Friday, October 29, 2004

Fast Friday

Today's going along pretty well. It's payday today and I paid my dental bill. Only one more till I'm all caught up!

The bug database was down all morning, so we didn't get to enter any new issues. Instead, we worked on the default controller settings for the end users.

This week went by pretty fast - not as quick as last week, but not bad at all! I'm looking forward to the month of writing - I hope to get in the 'writing zone' and then just keep in the habit, keep writing, at least something every day.I still need to pick a story to write for November.

I've been thinking on and off about how I want to get all my short stories collected into a real book. Mebbe through cafe - we'll see. I need to get around to doing that before I lose them all in a hard drive crash one of these days.

It's lunch time and I just got back from a walk around the block - it's nice and cool outside! October in California is brisk, but not cold. I'm planning to sit in the courtyard and do some novel writing every day during lunch - hopefully it's not too cold for comfort.

The computer that I ordered for Mom and Dad has been shipped by HP! Right now it is estimated to arrive on Wednesday the 3rd of November. That's better than it was - yesterday, it was scheduled to ship on Nov 1st. Sounds good to me! I hope it works well for them!

Yesterday, my boss mentioned that another company was needing QA Testers, and he wanted to recommend me. I can't remember the name of the company - Mad something? Anyway, I don't know anything about it, so I don't know what to think.

Would I be working at Realtime or at Mad something? What kind of product? Not the kid stuff, please - that gets old so quickly. And for what sort of wage? Many questions, no answers. I could ask my boss, but it all seems very preliminary right now.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

2005 - The Year of Mystery! Whooooooo

We spent most of the day waiting for the new database to become active. Finally, around 3 o'clock, we were able to start entering the bugs we have been jotting down for a couple of weeks. Most of the ones I have are pretty minor, but hey, they're bugs.

I'm kind of in a confused state right now, I don't know what to do about 2005. I've been talking about going to school, but on and off lately, Michelle and I have been discussing moving next year. Should I start school and go to a part time work schedule if we're trying to move? Doesn't seem like a good way to save any money.

I'm kind of in a quandry right now. Part of me is afraid of the whole school idea and is looking for a way to put it off - is that what this is? Or the longer I think about the school idea, the more ideas/reasons I come up with to do other things.

Michelle is off tomorrow - she has to go in to work for a couple of hours, but that's it. I've been wanting to discuss it, but I don't wanna get into a big discussion about our future after she's had a long workday. So tomorrow, we can talk about it.

I'm still thinking about which story idea to use for NaNoWriMo. I dunno.

I have a couple more ideas for stories, neither of them are very funny though...

1) A twisted reality show - a group is picked up off the street and taken to a govt bunker. They're told that the world has come to an end, and that they - and several other bunkers dotting the globe - are the future of the human race. A small team of control room workers in a separate site must watch over all of the bunkers and guide them through any problems or repairs. The problems turn out to be engineered by the control room people, to draw dramatic scenes from the bunker. The bunker people are in on the whole scheme and it is their job to break the control room people. They must make the scenes as painful and stressful as possible for the control room people, until control room people can't take it any more and a) try to reveal the truth to Bunker or b) quit and walk out.

2) When walking to the car or towards the house, I hold my keys in my hand. I look down sometimes and realize that I'm holding the car key when I'm heading for the house. These are usually the times when I'm feeling cooped up and would rather be out driving. Sometimes I'm holding the house key as I approach the car, and I realize I'd rather be at home. It's as if I'm subconsciously choosing the key that leads me to what I am in the mood for. So what if, one day when I looked down, I realized I was holding a new key - one I've never seen before. This key leads to a new place - a place where some subconscious desire can be fulfulled.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

What to do, What to do...

Writing the novel in a month still seems like a wacky lark at this point, and I'm looking forward to it. I'm reading more of the No Plot No Problem book, and it's offering more insights than it did in the beginning.

In the 'wacky lark' vein, I was mentally browsing the list of story ideas from yesterday. None of the story ideas seem fun. Certainly no wackiness. Wouldn't it be more fun to write a story that had, you know, some fun in it? All the ideas seem like they would make good novels, but they're each so serious.

I'm really a goofy guy, so all this seriousness, I just don't know. Maybe I was looking for ideas worthy of being a novel, instead of something fun to write (and hopefully - read). I don't know about writing a funny book - when I try to be funny, it doesn't work. What works best is if I ramble on enough, eventually a funny nugget falls out of my mouth.

I'll have to dig around in my brain and see if anything funny floats to the top. "Funny? Where are you? Time for Dinner! Quirky? Get your butt over here and I mean Now!"

Hmn, we'll have to wait and see.

I could cheat and turn one of the serious story ideas into a silly one. Change "Nazi" to "Clown" and so forth. Um - I think that would just be creepy, not silly.

Reading The Life of Pi recently makes me realize how you can tell a story as if it were really happening, using metaphors for characters - not telling the readers that this is happening - until the end, when you basically change the meaning of the entire book with just a few lines. This is something I would like to do some time. It's a really interesting device.

This device could seem like a cheap trick, if done poorly. I think it could have been done better in Life of Pi, for that matter. It was too quick. The reveal should have been drawn out a bit more, fleshed out a bit. Hee hee. Fleshed out. (Read the book).

I have one story idea where this person solves crimes by having auditory visions/hallucinations. They hear song lyrics that portend the future and the past. They can then act on what they think is the message in the lyrics. However, if they don't know the actual song, and the full lyrics, they can misconstrue the meaning and get themselves into trouble, with funny results. Sounds hard to write for someone who doesn't know anything about music. More a Liz story. I should tell her about this idea.

