Summer 2004

Monday, September 27th

Whew. It's been a full week. Work found old and uncreative ways of being busy again, between me working to get some people upgraded to XP, some XP Team related research and documentation, and a sudden sense of urgency regarding a Microsoft vulnerability that had been out for a week. Then this weekend I attended the classy wedding of Sean and Mary. That meant that not a whole lot of work got done on the basement, but that was remedied today when Mike came over and we got a good chunk of the framing done. My sister is coming up from Indiana this coming weekend, so hopefully we'll get a bit more done yet this week, because my deadline of Halloween is steadily approaching.

Sunday, September 19th

At the moment things seem pretty good. Friday I went to see Sky Captain and then stayed at Judy's talking about what not for like four hours. It was just like the old group days, even though Judy's no longer has good coffee. Yesterday Mike and I got the insulation into the walls of the basement, so it is starting to look very room-like. Later we went to Benno's for some drinks before hitting a semi-dumpy Mexican restaurant.

Today I slept in too late and didn't get much work on the basement done, though I did widen the doorway so it will take a standard 32" door. I spent a lot of time working on FIRE, and now I am eating a dinner of sweet'n spicy vodka chicken (my own creation). Tomorrow is the start of another week, but things have settled down a bit at work, so I'm not minding it so much.

Monday, September 13th

Well the basement is basically framed, with a couple of little things left. I discovered that the door I bought is 30" plus 1" in frame, not 30" including the frame. Since my doorway is 30", I now need to go back (again) to Home Depot and see if they carry 29" doors, or if I have to cut up the wall I just built. I wound up taking the day off because of assorted delays caused by measuring inaccuracies resulted in me having a rented nail gun that I hadn't used yet. So I got that wrapped up and returned by one. Then I found out that the IBM server I just sold on eBay has a bad CD drive. So not only did the credit card transaction eat up a chunk of what I won, now I have to pay for a CD drive too.

Saturday, September 11th

Work started on the basement today, with most of the framing getting done. I miscalculated my lumber needs ("lumber, we need lumber"), which only served to fuel Mike and Matt B's argument that I should expand my original plan to annex another section of basement into the room. So I don't know at this point what the plan is, except to go back to Home Depot and spend more money, which is what the plan usually winds up involving regardless.

I also spent a stupid amount of time looking for an stereo cabinet and TV table at every furniture store around, which in turn led to a crazy plan to finance the purchase of a couch, loveseat, and a widescreen TV. Fortunately I did not actually buy anything (yet), though I remain reluctantly convinced that I must build the cabinet.

Friday, September 3rd

My apologies to anyone that came to the site in the past day or so and couldn't get to it. The double hit of a power failure followed shortly by a cable outage caused some service interruptions. Everything is all straightened out now, including a new wireless router that will make things more reliable in general. Work is finally starting to settle down. Monday I went down to Bensenville, and wound up staying through Tuesday. Wednesday we migrated our last retail store to XP, leaving only kiosks and some stragglers at the call center to be done.

At home things are looking up. I've done a better job with cleaning so far, though there are some dishes to be done. The tenants paid the rent on time, though I found yesterday that the previous tenants never paid their last water bill. I have to go after them to pay it, since it is like $150. I also neglected to mention that I finished the Drainage project a while ago, and put up the new mailboxes. My overtime pay rolled in, so I sent off a check to pay for the carpeting. I plan to celebrate with an XBox, so I've been looking at them on eBay. I also picked up a DVD burner (16X/Dual Layer!) from Newegg. This weekend I'll be taking some pictures reminiscent of the North Avenue Project, by visiting beautiful downtown Gary, Indiana with Eriq. Have a good Labor Day!

Tuesday, August 17th

The XP project continues, and work has been insane. To date we've migrated five retail stores, with another one tomorrow morning. For these we arrive at the store at six in the morning so we are done in time for the store to open at nine. We spent Thursday and Friday two weeks back migrating more than 200 computers at the call center, but an account lock out and subsequent failure to run a key script that I wrote caused problems Saturday morning for call center associates. This lead to wasting most of last week trying to resolve the issue that caused us to use that script in the first place. In the end they allowed us to continue using the script, though they told us to follow a process that was entirely impractical given the time we have between eleven pm and six am to migrate call center computers.

