Category Archives: General

In the Absence of Logic

So we got a refrigerator last year and one of our requirements for replacing it was we wanted to make sure it had a filtered water dispenser. I replaced the filter last time by going in to the dealership where we bought it and the salesman just grabbed one for me. This time I decided it would be different. I googled the model of the fridge wanting to find the type of filter I needed and see if I could find it somewhere cheaper. After pouring through whirlpool’s site I couldn’t find anything describing the make of filter I needed. I did find where you could order one by saying, “That’s my fridge, send me a filter”, but it was even more expensive. So I gave in and figured if I went to the dealership one more time I’d save the box and go from there in another six months. So, again, I wrote down the model number and went in to the dealership, but this time the salesman wasn’t sure what type of filter it took. He asked me if it was a “push in” or a “turn” and I really couldn’t remember. A couple times I offered him the card with the number on it, but he said that wouldn’t help. Finally he gave up on my memory and googled the model number I had with me, but to my surprise he didn’t look at any of the fridge info, he opened the picture of the fridge and squinted at the bottom of the photo where the filter goes. He then dragged me to a floor model and asked if the “…cover plate lookes like this”, pointing at the corner of the fridge. I said that I thought so, and he grabbed me a filter, which of course, worked. But wouldn’t it be simpler to just say, this fridge needs a type ‘X’ filter, right on the fridge?

Big Workin’ Weekend

quarter.JPGSo I was kind of looking forward to a nice relaxing weekend, and I thought I’d do a couple things around the house. I don’t much like to go out in public (or wilderness) on the big weekends, there’s too many bozos out and you can’t throw a rock without hitting one of them. My todo list wasn’t big, or at least I didn’t perceive it as anything tremendous. I even thought that by hitting the hardware store on Friday night I’d be ahead of the game.
When I got back from Home Depot I scurried up onto the roof and replaced the cooler pads as it was getting dark and I wanted some time to just sit and watch the world go by Monday. I’ve been kind of excited, in a nerdly-homeowner sort of way in that I finally got the swamp cooler thermostat hooked up that Debbie bought me last year. I retired just after midnight with the plans to get the water going up to the cooler before it got hot.
I actually slept a solid night, and that doesn’t happen often. I awoke just after eight and was about to roll over and doze a bit more when I realized I needed to get on the roof before the sun got to blazing. That woke me right up, and kind of disappointed me, but I figured I’d get all my stuff done by lunch and laze around this afternoon. The cooler went pretty slick, and I don’t often have any projects that go off without a hitch, but the only thing this one threw at me was I had to move the hose from the front yard to the back. It seems my back yard is cursed for hoses. A couple summers ago mine got eaten, but I replaced it with one from Debbie’s house. When I went to pick this one up it was split in several places and the casing was falling apart. I guess I should know to get them in, but the last couple winters have snuck up on me so fast that I didn’t get a lot of the winter-prep done.

Continue reading Big Workin’ Weekend

Is it secret?!

I came into work today (with my surgery I wasn’t supposed to be up and around til tomorrow) because we were having our mandatory HIPAA training again and I didn’t want to have to go to a special session, even though I find it fairly unlikely that I’ll even touch anything HIPAA related before the next mandatory training session rolls around. I tried to make it a good time, though, as I do with all meetings.
It started off with a bang when the presenter asked us to all fill out an amusing form for which we would each receive a prize, the fastest three receiving a better prize than the rest of us. It was full of silly things along the lines of certain internet quizzes which obviously required putting down personal information. I guess it wasn’t really obvious because at first I was trying to figure out what they meant by ‘your nascar name’ and figured since I didn’t know anything about nascar I was failing some sort of quiz. To my relief, it seems as though Brian thought so too as he started asking the questions I was thinking. Once I got it I figured out it was an example of social engineering, so I lied on all the pieces of information that aren’t readily available. I did salt it with truth in that I drive an S-10 Pickup and my middle name. Unfortunately my thought experiment in deciding how much of a lie would be believable kept me from finishing in the money. When it came time for the presenter to divulge that we’d all been socially engineered it resulted in this conversation:
Presenter: “So for a little toy you gave me all this personal information.”
Me: “But I lied on all of it.”
Presenter (smiling): “But you gave me information.”
Me: “Yes, but It was incorrect information.”
Presenter (still smiling): “But it was still information, correct?”
Me: “Incorrect information”
It might have gone on, but Guy pointed out I’m one of the tinfoil hat guys that deals with security. The presenter* said that we should go so far as to make the entries in our cell phones anonymous. We shouldn’t have a HOME phone number detailed with that moniker because someone who finds our lost phone would know that bit of information easily. I spoke up and said that I thought that was going a bit far, because my home address and phone number are easily obtained through google or the phone book, so saving some malicious person a hand full of seconds on finding my home number really buys them nothing.**
As the meeting was wrapping up the presenter noted that none of us were wearing our badges. Upper campus is pretty strict about badge wearing and display, where down among us working people it’s generally not required. The presenter seemed a bit concerned that an interloper could just walk among us unchallenged because they didn’t have the proper piece of plastic affixed to a lapel.*** I piped up with one last little thing:
“Well, I can see that badge you’re wearing there, and you’ve just given me a bit of information.”
One of my finer meetings. Lucky for me it’s recorded, and probably on our wiki. I’d give you the URL, but…
*I’ll diverge here and say that I’ve habitually removed personalization even in the gender of the presenter for some compulsive reason, so maybe the training was preaching to the choir on this one
**And it makes it harder for an honest person to do the right thing.
*** Which is silly, really.****
**** comment redacted… stupid anicdotal information availability protection getting in the way of entertainment.

