her we loved her. I think that there are few things
that are harder than putting a dog to sleep, even if they're obviously in a lot of
pain. We're all pretty devastated.

12:00 AM by Eric: My family is probably Personal

My family is probably going to put Cindy to sleep tomorrow. She has a massive
cancerous growth on her spleen and she's bleeding internally. I don't know how to
describe or react to this, so I'm not going to try here.

12:00 AM by Eric: We've arbitrarily designated Cara's Personal

We've arbitrarily designated Cara's birthday as today (we know for sure she was born in
March, but not the exact day), so she's officially a year old today. We got her a cake
and some presents, and got a cake and some presents for Fiona, who was in town this weekend
and whose birthday was recently as well, and had a grand old birthday gala. Sort of. :)

12:00 AM by Eric: In other news, we Personal

In other news, we have discovered that Cara loves orange juice. It's the funniest thing…

12:00 AM by Eric: The longest post I've Personal

The longest post I've posted in a long time, and it's about geeky stuff. Sigh.

Anyway, Fiona's coming into town this weekend, so that will be fun. In other exciting
news, Dar Williams will be playing in St. Louis the first week of April. I love living
in a big city. :)

12:00 AM by Eric: I kind of miss Personal

I kind of miss being in an academic context. I don't really miss homework, or tests, or
professors, or anything, just the context where it's not merely possible but encouraged
to sit down and have a free, intense, wide-ranging discussion about something that has no
real immediate or practical bearing on the world, but is just interesting to think about.
Maybe I should look into some sort of research position. On the other hand, I enjoy it,
but I'm not so sure I'm really good at it, so maybe I shouldn't. :-P

12:00 AM by Eric: Also, it drives me Personal

Also, it drives me completely batty to discover the apparent solution to a problem that
has been plaguing me for literally weeks, but not be able to figure out why that solution
fixes the problem. :-P

12:00 AM by Eric: I miss playing hockey. Personal

I miss playing hockey.

12:00 AM by Eric: Yikes. Two rough weekends Personal

Yikes. Two rough weekends in a row. Jenny fractured her ankle rock-climbing today, so
we spent a few hours at the emergency room. Jen's in a rather large moon-boot style cast,
which unfortunately makes getting about somewhat challenging. Never a dull moment.

12:00 AM by Eric: Still working on the Personal

Still working on the web page. Very few pages are converted right now, the rest of
them will follow as I get time.

12:00 AM by Eric: So this is my Personal

So this is my new web page. It's table-free, and translucent, and a bit more creative
than my last one. I hope you like it. None of the links work yet because this is a mock-up.
Also, god help you if you're using something that's not CSS compliant cough*Netscape*cough,
because I'm not going to be bothered trying to make the page look pretty in it. It should be
readable, but that's all you get.

12:00 AM by Eric: Happy 23rd to Jenny! Personal

Happy 23rd to Jenny! Send her love mail today!

12:00 AM by Eric: 10/25/01 -- How's this for Personal

10/25/01 -- How's this for random? Today I called our Volkswagen dealer about an idiot light that had come on, and he asked if my car was already in for service. I
said no, and he said there was already an Audi owned by an Eric Means in for service
there. Also, there was apparently an Erick Means who went to high school in Martinsville,
IN (where my grandma lives) the same years I went to high school. Coincidence? You
be the judge. ;)

Also, tomorrow is the Big Day, when we find out about JSF. Cross your fingers.

My knee is apparently just sprained, not torn or broken or anything. Doctor's appointment to make absolutely sure on Monday, but it feels better, the swelling is
down, etc… phew.

12:00 AM by Eric: 10/23/01 -- I dislocated my Personal

10/23/01 -- I dislocated my knee last night playing hockey. Tip for those of you reading this: don't dislocate your knee. It sucks. Fortunately it
popped itself back into place about 30 seconds later, but it hurt like a mofo for a
while, and now it's all stiff and swollen. Hopefully I didn't tear my ACL or anything
awful like that -- I have a doctor's appointment at 3 today to find out.

12:00 AM by Eric: 10/15/01 -- Okay, so the Personal

10/15/01 -- Okay, so the big news was that Jen and I bought a car. We wanted to surprise people, was why no posting. We bought a brand-spanking-new 2002
GLS. With the "luxury" package (sun/moon roof, etc). 5-speed, traction control,
about 30 airbags, nice warranties, in-dash CD and
cassette player, enough trunk space to hide an elephant… I love this car. It's so
much fun to drive it's insane.

12:00 AM by Eric: 10/06/01 -- Big news… but Personal

10/06/01 -- Big news… but I can't post it yet. :)

12:00 AM by Eric: 09/04/01 -- Jenny made me Personal

09/04/01 -- Jenny made me update my Bio. Read it and send her effusive love-mail on how good a writer she is. :)

12:00 AM by Eric: 09/01/01 -- So we're back Personal

09/01/01 -- So we're back on the air. Live from St. Louis, even. Our apartment is really sweet… we just built a desk into the second bedroom, and it looks rather
swank if I do say so myself. :) Conner came up from Louisville and helped us put
the desk in, as well as assemble two new dressers. Which we'll get reimbursed for,
since the movers destroyed our old two (no big loss), as well as a couple of lamps,
etc etc. We need lots more bookshelves, and we still need to buy our bed
canopy and the dining room set, but the place is fast approaching home-like. Of course
the kitchen is stocked, courtesy of the wedding. :)

We got a dog as well, a cute mixed breed from the Humane Society. Her name is Cara, and she's part Chow, part Chesapeake Bay Retriever. She has short, curly chow-colored
fur, and she's a great dog. She particularly likes Forest Park.

Boeing is really cool so far, despite not yet having my security clearance. As soon as it does I think I'll go visit the flight line. ;)

St. Louis rocks.

Oh, and I've got my Master's. Well, not physically, but I've finished everything and it's all paperwork from here. Woo-hoo!

12:00 AM by Eric: 07/16/01 -- Boeing did in Personal

07/16/01 -- Boeing did in fact offer me a job. And I took it. :) So we have an apartment, I have a job, and I'm getting very close to finished with
my thesis. Woo-hoo! On the other hand, I went to the allergist today and
-- guess what? I'm allergic to cats! Who knew? ;) Anyway, I'm going to hold
off on immunotherapy until October, when I can use Boeing's health insurance
to pay for it. Incidentally, if you want an allergy doctor in Louisville, use
Dr. Pollard -- he and his staff are great.

12:00 AM by Eric: 07/07/01 -- So St. Louis Personal

07/07/01 -- So St. Louis appears to be a kick-ass city… I think Jen and I will love it. We found this sweet 2-bedroom 2-bath apartment in a highrise in the
(apparently very cosmopolitan/fun/cool) Central West End… it ain't cheap, but it's
worth every penny. We can even have 2 pets… so we just have to pick em out.