I have another idea about a guy who gets a job with the express purpose of quitting in a huff. He's always wanted to say "This is bullshit. I'm out." in the middle of a meeting and just leave. Leave everything in his desk, walk right out. Right now that's all there is to the idea. I don't know what could happen next... Mebbe because the company has had such high turnover that they come to this guy for advice about how to better run the company. He's not interested in helping, so they kidnap him to pump him for information. And then... I don't know what then. They torture him for info and make him watch a brainwashing video over and over. The guy escapes from his kidnappers and... something else happens. Hmn, kind of like Office Space, and kind of not. I think the guy needs more of an agenda than just quitting a job. I'll have to think some more. So far, the 'guy quitting his job' story seems like the best fun one.

It's an hour later and I've tried getting on a couple of times to post this, but it's not working. Mebbe they are doing maintenance. Anyway, the more I think about the office guy idea, the less funny it seems. I guess anything can be funny, but office guy is more quirky than anything. I guess I'm overly critical of my own ideas. Yep. That's it.

Here's a fun story idea - for the end of the world to come about (per the Christian books) certain things, people, and events have to come along at the right times. One guy realizes that the end of the world is approaching, and he decides to stop it. He steals the Ark of the Covenant (See The Bible - Hebrews, Verse 4) and takes off with it, hiding it away. Trouble is, this was his destiny all along. He has taken the ark to where it needs to be. Bwah hah haa! Now that's some ironic shit.

I don't know which story to do... Of course, I still have a few days before I decide - the contest starts on Monday. Maybe I'll print all the ideas out, cut the paper into slips, and choose one from a hat. Hmn. I would like to have a couple of days to meditate on my upcoming book before I have to start writing it, you know?

Monday, October 25, 2004

Yet Another Monday

I'm at work, per usual. It's a slow day, per usual. Did I mention that the job we're doing now is scheduled to be complete on December 1st? That's the plan. So, barring any extra projects or delays, that will likely be my last day. At a guess, I'd have to assume we'll be late by a week or two - since most projects run over. Hmn, December 1st is a Wednesday. Odd day to be one's last day, what?

I've been stressing about the whole "go to school, eventually get a real job" plan. I dunno how I'll do at school. Normal classes = fine. (I think) Math classes = fear. I talked to Dad about my Math Stress while I was home in Cleveland, and he was encouraging, saying that if I work at it, I'll get it. Also that I didn't need an 'A' in the class, I just needed to pass it. True enough.

We'll see what happens. My Mom's view is you'll be 40 either way. Do you want to be 40 with a degree, or without? Good point. I don't know that I need a degree for what I'm planning... It's likely that I'm fooling myself to think I'll be able to take some classes and get certified, and get a job. I need to talk to some people in the industry.

I want to discuss my "writer" scenerio with Michelle, but I have not been able to bring myself to. I'd work part time, just as if I were going to school. Instead of going to school, I would write. Writing is cheaper than school - no classes to pay for, no books, no parking, gas, on and on. I think the classes are $18 a unit. Most classes would be $54 at that rate, each class requiring one or more books.

I don't know if I want to do the "writer" scenerio because I'm lazy and afraid of college, or because Damn It, I'm Meant to be An Artist!! Hmn. I think a real writer would probably spend more time writing than I do. Wake up in the night and write a story. Get inspired at work and spend lunch writing a story. Spend the weekend - not watching tv - but writing. I don't do any of those things. I think the last story I wrote is a couple of years old now. I have plenty of ideas, but I shelve them.

I've entered a writing contest through google/blogger. It's a thing where you write a book. You do a chapter a day, every day for the month of November. Each of these chapters are basically blog entries, and people can read them. At the end, the best book wins.

I'm gonna do my best and get up to 50,000 words (the least you can write to qualify) and tell a good story. If I can do this, it's a good sign that I Am An Artist Damn It.

We shall see!

Friday, October 22, 2004

Cheeseburger and a Pair of Dice?

Today was a good day, but long! Michelle and I went to the Jimmy Buffet concert in Chula Vista, CA

The concert was originally scheduled for Wednesday, but was delayed because of rain.

I was at work until about 2pm, and then headed home. I met up with Michelle at the apartment, and we packed up and got ready.

Michelle did the driving down to San Diego, which was mostly uneventful. At one point, we thought we had passed our exit. Turns out, there are two roads named "Palm" within a 5 mile stretch. Good thinking, oh silly street-naming-people.

We made a pit stop at McDonalds and still made it to the
Coors Ampitheater by around 7pm. ((It takes about 3-4 hours to drive to San Diego on a Thursday afternoon.))

The parking area was packed with cars - the 'general parking' area is an empty lot covered with the shredded wood/bark that is often used for landscaping. Since the Ford has pretty low clearance, it was a bumpy ride to the parking space. We feared we would be blocked in by people parking behind us, but the parking attendants allowed for plenty of room.

Let me say up front that I have been to very few concerts in my life - - let me count them up real quick... Hmn. I think 9 or 10, counting Jimmy Buffet. I've never seen such a laid back, excited and happy crowd. There must be something about Jimmy that puts people at ease. This was probably one of the best concerts I've ever been to!

Many people had dressed up, wearing tropical shirts, grass skirts, parrot hats, shark hats, blender hats, on and on. Everyone was getting their drink on and having a jolly old time.

