Category Archives: Personal

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.

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 I’m coming to the realization that my hope of having a large chuck of time to set aside to build things is probably in vain. And of course, all the other issues I talked about yesterday are still in play. So I’m going to try my hand at working on my new computer piecemeal, a few minutes here or there in the morning or evening as I get them. After all, I’ve read all the manuals I could (including the descriptions of BIOS features that I can’t use yet), so I’m pretty much stalling at this point.

Maybe this is for the best, though. I have an unfortunate tendency to involuntarily fixate on the “big picture” of a problem, and can have trouble breaking it down into manageable steps. My desire to do things all in one sitting could be a reflection of this. It could also be a result of my perfectionism.

So my waiting for the “perfect” time to build my computer is likely overly idealistic. Part of being an adult, after all, is making the best of less than ideal situations. I’m learning that one the hard way. So I’m going to try and do things as I can. And even better, rather than doing them so I can write about them, or look back later and say “yep, I experienced that thing,” I’m going to try and actually experience the… well, experience. Far too often I’ve found myself worried so much about remembering something or preserving an experience for posterity I forget to actually enjoy myself. It’s like people who take a trip halfway around the world and then view everything through the tiny viewfinder of their camera.

So that’s where I’m at. I’m telling perfection to bugger off, and to take not-being-present (or whatever you’d call it) with it. I’m gonna do what I can, when I can, and hopefully things will turn out alright and I’ll enjoy it along the way.

To that effect, I took my motherboard out of the box and antistatic bag this morning! And I mounted my power supply in the case the night before! Yaaay, this doesn’t sound lame at all!



So what have I done with this enormous bounty of new computing hardware? Well, to tell the truth… a whole lot of nothing so far.

You see, I picked up all this stuff on Sunday. But there’s this little issue during the week of having to go to work. Plus having my evenings largely booked with various activities, like fighter practices and Marvel television shows. And this being my first build and all, I really want to take my time and make it special. Sure, I guess I could stay up until midnight or later and just crank the thing out, but I’ve got a busy week at work and kind of need all my available faculties. Plus, this being a delicate operation and all, I want to make sure I’ve done all the research I can, reading tutorials, watching how-to’s, and making sure everything is Just So™.

I guess, if I had to be honest, I might be just a little nervous. Sure, it’s true I’ve replaced the occasional hard drive or swapped out a stick or two of RAM over the years, but I’ve never done of this scale before. I’ve never had to apply thermal paste. I’ve never had to make sure I don’t bend CPU pins or fry extremely sensitive electronics with static electricity. I’ve never invested this much money in something that might go horribly wrong.

Well, aside from grad school, I guess.

I’m probably overthinking things again (big surprise, I know). I’m sure things will go fine; after all, I’m not a person who shies away from opening up electronics just to see what’s inside. But like I said, I want to make the “build moment” special, a momentous occasion as I take my rightful place amongst the Glorious PC Gaming Master Race. I want to be able to take my time, to not have to make progress in fits and spurts in the hour or so each night between finishing my activities and having to go to bed. And unfortunately, the closest chunk of time I can really see in my near future is this Saturday. But I don’t want to have to wait that long. But I don’t want to sacrifice any of my other activities, like seeing my friends or making it to the first fighter practice of the year…

You get the idea. “Wah wah wah, being a responsible adult sucks.” And it does. So for now my new hardware components sit on the table next to my desk, mocking me from their boxes. Their siren song promising both challenge and reward. Waiting.

I’ve at least unpacked my case, so that’s something.  And I’ve got a lot of manuals to read…

Finally Friday

Not much to say today. It was a long week, and I’ve still got a lot to do before the weekend finishes. I’m tired, overwhelmed, and ready to be done. So, you know, the usual state for a working schlub.

But hey! I did get a chance to stop by Micro Center this afternoon. They’re especially crowded this time of year; apparently remote-control drones and helicopters are big right now. I primarily went in to look, mostly at tower cases. It’s hard to get a sense of scale from Internet pics, and while there selection wasn’t great (black, black, more black, and oh yeah, some white), at least I have a better idea what scale of hulking monstrosity I’m likely to end up with.

I didn’t make it out completely unscathed, of course. I ended up, mostly on a whim, picking up a tube of thermal paste. My laptop’s been running fairly hot lately, so much so that it actually shut down without warning while on battery power within the last week or so. I figure that refreshing the thermal paste probably couldn’t hurt, and it’ll be good practice for when I have to install the cooler on my own build.

That’s all I’ve got. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go be a manly man and finish sewing my undertunic for this weekend.