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Archive of January, 2005

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[Permalink 2005-01-31] Urgh

January 31, 2005:

Thanks to a minor problem* I have pretty consistent acid-reflux problems. Basically, if I eat dinner less than four or five hours before I go to bed I wake up not too long after with horrible heartburn. So I basically take a Zantac every evening.

Zantac works by shutting off the acid production factory in the stomach, as opposed to just chemically neutralizing the acid like the Tums I keep around for emergencies. On the downside it takes a while to kick in, because it has to be absorbed into the blood like any other drug, but it lasts long enough to get me through morning.

Oh, and there's the other downside, the one that I'm taking the long way around to bitch about: If I overeat a little bit at dinner, I get that over-full feeling I'm sure you all are familiar with. Well, with the acid production shut down, I actually manage to hold on to that over-full feeling for several hours at a time. I'm going on three hours now.

I really don't feel like moving at all. And I'm probably going to feel like this until well after I go to bed. Yay.

* Namely, whoever the asshole is in charge of assembling humans was either drunk or stoned when he put me together. Instead of the diaphragm muscle pinching off the bottom of the esophagus like in a normal person, my stomach actually protrudes through the diaphragm a bit (it's called a hiatal hernia). Since the stomach is very tough and muscular, where the esophagus isn't, it can't be pinched off. Long story short, when I lie down there's nothing preventing the acid from rolling back into my esophagus (which has no protection from hydrochloric acid like the stomach does) and giving me the afore-mentioned horrific heartburn.

[Permalink 2005-01-28] Can't Think Of Anything...

January 28, 2005:

... so instead I give you Eric Idle's thoughts on the FCC. Just click the "Download Now" link near the top of the page. If you don't have headphones I wouldn't recommend listening to it at work.

[Permalink 2005-01-27] Snapping Out Of It

January 27, 2005:

I think I'm starting to come out of my latest bout of laziness. I had another freelance come in today that required a fast turnaround time, and I pretty much pounced on it. It felt good to do something like a day's work, really. It seems I needed to give the HTML part of my brain a workout.

Now, if I can get that to carry over to my other projects I'll have it made.

[Permalink 2005-01-25] Nothing Today

January 25, 2005:

For some reason, my web site is being bitchy right now, and I have no desire to type a long entry into a PuTTY terminal session. Try back Thursday.

[Permalink 2005-01-24] Finally Some Peace

January 24, 2005:

Well, now that the Steelers have choked maybe all these twits will take their little black-and-gold flags off their cars, and the Terrible Towels will be put away till next year. There's nothing worse than unbridled entusiasm over a game you couldn't play if your life depended on it.

Unless, of course, the Browns become contenders next year.

[Permalink 2005-01-21] I'll Take "Noises My Car Shouldn't Make" for $200, Alex

January 21, 2005:

... and the answer is: "CLUNK".

What is the axle saying "I quit"?


Driving back from a meeting with my freelance client on Tuesday, my car made the afore-mentioned clunking noise when I switched from the clutch to the gas. The only speed I had came from the brief bit of slip I got before the thing went south, so I basically just crept across Negley. Someone helped me push the Civic into the Uni-Mart parking lot, and I had it towed to Walters.

I thought this was the big one; I thought the clutch had had it. Replacing a clutch involves removing the transmission from the car and taking it apart. That ain't cheap, just on the labor front. This would be a horrible time to replace a car, since I'm not on contract any more: I doubt banks would be lining up to give me a loan with my big, fat yearly income of $0.

Well, they took a look at it, and it was just a problem with the axle. I'm not an expert, but from what I was told it sounded like it either detached itself from one of the wheels (would the diff have prevented the other one from getting power in that case?) or from the driveshaft. Between parts and labor it only ran me $185 and took less than three hours to fix, so it couldn't have been too massive.

And now I'd like to finish this off by not bitching about my car. With my trip to and from Florida, and the side trips while I was there, I put just over 2700 miles on that car in the span of a week. Since I parked it that Wednesday and took the picture at the end of the travelog, the odometer has advanced 43 miles.

Forty. Three. Miles. And that includes them driving it from their secondary garage on Penn to their main garage on Baum, and my driving it home. So call it forty miles. If you'll allow me to anthropomorphize a little bit (and why not, I already do it when I deal with computers), that car held out until I got home. Imagine how much more than $185 I could have shelled out if that clunk had happened 700 miles ago in rural Georgia, with nobody interested in cutting the ignorant not-from-around-here boy a break.

