Winter 2005

Monday, March 28th

Ha! I win! I've had an issue getting mail regularly since I moved in. At first I suspected it was because the neighbors were locking the front door to the building and the mail person couldn't get it, but then I found out they unlock it in the morning. Every once in a while I would get a bunch of mail. It was kind of bizarre. I thought maybe it was because of the mail forwards from my old address, but then I didn't get my pay stub and electric bill, even thought they were addressed to me.

Then I met the postal lady when I got a parcel delivered. She asked which box was mine, and I pointed out that the unit number is on the box. She said I needed to put my name on the mailbox. That sounded kind of dumb, since you shouldn't have to do that to get mail when it is addressed properly. But since that day, I haven't gotten one single piece of mail. It didn't take long for me to conclude that even though it was obvious where my mail was supposed to be delivered, and even though she now knew my name, she was not delivering the mail until I labelled my mailbox.

Maybe it was stubborness that I shouldn't have to do it. Maybe it was because she already knew my name and where I lived, and maybe it was because I didn't have a label maker, but I didn't do it. Most likely it was because I was lazy. A week went by. Then two, followed by three. No mail, not even advertisements. This was deliberate, and I wasn't about to cave now! Today the dam broke. I checked my mail and found that my name was now labelled on the mailbox and I had a ton of mail in the box! She folded! Her need to deliver it is greater than my need to receive it! Victory is mine!

So the only question now is: should I remove the label? ^_^

Thursday, March 24th

Work has been incredibly hectic this past week. I had a project dropped in my lap at the last minute and it has been taking up nearly all of my time. That's especially unfortunate because I already had plenty to do. We have several goals for the first quarter, of which there is only a week left. I thought that I was finally done with the project yesterday afternoon, but then wound up having to do some work on it last night, and all morning I've had to help troubleshoot issues with it.

Otherwise, things have been really good. Last week Eriq and Mo came to visit me. I had written up a whole Journal entry about it but then IE decided to lose it when I was about to post it. We went downtown and spent some time in Millennium Park and at Marshall Fields, as well making a couple of visits to the Deluxe Diner. This past weekend I got my much sought after TV table delivered, and this week Mike has been in town for work so we've gone out a couple of times.

Finally, I bought a Roomba robot vacuum. That thing is pretty cool. I have hardwood floors now, and with the cats that makes for a lot of dust and hair. I want a clean place, but I'm also a notorious procrastinator about things like vacuuming. So it works out pretty well.

I still don't have my garage, but I went to the first condo owner's meeting and we talked about the association and the developer. Apparently everyone has had problems, some significant, with the contracter John (the guy that has lied and missed countless committments about my garage) as well as with the building in general. I've been comparatively lucky in that regard. Hopefully by banding together we can get some results.

Saturday, March 12th

Let's see, what have I been up to? I've been spending a lot of time on the Internet, that's for sure. I've been working on FIRE, a new server at home, and getting some other new things into place on the computer front. I spent most of last week in more Altiris training, this time for Asset Management. My grandmother is in the hospital for knee surgery, but she's getting better.

I got caught up on Star Trek Enterprise. It actually got fairly decent about the time we stopped watching it. I skipped driving up to Mike's for Battlestar Galactica this past Wednesday because I had just been up to Wisconsin for Axis & Allies last weekend. We played two games, and I lost both times. I suppose I was probably due, especially with Sean there.

They actually made some progress on my garage, installing the opener, but they apparently need to do some leveling of the floor with concrete, so who knows how long it will be. I just fixed my clothes washer for the third time, though I think permanently this time. The belt driven gear keeps falling off the bottom during the spin cycle, but I managed to get the ratchet in there to tighten it up. Color me unimpressed thus far with Frigidaire, especially after the eleven hours of high heat dryer escapade.

Friday, March 4th

Hell Yeah! I have access to the Internet from home! Mother of about freakin' time! Yesterday SBC came out while I was at work and corrected the problem and performed a co-op test with Covad.

