Category Archives: Rants

Things might get a bit heated here. It’s probably a good idea to take these discussions with a grain of salt.

Forensic Drafting

I’ll admit it: the reason I didn’t post yesterday is because I simply didn’t feel like it. Sure, I could have ranted about Daylight Saving Time, but I’ve already done that. Instead, I just didn’t. Mostly because the aforementioned DST stupidity and my responsibilities at work combined to put me in a decidedly foul mood.

I’ve been tasked with putting together a drawing set for one of our clients, which is fairly typical. What is not typical is that I have to use their drawing formats and standards, which are pretty much completely foreign to me and incompatible with the office standards I’m finally growing accustomed to. Compared to what I normally use, this format is woefully convoluted and inefficient.

At least I’ve been given a prototype set: an example project that serves to illustrate a typical iteration of the concept in a fairly common, simple space. The prototype set, however, is about twice as many sheets as our office’s usual format, with complementary information (say, for example, equipment plans and equipment schedules) separated by several pages, necessitating flipping back and forth every time you want to check what piece of equipment goes where. And to make matters worse, the space the prototype is laid out in is completely unlike anything that might be even cautiously described as “typical,” which makes it really hard to implement for the actual project space.

And while I was given CAD files of the prototype, that only goes so far; layering and layout conventions differ so greatly from our format, I’m basically having to recreate everything from scratch. Equipment blocks, title sheets, everything. And the format is so prescriptive, I feel like there’s no room for flexibility or creativity. I truly am just a CAD monkey.

Oh, and it has to be done by the end of the week. And it’s not like I haven’t had anything else to work on, either.

Sadly, this isn’t the first time I’ve had to jury-rig a design into some other office’s format. Believe it or not, this time is actually going more smoothly. And if we end up doing any other work for this client, those projects will go even faster. It’s just frustrating. I feel like I’m having to give a presentation in a language I’m struggling to learn along the way, without being able to use my native tongue that I know completely well everyone would understand just fine.

But no, it has to be in this super special (stupid) format, otherwise the Powers What Is might pop a monocle.

Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

EDIT:  I just saw that the practice site is closed, so I get to make the long, arduous trek to my warm abode.  My point still stands, though, so I’m going to keep this post up.

It’s currently snowing in Denver.  It’s about time for me to leave for heavy practice, and I don’t know how many people are going to be there.  I could struggle through traffic for an hour just to find myself the only one there.  Or I could call it a day, head home, and prevent the people who do show up having enough bodies there to make armoring up worth it.

I really hate days like this.

It’s a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation.  And there’s no way to know if it’s going to be worth it before I get there.  I’d love to not have to drive on snowy highways surrounded by other travelers who have forgotten how to drive since our last snow.  But I also want to hit my friends with sticks.  To make matters worse, the weather isn’t the only reason practice is sure to be thin: Estrella is this week, which means a bunch of people have gone down to Arizona (myself not included, obviously).

*sighs*  Let’s be honest, I’m most likely still going to make the drive out to practice.  I’m hoping I won’t be disappointed, but I have my doubts.

Where Does The Time Go?

Where does the time go, when you’re an adult? Take tonight, for instance. It’s about 7h30 as I write this. All I’ve accomplished so far after work tonight is to do my grocery shopping, heat up some leftovers for dinner, and finalize my hotel plans for the coming weekend. I still have to write, and I’d also like to get a shower in. What I had hoped to do was to have a nice quiet evening, one where I could kick back with a video game. That is, if I could decide what I wanted to play. By the time I finally get around to what I “set out to do,” it’s likely to be three hours after I got off work, and I’ll have a good hour or two (if I’m lucky) to relax before I have to go to sleep if I want to be any sorts of functional for the work day tomorrow.

