Archive of December, 2004
December 31, 2004:
So what am I going to do with my first day off?
I'm a wild man, I tell ya.
Note, 10:12PM: OK, I realize that Dick Clark's face lift collapsed or something, but there had to be a zillion celebreties who would've been willing to host the New Year's Eve show. Which leads me to this comment about the host they chose:
December 30, 2004:
Well, this will be my last day at Equitable. Tomorrow the company has the day off for New Year's, then my layoff begins. I'll be able to collect unemployment for any week I don't work, and I have about two months' worth of money saved up, so I should be OK. My boss at Tek is confident that I'll be back up and running in no time. As always, I'll keep everything up to date here.
December 28, 2004:
Well, since I have Monday off I decided to do more than just brag about what I got for Christmas. I decided I'd show off.
There were a lot of duplicates this year (no matter how bad I am, I only need to fish one golf ball at a time of of the lake!) but that's OK. I'll have plenty of time to do returns next month.
An honorable mention goes to my uncle, who got a replica of a prop from A Christmas Story:
"It's indescribably beautiful! It reminds me of the Fourth of July!"
December 27, 2004:
The ice storm that rolled through northeast Ohio Wednesday night wasn't kind to the Honda. Out in the driveway at Mom and Jim's, it caught everything Mother Nature threw at us.
Christmas Eve I volunteered to make a run to Mickey D's. Mom called Jim on his cell and got his order, and I went outside to start clearing my car. Ten minutes later, Jim showed up. I was about 2/3 done with my front windshield.
The Eskimo Car. Note the nice thick sheet of ice covering the entire driver's side. Luckily the passenger side had thawed a bit by that time, so I was able to pound my door open from the inside.
Here's what I had to contend with. You can see where quite a bit of ice had collected near the windows. It's been coming off in sheets since Friday afternoon.
After going inside and letting the thing idle for 20 minutes, I was able to clear the ice off my windows. I also managed to break my scraper hacking at it.
Driving to Akron, I just about drained my tank. That presented a slight problem.
There were also several icicles hanging off the back. This was after driving to the gas station and McDonald's, so the ones that had been touching the ground were already gone. Oh yeah, forgot to mention: My tires were frozen to the driveway when I left.
This was taken Sunday night, more than 100 hours after the ice storm began. It looks like my car's auditioning for the lead in Phantom of the Opera.
December 24, 2004:
I was going to wish everybody a happy Hannukkah, but I'm pretty sure I missed it.
And I know that Ramadan ended quite a while ago.
I'm sure there are some Pagans or neo-Pagans or Wiccans who did something on the solstice, but that's gone too.
Buddhists, I'm pretty sure, don't do anything.
Don't know about the Hindus.
The atheists don't have anything going on, and the agnostics don't know what their plans are.
So, the hell with it: Merry Christmas. If you don't like it, odds are you missed your chance to complain at least a week ago.
December 23, 2004:
... for snowstorms. On my way into Akron last night I wound up doing 30 on the interstate because nobody had actually gotten around to plowing the snow. Once I got on I-77 it was even worse; traffic was moving slower than your average rush hour. I only got to see one car spun out in the median, though.
Looking out the window, my car looks like it belongs in The Day After Tomorrow with all the icicles hanging from it. Good thing I don't really have to go anywhere until tomorrow night.
Oh, and just as an FYI related to Tuesday's entry: When you've been driving a truck that requires a heavy foot to brake for most of a weekend, getting back in your car seems weird -- the first few times you brake you practically put the pedal through the firewall and yourself through the windshield. And that's after panicking and thinking your brake lines have burst because there's so little resistance to the mashing you're doing.
December 21, 2004:
Here's why I wasn't home between 9:30AM Saturday and 10:50PM Sunday.
Last week, Htet Htet was getting ready to move down to the DC area, and I was helping her get organized when I could (I can be very organized when not dealing with my own things). Everything had to be ready by Wednesday night because the moving company she hired -- some fly-by-night outfit called World Movers -- would show up as early as Thursday morning.
Well, they didn't show up at all on Thursday. That in and of itself wasn't cause for alarm; the window they provided was Thursday or Friday. It could've been slightly problematic because Htet Htet and her husband were leaving their new apartment for England on Sunday, leaving only Saturday to unpack, but that wasn't really a show-stopper.
Except that they didn't show up on Friday, either. Plan B was put into effect: Rent a 17-foot U-Haul truck and a car trailer (no sense paying for the gas twice) and find someone skilled enough or crazy enough to drive the thing.