In other news, my interview with Boeing
seemed to go well… they have some really cool stuff going on down there.
Hopefully they offer me a job. :)

We also hung out with some relatives in St. Louis, which was a whole lot cooler than you might think "hanging out with relatives you haven't seen since
before you can remember" would sound. ;)

All in all I think this whole St. Louis thing is looking very bright.

12:00 AM by Eric: 06/09/01 -- Well, the day Personal

06/09/01 -- Well, the day of the wedding dawns bright and clear… good omen. :)

12:00 AM by Eric: 06/02/01 -- 7 days till Personal

06/02/01 -- 7 days till the wedding. Woo.

"You have fairly symmetrical features and are not at all ape-like." -- Jenny, explaining why she finds me attractive.

12:00 AM by Eric: 05/31/01 -- Things I hate: Personal

05/31/01 -- Things I hate: People who get on the elevator to go one floor. Similarly, people who get on the bus to go two blocks. What is up with these

Nine days and counting. Nerves beginning to set in… but I think it will be ok. And fun. I think it will be fun. :)

12:00 AM by Eric: 05/23/01 -- Some jackoff stole Personal

05/23/01 -- Some jackoff stole my bank card number and tried to order a PS2 with it. Now I get to go through the inconvenience of getting a new
one. :-P

On the other hand, I opened a bottle of Coke yesterday and the cap said I won a free bottle of Coke, so i just went downstairs and got my free
Coke… look under the cap and I won another free Coke. Which is very
cool. :)

12:00 AM by Eric: 05/19/01 -- Well, Jenny's in Personal

05/19/01 -- Well, Jenny's in town permanently… happy days! She and I went to see Shrek last night… fantastic movie.
Not a kiddie movie, really… I think kids would miss most of the funny bits. I
really liked it. Hm, what else… The wedding plans proceed apace, minus some
minor crises with annoying people who want to use our wedding space as storage and
some interesting bridesmaid's dress problems…

12:00 AM by Eric: 04/30/01 -- No more projects. Personal

04/30/01 -- No more projects. No more finals. I'm tired and depressed.

12:00 AM by Eric: 04/12/01 -- <giggle>. Oh, and Personal

04/12/01 -- <giggle>.

Oh, and I have a job. And Jenny decided on grad school. St. Louis, here we come…

12:00 AM by Eric: 04/11/01 -- I have Internet Personal

04/11/01 -- I have Internet access again!!! :)

12:00 AM by Eric: 04/10/01 -- Had a decent Personal

04/10/01 -- Had a decent job interview today. It was ironic, which is sort of unusual in job interviews. Also got around to putting actual pictures
on the Pics page, so enjoy. Of course, I haven't
taken any pictures in a few years, but
that's another problem.

12:00 AM by Eric: 03/29/01 -- One of the Personal

03/29/01 -- One of the perks of being laid off is that it means that after tomorrow I will NEVER AGAIN have to listen to the morons in the
NOC/call center singing the same ONE LINE from a song OVER AND OVER AND
OVER AGAIN, or telling the SAME RETARDED JOKE twenty million times a
day. :-P

12:00 AM by Eric: 03/09/01 -- Oh my god. Personal

03/09/01 -- Oh my god. It's official… I hate the US PTO. And Apple, for that matter. And Amazon.

12:00 AM by Eric: 03/07/01 -- Grandma is doing Personal

03/07/01 -- Grandma is doing much better. She got to come home from the hospital Sunday, which is a definite good sign.

12:00 AM by Eric: 02/27/01 -- I'm worried about Personal

02/27/01 -- I'm worried about my Grandma.

12:00 AM by Eric: 02/26/01 -- Jenny and I Personal

02/26/01 -- Jenny and I saw The Vagina Monologues Sunday. Usually the
Phoenix is mediocre, but this show was actually very good… I was impressed.
Jenny also found on out Sunday that she not only got accepted to Washington U's
graduate program, they're going to give her full tuition and a TA job
. Assuming she chooses to go there instead of Yale or Juilliard
or Iowa (now why whould she do that? :). Always nice to get paid to go
to school. :)

12:00 AM by Eric: 02/19/01 -- Why the hell Personal

02/19/01 -- Why the hell do Macs use a solitary 0x0D for line breaks when every other system in the world uses at least 0x0A (if not 0x0D0A)?

12:00 AM by Eric: 02/12/01 -- Well, Jenny's play Personal

02/12/01 -- Well, Jenny's play was last weekend… it was fantastic. I house managed (not that that takes any great amount of talent :). I am so proud of Jen.
Unfortunately Dad (back/work), Grandma (shingles), Lisa (homework), and Ryan (sick) all
missed it. Ryan helped out with the set and other stuff, so I'm sure he's disappointed
that he missed it.

12:00 AM by Eric: 02/01/01 -- Ahhhh, that's much Personal

02/01/01 -- Ahhhh, that's much better. :) Now if only I had a banner and a snappy title. :)

12:00 AM by Eric: 01/31/01 -- Okay, this color Personal

01/31/01 -- Okay, this color scheme is waaaaaay to Christmasy for me. It's gotta go. Course I dunno what to replace it with. :-P

12:00 AM by Eric: 01/23/01 -- Decided to change Personal

01/23/01 -- Decided to change around the site… color changes, font changes, organizational changes… oh, and I'm using XHTML now too. Gotta keep up on the
latest web technologies. :)

Update: I need a banner or something Something for the tops of the pages. It's just too… abrupt.

12:00 AM by Eric: 01/19/01 -- Just watched the Personal

01/19/01 -- Just watched the Lord of the Rings teaser… my god I want to watch these movies. :) I can't wait until next Christmas…

12:00 AM by Eric: 01/15/01 -- Jen's back in Personal

01/15/01 -- Jen's back in Indy… I miss her an awful lot already. :-P Last semester, though, that's something.

In other news, I pulled or twisted or sprained something in my back last night or this morning, and it hurts like mad.

12:00 AM by Eric: 01/11/01 -- It's aliiiiiive, it's Personal

01/11/01 -- It's aliiiiiive, it's ALIIIIIIIIVE! :) Finally got my new mobo in, and my PC is up and running, spritely as ever. God I love this
box. :)

Jen and I went and did the deal about the wedding cake today… it's going to be a really neat cake. It was fun. :) Saturday we're going
tux-shopping with "all the guys". That should be amusing as well…

Saturday will be Jen's last day in Louisville. I'm really not ready for her to leave… I want her to stay, damnit. :-P

12:00 AM by Eric: 12/29/00 -- Christmas was fun… Personal

12/29/00 -- Christmas was fun… I made out like a bandit. My aunt and uncle and cousin from Chicago sent me what essentially turned out to be
almost a complete kitchen utensil set. Nice ones, too, all stainless
steel. We just kept pulling little wrapped utensils out of the box and
going, "Oh my god, there's more in there!" It was great. Thanks Karol,
Jim, and Teegan! I got lots of cool stuff from everyone,
actually. Including some sweet fleece pajama pants from Jen. :) Of
course, since I got her a verrrrry nice electric blanket, it's not really
cold enough to need them much. :)

In other news, I'm to have my wisdom teeth out Tuesday. Thatought
to be fun. :-P

12:00 AM by Eric: 12/13/00 -- Today has officially Personal

12/13/00 -- Today has officially been the worst day of the semester. I can't believe I was that completely retarded.