Intellectually, I know this feeling of not accomplishing anything is irrational. Like this weekend, for instance. I recently picked up a new pair of gauntlets for SCA heavy combat, and I got them padded up and re-gloved for use at practice this week. In the grand scheme of things, the turnaround on this project was lightning fast; I still have components for a new breastplate I’ve been meaning to assemble for the past six years. But I still feel like I’m wasting time, like I can’t accomplish all the things I want to, no matter how hard I try.

How can I fix this? Do I need to carefully audit what I’m doing every minute of the day? That seems like it would take a lot of mental effort, not to mention more time. Do I just need to adjust my expectations? Probably; if you figure out how, please let me know. I guess one of the costs of being a responsible adult is all the time you spend on things you need to do, at the costs of things you want to do.

If so, that’s really a downer, and I wish there was a way around it. Maybe with enough money one can buy time, but I’m nowhere near that threshold. For now, I guess all I can do is just soldier on, letting the slight resentment towards my obligations build up over time, until it overflows into a weekend where even less gets accomplished than usual as I binge on some book or video game.

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?”

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.


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…

Money For People

Somehow, I’ve ended up with a lot of anxiety surrounding holidays and gifts. And it’s clearly not just me. A huge portion of this stems, at least for me, from financial considerations. And I know that sounds bad, but it’s true. I’ve spent a good number of years recently on a very tight budget, both during grad school and while working as Costco, so my natural tendency towards frugality has been reinforced and overdeveloped. And of course, me being who I am, I feel bad about that. I feel bad that I feel obligated to spend money I’m not used to having on my friends and family, and then I feel bad that I feel bad. There’s really no way to win.

Too much about gift exchanges these days seems so transactional. Sure, there’s the chance of the awesome moment when you manage to surprise someone with something they really want or that holds some personal meaning, but far too often it seems to devolve into a rote exchange:

“Here you go, [FAMILIAL RELATION], here is a gift card to [STORE YOU LIKE].”
“Thank you, [FAMILIAL RELATION], here is a card of equal value to [DIFFERENT STORE].”
“This transaction has been emotionally pleasing.”
“Yes, I am truly a better [CLEARLY BIOLOGICAL ENTITY] for having experienced it. Let us go give a [TOKEN OF APPRECIATION] to our [SHARED FAMILIAL RELATION.”

And of course, I’m just selfish enough that I still enjoy getting gifts. But I’m nice enough that I don’t like not reciprocating gift-giving. But that makes it feel too much like a transaction, which…

You get the idea.

In an odd occurrence, I find myself envious of such a lowly scumbag as George Costanza, with his Human Fund scheme. All the good feeling of giving a gift, without the actual investment! But more seriously, I wish there was a way we could all agree to avoid the stress of choosing and giving gifts. Like if the act of saying “My gift to you is freedom from the stress of having to get me a gift.” could be seen as complimentary and not a cheapskate move. Of course, this scheme falls apart if the other person has already gotten you a gift. Then you look like a Costanza.

What Do You Want?

Christmas is always a weird time of year for me.  The question that gets thrown around a lot is “What do you want for Christmas?”  And for whatever reason, that simple phrase comes to dominate the feeling of the season for me.  It doesn’t help that my answer is often “I don’t know,” or that I have to convince myself that I “deserve” presents and nice things.

I’ve reached a point in my life where I have most of the things I need, and asking for socks or similar is just boring.  And the stuff I don’t have I can quite easily go out and obtain for myself.  Of course there’s stuff I want.  But these days, the stuff I want is expensive enough I don’t feel comfortable asking someone else to buy it for me.  A $30 game is one thing, but a $350 graphics card?  That gets awkward.

And just asking for money is awkward in its own way.  I know that I have a bad habit of squirreling away cash in my savings account, then not really ever doing anything with it.  But that totally defeats the purpose of the gift!  And giving someone money isn’t as fulfilling as giving them a more tangible gift.

But that’s the situation I find myself in this year.  The things I want (not that I need them) are expensive, and mostly have to do with building a new computer.  So when asked the titular question, don’t be surprised if I answer “I don’t know, computer monies?”  Because that’s all I’m coming up with.

Bah humbug.