[Permalink 2005-01-20] Looking Like An Idiot, For Your Amusement

January 20, 2005:

After getting a little lzy in the face-maintenace department, I decided to illustrate for all of you why I (try to) stay clean-shaven.

For starters, I don't look good in a goatee:
[Me with a goatee. I look even more stupid than usual.]

And if that's not bad enough, I look even worse with just a moustache:
[My imitation of To-tomko

And that, my dear readers, is why I drag a sharpened piece of steel across my face every day.

[Permalink 2005-01-18] Atkins... Er, Not Quite

January 18, 2005:

Well, I've been saying for a while now that I was going back on the Atkins diet to get my weight down some more. I forgot one thing -- it's actually kind of expensive to do Atkins since you wind up buying a lot of meat. And since I'm not entirely sure when the money's going to start flowing again, spending a lot of money on food ain't such a hot idea.

Instead I'm trying to minimize the amount of money I pay for a meal, and it's a sad fact of life that it's cheaper to have a TV dinner and a bowl of cereal than it is to have a chicken breast, potatos and vegetables. I'm already back up to 200 pounds. Hopefully by the time I can buy what I need to buy I won't have canceled out all the work I did last year.

[Permalink 2005-01-17] I Wrote an Entry; That's Enough For Today

January 17, 2005:

I've been having pretty serious boredom/laziness problems since I stopped working. I have a laundry list of things to work on for my freelance project, and haven't done anything in more than a month (it's a good thing we scheduled it when I was working 40 hours a week). I can't even be bothered to watch the movies I've been paying Netflix to store here, and I'm halfway through one of them!

Basically, I wake up, putter around for about 13 hours, and go back to sleep. The most labor-intensive thing I've done since I got back from Florida was taking some stuff over to Goodwill.

I have a feeling I'll snap out of this sooner or later, but I have no idea when.

[Permalink 2005-01-14] Things To Do In Florida Not Involving Anthropomorphic Vermin

January 14, 2005:

During the Saturday I was in Orlando, my sister and I drove the hour over to Cape Canaveral, the first time I'd seen the place since the last Florida trip I took in 1989.

With my camera-phone and its 200-some (low-res) photo storage capacity, I was more interested in quantity than quality. But here are the high points for people who don't want to wait for the thumbnail page to load.

[A full-scale shuttle oribter and booster/fuel tank assembly.]
At the front of the visitors complex is a full-scale model of a shuttle and its booster rockets and fuel tank. I'm pretty sure that was there in '89, but I can't remember. (Weird thing I just remembered, and it's really no more than a coincidence: In '89 I would have been there just after they started launching shuttles again after Challenger blew up. This time I was there a little bit before they start launching shuttles again in May following Columbia's reentry breakup.)

[Launch Pad 39A.]
In the 15 years since my last visit they've expanded the tour. The bus still takes you to the LC39 observation tower, but now there's a small movie and a set of displays in addition to just the tower itself. And the bus no longer just goes back to the visitor center: There's a second stop.

[A recreation of the launch control center as it was for Apollo 8.]
Now there's a building devoted to the Apollo program and the Saturn V rocket. You can "watch" the launch of Apollo 8 before stepping out into a (very long) room with a full Saturn V hanging well above the floor. At the far end of the rocket is a small program about the landings, mostly Apollo 11.

From there the bus takes you back to the visitor center. They say the tour should take two to two and a half hours. I took closer to three.

There have been additions at the visitor center, too. I don't remember clearly what was there 15 years ago, but I'm pretty sure most of it's (relatively) new. There was a short display on the Robot Scouts (Viking, Voyager, Cassini, etc.) that was geared more toward the kids. It was kind of amusing, though.

[The rocket garden.]
I also took a look at the rocket garden before heading into an IMAX show about the ISS in 3-D. That frickin' rocked. It costs more than $30 to get in and take the tour, and that hour-long movie went a long way toward justifying the cost by itself.

[A copy of Jules Verne's 'From the Earth to the Moon' at the Astronaut HOF.]
After that we went over to the Astronaut Hall of Fame, which was new to me. The introductory movie was all right, though a bit drawn-out, and I'd probably skip it next time. The rest of it was cool, and the 4-G simulator more than justified the extra money admission added to the visitor center ticket.