Temperature was in the low 60's, and it was chilly! If we didn't have a 4 hour drive home waiting for us, I think we would have drank more. We got one marguerita and shared it, I think Michelle had more of it than I did, and we threw it away before we'd finished it. We're just not big drinkers. This isn't a bad thing.

We had good seats - the ampitheater is very nice, well designed, and the seats were comfy. The crowd was jubilant but well behaved, a bunch of silly people shaking their booties and cheering. It was as fun to watch the crowd as it was to watch the performers!

It was a chilly night - my hands and face got cold pretty quickly. But at least it wasn't raining! There was very little wind, too. We were pretty lucky. If we go again, I'll bring gloves. The footing was slanted (in keeping with the ampitheater, big curving bowl idea) and that was a little hard on the feet after a while standing.

Jimmy performed for over two hours, playing a generous mix of new songs, old songs, and covers. One of his backup singers did a great rendition of R-E-S-P-E-C-T during the intermission. Jimmy is all about crowd pleasing songs, and even the slower songs (like 'Come Monday') were well received by the crowd. There were lots of lighters lit for 'Come Monday'. Who knew?

Michelle and I took off running after the first encore, and it only took about 20 minutes to get out of the area and onto the road. The local police did a great job of keeping people moving and well directed. We got home at about 1:30, happy but tired.

It was a long, long drive and Michelle did it all by herself, both ways. She's a trooper!! We agreed that if we ever went down to the San Diego area for a concert again, we'd stay the night.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

How Bout Them Apples?

We tested the Generic PC version of the game today, taking a lot of notes. The bug database won't be up till Friday, so for now we're jotting. The game is largely the same, except now we're using keyboard-and-mouse, instead of ps2 controller. My wrist is sore!

Relaxed at home with Michelle. I enjoyed some cold pizza and watched a marathon about Broadway. Michelle played on the computer and did a schedule. I think.

Bratness and I are working to get Mom and Dad a new computer. I've got a good one lined up from HP, and now I'm just waiting for Michelle's check to come. Maybe I can just order the PC over the weekend, and Brat's check will show up Monday or Tuesday... I want the PC to arrive as soon as possible. Too bad I didn't know they needed one before my visit. I could have been setting up while I was there.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Hurry Up and Fait

Another slow day at work, I played Battle Realms all morning, until my neck started screaming from the funky angle I hold my head while I play.

I surfed the web and did some research on El Camino College. I sent the college an email with some questions about attending. I dunno if I asked the right dept the right questions. I guess I'll find out.

At about 4pm, we finally got a build to test - after weeks of nothing to do. So for 2 hours we messed around with the 'Generic PC' version and took a bunch of notes. The database isn't ready yet, so we're keeping a running log of what we find.

Michelle and I relaxed in the evening, ate pizza, enjoyed massages, and watched season 1 of 'Sex in the City'. It's all right... Nothing I'd set the VCR for. The writing is decent, but predictable at times.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Yet Another Slow Work Day

Nothing to do! We're still just sitting here getting paid. Well, at least I didn't miss anything while I was gone.

I spent all morning updating my posts for the week I was in Cleveland. I think I may have gotten some of the order wrong - We went to a restaurant on Wednesday, and I said Tuesday, that sort of thing - but I think I got most of the events right. I should have taken notes while I was there, each night before bed. Next time.

It's lunch time, and I'm waiting for the microwave to be free. It's odd, but Eugen and I tend to head to the microwave at the same time every day - even if the hour varies between 1 and 2 o'clock. Within the same 15 seconds, Eugen and I are hungry at the same time, it seems.

Yawn Stretch Nap.

Back in EL-AY.

Good to be Home!

Michelle was off from work!! We slept in and relaxed. I watched a couple episodes of Alias while Michelle puttered around the house, checking her email and chatting with Liz. We went out to lunch at Ruby's and then to Borders to browse the books. On the way home, we stopped at the grocery store and picked up some goodies for the coming week.

I spent the rest of the day watching Alias, munching cookies and being lazy. We only have one disc left before we're caught up to the end of season three!! The disc we're waiting for will probably show up Tuesday.

I don't know what will be going on at work. Did they have a busy week? Was I missed? Is the job over with? No idea what to expect.

It's nice to go on trips, but it's also great to sleep in your own bed!

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Saturday Already? So Little Time!

When I'd gotten back to the house Friday night, I made a list of things I wanted to get done before I left Ohio. It was a long list!! Trying to get better performance out of the PC had taken a lot of time.

I hadn't shown the family my web site, installed iTunes, upgraded to AOL 9.0, shown Mom the Netflix web site, on and on. I think there were about 15 things on the list. I set my alarm and got up early on Saturday, about 7am. I showered, ate, and then packed up my goodies so I would be ready to head out to the airport. I spent like 3 hours on the PC - finally getting Live Update to run - before Mom and Dad got up.

Saturday we relaxed and hung out around the house. It was a cold and rainy, very windy day and we all stayed snug inside. Michelle had stayed out late with Garrett and Jadi, and she slept in until I woke her at about 11.

Michelle let me take a bunch of pics for the merchandise page of my web site - she actually had at least one of each type of shirt that I wanted!! How cool is that? It will be nice to be able to use her pics, instead of the silly, temporary ones of me.

I got to grab a few minutes to show Mom, Dad and Michelle my web site! They were very patient as I rambled on about and had only nice things to say! It was nice to show them what I'd been rambling about for the past couple years.

We left for the airport about 4:30. We got there in good time, only to discover that my flight was delayed for about an hour. It was leaving at 7:05 instead of 5:50, and the family was kind enough to wait with me. I felt bad, but it was nice to have some more time with them. I got to my gate in plenty of time, but I saw no plane waiting. My departure was now changed to 7:25.

