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Missing Pictures

Okay, I'm sick and tired of procrastinating with these pictures, and I'm pretty sure that you're getting sick of waiting for them. So, without further ado, I'll just post them here for you to see.

West Coast Brewtrip: zoinks

Kentucky Wedding: blammd

I'll finish writing the descriptions when I damn well feel like it.

12:24 PM, Oct 2, 2006

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My First Day

I got up at 7:20am, took a long, leisurely shower, got dressed, and with four minutes to spare, walked across the street to orientation. "Orientation" entailed the filling out of HR papers for two hours, and getting my bus pass($15!). I was then sent directly to my office, down on 63rd. It took me 13 minutes to drive it. That's roughly one third of the time it takes to drive to Leavenworth, and one fourth of the distance.

I didn't take the big box full of crap from my old office in, because I figured they wouldn't have any room for me yet. I was wrong. They had almost everything ready for me. They even had a computer for me: a very nice pre-Lenovo Thinkpad, on which I had to be given administrator privileges, but otherwise has proven an excellent laptop. The people on my team, for the first time in my life, are mostly about my age, and are a really fun group. We went to lunch at some Mexican place in Raytown, and they seemed to adopt me as one of their own. They even tried a newbie trick on me, for which I did not fall.

I will be taking my box of crap to the office tomorrow. And for the foreseeable future after that, I'll be taking the bus. So far, I like the job. Maybe at some point, I'll be trained well enough to do some actual work.

5:09 PM, Oct 2, 2006

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An Exhibition Walk

Kelly and I walked to Terra's new place last night. She informed me that I was to choose the route. Terra lives in Roanoke, so I chose Southwest Boulevard as the main route. Kelly then berated me for choosing such a "roundabout" way. As you'll see however, from the map below, it was not an extended route.

route

The untrained eye will see a normal walk of a couple miles from my house to Terra's house in Midtown(the black smudge, denoted in brown with "T's"). And that's exactly what it was until we took a wrong turn. Do you see that straight north and south part that runs to the right of the big brown "T?" That's the most horrible hill I've walked in some time. Kelly took it with ease, and cruelly always stayed about a step ahead of me, goading me on.

While climbing this god-damned hill, my activity-induced asthma threatened to return after two years in "remission," as I began wheezing uselessly. I was breathing faster than I do when I run, and I was definitely more tired than when I run. We reached the top, and my fingers felt like sausages. To my dismay, however, it turned out we could have taken the much more gentle hill through Roanoke Park to get to Terra's, but what's done is done. Now we know.

We hung out with Terra for a bit, and I got a little dizzy from paint and varnish fumes. After we were there for perhaps forty minutes, Kelly and I said good-night, and started walking over to Broadway to catch the 51 back downtown. Every time I'm in Roanoke, I tell myself that I'm not going to get lost on their streets to nowhere, but as soon as I say that, I get lost. The streets wind maddeningly away from the direction you want to go, as they skirt the sunken park.

After negotiating the crazy winding streets of Roanoke, Kelly and I emerged at Roanoke and Valentine, and I knew exactly where we were. We walked through Coleman Highlands, Valentine, and came out near the MAX stop(the 51 was an unmarked bust) at Main and Armour. We took the bus back downtown, and I got to try out my new bus pass.

I took the most excellent shower in recent memory when I got home.

7:58 AM, Oct 4, 2006
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Day one on the ATA

I woke up at 6:30, got cleaned up, dressed, and headed out into the pre-dawn darkness to catch the 25. The bus drew up promptly at about 6:55, for a 7:03 departure, and the driver fled like a madman into the Marriott across the street. I can only assume he had something spicy for breakfast. He emerged sweaty from the hotel about ten minutes later(two minutes late for departure), sprinted back across the street, boarded us, and lurched off down 12th toward Troost.

By the time the bus rolled into the Truman Hospital area, the bus was packed to the gills. The 25 offers the most frequent service in Kansas City, more even than the vaunted MAX, but is still far more crowded for almost its entire length. There were no "big" stops. People were just constantly getting on and off. It was like a real bus in a real city.

I got off at 63rd St. The schedule on which I blithely settled the previous night as I was yawning off to bed gave me about seven or eight minutes before my connection(the 163) would come along. When I got off, I looked to my right, and saw the bus I had to catch bearing down on the intersection, only a block away. I made my way across both crosswalks to the stop, and the bus rolled into place just as I reached it.