All in all, this was probably the most interesting day I had while I was there. And, like some of the Smithsonian museums, I don't think I'd easily get bored with repeat trips. In fact, I'm tentatively scheduling myself to go back the weekend of May 14 to see Discovery launch. I've never seen a launch in person, and I think the revitalization of the manned space program would be the perfect one to see.

[Permalink 2005-01-13] Travelog

January 13, 2005:

[The odometer before the trip to Orlando: 103,599 miles.]
[Date created: 1/4/2005 4:25 PM]

January 4

4:26 PM: Start

4:35: Option 1 was to sit in traffic on I-279. Option 2 was to go through town and take US-19 to I-79 south of town. I chose option 2. I chose poorly.

5:02: And after all that, I-279 was open and moving anyway.

5:24: Just passed the Murtland exit. The car thought it was poker night.

5:42: OK, this rain needs to stop.

5:46: And now there's fog. Yippee.

5:57: Entered West Virginia. Speed limit's 70. Cool.

6:33: The first of many pee breaks. (Hey, I just wrote stuff down. You're the ones reading it.)

7:43: Good thing I'm closing in on Charleston -- I'm getting hungry.

7:51: Y'know, I liked it better when I was above the fog and rain.

8:02: Just came to a realization. Since I pretty much jumped in the car without doing any cleanup of any kind, I have stank breath.

8:34: Apparently McDonald's has passed Charleston by. I didn't see a single set of golden arches.

8:37: Just passed a guy in a budget truck hauling a car behind him. I feel bad for the guy -- I at least had good weather.

8:50: Grabbed some food in Marmot, WV. Next stop should be Wytheville, VA for gas, late nigth snacks and coffee.

10:23: Looks like I'm about the only passenger car left on the road. Just me and the big rigs.

10:27: Enter Virginia. WV is way too large for its own good.

10:35: "C'mon, little car, you can make it."

10:40: Just passed a place called Bland. That about sums it up.

10:53: Hey, the 76 station we used to stop at on the way to vacation looks like it isn't here any more. And I passed Wytheville completely while looking for it on signs.

10:58: Gassed up (finally).

11:51: Enter North Carolina.

January 5

12:04 AM: Tried to take a sip of my coffee while passing a pasture or someplace being fertilized. Reminded me of that scene from Austin Powers 2.

12:20: Just passed an exit for Wilkesboro. I think my stepbrother and stepsister live around here somewhere. Or at least, the used to. I think they've both moved by now.

1:04: Just passed the beginning of Charlotte's HOV lane. I forgot that it was Pittsburgh that's weird for building a separate highway for it.

1:17: Charlotte is just not a happenin' place at one in the morning.

1:26: Just saw a sign for "485 FUTURE WEST". They have roads that go into the future? They must be working on some heavy shit at RTP.

1:28: Enter South Carolina.

1:30: ABCD EFG HIJK LMNOPeeeeeeeeeeeeeee. Grabbed some 50-cent coffee from a vending machine. Not bad.

2:26: Moon just rised. It took me a couple minutes to figure out, but I'm pretty sure it's just past the third quarter.

2:52: It takes some getting used to, but SC puts reflectors on the "don't go here" stripes they paint, in addition to lane markings. Makes for an ocean of reflectors at the end of on-ramps.

2:52 (again): Just passed a sign for Strom Thurmond Blvd. They must feel the need to counteract that road in Charlotte that leads to the future.

3:06: Got off I-77. It's actually kind of odd -- I see 77 as a north Ohio expressway. It throws off my macro-vs.-micro sense to see (to me) a local road this far from the Cleveland/Akron area.

3:14: More coffee. I'm going to be a caffeine addict by the time I get back.

3:59: Just found a 24-hour McD's. Had what may have been the best sausage-egg biscuit ever.

4:32: Eyelids are getting heavy. Just two and a half hours till dawn.

4:52: Just passed another Budget truck hauling a car. This guy has good weather though.

5:07: Just realized I've been on the road for more than 12 hours now.

5:36: Gas, bean and pee break. Put in 8.1 gallons. Could've made Savannah.

6:00: Enter Georgia.

6:16: Maybe I couldn't have made Savannah after all. I thought it was closer to the state line.

