Monthly Archives: January 2015

Well, I Think It’s Progress

Ewok seems to be doing better, for the most part. Whether that’s because he’s finally getting a sense of his place in the pecking order or because he’s too exhausted to act out, I can’t tell. “Submissive” and “tired” look fairly similar from my point of view.

We’ve started him on the basic tricks, things like “come,” “sit,” “lie down,” and “stay.” That last one is still a bit iffy, but it is coming along. Luckily we can motivate him with basic kibble, so we don’t really have to worry about him getting too many treats; the simple fact that we’re giving it to him often seems to be enough. He’ll come over for the occasional pet, but for the most part he just lies there and sleeps. I guess the mile-plus walks we’ve been taking him on seem to be doing their job.

But while he’s doing better with us, he seems to be doing a little worse with others. He’s actually gotten a bit nippy and growly with some of our coworkers, even ones he was fairly okay with last week. Maybe he’s too tired? Maybe he’s latched onto us as “his people” and doesn’t like intruders? Maybe it’s nothing and we’re just grasping at straws? I don’t know.

I do know that I’m almost certainly over-analyzing things, but I can’t help myself. It’s what I do. Since we’re no longer sure how he’ll react, we’ve been keeping him relatively isolated; avoiding other dogs while on walks, keeping him leashed and close to us while at work, et cetera. I’ve staggered the days I take him in so that he doesn’t have to encounter the dog he had isues with, but even the other, more naturally-submissive dog seems to avoid him. We’ll probably have to do a reintroduction once Ewok’s a little better mannered.

We’ve got our first training session on Thursday, so hopefully he gets along alright with his other classmates. I think part of my anxiety is from basic lack of knowledge: I know I don’t know, so I’m worried about Doing Something Wrong. But I’m hopeful that whatever issues we’re having we can work through, and Ewok will be able to be a productive member of our social circle.

Ranting At Myself

Well, looks like it’s time again for one of my minor Funks, the kind that leave me with no idea what to write about. Which means I put off writing, which means I don’t get to it until late in the day, which means I start wondering if it’s even worth it to post, which makes me feel more guilty when I don’t, which…

Well, if you’ve been reading this blog or have similar issues of your own, you know what I’m talking about.

I guess part of it is the fact that the honeymoon stage of dog adoption is most definitely over. We’ve had Ewok a little over a week, and he’s now gotten comfortable enough with us to start pushing boundaries. Unfortunately, that translates to growling at new people and getting into arguments with other dogs. You know, behavior that is decidedly Not Cool™.

I’ve also encountered my first example of how having the dog to care fore can affect my social schedule. There was an SCA event last weekend, and I ended up staying home to keep an eye on Ewok. He pretty much slept all day, and while I hadn’t really even wanted to go to the event, the basic fact that I couldn’t go perversely made me kind of want to go.

I guess it’s just the fact that the sheer responsibility of caring for a dog is starting to sink in, and it’s kind of freaking me out. I’ve even had the occasional second thought, which believe me, even though I know I’m never going to follow through with them really does a number on my self-acceptance.

So I don’t know. Maybe like I said last week, this is just me getting to the end of my change tolerance. After all, our habits are having to change pretty suddenly because of the dog. And on some level, even though it pains me to say it, I find myself kind of resenting the imposition. And of course putting it like that makes it sounds much worse than it is, but I don’t know how else to put it. Things have changed, and I’m not the biggest fan of change on the best of days. And to make matters worse, I’m beating myself up for feeling that way.

But at least we’re trying to do something about it. We’ve signed up for a six-week training course for Ewok, and I’m hopeful that he’ll be easy enough to imbue with some better manners. And hey, in the end he’s still just a dog, right? I can’t even begin to imagine what new parents have to go through.

And that’s another thing. What does it say about me when I keep coming back to the phrase “Well, at least Ewok’s just a dog instead of a baby?”

Dog Was Done

I don’t really have much to say tonight.  It’s late, I’m tired, and they honeymoon phase of being a new dog owner is over.  Not that Ewok’s bad, by any stretch; he could just use some sanding down of the rough edges.  He apparently had quite the interesting day at my girlfriend’s work today, and was a little too overstimulated for fencing practice.  You’d think he was a two-year-old or something.

So instead we took him for a nice, long walk to finish tiring him out, and had a nice quiet night in.  I’ve been playing Borderlands, so that’s fun.

Learning New Things: Yay?

I find myself very tired after several days of making sure Ewok doesn’t get into trouble while I’m at work. Today was especially draining because I got to have my first experience with dogs jockeying for dominance. It did not sound pretty.

