Monday, April 26, 2004

My New Car

Well I finally went out and bought myself a new car. I had a hard time figuring out what I wanted, but then I saw this beauty and I just couldn't resist it. A Subaru Impreza WRX, just like the one Kevin Wong has! It was real cheap too. Got it at CarMax.

And here's what the dashboard looks like...

And here's one last shot with the hood up.

More about it later!

Friday, April 23, 2004

It's Friday! That means it's time to...

What? You got a better suggestion?

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Set Nerd Alert Level To Mauve

I started working with the Emac today, at long last. I have to say, I'm thrilled with it. The first thing that strikes me about it is how compact it is: the CPU is housed in the same case as the monitor, so you can basically pick it up and go. Paul helped move it to my cubicle today. Incidentally, no one's indicated a desire to kick me out of the cubicle yet, and I asked Gretchen about it... basically she told me to go ahead and get comfortable because there's no use keeping it bare just because I might be moving out soon. Besides, they might never ask me to move, which would be sweet. I'm bringing in my Transformers in tomorrow... they'll be assigned to guard duty on my left cabinet. Those pesky Decepticons won't bother me now.

Anyway, the Emac is great. I don't know how much muscle the cpu has, yet, but it seems like a speedy little machine. For some reason, Tony Hawk Pro Skater 4 is installed on it. Paul doesn't know. I don't care. I might spend a couple of evenings goofing off with it after hours. But the most fun I had today was definitely with the app they have me using: Eggplant. Yes, it's named after a vegetable. A good vegetable at that.

What it does: Eggplant remotely connects to another box (either a mac or pc) and lets you write scripts to perform a series of actions on that box. What sets Eggplant apart is that instead of saving screen coordinates (so that it remembers where to click, etc), it saves an image of the portion of the screen you manipulate. That makes it a lot more flexible than apps that use screen coordinates. Or so I'm told. I don't know. This is the first time I've ever encountered anything like this. We'll be using this to create test scripts to debug the NetLearning software (which I'm not going to talk about, because that's business). No I don't know why it's called Eggplant, and apparently neither do they.

So, I had the Emac set up, and Jay had already given me some Eggplant documentation to look at, so I decide, what the heck, lets see if I can mess with my laptop from the Emac. I get VNC installed on my laptop (which makes all that remote-accessing fun possible) and start it up. Then I tell Eggplant what its IP is, and surprise, surprise, it works the first time. I'm not used to things working the first time... maybe it's a mac thing. After I gotten over the complete dorkiness of controlling my laptop from a mac, I started writing some scripts for it, which wasn't too hard. In about an hour I had my laptop open Explorer, go to the NetLearning demo website, access its software, enter my user id and password, and log me into the system... all with one button click from Eggplant! I was in dork heaven.

Aside from that, I think I've found the place I want to live: I decided to step away from the Fort Sanders area a bit and checked out a place called Washington Ridge Apartments, which is 2 miles off Broadway, and about 5 miles from NetLearning. It was a pretty neat place. Spacious 1-bedroom apartments, 3 to 12-month leases, exercise facilities, pool, jacuzzi, lotsa trees... There was a small lake, with geese. With their little baby geese. I was sold. But I'll keep looking, just in case... still got a month after all. It's about $530 per month on a 12-month lease, which isn't bad compared to some of the places I saw in the Fort. Incidentally, it's pretty close to where Brent and Marci are going to be, so I can still harrass him conveniently.

Yup, I think this is the place.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Filling In The Blanks

I went to Fellowship's membership class two weeks ago, as part of my effort to (duh!) become a member, and they handed me a membership manual with approximately 40 pages of things to fill out. Most of the questions were theology-related, a healthy amount involved church-related activity, and then there was some personal stuff too. Most of it were fine things to have a potential member fill out, I thought, though I did find it strange that the manual asked (right after asking if you really intended to join the church) if you were Christian. Not in so many words, perhaps, but something clearly to that effect. Apparently, there are a lot of confused Zen Buddhists who might sign up for church membership. I'm glad they thought of that. It'd be disconcerting to hear testimonies from fellow members about how much the universe, or something in general, loves us, right after, say, singing 'The Wonderful Cross'.