25 random things about me

cross-posted from my facebook page (thanks alot Jared!)
1. My nerdiness knows no bounds. I’ve caught myself graphing (in my head) the ratio of chocolate coating to jelly center in various shapes of candy deciding which shape is optimum for chocolate lovers vs candy center lovers.
2. Waiting doesn’t bother me. I can sit for an hour somewhere and there’s always something going on in my head that keeps me occupied.
3. I don’t believe that spans of time breaks down friendships. I really enjoyed seeing people at my wedding reception I hadn’t seen in 15 or 20 years. The problem lies in that I worry that I’m bothering people if I contact them. I have a hard time thinking of things to do to get together and put off social things because I can’t think of a reason to call someone up. But when I do get together with old friends it’s like no time has passed at all.
4. I got into the Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games with Dark Age of Camelot and spent about a third of my time on the game several years ago. I’ve tempered my addiction and now play Warhammer Online (I never really got into WOW) and have made several friendships with people I’ve never met in real life.
5. Related to #4… When Ixa died (IRL) it really hurt, despite the fact I never played in-game with him. The closest we ever got to even communicating is responding to each others posts in an online forum thread. He was really funny, though, and when he was suddenly gone it left a hole that I hadn’t known was going to be there. It often makes me think of the far-reaching effect of everything we do that touches people we barely even know.
6. The question “what if” plagues my waking thoughts. More often it’s the crazy creative “what if I replaced all these things with something slightly different and wierd” type thoughts that lead to more art projects or stories, but sometimes it’s the fear “what if I end up living under a bridge” -type extreme situation questions.
7. I’ve assimilated entirely too much pop-culture into my life. Hardly a conversation goes by that I don’t segue into some sort of “It’s like on Casablanca when…” type-statements. And it frequently involves “The Simpsons”.
8. “The Simpsons” lost me several years back. I don’t think I’ve seen a new episode in years. In fact, I didn’t see the movie until more than a year after it had been out on DVD. It’s kind of like on the Simpsons where Bart doesn’t get to see the itchy and scratchy movie till after he’s been made the chief justice on the Supreme Court.
9. I frequently do stuff that amuses me to no end, but if nobody catches it I don’t let people in on the joke.
10. I’ve read the entire (so far) Discworld series. Superficially that can be taken as light, easy reading, but there is a depth there that is as good as any serious literature. I don’t want them to end.
12. I’ve rated over 1600 movies on netflix. And since I don’t rate movies I’ve not seen (and even haven’t rated ones I’ve known I’ve seen, but can’t remember clearly) that means I’ve spent about a third of a year of my life watching films. And that doesn’t count ones I’ve seen more than once, or ones that I’ve not rated or netflix doesn’t have.
13. I find it funny that I work at the University in a specialized field and that I don’t have a degree, despite all my hours of schooling. I find it even funnier that I work with other people who are all smarter than me that don’t have degrees either. But despite it’s amusement I wish I’d finished at least one of the degrees I worked on.
14. I love math, but my intellect topped out at Calculus when I stopped being able to apply story problems to make the calculations make sense. I was the weird kid that loved story problems.
15. Spell checkers save my life. I can’t spell for anything.
16. I love The Daily Show and watch every episode. But I find it makes me somewhat more cynical that they can point out something completely ridiculous in what government or business is doing, but the only attention given to it is on a comedy show for laughs.
17. I miss being able to rock climb more than anything else in my past that I can think of.
18. I love helping out with the pottery classes, but interacting with the new college students boggles my mind. I mean, I remember being clueless at that age and doing the same stupid things to get acceptance from my peers, but really.
19. I don’t understand greed. I’d love to be out of debt and to be able to do something fun every now and then that is out of the ordinary, but I don’t understand the need for $15,000 umbrella stands or accumulating wealth in the billions.
20. I love crowds in which I can be anonymous –like concerts or fireworks. It’s the groups I’m supposed to be social in that freeze me up –like in church. Christmas Shopping crowds make me bonkers, however.
21. I’ve not bought a (non-dress) shirt for myself in several years. I live off the give-away t-shirts vendors give out at the Supercomputing Conferences. Hence, I look the nerd as well. I did have to buy a Hawaii baseball cap so I don’t end up wearing two pieces of nerd-ware. I am somewhat fashion conscious.
22. Despite my nerdsona, I can’t maintain a windows computer for anything. I’m constantly asking the windows guys at work what I should do for a particular problem. This despite keeping a webserver in my bedroom for over a decade. I’m not sure that Linux is that much easier than windows, I just perceive it as less petty niggling.
23. I’m no bandwagoner. I don’t have an iPhone or even an iPod, even though I think they’re cool, I didn’t play Magic the Gathering until it’s waning popularity, and I pretty much just got on the Facebook boat.
24. Despite my brother’s influence and a couple of bands like Beulah or Granddaddy, I pretty much listen to the same music as I did 15 or more years ago. This perplexes me, as I had an inordinate love of music.
25. I hate top XX lists. (this isn’t a ‘top’, it’s random, so it’s ok). The rage online these days seems to be “top 10 action movies” or “top 100 birdcalls”. You just can’t do it. Leave it alone. The best song ever, though is “For What it’s Worth” by Buffalo Springfield.