Well, I sure as hell ain't skilled.
After making it back from Murraysville with everything in one piece, a few of Htet Htet's friends came over to help load up her things. With five people working it took about an hour and a half. Not bad, except for the fact that it started at a quarter till ten at night.
The next morning I left my place at about 9:30 to load the last of her things into the truck, grab a quick breakfast (yay for Whole Foods's breakfast burritos) and start on the way to northern Virginia. It took a little longer than I'd hoped to get out of Pittsburgh, but we were on the road, with a full 24-foot truck hauling a Ford Escort behind it. Yeah, I felt like a badass driving that thing.
Note the amount of control I exerted: There isn't a single SUV stuck in the grill. It's hard to see, but the trailer sans car is barely visible behind it. You want better nighttime pictures, you know where to send donations for a digital camera.
It wasn't too powerful for its size, though -- on the hills I was routinely getting passed by everybody else on the road, with the exception of a single semi truck and some dumb woman in a PT Cruiser. I don't know whether fault lies with the slushbox or the engine, but I had to hit the four-ways on more than one occasion.
We finally made it to NoVa just after 5:00, met Htet Htet's sister and her husband, Cory, and started unloading. Htet Htet and Cory have a nice apartment on the fourth floor. It has a balcony with a decent view, large windows and an in-unit washer and dryer. Know what it doesn't have? An elevator. After helping to haul God-knows-how-many boxes of books up those stairs, in addition to three bookcases, a futon cushion and a desk, I'm still sore and nursing a couple bruises as I write this Monday night.
The last box was set down just after midnight. We printed out directions to the nearest U-Haul center and drove that sumbitch out of there. All told, I probably drove that sucker close to 300 miles. Just after 2:00 in the morning everybody collapsed for a few hours.
Sunday went pretty quickly: There was just enough time for use all to grab some Thai food for lunch, take Htet Htet's sister back to her apartment in Silver Spring, and get back in time for Htet Htet and Cory to pack for their flight.
I know it's too easy to pick on people who probably don't speak English natively, but remember: Just because the spell-checker doesn't flag it doesn't make the word right.
Once we all got to Dulles I discovered something: Since Htet Htet got flagged as "SSSS" at some point, I got flagged too since she paid for the ticket on her credit card. I got the whole shoe-inspection, metal-detector-wand, pat-down treatment and went to my gate.
"I'm sorry, Mr. Fleshman, but since you were raised in Akron and live in Pittsburgh, you may have decided you have nothing to lose..."
I flew Independence Air back to Pittsburgh. (The stewardess, in addition to being rather cute, actually told the passengers that if they couldn't figure out the seat belt they probably shouldn't be out in public. I should've asked her out.)
Once I got on the 28X to get back to town, I had to hike back since you have to have a CMU ID to ride the university's shuttle. That was a bit cold. And by the time I got home I was too wired to sleep.
I didn't get a lot done at work today. On the upside, I don't think I snored, either.
December 20, 2004:
Got in too late to blog. I'll put the story of my weekend up for Tuesday.
Random note, 11:08 AM: Just thought I'd point out that winter's officially here. It was 0°F as I was driving across the Birmingham Bridge this morning.
December 17, 2004:
I showed one of my soon-to-be-former coworkers my various projects that I've done in the last 20 months. It wasn't depressing that I had to show him everything -- I'm OK with getting laid off -- but the amount of time it took was. Granted, I didn't need to show him every inch of code, or even go over things in more than the broadest terms. But twenty months of work only took me about 15 minutes to describe.
After all that time, a good brain-dump should've taken at least an hour. I really haven't acomplished that much after all, I guess.
December 16, 2004:
Looks like I'm more stressed out than I thought: My food intake has almost doubled in the last couple of weeks, and I'm definitely not exercising or doing anything else to cause it. I've tried to cut back a bit -- it's hard to repeatedly insist to myself and others that I'm not hungry when I really want to dive into a plate of [just about anything] face-first -- but I'm not always successful.
Hopefully this means that once I get my next job I'll be back down to normal levels, but for now that just means there's more work for me when I start trying to lose weight again after I get back from Florida.
Good thing I'm broke. I really want (another) lunch right now.