So this past Friday we went back at it, migrating another 150 PCs. That leaves another 100 for this Thursday. The benefit of all this is I've been racking up tons of overtime. I'm looking forward to the end of the month. Add to this the eighty or more laptops we've been doing for the past couple weeks during the day and the huge surge in tickets from users unfamiliar with Windows XP, and it's been really taxing. Fortunately, with the last of the call center this week, and only two more weeks of retail stores, the bulk of the work will be done by the end of the month, just leaving kiosks and a random smattering of specialty users. Still, I'm looking forward to working eight to five again.

Tuesday, August 3rd

The XP Project has finally started. I've been waiting for this rollout to happen for three years, since Windows XP came out. Because of that, there's a lot of relief that it is finally happening, but at the same time, we are working really hard to make it happen, staying late, coming in early, and tomorrow I need to be in Sheboygan at six am. There are already some tricky parts and some annoyances with the process we have to work with, and it doesn't help that in some respects our hands are tied for how we can and can't solve problems and simplify things. Barry started yesterday but was in HR learning about benefits, so today was his first real day. I'm glad we have him, since he's already gone to town on things that need to be done.

The downside to this is that I haven't spent the time I need to spend cleaning at home, among other things. I feel kind of drained when I get out of work, and the pile of dishes and lack of groceries seem like much larger chores than they are. On a better note, my new tenants are all moved in, though I needed to ask them to remove some things from the front lawn that were of questionable taste.

Sunday, July 25th

Sarah and I got back late Friday from a wonderful camping trip in the Great Smoky Mountains of south-eastern Tennesee. We spent twelve hours in the car on Friday to get back, with a quick stop at Mammoth Cave to take a brief tour. The trip was great. We definitely didn't see everything, and I'm sure I'll go back some day. The countryside is breathtaking, with lush forests and lazy mountain streams. Water and undergrowth saturate the landscape. In addition to the park, we went go-carting, tubing, tubing some more, stopped in Nashville, and saw the tourist trap known as Gatlinburg. It was a lot of fun.

Tomorrow it is back to work as we are getting ready for the XP rollout. That will start next week, and we'll be helped by Barry, the new addition to our team. Today has been busy with house work. I still have a lot of cleaning, but at least the lawn is mowed and I've made some progress on painting the trim and the back door. I've been meaning to do that for nearly a year now. I also picked up a new digital camera, so hopefully that means there will be more regular picture additions to XeoMage. I can't find my old camera, which is quite strange.

Monday, July 12th

This past weekend I had a great time playing Ultimate Frisbee and Scatterball with Eriq, Matt B, and a whole bunch of other cool folks. It looks like Sarah and I will be going to the Great Smoky Mountains next week camping. In addition, this weekend I will be in Indiana, wishing my Dad and MaryRose well in their move to Arizona. Mike and I discovered exactly what an $8500 house looks like: condemned to be razed. Oh well, maybe next time we'll find the perfect cheap investment.

Monday, July 5th

Well today was a lot of pointlessness, followed by a respectable burst of productivity. A couple weeks ago I bought new mailboxes, because mine have unremovable names (that are not me) and don't match. I got around to trying to put them up a couple days ago and it dawned on me that they don't match the house. They are black when all the trim and fixtures are white. So Sarah and I went to Home Depot (Despite worthless self-checkout systems, we still regularly take lots of your money). Upon returning the mailboxes and getting some other odds and ends (and looking longingly at the grills) I discovered they didn't carry a white mailbox that doesn't suck. This embarked us on a journey up and down Highway 100 and through West Allis and Wawautosa looking for a mailbox. This journey met with failure. I later found the perfect mailbox online, for $40! A piece of folded steel, painted white, costs $40! That was the cheapest, too. Another site wanted $100 for the exact same mailbox!

I put the old one back up. I'll work out something. I made great progress on the Drainage Project, resulting in a sump pump that doesn't stick out of the house four feet or drain onto the public sidewalk! Now the back yard has to be ripped up completely and redone. I am not looking forward to that in the slightest. I caulked the downstairs tub, meaning only some cleaning stands between me and a ready to rent tenant unit. I'm going to relist the unit this week (tomorrow?). The tenant is still incognito, and I expect they will remain so.

Other items of productivity were washing the front of the house with the hose (which only reached the corner since there isn't a front spiget), paying some bills, finally transferring the server back to its own machine, and getting the Dog Detail site basically up and running. I need to write the sign up form, and some menu code, but otherwise it awaits content. Happy Independence Day!