days go passing by

So the Aloha from Austin entry was supposed to lead to the Howdy from Hawaii one, but it never materialized. I’ve been thinking a lot, and the time on the cruise gave me ample fodder and opportunity for pages and pages… and yet nothing gets down. I guess it’s because mostly nothing has really grabbed me by the collar and shook me till I had to get it out.
I can’t sleep. For the first (extended) time since my wedding I find myself back with the racing thoughts that keep me up. Debbie gets me up early, or at least earlier than is my habit. We do the car park ballet in the mornings so Kayla can get off to school. After that, I’m pretty much up and at the email between the spurts of preparing for the day I go through till I’m out the door about 9:00 or 9:30. Today was a good one. At 7:30 I found a hit in the morning logs from work that showed a university ip address probing my machine. I confirmed it through several machines that were open to the world and one that refused because it is closed. I composed a short notice to the Institutional Security Office (ISO) and said we’d been probed and gave the originating ip address. As an afterthought I did a host translation on the name and it showed it came through the ip space run by ISO itself. Here’s where my laziness kicks in. I figure it’s got to be some sort of test, but as I’ve gone through the trouble of composing the email after verifying the threat I feel it would be wasted if I just chucked it, so I sent it. I found out from Guy later that Joe had sent a notice out that we were going to be probed as a test from ISO. I don’t remember seeing that email, maybe it got block-deleted as we got off the cruise. I did get a nice note back from jonzy (link redacted) telling me it was ok, and that my prompt attention would be duly noted.
Anyway, up early and not sleeping till well after midnight kind of has me on the rocks. The cruise was very nice. It used to be that whenever I got like this, I’d head for the ocean. There’s something about just sitting and watching all that water that draws out whatever is ailing me, and being on a ship in the middle of it was even better. Probably dropping everything else in the world for two weeks helped, also. I read a really good book which gave me lots to think about while I just sat on the tail of the ship. By the last few days I felt like a totally different person. Maybe it felt a lot like I did when I was 25 or so. I seemed purposeful and full of promise. Now I’m back and it feels a lot like I missed the train or something. I’m back at the same job I’ve been working for over seven years. Not that it’s a bad thing. I think this job is good for me, but lately I’m wondering if I wouldn’t grow more elsewhere.
So much happened that I want to write about, but I’m just not in the mood for writing. I’m tempted to Excerpt it all here, but that seems cop-out’ish. Were it not for friends and family I think I would seek a change of venue. Not that I think I could find a niche in Hawaii, but closer to the ocean would be nice. Besides, after living in paradise how could you go on (or even visit) elsewhere? Kauai was heart-breakingly beautiful. The ocean was warm. There are chickens everywhere.