Ten minutes later, I was standing in front of my building. I think I might try to take a different bus down tomorrow.

8:11 AM, Oct 4, 2006

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MN and DST

I just got back from Minneapolis. The pictures from the weekend(all 190 of them) are coming off the camera as I type this. The weekend was a blast, and we never had a moment for anything but family fun. For many that would be a nasty proposition, but since my family is awesome we were happy to ruin Minnesota together. The great time I had was well worth the twelve hours I spent driving there and back.

I'll complete my orientation with DST's HR department tomorrow at 8am, and once again it'll be right across the street from my house. That means that with a 100' commute, I'll be able to sleep until about ten minutes prior to arrival.

The actual work that the job involves began on Thursday. I have to work with some application people about getting logging or some kind of alarm set up for some filesystems that won't mount on boot for some systems. That's the boring one, and I'm still not sure how I'm supposed to get it done. I'll tackle that this next week. The exciting project, however, involves compiling some hardware utilization statistics for the first ten business days of October, and importing it all into some goofy spreadsheet, because the important people like graphs.

Anyway I'm happy to do it. It's a fun programming exercise. It really feels great to have a job that gives me work that's not fall-off-a-log easy. I got my vacation payoff from General Dynamics on Friday, so I'm set for a while. I just hope that my first paycheck from DST is a full one, instead of a prorated one, but I think it will be the latter.

I'll get the pictures uploaded as soon as I can.

8:53 PM, Oct 8, 2006

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Myspace

One of the latest crazes among media types out there is to expound on the wickedness of the social networking juggernaut, Myspace. The authors of the Myspace site have had the audacity to provide people the opportunity to communicate in an almost unprecedented manner, and in such a way that people find it enjoyable. What nerve!

My best guess is that Myspace wasn't written to facilitate hostility and name-calling over the internet. But even if that somehow may have been the original intent, that isn't the expressed purpose of it. Like any tool, it can be used both responsibly and irresponsibly. At its best, it is a fantastic tool for establishing and maintaining contact in an easy and casual way, with friends and acquaintances all over the world. The site has over 100,000,000 users now, and that places it within the realm of what I call, "the real world."

The real world has good people and bad people. When you're out walking in the real world, you put your wallet in your pocket, and pay attention to it. You often say hello to people you pass, but in a guarded, reserved way. The real world can be dangerous and upsetting. Some kids in Texas just got sued by an upset assistant principal for using Myspace to call her a lesbian in a public forum. What I like about this case is that it isn't the technology that's being demonized, but the kids themselves. It's a great example of someone seeing through the enabling technology, to the perpetrators of the offense, and taking action against the offenders themselves(and their parents).

The real world can be great too, moreso than the bad, I've found. With that in mind, I see no reason to attack Myspace, as it's just a window out into the real world, where bad people can do bad things to you. You just have to be careful. I'm careful when I'm using a big knife to cut meat, as it can quite easily cut off any and all of my fingers, but it also cuts meat into manageable pieces too. A knife is a tool to be used responsibly. So is Myspace.

2:17 PM, Oct 12, 2006

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Bad at the Bus

I haven't done very well with riding the bus. Unfortunately, I have been staying up too late to get a full night's sleep. The bus leaves at 7:03am from Barney Allis Plaza, a couple blocks away. For me to catch it, I need to get up no later than 6:20am, to allow enough time for morning activities. That translates to a bedtime between 9pm and 10pm, with a little time to read myself to sleep.

On Monday and Tuesday, I had more orientation stuff across the street from my house, so I could make sure to opt out of all the extra benefits that cost me payroll deductions, and stick to the ones that are free(medical & dental). On Tuesday night, I was invited out, but stayed in, with the intent of going to bed in accordance with the terms I described above. But I wound up playing Chrono Trigger until midnight. Sigh. I'm a bad influence on myself. So I drove on Wednesday.

I went to Grinders last night and met up with Chris, Nick, and Anna. Chris wisely left at a reasonable hour to allow a full night's sleep. I was of no such properly functioning mind. I went to Nick and Anna's new place near JP Wine Bar and hung out with them until 1am. This morning, my alarm went off at 6:20am, and given the choice between getting up now and getting ready and sleeping for another hour and a half to drive, I chose the latter.

Tonight! I will not go out, unless it improves my chances with a woman. That's always a deal-breaker, by the way. I will be on the bus tomorrow at 7:03am, dammit!