Eventually we boarded, and the flight seemed pretty full at first. I ended up with 3 seats to myself! How cool is that? I took over the middle seat and relaxed. I read my book, watched snippets of Spiderman 2, and played my gameboy. The flight was about half empty, and a lot of people got to stretch out. It was a nice ride, good flight.

It was really good to see Michelle again. We're very close, very snuggly. Being apart for so long is hard for a close couple! Seeing my family was fun, but my "real life" seemed really far away. Cleveland felt like visiting the past, like the airplane was a time machine. The flight back seemed like returning to the present. Odd feeling.

Michelle had received two more discs of Alias while I was away! I watched one episode before I passed out.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

The Powerhouse and Cabaret Da Da

Mom and Michelle were off on Friday! We spent a lazy morning together. In the early afternoon we went to the family's favorite Chinese buffet and had a very nice lunch! I tried to pay but Michelle finagled the bill away from me and gave it to Dad. Michelle went to get Garrett in the afternoon. I kept working on the computer, trying to get it to work.

Dad and I went to Best Buy, and he bought a new CD-Rom drive for their PC. He spent the next couple of hours installing it, and it worked!! I was able to install the Antivirus, but I kept having problems getting the Live Update to run correctly. There were also some blue screen errors that kept popping up. I think it might have been conflicts with the original CD-Rom drivers, but I'm not sure. The messages in the errors was very vague - "67356H error in VF2828" that kind of stuff.

Friday night, Michelle's old friend and now coworker Jadi came over, and we all went out for the evening. We went to The Powerhouse which is located in The Flats district of Cleveland (at the Nautica Complex), the newly renovated 100-year-old Powerhouse features dining, entertainment and specialty retail shops. This four-level brick structure, known for its smokestacks and arched windows, originally powered Cleveland's electric railway and streetcar system and is a National Historic Landmark.

(From Cleveland Scene Magazine): "The Powerhouse was once, as its name suggests, a power-generating facility for the network of streetcars that served Cleveland before exhaust-spewing buses rendered them obsolete. Abandoned and left to the rats and pigeons, the massive red brick structure remained a blight on the banks of the Cuyahoga until The Flats moved westward, and developers got the crazy idea that The Powerhouse could be reclaimed and renovated into a funky waterside entertainment and retail complex."

We played some games in a mini arcade, and then went to dinner at The Rock Bottom Brewery, a restaurant and pub. The food was very good - I had beer-batter mahi tacos - and we talked and laughed.

After dinner we drove further into downtown Cleveland, and ended up at our destination for the evening, "Cabaret Da-Da" which is a comedy and improv club. The show was two hours long, but felt like 45 minutes!

The actors were very funny, and asked for a lot of input from the audience. The only problem with that is, there were only about 10 people in the audience, and 4 of them was our group. We were a shy group, so it was a bit embarrassing. It was fun!

The actors were great, they were really focused and funny. I wish Michelle (wife version) could have been there! We really like to watch 'Whose Line is it, Anyway" and I know she would have enjoyed the show! We've never gone to a comedy show in Los Angeles, I don't know why. We need to get out more!

We didn't get out of the comedy club until about 12:30am, and home around 1am. Michelle dropped me off, then took Garrett and Jadi home. Nikita barked and barked at me as I tried to figure out which key went where. I was sure Mom and Dad would get up to investigate, but they did not. Very fun night!

Friday, October 15, 2004

Our Canal Towpath Riding Adventure

Mom and Michelle working again! It's hard when you start a new job - you don't have any vacation time saved up yet. Dad and I loaded the bikes and went to a canal towpath trail in the national park system, nearby. The picture of the guy standing in front of the bridge is neat because we went to that exact spot! How neat is that?

A towpath is where an 1800's shipping canal lies, where mules would pull canal barges up and down the canal system. There are locks and spillways, mills, and houses along the route, which is preserved as a historic site. There are mile markers, resting benches, as well as informative signs and placards all along the route.

The Cuyahoga river runs alongside the towpath, as does a historic railway. Very beautiful! This time I had my camera and took a few dozen shots. Gorgeous! We probably rode 8-10 miles total! The day started out partly sunny, but by the time we finished, the rainclouds had taken over.

In the evening, Mom and I went over to Grandma's and I helped her fix some things on her computer. It was all basic stuff, and I was glad to help. I just wish that Mom and Dad's computer was as stable as Grandma's!

Their computer worries me. I like sending and receiving emails from Mom, and I don't know how much longer their PC will live. They could replace the hard drive and buy a new OS (They have ME now and it sucks! XP me please!) and that would cost a few hundred and give them some more time, but they could really use a new PC. I need to price a few and get with Michelle (sister version) and see about getting them a new one.

Dad skipped his nap after dinner, and so he went to bed around 9. Mom and I stayed up and watched 'Oceans Eleven', which she had never seen. She liked it!

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Golfing Fun and Fearless Deer

Mom and Michelle were working again. Dad and I went to Little Met to play golf. We got there at a good time, about 10:30 or 11:00. We rented a bag of clubs for me and warmed up on the practice green.

We asked to go as a twosome, and the clerk agreed, but just before we left, we got paired with two other people. The other two guys were really nice, and really laid back. This was a very good thing, because I really stink at golf. Some of my shots went all of 20 feet. The very first tee was the best example, my ball skidded along the wet grass and stopped - about the distance I could have leisurely tossed it underhand. The golf went well, even though I had a pretty crappy performance.