6:18: Should've waited to get gas until I entered GA though. It's cheaper here.

6:22: Well, the place still smells like a swamp.

6:36: Starting to see light in the east.

6:42: There's one bright star off to the east making it through the fog. I'm guessing Jupiter's near the sun right about now?

7:02: Yeah, it's gotta be Jupiter. Nothing else would still be visible when it's this light out. [Note, 1/13/05: Looking online, Jupiter would have risen in the middle of the night, a little bit before the moon. And at magnitude -2 it wouldn't have been quite as plainly visible at that hour anyway. Venus, at magnitude -4 (lower number = brighter) came up before the sun and would have remained visible. In my defense, I was very tired.]

7:44: Entered Florida. Peed off the edge of a parking lot since the gas station wasn't open yet.

8:21: Know what's fun after 16 hours? Driving through rush hour in Jacksonville! No caffeine left. Powered solely by road rage.

9:30: Gassed up one last time in Daytona.

9:37: Just passed road construction in January. Yeah, with no snow that would be possible. Seemed out of place to me though.

9:42: My wrists are sore. Usually the right one starts getting annoyed on a two-hour drive -- probably tendinitis from mousing -- but now the left one's joining in. Trying to drive without actually gripping the wheel is... interesting.

10:03: I just saw a small lake in the highway median on I-4. There were people fishing in it.

10:34: All right, Yahoo Maps sucks. They said "get off I-4 and continue on FL-50." They didn't bother mentioning which way on 50.

12:01 PM: Arrive (finally). 19 hours and 35 minutes on the road.

[The odometer after the trip down: 104, 703 miles.]
[Date created: 1/5/2004 12:42 PM]


While I was in Florida I took a trip over to Cape Canaveral (I'll write about it next, I think) and did some other driving. I didn't think to take a picture of the mileage but it was something like 105,150.

January 10

9:29 AM: Gassed up and on the road again.

10:40: Pee break already.

10:46: I had my phone on the seat in case someone called. Then I pulled a U to get back on the highway and shot the damn thing right off the seat.

11:16: Peed yet again. I think I drank too much coffee at Shoney's this morning.

11:32: There's a cop working his way up the left lane. You should see all the cars with out-of-state plates (including mine) clear out, then get in behind him once we all decided we weren't being pulled over.

12:24 PM: Entered Georgia and -- you guessed it -- peed again.

1:47: Stopped near Savannah for gas (remembered from last week) and my hourly pee break.

2:12: Entered South Carolina.

3:10: Stopped for lunch at a Mickey D's just south of I-26.

4:38: There's more people on the highway during the day. More bugs, too.

5:38: Wrists are bugging me again already.

5:42: Enter North Carolina and plop myself down in Charlotte's evening rush hour.

7:00: Coffee-gas-pee.

About 7:40: Entered Virginia (forgot exactly when since I wasn't stopping as often).

8:37: Entered West Virgina.

8:51: Stopped for a sub and another coffee.

9:15: Ready to leave after the food break. Feels like winter's beginning to reassert itself.

10:11: Just blew past a Mustang on a hill. That was kinda fun.

11:44: One last pee break. It's easier now that I've been on I-79 for a while -- the car knows its way home now.

January 11

12:09 AM: Gas.

12:38: Just passed through some exremely localized fog. It was over with in about one minute with no real changes in elevation.

1:02: Enter Pennsylvania after doing about 275 miles of WV.

1:47: Just got on I-279.

1:53: I'm off the expressway and back on the streets. Just a few more minutes.

2:07: Arrive at home. Enter apartment, put up placeholder and collapse. Only 16:38 on the road this time.

[The odometer after the trip back: 106,301 miles.]
[Date created: 1/11/2005 2:07 AM]

[Permalink 2005-01-11] Blah

January 11, 2005:

2:27 AM: Just got back. Tired. Travelog for Thursday.

[Permalink 2005-01-10] Disney

January 10, 2005:

My sister,my brother-in-law and I went to Disney World last week while I was visiting (in theory I'll spend most of today driving back). We saw MGM, which wasn't open yet the last time I was there in 1989, and Epcot.

MGM was nice, but small. We saw everything worth seeing in a couple hours. Epcot was actually more of a disappointment -- I thought it was really cool when I was 13, and it hasn't held up well. Some of the exhibits have changed over the years, but I'm guessing that the stuff there in '89 was crap, too. I guess it just helps to be a kid instead of an adult.