11:16 PM, Oct 12, 2006

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The Datacenter Smell

The work has been going well. The time passes like lightning while I'm here, because I almost always have something enjoyable to do. I suppose I'll get stuck with some unpleasant work at some point, but for now, things are great. I'm working on a project to produce a graph that shows some system statistics for the first ten business days of October. To do this, I wrote a semi-elaborate perl script that collects the information and outputs a format that'll be usable in Excel.

Interestingly, it's perl with which I'm more comfortable, and not Excel. So, pursuant to this, I keep editing the perl scripts to make a format that requires fewer and fewer actions on my part, when I run Excel. I'm very funny to myself.

It's nice being back in a big-iron environment. I haven't even been in a datacenter since I was a puny tier-1 contractor at the OSSC in Lenexa. I had forgotten about the smell. Datacenters smell awesome. The white noise of omnipresent fans and air conditioners, combined with the new-car smell of plastic and silicon, wafts a cold breeze into your nostrils that reminds you how expensive all this stuff is, and that it's all for you to work with.

It's really wonderful.

11:24 PM, Oct 12, 2006

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Minnesota Wedding Pictures

I have uploaded all the pictures from the wedding, and started writing descriptions for them. Have a look whenever you get the itch.

11:29 PM, Oct 12, 2006

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Early Cold

Winter has paid us an early visit here in KC. Temperatures dipped below freezing last night, and I loved it. When it gets cold, I like to sleep with the window open, so I can bundle myself up in bed. I made the first use of the season of my "Illinois Quilt," last night, and stayed warm all night, despite the cold breeze in the room. The annoying part is showering in a room where the temperature is probably in the upper forties.

I took the bus today, and knocked off a couple pages in the book I'm reading. There's not a lot of grass to look at as the 25 comes down Troost from downtown, through midtown, but when I made the transfer to the 63rd Street bus, grass lawns were much more common. I noticed that the night's cold had installed a layer of steely frost on the grass, making swope park look like a scene from a black and white movie.

I really love cold weather. It feels clean, and I really enjoy the feeling of bundled fabric keeping me warm.

8:29 AM, Oct 13, 2006

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Usernames and Passwords

The user signup stuff in the comments has been broken for a long, long time. It accepted users that already existed, but not new ones. I have finally fixed this, and added the users that have set themselves up in the system since it stopped working. You should be able to sign up to create users and also to change those users' passwords, from now on.

If you've already made a user, but don't remember the password for it, feel free to email me, and I'll reset your password.

Thanks for bearing with me in my period of extreme laziness.

1:40 PM, Oct 13, 2006

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Beerfest in KC

I didn't go out on Thursday or Friday nights. I stayed in on Thursday to get enough sleep to catch the bus at 7am. I stayed in on Friday because I didn't really feel like doing anything, and because nothing in particular was going on. So, I was in bed on Friday night by about 9:30pm, and slept all the way until 8am. I started texting and calling around, asking people if they wanted to meet for breakfast at Succotash at 10:30am. I looked at the temperature(37 degrees) and bundled up before I walked over to the City market, to meet up with Matt, Erp, Josh, and Callie.

The Market was abuzz with activity, despite the cold. Erp said that even though he lived only a few blocks away, he had never been to the Market on a Saturday morning, which is when they are the most active. People come from all over the city to buy flowers, plants, fresh fruit and vegetables, meats, spices, art, and more. In the more pleasant months, the City Market is a pretty exciting place to be on weekends.

Anyway, we all met at Succotash, which overlooks the Market. Breakfast was lovely and the service was slow. That's fine, as we were really in no hurry anyway. My plan was to walk into Grinders at about 12:30pm. We finished breakfast, and Matt took the leftover potatoes over to his place, where Josh, Callie, Erp and I wandered around looking at the Fist & Main developments. Matt came down, and we walked over to the bus stop at Third and Grand. The bus pulled up right when we got there. It was great. We got off at 19th and Main, and a couple of minutes later Grinders was in view from the corner of 18th and Oak. I checked my watch: 12:28pm.

We walked in and foolishly paid for some beers at the bar before going outside and seeing that the participants in the Kansas City Craft Brewers Festival, the reason we had come, were almost done setting up their wares. We quickly finished our beers and jumped into the beerfest.