Occassionally I would hit a decent shot, but I was very inconsistent. If I did something right now and then, I didn't know what it was or how to duplicate it. At the 8th tee, a threesome of what looked like mule deer were lazily munching grass right in the middle of the fairway. I wished that I'd brought my camera! But, with the two partners with us, I wouldn't have wanted to take the time to take pics anyway.

I was really wary of hitting the deer with my golf ball, since I was the first one up to tee off. The better players of our group are really good at sailing the balls up high, but the way mine liked to skid along the ground, I just knew I was gonna kill a deer. I tried shooing them away, but they just kept on eating. I hit the ball, and it went about 30 feet, or about half way to the deer. No reaction from the grass eaters.

Everyone else hit their balls, sailing easily over the deer, who never moved. I moved forward to hit again, and the deer still didn't move. I had to hit the ball again, now even closer to them. I missed killing them once again, whew! It wasn't until I got within about 20 feet that the deer very slowly began moving into the trees. Very slowly. As if they had absolutely no fear of humans.

After golf was done, Dad and I went to meet up with Mom at the grocery store. It turned out that Grandma was with her! We met up with them already in line at the cashier, and went home with them. Mom had stopped to pick up fried chicken earlier, and so we feasted on 'Mr. Chicken' brand goodness when we got home.

The computer was acting oddly, and despite my best efforts (which are not very advanced) would not behave. I asked Michelle and Garrett to take me to Best Buy, where I picked up Norton Antivirus 2005. I also demonstrated my mad dancing skills for Michelle and Garrett on the demo pad for Dance Dance Revolution. Michelle was laughing at me - it is funny to watching someone hop around on the pad.

When we got home, I tried installing Norton, without success. The CD-Rom drive was acting up and wouldn't read the disc. I tried repeatedly to get the install to work, but no dice. This also meant that I would not be able to reinstall the Kodak software, which would make Mom and Dad's new digital camera useless. Ugh.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Errands and Movie!

Today was Mom's first day at the law firm. But first she had a doctor's appt to check on her blood sugar. Dad and I gave her a ride, and waited for her in the waiting room until she was finished. She did really well at her checkup, and the doctor was pleased by the 20 pounds that Mom lost in the month since her last visit. Mom was referred to a dietician and given a slew of prescriptions.

Dad and I dropped Mom off at the law firm downtown around noon, and then went out to run some errands. There were some parts Dad needed for his pickup, so we went to the Mazda dealer. He needed a cable for the tailgate and a radiator hose - the dealer said they would have to order each of them. We dropped off Mom's prescriptions, and then headed home.

Mom and Michelle got home from work about 4:30, dropped off by Garrett and his parents. Mom had a good first day and Michelle had nothing but good things to say about her progress. Mom was praising Michelle for how knowledgeable she was, and how all the coworkers had great things to say about Michelle.

In the evening, our entire group met up at the movie theater to watch Ladder 49, with Joaquin Pheonix and John Travolta. It was a good movie, well written and acted. The ending was depressing, but it was well done. It felt more like a well done tv show than a movie... I guess that as tv gets better and better, it's hard to have movies stand apart from them.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Yummy for Da Tummy

Michelle went to work all day at Keis George and Mom had to work at the Bowling Alley until 1pm. After Dad and I got up, we spent some time working on their computer, which had been taking about 10 minutes to shut down.

It was suspected that the culprit was the Kodak software that they had recently installed that was causing the problem. We uninstalled the Kodak software, and sure enough - the shutdown problem went away. The PC was acting sluggish, and so I used the system tools to get rid of the internet cache and cookies, and other assorted temp files. I got rid of 40mb of crap, so that had to help!

That night we went to Macaroni Grill, a great Italian restaurant. It was the whole group this time, including Grandma. Great food!

Monday, October 11, 2004

And Bike Riding for All

I slept in until about 10, and padded downstairs. Everyone was up and around, and Mom was fixing breakfast. We all sat together and ate, catching up on news.

My Mom got a job working with my sister, at the law firm of Keis George - - they handle mostly insurance claims from accidents, apparently. Mom's first day would be Tuesday October 12, and she was nervous, and looking forward to it. The nice thing is, Michelle will be the one training Mom and largely the one she will be working with. It's a job where she will be off her feet, which is good. There will be a lot of reading going on, both on printed documents and on-screen computer text, so the one worry is her vision.

After breakfast, we went bike riding in the Cleveland Metroparks. It was Mom, Dad, Michelle, Me, and Garrett. We stopped to get two bikes at Garrett's house, so everyone had one to ride. At Garretts, we got to see Michelle's dog Dakota - a breed I've never seen before - a 'Sheba Enu' (which means 'fox eyes') it looks like a miniature husky, and a light sandy tan color. It's a very cute dog, and was very friendly. It was $800, and it shows. Great dog, gorgeous and smart. I also got to meet Garrett's dog, a Husky named Riggs. Black and white, with icy blue eyes. Another beautiful dog!

Garrett's dad had a brand new Harley in the garage, and Mom, Dad, and Michelle sat on it while I took some pics. My Mom on a Harley! She really wanted a ride, but Garrett's dad wasn't home. I got some really cute pics of them on the bike.

The bike ride was fun, but there were a lot of hills. Dad and I stayed with Mom, and we ended up walking up most of the hills. Mom and Dad's usual bike path is flat, so they aren't used to all the hills. It was a beautiful day, the sun was out and the trees were gorgeous. We were riding near Little Met, a golf course where Dad, my Grandpa, and I had golfed about 10 years ago. It's a cute little golf course - - <--- check the link for info on the course and metroparks area.