12:00 AM by Eric: Unseen but familiar Personal

"Bush lawyer Fred H. Bartlit said he had not yet seen the ruling but was familiar with it." Huh? How does that work?

Jenny was fantabulous as a lesbian waitress in Danielle's Not What You Made this weekend… quite a good play. Jen and I went to the
Nutcracker as well. Great costumes.

12:00 AM by Eric: 11/22/00 -- Argh. Finding wedding Personal

11/22/00 -- Argh. Finding wedding bands that both Jen and I like is proving… difficult. :-P Ah well. The people at Helzberg are always
nice… I never thought I'd have a favorite jewelry store. :)

12:00 AM by Eric: randomtree.org is born Personal

It's up. And about time, too. :) Thanks to the friendly folks at the Public DNS for DNS
hosting. Now to get the web server completely set up. And get a POP3
server on there…

12:00 AM by Eric: 11/17/00 -- Happy birthday me. Personal

11/17/00 -- Happy birthday me. Boy, I never imagined I'd reach the ripe old age of 23. :)

12:00 AM by Eric: 11/6/00 -- Went and saw Personal

11/6/00 -- Went and saw Dar Williams in concert Friday in Indy… fantastic concert. Absolutely great.

12:00 AM by Eric: 10/2/00 -- Some days I'm Personal

10/2/00 -- Some days I'm not sure whether the world is indeed as fubared as I perceive, or whether someone is slipping LSD into the water
supply. Either way, my how the world does change.

12:00 AM by Eric: 9/19/00 -- Well, the new Personal

9/19/00 -- Well, the new DSL connection is up and running, quite well I might add. Next step is to swipe my parents' old 486 and slap Linux on

Jenny and I spent the weekend at Chautaqua up in Columbus, IN. My grandma had a booth -- she sells these really neat stuffed animals made
from old quilts. It was lots of fun hanging out with grandma and mom --
Jen's family even came up for a few hours. And then Sunday night we
watched this utterly horrible movie (The Velocity of Gary) with
Jen's Screenwriting class… that was interesting. :)

12:00 AM by Eric: 9/13/00 -- The wedding was Personal

9/13/00 -- The wedding was lots of fun. Jennifer (my cousin) looked great… Gerry's a fantastic guy. Lots of fun to see the family out there
again. I have never seen my dad laugh so hard in his life… :) And Jen
(my fiancee, not my cousin :) looked incredible in that red dress.

In other news, hopefully by the end of the month Jen and I will be running our own domain from the apartment.

12:00 AM by Eric: 8/31/00 -- Well… flying out Personal

8/31/00 -- Well… flying out to California tomorrow for my cousin's wedding. Within two weeks' time I will have been the entire length of the
States, from Boston to San Jose. :) Should be a good time,
though… haven't seen those relatives in forever. I know they're all
eager to meet Jen. :)

12:00 AM by Eric: 8/28/00 -- Have you ever Personal

8/28/00 -- Have you ever had one of those days where you just know nothing is going to go right? Yeah.

12:00 AM by Eric: 8/15/00 -- Well, I'm losing Personal

8/15/00 -- Well, I'm losing my beautiful 38th-floor floor-to-ceiling-window with a view. Damnit. We're moving waaaaaaay out
by the Snyder for some unfathomable reason. Sigh. At least parking will
be easier. And no more scary elevators, I suppose… but I did like the
view. And the privacy.

12:00 AM by Eric: 7/14/00 -- Working on getting Personal

7/14/00 -- Working on getting my pages completely standards-compliant. HTML 4.0 Strict and CSS. Of course, that still
means my pages are semi-broken on Netscape, but that's not my fault. :)

12:00 AM by Eric: 7/13/00 -- Guess what? I Personal

7/13/00 -- Guess what? I still exist. :)

Jen and I moved. About two blocks. The new apartment is about four times as large
as the old one. Kickass. It's got central air (!) and hardwood floors
and a dishwasher! Of course BellSouth took their sweet time
about getting my DSL moved, and now I'm pissed at them because I'm on
PPPoE instead of a bridged connection (yeah it's arcane and obscure
and very very annoying). We're building Jen a PC… you know you're a
computer geek when you have 3/4 of a new PC in spare parts lying about
from your last round of upgrades <grin>. Lessee… went to see Dar
in concert two (?) weeks ago… unfortunately it wasn't a full concert,
only about an hour of Dar, but good nonetheless. Going up to Indy next
weekend for that Centennial Oz shindig. Work is rocking. Nothing like
stimulating work to make up for some really tremendously boring
classes. Fortunately Art History is over.

12:00 AM by Eric: 6/19/00 -- Okay, things are Personal

6/19/00 -- Okay, things are really getting out of hand. I think we should declare all Internet technology invented to
this point in the public domain, and that's that.

12:00 AM by Eric: 6/15/00 -- Online libraries… cool. Personal

6/15/00 -- Online libraries… cool.

12:00 AM by Eric: 6/14/00 -- Finally got my Personal

6/14/00 -- Finally got my grade fixed…

12:00 AM by Eric: 6/5/00 -- 1 more hour! Personal

6/5/00 -- 1 more hour! 1 more hour! :)

Also… funny. :)

12:00 AM by Eric: 6/4/00 -- It's hard to Personal

6/4/00 -- It's hard to believe that Jenny will actually be home tomorrow. I feel nervous and anticipatory and eager and fluttery all at
the same time. :) I don't have the words to describe how much I wish it
were tomorrow evening already. Six months is a very long time to not see
someone you love so much.

12:00 AM by Eric: 6/2/00 -- Well, Jen's left Personal

6/2/00 -- Well, Jen's left England. Too bad I don't get to see her till Monday… she's spending the weekend in Boston with her
grandmother. Ah well. Three more days! :)

12:00 AM by Eric: 6/1/00 -- I just love Personal

6/1/00 -- I just love Brunching. :)

Update: Today has been an intensely frustrating day.

12:00 AM by Eric: 5/31/00 -- Very interesting piece Personal

5/31/00 -- Very interesting piece about Napster and the music industry…

12:00 AM by Eric: 5/30/00 -- Slowly giving the Personal

5/30/00 -- Slowly giving the site a makeover. I figure it's about time my page moved into HTML 4.0 and such. CSS and DHTML are fun. :)

Possibly the site's look will really change -- I'm getting kinda tired of this background. We'll see how much "free" time I have this
summer. :)

12:00 AM by Eric: 5/25/00 -- I need a Personal

5/25/00 -- I need a vacation.

12:00 AM by Eric: 5/22/00 -- 2 weeks till Personal

5/22/00 -- 2 weeks till Jen comes home. 14 days… how can a mere 14 days feel like eternity when it's already been nine months? Very ready
for her to come home…

Update: Sitting on the 38th floor, pretty much by myself, watching the rain. Missing Jen.