I started with a Dogfish Head 90 Minute Imperial IPA, and continued for the whole event, consuming no fewer than fifteen commemorative tasting glasses full of beers from McCoy's, 75th Street, The Power Plant, Boulevard, Schlafly, Burgerbrau, Dogfish Head, Delerium, Unibroue, Arcadia, Monty Python, Russian River, Avery, Breckenridge, and more that I can't remember. Bottom line: the festival was wonderful, and a far cry from the disaster that was last year's festival.

They could have promoted it better, as it was attended by only about one fifth of the crowd for which they had hoped. But, they promoted it well enough for me to hear about it, and that's fine with me. They never ran out of beer, which is a shame for the event, but was good for us, because everything was available the whole time. The weather was a godsend. It was cold in the morning, but the abundant sunshine warmed it up a lot, and actually gave me a bit of sunburn. By the time of the festival, the temperature was comfortably in the middle sixties, and the sky was radiantly clear.

By 5pm, our fingers were numb, and everyone was in a singing mood. Matt took his leave to go watch the Wizards game and fall asleep. The remaining four of us walked up to 15th and Grand for dinner at the Thai Paradise. I had a panang curry dish with tofu. It was incredible. Josh and Callie left from there to go to Californo's in Westport to see some band. Neither Erp nor I felt like traveling to Midtown, so we wished them a good night.

Erp wanted to see the KSU-Nebraska game, which was apparently only available via pay-per-view, even in Kansas City. We walked over to Tanner's at 10th and Broadway, and inquired at the door. We figured if any place would have the KSU game on, it'd be Tanner's. They did not, so we gave up on that, and went to the Peanut at 9th and Washington. We had a beer there and moved on to the Red Front, way over by 6th and Mcgee. Sarah the girl-next-door bartender took good care of us before we decided to finish the night at Harry's over at Walnut and Missouri.

When we walked into Harry's we spotted a table full of KC's beer illuminati: Anton the co-owner of Grinders, JB the regional sales manager for Boulevard, Mark the sales manager for Missouri Beverage, and some assorted other peddlers of good beer. They had all come over to Harry's after the beerfest ended. They invited us to join them, and we all talked about beer until the bar closed at 1:30am. Neither of us wanted to push the evening any later, as we had been at full steam since 1pm. We shook hands and called it a night.

11:10 PM, Oct 15, 2006

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Bored at The Office

I got up at the crack of dawn today and... Well actually, I got up about an hour before that, as the days definitely seem to be getting shorter. Anyway, I was *this* close to calling off the bus for one day and driving in, and getting another hour of sleep. But as I leaned on the wall above the toilet, it occurred to me that I got bountiful amounts of sleep this past weekend, and had gotten a full night in what I was now considering extending by another hour. The words of my wise friend Cole came into my head:

"Have you ever considered sucking it up?"

So that's what I did. I never really hurried when I was getting ready, but I still arrived at the bus stop a full ten minutes early. The total cloud cover guaranteed that any sunrise would be hardly noticable, though it was undeniably still dark when I hopped on the bus at 6:53am. The bus was still crowded, but nothing like the one that leaves ten minutes later. I only had one person ever have to sit by me, forcing me to put my legs together and wedge myself in place by anchoring my knees into the back of the seat in front of me.

One observation I've made is that driving to work in the morning is a snap. Getting home from work in the evening is a terrible pain in the ass. A great deal of downtown is all ripped up right now, including most ntably, the total closure of I-35's northbound lanes. This causes everyone to divert over to Broadway, which is basically the only way north or south on the west side of downtown. Just getting near it is a trial, because most of the surrounding streets are clogged with cars trying to turn onto it.

However, taking the bus home is much, much easier for me. They all enter downtown from streets farther to the East, and when they drop me off, I'm no slower at getting around than at any other time of day.

I write all this relatively boring information because I am officially bored for the first time at the new job. I have two projects, and few other personal projects to take care of, but the heat in this place is making me restless. I think I'll step outside.

3:12 PM, Oct 16, 2006

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A Couple Beerfest Pics

I took some pictures at the beerfest on Saturday, and thought you might like to see them. They're all viewable in the random set, or by clicking on any of them.

055matt.jpg 052joshdances.jpg 056mashed_potatoes.jpg 051not_smiling.jpg

7:54 AM, Oct 18, 2006

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Perl for Strength

I drove to the office yesterday, because I had errands to run after work. I went a long way without ever leaving Kansas City proper, but I went and bought some new pants and shirts for the new job, as the ones I had had kind of fallen by the wayside. I also took care of a problem I've had for a long time: I got groceries, and somehow managed to jam them into temporary free spots in the fridge and pantry when I got home.