Sands of Time

So this last couple weeks have been a frenzy of preparation for the CAU Holiday Sale. (along with preparations for SC in Austin and Christmas in Hawaii [although Debbie is mostly handling Hawaii*])
Anyway, I had list after list of things that I needed to remember to handle taking up little bits of paper in my pockets, among which was a note to get some butchers paper in which to wrap the sales.*** I remembered from a past life where I worked in a book bindery that they used to give out the ends of the rolls of paper (endrolls –clever, eh?) to people who wanted them. I thought that as it was a greener time recycling places may have worked deals with them, but I hauled myself on over anyway.
I walked in to an empty reception area and caught the eye of a guy standing in the hall. He looked familiar, but for me, who doesn’t? As he walked up I started to say, “I used to work here a long time ago and remembered you used to give out endrolls.” No sooner did I say this than my brain clicked and I recoginzed one of the women standing in the hall as one of the girls who ran the collator when I worked there. Time did that funny thing where it rubber-bands back to an earlier time and flashes around for a minute. Suddenly it was 20-ish years ago when I worked there all the guys would have chased her, but she was queen of the ‘you creep’ stare down. She was one of those girls who wouldn’t give anyone the time of day. I asked her once, because I really wondered what time it was. She gave me the look, turned and walked away. I knew she was out of my league, I really just wanted to know the time.
Then time snapped back and the weight of two decades whalluped me. I was completely floored that someone I still knew worked there, the job just wasn’t that promising. She still had the same haircut even, and I would have been hard pressed to admit they weren’t the exact same clothes when last I saw her, so maybe change wasn’t her thing. The guy I started talking to told me to drive around to the loading dock, “you remember where that is, right?” I had to admit I didn’t because the old printing house is now a strip club a few blocks away. They moved a few years after the bindery and I parted ways. He told me where it was and I beat a hasty retreat. I don’t know if I could have withstood another timefugue.
I picked up three rolls of good paper. I’ve got to remember to check out more production cast-offs for supplies more often.
* good thing I didn’t need to subreference again**
** doh!
*** if any

The Zombie Cat Cometh!

So on Sunday afternoon I went to take the recycling out to the can by the side of my house and I noticed a strange cat sitting on the new garage pad at the back of the yard. Now this cat was strange, not merely unfamiliar, so I walked back a bit to get a better look. As I walked back the cat arose from it’s haunches and began to lurch towards me. My first impression was how an arthritic cat, who was unfamiliar, in addition to being strange, came to be in my back yard. Generally all our cats run off all feline interlopers, even ones that used to be welcome. As I got closer what I had mistaken for a cat shaved from the neck down developed (to my horror) to be afflicted with some sort of malady, nutritional or otherwise, that had rendered it nude. In addition I could clearly see every bone in the poor creatures body as malnutrition had taken a toll on the beasts mass. Startled, I recoiled a pace or two as a preservational proximity alert chimed in my head. With cinematic timing that would have made George Romero proud the cat’s jaw dropped and it let out a gravely cry. Now, I’m not one to have ever interpreted tongues, but in my head I heard the zombie call. “Braaaaiins!” I scooped up a handful of gravel from the ground and tossed it in the general direction of the cat, afraid that if the pebbles actually struck it they might tear through the beast like tissue paper. Undeterred, the cat continued to close distance at a snails pace. Equally appropriately to the situation, I failed to use my superior coordination to get safely away.
I yelled (and backed up a step). I stamped my foot (and took two more steps back). The cat was closing on me. Any second now it would be in reach. I finally let out a manly wail and broke into a run for the front door.
“What’s the matter with you?” my wife asked, turning from her computer.
“Where are our cats?” I couldn’t keep the tremor out of my voice. I started searching on chairs under tables trying to count pets.
She got up and started for the door, “What happened?”
“Don’t open it!” I shreaked. “Zombie Cat!”
She went to the door, “Oh the poor thing!”
One of us sent Kayla out back to gather up Stan and Narby.
“What’s it doing?” I managed, cracking open the brand new phne book.
“It’s eating the food on the porch.”
I found the number for animal control and began dialing. I wondered what percentage of brains was in the cat food. An automated message told me the phone number for animal control had been changed. At this point the phone should have gone dead, but my luck held out. I dialed the new number. An automated message came up telling me to listen to the options and to push 1 for some non-zombie animal situation. I sat listening to my choices waiting for some sort of Buffy option but none came. I finally pushed 0 to talk to an operator. After a moment a synthetic voice came back telling me to listen to the options and push 1 for… I pushed 0 again.
And again.
“Please listen to our options.”
Animal control was out. So I went to get my cell phone because it has the number for police dispatch on it from a car accident a couple years ago. Debbie was still looking at the door making sympathetic comments. I love her for caring about everything, even the undead pets.
Dispatch answers and I describe the zombie cat on my porch eating cat food. They tell me to call animal control and I told them I’d tried, and maybe everyone there was dead already. (ok, I didn’t say that last part, but it did cross my mind.) They say there’s nothing they can do.
“Can I kill it?” I ask.
“That will probably result in animal cruelty charges.” I’m told.
“It wouldn’t be cruelty, it would be…” and here I can’t think of the word merciful so I end up muttering, “better… stopping… Well, it’s not in good shape.” I finish lamely.
They asked if I called a certain number and I said I didn’t that I’d tried one number and gotten a changed number and then the other one just told me to listen to my options. The kind, yet dispassionate dispatch officer, knowing how to deal with the over imaginative, adrenaline-addled horror movie susceptible segment of the population gave me a fourth number.
I dial the fourth number and begin to tell another person of my brush with the feline undead. I get a quick response, “Do you have the animal trapped?”
“What?” I’m a bit taken aback, as this seems like a step in a positive direction.
“Do you have it in a cardboard box, or something?”
“I’m not going near that,” and again I imagine the tissue-paper thin skin tearing as I try to pick it up in my welding-gloved hands.
“Well, if you catch it we can send somebody out, otherwise…”
“Isn’t this animal control?” I ask, wondering if I could borrow a protective storm-trooper outfit or something.
“No, they’re closed on Sundays, this is the County Sheriff’s office. Do you still have a visual on the animal?”
“Can you see it?” I ask my wife who is still at the door.
“No, it went back around the side of the house.”
I relay the information to the sheriff.
“Sorry, if you don’t have at least a visual and we send an officer out, he’s just going to wander around your yard a second and leave, so it’s really not worth the time.”
It makes sense, yet I feel somehow let down.
“Ok,” I tell her.
“Call us back if you catch it.” and she rings off.
I ask Debbie where the cat went, and bravely (in my mind, as I still am unprotected from my knees to my toes) walk out on the porch. She tells me back up the driveway and I go investigate, but it seems the zombie cat has disappeared into the dark of the afternoon.