12:00 AM by Eric: 5/19/00 -- Satire is such Personal

5/19/00 -- Satire is such a wonderful thing.

12:00 AM by Eric: 5/18/00 -- Long time no Personal

5/18/00 -- Long time no update. Darwin is great. I share an office with Aaron and another fellow on the 38th floor; one whole wall of the
office is windows. What a view… and the work's cool as well. Classes,
on the other hand, look to be a major snoozefest this summer. Oh well.

12:00 AM by Eric: Catty press releases Personal


"Time Warner Cable spokesman Mike Luftman reacted by calling Disney 'a hostile, cynical and out-of-control company.'

Back at ABC headquarters, spokeswoman Julie Hoover countered: 'We categorically deny being hostile or out-of-control, and we are undecided about cynical.'"

Now that's comedy. :)

12:00 AM by Eric: 5/3/00 -- I got paid Personal

5/3/00 -- I got paid to go to a baseball game and drink beer today. How excellent. :)

12:00 AM by Eric: 4/22/00 -- Yep. Academic suicide. Personal

4/22/00 -- Yep. Academic suicide. Of course he's too stupid to effectively cover his tracks, so perhaps things can be corrected. On the
other hand it's not like Speed School has given me much hope of
responsiveness or justice lately.

Update: I don't know whether I'm an idiot or the universe has merely decided it hates me.

12:00 AM by Eric: 4/21/00 -- May have committed Personal

4/21/00 -- May have committed academic suicide in two of my classes today. I guess we'll see.

Oh, and by the way… "Don't you try to outweird me, I get stranger things than you free with my breakfast cereal."

-- Zaphod Beeblebrox, 'The Restaurant at the End of the Universe'

No, it's not really applicable to anything in particular, I've just kind of felt this way all day.

12:00 AM by Eric: 4/20/00 -- I feel very Personal

4/20/00 -- I feel very existential today. You know, condemned to choose and all that.

Update: Well… I have exercised my existential necessity, if you want to put it that way. I really don't know what to say.

12:00 AM by Eric: 4/18/00 -- About half an Personal

4/18/00 -- About half an hour ago someone commented to me, "Hey Eric, you're not really here, are you?" No. No I'm not. I'm not even close to
here. I've had a relatively shitty day (starting with the neighbors
treating me to rap music between 6:15 and 7:15 this morning) and it's just
going to get shittier as the week goes on. So forgive me if my mind is
about 4000 (plus/minus 500) miles away.

12:00 AM by Eric: 4/17/00 -- Way cool. I Personal

4/17/00 -- Way cool. I wonder if maybe I can convince UofL to use some of their materials…

12:00 AM by Eric: 4/15/00 -- "Electronic Arts has Personal

4/15/00 -- "Electronic Arts has shipped one-million copies of The Sims. That's enough individual Sims to form a substantial military force,
invade a third-world country, and win. They could even found their own Sim
country with a Sim City and a Sim Theme Park and… Oh, how ironic." From
Ars. :)

12:00 AM by Eric: 4/14/00 -- Decisions, decisions. :) Personal

4/14/00 -- Decisions, decisions. :)

12:00 AM by Eric: 4/11/00 -- Last two weeks Personal

4/11/00 -- Last two weeks of class. Papers and tests and projects, oh my!

12:00 AM by Eric: 4/6/00 -- Ah, those wacky Personal

4/6/00 -- Ah, those wacky Nortel execs. How exactly does one negotiate this sort of thing? I mean,
how do you get into that situation? What a mystery.

Addendum: heehee.

Interview with a search engine. Enlightening. :)

12:00 AM by Eric: 4/2/00 -- Vive Fjorge, the Personal

4/2/00 -- Vive Fjorge, the Swedish-Mexican Viking! :)

12:00 AM by Eric: 3/31/00 -- All right, that's Personal

3/31/00 -- All right, that's it. My enthusiasm and motivation for school is shot. Maybe it'll come back this summer, but right now it's on
vacation. It's very tempting, knowing that I could still do very well for
myself if I just forgot about school and went to work full time. Don't
get all freaked out on me; I'm not going to do it. But I could, and it
would be a hell of a lot more satisfying than my classes are right now.

12:00 AM by Eric: Cleaning is my anti-depressant Personal

It's amazing how, when you're confused about life, and a little depressed, cleaning the hell out of the apartment can make you feel
better. I think it might be a control thing. :)

From a NYTimes editorial by Maureen Dowd:

People scorned Bill Clinton's morals. But they love his economy, and the way he tackles hard things, like the Middle East, Ireland and guns.

What crack is she smoking? Yeah, I loved the way he tackled hard things like Serbia, Somalia, Rwanda… cruise missiling Sudan was a nice touch… and I'm not even going to start on Clinton and guns.

12:00 AM by Eric: 3/28/00 -- Heh. I'm a Personal

3/28/00 -- Heh. I'm a prophet. See? :) Okay, okay, so maybe it's a
perfectly logical move. In true Apple style, it's a perfectly logical
move… that they should have made 5 years ago.

12:00 AM by Eric: 3/24/00 -- Szechuan stir fry… Personal

3/24/00 -- Szechuan stir fry… <FURBIE>yummmmmmmmm</FURBIE>. Of course, it didn't
have any flaming death peppers in it, so it wasn't hard core
Szechuan. Still yummy. :)

Update: Riiiiiiiiiiight. Barenaked Ladies' One Week on the "New Rock" station, LRS, and Kid Rock on 98.9 … Riiiiiiiiiiight.

12:00 AM by Eric: 3/23/00 -- "The world's first Personal

3/23/00 -- "The world's first presidential ePimp Slap" -- Andrew Nelson. Ouch.

12:00 AM by Eric: 3/22/00 -- Yep. Wednesdays are Personal

3/22/00 -- Yep. Wednesdays are definitely my favorite weekdays. :)

Update: Oh, and apparently now there's a dance version of "Discovery Channel" playing on DJX. Who knew?

12:00 AM by Eric: 3/21/00 -- Odd. I don't Personal

3/21/00 -- Odd. I don't think I've ever heard Creed on DJX before. Yet more radio weirdness, I suppose.

Update: I heard em on 98.9 too. Huh.

12:00 AM by Eric: 3/18/00 -- So much for Personal

3/18/00 -- So much for Spring Break. The lousiest SB I've had in probably… I don't even know how long. Only good part of it was not
having to work in the lab and not having to sit through Musa's classes.

