2:28 PM, Aug 1, 2007
Sort of a Rant
Guy on the bus; Lady in line at the store; Guy walking behind me on the sidewalk; Eddie at work
I don't want to listen to your stupid lame phone ringer. When your phone rings, turn off the ringer as soon as you pick it up. Are you not aware that there are other people in the world?
Kickball and Stables
We played the same team that we played last week, and lost again. However, our loss was not quite as devastating. We actually traded the lead back and forth for a couple innings, before finally buckling under the occasionally excellent kicks of our opponents. Keen to shake things up a bit, Erp, Jeff, Geoff, Amber, Liana, Becky, Heather, and I went over to the Stables for free popcorn, cheap beer, delivered pizza, Silver Strike, raucous singing, and general hijinks. When Shelly, the greatest bartender of all time, offered to call Tarantino's for us, and just add the pizza to our tab, Erp said that he wasn't in a pizza mood, even though everyone else that was eating apparently was. Shelly reacted by bringing out a plate full of ham and cheese sandwiches, along with a bag of chips and a slice of pickle. She assembled it all herself, and put it in front of an astounded Erp.
The singing and bowling got a little crazy, and I got lots of pictures. They'll be along. While we were playing, I slid into third to try to avoid a throw. I had slid into a base since I was in little league. Leg skin comes right off, apparently.
With about 26 hours' notice, I sent out an invitation to about 30 people to meet for happy hour at the Power Plant in Parkville. When the time came, all that attended were Chris and me. One might think that it would be akin to inviting the whole class to my 8th birthday party, and nobody coming, like that heartbreaking scene from Little Man Tate
. Exceedingly sad. But not so.
It was actually very nice to sit and enjoy a nice dinner and a couple of cheap cheap happy hour beers at one of KC's best local breweries. We talked about Chris' first couple days as a bona fide, firm-sucking attorney, beer, girls, and various other topics that come up when you have only beer to guide your thoughts. We settled our tab after eating, and went down to North Kansas City in search of a bar called Paci's, where Josh and I had a lovely drink, some two years ago. We never found it. Instead we parked in front of the River City Tavern, one of many bars along Swift in North KC. There was a dune buggy parked outside, so we figured it could only be good.
It was. We walked in and there was an immediate booming bark from an agitated dog on the other end of the bar. We bellied up to some draws of Bud(the better of their two beers on tap), as the dog sniffed around our legs in its way of warming up to us. Soon, the dog, which turned out to be a puppy still clumsy with its large body, was not only allowing me to touch him, but was biting away at my hand, ankles, and knees like we were good old pals. When I stopped antagonizing him, he'd start barking. I love dogs, and I miss my old dog.
After settling our $3 tab for two beers, I washed the dog slobber off my hands and wrists, and my frenzied new friend continuously bit at my ankles as we walked out. We went about a quarter of a mile up Swift to a place called the Chip Shot. I've since discovered that it is my friend Scott's tenth favorite bar on the planet. Make no mistake, it was a fun place. The TV was showing local(!!!) ultimate fighting competitions, and the sufficiently attractive bartender had us written up on our check as, "the cute guys." To get us to stay, she gave us a free round. Chris was lagging on his bottle of Bud, so I ordered a third draw of the local cheap(but delicious) favorite, Flying Monkey.
After resisting the bartender's brazen advances, we headed back into town and tried out the Studio bar, a new place on McGee. It took me one draw of Nastro Azurro to realize that they had built in what had once been Bender's, where my friend Ryan's old band played some of their formative concerts, and where I had some of my drunkest times in Kansas City. Except for the front windows, the place was completely unrecognizable. After a short time, we were the only ones there, and it occurred to me that the three people that were working were just waiting for us to leave, so they could go home.
I dropped Chris off and picked up a burrito at Pancho's. I turned 29 without noticing the clock hitting midnight, and was in bed by 12:30am.
