10:19 PM, Aug 4, 2005
I have been kind of afraid to show my face on this site, before getting the pictures from my last two trips up. I have a perfectly valid and passable excuse, though. I was busy. I have written a web application for work that allows us to ease the entry and submission of our monthly reports. I demonstrated it and its functionality to the Western Region VP last week, and he was tickled. He was so impressed by it that he told me that this application needs to be stable and inclusive of the jobs of all the different people in the program(about 150 people). So, I have been busy sharpening the application up, adding features, fixing bugs, and most importantly, converting it to perl.
All this work has basically served as my "computer work" for the last few weeks, leaving me with little time or inclination to update this site, ot post the new pictures. Because of the backlog, I didn't even take my camera to Chicago for Brian's bachelor party, last weekend. Anyway, here are the pictures.
Clare's Wedding: blamo!
We tied the game in kickball last night, leaving everyone on the team too despondent to go boozin'. Geoff and Paul are in California all week, which leaves me with little reason to make the 35-mile drive to Leavenworth for work. So, I have been taking care of work-related things from home, and accomplishing various other things I have put off: laundry, picking up, grocery shopping, a haircut, an oil change, and some brewing activities. I leave town again on the 9th, for about a week, this time for Fort Hood, in central Texas. After that, ideally, I have no more trips until Brian's wedding, over Labor Day. After that, I have nothing until the company conference in Orlando, in October.
I do enjoy summer, even if I despise the oven-like weather in Kansas City, but I find that my weekends are completely taken up in recent years.
A Rare Weekend
page and the pictures
pages have been rewritten in perl, which makes them much faster to load, and easier for me to maintain. Enjoy the speed, and expect more improvements in the coming weeks.
I stayed in Kansas City this weekend, and it was wonderful. I have been out of town every weekend since late June, so it was very nice to have an entire weekend with nothing planned.
On Friday evening, I walked over to the Brick for trivia, and ran into Nathan. We lost, but as always, it was still fun. From there, I walked over to Jilly's, and got in touch with Cole on the way. I was late enough in getting to Jilly's that they were charging cover to come in, so I called Cole, and we decided to head over to Grinder's. On the way, we walked through a section of streets that had been completely blocked off to automobile traffic, for First Friday. It was a beautiful evening, and there were thousands of people out, but Cole and I only stopped at the portopotties, before continuing the walk over to Grinder's.
We arrived, and were shocked to see a large crowd, so far east of the bulk of the festivities of First friday. It took ten minutes to get a bartender's attention, so once we got a drink, we headed to the expansive sculpture garden in the back, and saw that there were even more people there. Josh told me about a party in the UMKC area that night, so, put off a bit by the crowds at First Friday, I gave Josh a call. He said that he was at a party near 55th and Troost, and that we were welcome to join him.
Cole and I drained our beers and headed east, toward Troost. Pretty quickly, the liveliness and population gave way to a rather frightening-looking neighborhood, devoid of houses, but instead, full of closed industrial shops and derelict buildings. What was more unnerving was the complete lack of people. Even passing cars became rare. Getting nervous, we reached the very dark corner of 18th and Troost, and huddled inside the bus stop, waiting for the southbound 25 to show up. I even called Carl to see if he would look up the hours of the 25, to make sure it was still running. Midway through the call, however, we saw the bus coming toward us, and we both gave a small heave of appreciation. I thanked Carl, hung up, and jumped on the bus.
I was out of cash, so Cole offered to cover the bus fare for both of us, coming to a grand total of $2. We hopped on the bus, Cole first, and he made to push the one-dollar-bills into the motorized currency feeder thing, and the bus driver stopped him.
"What? So what do you want us to do?"
And so we contentedly found ourselves, twelve minutes later, springing off the bus at 55th and Troost, having caught a free ride. As soon as we were off the bus, I called Josh again, and he told us that he had misinformed us about the address, that we had overshot the target location by four or five blocks, and that he would just come and pick us up, even though we were only about a half mile away. Two or three minutes later, we were walking from Josh's parked car to the house.
It turns out that the owner of the house gives tours at Boulevard, on Saturdays, and because of this, had a free keg of wheat beer in the basement keggerator. Josh, Cole and I made ourselves comfortable, and watched the partygoers slowly disperse, until we were alone in the house with some guy named Tim, and Sarah, the lady of the house. We busied ourselves for the last hour we were there, singing Abba songs as Sarah played them on the piano.
We topped off the evening with a 2AM trip to Pancho's, where I shouted words of haste and encouragement to people that took a long time to order.