Oh well. It's still a good way to kill a day if you can have an employee cast member get you in for free.

[Permalink 2005-01-07] Christmas Update

January 07, 2005:

(I know you don't care, but I'm on vacation and I'm not in the mood to think too hard. Besides, you should be used to boring crap appearing here by now.)

The B&N gift card turned into America (The Book) by Jon Stewart, on the recommendation of Dawn and Htet Htet. My extra copy of the Godfather trilogy became the Lord of the Rings trilogy and Spider-Man 2. That extra ball-retriever and part of the Dick's gift card became a "putter pal" (no using a coffee mug for me!), a divot tool and a club scrubber. I still don't know what I'm doing, but now I've got the cool tools for it. The 8 Mile soundtrack (which I already had from my birthday) transmogrified into Ghost in the Shell 2. And finally, that extra copy of Doom III turned into... nothing. I forgot that Mom didn't get a gift receipt, so the money just went back on her credit card. She's sending a check, though, so I can buy some memory, so I can play my other copy of Doom III :)

[Permalink 2005-01-06] Getting Results

January 06, 2005:

The guy that took out my turn signal decided that there was no way there was any damage to the body from him pulling into it, that he wasn't going to pay for the body work, and told me to let him know how I decided to proceed.

Well, if he wasn't going to find someone he trusted to look at the car, I would. I asked my insurance company to track down his information, so his insurance company could send out an adjuster.

He opted to simply pay in full. Much love to the insurance people.

[Permalink 2005-01-04] The Best Laid Plans...

January 04, 2005:

Well, if things are going like I intended them too, I'm going to spend most of (if not all of) the daylight hours sleeping after staying up all night. That should get me to the Orlando area some time during the morning Wednesday. I've gone so far as to hang a blanket across my bedroom window to reduce the amount of light coming in.

Of course, this assumes I can drive 15 hours straight. The farthest I've gone was the 5 from here to DC in a U-Haul truck, so even with a travel mug full of coffee this is by no means assured.

Anyway, I'm going to be out of town from this evening until very late in the evening on the 10th. I have a couple entries waiting to go; I just have to get on my sister's computer so I can connect to my admin section and release them. If I can remember to, I'll try to maintain some kind of a travel log, just in case something interesting happens.

Update, 1:47 AM: Things aren't quite going as planned. The cappuchino I had at Crazy Mocha a few hours ago is wearing off already, even though it was a double. I guess shooting the breeze is more stimulating than re-reading a book. And that book was supposed to last me until 3:00 at least; I guess I read too fast. I figure I need to stay up at least another four hours, preferably another seven. I just hope that my room really is dark enough to sleep through the brightest part of the day.

Update, 3:21 AM: Guess it's time for another dinner; my stomach just started rumbling. I also set my alarm for 5:00 PM. Hope the guy coming in tomorrow later today to look at the leak in the toilet doesn't keep me awake too long.

Update, 5:19 AM: I haven't stayed up this late since my (first) senior year. I put in Shost in the Shell 2 to keep myself awake. Followed it pretty well, too, until about an hour in. I'll have to watch it again to see if they really did lay a mindfuck on me, or whether it was just more than my little mind could handle at 4:30 in the morning.

I should stay up for at least another 40 minutes, but I'm having trouble thinking of things to do -- it's not like anybody's e-mailed me in the last couple hours.

Update, 6:06 AM: OK, I barely made it to 6:00; I'm sure as heck not making it to 9. Good night. Or good morning.

Update, 4:12 PM: Didn't sleep as much as I thought I would; I guess an 11-hour nap is just too much to ask for during daylight hours. I think I'm just going to head out right now instead of waiting until 5:00 -- that'll give me a little buffer time in case I decide to drive slowly, and it just might get me out of town before rush hour gets too bad. Not counting on that second part, though.

[Permalink 2005-01-03] Resolutions

January 03, 2005:

Not many things I want to accomplish this year, but they're big ones:

· Back on Atkins once I get back from Florida. I want to get to at least 175 this time; preferably 170.

· Get that job in the DC area, and do it by June 30th (when my lease here expires).

· Failing item 2, become the Browns' new head coach. It's not like I could do much worse than Butch Davis.

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