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9:55 AM, Apr 1, 2005 toot this
Unix Is Too Hard
I have been using computers for a good long time(like YEARS!!!), and in 1996, I started using a different kind of computer system, based on DOS, called Unix. The main idea behind Unix is to avoid things like graphics and clocks and web browsers and email, and keep people from being able to see what you're doing. It's only for people who want to "rough it." And I'm here to say that I've had it!

I'm gonna stop using Unix, because it's just too tough. I miss using normal things, like the mouse. That's actually the main reason for this change. I just got a great deal on a new cordless optical mouse with enough buttons on it to control every thing you'd ever want to do in Internet Explorer, so I thought it'd be a bad idea to let that good deal go to waste.

Plus, I'm in a government job now, and I can't be seen using some computer system made for terrorists, hackers, and atheists! What would all the normal people say? I need to get with the program, and follow the way out!

11:39 PM, Apr 1, 2005 toot this
Spring Pictures!
Huzzah! Springtime pictures of Kansas City are here! Proceed with abandon.

7:48 AM, Apr 11, 2005 toot this
Dubuque Was
I visited Dubuque this past weekend, for the first time since Homecoming 2003. Since starting college there in 1996, this was the longest I had ever been away. It was great to be back, and see all the things that have changed, and, more prevalently, the things that haven't changed at all. Loras has emptied out Keane and Rohlman Halls of dorm rooms, and replaced them with academic departments and offices. There is a new upperclassman housing facility on campus, in what used to be Binz Hall's parking lot, and where there used to be houses inhabited by friends, there is now additional parking space to meet the ballooning needs of an increasingly car-owning student body.

I suppose I shouldn't be, but I am always surprised at how pretty the women are at Loras, but this time, I was surprised at how young they all looked. I saw a group of girls, all dressed the same(black shirt and jeans), heading down Loras Blvd to go to Bodine's for the Saturday 2-for-1 special, that all looked like they were fourteen years old. Such is the progression of time, though.

The real reason I went to Dubuque was to attend the conjoined bachelor/bachelorette party/karaokejackassathon held in honor of friends Dave and Stacia, who will be subjecting themselves to government sanctions, starting on June 10th, and at whose wedding I am slated to sing, or at least move my lips in time. I took lots of pictures, because I wound up staying the whole weekend, and not just Friday, as I had originally planned. I still need to edit and delete and stuff, but I would say there is a picture page on the way, with roughly 70-80 new pictures in it.

For now, I'm back at work, pining for the relaxing time I had this weekend.

|| EDIT || 4/12/05 - 2:05 PM

Hark! I have finished yon page of pictures! See them now!

8:03 AM, Apr 12, 2005 toot this
tagged with bbs
Tasting Rehash
After the way the last "tasting party," went over, I have decided that I need to make some kind of concrete invitation again. The first tasting party was a great success, but the second one, on the completion of the IPA, was a bit of a wash, as I had only informed people informally in person while drunk, or offhandedly on irc. Not this time.

YOU are invited to come and drink hand-crafted beer at my apartment in scenic downtown Kansas City, MO. YOU are invited to be one of the first to try the fourth batch, which I am tentatively naming, "Cinnamon Stick Toaster," until I find out that it doesn't taste at all like anything that name suggests. It's a robust dark beer that was brewed with black patent malt, chocolate malt, and crystal malt, all steeped for various durations. During the last ten minutes of the brewing, I floated some cinnamon sticks in the wort, and kept them in the fermenter during the entire primary fermentation. With an OG of 1.033, it should have a robust body, sweet flavor, and average alcohol content(about 4%). I have high hopes for it.

YOU will also be encouraged to taste some of my favorite beer that I've brewed: the "Brown Noise Toasted Porter." Made from chocolate and bunlander malts, with an infusion of 2 lbs of pure cane dark brown sugar halfway through the boil, and an OG of 1.034, it has a dark, roasted flavor, and goes well with red meat or chocolate.

So come on down! The proceedings will take place on Friday, April 15th, and will run from 6PM until complete, though those of you that work downtown are absolutely welcome to come straight from work, if 6PM is too long to wait, and if you need directions, just shoot me an email. I hope to see you there.

