Archive of March, 2005
March 31, 2005:
...please stand by.
I tried to set up the computer last night, but apparently my account needs to be activated, and the tech-support person I talked to last night can't do that. Once I get everything set up I can start downloading pictures from my phone and get a couple entries taken care of.
Edit, 9:52AM: Just got off the phone with
Cocks Cox Communications. Apparently activating my broadband account isn't a simple thing. It's not even a matter of plugging something in or hitting a switch. One of their people just has to hit a button. For that I have to wait until tomorrow.
And trying to figure all this out is fun: I can't get much information about my account, because I still have a temporary PIN. I went online to change the PIN, and it requires my account number, which they never gave me. Brilliant, people. Tell me to change something that it's impossible for me to change.
I'm starting to miss Verizon, which is as great a condmenation of this company's customer service skills as I can imagine.
March 29, 2005:
Well, if everything ent according to plan, I'm driving down to Centreville today in the U-Haul. As I write this on Sunday, I have almost everything packed up, and the TV and computer are going into their respective boxes tonight. Htet Htet and Cory will arrive Monday to help me load the truck and drive my car down to NoVA, since I didn't really want to try getting a trailer around Shadyside's dinky streets.
Once everything is loaded, and before they leave, I have to clean the carpets (I tracked in quite a bit over two winters, so there are stains that need to be removed) unless the landlord tells me they're just going to rip them up anyway.
And I just remembered that the checkbook I'll need, since I haven't found a renter yet, has already been packed up. It's a good thing I know computers, 'cause otherwise I'm just not very bright.
March 28, 2005:
Catching up on some blogs I read, I found a link to The Baby Name Wizard. It tracks the popularity of first names over time, allowing me to see that "Jason" was the third-most popular name in the 1970s.
Given that one of the first choices for what to call me was "Shane" I think I'll stick with the overly-popular name I was given.
March 25, 2005:
I've had at least half a dozen people come to look at the apartment this week. I've been having them contact the landlord if they're insterested, but as yet I don't think that's happened.
I kinda figured it'd go quicker than that, seeing as how every time I decide to sleep on it, the apartment disappears out from under me when someone comes in and fills out the application right away. And the thing is, this is pretty much the nicest apartment of all the ones I've looked at in Pittsburgh. It's the weird ones in old houses (that half the time have a large picture window in the bedrooom looking right out onto the stret) that go quickly.
So, they flock to poorly-laid-out apartments simply because they're in old houses, and avoid the ones that were done sensibly just because they're in a building that was made to hold apartments. Seems like people here are even stranger than I thought.
March 24, 2005:
After bashing my head against a problem for most of Tuesday and feeling generally useless, I was able to get a couple things accomplished Wednesday. It's always nice to feel like I'm not wasting everybody's time.
And now for something completely different: When I came back from Manassas last week, I set a goal of eating as much of my remaining food as possible, to avoid having to move it. Now it's granted that I'm not going to go through all the sugarless Jell-O I bought when I was on the Atkins diet, but I may have dug into my quest a little too zealously. I may kick all but a couple cans of tuna today, leaving me with either an emergency G'Iggle run, or an excuse to go out to eat a few more times before I go. I'm thinking the latter...
March 22, 2005:
Well, I certainly like telecommuting. I get to work on my own schedule for as long a period as I want, then break for as long as I want. Of course, the "break for as long as I want" part would present a problem eventually since I'm a lazy sack, but I should be able to do this for a week until I get moved.
March 21, 2005:
Oh, yeah... this.
Well, as of 1:15PM, there's not a lot going on. I'm remote-desktopped in to Lock Media continuing the work I started last week. The car's at the auto-body place getting that dent from Thanksgiving fixed, so I'm walking everywhere again. My new cable modem is en route to be delivered today, so I'll be able to hook up and go once I get to Centreville next week. I need to make a couple purchases this week (a cable splitter and a new shower curtain) so I can hit the ground running once I get moved in.
Oh, and I have to pack up everything. I made pretty good progress last night at the expense of being able to watch movies this week. On the one hand I feel kind of overwhelmed, but on the other I'm starting to get the idea that I can hack all this.
March 18, 2005:
Two weeks ago, I was beginning to worry about what would happen if I wasn't able to find a job. I was stressing out over it, and generally being a pain in the ass to anyone who'd listen.
Now I have a job, and I've spent the last week trying to get things set up down in the DC area. This is actually more stressful than not working was, and I'm being even more of a pain in the ass to anyone who'll listen.