When I got home I discovered that while the DSL modem was lit up, I still did not have access to the Internet. My router wasn't getting an address. That made sense, since Covad had not yet "provisioned" the line, which was scheduled for Tuesday. I'm in more Altiris training Tuesday so when they called we rescheduled for Monday. Today though, I copied down my IP configuration at work and when I got home a few minutes ago, I set up my router with it. Sure enough, I can now access the Internet and all of its wonders.

Also on the positive side of things, my TV console is now on order, some small evidence of progress on my garage exists, and the System Update script I've been developing at work is currently doing just about everything it is supposed to. Tomorrow I am going up tio Wisconsin. We're going to play some Axis and Allies at Matt B's, and then I'll probably go to a party. Finally I'll be bringing my server back with me, and the beginning of some new developments can begin.

Thursday, March 3rd

Day 32 without Internet: The saga continues. SBC came out and found no one at home, which is understandable since they didn't say they were coming. After a few calls to Speakeasy, they were scheduled to come back on Tuesday. I was told I needed to be at home so they could verify that it was working from the demarc to my jack.

Despite staying home all day, unable to go anywhere and unable to work without Internet access, SBC never showed up. UPS came with my new monitor, but managed to not knock on my door or ring the buzzer and left an Infonotice. After calling Speakeasy, it was determined that while SBC saw the ticket in their system, it was never opened and assigned to a tech, so no one was aware that they were supposed to come out. For my trouble, they waived the installation fee. A good thing, since the thought of paying for them to not give me Internet access for a month makes me want to put babies on spikes.

Also frustrating, despite promises from John the contractor, I don't have a garage yet. Apparently it is cold outside. The thought that I will only be able to store my car away from the elements once the weather is better also makes me want to put babies on spikes. I am making progress in purchasing a TV console, having found the one I want I am now trying to buy it from someone else since it is considerably cheaper from them, even though they don't carry it.

Home is getting better situated, with the TV set up in the meantime on my homemade particle board box and the TV not mounted on the wall. Most of the pictures are on the walls, and all but two curtains are finished. I still need to wrap up my closet organizer project by getting the last parts I need on my sixty millionth trip to Home Depot.

My new monitor is really cool, except that the particular video mode I want to run it at (full resolution and full color depth) is not supported by my video card at 60Hz, even though it works at several refresh rates higher than that (?). This leads me to contemplate a long overdue computer upgrade. However, based on how well all of my other recent endeavors have been going, and how well my last computer upgrade went, I harbor a certain degree of aprehension about the prospect.

This past weekend I took a trip down to Rush street, my first venture on the El. I had the pleasure of meeting a well to do fellow named Jason, and counseled him on his rude and impatient friend -sorry, aquaintance- and the philosophical implications of defining yourself through those you associate yourself with. He wound up buying my wine as well as some fine scotch before leaving with his impatient aquaintance.

Otherwise things are fairly normal, or as normal as things can be when I don't have Internet access at home. Work is proceeding well and I am taking my first steps in the "Desktop Standards to Engineering" project (ugghhhhh). I'm trying to cultivate a contemplative peace of mind that has been elusive but yet alluring for years. I believe it will help me circumnavigate some of the personal hurdles that face me in the next few months.

Thursday, February 24th

Day 25 without Internet: Numbness settles in on arriving at home, and a pervasive sense of disconnectedness settles in. The house is quiet, undisturbed by the tapping of addresses on the keyboard or the subtle rumble of a scroll wheel. New content is unavailable and the limited content I have is stale and consumed. No TV and no Internet make Matthew go something something...

It took Covad four days to open a ticket with SBC. They will update the ticket by this afternoon, but there is no committment that it will actually be fixed by this afternoon. Hope fades, and a queer, uneasy resignation has washed over me like the dust stirred up by the slamming door of the modern world. I have little time at work to browse, and only the repetitive news drone of NPR gives me any sensation of being up to date. Like my computer, now asking for newer antivirus definitions for viruses it now has no way of getting, I don't even know what I'm missing out on.

The last time I went through this was over five years ago when I moved to Stonegate and got ISDN. Ironically, I could probably blame at least part of that experience on SBC too, though some of it was also caused by incorrectly configured equipment on my end once they had installed service.

Not much else is going on. I'm tired, having not gotten as much sleep as I should have. I'm still enjoying the new Battlestar Galactica. It's so much better than Star Trek. At work I'm starting up my first official project as a technical lead. I hope I can pull it off, since it's a pretty tall order.