My Ridiculous 29th Birthday
I took off work for Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of this week, in an effort to fully enjoy my birthday. My plan was to run around downtown and solicit free birthday drinks. I started off by meeting up with Cole at his front door. Around the corner, we sat down at the bar at John's Big Deck, though we stayed inside, out of the heat. I told the bartender that it was my birthday, and she just wished me a happy one. Rather disappointing. 2 drinks.
Our next stop was the River Market Brewing Co, where the beers are already cheap enough that it doesn't really matter if you get them for free. I didn't even mention that it was my birthday while we were there. 3 drinks.
We next went to Harry's Country Club. We were actually headed there already, but took refuge at the RMBC to get out of the heat along the way. Dave the friendly bartender, along with Gretchen the friendly waitress, were both keen to buy me drinks when they heard what day it was. They each got me a Pale Ale. 6 drinks.
Cole and I wanted to go somewhere uncommon, so we went to the bar at Garozzo's, and with temperatures closing in on 100 degrees, we almost melted on the way there. I asked the friendly bartender what kind of specials they might have for someone celebrating their birthday. Someone like me. She turned around, and proclaimed that I was entitled to a free order of Chicken Spiedini, the house special. I was very pleased, but I expected some small, "it's your birthday" portion that they keep under a heat lamp in case someone actually does have a birthday. But no. After a moment, she was back and had dropped a menu in front of me, asking me to choose which Spiedini dish I wanted, and was asking what kind of salad I wanted. 8 drinks.
Garozzo's gave me an $18 meal for free. It was excellent. Jeff met us there soon after I finished eating. I had promised Cole a ride back to his place because of the abject heat. After dropping him off, Jeff and I went to the K, and met up with Liana, Amber, Heather, and Becky. The Royals lost bigtime to the Twins, but we still had a ball. It was "Buck Night," when you can get hot dogs, miniature cups of soda, and undersized bags of peanuts for one dollar apiece. 12 drinks.
We said good night to the ladies at the front gate, and went our separate ways. Jeff and I went home, and I got in touch with Geoff along the way. Also, a sudden deluge of rain began as we drove home. Geoff picked me up, and we went to Paci's in North Kansas City, where I tried Cabo Wabo for the first time. It was delicious, but is almost entirely responsible for the horrible hangover I'm suffering as I write this. We sat and talked to the bartender for a couple of hours before we left, for some reason to close the Quaff. 17 drinks.
We were at the Quaff for long enough to get kicked back out at closing time. 18 drinks. We finished the night with greaseball burgers at Town Topic.
I woke up shortly after getting to sleep and vomited. I have spent all the intervening time holding off a second trip to the bathroom. Here are some pictures.
10:56 PM, Aug 9, 2007
Oh my God this is the worst hangover of 2007.
After spending all of August 9th painfully paying for August 8th, My hangover had for the most part subsided by the time Geoff rang my bell at 9am yesterday. In the intervening time since our greaseball burger foray to Town Topic, I had only managed to get a couple of glasses of water, and a small yet adventurous batch of chicken nuggets down. Now that I was feeling a bit more healthy, my hunger had returned in force. Geoff and I arranged to meet up, along with Paul and TJ from the old job in Leavenworth, at Johnny Carino's out at Village West.
The pasta was fine- nothing special -but the great part was seeing Paul and TJ again. I hadn't seen them since my last day at the old job, back in September, and it was great to hear their voices and see their faces again. I hope to have another lunch with them soon, though I admit it's not easy lining up our schedules, not to mention our geographic disparity. Unable to finish the man-sized portion of lunch I received, I took my box home, and finally found a parking spot on the free side of the street.
About as soon as I'd gotten home, I received a call from my cousin Andrew who, I had forgotten, was playing a show at the Brick in KC that very night. When he told me about it, I had been scheduled to be on call this weekend, but some schedule rearranging between then and now placed me firmly uncommitted, and available to take in a rockshow. After watching Strange Brew
with Jeff, I met Andrew and his band at the Brick at about 9:30, and almost immediately was approached by some guy that wanted to be my best friend. I try to give people the benefit of the doubt, hear them out, and be a decent person, but this guy, just like every previous Friday or Saturday night insta-friend, just wanted money. When it became clear that I wasn't going to be giving him any money, he left, under the stern gaze of the bouncer.