12:00 AM by Eric: 3/15/00 -- I don't know Personal

3/15/00 -- I don't know what it is with my cars and head gaskets. The Neon has developed an oil leak, among other relatively routine issues, so
it's in the shop till Friday. What sucks is that I have to pay for a
chunk of it (though thankfully not the majority). Oh well. The silver
lining is that for the next three days I'm driving a cinnamon 2000 Dodge
Intrepid (980 miles on it!) with all the luxuries. :)

12:00 AM by Eric: 3/10/00 -- And here I Personal

3/10/00 -- And here I was hoping we'd have someone interesting to vote for come
November. So much for that idea. I kind of liked McCain… not sure I
would have actually voted for him, but any pol who's willing to call Pat
Robertson, the Religious Right, and the far left "agents of
intolerance" has my attention.


Armageddon: damn good movie.

12:00 AM by Eric: 3/6/00 -- Glorious weather today. Personal

3/6/00 -- Glorious weather today. Political Philosophy met outside. :)

In other news, the federal government grabbed nearly half of my merit bonus for taxes. Bastards. Oh, and I hate the French. Or at least their

This is Hilarious.

12:00 AM by Eric: 3/4/00 -- Thanks to the Personal

3/4/00 -- Thanks to the unnamed person who notified me that it was, in fact, Disraeli who said the famous quote about the three kinds of lies,
and not Frost, as I had it attributed.

12:00 AM by Eric: 3/1/00 -- Applied for graduate Personal

3/1/00 -- Applied for graduate school today. Hard to believe that in just over a year I'll be Out of College. At least
prospectively. :) Unfortunately, it looks like none of the 600-level
courses I really want (Adv. AI, Adv. OS) are going to be offered this next
year, which truly bites.

12:00 AM by Eric: 2/29/00 -- Happy Leap Day! Personal

2/29/00 -- Happy Leap Day!

12:00 AM by Eric: 2/28/00 -- LG&E is being Personal

2/28/00 -- LG&E is being purchased by PowerGen, a British power company. This will be my second merger with LG&E. How exciting.

This is so cool. :)

Started an hour-long fight in my political philosophy class. I haven't had so much fun in ages. :) Today has been most

12:00 AM by Eric: 2/27/00 -- Jenny and I Personal

2/27/00 -- Jenny and I have been engaged a year as of today. :)

Been listening to a lot of Celtic music lately. Just in that (set of) mood(s), I spose. :)

12:00 AM by Eric: 2/21/00 -- This is just Personal

2/21/00 -- This is just cool. :) I have to find out how they taste. :)

Update: Today has been a very nice day. No Speed classes, a good philosophy class, we finished the lab, and I got taken out to dinner
at Grisante's, which dinner included some excellent chat. I even got free
coffee. I wish every day till Jen came home could be just like this. :)

12:00 AM by Eric: 2/12/00 -- I'd forgotten how Personal

2/12/00 -- I'd forgotten how wonderful a really good adrenaline buzz can feel… played soccer tonight, as my brothers' team scrimmaged. I
played goalie, and didn't embarrass myself, surprisingly enough. But the
adrenaline buzz was incredible… and I had so much fun… I wish I could
find a hockey league. Failing that, I might look into indoor leagues or
something. Oh -- we lost the scrimmage, 8-13, but I had too much fun to
care. :)

12:00 AM by Eric: 2/11/00 -- Was happy to Personal

2/11/00 -- Was happy to see this
in the NYTimes. Especially as an awful lot of people seem to take it for
granted that capitalism is inherently evil, that getting rich turns you
into a devil, etc.

12:00 AM by Eric: 2/10/00 -- New stuff on Personal

2/10/00 -- New stuff on the Random Fruits page.

Rearranged some stuff, notably put the humor stuff into its own directory so I can delete it all at once if I decide to. :) In that
vein, I may have broken some links. If you hit one that doesn't work,
please e-mail me.

12:00 AM by Eric: 2/8/00 -- Okay, these little Personal

2/8/00 -- Okay, these little disclaimers seem to be in vogue lately, but…

I bitch and moan and kvetch a lot, I know. I vent quite a bit. I am frustrated about two of my classes (more spcifically the
professor of those classes) and I am somewhat stressed this
semester. That said, I am not an unhappy person. Yes, I'm
stressed, yes, I miss Jen, but I'm not suicidal, and I'm not even
fundamentally unhappy. Pretty much life is good. So don't take my
complaints deathly seriously. Okay?

12:00 AM by Eric: 2/7/00 -- This guy is Personal

2/7/00 -- This guy is an idiot.

12:00 AM by Eric: 2/4/00 -- There are nights Personal

2/4/00 -- There are nights that I wish there was a devil so I could trade my soul for things I couldn't get otherwise. This is one of
them. Sometimes I wonder if this makes me a bad person. Right now I
don't care one whit.

12:00 AM by Eric: 2/3/00 -- Frustration!!!!!!! Anyway. This Personal

2/3/00 -- Frustration!!!!!!!

Anyway. This really needs no commentary. If you're looking for more of the same sorts
of arguments, try alt.atheism for a while.

Also, in other frustrating news, it looks as if (with all the server upgrades and changes that have been going on around here lately) my
weblogs got trashed, so I deleted all of them and I'm starting over. I
may even get ambitious and rewrite my logging programs… in all that
spare time I have.

12:00 AM by Eric: 2/1/00 -- Moved the 1999 Personal

2/1/00 -- Moved the 1999 news to an archived page. Bored at work, so I may revamp some stuff, do some minor editing,

12:00 AM by Eric: 1/28/00 -- It's frigid outside, Personal

1/28/00 -- It's frigid outside, I'm somewhat depressed, and it's going to be a very long day until 6. Hopefully it'll pick up somewhat
then. Maybe today will suck all day.

12:00 AM by Eric: 1/25/00 -- Damn straight. Jesse Personal

1/25/00 -- Damn straight. Jesse Helms is an idiot.

12:00 AM by Eric: 1/24/00 -- Saw one of Personal

1/24/00 -- Saw one of the albino squirrels today for the first time in forever. Also saw a freshman glance at it, then do a double-take with his
jaw open. Guess he never considered the possibility of an albino
squirrel. :)

My Political Philosophy class is awesome.

12:00 AM by Eric: 1/18/00 -- Good news and Personal

1/18/00 -- Good news and bad news. Good news: I have a net connection again, and damn did I miss it. :) Bad news: I think I'm getting
sick. Sore throat, feeling yucky… damnit. I hate being ill.

Update: Yeah, I've definitely got something. All I want to do is lie in bed and have Jen feed me soup and take care of me, instead
of going to work and coming home and doing my philosophy paper, and going
to class tomorrow… I loathe being sick. Sigh.

12:00 AM by Eric: 1/13/00 -- Happy Birthday Jen! Personal

1/13/00 -- Happy Birthday Jen! :)

12:00 AM by Eric: 1/11/00 -- You know it's Personal

1/11/00 -- You know it's going to be a bad class when the professor who is supposed to teach you about compilers refers to HTML as a programming
language. Sigh. You know it's going to be really bad when the
same professor is teaching Software Engineering as well. On the bright
side, my political philosophy class is going to be serious fun. On the
not-so-bright side, I can't get my modem to work at all. I think
something's wrong with the phone line, maybe. Dunno. And of course they
won't come out to look at it till the 18th.