There are two other dogs that semi-regularly come into my office. One is fairly naturally submissive; even though he’s larger than Ewok, he got put in his place fairly quickly. They did the usual chase around the cubicles Monday morning, but for the most part now just ignore each other. I also discovered (the hard way, of course) that Ewok is a little toy-aggressive. The other dog had a ball, and once Ewok had had a chance to catch it, he did not like letting the other dog have it back. So we don’t throw that ball any more.

I was a little more worried about how Ewok would react to the second dog, since they are both fairly dominant (at least, they both established their dominance over the other, more submissive dog). This second dog is also larger than Ewok, so I was a little concerned. Their first encounter seemed to go alright, with the usual butt-sniffing and whatnot. But then things took a turn for the nasty-looking.

Turns out that the bigger dog didn’t feel like just lying down for smaller Ewok.

What ensued certainly sounded nasty: barking and leaping and growling and open jaws. Literal fur was literally flying. Not exactly what I expected, to say the least. I ended up freaking out slightly and stepping in between them, and for the rest of the day Ewok stayed on his leash attached to my desk, and the other dog stayed shut in his owner’s office with the door closed.

Like I said, I freaked out a bit. It left me shaken for pretty much the rest of the day. Being the overthinker that I am, I spent some time searching the Web for “how to introduce dogs” articles. Turns out we probably should have introduced them in a neutral area (like outside), and it may have been better to let them sort things out with whatever scuffle ended up coming to pass. Oh well.

I didn’t realize it until today, but keeping an eye on Ewok takes a lot of energy. If a dog is this distracting, I can only imagine how all-consuming a human baby must be (not that either of us plans on getting one of those anytime soon). While he is adorable, I will be happy once my girlfriend and I can start trading off work days. It’s only Wednesday, and I already feel like I’ve worked a full week. Plus, the change in morning/evening habits Ewok has required (read: walks) means I haven’t been sleeping well.

Maybe I’m finally reaching my limit for coping with change. Maybe I’m just running low on Spoons from all the new experiences. I don’t know. I just know that today was a bit of a shock, and I wouldn’t mind things getting a little quieter.


So those of you that follow me on Facebook have probably noticed pictures of a certain furry individual pop up. That’s right, my girlfriend and I finally adopted a dog!

It’s something we’ve been talking about for several months together, and even longer individually. We both had dogs growing up, but both felt as adults that we just weren’t home enough to give a dog the attention it would need. But after discussing things, we figured that between the two of us we could scrounge up enough attention for one dog.

So we started looking. Neither of us are into really big dogs; when I was a kid we had a pair of what I affectionately refer to as “punting dogs.” We had a Yorkshire terrier and a teacup poodle, and they were about 5 pounds each. My girlfriend grew up with a larger terrier mix, so we started looking in the middle of that range. Small enough to be manageable, but large enough to still be a Dog (those of you who have spent a lot of time with chihuahuas will know what I mean).

In terms of purebreds, we started looking at the Border Terrier a scruffy-looking, intelligent (but not too smart) breed. Unfortunately, they aren’t very popular in our area, and neither of us wanted to pay $1200 for a puppy. Aside from being a lot of money, we wanted an older dog; the advantages of not having to potty train are not to be understated.

So we started looking at shelters. We were mostly looking for terrier mixes, since we wanted a dog that was smart enough to entertain itself. Most of the shelters these days post animal profiles online, which made it easy to, for lack of a better term, pre-shop. Our first excursion out was on a Sunday, but apparently Saturday is the big adoption day and our options were limited.

Scouting for adoptable pets is tough work. There are so many cute animals in need of homes, that waiting to find the right one can be quite an ordeal. But wait we did. We almost ended up with a slightly skittish Manchester terrier mix (we even put a deposit down), but in the end found Ewok.

We even managed to find a dog to match our carpet!

We even managed to find a dog to match our carpet!

Ewok, as far as we can tell, is a Border terrier/Shar-pei mix. He’s about two years old, and is just a scruffy little love bucket. We have no idea why he was given up for adoption, since he’s very well-behaved (even if he does have the occasional moment of terrier willfulness). He came to us housebroken and crate trained, and even does alright on a leash. As the adoption profile said, he’s game for bouts of play between periods of rest. Both our offices are dog-friendly, so it great that he’s alright with other dogs. It’s quite funny to see a little 25-pound terrier establish his dominance over a much-larger dog.

He had been in a foster-based rescue for about a month, and we didn’t get a chance to see him until a couple weeks after we noticed his listing. By that point we figured he would have already been adopted; after all, who wouldn’t want to take him home? But he was still available, so on Saturday we headed to a local PetCo and there he was. We were scheduled to meet two other dogs, but didn’t bother after him.

Anyway, I’m rambling, and it’s almost time for his walk. Needless to say my girlfriend

and I are both very excited. Expect to see him out at lots of camping events this summer, as even fencing practice!