I turned in my membership manual today, and I hope all goes well with that. I was a bit of a punk on some of the questions (especially the ones that came right after the multiple-choice connect-the-dots questions... I thought I was done with those things in secondary school). It hasn't exactly been an easy week either (pancake bunny!!!), so I wasn't necessarily in the best mood for fill-in-the-blanks-type activity. But it's done, and that's that. I'm a bit iffy about small group leadership, now, though, because last week, Matt probably lead the best the small group session I'd been to since I became a believer. I basically asked him after that "Are you sure you want to step down?". He said he'd pray about it... I hope he changes his mind. Regardless, though, I'm still going to continue trying to attain membership, if only because it seems like the logical thing to do at this point, seeing as how I already 1) tithe regularly 2) serve with YAMs, and 3) deplete their main lounge coffee supply every Sunday morning.

I need to buy new clothes. I noticed this past week that just about every t-shirt I own has a hole in it. I'm missing a strap on the left half of the only pair of sandals I have. My shoes (both pairs) are worn and tattered. My jeans bore me. I seem to be losing underwear. I don't know. They just seem to run out faster these days. There has to be an explanation. Somewhere in Laurel Apartments there might be a demented underwear thief who shows up in the laundry room on Saturday mornings and steals my underwear, probably while I'm upstairs watching 'Yu-Gi-Oh!'. That's just disturbing to think about. Which brings me to my next point: I need to find a new place to stay. I've been here for three-and-a-half years. No place is *that* interesting a place to live in.

Right now I'm thinking somewhere in Fort Sanders, which is close to downtown, so I can get to work quick. Single-bedroom, broadband, and decent kitchen space. Preferably with soundproof walls, so that when I get my PC sound interface and an mixing program, I won't disturb the neighbours too much. I'll probably get a new computer too, maybe one of those boutique gaming rigs. And a new car, hopefully a Beetle, or something else with good fuel economy. A hybrid might be a good idea. I rarely go much above the speed limit anyway.

I also need to get a new black suit for Brent and Marci's wedding. The suits were their idea. A suit is good for more occasions than a tux, so it doesn't really make sense to spend money renting a tux when you can just buy a suit that you'll get to use again. Brent and Marci are great; they look out for their people.

Friday, April 16, 2004

Ever had one of those weeks? When all you wanted to tell people was

Sigh. I just had one of those weeks.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

Good Grief!

This has been one busy week. I think I said 'yes' to a couple things that maybe, if I'd thought about my commitments a little more, I'd have said 'no'. First, there was YAMs worship, for which I had to put aside Monday evening for practice, and then the actual deal was on Thursday. Second, I get a call on Tuesday from Anne Pharr at Fellowship church asking me if I could help out with 'experential worship' on Good Friday, because they're doing a drama skit and they have three speaking parts and a cast of two (love it when that happens). That took up Tuesday and Friday. Wednesday was free, and I goofed off a bit, but then I remembered the next day that I was supposed to be fasciliating small group after YAM's worship since Matt was going to be in a cabin in the woods with his family, and I hadn't come up with anything to talk about at all, and that I was going to have to wing it.

I spent a bit of time Wednesday morning walking in the historic Old Gray Cemetary, which is right across the road from where I work. I decided that would be a good place to practice the script for the Good Friday skit. It consists of John, Mother Mary, and Peter each delivering a monologue about their inner grieving thoughts after the crucifixion, and then a frenetic bit after that during which we speak select lines from the monologues in quick succesion, which each person's lines interspersed with the others. I was playing John, the disciple whom Jesus hung out with the most (that's a direct translation from the Greek... not :p). So I wound up walking around the cemetery saying, over and over, lines like "I want to die! I want to die!", and "It's too late! Too late!". Which is probably not the best thing to yell over and over in a cemetary, but nobody was there, so the police didn't get called in to investigate a potential suicide, which was good.

YAMs was interesting. Worship went well, if the reactions were anything to go by, though I was a little disconnected after all the craziness that week, and with the coming craziness still on my mind. It's a good thing God handles the details at times like those, the times when the worship leaders aren't really worshipping. It's a good thing the flock listens for His voice, and not whichever distracted fellow is in front of them at the time. Small group went well. I basically put on my best Matt impression, and emptied my head as best as I could so I could go with the flow of the discussion. Listening to the guys in my small group talk took on a whole new dynamic for me when I was fascilitating. You're more eager to hear everyone say their piece when you're in charge, and infinitely glad when they do, even when they keep insisting they're not sure about what they're talking about.

Friday, Gretchen asks a brilliant question: "Why's it called *Good* Friday? It's such a depressing thing that happened." To which I replied "Early Christian humor. We're the funniest religion there is". At about 6pm I was at Fellowship, and we rehearsed the whole skit for the first time, about an hour before we were supposed to perform it. Mother Mary wasn't there yet, so it was just me and Peter for a while, so I tried to rehearse my part for him a couple of times first. It was difficult, though, because I'm not a trained actor and I don't "act" very well without an audience, because my non-actor's brain is going "What's the point?". Peter *was* an actor though, so he probably needed to see something I had no idea how to bring out just yet, which probably frustrated him a little.