I have been doing a lot of programming. I have been doing so much programming, in fact, that I have noticed my skill improving in the short time that I've had this job. The project I finished this week was great for getting me more acquainted with the servers here at work, and how they talk to each other. I hope my next project is similar.

Anyway, back to the "grind."

7:39 AM, Oct 19, 2006

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Internet Explorer Seven

In what I'd hoped was the death rattle for the worst web browser in popular use, Microsoft released version seven of Internet Explorer today, and I decided to give it a whirl.

It requires the infamous Service Pack 2 to function, which I have refused to install at home. But on the laptop they gave me at my new job, SP2 came preinstalled, so I disabled as many of the stupid crap items and services as I could, and now I have a semi-tolerable laptop running Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 2. With an eligible machine, I installed it.

My initial reaction was how long it took to install. The progress bar is useless. I don't even know why there is one. It just moves a little nubbin from left to right, and then does it again. It gives the user no indication as to what percentage of the installation work has been done, or even what is being done at any given time. I gave the developers the benefit of the doubt with this, as it has little to do with the overall experience with the new browser.

Another slightly insignificant change, but one that's still very indicative of a conscious shift in branding, is the new name of the product. It used to be called "Microsoft Internet Explorer." Now it's called "Windows Internet Explorer." I wonder what this portents.

The installer finished after about ten minutes of nothing overt, and told me that I had to reboot my computer. I thought that Microsoft had worked to cure itself of the reboot disease, but apparently not. Luckily, it gives you the option to "reboot later," but warns vehemently against rebooting any later than right now. I clicked on the button to tell the installer to buzz off, as I had work to do, and it freaked out with another popup. It said something to the effect of, "You stupid moron! We told you to reboot! Reboot, damn you!" This was followed with an admonition of how other things- things that have notyhing to do with Internet Explorer, might stop working because I didn't reboot. I dismissed, but took the threat to heart. I gracefully closed all my apps, and rebooted.

When the system came back up, the Internet Explorer icon on my desktop had a neat little yellow ring on it. I double-clicked it, and it tried to bring up some victory page from msn.com. It tried and tried, but never could quite get there. I hit cancel, and the screen was all white within the browser window. After a couple of seconds, a window popped up, informing me that Internet Explorer was not currently set as my default browser, and asked me if I'd like to change that. I told it no, and remarked at how long it took for it to figure that out.

This is not a slow computer. It's a Pentium M 1.8GHz Thinkpad T42 laptop. It's actually the nicest laptop I've ever had, and the nicest I've seen besides my roommate's Apple laptop. That said, Internet Explorer runs very slowly on it. Menus and configuration widgets are very sluggish in coming up, moving, and in any kind of manipulation.

Microsoft said on their website that their users asked for features, and Microsoft answered. Indeed, joining with the likes of Firefox, Opera, Safari, and other browsers that have done this now for years, Internet Explorer now features tabbed browsing, thrusting its users into the future of web browsing. That is assuming that the current user is stuck in 1997.

Microsoft had some excellent ideas with their implementation of tabbed browsing, but unfortunately came up short. Like other software elements of the browser, the tabs are clunky and slow to manipulate, and feel clumsy and ungainly after doing similar things in Firefox. I can't middle click my home icon to bring up my home page in a new tab. When I close a tab, I can see the various movements in the user interface, especially(about one in every three times) the page taking its time to disappear.

Basic page loading is also slow. It's as if leaving the application idle made it forget how to react to commands issued to it, so it had to remember all over again how to do it, and then request my page. The right-click menu(something I use a lot) is very sluggish, and not very helpful. Once again, Firefox wins in the category of being able to right-click a picture and view it, while Internet Explorer has the option, "Show Picture" greyed out. I have actually never seen that option available before.

One personal problem I have with Internet Explorer is that is ruins the fonts on my webpage(this webpage- The one you're reading right now), especially the smaller fonts that I use for user comments. Observe.

Here is my comment page under Firefox:

Firefox

...and here is my comment page under IE7:

Internet Explorer

I'll let the images speak for themselves. Realize that I am doing nothing strange with my fonts. They are all standard Verdana fonts, but for some reason, IE7 can't handle them.