My Day In Court

Back in November, I got a fairly nasty surprise. The financial guy in our office called me and told me something you never want to hear: “We received a notice of garnishment of your wages.” After a brief moment of panic, I calmed down enough to start digging into things.
It turned out that the fines were due to an unpaid ticket. Apparently I was issued a citation last August for not paying RTD fare while downtown by the UC Denver campus. Needless to say, this was news to me. In fact, the first I heard about it was the notice of garnishment. There had apparently been efforts to contact me about the ticket, but the city had an old address on file for me. So the late fees piled up, and suddenly a $75 ticket had ballooned up to $210.

“But wait,” I hear you ask, “how could the garnishment notice be the first you heard of this ticket? Wouldn’t you have remembered getting cited?” Well, friendly readier voice that lives inside my head, that’s an excellent question! In fact, the answer is what makes this whole debacle both interesting and annoying.

I was never there to receive a ticket.

I don’t know how it happened, but I was nowhere near downtown anywhere near the date and time on the ticket. In fact, I was shopping at Costco for new work clothes. So I began to gather my evidence: a receipt, with a time stamp and store number, a map showing the location of the store, and an IM chat log between my girlfriend and I (you’d think I would have mentioned something as unusual as interacting with police).

So while I was annoyed, I was assured in my ability to prove my innocence. I made multiple copies of my documentation. I filed a motion to roll back the default judgment and take my case to a hearing. I tidied myself up and squeezed into my one good suit. I was prepared. I would make my case, and it would be awesome.

And then the ticketing officer didn’t show up to the hearing.

Believe me, I certainly made sure to show up. But because the other party didn’t, the case got dismissed and I got to go back to work. All that preparing proof, all that organizing my spiel in my head, and all it took to get the thing dismissed was showing up. Kinda anticlimactic, isn’t it?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining that the thing was dismissed. It’s just that I’d like a slightly better end to the story. And for what it’s worth, I thought my proof was pretty good.


You know what annoys me? When I have to clean up someone’s mess. You know what I’ve been doing at work lately? Having to clean up someone’s mess.

AutoCAD drafting shouldn’t be too hard. Computers make it nice and easy to keep things precise, kinda by nature. With just a little discipline, it shouldn’t be too hard to keep things orthogonal and intersecting correctly. And yet, people manage to mess this up.

Maybe it’s a personal failing on my part, but minor misalignments, the kind that wouldn’t even show up until you zoom in far more than you really should, really bother me. It just seems to add unnecessary inaccuracies to a layout. The kinds that that would would propagate throughout a project until everything is wrong and impossible to fix without starting from scratch.

If I have a horizontal line, I expect that line to actually be horizontal. Not .03 degrees, not .003 degrees, but 0. Flat. No questions. When it isn’t, and I think it is, it just means that things aren’t going to even remotely add up. Like I said, all it takes is a little diligence, but apparently even that is sometimes too much.

Of course, the easy fix is starting over from scratch. But that’s not always possible in a work environment, when the other projects are piling up while you spend your time doing something that’s already been done. After a point, however, I start to wonder if the time and mental anguish I wasted trying to make sense of shoddy craftsmanship is more or less than the time it would have taken just to do things over.

Yes, I know I’m being vague. But I needed to get it off my chest without pissing anyone off. Is it really that hard to take just a bit more time and do things right from the start? I obviously don’t think it is, but apparently not everyone does.

Hosting Hoedown

NOTE: If you can’t follow this link from Facebook/Tumblr/whatever, your DNS probably hasn’t updated. Try again later.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, then you have probably realized that I don’t really do well with change. At the same time, I also don’t like spending money I don’t have to. Things can get, shall we say, “interesting” when these two aspects of my personality interact. Case in point: I recently switched my website hosting to another provider.

I originally bought this domain and hosting plan for my architectural portfolio site at the end of grad school, when I realized that I was almost done and should have started looking for a job months ago. So I did my usual firehose-style research and settled on GoDaddy as one of the easier options. I didn’t need much, after all, just a place I could install WordPress and whisper from my tiny molehill “Look at me!”

And for the most part, they were pretty inoffensive. But then it came out that they supported SOPA, and I decided to take my business elsewhere. I ended up with Hostgator for my hosting, and Namecheap for my domain registration; I figured not having all my eggs in one basket wasn’t necessarily a bad idea.

And Hostgator treated me well too. Never really had any technical problems. But then I realized that the nice juicy deal I had gotten for my first year was all too temporary. How did I find this out you ask? Well, because they auto-renewed my service and I noticed a suspiciously high credit card bill that month. Of course, by the time I realized this I had already been charged for a year. But I vowed that next time, this would not happen. Next time, I would look at my options, and if I could find a better deal I would take it!