12:00 AM by Eric: 1/6/00 -- I have returned. Personal

1/6/00 -- I have returned. Missing Jen already, of course. My net connection is pissing me off, being all squirrely. Eh. So starts another
semester. :-P

12:00 AM by Eric: 1.1.00 -- Well, we're all Personal

1.1.00 -- Well, we're all still here. What a shock. :) Jen and I had a really good vacation to Oxford and Stratford-upon-Avon. Lots of fun.

12:00 AM by Eric: 21.12.99 -- Notice the "Euro style" date. Personal

Yes, I am currently sitting in Colerain, Ireland, at the University of Ulster, with some truly
cool people. We just had an awesome supper, and we're working it off
goofing around in the 24 hour lab. :)

Okay, so my plane was 3 hours late taking off from Newark. A gear indicator light was malfunctioning and they had a hell of a time finding the problem. So I arrived in London just after midnight. For future
reference it is impossible to go from London to Bristol after
!!!!!!! Jen and I spent the night in the (nasty, unheated,
inhabited-by-scary-snoring-men) Reading train station. Slept all the next
day. Met Fiona. She's cool. Hung out. Kissed Jen a lot… :)

Two days later Jen, Fiona and I went to London again to see The Complete Works of Shakespeare Abridged which was really awesome. Then we went to a nice Italian restaurant and had dinner and a bottle of wine. Yum. Then we went to the train station, to find that we had been lied to about when the last train left. So Jen, Fiona and I spent a miserable night in the cold, nasty Reading train station. We did see Buckingham Palace and Big Ben etc. at 3 am, though. Not many people can say that I think (at least not many non-Londoners :).

So Jen and I slept all the next day, took a day trip to Bath (which was really cool), did some shopping, and then hopped a train to Scotland. From where we took a ferry (populated by 10000 screaming children) to Ireland. This part of the trip seriously sucked. We finally got to Ireland, though, and I am having a great time with Matt, Ali, Danielle, and Jen.

That's it (at least a quick synopsis, anyway) so far. Hopefully I'll get the time to update one or two more times before I come home. Actually, maybe I hope I don't. :)

Update: European keyboards are really frickin' weird. Everything's the wrong shape and/or in the wrong place. :)

12:00 AM by Eric: 12/13/99 -- New rant up Personal

12/13/99 -- New rant up on the Misc Page. This one's about the recent Mars Lander fiasco-that's-not-really-a-fiasco.

Update: Every now and again, suck posts something hugely amusing. This, for example. :)

Update 2: Added some stuff to the books page. Brave New World (just the foreword :) and some more about the Conscious Mind. :)

Yet Another Update: Updates to the Likes and Dislikes pages too.

12:00 AM by Eric: 12/11/99 -- What a great Personal

12/11/99 -- What a great toy. You've got to love anything that can turn "Even curse words
sound sweet in French" into "Even the curse expresses healthy French
candy". :)

12:00 AM by Eric: 12/10/99 -- 4:30 is definitely Personal

12/10/99 -- 4:30 is definitely the earliest I've ever started drinking. :)

12:00 AM by Eric: 12/7/99 -- Got my first Personal

12/7/99 -- Got my first grade today. I don't have to take the final in Interfacing. :) One down, three to go…

12:00 AM by Eric: 12/6/99 -- 3 finals to Personal

12/6/99 -- 3 finals to go, just 3 finals to go… getting Interfacing off my back was such a relief…

12:00 AM by Eric: 12/5/99 -- Finished my Artificial Personal

12/5/99 -- Finished my Artificial Intelligence Term Paper. It's more or less an expansion of my Artificial Life
short paper.

12:00 AM by Eric: 12/3/99 -- If I can Personal

12/3/99 -- If I can manage to make it through the next 3 days everything will be good. If I can manage to make it through the next 12
days everything will be right with the world again.

12:00 AM by Eric: 11/30/99 -- Had to scrape Personal

11/30/99 -- Had to scrape frost off the Neon for the first time today. Changed into my winter coat too. Guess November decided not to leave
without a chill after all. Got up at 6:45 to have breakfast at Ermine's
with Lauren… that was lots of fun. Lauren seems to think I don't like
her or something… don't know why. I think she's cool. :)

Let's see… no more Operating Systems except for the final, no more Interfacing except for the last lab… down to 6 class periods, a lab, and
3 finals to go. :) Oh, and that AI paper. But 4-8 pages shouldn't take
too long. :) And no final Automata assignment. Yay!

Oh, and I added a new item to the Dislikes page.

12:00 AM by Eric: 11/29/99 -- Happy birthday Dad! Personal

11/29/99 -- Happy birthday Dad!

12:00 AM by Eric: 11/27/99 -- Staying cheerful mainly Personal

11/27/99 -- Staying cheerful mainly through sheer willpower today. Nothing serious, just got the blahs. :-P

Update: Pics are now linked from the Me Page, and may be found on the Gallery Page.
Let me know if this page takes forever to load and I'll break it up.

Update 2: I am a dumbass.

12:00 AM by Eric: 11/25/99 -- Rainy day. Missing Personal

11/25/99 -- Rainy day. Missing Jen. Thanksgiving dinner was yummy.

Also, this weekend I plan on adding several pics to my pages (specifically a couple of me, Jen, me and Jen, and one or two or three of
the ferrets :). I promise. :)

12:00 AM by Eric: 11/24/99 -- Vacation baby! Yeah! Personal

11/24/99 -- Vacation baby! Yeah! :)

12:00 AM by Eric: 11/23/99 -- 6 days of Personal

11/23/99 -- 6 days of classes, 1 Interfacing lab, 1 AI paper, 1 Automata assignment, and then we get to do finals… but then I'm done for
the semester and I get to go to England. :)

12:00 AM by Eric: 11/22/99 -- Wrote a paper Personal

11/22/99 -- Wrote a paper on Artificial Life for my AI class… really cool field. :)

12:00 AM by Eric: 11/20/99 -- Cleaned the apartment, Personal

11/20/99 -- Cleaned the apartment, did the dishes (I hate doing dishes :), got $140 worth of stuff at JCPenney for $96 (Sales are good.
Sales with Gift Certificates are really good. :), scouted out what
I want to get with my Barnes & Noble gift certificate… Life is pretty
good today. Be better if Jen was here… rainy days always make me miss
her more.

12:00 AM by Eric: 11/18/99 -- Napster rocks. Share Personal

11/18/99 -- Napster rocks. Share MP3 files with the world…

Well, Netscape finally crossed the uncrossable line. It completely locked up my machine (as in remove power to reboot) three times in an
hour. Internet Exploiter it is. At least until Mozilla is usable.