The last feature of this new web browser I want to talk about is its ability to aggregate news feeds natively. This is indeed a nice feature, but like so many things about this browser, it's too late. They have an ingenious little feed icon on the page that is supposed to "detect" when there's a feed associated with a page. It doesn't do this on my own page, which is understandable, but even after I manually enter my page's feed address and load it into the browser, it still makes no effort to store it, or even to ask me to do so, even though it claims to save every feed that the user loads.

Furthermore, since the proliferation of feed aggregators that are 100% online, like my favorite, which is not surprisingly made by Google, I see no reason for having feedreading applications tied to your computer. For me, it just creates yet another difference between my work machine and my home machine. It's an unnecessary feature that I'd never use, so it just takes up screen real estate for me.

Internet Explorer 7 is proof that Microsoft doesn't know what its users want, and is still years behind just about every standalone browser I've ever used.

3:09 PM, Oct 19, 2006

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The Red Balloon

After skipping out of the office last night, I decided to take another route home, as I had the car. Instead of taking the closest exit to my home, at 14th and Broadway, I got off the highway at the Paseo and traversed city streets to get home. The travel time was about the same, but not nearly as frustrating. I think one way I could avoid trouble with traffic when I have the car at the office, is to make sure to have an errand to run, so by the time I get downtown, it's well outside the half-hour from Hell(5pm to 5:30pm), when Broadway is a parking lot.

Anyway, I got home, and was delighted to hear from my friend Alex that he'll be coming down to KC for the big Halloween party next week. I had to cut him off after a little while though, as I only had an hour to eat, get dressed, gas up, pick up Terra and Erp, and get down to 75th and I-35 in Shawnee, where the coalition of willing kickball players convened for a mad bout of karaoke. At first it was just Terra, Erp, Chris, and me staring at each other from across a pair of small, pushed-together circular tables.

We chose the Red Balloon for our merrymaking, because they advertise karaoke every night of the week. We settled into some pitchers of Miller High Life that were ambitiously priced at $7.50 each. Apparently, that was the discounted happy hour price, and after 8, they went for $9 apiece. We accepted our fate and gulped down the Champagne of Beers with gusto. It soon became apparent that the Red Balloon is lame. Not to say that the bar itself was bad, but that the clientele were not of the hip urban sort. Country music songs were mouthed by all the regular patrons, "dressed up" in khakis and nascar jackets. It was so smoky that when I went to the bathroom later, I blew my nose, and could smell smoke in my snot as it came out.

We were just starting to doubt whether we should have come when, just after 8pm, the karaoke began in earnest. Most of the music played was of the country/alt-country/hard rock variety, so we decided as a group, that we would play ball. I went up first among us and sang Sister Golden Hair by America. The crowd seemed to enjoy it, and I know I did. Erp went up and sang Wanted Dead or Alive by Bon Jovi. The crowd really got into that. Brad sang Papa Loved Mama by Garth Brooks in a hilarious display of country-style arm-swinging. The crowd was really into that song. We knew after Brad sang what kind of a place we had entered.

Before I sang again, a man and a woman went up and sang Total Eclipse of the Heart by Bonnie Tyler, and I just about lost my voice singing along. All the guys at our table were inserting the swear words into the appropriate parts, as well.

Even though the Red Balloon definitely is lame, we all had a sensational time. I look forward to next week's activity.

10:26 AM, Oct 20, 2006

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Awesome Nothing

I didn't do anything this weekend, and it was awesome. Actually, I did have a brief night out with the boys, involving 75th St Brewery, Mike Kelly's Westsider, and 12Baltimore, and during which I left my car on the side of the street down in Waldo.

Erp and I went to find some Halloween costumes on Saturday, and managed to find some excellent stuff. Today, I took the bus back down to Waldo to get my car today, and Jeff and I cleaned the fridge.

Fun fun.

8:09 PM, Oct 22, 2006

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Firefox Two

The crazies over at Mozilla apparently staged the v2.0 release of Firefox on their big-pipe servers, in preparation for tomorrow's release. When I saw that this had happened, I figured it'd be a good idea to be part of the problem and spread the word, as well as download the new browser.

In the interest of fairness to Microsoft's product, I thought I'd say a couple words about this browser too.

The install, as always before, is a snap. Just double-click the icon you download, and follow the very simple instructions, and the actually file-copying takes only a couple of seconds. Since no system files need to be reinitialized or anything, no reboot is required, of course. You're ready to browse roughly ten seconds after running the installer.