After the bike ride, we dropped the bikes at Garretts and went home for lunch. We had plenty of leftovers from Saturday, good food! In the evening - Mom, Dad, Michelle, Garrett and I watched 'The Iron Giant' and a good time was had by all.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Hello Cleveland!

The flight went well - I was on the aisle and so free to get up as I pleased. The two people next to me were well behaved and the flight passed at a decent pace. The movies were Dodgeball and 50 First Dates. I didn't watch either of them. I read my book and played my gameboy.

I got in to Cleveland late in the afternoon. It was a nice day in the upper 60's, cool but not cold. Mom, Dad, Grandma, Michelle and Garrett (Michelle's fiancée) were there to meet me.

The ride from the airport went quickly, as we chatted away, and I saw the first glimpses of autumn. The trees were turning gold and red, and it really brought a sense of season. In Los Angeles, the trees are the same colors year round, so seeing all the variety of Ohio's fall colors is really beautiful. Since autumn is my favorite season, I feel lucky to be visiting at just the right time.

Mom had prepared dinner earlier in the day, and we sat down to pot roast, meatloaf, and all the fixings. Very good food! Since Michelle and I don't cook too many full course meals, it was a real treat to have home cooked meals - cooked by Mom!!

After dinner we relaxed and watched a DVD I had brought along. I played with Nikita and watched the show!

Friday, October 08, 2004

Sloppy Jills!

I'm at work - It's about 3pm, and I just finished lunch. I went to the grocery store and picked up some goodies - eggs, cereal, and english muffins. I picked up some chicken strips for lunch from the deli. They tasted ok but were kinda rubbery. Mebbe I microwaved them too long.

Michelle makes a yummy new dish - it's egg salad (more egg than salad - the condiments are very subtle) on a toasted, buttered english muffin, in an open-faced sandwich configuration. It's very good, I'd say it's the Snack of 2004, with Honey Nut Clusters as a close second. We jokingly called them "Sloppy Jills" after the messy sandwich with the similar name.

It's Friday, and Sunday I leave for a week in Ohio! Everyone is taking at least a couple days off, and so I'll always have family members to ramble to. We talk pretty often, so there's not a lot of news to share, but we'll have fun hanging out.

The 'Generic PC' version isn't ready to be tested yet, so we testers are still doing whatever we please and getting paid for it. Brian has a book he's been reading and I played Battle Realms all morning. I'm likely to do this same all afternoon. If we leave at 5, it'll make for a short day - I got in around 11 after waiting around for the cable guy to come.

At home, our cable went out a couple of days ago - the guy came and it took him about 20 minutes to fix the problem (largely because the problem was buried under crap in our bedroom). Now it's all good, we have cable again. Yay! I need my doses of Science and Discovery Channels, with some Samurai Jack thrown in for variety.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

A Muddle of Muddy Muses

I've put together a list of classes I'm interested in taking at El Camino this spring. Actually, some are prerequisites that I have no interest in taking. This is based on the Fall 2004 schedule, since the Spring 2005 schedule is not yet available. Some of the classes I want, I don't see in the catalog. They are in the online classes booklet that I have... Perhaps online is the only way for some classes - at El Camino, anyway.

(See the end of the post for the class list -
First, I must ramble on at great length as if my situation was important and dramatic)

I was thinking that I could take 4 or 5 classes at a time - that's "full time student" right?
Mebbe take 1 art, 1 math, 1 programming, 1 physical education and/or 1 foreign language course at the same time.
Crazy talk? Mebbe. I have no idea how much work that is.

And of course, I have to work somewhere, and partake in the ongoing funtime ritual known as "paying the bills".
4 Classes is probably too much. I don't know. I also don't want to work 4 or 5 years for a 2 year education.

Me <---Almost 40.

I have not taken any class of any kind for at least 10 years...and I didn't do well in those classes. I'd like to think I'm smarter now, but I'm also older.

Michelle has said - ((more in support of her staying with B. Dalton and bookselling retail management than what I will choose to do as a career)) - that a person should stick with their job and their company, (or at least their industry) as it's what you know, and moving up is easier with seniority. I can't argue with the logic of this thinking, but I'm fed up with the video game industry.

I have this (prossibly misguided) impression that other industries are smarter, more logical, more reasonable, and less immature than the video game industry.

(I meant to say prossibly - it is not a typo. Prossibly = probably+possibly)

You remember when you got your first job? Your first job ever, not working for family. The workplace was disorganized, a barely functional system choked with chaos and inefficiency. You did your best to streamline and organize the process (as much as you were allowed) of getting the work done. While at this first job, you thought "Damn, these people have their heads in their butts." Then you went to your next job, and the next. (I've had almost 20 different jobs now, and I'm only 33. In the old days, people would get out of high school, get a job at 'The Plant' and work there for 37 years until getting caught in a piece of industrial machinery.)

You came to realize that every job is a state of disorganized chaos, just efficient enough to stay afloat. It's not that those people at the first job were that bad, it's that every job is that bad. The process is always in a state of growth, with new technology replacing the old, and so the process is always in flux.

The workers are always in a state of "make do" without stopping and re-inventing the process in the most efficient way. It's only when a catastrophe happens that the time is taken to create a new process. If the process fails when a virus knocks out all your PCs and you have to start over. Or a corporate takeover. Or a fire. Or a war. Like Japan after WW2. They rebuilt their factories after the war, and built them will all new technology and processes. This allowed them to kick America's ass in manufacturing.