Basically, I'm usually a Type B personality -- laid back, I'll deal with stuff as it comes. But when I get a big deadline with a long to-do list, all of a sudden I'm the king of the Type A's. For some reason I just can't deal with having things not-done when I can avoid it.
Case in point: There's a chance -- I'd put it at 50-50 -- that I can find someone to rent my apartment starting on April 1st. That would save me from having to pay rent on the thing while I'm not using it. That means I need to move out by the 31st.
Except I couldn't get the lease at the new apartment to start until the 29th -- a Tuesday. So, with the criteria I've set up for myself, I can't move on a weekend. Two of my friends are willing to fly up to Pittsburgh -- I'd pay, of course -- to help pack and drive my car down to Centreville. If they can't make it I'll rent the trailer and have fun like I did in December. No big deal; if they can't make it they can't make it.
But that involves one of them getting time off, and it's not an instant thing. So now I'm basically snapping at them, telling them yes or no, just tell me already so I can knock this off my list. And I'm having trouble explaining to them why this is so damn important -- I'm not sure I know myself, but the desire to not pay $555 if I don't have to certainly has a lot to do with it.
Just imagine what an asshole I'll be if a truly substantial amount of money is on the line, or if I ever come up against a really important deadline.
March 17, 2005:
While I was having breakfast with Evan and Kristen I started talking about how weird some things seem to me down here in NoVA. Evan said he'd like the read the newcomer's take on things, so here goes.
Cost of Living
Holy crap this place is expensive. My apartment here is much nicer (and a bit bigger) than the one in Pittsburgh, but it also costs twice as much per month. In the 'Burgh if I made what I am here I'd be doing pretty good. Here, I'm getting a review in three months to get my pay more in line with what I should be earning.
Signs of Civilization
Yes, Virginia, you can buy beer in a grocery store, and buy it by the six-pack. I won't go into the inanities of liquor in PA, I've spent too many years bitching about it already.
I got a speeding ticket on my way to the interview that got me this job. Due to certain circumstances -- this area is crawling with lawyers -- the speeding ticket is an 8½x11 sheet of paper as opposed to something the size of an overgrown post-it note. Instead of the officer calculating your fine and writing it on the ticket, as is done in PA and Ohio, another sheet of paper listing the possible infractions and fines is provided to the offender. So now I know that my ticket is for $57 in court costs plus $5/mph over the speed limit. If I tell you the limit was 45 where I got pulled over, you can figure out how fast I was going.
Again with the lawyers. My leases in Pittsburgh have all been a handful of normal sheets of paper; I think the longest was 6 pages. Here everything's on legal paper (8½x14) in smaller type. By the time I was done with addendi and notices, I'd signed or initialed at least a dozen pages that size. But on the upside I know what the landlord will do if I suffer a heart attack and die while trying to decipher my speeding ticket.
I saw a little touch of home on the way in to the office this morning: People making a left turn at the end of the light blocked off the intersection because traffic wasn't moving. Other things were quite different though. While visiting Cory and Htet Htet in January it snowed. I-495 (the Beltway) was a mess. In two inches of snow (a dusting where I'm from) people were skidding, spinning out and wrecking. I think a plow truck had to be flown in from Buffalo, since it took them several hours to even attempt a road-clearning. So maybe Christmas shooping will go well this year, since I'll be the only one crazy enough to go out.
And that's just from a handful of days spent here. There's no telling what I'll see once I've been here for a while. I'll adapt, though: I already like this place more than Pittsburgh.
March 15, 2005:
OK, here's how things seem to be headed as of Saturday afternoon.
Return to Pittsburgh.
Unpack, re-pack for week.
Return to DC area, crash for evening.
Begin work at Lock Media.
Week of 3/14
Find apartment. Fair Lakes was mentioned as a good jumping-off point to get to Arlington and Manassas Park (3/14: Centreville).
Try to get a lease to start on 3/28 (got the 29th).
Return to Pittsburgh again.
Week of 3/21
Advertise apartment in Post-Gazette and cmu.misc.market (3/17: PG is ready for the weekend; 3/19: c.m.m.a is done).
Find movers or get a U-Haul (3/17: Not as expensive as I was afraid it'd be).
Pick up U-Haul.
Leave Pittsburgh for good, move into new apartment.
Nothing to it, right?
The next two weeks will be brought to you by adrenaline and the letters C8H10N4O2.
Edit, 3/14: Checked a few things off and finalized some of the dates at the end.
Edit, 3/17: Knocked a couple more things off the list.