With Firefox 2.0 you get all the previous advantages that the Firefox browser has, including my favorite: not being directly linked to the operating system's inner-workings. I'm not going to talk about anything that's already old news regarding the browser though. I have three complaints.

First, two of my many many extensions didn't make it through. This isn't really that big a deal though. They're just not compatible with the newest version of Firefox. They will be soon. So, I can live without them while the developers fix the wagon, as they're both much more for aesthetics anyway.

Top Left The second and third complaints have to do with useless things taking up screen real estate. The second complaint as to do with the unmovable green arrow next to the url bar, which is equivalent to the "Go!" button in Internet Explorer. There is no option to get rid of it. If I customize my toolbar, it's included in the "location bar." That means that if I remove the annoying green arrow the entire url bar disappears too.

Tabs My third complaint is those little X-marks that they put on every single tab. To my knowledge, they cannot be removed either. Perhaps I'll root around in the "about:config" area, and see what I can find. I say this is annoying because they naturally truncate the readable text in the tab, and because they're completely unnecessary. I can close the tabs by right-clicking them and clicking on "close tab," by hitting Ctrl-F4 when I'm looking at the contents of the tab, or my favorite: simply middle-clicking the tab, whether I'm looking at it or not.

One parting shot/supporting complaint isn't really about version 2.0 per se, but rather about Firefox in general. Every time I run an install- that is, every time I update, search plugins are automatically restored to their original state, including several that I never use. I don't use them, so I delete them. Amazon, Yahoo, Ebay, Creative Commons, and Answers.com all get reinstated when the browser updates. That's a minor annoyance though.

Actually all the complaints I have with Firefox 2.0, and Firefox in general, have to do with little minor annoyances, all of which are forgivable. I haven't been using Firefox 2.0 for that long now, but I have nothing to indicate anything that different from previous releases. I have encountered no show-stoppers. It renders pages perfectly, so I really have no complaints, except about stupid crap small stuff.

Bottom line: go ahead and upgrade to 2.0 if you're using Firefox. If you're still voluntarily using Internet Explorer, and aren't stuck in a no-choice situation(like, for instance, your place of employment doesn't allow you to install software), then what the hell are you waiting for?

3:50 PM, Oct 23, 2006

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Old Archives

Not that you care, but I finally just got around to updating the archive section to display the old stuff in a format that allows you to see current things on the website as I like them. For example, have a look at the page I made for February 2003. The only things as far as I know, that ever grab these files anymore are internet robots. They were throwing lots of nasty errors and sometimes leaving persistent processes on the server, which is bad. So replacing them was good.

2:20 PM, Oct 24, 2006

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Password Safe

I have been using Password Safe since my Sprint days, but I wasn't aware of the features offered in its newest version. It's a really amazing, yet simple piece of software. Simple little touches like being able to store a URL that can be activated with a mouse-click, with a username/password entry, make it a great way to store your passwords. My favorite new feature though, is the autotype feature. Set the cursor on the username field, switch over to password safe, bring up the entry, and hit "Perform Autotype." It fills out the username and password for you, and logs you in.

Anyway, I highly recommend it for use in today's ridiculous world of passwords.

4:05 PM, Oct 25, 2006

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Italian Excess

Last night, I left the office at about 5:30pm and zigzagged all over the southeast side of Kansas City for a while, making my way south and west toward Waldo. I was meeting the boys from work over at Cascone's in Overland Park at 6:30pm, so I had some time to kill. I stopped at Waldo Pizza to see if they have any of the wonderful Bell's Two Hearted Ale left, and they told me that whenever they get a case of it, it sells out in only a day or two. After that, they have to wait a while longer to get another short-lived case. It looks to me like KC's distributor for Bell's beer needs to get on the ball and stock this stuff on a more abundant basis.

I had to settle for a cask IPA over at 75th St Brewery. It's still delicious, but when you want a Two Hearted Ale, it just doesn't cut it. I drank down the cask IPA, and got back in my car. Wanting to avoid Metcalf, I drove down Mission Road to 95th. Dinner was a lot of fun, and the Chicken Spedini was delicious. I had two glasses of wine: one Rosso and an Chianti Classico. Both were delicious, but I think they affected me a little more than I had expected.

I was dizzy until two in the morning, and I kept waking myself up with a start about once an hour. Italian wine is delicious, but I think I'll avoid it for a while.