I need to start working out again, and I need to start taking protein shakes again. I feel like I'm wasting away, even though I'm eating well. I'm feeling good about Chicago, though. I feel like I have a lot of optimism about my life over the next few years. There are some areas where I need to formulate more concrete plans, take care of pressing issues, and generally get things in order. Then I will be ready to start developing my long term plan.

Things need to be put into motion to secure my dreams, ambitions, and aspirations to the real world. I need to decide what is genuinely important to me, figure out the most reliable method of achieving those goals, and then set about implementing those methods. I refuse to discover in several years that I wasted opportunities and time, and didn't make any progress towards getting to where I want to be.

Monday, February 21st

Still no Internet access from home. Covad came out on Friday to hook me up, but of course SBC has screwed something up and it was no go. I might get it today, but that was just an estimate by the guy from Covad.

I'm back at work after being in training for a week learning about Altiris. I have caught up on email and am about to press on with my Image Update package, a complex beast that is now on it's third attempt. It feels good to be back at work, though I am beginning to feel like I need a real vacation of some kind. At the very least I hope to spend this coming weekend not doing very much.

This past weekend several friends came down from Wisconsin and we went to the Chicago Auto Show, looking at the shiny for several hours before driving back up to Milwaukee, where a subset of us attended one of Scott B's parties. It was fun, but I didn't get home until four in the morning, which made it all the more difficult to get up yesterday and set up a laptop for my Mom's birthday and take it down to her in Indiana. We went to dinner and had some good conversation before I headed back. It was a good weekend, but very full.

On the home front, the closet organizer in the office is in, nearly all of the boxes are unpacked, I got some bar stools for the kitchen counter, and things are generally starting to feel settled, excepting the television and stereo. I am still shopping for a nice, real wood credenza/ console/cabinet/table/whatever for the stereo that is deep enough and doesn't cost a fortune. Hopefully I can find something this week. Ok, back to work.

Friday, February 11th

Just a quick update on the Internet access situation. SBC figured out where I live without me calling 911. My line install date is the 15th, so I may have service installed within a week following that. Hooray!

Thursday, February 10th

I've made a lot more progress on unpacking. I discovered a better layout for the furniture in the living room, and I started installing the closet organizers. Unfortunately, I seem to run into issues with each task I undertake. For example, I didn't have a cutter for the wire closet organizers, so after getting a couple of the shorter shelves up, I couldn't cut the long one to fit. I bought one the next day, but even though the guy in the closet organizer area of the hardware store told me it would work, it does not. I have to go back and get a different one. I got a wall mount for my TV, but when it showed up it was for a different model than I have. I don't know if I ordered the wrong one or they sent the wrong one, but either way, the TV remains floor-bound.

Work has been focused on the update package, a daunting task of implementing every change we've made to our desktop image as a package and rolling it out to all 8000 systems. InstallShield seems to have special subroutines for pissing me off in new and creative ways. Nonetheless, I'm making progress on it and hopefully it will be ready for testing next week. I'll be in training all next week, so no doubt it will be fun when I get back.

The struggle for Internet access at home continues. Speakeasy contracts with Covad who contracts with everyone's favorite telecom company, SBC. They can't figure out my address since the condo is new. I called them, and after being transferred to six different people, I was told that I should call 911 and inform them that my address is new, since supposedly SBC gets their address registry from them. I decided against dialing 911 with that particular request. So my DSL order status page is regularly updated with a lack of progress, and I have no idea when SBC will grasp that my condo exists at the address I provided and install some damn DSL. It had better be damn cool when I get it, because I could have had cable a couple of damn weeks ago. Damn.

Thursday, February 3rd

Progress on unpacking has been slow. Not only have I not had a whole lot of time to work on it, but my top priorities have been purchasing and installing drapes, closet organizers, and a shower curtain and curtain rod. So far I have not done anything with the closet organizers, but I have gotten the drapes up in the bedroom and the shower curtain installed. Tonight I have time, so I hope to get a lot done.