Made chili for dinner… it actually turned out really well. I'll have to remember it. :)

12:00 AM by Eric: 11/17/99 -- Happy birthday me. Personal

11/17/99 -- Happy birthday me. :)

12:00 AM by Eric: 11/16/99 -- The future of Personal

11/16/99 -- The future of radio? I hope so. :) I've often wished radio were run by
real DJs who picked their own music and such. If commercial radio won't
do it, I wish I could. :)

In other news, I have been very productive lately… my project at work is going swimmingly. If I'm not careful I might even begin to
believe my own reputation. :)

12:00 AM by Eric: 11/14/99 -- The Thistle and Personal

11/14/99 -- The Thistle and Shamrock is awesome. :) Heard it on the way to my parents' house
yesterday. And the DJ even has a cool accent. :)

12:00 AM by Eric: 11/11/99 -- Infinite loops are Personal

11/11/99 -- Infinite loops are the bane of my existence. I swear. I just sent myself 1600 automated e-mail messages from an active server
page I'm working on at work. Jeez.

It's official. One week to my birthday. This has got to be the least-anticipated birthday of my life. No Jen to spend
it with, no party to look forward to, I 've been driving for 6 years,
voting for 3, and I'm already legal. And I already know what I'm getting
from most everybody. Money for the trip to England. Which is really
great, don't get me wrong, but not something to be excited about opening.
No surprise. The only thing I really am looking forward to is opening
Jen's present. Other than that I think my birthday is going to be just
another day. I even have a test that day and one the day after for that
"you're extra-special" feeling. :-S On the other hand, I do get paid the
day after. On the other hand again, that check pays my rent and my car
payment, so I can't even use it for fun.

12:00 AM by Eric: 11/9/99 -- Cool. I want Personal

11/9/99 -- Cool. I want to study in the MIT AI labs… :)

12:00 AM by Eric: 11/7/99 -- Got a haircut, Personal

11/7/99 -- Got a haircut, caught the mouse, hung out with the fam; it was a pretty productive weekend. :) Coached my brothers' indoor soccer
team Saturday night (which basically means they needed a 21-year-old warm
body on the bench), skated for the first time in too long, and played
soccer in the yard with my bros. Met Conner's new cat. Tentatively
decided to see if Iceland has adult ice hockey lessons, since nobody ever
plans to have roller hockey ever again.

12:00 AM by Eric: 11/5/99 -- Just got back Personal

11/5/99 -- Just got back from the Cry Cry Cry (Dar Williams & two other folk singers) concert. It was phenomenal. Dar Williams is just
fantastic. The music was sending shivers down my spine, it was so
good. Even the opening band (Fred Eaglesmith and the Flying Squirrels :)
was good. But Dar was just awesome. She sang February along with
most of Cry Cry Cry's stuff, and some other stuff (as well as stuff by
the other two) as well. Just phenomenal.

12:00 AM by Eric: 11/1/99 -- IT'S DONE! IT'S Personal

11/1/99 -- IT'S DONE! IT'S DONE! IT'S DONE! Ahem. I feel much better. :)

12:00 AM by Eric: 10/31/99 -- spent Halloween in Personal

10/31/99 -- spent Halloween in the computer interfacing lab. We're up to at least 30 hours… but it's almost done! Ack.

12:00 AM by Eric: 10/30/99 -- I've said it Personal

10/30/99 -- I've said it before, I'll say it again: John Cusack is awesome. :) Though movie nights just aren't as much fun sans Jen.

12:00 AM by Eric: 10/28/99 -- Well, I'm up Personal

10/28/99 -- Well, I'm up on Linux. Finally. X and everything. :) Now I can do all that development I have to do … at home. :)

12:00 AM by Eric: 10/26/99 -- What will they Personal

10/26/99 -- What will they think of next? :)

12:00 AM by Eric: 10/25/99 -- Busy busy busy. Personal

10/25/99 -- Busy busy busy. Insanely busy. I didn't even notice it was the weekend. 'Cept I got to call Jen Saturday night because my
International Sprint Card finally came. Oh, and Athena's being a flaky
bitch, which worries me because that's where I do all my programming for
class… though as soon as I get Mandrake installed I can move my
development stuff home.

12:00 AM by Eric: 10/20/99 -- This is hilarious. Personal

10/20/99 -- This is hilarious. Especially the part about where his session got killed by friendly fire.

12:00 AM by Eric: 10/18/99 -- Finished another book. Personal

10/18/99 -- Finished another book. There's a mouse in the apartment. Found out that Britrail passes are expensive as
hell. Ah, well… I get to see Jen, so it'll be money well spent.

Feeling much more emotionally stable, though. The world did pretty much leave me alone for the last two days. Very much appreciated.

12:00 AM by Eric: 10/15/99 -- Okay, if anyone Personal

10/15/99 -- Okay, if anyone is listening, I'd like to get off the emotional roller coaster now. I had nightmares all last night, I missed
an entire page on a test (though I do get to make it up), I'm rather
uncertain about my performance on a second test, I have a third test and a
presentation Monday, and I got rear-ended on the way to work. Oh, and
yesterday I found out that they're dissolving my business unit. I just
want the world to leave me alone for a few days.

12:00 AM by Eric: 10/12/99 -- Making spaghetti isn't Personal

10/12/99 -- Making spaghetti isn't nearly as much fun when the love of your life isn't around to make fun of how much garlic you use. Even if
you do get to put mushrooms in. Sigh.

12:00 AM by Eric: 10/11/99 -- Downloaded the Homeworld Personal

10/11/99 -- Downloaded the Homeworld demo from Sierra. That looks like a kickass game. Props to E for pointing me to it. Went out drinking
Friday night with a group of cool physics geeks. :) Had a thought…
that tech idea I posted to the random fruits page on 9/30 might be
interesting as a thesis. The "moving network" thing especially. Hm.

12:00 AM by Eric: 10/04/99 -- Well, turns out Personal

10/04/99 -- Well, turns out AI and Design of Operating Systems aren't going to be anywhere near as cool as I had hoped. At least the textbooks
are good, though; I can read them in class and still learn
something. Apparently you have to wait until Advanced AI
and Advanced Design of Operating Systems before you learn anything.
I think I get to take Advanced D.O.S. next spring or summer, though, so at
least the wait won't be too long.

In other news, got my first e-mail from Jen today. It's so nice to hear from her again… I've never missed anyone this much.
Apparently technology over there just isn't up to the standards we're used
to here in the states, which kinda makes me worry about the rest of the
world, you know? I guess I finally know why it seems like more than half
of the people in my major weren't born in the States -- and why more than
half my profs weren't, either. :)

12:00 AM by Eric: 09/30/99 -- Coupla new items Personal

09/30/99 -- Coupla new items over on the Random Fruits page.

12:00 AM by Eric: 09/27/99 -- Wow. No updates Personal

09/27/99 -- Wow. No updates for more than a month. I'm such a slacker. Anyway: Random Award to Train, for the song "Meet Virginia".
That song is as random as anything I've heard in a while. :) Like it,
though. Missing Jen like mad… can't wait til December.