6:49 PM, Apr 17, 2005 toot this
Julia's Visit
I got off work on Friday afternoon, and immediately came home to clean up a bit, to prepare for the tasting party, to be held that evening. To make things interesting, my sister(better pictures here, here, and here.) was flying in on a plane that was delayed, so I managed to convince a friend to hold the door for the scads(three) of partygoers we expected for the tasting.

The tasting, as is elsewhere stated, went very well, and everyone that was there had a very nice time, with diversions from beer drinking, to chess, to putdowns, to jawing on the porch, all the way back to beer drinking. We went to Bulldog for some dinner that night, and enjoyed the lovely weather while walking there and back.

The next morning, Julia and I got up early, went to the Cup and Saucer for some breakfast, and wandered around the farmer's market at City Market for a lot of the morning. We topped off the AM hours with a trip to the Boulevard Brewery tour, on which Julia had never been. We had a very nice time talking with the people sitting around us, and saw some official-looking diagrams for the brewery's in-progress expansion, which will increase their production from about 100,000 barrels a year, up to about 700,000.

We moved on, after that, to the K, where we watched, from sensational seats, the Royals drop a game to Detroit. It's going to be another tough year for Kansas City baseball, I suspect. Nevertheless, we had a great time, and ran into my roommate there. He joined us in our section, and we busied ourselves heckling the Tigers, who steadily improved their lead throughout the game.

After the game, we went to Westport and got some ice cream at Murray's, and stopped by the Velvet Dog for a pint and some bocce before heading back home for a sit-down and some Family Guy.

That evening, we sid good night to ballet-bound Josh, and went over to the Majestic for a pre-dinner drink. The atmosphere was great, and the Unibroue was delicious. We ate a late dinner at Garozzo's in Columbus Park, and it was eye-poppingly delicious. I can't believe I have lived here this long, and never eaten there. We packaged up the remains of our meals(which I finished, this afternoon), and headed back to my place for a comfortable sleep.

We went across the street for mass, this morning, and followed that with a breakfast boxty at O'Dowd's on the plaza. It was a really nice visit.

Now, I am getting some things sorted out tonight, before I depart in the morning for a work conference in San Antonio, all next week. Expect pictures.

6:48 PM, Apr 23, 2005 toot this
San Antonio
Sorry about the slovenly website updating. I promise, again, to be more attentive. I got back from San Antonio on Friday, and it's now Wednesday. Anyway, we arrived in town, and Geoff and I were on the same flight, so we split a cab to the hotel, and made for the Riverwalk as quickly as we could. When we got there, we found that the annual civic celebration known locally as Fiesta, was about to kickoff with a parade on the river. Downtown San Antonio is arrayed, annoyingly in this case, so that pretty much every bar and restaurant is situated right on the Riverwalk, which itself, is not really a river, but a pretty series of canals branching off in several directions. So, saying that your establishment is located on the Riverwalk is not a very specific instruction for helping people to locate it.

It was trouble for us because we wanted nothing more than a nice quiet place to relax, and have a beer and burger after our travel day. This proved to be exceedingly difficult, as, like I said, most places that serve food and alcohol are on the Riverwalk, and the impending parade, set to commence that evening, had caused all these places to close their doors, and hold private parties, open to paying ticketholders only. We wandered amazed around downtown, and it started to rain.

After asking several people, we eventually found a Pat O'Brien's that was mercifully separated from the Riverwalk, and so was open. It even had open outdoor seating, to which Geoff and I helped ourselves, as the staff helped us get our table under an umbrella. About as soon as we sat down, however, the rain stopped, and the sun started to try peeking out. We ate some hot wings and drank some Hurricanes, before taking our leave, and running into Bill and Bob, the Eastern Region senior team, with whom we decided to visit the Alamo.

The Alamo was on the way back to our hotel, and was open free of admission charge, for the occasion of Fiesta. It was pretty much like I thought it would be: an old musty churchlike silence, filled with placards and segments of weapons used in the battle of the Alamo. The neatest part, in my opinion, was the memorial to all the soldiers who fell defending it, 169 years ago. As well, there is a fenced yard in the front of the building's facade that has some of the most beautifuly manicured grass I have ever seen.

That evening, we joined the rest of our cohorts in a run out to Rudy's barbecue, which is apparently something of a Texas mainstay. Texans and Oklahomans I have spoken to say that barbecue made in the Texas style is better than Kansas City barbecue. If Rudy's is Texas barbecue, then I find that I still prefer KC barbecue, but not because I think it's better than the Texas variety. I just don't think the two can be easily compared.

