Category Archives: Uncategorized

Pretty much what it says on the tin: posts that haven’t been otherwise categorized.

Unintended Hiatus

Holy cow, it’s been almost two weeks since I’ve posted something. I’m sure I could come up with some excuse, something to justify the lapse to myself, but to be honest the reasons are pretty mundane: work’s been really busy, I haven’t had anything that I want to write about, and I just plain haven’t felt like writing.

It’s amazing how much easier things go when you actually have something to say. Those posts about my car trouble? I cranked those all out in one evening… and then promptly squandered my shiny new buffer playing Saints Row 2.

Work’s been crazy, too. A project we thought was ready to start construction got pushed back because it turns out that the base plans we were given had one of the key walls in the wrong place. So not only is that project delayed, but it’s pushing back everything else I need to work on with it. It’s left me so drained that I have very little motivation to do much of anything, let alone write.

This week isn’t shaping up to be much better. But I really don’t want to go even further without writing. What does this mean for my once-a-day posting goal? I don’t know. I’m not going to tackle that question just yet.

Slow & Delicious

Both my girlfriend and I work full time. Far too often the last thing you want to do after a long day’s work is come home and cook. At the same time, I don’t like eating out too often. It gets expensive, and overflows the refrigerator with leftovers. Before we moved in together, nights where I didn’t know what to cook would be filled with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, simply to keep the hunger-beast away. And when I was working at Costco it wasn’t a big deal; even if I worked a full shift, I was often home by 2pm, which meant I had enough time to sit and decompress before getting back up to prepare something from my meager repertoire. How best to solve this conundrum?

Technology, my friend!

This past holiday season, our friends bought us a slow cooker. For whatever reason, we hadn’t gotten around to testing it out yet, but this week we decided to try something different. I usually go grocery shopping on Monday evenings, so I just picked up a few extra things and we prepared to have shredded barbecue pork the next night.

Holy cow was it tasty.

The first thing I noticed when coming in the door was the smell. We had started cooking it before we left, and the savory aroma permeated the living room and kitchen. In fact, that my have had something to do with the dogs unnatural exuberance upon getting home. The meat shredded so easily it barely had enough structural integrity to make it to the cutting board in one piece. The sauce was nice and sweet, and I ended up eating way too much (of course) far too quickly (it happens). Even the dog was a fan; you’d have though we tied a string to his tail given how fast he sat for a sample.

And the best part is, we’ve got meals for pretty much the entire week! All we have to do is pull the ceramic pot out of the fridge, warm it back up, and we’re good to go. So thanks, oh wonderful friends, for a most useful and tasty gift.

“Productive Adult”

So somehow, I managed to not post at all over the last part of the week. I’ve got plenty of excuses, of course. Wednesday we had people from the home office in town and went out to dinner. Thursday was the first night of dog training classes. And Friday we got to watch an astrophysics lecture in a big theater. So for one reason or another, and given the fact that I had already burned through my buffer, I didn’t end up writing at all during the latter part of last week.

There was a time when I would have felt really guilty about that. And don’t get me wrong, a part of me still feels bad. But it’s becoming more and more apparent to me that writing isn’t the priority that I sometimes think it is.

People say things like “If you truly want to do something, you’ll find time to do it.” And I imagine that’s true to a certain extent. But I find myself in the situation of having so much I want to do, that I’m always pulled in several directions. And for better or worse, my free time isn’t what it used to be. I have to work. I have to do the basic upkeep like grocery shopping and laundry. I have to take care of the dog. I want to read. I want to write. I want to play video games. I want to watch TV shows on Netflix. I want to continue fighting and growing in the SCA. I need to sleep.

I know I’ve made excuse posts in the past, but that’s not quite what this is. This is more me lamenting that I can’t do all the things I want to. And I don’t see a good way around that. I guess there’s not much more I can do beyond enjoying the activities I have time for and not letting thoughts of all the other stuff I need/want to do distract me too much.