December 14, 2004:
Well, we got our first real snowfall yesterday. The roads are somewhat plowed, and a few look like they've even been salted (you never know around here). I didn't see any accidents on my way to work this morning, but I did see plenty of people creeping along at about 10mph less than they usually do. One of my coworkers, who lives out Route 22 near East Liverpool, said he saw four wrecks on his way into work yesterday, so apparently it gets worse as you leave the city. Good thing I don't have anywhere to go; my Civic's still not fixed up from the last time someone played bumper cars with it.
December 13, 2004:
This will be my last full week of work at Equitable. Next week will be three days then Christmas. The week after that will be four days for New Year's Eve, and the week after that I'll be out of work and on my way to Florida. (I've decided to drive straight through, by the way. I'll sleep as late as I can on the 4th then leave between 6PM and 9PM.)
This is a new thing for me; I've never been laid off before. I gave notice when I left CMU, but this isn't quite the same. Kind of an odd feeling. And it's very hard to keep myself motivated to work.
December 10, 2004:
Well, unlike the last time I was out of work, I'm a little more confident that it won't last long -- this time the guys at Tek are helping me out. So the first week of January I'm going to take a quick trip down to Orlando to visit my sister and brother-in-law like I've been promising to do for the last three years. Yahoo Maps says it's a 15-hour drive from Pittsburgh. I'm not so sure :)
December 09, 2004:
With a Think Geek gift certificate to spend from my birthday, I finally got around to grabbing my presents:
Behold the wonders of base-2 on a blank CD-ROM. Note that it's still reflective -- you can see my camera-phone mirrored in it.
This guy changes colors every few seconds. I'm going to try to get some better pictures to use of it; the CCD refused to believe its "eyes" and color-corrected the images. The green LED got chenged to a bluish color and my apartment looked red. I haven't managed to get better images -- maybe I need to turn out the room lights when I take them -- so in the meantime check the image at Think Geek instead.
December 07, 2004:
I meant to go see
the Episode III trailer The Incredibles over the weekend, but since this is me, I wound up getting distracted pretty much all day Saturday and Sunday. Guess I'll have to block out some time this week to go see it. Or maybe I just ought to wait until it comes out on DVD.
December 06, 2004:
Well, my GMail account is starting to get spammed now. The filter's doing a good job of picking it up so far, but I'm getting 5 or 6 a day now, where I didn't used to get any. Oh well.
December 03, 2004:
I bought some stuff online recently that shipped through FedEx Ground. (Hey, it was free.) As always, they attempt to deliver when only the unemployed and some college students are home, so I returned to my apartment to find their little "you weren't here" sticker on the building's front door. As usual, I drove down to the FedEx depot on 32nd Street later that evening to pick up my package.
Except, FedEx Ground isn't really FedEx. Aside from using the same tracking numbers, they don't appear to have anything to do with each other. If I wanted to pick up my delivery I would've had to drive to Coraopolis, a half-hour away.
Now, I know that FedEx Ground used to be another company, and FedEx bought them out. All I'm saying is, it doesn't matter. To your average user (which I'm pretty sure includes me in this case), FedEx is FedEx is FedEx. I should be able to retrieve a missed delivery at the depot closest to me and not to drive out to Bumblefuck for it.
Since they both employ drivers to haul their stuff around that means that someone from Coraopolis had to drive to Pittsburgh and putter around trying to deliver my package. It has to be more efficient to just haul the thing down to the Strip and transfer it. They could probably even pick up a bunch of Coraopolis-area packages that FedEx has to take back. Everybody gets their local delivery; everybody's happy.
But instead we have two different systems that, after however many years of working together, haven't managed to do anything other than use the same format for their tracking data. Now that's progress.
As an aside: the day after Attempt 1, while Attempt 2 was on the truck, I called them up to get some help. (Punch 0 when the system answers if you want to talk to a human. They don't tell you about that option, but it's there.) The lady I spoke to said she'd try to get the guy to deliver after 5:30, when I'd definitely be home. Delivery notice that day said he showed up at 12:30. Oops. Day after that, while Attempt 3 was on the truck, I called back and had them try to change the address, which they apparently aren't supposed to do because the ZIP code isn't the same. (Uh, whiskey-tango-foxtrot, over.) That lady said it would go into the system this morning and they'd try to deliver it to me at work on Monday. We can only wait and see.
December 02, 2004:
Seeing Dawn's comment on my Monday entry, my mind started cranking. Here are the results, in the spirit of a Fark thread. (Oh, and here's the blank version if you want to doctor it and add it as a comment.)
Maybe he needs to be a little more discerning than this:
And to bring back an old Internet meme from the dead: