Sunday, August 22, 2004

For God's Sake, Make It Stop


And then to round out the weeks big events, we had a bunch of people over to play poker last night. During the course of this Andrew talked about how he had been doing strength training over the summer and what he could bench. Seeing as he was about where I was, I was anxious to have a good partner for arm wrestling and challenged him. Well, I did want a good partner, but I also wanted some practice before my brother gets here next weekend.

So he agreed and we went at it. He had more than I gave him credit for but I beat him pretty easily. I think it's partly because he has the same anti-Joshua learning scheme that I have. (By which I mean we learned futility too well. Joshua being the computer from War Games) But that's a problem my brother has a similar problem, so it's probably good practice.

Well that wasn't the interesting part. The fun part comes from my challenging Pat to a match figuring I'ld get my ass kicked. Apparrently he thought he'd get his ass kicked as well since he has spent no formal time at the gym strength training. And we were both wrong.

The two of us were incredibly evenly matched. So much so that our spectators say we spend about 3 minutes in a stalemate with the edge slowly switching between us, and our faces slowly filling with blood. It was an amazing endurance battle and we both had a ton of fun. My arm is still a little sore almost 24 hours later.

He did beat me in the end, but we both agree that we had enough fun to definelty warrent a rematch.


Fair


Well you can check out the photos, though by far the most interresting thing that happened was that I won my first stuffed animal at a carnival. Andy made me participate in one of those "shoot down the 6 targets with 15 BBs" games and I successfully knocked them all over to win a small stuffed dog. It wasn't all that hard once I figured out how the sight worked and to keep a steady hand. And I think I got a little lucky with the canonical "so small it's almost impossible to hit" target.

Everyone else made some excuses about how their guns were inconsistant. Too bad.


Fate


It weird the way fate twists some times. Well the way fate can twist around you, and the way you can twist fate. Case in point...

Early this week I had been trying to plan out what I was going to do. I hadn't bouldered in a few weeks (mostly trying to avoid the 15 foot jumps that are so much fun, but probably not good for my poor shins) so I wanted to do some of that. Also the San Mateo county fair was going on (with rides and everything) so I wanted to visit that as well. I figured I'ld hit up the gym on Wednesday night and then go visit the fair alone on Thursday. (I'ld gone to a Metallica concert alone, surely I could have fun at a carnival by myself).

Well Andy pulled into town on Tuesday and went down to Santa Cruz on Wednesday to hang out with Pat. He invited me to come down and "do something". That nebulously phrase which means I don't have any good ideas so we'll probably just drive around town for a half hour, give up and go home. So I figure what the hell. I haven't seen him for years and may not for a while to come so I went down to Santa Cruz. Well we actually did slightly better than "do something" and ended up going to Pacific Edge, and went bouldering. How cool.

And while I was hanging out with Andy and Pat, I invited them to come up to the fair. Since Thursday was free-before-three day I cut out of work early and met up with them and had a good day.


Friends (Hello, Old)


This has been a wonderful week of receiving old friends. On tuesday evening Andy came into town. He had mentioned coming out to California early on in the summer (mostly looking to see if the couch was still reserved for him) and so I had some idea of his coming, but I didn't know the exact date until I got a call from him in Reno saying that we should hang out that evening.

It's been so good to see him again. I don't think he's changed all that much in the last two years (though apparently not a single thing in my living room is the same. Well, other than the ghetto pentium CPU linux router I use for NAT'ing). He's still very much the same as he was, but a little less self destructive. I think going through some real destruction probably helped temper him a bit. And he seems to be doing well in school (by which I of course am talking about his emotional state. I don't worry about his performance in classes).

He's going to head back to Colorado tomorrow, so I probably won't get another chance to hang out with him until I get off my ass and visit Denver. But that is where Modern Drunkard is located so I might be persuaded to leave California for non-familial reasons.

And Lexi and Andrew got back on friday. While there flight was delayed an hour and I had nothing to do but sit in the airport and wait (and drink some coffee, breaking my informal Starbucks protest) I was still incredibly excited to see them. It's so good to have them back and to have the house full once more.

I had been thinking a lot about my time in San Jose this summer. I think that had a lot to do with the fact that I was pretty much living on my own. It's nice to once again I realize how lucky I am to have such close friends so close.

And with their summer blogging, the catch-up time was very different than I've experienced with others in the past. I had already read a lot of their good stories about the summer, so I either reminded them that I had already knew a lot of what they were saying, or I nodded and listened along. Which wasn't a complete waste of time seeing as how I always gain a little more understanding when I hear someone talk rather than just read the same words.


Fear Removed


My mom is A.O.K. Well not completely, as it turns out, the surgeons were unable to perform the entire surgery laproscopically, and had to resort to a more invasive scapel weilding technique, but she's ok, and has kicked the morphine derivative they had given her. I'm sure she'll be up for giving her students a hard time as always when classes start after Labor Day. This all felt a little to real for my comfort...I don't like thinking about loved ones mortality. My own I can handle, but that might just be the twenty something hubris talking. But I don't want to worry about others...and it's just going to get worse as the years progress isn't it?

No. Happy thoughts. All is well. Mom is recovering. And Cherie is 21 now so she had Dad buy her some margaritas last night, so all should be celebration.


Monday, August 16, 2004

A Procedure


And on a much more serious note, my Mom is going in for a procedure tomorrow. Yeah on my Dad's birthday, so I'm a little nervous. She said it's no big deal, but any time they have to do anything there's always that risk, so send prayers if you've got'em.

I suppose she might just have picked that date out of spite. Apparently my Dad's going to be out of town at a conference on their anniversary this year. I told them that they should just split the difference and celebrate both on the midpoint. I think my Mom liked the linear combination of wavestates idea :)


In Between Birthdays


I would be remiss if I were to update today and not give a shout out to my sister and dad. It was Jaime's birthday yesterday and it'll be my dad's tomorrow. It's probably not my place to say how old they are, so if you want to know you'll have to ask me offline :).

Anyway

 Happy Birthday to You Happy Birthday to You Happy Birthday dear John and Jaime Happy Birthday to You 

And there'll be one more later this week, but I still haven't gotten her a birthday present yet, so I'll have to wait for mentioning that one.


Ads on the Phone System


O.K. This pissed me off. I went to a stupid web site that had a free 30 day trial period thing that wanted a credit card to hold onto (so that they could bill be the instant the honeymoon was over) and I signed up for it because I was curious about what they were selling (no I'm not going to say what it was, but it's nothing dirty).

Anyway, I get what I'm looking for, and go to cancel the account by going to the account maintence page. Only there's nothing there about closing the account. I spend about 20 minutes looking, and eventually find the small print in the F.A.Q. that says that I have to call a phone number to cancel the account. At this point two thoughts run through my head.

  • Fuck, that's annoying
  • Damn, that's brilliant
I'm still not sure how much of my evil-radar went off on that move, but I resolved not to be too lazy to pick up the phone and call an 800 number. Anyway I call them up, and canceling the account was pretty painless, but the reason that I mention it at all is that during the phone call, rather than placing me on hold and having annying music they actually ran an audio ad.

Is this the trend that's coming? Are companies now supplementing their income by selling advertising rights for the time that you waste on the phone because they can't get enough people to say "have you tried plugging in the monitor?" I'm just glad that the world is getting to a point where I can do most of this crap on-line and don't have to deal with audio ads or people.


BBQ and Settlers


Sunday I was invited over to Kevin's place for some BBQ. He's got a pretty chill pad (especially with his roommates out of the country for a week or two), and a really nice view of the San Francisco skyline and Bay Bridge (mobog shots).

And after some steak and sausages, we broke out Settlers of Catan. I haven't played for quite a while, and that might have hurt my initial set-up. Or the fact that I placed last, not really sure. But either way, about 6 or 7 turns into the game I saw that I had about a 10% chance of winning. I did manage to make Kevin sweat and work for the victory, so I was pretty happy with how I did. And I almost 'Nuno'ed on roads, so it was a very interresting game.


AVP


And after climbing, Pat and I went off to see Aliens Vs. Predator. I went with into it with the two extremes of expectation. That is I had such high hopes from the coolness of the idea, and had a great deal of trepidation that it would be as bad as Freddy Vs. Jason. But I was very happy with the movie.

It took a while for the action to get going (there was a lot of relatively useless set up, but that's to be expected, though they did make you care some for the 'cattle'). Once it got going however I was very happy with the action. And a lot of the special effects were done with puppets as opposed to C.G. so I was very happy with how they turned out. (I always was a bigger fan of the Millenium Falcon than the Republic's super-sleek ships)

The only thing that disappointed me is that the scene with thousands of Aliens charging up a pyramid was a bit of a bait and switch, but I won't explain any further.


Climbing with Dinkar


And this weekend I dragged Dinkar off climibing again (though I didn't exactly have to twist his arm). And Pat came up so that we'ld have two who could belay, and would go for a three man rotation on climbing. This worked out very well because the pace we set for ourselves gave each of us a good amount of time to rest our arms between climbs. And that mean that whereas I normally can get about 5 routes in before my fingers say "no more!" I was able to get more like 8 and had some real fun.

And Dinkar is amazingly talented at climbing. I kept picking harder and harder routes for him to try and by the end he was doing the same routes that Pat and I were doing. I don't think it's going to be too hard to convince him to become a member and start climbing regularly. I'll just have to play a bit on his guilt and remind him that there's a free belay lesson with a membership sign-up.


A Surprise Visit


Saliba came by town at the end of this week. He was visiting for John and Lael's wedding (which is one of like five weddings of people I know in a four monthe period), and he stayed in Lexi and Andrew's place since the space wasn't being used. It was so good to catch up with him. Find out how the second half of his time in Camaroon went (and got to hear a bunch of good stories).

I also learned that he's looking to become an actuarial. And we talked about a lot of stuff that I haven't really though about since 'tech (like linear algebra and such. It's amazing how little of the general theory you use on a day-to-day basis). It makes me realize how much narrower my mental focus has become in the last few years and I realize that there are certain mental exercises that I just don't think I'll ever do on my own. But, then again, I thought similar things about physical exercises up until a few months ago. We'll have to see what happens.

But anyway, it was great to have him in town to hang out with, and he'll be back in a week or so to help his sister move back to Berkeley, so we'll get another chance to drink some whiskey before he goes back to the east coast.


Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Climbing with Dinkar


As for other socialization, out of the blue Dinkar drops me a line saying that he was going back to India for a little while in a month, and wanted to hang out some. I hadn't seen him since the Russian Restaurant, and at that time apparently had mentioned rock climbing (though I have to take his word for it, all I remember is the vodka). Well we went off and I taught him the basics of climbing, and he and I are going to go again this weekend, and I've invited Pat along so that I'll have someone to belay me. There's only so much fun to be had helping someone else up the wall.

Topix BBQ


As for older, more guiltily un-updated news, Topix.net had a BBQ on friday to celebrate/wind down from SES. It was pretty swank, with tons of good food and people at Bryns place. And I got to go swimming in the pool with all of the little kiddies that were there.

I also got to play with little Alex who's so cute at his age of almost one year old. Apparently I don't look all that natural holding him (which helps my testosterony half feel a little better) but he's still very precious to play with.


All You Can Eat Wings


Just got back from all you can eat buffalo wings. Damn I miss that sort of stuff. There's a little place down the street that does the wings thing on Tuesdays (gotta get a posse together next week) and I finally got around to trying it out.

I must admit, I was a little weirded out going to all-I-can-eat alone, as it's usually a social force that gets me to gorge myself like that. But I've been feeling some introvertive pressures lately, and couldn't bother to call other people at the last minute. But I brought my zunch.com pad (the one I got at the trade show for talking with the guy blasting random 80's rock on the floor) and put down some thoughts on what I'm currently working on, and consumed some wings.

A bunch of what I considered to be frat boys ended up sitting at the table next to me (I learned through eavesdropping they were in fact gainfully employed) and recounted their best effort, and their second best. Without even really being put to any sort of effort I demolished their second best record, and probably could have taken their best, but a weird thing started to happen.

I started to feel guilty. I've been losing some good weight (not just since starting to watch what I eat, but it's been kicking in again with no pizza on friday, and starting to do cardio again) and felt bad about the indulgence. Well I didn't really feel bad about the indulgence. I always say "everything in moderation, even gluttony and depravity." But I started to worry that this might step back my progress some. And even though I'm pretty sure I didn't blow a carb count for the day, and so numerically speaking didn't break the rules, there's a spirit of the law effect that I'm sure I didn't quite live up to.

We'll just have to see how much chicken the human body can digest in 24 hours. Or at least if it can get up to 50-60 wings worth of meat.

Update

I looked up the name of the place (and address) for anyone who wants to try them out. It's Original Buffalo Wings Restaurant (how clever).


Thursday, August 05, 2004

Search Engine Strategies (Day 2)


Yesterday was the second and final day of the exhibition part of S.E.S. (and consequently the end of my involvement with it). I ended up talking to a number of people about Topix, so I think I was able to force myself into interacting more. This is probably a useful skill to have, so it's good I worked on it a bit.

I also spent some time talking to some of the people around the floor. I went with Stephen and he managed to insult one of the Google reps there. We were talking to her when she mentioned that she helped plan the after-expo google party on Tuesday, and Stephen said something to the affect of "So it's your fault they ran out of alchohol in 45 minutes" (which they did, and I find absolutely inconcievable for a google party), and then he proceded to do google searches for web pages showing the appropriate amount of booze to buy for a party. Of course, after this there was no way I was able to get a picture of myself with the google booth babes. Ah well...

And after the conference the topix team went and hit up Original Joe's for drinks and dinner. We were just killing time until the Yahoo party started up, but it was good to have almost everyone there and just chatting in a circle over drinks. And I hadn't been to Original Joe's since Andy was around and it did make me think a bit about him (though walking past the Adobe building and seeing Mattpaul did the same thing as well). I hope he's doing well in Colorado, but I get to find out in a few weeks anyway, so it should be good to catch up.

And after Original Joe's we wandered off to the Yahoo party. They had rented out the Tech Museum and had left the exhibitions open. I had never been there before, so it was really cool to see all the stuff at the museum. And there was free booze, which is always good, even if you have to explain to two out of three bartenders what "neat" means. How come they all know what "on the rocks" means, yet so few are familiar with it's inverse?

But anyway, after an evening of fairly heavy drinking, and some virtual special olympics (I kicked Bob's ass at wheelchair racing), I got a ride home from Rich, and between his being sober enough to drive, and my knowing the way to get the hell out of San Jose, we had a good symbiosis to get back to San Carlos.

It's been a while since I've had a Thursday hangover. Well at least a month.


Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Caltrain


I'm also taking Caltrain down to the show. It's fun to get some Gameboy in again, as I haven't had a chance to since working in the financial district in april. Whoops I gotta go get my train now...

Search Engine Strategies


This week is the Search Engines Strategies conference down in San Jose, and as part of Topix.net I'm going to help spread the gospel of news aggregation and localization (or something like that). Well it's nowhere near as big as the only other trade show I've been to, but in all fairness that was Comdex, and Vegas does everything bigger.

It's neat to see some of the big guys (i.e. Yahoo and Google), and get to know a lot of the smaller players in the field. I had some fun talking to the guy at BlowSearch (I mostly went to talk to get a BlowSearch T-Shirt. What were they thinking when they came up with that name?) And I mostly seam to get talking with engineers when I go to the booths. I guess I get more out of those conversations that the ones with the booth babes (of which there are sadly too few. But google has a very nice sexist-inducicing contingent).

And I rolled the dice as introvert yesterday, and while I talked to people when I had to (and enjoyed it), I couldn't force myself to talk to people that I just wanted to. I guess it's good to know that whatever it is that keeps me from talking to people I don't know at clubs isn't just a fear of rejection. But then again this probably means it's more funadamental and I'll get to that problem later...