So anyway - my point is that I expect that a different industry to have its shit together, mostly because I'm dissatisfied with this one. Will another industry make me a happy camper? Probably not. The only way I'll be a satisfied worker is to work for myself. Otherwise I'll always be looking at the desk next to me, complaining in my mind about how my neighbor does half the work I do, but got the raise I wanted. Blahgen.

The alternative is to stay in the industry I'm in. This would mean moving up into management, because being a QA Tester is a job for 17 year olds. I could do this.
There are minuses to this, however. While the industry is growing, it's still largely a California Career. There aren't a lot of video game companies in other states.

Another minus is my age. At 33, I'm old for the industry, especially to still be in an entry level position. I might be able to get a Lead position, especially at Universal - if I really try. I was kind of dismayed in June when I applied at 6 different video game companies, and none of them called me. I have 4 years of experience. It might be that 4 years is too long to still be entry level, and they shied away from me. Still kinda worrisome.

I'm interested in web design - art, layout, and programming. This really interests me because it's interactive. It has layers, complexity. It can be simple, or it can be complicated. It has art and a function. The cute duck art is also a button. The button takes you someplace else. It's like a book and a video game. The web is all about words, it's writing and art and function. I like to think I'm a writer. A decent one anyway. While I'm not an artist, I enjoy playing with pictures using photoshop.

In the class list I just put together, the web programming classes I want to take have prerequisites for math - lots of it. Trigonometry. Damn.
Math is a big reason I have not gone to college up to this point. And now it's Trig time. :::long exhalation:::

I'm also interested in electronics. Gadgets and gizmos. I have lots of ideas for little electronic doo dadds, but I have no knowledge to build one. I'd probably need to be an electrical engineer to build one. Can you say "trigonometry" kids? I knew you could.

Math is a taunting bully
waving to me with my left shoe.
The ground all muddy between us,
my socks are white white new.
It's a poem, but it aint haiku.

Here are the classes I mentioned.

Art 39ab - 3 units
Advertising Design1

Art 40abcd - 3 units
Advertising Design2

Art 41ab - 3 units
Lettering and Typography

Art 42abcd - 3 units
Lettering 2

Art 29ab - 3 units
Fundamentals of Color

Art 37ab - 3 units
Two-Dimensional Design 1

Art 141abcd - 3 units
Computer Art 1 - Photoshop for PC
Art 143abcd - 3 units
Digital Design and Publishing

Art 146abcd - 3 units
Designing for the World Wide Web

Business 14 - 3 units

Computer Information Systems 30 - 3 units
Introduction to E-Commerce

Computer Information Systems 133 - 3 units
Web Programming Concepts

Computer Information Systems 134 - 3 units
Web Programming 1

Computer Science 1 - 4 units
Problem Solving and Program Design Using C++

Computer Science 2 - 5 units
Introduction to Data Structures

Computer Science 3 - 4 units
Computer Programming in Java

Computer Science 23 - 4 units
Advanced Computer Programming in Java

Electronics and Computer Technology 11 - 3 units
Introduction to electronics

Electronics and Computer Hardware Technology 22 - 3 units
Basic Electronic Fabrication

Spanish 1 - 4 units
Elementary Spanish 1

Spanish 2 - 4 units
Elementary Spanish 2

Spanish 3 - 4 units
Intermediate Spanish 1

Spanish 5 - 3 units
Advanced Spanish 1

Physical Education 251abcd - 1 unit

Academic Strategies 40ab - 2 units
Mathematics Anxiety Workshop

Mathematics 23
or test out to Algebra

Mathematics 40 - 4 units
Elementary Algebra

Mathematics 60 - 4 units
Elementary Geometry

Mathematics 170 - 3 units

Mathematics 190 (recommended but not required)
Single Variable Calculus and Analytic Geometry 1

Uncle Jam Wants YOU for the Humor Guard

Michelle got in safe and sound yesterday at about 2:30pm, returning from her Barnes and Noble Management Conference (tm) in Florida - she also spent a few days in Lakeland with her family.

Michelle has lots of pics of her trip, I'll have to get them posted on! It's really nice to have her home. We're a very snuggly couple and it's hard for us to be apart for very long. Happy Sigh - Good to have my Sweetie home.

In other news -
Holy Shit! Today at work has been maelstrom of activity.

So I'm bored, and surfing the web, and I was looking at a comic strip. I'm reading all of them, going through the archived strips from the beginning, just because I have nothing but time. And I'm not really finding the strip particularly funny, and so I let my guard down. My 'humor guard' as it were.

You know, when you're watching or reading someone exceptionally funny - while at work - or if someone is sleeping - you kind of brace yourself. Steeling yourself against explosions of laughter, cause damn, this person is funny. This is your humor guard.

But this comic strip isn't that funny. So I'm clicking through them, one at a time, click click click, not so much as a chuckle or smirk - - - and BAM this one hits me. It's so damned funny that my eyes got all teary and I was breathing in little weird snorts to keep from blowing up.

This is the one:

The odd thing is, it's not THAT funny. It was just a juxtaposition of attacking The Grinch while using a classic video game battle cry. It's only funny if you've let your guard down. I was in just the right frame of mind is all.

I should be spending some of this boredom time at work to do research for college/my future... I think I will.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Baby Du Comin Home Today!

Michelle arrives in a couple hours! I can't wait cause I have missed my sweetie!

It's another slow day at work... Been working on the web site again.