I woke up slightly hung over on Saturday morning, and got in touch with Jeff, a prospective roommate from St. Louis, about coming and seeing the apartment. He came at about 1PM, and I gave him a good look around, before announcing that I was headed over to the Peanut for lunch, and inviting him along. He accepted, and we walked down to 9th, and met Cole there. We enjoyed some of the Peanut's famous BLT sandwiches, and were then joined by Josh, who was taking a nap after having to work that morning.
The four of us shuffled down to the River Market, to attend the KC Brewfest. 75th, River Market, Boulevard, Schlafly, McCoy's, Pony Express, and the Power Plant all had booths set up, and we got right to it. The sun was merciless. Almost everyone in attendance was huddled under the few trees the park had, when they weren't standing in the ever-lengthening lines to refill their beers. After about an hour, each of us had filled our souvenir plastic cups five or six times, with the most recent fillup involving a 25-minute wait in a 150-foot long line. Most of the people in attendance were now waiting in line to fill their cups.
I suggested we take off for a while, and come back in about two hours, to see if the lines settled down. All four of us agreed, and headed up to the Cup and Saucer for $2 Boulevard pints, to find that the bar was closed for remodeling. So, we headed down to Harry's Country Club to find that the tap selection had been dramatically scaled back from 15-20 taps, down to about 9. But, they still had Bully Porter, so I was happy. While there, we saw a lot of people walk past our table, wearing the same orange wristbands we had on, indicating that they had been to the brewfest. I stopped one group, and asked them if they left because of the lines. They told me that the lines were ridiculous, and then, with two and half hours left in the timespan of the event, the beer ran out. Apparently, they were expecting 400 people, and over 1000 showed up. Hopefully, this will teach them a lesson for next year.
Josh took his leave from us there, and we went from there to Minsky's for some pizza and more beer. Just a bit exhausted, Cole, Jeff, and I called it a day after that. We all went our seperate ways, with me hurrying home to use the bathroom, work on some perl, and go to bed early.
Today, I'm working on some more perl, and enjoying some quiet lazy time. I turn 27 tomorrow, and I leave for Texas on the day after that, for a week. I shall make the most of this quiet day.
Geoff and I split a car that drove us out of downtown at eleven in the morning, yesterday, to take us up to KCI Airport. they dropped us off at the terminal, in front of the Continental ticketing area, where the first inkling of it being a long day came along. A few weeks earlier, I was delighted to be told by a Southwest ticket agent that my name had been taken off the airport "security list." I suppose, however, that that information varies by airline, because Continental had no such notion.
The Continental ticket agent, who perhaps was just having a bad hair day, manhandled my suitcase, throwing it hard against the wall with me watching, and fixed me with a dirty smug look from behind his podium-shield. Geoff and I went over to the "Expedia Cafe," and consumed a bland, tasteless, yet of course expensive meal, before heading over to security. Even with these minor setbacks, I was still in a good mood. I was traveling for work, which meant per diem money, and basically not having to pay for anything.
So, my good mood was reinforced when we got to security, and there was no line at all. I walked in, did my routine of taking off my shoes, pulling my laptop out of its bag, and placing all my metal and electronic objects into various folds and pockets in the laptop bag, without any holdup from some middle-aged guy in front of me that has no idea that increased security measures are in effect.
We walked over to our gate, and found a pair of seats with a good view of the gate, and of passersby. Geoff reserved a room in Orlando for the conference in October, muttering his personal information into his phone under a cupped hand, and I listened to Death Cab for Cutie's new album, which, by the way, is fantastic. They called us onboard for about a ten-minute delay in pushing back. We were almost to the runway when the plane came to an abrupt stop, and the radio-powered voice of the captain came on to inform us that a thunderstorm had descended upon Houston, and that we'd have to sit where we were for at least two hours.
I laughed, because I figured getting pissed off would just make me bald faster, and pulled out my computer, and hooked it to my phone. The previous night, Geoff and I had gotten the go-ahead from a client to deploy a website that we had been working on for them, but hadn't gotten the login password on the new server. I checked my email from my seat, and saw that the new password had been sent, and got to work. Within about twenty minutes, we had logged into the new server, copied over the tarball from the development server, and fixed the scripts to reflect the new path and server. That was an excellent high point. After about the promised two hours, the plane started moving again, and we were on our way.
Houston Intercontinental Airport is the worst airport in the world. I have been to Logan, LaGuardia, LAX, O'Hare, Philadelphia, Dulles, and countless other "bad," airports, but Houston takes the ass-prize. I have never arrived there on time, and I have never been there without having to frantically run from one terminal to another, to switch planes on the same airline. The layout is horrible, and the moving walkways are always broken in the direction in which you are hurrying.