At work, though, I have finally completed the next version of our desktop image, a project that has dominated most of my time for the last few weeks. Now I get to catch up on all of the other projects that are demanding attention. It is a tedious process, because every time I make a change I have to spend roughly an hour creating a build of the image. Then, when I discover something else that needs to be fixed, it takes another twenty minutes to get back to the place where I can do that, followed again by the hour of building.

I'm already finding some of the neat attractions in the neighborhood, including a Chicago-style pizza place, an awesome 24-hour diner with pour sugar(!!!), and so far everyone has been very friendly. I've met a few people from my building, and most of the people in the area are around my age. Also, my commute to work has been fairly reasonable, except this morning. A Metra train stopped to pick up passengers, and even though it was several blocks away and not blocking the road, the gates stayed down for about fifteen minutes.

Saturday, January 29th

Ok, update time. Thursday I closed on my condo. The ordeal took a while because I didn't know the exact amount I was supposed to bring to closing, despite my efforts and those of my attorney. As a result I brought what I had and then they needed to cut me a check for the difference. That would have been fine except they wouldn't cut a check until the wire transfer from the bank went through. So I waited for a couple of hours listening to the other attorney talk about his experiences living next door to Bill Murray's sister. Finally I got some lunch and when I got back they gave me my check and keys and I left.

Schaumburg has gotten very boring, since it has shopping and very little else. I'm nearly through all of the episodes of Star Trek (The Original Series), and have else little to occupy myself. All of that will change when I get into my condo. More on that in a moment. Yesterday Matt B. was in Chicago for work and we went out for dinner and played some pool. He spent the night and we had breakfast before he headed back to Wisconsin.

I then went to the condo to wait for the movers. They were due in around 9:30. At 11:00 I got a call from their dispatcher saying they were having some trouble getting there. It turned out that their trouble was that the truck needed 13'6" of clearance, and all of the El overpasses near me were 11'-12'. So they had driven all over North Chicago trying to get to my place. At 11:30 they were really close, but my condo is right by the El and they couldn't get to it. I hopped into the car and drove around looking for a way around. I finally found one and they got to work unloading around 12:30.

Around 4:30 they wrapped up after taking the couch around to the front because the back door wasn't wide enough. I headed back to Schaumburg since I haven't moved out of my apartment yet, and quite frankly I am exhausted. I don't have the energy to unpack everything and get settled yet tonight. Then tomorrow I'll move out of the apartment and start unpacking at the condo. I won't have Internet access at home for a couple weeks yet, so any updates to XeoMage will be from work.

Tuesday, January 25th

Finally, more than seven months after my birthday and six months since I got the first one, I have named my frogs. Sarah got me a "Grow-a-Frog" for my birthday since she had one when she was young and thought everyone should experience it. The idea is you get the little tank and food and whatnot, then they send you a tadpole which grows into a frog. I sent off the card and took the tank to work.

Because of the temperature outside, though, they couldn't send me a tadpole. They sent me a frog instead, with the offer I could still get a tadpole at a later time. The problem here is that the tank is tadpole sized. I needed a new tank. So I ordered a new, bigger tank from their website. When it arrived, they gave me a free frog with it!

So now I had two frogs in a tank on my desk at work. These are water frogs that spend all of their time under water, only coming to the surface for air. Keeping it clean was a hassle, so I got a sucker fish. It didn't take long for the second, much larger frog to eat the sucker fish. Unexpected, and unfortunate. So for Christmas, my manager Pam got me a larger aquarium with a filter and pump.

Through all of this, though, I hadn't named them. I decided it was time. With a quick bit of Internet research, I named the larger one Gong Gong and the smaller one Xiang Yao. Finally they can swim in their aquarium, rearrange their decor, and devour their food pellets in the security that they are named.

Tuesday, January 18th

I've now been in Schaumburg for a week. I'm starting to really look forward to moving into my condo. There isn't anything wrong with my temporary apartment, except perhaps that the furnace comes on about once every three minutes and is very noisy. I just want to live in my own place, with my own stuff.

Work is going well. I'm making progress on the various projects I'm juggling. I've had plenty of relaxing time at home as well, including this past Saturday when, with the exception of running to the bank and the grocery store, I had nothing to do. I hadn't had a day to relax in quite a while. Dan came down on Sunday, though he banged into a curb before he got here and waited for a couple hours for roadside assistance. We went to dinner and got some tasty steaks.