Edit, 3/19: Back in the 'Burgh, so one more checkbox goes bye-bye.
March 14, 2005:
Well, I no longer need to stress about the job, or lack thereof. Starting Monday (as in, the day this entry is active), I'm working for Lock Media in Manassas Park, Virginia. In fact, this week I'll be staying in a nearby hotel to get orientated.
After that it's back to Pittsburgh for a little while to make arrangements to break the lease, get movers (hopefully) and find an apartment in the area. Then back to NoVA for quite a while.
I'm in a good mood right now (as I write this Friday afternoon). So much so that the $162 I owe Fairfax County isn't bothering me in the slightest.
March 11, 2005:
I've been having some pretty weird dreams lately. Well, I've been having weird ones that I can remember; maybe they're all strange.
One night I dreamt three times in the span of two hours that someone had broken into my apartment. Oddly enough, the front door didn't unlock itself at 3 in the morning. I checked anyway, though. The second and third dreams actually referred back to the ones before them; when the intruders entered I actually thought, "again?"
The one I had a couple nights later was even farther out. I was moving back into the Negley Ave. apartment, presumably because I hadn't found a job but opted to not return to Akron. Some things had changed (or, more accurately, were conflated in the dream). The door to my apartment was like the front door to the house really is -- I could see people coming and going, and they could see me, through the poorly-fitting plexiglass "windows".
The basement door to the apartment -- remember, it was the only one in the building that spanned two floors -- was no longer an interior door. It was almost like a wooden gate with a sliding lock. (I think my brain may have inserted the basement bathroom "door" from the Beechwood house.) Anyway, in order to secure that door I needed the combination lock that I threw away after high school because it no longer locked.
Yeah, the psychological messages there aren't really hard to pin down.
For some reason I moved in through the basement this time, even though that would have involved going around the back of the house and hauling all my living room things up the stairs. (I even went as far in the dream as to wonder when I'd packed everything, but apparently I decided to drop that line of reasoning.)
All right, maybe that just means I'd see moving back in as a failure. Perhaps my brain used that as a stand-in for moving back home?
I also flipped out on a couple of people who entered the apartment with no notice to make repairs. (Look! People breaking in again!) The odd thing about that, of course, is that my brain would have nothing to go on as far as JJ Land making repairs; in keeping with reality I should have imagined a missed appointment to make a repair. This was apparently my first full day in the apartment, since I remember thinking to myself, what a way to start a lease.
And for the Captain Random portion of the program, the girl in charge of dealing with the unannounced-workers problem was a Zeta (or at least a Zeta alum). She didn't look familiar at all, I think my brain just made her up out of thin air.
Saturday night I went back to not remembering any of the dreams I had. Why can't I ever remember the cool ones?
March 10, 2005:
Found on cruel.com: Go ahead and steal yourself some silence. Dorky, yes; and pointless. But I'm an anti-fan of DRM (which only prevents you from exercising your legal right to play your music where you want to) and I don't think anyone's going to get too upset over pirating silence.
March 08, 2005:
Bubba was a bit of a freak -- having been around for 30-50 years, he weighed in at 23 pounds, compared to the average lobster's 1½. PETA pleaded with Wholey's to let their freakisly-large lobster return to the sea. The PETA I'd become a member of -- People for the Eating of Tasty Animals -- offered up 500 smackers for the privelege of turning Bubba into a feast.
Wholey's, sensing there was publicity to be had, sent him to the Pittsburgh Zoo's aquarium for quarantine and observation. Bubba died the next day after not eating anything.
The PETA I wish would go take a flying leap is pulling their hair out over this; ashamed on behalf of all humanity that the giant bug wasn't returned to his home. The good PETA is upset that the meat is ruined, but Bubba was probably pretty stringy to begin with due to his size and age.
Now, my issue is not with the handling of the situation: People saw a freak of nature and wanted to study it. And bad-PETA is required to publicy piss their pants any time someone intimates that amoebas aren't at the same level as people.
But c'mon, people... lobsters? They're basically giant insects. (Well, I'm pretty sure they're really arachnids, meaning they're related to spiders. Same basic idea.) They have a lot more in common with tarantulas and roaches than they do with Fido. We're not even sure the things have enough neural matter in their heads to be capable of feeling pain, never mind pining for their lost homes on the way to the dinner pot.
Some bad-PETA twit said that we should treat all animals as individuals. And in the case of lobsters, I do. With the exception of Bubba, each lobster I've ever seen is just right for an individual serving.