Here's a tip for all you future insta-friends, lest you give yourself and your agenda away: stop shaking hands with me every 20 seconds. It's weird, and highly insincere. There, now I just made identifying such people harder for everyone else.
took the stage second, and belted out some ground-shaking, mesmerizing tunes. It was wholly enjoyable. The problem for me was that I was about to keel over asleep. Just after Chris and Season, who I met by chance at the show took their leave, I announced to Andrew that I was too tired to have a late night. He understood, gave me a hug, and thanked me for coming out. It was great to see him again.
I walked home at 1 in the morning. It was about a mile and a half up and down a bunch of hills, in humid, still-hot weather. When I got home, my clothes were completely saturated. I took a refreshing shower and had a nice early turn-in.
This is an excerpt from an IM conversation between my roommate and me:
I just listened to Come Sail Away by Styx, and started it over again
I caught myself punching the air
I'm ready to go home. 13th birthday wishes go to my sister.
Customers are Idiots
One of the ten zillion things we do here at my "new" job is facilitate the transfer of text files filled with important financial information to and from our many customers. The default method we use to send them over the internet is FTP, with the files being encrypted on one end and decrypted on the other, using GPG
, and wrapped in a homegrown piece of software we use, called the NDM/FTP Gateway. This, as you might imagine, allows for lots and lots of problems, and we spend lots and lots of time chasing these problems down, and sitting on worthless hand-holding conference calls with idiots from Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago, Canada, and New York.
To alleviate some of this trouble, many of our customers are switching over to SFTP
, which allows secure file transfers without the hassle of individual file encryption. If you're not technical, that doesn't really matter, but the point is that we are working with our customers to implement this new kind of file transfer. I was dealing with one of these customers earlier today. It went something like this:
The public key authentication works on the command line, but using the gateway software that's been written here at DST, connecting to a nonstandard SSH server(like yours) throws errors about improper public keys and signatures. With that in mind, I'd like to at least try password authentication. What is the password for the user?
A couple hours later, the Idiot responded.
It is standard IETF (Internet Engineering Task Forces) SSH version 2.
A bit taken aback by this, I wrote:
Great. Do you have the password?
This seemed to incite him. I had apparently hit a sensitive spot for him by referring to his SSH server as "nonstandard."
I don't have the password and it's a one way encryption so I can't display it.
By the way, HP wrote this "non-standard IETF SSH" and it's implemented thousands of OpenVMS systems.
Not wishing to argue with a man that has to deal with an operating system
from the 1970s that runs on the worst hardware
of today, I closed the discussion with the following.
I didn't mean to touch a nerve. It's just that most people avoid the commercial and proprietary versions of SSH for reasons like this, and use the freely-available OpenSSH. Varying from that can cause problems like what we're experiencing. A workaround for dealing with non-OpenSSH servers that seems to work is to deal with password authentication instead of the preferred public key authentication. That's all I was saying. I wasn't trying to insult your VMS server.
What a boob. Sorry to all the folks that have no idea why this is funny. I'll get an entry in English posted soon enough.
3:51 PM, Aug 16, 2007
As I've earlier intimated, I'm on call this week. I hand off the pager tomorrow morning, but in the meantime I have a couple of work-related events to see to. Yesterday however, I experienced a record in nonpaging. Normally I get paged about twenty to thirty times a day. Between 2:01pm yesterday and 8:12am today, I wasn't paged once. It was like a vacation.
I took advantage of the lull in work demand, and attended the August version of the DNA's
"Know Thy Neighbor" event, for at the DE Lofts at 5th and Delaware. As with my previous visit, I arrived early to help set things up. I met the owner of the new Green Acres Market up at Briarcliff, who donated a fantastic spread for the evening. As the temperature was still over 100 degrees outside, we huddle under an air conditioning duct and absorbed such cool air as we could gather to ourselves.