Bells And Whistles

One decision I’m facing when it comes to my impending computer build (no really, it’s happening!) is balancing budget with upgradeablility. I tend to approach computer purchases as investments; I’m willing to spend a bit more money up front so that they’ll remain usable for longer. Case in point: my current laptop cost me $1500 when I bought it in 2008, but it’s been going strong for just under 6.5 years. My previous laptop cost me $3000 back in 2002 (my family sold the piano no one was using to help cover the costs), but I used that fairly regularly for nearly seven years; in fact, I wouldn’t have upgraded when I did if I hadn’t decided to go back to grad school.

And while there was a stopgap surplus desktop in between the two, both of my big personal computers have been laptops, which as a platform are not known for their expansion options. With desktops, you at least have the option of somewhat rolling updates: a graphics card here, more RAM there, maybe even a new processor down the line. So I really want to take advantage of that possibility.

I’ve also chosen to limit myself to around $1000 for this build. The problem I now find myself facing is that while I can definitely stay under that budget, if I want a better choice of expandability options that tends to push me over. And honestly, some of the features are ones I might not even use right away.

The two big ones I’ve come across are overclocking and SLI. Overclocking allows you to artificially speed up your computer’s processor beyond the manufacturer’s rated spec. It strikes me as not only a good way to add some longevity to a build, but also a fun way to tinker with the insides of my PC. Of course, “unlocked” Intel processors (those that allow easy overclocking) are more expensive. SLI involves connecting two (or more) graphics cards, allowing for better game performance, especially at ultra-high resolutions. This of course involves purchasing multiple graphics cards (they have to be identical), but also requires having a compatible motherboard, which of course adds to the cost.

So that’s kind of where I am: the enthusiast part of me wants cool and awesome features, while the frugal part of me wants to avoid spending money on features I’m not going to use. But by spending that money now, I might have more upgrade options down the line, saving me money in the long run.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to completely future-proof my build. That’s impossible; I could spend $4000 and still need to upgrade in three years. No, what I want is to have a build that is “future-ready,” one that doesn’t leave me wishing I had spent just a little more money at this point.

Artemis Post-Mortem

So for New Year’s Eve this year, we decided to throw a party. This was odd enough in and of itself, since I’ve never really lived in an apartment that was big enough to “entertain” in, but my girlfriend was amenable to the idea so I figured we’d try it. Of course, when I say “party,” I don’t mean the “everyone get drunk and rock out to loud music” type. Or even the “sip wine while appreciating art and the finer things in life.” No, I mean more of a “LAN party with a bunch of nerds.”

That is to say, we had over 25 people over to our 1,200-square-foot apartment for a rousing game of Artemis. And it was awesome.

I honestly wasn’t sure if we could comfortably fit that many people in our place. But we did, and managed to set up three complete bridge crews. One of my friends even brought their 50” TV to use! We ended up having a team in the downstairs rec room, a team in the living room, and a team in my office (which was about half the size of the other rooms). My other worry was having enough computers to go around, but once again my friends came through: not only was there enough tech to go around, we had enough extra that we could continue to run multiple ships even after people began to head home for the night.

Of course, wrangling that many computers and new players was a mite stressful. I spent most of the first hour and a half running around like a madman, making sure people had space and the requisite connections. But eventually things reached enough critical mass that they started to basically run themselves. I even had a chance to sit down a play a few sessions myself!

The night wasn’t without its hiccups. We ended up having a choke point in the kitchen, where people somehow chose one of the smallest rooms in the place to hang out in (of course, the food being there may have had something to do with it). If I had to do it again (and I’d like to), I’d probably put a crew in the master bedroom rather than the living room, and keep the latter free for congregating, consuming, and chatting.

But overall, flying around virtual space, defeating enemies, and “accidentally” nuking allies was a great way to ring in the new year. Everyone seemed to have a good time (even the few non-gamers who showed up), and we successfully managed to not trip any electrical breakers (despite trying our best with multiple computers, crock pots, and nearly all the lights in the apartment). That all being said, it left me fairly drained; it took us the better part of a week to get ready, and it was pretty much go-go-go from 7pm until we kicked everyone out around 2am. And while I’d like to do it again, maybe not right away. But it was a great time, and I can only hope that everyone who participated had a good time as well.