Now it's another week started and I'm getting bored of original Star Trek, working on FIRE, and I finished the book I'm reading. Essentially, I'm ready for the next step in this process.

Tuesday, January 11th

Yesterday was a long day. I woke up and continued the packing work that I had been doing. Around 7:48, the doorbell rang and the movers came in and started packing everything else. By around 2:00, everything I own had been packed into their truck, my car, or garbage bags. Then I went to the pet store to buy cat carriers, to Home Depot to buy a garage door opener, to Qdoba for lunch, to TimeWarner to cancel my account and return the cable modem, to work to pack up my desk, back home to get the cats, and finally I drove down to the apartment in Schaumburg.

Unfortunately, the saga doesn't end there. I got there around 8pm, but the office had closed at six. A series of calls, voicemails, and a lot of waiting netted me no hope of getting into the apartment. Instead I drove to the Residence Inn and, thankfully, didn't get charged for having pets with me. This morning I got up, came to the apartment and moved in (third floor, no elevator) and went to work. By comparison, work was fairly peaceful. I spent a long time on a Skills Assessment, and tried to get caught up on the things that have needed attention since before Christmas. Now I'm back at "home" and sitting at the computer, wishing I had my computer chair, because broken pneumatics or not, it's a hell of a lot better than this thing. Bishop still has not emerged from under the bed, though Sphinx has.

Sunday, January 9th

I went to my Dad's funeral on Thursday. I saw a lot of family, I looked at pictures of him, and I ate dinner afterwards. Parts of the ritual were good; good for me as well as others there. Other parts were about Jesus and swallowing Death, the great swallower. Fortunately they did not take too long. I stood up amidst uncomfortable silence and gave a eulogy. I'm glad it's over. I feel that now I can start to miss him and realize he's gone.

Last night I had a bunch of people over as a going away party. We played pool, threw darts, and had good conversations. I vowed to return often and not make much of the drive. It seems ironic that we had just recently decided we should just hang out more; do unplanned things that were just things together. Now it seems like everything will have to be planned, since I can't just come over when it's an hour and a half away.

The buyers have, as far as I know, elected not to pay a fair price for the pool table, so today I embark with Mike on disassembling it and transporting it to his basement. It seems wrong to take it from the room that was made for it, but I'd rather give it to a friend than accept half what it's worth. Also today I need to continue packing up loose things so that when the packers show up tomorrow the process is quick and painless. I'm waiting to hear back about what the apartment I'll be staying in has and does not have as far as linen, dishes, cookware, and what have you. Finally, I'm taking the server over to Matt B's so that the websites, email, and other farrago stay up.

Tuesday, January 4th

The funeral will be this Thursday in Chesterton. I'm going down tomorrow morning to try and avoid most of the snow. Today was my last day working in Waukesha. We had Ponzas and an ice cream cake, and I got a very thoughtful gift from my coworkers. It is hard to believe I won't be there anymore. I'm still working through realizing I won't be around any of this anymore. I won't be far, but it is still going to be a huge adjustment. This weekend in addition to some packing/throwing/giving away assorted stuff, I'm going to have some friends over in the basement once more for some pool. It sounds fun, but it is going to be bittersweet. As much as I've come to look forward to the new experiences that await me, I'm terribly sad to leave.

Monday, January 3rd

This past weekend my father passed away. I am still waiting for more details, but it seems it was a stroke. He was 57. It doesn't quite seem real. I don't really feel it yet. I broke up with Sarah. We've been together a year and a half. At the same time I am still being inundated with home buying and selling crap, I need to go down to Indiana for the funeral, but I don't know when it is yet. I've tried to spend the time around people so I can keep my mind off of it, and that has helped a lot. I keep getting this knot in my stomach that won't go away unless I do something to take my mind off of it.

This is not how I wanted the year to start. This is not where I want to be. Right now I feel almost sick. I know it will get better, but that doesn't help much now. I've got a gaping hole in me and I feel like the life drained out. I keep going. I'll keep going.