I got up this morning and realized that for last week's staff meeting, I was the last one in the door, and late. This means that I was required to bring in donuts. I hit every single light between my place an Lamar's on the 3400 block of Main, and at every light between there and the office. It's been a slow morning.

Tonight, we have trivia at the Record Bar, though the attendees have been dropping like flies. I think we're only going to be able to have one team.

10:09 AM, Oct 26, 2006

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The Party Was

Trivia was of course a total blast, and Nathan's team walked away with the gold. We walked away with a bill. Erik, Sheila, Erp, Geoff, and I sat around two tables pushed together for the event, drinking beer cheap and not cheap. After it was over, Erik and Sheila went home, and Erp and I met Geoff down on the Plaza for some cover band playing at O'Dowd's. We stayed out too late and once again I was unable get up early to catch the bus in the morning.

For lunch on Friday we visited Blue Koi on W 39th. I had never been there before, and the tofu and Chinese curry were excellent. Brad jested that he can't eat tofu because it's too wobbly. He's wrong of course, but I didn't want to hurt his feelings. I was able to get out of the office a little early on Friday, and I used the time to run some much-needed errands. Jeff got home, and we started cooking. What that really means is that he started cooking, and I started helping and watching. I helped with some things, but I mostly just watched.

Jeff and I changed into our Halloween costumes- a baby and an ugly ugly lady, respectively -and soon people started to filter in. In the early stages of the party, we had Ghostbusters playing on Jeff's large television. People crowded around to quietly watch. I was being annoying, quoting almost everything a half a second before it was said, so I excused myself for a while.

By 8pm or so, we had roughly fifteen people in the apartment. By 9pm, that number was closer to thirty. At 10pm, forty people were crowded into our apartment. By eleven, over fifty people, and as many as sixty people were jammed into every available space of our Quality Hill residence. The dancing began early this time, as the inebriation also came early for many people. Alex came down from Des Moines for the party, and he made a friend during the dancing. They were busy on the back porch for the rest of the party, so they definitely enjoyed themselves.

I fact, everybody who came had a great time at our party. At least that's what the post-party contact with the guests has revealed. The fun that was had was especially evident in how disgusting our apartment was when we began cleaning it the next morning. With the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, I offer you a tip: Don't throw a party involving black beer. Your carpet will not forgive you, and it becomes a stinky stinky glue if left overnight.

9:27 AM, Oct 29, 2006

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Since the Party

After we finished kind of cleaning up the apartmnent(dishwashing, garbage-collecting, scrubbing, and mopping), Jeff went to Shawnee Mission Park for a bicycling high council meeting. Left to our own devices, Alex and I went to W 39th, and got some sandwiches at d'Bronx. We followed that with a trip to the Liberty Memorial, some coffee on the Plaza, a quick trip home so Alex could see that someone had done his work for him, a drive out to Parkville for some microbrewed beer, and a delicious pile-of-meat dinner at the Hereford House. I was very pleased that the sensational Red Seal Ale from North Coast Brewing is now available in KC.

We followed dinner with a quick run home for a, "power nap." Such things never work, in my opinion, and shortly afterward, Alex and I were walked toward Nick and Anna's place on Walnut for their Halloween blowout. We had fun, but the fatigue of the previous night was heavy on us, and we only lasted there until about 1am. We came back and watched Arrested Development episodes until it was definite that we couldn't stay awake any longer.

9:35 AM, Oct 29, 2006

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1554 Black Ale

We decided that the keg we had wouldn't last through the party, so we arranged for a reserve keg to be in place in case of the need to rearm the kegerator. I went to Gomer's on Thursday and picked up a half-barrel of New Belgium's delicious Brussels-style Black Ale, 1554.

Jeff hooked up the keg of Bob's 47 over Labor day weekend. We finally killed it at the big party, this past Friday. It was about time, we thought, and it was great to put something else on. We had been keeping the keg of 1554 on the back deck to keep it cool. Unfortunately, it's not very cold out yet, so at best, the beer was probably about 55 degrees when we tapped it. That is way too warm. It poured mostly head for the next hour or so, and I fear that a lot of the uninitiated beer drinkers were pouring the head off the beer onto our floor. This not only wastes beer, but it also turns our floor into the surface of fly paper.

Nevertheless, the beer is delicious, and now that it's all calmed down, maybe there's enough left in there for Jeff and me to have some of our own. We'll see.

9:47 AM, Oct 29, 2006
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