Slowly, people filtered in, and the effects of the unbelievable heat wore away with everyone's inhibitions about meeting new people. When we had finished up for the evening, I was asked to join the board of the DNA. I accepted. I still don't know what I'll be doing. Probably creating excuses not to do actual make-a-living work. We'll see.
We played the same team that we played for the last two games of the last season, and they beat us again- this time by a lot. The controversial calls were all about, but that's the way of the game. Besides, if all the calls that we disputed would have gone our way, we would still have lost. By a lot. The team we played was man-heavy, and as everyone knows, men are better at sports than women.
We helped ourselves to beer, Silver Strike, and no oncall pages at the Stables after the game. I am slightly hungover today, but mostly I just need to sleep. I handed the pager off to Wayne, and now it feels like I'm free. I'll be quite possibly taking it easy tonight, but I doubt it.
2:23 AM, Aug 19, 2007
Friday and Saturday
A couple of things have happened in the last day or so.
I'm not on call anymore, so my Friday night sleep was absolutely sublime. It was a wonderful, deep, care-free slumber. I woke up ten hours later, and just rolled back over and slept some more. It was just terrific. Jeff got tired of checking back at the Target "Great Land" gigastore in Mission, and broke down. He purchased a Nintendo Wii from some guy in KCK, through craigslist, and we've been playing it basically nonstop since we got home from work yesterday. After getting up, brushing my teeth, and laying around a little more, I went over to Nick's place to see Lord of the Rings Online for the first time. Being a Tolkien fanatic, I was enthralled, even though I recognized almost none of the places where his elvish character went.
I think I want to try it for myself, but a quick run to Best Buy yesterday gave me sticker shock. So, I'm currently working up the initiative to spend the money($50!!) to buy the installer for the $15 a month game. Nick and I met Amber and Becky at about 2pm for kickball practice at Roanoke Park, and sweated right through our clothes within about eight human minutes. The heat wasn't that overwhelming, but any kind of exertion at all would just cascade free-flowing volumes of sweat off my body. We called it a practice after about an hour, drove as quickly as the law would allow to Chipotle, and emerged clutching heavily-hanging bags of burritos. I dropped Nick off and went home.
I played some Wii Tennis with Jeff, until I was actually sleepy, so I plopped myself onto my bed and took a 30-40 minute nap, until jarred awake with a quick shocked intake of breath by the maddening clanging of my phone's ringer. It was Kelly, but I don't even remember what she was calling about. I wish we hung out more.
Jeff and I played some more Wii Tennis before it was time to get going. Cole took the liberty of coming to us, so we wouldn't have to go to pick him up. The three of us took the highly suburban, possibly roundabout route to Powerplay KC, way the hell out in Shawnee, almost to I-435. Exactly ten people arrived for some whirlyball
and, it turned out, two free bowling games. After the whirling was done, a couple of people made themselves scarce and the rest of us wandered around playing lame video games. Our hunger got the best of us, and we ran over to IHOP for offensively abundant portions for under ten dollars.
When Jeff and I got home, I did my now-daily check of demonoid
to see if their registrations were open, and they were! I signed up and got on the greatest bittorrent site on the internet, and in so doing, found out on their IRC channel about a really excellent command-line client called rtorrent
. Barring any unforeseen screwups, It has completely replaced my current client, which is just a perl wrapper I wrote for brdownloadcurses.
Content with most things right now, I feel like I can go to bed without a complaint. Good night!
I met up with Erp, Amber, Becky, Liana, Heather, and Brad last night for a viewing of Superbad
, the newest movie with the production guidance of Judd Apatow
, the genius behind Freaks and Geeks
is a crass, ridiculous, slightly offensive movie that despite is roughness, is absolutely believable, owing entirely to the superb dialogue. Apatow has a gift for not over-elaborating(the "Dawson's Creek Effect") or providing magic pithy responses to everything(the "Tarantino Effect"), in the dialogue of teenagers.
Teenagers are goofy, uncertain people with serious acceptance issues, and most filmmakers and producers seem more interested in waving that away, thinking that it can't make for an interesting story. Not so. Superbad
broaches many taboos and social mores, but it makes it all completely believable. Sorry for using a four-syllable word twice(the "JK Rowling Effect"), but the dialogue is just that: believable. There are times when you cringe at the tactless clumsy words of any of the 18-year-old characters, and then admit to yourself, "well that's probably no better than I'd've done."