After hurrying to our assigned gate, only to find that the flight had been relocated to another gate on the other side of the terminal, we got on the plane to Austin. the 40-minute flight went without incident, from the relative comfort of an exit row seat. We arrived in Austin, and found that the airline had lost our bags for us. Both of us. We filled out the form, and walked across the massive parking lot to the rental car, and drove into downtown Austin to try to forget about the long arduous trip.
We grabbed dinner and a beer at the Bitter End brewery, and it was fantastic. The Austin Pale Ale was delicious, hoppy, and sweet, and the flat iron steak was heaven on the tongue. After dinner, we began the 70-mile drive up to Temple, where we were staying, hoping our bags would beat us there. They didn't. We woke up this morning, called the front desk, and found that they hadn't been delivered in the night, either. Finally, as we were eating breakfast, they arrived.
We head into Ft. Hood today. I hope the rest of this trip goes more smoothly.
11:20 PM, Aug 13, 2005
Downtown Austin is Splendorific
Pardon me, I'm drunk, but downtown Austin is frigging bombriffic. Even for a goddamned beer snob like me. I have been to the Bitter End. It was awesome. I have been to the Ginger Man. It was awesome. I have been to some loser Irish pub with a great blues band, and it was awesome. I have been to Lovejoy's Taproom, and it, predictably, was also awesome. In summation, I hope I miss my plane tomorrow, because I really wouldn't mind having to spend another night in this really fantastic Hilton, among the attractions and big boobs of downtown Austin.
Find your ZIP!
I have written a useless web form that will look up information about your ZIP code.
Have a look
3:59 PM, Aug 19, 2005
Damn the Insurance!
I got my auto insurance bill for the next six months, and am pleased to say that it's about $400 cheaper than the previous six months. To answer your question, yes, my rates are ridiculous. There ain't no helpin' it, at least not until about this time, next year, when three speeding tickets will be permanently off my record. To celebrate this spector of wealth, I am going to trivia tonight, and I will get rowdy and drunk. Wish me luck!
8:17 AM, Aug 24, 2005
Talk and Desktop
I installed Google Talk
last night, and it looks very cool. I just hope I can get my friends to use it. I installed Google Desktop
a bit before that, and find it very useful, but I don't like that certain features of it are only available when it's docked on top of a giant portion of your screen, including your taskbar. Also, it doesn't "support," network drives for the indexing of picture files, but it works fine for any other kind of file. It will only let you determine whether it runs all the time when you first install it, and never gives you that choice again. The only way to make it only come on when you ask it, as far as I can see, is to change some registry settings, which is beyond most computer users.
In addition, it is always on top, but even when it's occupying a third of my screen, it still scrunches things into spaces where they don't fit, while it leaves tons of whitespace in the weather "panel," and others. It has myriad plugins available, including a reminder application, a calendar application, and others. It comes with a neat feature that indexes all of your gmail emails, and even alerts you of new ones and displays them, but when you display them in your browser, it doesn't give you the normal gmail user interface, with which you can archive messages, categorize them, report them as spam/phishing attempts. All it shows you is the bare message.
But, until they fix some of the functional problems I have seen, I won't use it. It's a shame, because I think it'd be a very useful program. I just hope they can make it less intrusive, and more configurable out of the box.
11:30 AM, Aug 28, 2005
The Language that Owns Me
I have been using perl for a couple of months, now, and I am simply amazed at its capabilities and efficiency. It's lightning fast, and really easy to debug and write, once you get the hang of it. The more I use it, the more I come to believe that it was written by someone that was angry about other languages being obfuscated and kludgy. It seems like it was meant
to be used by anyone who wants their language to make sense. I have been going through websites and applications I have written in shell script, and converting them to perl. I can't believe the performance increase.
The page you are looking at now, for example, is running a perl script to grab all the content it needs, and turn around and display it for you. You should notice a significant speed boost to the site because of this.
I am currently spending a quiet weekend at home, taking care of some administrative things, and swinging at some projects for work. I am in super-scrooge mode until after Brian's wedding, as I have still not located a roommate, and will thus be responsible for the entirety of September's rent.
Speaking of Brian's wedding, it's next weekend. I'll be hopping on a plane to Cleveland on Wednesday, where I'll hang out with Julia and Rachel, and Brian will actually stop by for dinner on Wednesday night. It's going to be a really fun trip.