Edit, 2:53 PM: Picked the wrong word for spider-like critters. Arachnids are what I was thinking of (hence the movie Arachnophobia). Arthropods, which is what I wrote originally, are actually a larger group of organisms, containing insects, arachnids and crustaceans.
March 07, 2005:
As all of you know, I'm what you could call "socially inept". Well, you could if you were feeling kind. I don't really want to know how you'd describe me if you were mad at me over something.
I also like to joke around with people and bust on them a bit. In a weird way it's how I show someone I think they're OK -- I like them enough to treat them like shit. When someone doesn't get the joke, sometimes I go so far as to blame them. After all, they should have known I was only screwing around, right?
Ignoring for the moment the times when I truly do step over the line and have to force myself to apologize later (that's another entry, and one I hope I don't have to do for a while), this causes some problems. It turns out that, as much as I expect everyone else to know when I'm only kidding, I'm lousy at figuring out when someone else is messing with me.
If it were just over IM I may be able to dodge some criticism: Text is notoriously poor at conveying tone of voice. This is why anyone who's ever gotten an IM from me has seen the thing littered with so many smilies that it looks like AOL exploded.
But it's not just online; I do it in real-life conversations, too. Even when someone uses the exact same tone I would have, I get fooled. So there I am getting offended because someone's doing the exact same damn thing I would have done if our roles were reversed.
For someone who expects everyone else to have a sense of humor, it seems like mine's lacking sometimes.
March 04, 2005:
All right, I'm trying to eat healthier. Well, as healthy as I can while still being as cheap as possible. There's no candy of any kind in the apartment (well, I bought a couple March of Dimes candy bars at the bank today, but other than that, nothing since January 1).
I also watch a lot of TV these days. I have a couple Netflix movies, but I'm not really in the mood for a movie. So, since there's nothing on I'm watching a show on Food Network called Unwrapped. Today's episode is about classic candies, with two of my favorites leading off the show: Boston Baked Beans and root beer barrels. They're also talking about one of the oldest candy bars made, the Clark bar.
It's like the network execs are going out of their way to fuck with me.
March 03, 2005:
I'm starting to get concerned about the chances of finding a job in DC before the end of my lease. It's been two months now, and I've found three jobs I'd want to apply for -- and one of them vanished from the washingtonpost.com site before I had a chance to submit a resume.
With things turning out that way, odds are I won't even get an interview until May. That's pushing things kind of close to the lease-end date of June 30th (unless I can extend it month-by-month for some unknown cost), and also close to the end of my unemployment benefits in mid-July.
I've got freelance Web work coming in erratically, like I said before, and right now it's the difference between whether I make money or lose money in a given month. But I don't see enough coming in to completely cover my monthly expenses, so when the UC benefits run out, I pretty much have one option left: Move back to Akron.
I'm still carrying a lot of debt from the last time I was unemployed (it lasted 13 months that time, and I'm starting to think that may repeat itself) so I can't just live off credit cards and hope everything turns out OK. I could possibly move to DC with the money I have saved right now and start temping, but my cost of living would go up by at least $500 a month just from rent, and who-knows-how-much-more for utilities, gas and food. Even in DC I doubt companies are willing to let someone net $600 a week just to answer phones and file things.
Oh, and one of my freelance projects is for a set number of hours, and I'm halfway through them now. It'll probably end well before June.
So, that's that. I've got three months before I really need to panic, and four months before the drop-dead date. Things aren't falling apart just yet. I'm just not liking my chances, is all.
March 01, 2005:
There hasn't really been a lot going on lately. I've had a couple freelance projects, but those tend to come and go quickly. A burst of activity for a couple days, then back to the normal "routine". I've taken up walking whenever I have to go someplace, on the hope that I get some badly-needed exercise. It also helps to pass the time when it takes close to two hours to go to the library and back.
I'm trying to stay busy, finding problems to solve just to keep myself sharp (or at least as sharp as I usually am). I've started keeping track of my calendar in Sunbird since I won't install Outlook on my home computer. It keeps its data in a .ics file, which I think is something like a standard for that kind of thing. I'm pretty sure iCal uses it too. Anyway, I took a shot at using a PHP script to convert it to HTML. I've got my list displaying now.
Depending on how Sunbird is set up, I could export the data file automatically (I'm pretty sure it can do that), make changes via a Web form, then re-import the data (I'm not too sure about that one). So I could potentially make changes to my calendar from anywhere and have everything stay synchronized.
Assuming, of course, that I ever go anywhere.