Happy New Year!

Artemis Prep

No post today, obviously.  It’s 11h30 on Monday night, and I’m still tinkering at my desk trying to get things ready for our New Year’s Eve party.  Since our last session with Artemis went so well, we decided to do it again!  And from the sound of things, we’re probably going to have enough to run multiple ships!  That is, of course, assuming our tech infrastructure holds up, to say nothing of being able to fit that many people in our apartment.  But we’ve spent a good portion of the past few days cleaning, and I spent most of my night playing with joystick setups and reinstalling the OS on my old desktop.  If everything goes according to plan, we’ll be pretty much ready by tomorrow night.  But given how things always take longer than expected, I’m not sure I’ll be able to post much over the next few days.  So this is my cop-out post, so I don’t feel as bad skipping out on writing.  I just think I’m going to need the time to make sure everything is in order.

It’s gonna be awesome.

Happy Holiday Eve

Well, the winter holiday season is starting to draw to a close. Just a few more days left, and we’ll be well on our way to the new year. I don’t have much to say right now; I know my posts recently have been a bit on the griping side, so I think I’ll keep whatever thoughts I have on the matter (not many, at this point) to myself for right now. Night is falling, the apartment is clean, and it’s almost time to get ready to visit with family. I’ve still got enough time I should be able to write something thoughtful in a card or two, so I’m going to do just that.

So Happy Holidays, everyone. No matter what you celebrate. Even nothing: we can all take solace in the fact that the days are going to start getting longer.

Axial Tilt is the reason for the season

via Bad Astronomy

Impending Festivities

It’s late, I’m tired, so there’s not much of a post today.  Although the good news is I pretty much got my Christmas shopping done.  Days before the deadline, even!  So if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go enjoy what’s left of my night off before the Yuletide Gauntlet finishes closing around me.

Status Report

I haven’t been sleeping well lately. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s holiday stress, maybe it’s work stress, or maybe it’s some other weird arcane confluence of influences and annoyances, but something is keeping me out of sorts.

My body seems to want to wake up at about 7am. This means that I usually need an alarm to get up for work in the mornings, but the difference isn’t that bad. The unfortunate part comes over the weekend, where I still naturally wake up close to 7. It doesn’t seem to matter what time I fall asleep, either. Once 7 rolls around, even if I was up until 2am (which has happened on the occasional Friday night), there I am, sitting in bed staring at the ceiling as the morning light begins to trickle in through the window. And that’s really annoying.

So I’ve been working on a mild sleep deficit for at least a week or so, maybe more. And I’ve been extremely busy drafting this week so far, which always leaves me in a weird mood. Pile on top of that all the holiday stress of picking out gifts for people, letting people know what you want (which always makes me feel weird), and it’s a recipe for a not-so-great mood.

But hey, there’s some good news. I got a surprise holiday bonus from my work! I’m fast running out of excuses to not build a new computer. Plus, my laptop is no longer without its quirks: it’s picked up this annoying habit of overheating and shutting down without warning while running on battery power, even during such demanding tasks as web browsing. So I’ve started researching components in earnest, although not as earnestly as I might like, since I’ve been so busy with other stuff. But look on the bright side, once I start building I’ll have plenty to write about!


Well, that didn’t last long. I had a nice buffer and everything last week (well, one day is something), but that got taken up by something. And people from the home office are in town again, so that means lots of late dinners with coworkers. Which means getting home late. Which means not having much mental energy for writing. Which means feeling bad about writing nothing of substance.

You get the idea.

Anyway, I don’t really have much to say right now. Just that I’m alive, I had a good weekend, but Monday has taken a lot out of me. People are in town, which means less time to work on the projects I was hoping to get done over the next few weeks. Oh well.