There are so damn many little details on each web page. Each detail can be incorrect in so many different ways. The wrong piece of art can be in place. The correct piece of art can in place, but the content around it may have changed to the point where the art is now incorrect or redundant - outdated.

The link on a piece of art can go to what was once the correct page, but that page is now gone or renamed. The link could open in a new window, when it should maintain its current window.

Art that looks great on one page looks misaligned when you navigate to the next page. All the pages should have the same basic elements, using the same sizes, colors, and themes. This is something I'm really bad at doing - consistency between pages. Except for the logo and the link strip along the top, no two pages look very much alike. Ditto for text. Sizes, colors, links, layout, ugh.

On the home front, apartment manager (aka "The Dude") and some window repair workmen are supposed to be in our apartment today to measure the existing windows.

I hope they're done by the time Michelle and I get home. We needs us some privacy, you know? How long can it take to measure the windows? A couple minutes per window at the most! Length, X, Height, Y. Scribble Scribble, on to the next one. Since all the windows in the complex are being replaced, there shouldn't be much variation in how long there are strangers wandering free in our apartment.

I moved a bunch of furniture and other stuff - the dining room table, the computer desk, the bicycles, the rolling drawer storage, the exercise bike, all the toiletries in the bathroom window, and so on - and cleaned everywhere in anticipation of the window measuring... I'm probably the only one who bothered. Most people just shrugged at the Notice and went about their daily lives. Hmn. This window thing is gonna be a huge pain. And this is just the first step.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Same Ole

It's about 3pm, and I just got back from lunch. I left at 2 and went for a haircut. I got it a bit shorter than usual - looks ok. I won't really know what it looks like until I wash it and use my own gel. I stopped on the way back to work and got a Jamba Juice! Yummy.

Been working on the web site all day at work, so far so good. Made lots of little improvements. I created a better skyscraper ad for the story and decision pages, so that's a plus.

Right now I'm considering doing some work on the story and decision pages themselves. All the elements are spread out, and every bit of screen is filled. It looks very busy. I wonder if it wouldn't look better a bit smaller and more compact... Of course, it would be just as busy, just smaller. I'll wait for Michelle's opinion I think. There are going to be lots of changes for her to approve. :o)

I'll be going to the grocery store after work, picking up some cleaning supplies and foodstuffs. I have not been to the grocery store since Michelle left, and it's high time to get some new food.

Monday, October 04, 2004

SpaceShipOne, Bitches!

SpaceShipOne kicked ass today, winning the X-Prize.

The ship was built by Scaled Composites, using polymer fabrics and epoxy (read - cloth and glue) to touch the edges of space with their rocket-plane-glider.

The X-Prize was a contest set to encourage private companies to invest in commercial space flight, taking 3 people to the edge of space twice within two weeks in the same vehicle.

And SpaceShipOne did it!

Check out the story at CNN:

'Virgin' owner Richard Branson has licensed the design for SpaceShipOne to build a fleet of 'Virgin Galactic' space ships to take average people on orbital trips.

How cool is that? Not that I'll be able to afford one of these trips in the next 10 years, but someday! Once a cheap way to get to space has been perfected, space hotels are not far off.

You think I'm joking... But no!
Hee hee!

Hee hee hee!

Busyness as Usual

Another slow day at work. We're between the 'Research Version' and the 'Generic PC' versions of the game, and there is some down time. I'm just sitting here in case the testers up north call with a problem. 99.9% of the people in the office are off today, as there's really nothing to do.

I guess I could be home right now too, but then I wouldn't be earning any $$$. Since I'm spending the day working on my web site on my work computer, it's like having a paid day to work on my own stuff! With Air Conditioning! Hey cool. There are fewer distractions at work, so I'm making good progress.

I'm considering getting a haircut today - I could use one, but I might go tomorrow instead. I'm in one of those "don't want to deal with the public" modes. That's one of the reasons I didn't go grocery shopping this weekend, subsisting on cereal and stale hot dogs. Mmmmm, subsisting...

Michelle gets home on Wednesday and I should be able to take a half day - pick her up at about 2:30, and then spend the rest of the day with her. I miss her muchly, the house just isn't the same without her. I'm suddenly the paranoid one now, checking the door and the windows and the stove... She checks these things, so I never give them a second thought, usually.

Friday, October 01, 2004

What's Left To Say?

I've really been rambling on over the last few days. Some of my recent posts are novellas. I don't really know what else to talk about right now.

I always say the same things:
1) Exercised this morning.
2) Worked on web site.
3) I'm at work and it sucks.
4) What Oh What will the future hold???
5) The dance pad and its malfunctions.

So yeah. 1-2-3 has been achieved for today. This weekend will involve many hours of 2, with daily doses of 1. I'll probably clean house this weekend, though Michelle won't be home till Wednesday, so it'll have time to get messed up again.

I'm avoiding 4 right now, at least until the El Camino College Spring Class Schedule (tm) is released.

5 - Don't even go there, girlfriend.

Went out to dinner last night with Liz - she invited me to TGIFridays for my birthday. She told them it was my birthday, and all the Fridays people clapped and sang and whatnot. After dinner we went to Barnes and Noble to look for a book she wanted, but they were out of stock.

Today is going ok. There was a minor problem with the Launcher for the game (it's like a desktop icon but not quite) but that's pretty much solved. I walked across the steet to Bristol Farms (a kind of 'froo-froo' supermarket, similar to a Trader Joes on steroids) and got some asian food for lunch. $12, but tasty!

I have 4 hours of 3 left. Blahgen.