12:00 AM by Eric: 08/23/99 -- New bit on Personal

08/23/99 -- New bit on the Misc page about starting classes. I love the start of a new semester…

12:00 AM by Eric: 08/19/99 -- Jenny's sister Lindsay Personal

08/19/99 -- Jenny's sister Lindsay stayed at our apartment last night… she forgot her toothbrush, so she brushed her teeth with a Q-tip.
Gross. :)

In other news, I installed my Velocity 4400 last night… sweet. HL has never looked so beautiful.

12:00 AM by Eric: 08/17/99 -- Wow. Long time Personal

08/17/99 -- Wow. Long time no update. Anyway, we've returned intact from North Carolina. Great beaches. I love the ocean. Only one more
week until classes start! I bought my books. 4 books, $207. Actually
quite cheap for me. AI and Design of Operating Systems are going to be so
cool… :) And next Wednesday, Jen and I are going to see R.E.M. in

12:00 AM by Eric: 07/29/99 -- LyricsHQ is the Personal

07/29/99 -- LyricsHQ is the current target of the morons in the recording industry. Go sign their
petition, and maybe this one won't get gutted like lyrics.ch did.

Also -- How scary is this??

12:00 AM by Eric: 07/27/99 -- Was on training Personal

07/27/99 -- Was on training all last week. I think I could have taught the class. Sheesh. Anyway. Danielle's coming into town this weekend…
that's exciting. And in two weeks I'll be in North Carolina with Jen and
her fam -- that'll be nice. I deserve a vacation. :) And in about a
month, Jen and I will be seeing REM in concert and I'll be
starting in my new classes -- Artificial Intelligence being most notable
among them. How's that for something to look forward to? :)

12:00 AM by Eric: 07/14/99 -- Well, yesterday wasn't Personal

07/14/99 -- Well, yesterday wasn't terrible, but it wasn't exactly a day I'd like to repeat. Well, not most of it, anyway. Today started
out badly, got much better, then settled into mediocrity again… so far.
:) My neck hurts like hell (think I either twisted a muscle or pinched a
nerve), but I got an offer to do some guest writing for a kick-ass

12:00 AM by Eric: 07/13/99 -- 9:23am. I have Personal

07/13/99 -- 9:23am. I have this feeling that today will not be a good day.

12:00 AM by Eric: 06/29/99 -- I think moving Personal

06/29/99 -- I think moving is like giving birth. You really can't make yourself do it again until you've forgotten how painful it was last time.

12:00 AM by Eric: 06/25/99 -- Hmmmmmmmmmmm……… :) Personal

06/25/99 -- Hmmmmmmmmmmm……… :)

12:00 AM by Eric: 06/21/99 -- Jen and I Personal

06/21/99 -- Jen and I have acquired a new kitten, a poor neglected stray. He's staying with my parents out in the country for a bit. His
name is Socrates, aka Socks. ;) He's adorable.

In other news, we're moving out, into a small (very small) one-bedroom apartment of our very own.

12:00 AM by Eric: 06/09/99 -- Our cat Samantha Personal

06/09/99 -- Our cat Samantha died yesterday. She was hit by a car right in front of the driveway. The bastard who did it just left her
lying there in the middle of the road. If I thought it would work, I'd
offer a bounty on them. Sam had been with us since we moved to
Kentucky… she was such a great cat.

12:00 AM by Eric: 06/08/99 -- This is what Personal

06/08/99 -- This is what I really want to be doing…

Anyway, latest news: Iceland canceled their hockey leagues, so I don't get to play this summer after all. Jen's
family and mine had a really fun barbecue Sunday night. The fifth
(Saturday) was our one year anniversary…wow.

12:00 AM by Eric: 05/24/99 -- Star Wars. Personal

05/24/99 -- Star Wars.

12:00 AM by Eric: 05/14/99 -- There are some Personal

05/14/99 -- There are some days I absolutely hate computers.

12:00 AM by Eric: 05/13/99 -- Sitting on the Personal

05/13/99 -- Sitting on the porch, drinking beer and watching the rain come down . . . very enjoyable.

12:00 AM by Eric: 05/10/99 -- I bought a Personal

05/10/99 -- I bought a car! :) Though it's kind of scary to sign off all that money. And the sheer number of papers you have to sign is sort
of intimidating. But my cute little white '97 Neon helps soothe those
feelings. :) Plus, the car came with a bonus. Jen got to
move back home, since I actually have transportation again. :)

12:00 AM by Eric: 05/07/99 -- Good news on Personal

05/07/99 -- Good news on the Random page. Plus, I get to see Jen today and tomorrow and maybe even Sunday,
plus I may even get to buy a car this weekend. Wow. Ryan's
birthday is today, too . . .

12:00 AM by Eric: 05/03/99 -- Whew! Cleaning sucks! Personal

05/03/99 -- Whew! Cleaning sucks! My room looks really nice, though. :) Added yet another rant to the Random
page. Maybe I'll try to find something happy to post soon. :)

12:00 AM by Eric: 04/29/99 -- One more day! Personal

04/29/99 -- One more day! One more day! :) Added another rant to my Random Fruits page. This one's about Macs. :)

12:00 AM by Eric: 04/26/99 -- One more week! Personal

04/26/99 -- One more week! One more week! :) Added a selection to my humor page and another to my random page.

12:00 AM by Eric: 04/20/99 -- I got published!!!! Personal

04/20/99 -- I got published!!!! Well, sorta. See my Random Fruits page for details. :)

12:00 AM by Eric: 04/07/99 -- Finished another book. Personal

04/07/99 -- Finished another book. Have I mentioned that REM's Nightswimming is just an awesome song?

12:00 AM by Eric: 03/30/99 -- Major site update! Personal

03/30/99 -- Major site update! I redid the Random Fruits page to make it a little less formal, and a little more random.
:) I also added links, on several pages, to the brand new Original Fruits from the Random
page, Jen's very own site. :) Last but not least,
my Books page has returned to the fold. :)

12:00 AM by Eric: 03/18/99 -- Added a Random Personal

03/18/99 -- Added a Random Survey to the Random Fruits page. I plan to change the survey topic every few weeks, or
whenever I get an idea. :)

12:00 AM by Eric: 03/14/99 -- Having returned from Personal

03/14/99 -- Having returned from my wonderful vacation in Florida, I updated my me page to reflect recent changes in my

12:00 AM by Eric: 03/04/99 -- Added a bit Personal

03/04/99 -- Added a bit of humor to my Random Fruit page.

12:00 AM by Eric: 03/02/99 -- New items added Personal

03/02/99 -- New items added to the humor page.

12:00 AM by Eric: 03/01/99 -- I've been rewriting Personal

03/01/99 -- I've been rewriting some of my code -- the changes are reflected on the programming page. Also,
at least one new program will be appearing on that page.

12:00 AM by Eric: 01/25/99 -- news section added Personal

01/25/99 -- news section added to site. Added timestamps to major pages. Several of these major pages -- in particular, the books, music, and writing
pages -- are down right now since I am deciding what to do with them.

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This page was last updated Sun 23 September 2007 at 08:46 AM CDT