Then Mother Mary showed up and we practice the frenetic single-lines bit, and realized we hadn't memorized the thing yet. Awwg. Not a good way to be half an hour before showtime, and we're thinking maybe we'll leave that part out. But then we get it almost right just before the worship starts and decide we'll just go ahead with it. Folks start coming in to watch the skit soon after (we were one of several 'stations' throughout the church that people could come in to 'experience' the grief of Good Friday), and I'm thinking que sera sera, whatever will suck will suck. Then we get in front of them on stage, and something strage happened. We got the whole thing right. We wept, yelled, and choked at all the right places. Folks were weeping on the way out, which under other circumstances would be a bad thing, but hey, it's a Good Friday skit. So we're thrilled to bits the whole thing went so well. Then the next group of people come in, and we have to do the skit again. And again. And again. And by the start of the fourth performance, I totally understood why they were calling this 'experential' worship. "Gawd, let this awful day end!", I was thinking. Well, not really. A little, but not really :p.

Saturday was simply just the best kind of Saturday. I had nothing to do, and I did the heck out of it. Sunday I went to the service at nine o'clock, and then had Easter lunch with Cliff and Boz right after at the Sitar. I went to Paul Slay's house for a bit after that, and I had a good time hanging out with the Cedar Spring Church's international class. We also got a call from Lydia with the most excellent news of the week (aside from 'Jesus is risen'): Kevin and her are engaged! He proposed to her yesterday! The bum! He never tells us anything. Or maybe we just didn't understand the prophecies, like all those poor grieving sheep two thousand years ago. Huh, I wonder.

Monday, April 05, 2004

Work, Work

This week I've started documenting the work I've done so far so that the next guy who takes over my project (tentatively some poor fresh grad or college student looking for summer work) will be able to figure out where to go from where I left off. Writing about what you've done has always been a more tedious process than actually doing it, at least for me. It's not more *difficult*... it's just more blah. I spent half the afternoon today making a chart in Powerpoint that shows how the major components in the application relate to one another. Then I spent the other half figuring out how to fit the darn thing in Word. I got it in there, but there was quite some shoving involved.


I didn't talk much to anybody today. I talked to Gretchen a bit. She's putting a show together for peeps to show their art, be it their writings, their music, their paintings... whatever. It's for a book or something, too.... I'm a bit fuzzy about the details. Anyway she started by asking me if I wrote or drew or made any music. I said "errr yeah all those things". Then I tried to show her the piece I did for snk-capcom, but I couldn't find it, so I wound up showing her the Flash thingy I did for the photos section of my Tripod website (hmmm okay out of context that last sentence was probably a little wrong). She got a laugh out of that. Then I played the tracks I did with CCL when I was in Chicago. She thought I sounded like a guy from Smashing Pumpkins. I was like "Huh??? Ok". Maybe I'll tell her about this blog tomorrow. If I do, Well Hi, Gretchen!


Aside from that, I didn't talk to anyone else. I think I heard Ray speaking in the conference room for a bit, but I didn't see him after that. I used to sit in the conference room all day, but then I got moved out to a brand new cubicle they set up last week. This is my in-between spot... when I start the test automation job they'll probably move me again, this time to what they call the war room. It's called the war room because, well it looks like one. It's a big square room with a big board on one wall onto which they can project their big battle plans as they discuss them, and there's a big coffee pot that keeps the big troops awake during the big briefings. Fun. Fun.

Off I go, then!

I tried not to get too comfortable in my little cubicle, since I know I may not be in it long, but I can already tell I'll miss it some when they move me. I haven't filled the shelves or anything, but I just love how snugly I fit in there with my laptop in front of me and a tablet PC just off to the right. The tablet PC I borrowed from Ray. I used it to test an installer for my application... I just wanted to know if I could get it to work on another box (it did, by the way). The tablet PC is just the coolest thing. It comes with a 'pen', and a program called Journal, and you can write on it like it was a piece of paper. The cool part is that Journal can convert my handwriting to text, and considering how bad my handwriting is, it does a darn good job of it. There've been times over the past two weeks when I'd scribble on it when I was bored. I want one bad, but I can't really think of a good reason to get one right now. I mean, a notepad costs like 5 bucks. I did use it today, though, to take notes while I was looking through my code. Did I need to? No. Did I feel cool in a geeky way? Hell, Yes!