On top of all this artistic realism, the movie is poop-your-pants hilarious. Go and see it. Immediately.
4:12 PM, Aug 21, 2007
I spent my time at work today perfecting something I've been working on for this website for a while. I now have inline videos, and the code written to generate and display them. For some time, I have avoided putting videos on the site because of what a pain it was to post them, and because of what a pain it would be for anyone to download them. Now, because of sites like youtube, google video, and the like, everyone's accustomed to watching videos right on a webpage without it being a huge pain in the butt.
Well I've gotten with the times, and now you can see some examples of the fruit of my labor here
, and here
8:35 AM, Aug 22, 2007
The President is in Town
President Bush has decided to stroke the egos of the the aged masses at the VFW Convention
, and as such, downtown has basically been locked down. He stayed at some hotel near the Plaza last night, and apparently, the entire route from the downtown airport to the Plaza was also locked down so only the President could use it. Is this consistent with previous Presidents? Did they all stop life from happening wherever they went? It's pretty off-putting.
I got on I-70 on the north loop this morning, and got owned by traffic. After averaging one to two miles per hour, I exited at Independence Avenue. I wound up taking that to Van Brunt, down to where it turns into Emmanuel "I'm still alive" Cleaver II Boulevard, before the surroundings turned suburban/rural. Along Independence and Van Brunt however, I passed through some great urban stretches of Kansas City that I had seldom, if ever, seen by daylight. It's definitely impoverished, and it's definitely not a place to take the kids for a picnic, but I loved the look of it.
Anyway, the President takes his leave later today. Hopefully the evening commute won't be a problem. But if it is, I wouldn't mind another trip through the East Side.
Goin' to Minnesota
This morning, Jeff and I were talking over IM. I've grown a bit restless, what with it now being almost two months since my big trip to Canada, and nothing in the hopper until the wedding in Chicago in October. I asked him if he minded the idea of taking off to visit somewhere this coming (Labor Day) weekend. It turns out that he has never made a deliberate visit to Minneapolis in his adult life. It's only six hours away, so we high-fived and decided.
Eager to spread the excitement, we invited Chris and Matt to come with. Chris flatly turned the idea down, citing something about something- I don't really remember what. Matt was first intrigued, then anxious, then ready. Soon after, Jeff made a hotel reservation, nailing a spike into reality. So it's official. The three of us are going to visit Minneapolis and St. Paul. I've alerted my Minnesota friends and family, and Friday can't come soon enough. We will run around the Twin Cities, and there'll be no one to stop us!
I have a car. I like it. It's a small car, with enough power to make it zoom along at an agreeable pace. It has four doors, and can competently traffic me to various places around the nation, barring traffic law abuses on my part. I financed what was left of the ridiculous amount I still owed on the old car, which was inordinately high because of how upside-down I was on the car previous to that. Through continuous overpayment of my loan, I owe 11,000 dollars on my car, when I should owe about 13,000 dollars. My monthly payment is somewhere in the three hundreds(driven down from the four hundreds by overpayment), but I usually pay about five hundred, which accounts for this difference in the remaining principal. The amount that was financed with my current car was just over 25,000 dollars.
In an effort to keep sales moving, the car dealership has mailed me a notice informing me that, upon certain conditions that my car meets, they would give me about 13,500 dollars for it, if I trade it in for a new car. I just priced a car on the manufacturer's website, and found that a new car with the options I want, would cost about 17,500. So, in the following scenario:
(apparent trade-in value of my car)
(what I owe, not including interest)
2500 ("profit" from the trade-in)
(what I priced on the manufacturer's website)
("profit" from trade-in that effectively gets turned into a down payment)
15000 (amount to finance)
My payments would be lower(and hence, easier to pay off), my taxes and insurance would likely go down, and I'd have a new, better car. Does it seem like a good deal? What do you think?