How do I procrastinate? Let me list the ways…

So I can’t sleep, I feel like when I was in the middle of chemo with my liver giving me a hard time. My left shoulder aches deep in the socket and I just feel run down. Generally I let bygones be bygones and don’t try to catch up here, but as I can’t sleep and have a few pics floating around my camera still, I figured what the hey. So let’s see what we missed…
Back when I was getting the chemo I noticed that all my fingernails had a weak spot that resulted in a ridge like that one on my thumb. The thumb was the worst, and it all coincided with the start of the chemo in January. The ridge has since grown out, right around the end of may on most of the fingernails, but they are all weak and flexible. It’s hard to peel labels off anything. Peeling labels is a kind of compulsional hobby with me, so I’m excited for when they get stronger.
As I went through the chemo my liver test numbers started to come back with alarmingly high numbers, although I wasn’t jaundiced at all. The doc said I ought to be Homer Simpson colored, but never showed. They gave me time off, but when I started back the numbers would creep upwards again. At the end of June they decided I’d had enough chemo. They said I just couldn’t take it anymore and they wanted to stop before the liver damage became permanent. I had no complaints by then, and as luck would have it, I would have had to go through the $3000.00 out-of-pocket expense again starting July, and was just as happy to have it gone.
On the 4th of July I was starting to feel a bit better and we did the (now traditional) trip down to Mt. Pleasant for the celebration. I’ve always thought the above sign in Fairview was hilarious, so I finally took a picture.
We did the usual hang out at the park gathering, visiting, parade and fireworks. While hanging out at John and Laura’s BBQ I found this little guy. I’m always amazed at the scale some things go through during a lifetime.
We had a conference for work in Cedar City in August, so we figured we’d go golfing at the local course one afternoon. We couldn’t figure out why the groundskeepers didn’t drive off the swarms of mammal hazards. Later we were told that they’re a protected species, and can’t be killed. Looks like they’re thriving, and it makes golf a bit more interesting.
I suppose there’s more, but it’s not nearly as fun catching up as it is to write about what I’m thinking about. Unfortunately, I often think about things and wish I could just sit down right then and put it in the record, but I’m usually busy at the time and can’t do it until later. And later never feels like the time to write.

Cactus Flowers

Walking back to my car today I noticed that the Mines Building cacti were in bloom. With the building marked for demolition this might be the last year.