Texas barbecue is like everything else in Texas: big. It's an excellent representative of its state and its abundance. The focus is on smoking whole slabs of prime loin meat, while the focus of Kansas City barbecue is more in the vein of using what would otherwise be crappy or small cuts of meat, principally ribs, and just plain cooking it. There are lots of points I could go over, but the bottom line is that I think it's an apples to oranges discussion, when trying to compare Kansas City and Texas barbecue, and I never saw a lamb ribs and beef burnt ends dish at Rudy's.

Anyway, training went on as planned, in a room that seemed to be heated, not cooled. We sweated it out for the first day, fighting sleep as we were given presentations that largely were unrelated to system administration.

That evening, Geoff, Paul, TJ, and I went out to a more suburban stretch of San Antonio, to dine on Paul's favorite kind of food: German, at a place Geoff found out about on the internet, called the Heidelberg. After two bottles of Optimator and a paprikaschnitzel, I was ready to lie down. We had other plans, however, for when we got back downtown. Paul drove us from the restaurant on the expressways, at about 25 miles per hour, and eventually dumped us off at the Hotel.

Geoff and I moved on to the actual Riverwalk, and sat down for a drink or two at Mad Dog's, an English-style pub with Boddington's on tap, and surly atractive waitresses in shortened kilts. When they closed the glass doors for "adult karaoke," we paid up our $26 for four beers, and set off on our way. We walked down the very scenic Riverwalk in the perfect weather, until we got to a place I had read about on Beerfly: Durty Nellie's Irish Pub. We walked inside(they had no outdoor bar), and found that it was a very popular spot. There was nowhere to sit in the bar, and there was a buy playing dirty songs on a piano, to the crowd's intense delight. Don't get me wrong, I think I would have loved it, if only we could have found a seat. But as it was, we quickly drank out Shiner Bocks(it's everywhere in Texas), and again, took our leave. When we got outside, Geoff had to pick wet sticky peanut shells out of his sandals.

We left the Riverwalk and started to head back to the hotel, and walked past a place called the Sirius bar. It was a comfortable quiet affair, with a nice polished wooden bar top, and brick interior. It was also the first place I ever saw Dos Equis on tap. We helped ourselves, and noticed the crowd get bigger, and the music get louder. I can't believe there's a popular song out now that repeats, "Where's my shit," over and over again. About the time we were thinking it was time to start heading back to the hotel, some guys came in and started kissing each other. We drank our beers up, and hoofed it back to our rooms.

The next day dawned hungover and sleepy, and training went really late. It wasn't until well after 9PM that we were able to get away and have some dinner. Geoff and I drove out to the Flying Saucer, where I was ecstatic to find that they served 90-minute IPA. After a so-so meal, and a couple of first-rate pours of beer, we headed back to the hotel, and fell heavily asleep.

Thursday was a bit easier for us, but that was also when the heat started to come back, in south Texas. With midday temperatures tickling ninety degrees, we sat perfectly still in the stifling room. We split up between DBAs and System Admins after lunch, and I gave my presentation, which went pretty well. I was afraid I'd be out of things to say after only about fifteen minutes, but I managed to keep it going, and keep it interesting for about an hour.

That evening, we all went down to the Riverwalk again, and rather than describe it verbally, I'll let the forthcoming pictures tell the story instead. On Friday, I woke up at 6AM and vomited, and remarked at my new scar, before popping some aspirin and catching a plane.

Let me say here that Houston Bush/Intercontinental Airport is the worst airport I have ever used, including Boston, St. Louis, O'Hare, and Laguardia. With twenty minutes to make my connection, I was dropped off in one terminal, and had to sprint over to another to just barely catch my plane back to KC.

It was a great trip.

12:31 PM, Apr 29, 2005 toot this
Fifty Million
This morning at about 11 o'clock, the fifty millionth download since the release of version 1.0, back in November, of Firefox was recorded. I know I have been trying to pressure you all into things like switching to gmail, Linux, and good beer, but for you to switch to Firefox requires no life-changing moves on your part, except satisfaction with a superior product.

If I can't convince you to stop using Internet Explorer, then maybe you'll see that fifty million downloads don't just happen. Firefox is popular because it's great. Join this century, by using a web browser actually made in it. Use Firefox!

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