And then I promptly forgot about it.

But through sheer luck, my credit card company sent me a new card with a different number last year, so the card that Hostgator had on file was no longer valid. So rather than receiving a bill, I received a “Your bill could not be paid” notice. Well, I was not one to let this opportunity pass me by!

So I switched to TotalChoice, which ended up being about half what I paid at Hostgator. I can heartily recommend them. Their customer support response time is impeccable, and they’ve managed to fix whatever issues I’ve had promptly and permanently. The only downside to switching with an active blog is that DNS changes take a while to propagate. For those less-technical, that means that it takes a while for the Internet to know to point my URL to the new host. So there may be some service interruptions as people are sent to the old host instead.

But even with this minor headache, I’m happy to be saving myself a fair amount of money. Now if I can just prevent myself from finding any other, better deals out there I’ll be good.

(spoiler: I didn’t. Oh well, maybe next year.)

Sudden Cornucopia

So I figured out why I thought building a new computer was going to take so much longer. Turns out that the real time sink is on the software side of things. At least they’ve got Windows installation down to taking less time than it did in the XP days, and certainly helped as well. But it turns out there’s a downside to having a largely virtual game collection: you have to re-download everything.

This is going to veer straight into First World Problems territory, but oh well. We don’t have the fastest Internet connection at our place, but it’s generally fast enough for what we do (surfing, Netflix, the occasional online game). And sure, I’ve had to wait for multi-gigabye games to download in the past. But I always had something else to play or do while I was waiting for things to arrive. And believe it or not, that’s kinda hard to do on a fresh install.

So I spent a lot of time this weekend twiddling my thumbs, waiting for bits to inch their way down our DSL line. But eventually I discovered a workaround: it turns out that Steam-installed games are largely portable. You can copy the game files over, along with a corresponding app manifest file, and after a Steam client restart the game is there! So I dug out my high capacity flash drives and transferred the games that I had already downloaded to my laptop via sneakernet to my new desktop. All told, I saved myself about 50 GB of downloading. Which of course means I can use that time to download new games!

Of course, now that I have a computer that can run all the games in my Steam and GOG collections I’m faced with another problem: what the heck do I play? There’s a number of titles I’ve been itching to try, but how do I choose which ones to turn to first? I’m like a kid in a candy shop, paralyzed by choice and unsure what to throw my resources at first. Do I play a little bit of several games? Or do I commit myself to one from start to finish? And if I do the latter, do I do a long, story-driven one or a quick but entertaining diversion?

It doesn’t help that I’ve now got two terabytes of hard drive space, which is more than all my past computers combined. I’m effectively no longer limited by having to uninstall one game to make room for the next. For now, at least; technology inexorably marches on, and I’m sure far sooner than I’d like I’ll be feeling the upgrade itch. But for now, and for hopefully quite a while, I’ll be content with knowing that even if I can’t decide what game to play, I now have the horsepower to crank those graphics settings all the way to max whenever I finally do make a decision.


So that whole “set aside a lot of time to assemble the computer” thing? Turns out that putting the parts together doesn’t take as long as I thought it did. Over the course of the past few days I’ve chipped away at the hardware side of things, and once I got over my fear of touching expensive electronics in case I broke them, it went really fast.

Yes, I was nervous; I think it’s okay to admit that. In fact, I was quite apprehensive when the processor made this oh-so-wonderful almost-crunching sound when I locked it into the motherboard. But I guess that was just the sound of the pins being depressed to make the connection, because it doesn’t seem to have adversely affected anything.

In fact, the processor seemed to be the main source of apprehension. Seating the chip, applying thermal paste, and even attaching the giant after-market cooler was an experience in “Is it supposed to look like that, I guess…” Mounting the motherboard inside the case was also a bit of a challenge. I had one screw that just didn’t want to align (the last one, of course), so I ended up taking out all the others and removing it right before I had to head to work. Turns out that I was just hungry and losing dexterity, because when I came back to it in the afternoon (and started with the problem screw) it went right in.

Everything else went pretty smoothly. I’ve switched out RAM before, as well as expansion cards, so those all went in with a satisfying click. Attaching the power cables was somewhat interesting, since some of them had to be bent or stretched slightly into position. But I was sure to heed the advice of my coworker and not force anything, and it seems to have worked out.

I even powered it on for the first time! Sure, I haven’t had a chance to install the storage drives or operating systems, but I was able to boot to the BIOS just fine. Well, once I remembered to plug the power supply into the wall, that is. Some things never change, I guess. And hoo boy, does that green fan look awesome. I may be picking up some more.

Test boot on the test bench

Test boot on the test bench.  The picture doesn’t really do the fan justice.