Monday, August 02, 2004

Weird Dog Encounter


So I went to Blockbuster today, and as usual I left Ishy outside leashed to a lightpost. He behaved very well, and when I got out he started to play with a woman walking down the street. (I still need to teach him to only play wing-dog for the women who aren't walking with men, but that's another lesson). After she had left a gentleman walked up and Ishy went to play with him.

At first I thought him just some random San Carlos-ite and he was saying how it was great that Ishy remembered him because he had pet him the other day. That creeped me out a bit, and I'm not entirely sure why. I think I didn't like the idea of somebody playing with Ishy while I'm not there. I'm just a little paranoid about what my happen to him, or what sort of weirdo's there are out there.

The thing is that this guy kept on repeating "he recognizes me, that's why he's friendly". Over and over again with the "he recognizes me." I'm not sure what it was, but I came very close to saying/yelling "It's not you, he does this to everybody" with the specific intent of hurting his feelings. I didn't of course, and part of that might be the mentally handicapped vibe I got from the repeated comment (though he was capable enough to buy his own groceries), but something inside me was just really annoyed and creeped out by this guy. Actually, come to think of it, he might be the guy that I saw petting Ishy and was so creeped out by I was watching him as opposed to the Blockbuster clerk, who gave me an empty case that rental.

And ordinarily I wouldn't care too much about this, but I've got to go to the Search Engine Strategies conference tomorrow, and I really hope that I'm not completely spent on social energy.


Upper Body Strength


I'm so proud of myself. I gave my arms the weekend off. Partly because I was having fun being lazy, and partly because I had been thinking of going up to Golden Gate Park to play on the gymnastics stuff they had up there. So my arms were very well rested when I went bouldering today.

And there is an underhang climb that I had been working on for a while now that I was finally able to get. It was one of those problems where you end up with your hands and feet at about the same height, and you're using a lot of arms and shoulders to move around. Well I finally managed to maneuver myself well enough to make it through the hard strength parts, and was able to figure out the technique parts now that I could get to them.

And there was a second underhang climb that I hadn't seen before that was also marked as a V0 (kind of a beginners rating, and it's what I'm currently working on and I'm starting to think of doing more V1 problems) and I did that one as well. It's so sweet to be able to walk on a ceiling, and then climb around to a standing position.


Sunday, August 01, 2004

One Year Anniversary


And finally today marks one year from when I started writing this blog, so I think it's time to take stock of what's happened in the last year.
  • I've had Jaime move in, out, in, and out again.
  • Jaime helped push me to be a bit more outgoing, and showed me the need to actually talk through issues that come up
  • I was working for Nullsoft in a cool office with great people, than working for Nullsoft in an empty office with a depressed few people, than working for Nullsoft in the financial district, and finally working for Topix.net with great people.
  • I'm now actually using my brain at work
  • I started to pay attention to what I eat, and have lost almost 40 pounds
  • I took up rock climbing, and started jogging
  • I started to make an effort to get out and date some. And for all the depression and pain that comes with it, am probably going to continue to try until I see some of the payoff from the investment.
So I think that I'm definetely a lot better off than I was a year ago, and it's weird that in spite of all the changes I've gone through I still feel like I'm mostly the same person as before.

Nightmares


Of course part of what might have contributed to my waking so well, so early today might have been the nightmare I had. And having it reminded me of several similary themed dreams I've had of late. Very gory visceral stuff, that for some reason doesn't actually instill a fear effect in me, so I'm not fully comfortable calling them nightmares.

The weirdest thing is that I can't come up with anything I've done or seen recently that would cause this to start happening. I haven't been watching any particuarly gory movies lately or even playing scary games. I wonder if there's something weird going on in my subconscious, but that just scares me about what's in store for me as it surfaces to my conscious. But then again I've never been a huge fan of the dream-interpretation part of psychology so I figure it's just an oddity that will go away in a bit.


Lazy Saturday


Of course the next day I had a bit of a hangover (I suppose that's what I get for not drinking any water) and so the day started of pretty lax and lazy. Then there was this weird cloud front that swept in from the north bringing a lot of cold air with it, and pushed out all my plans for going to the beach yesterday.

And so I was actually so lazy that I took a few hour nap yesterday afternoon. It's been a while since I did that, and it certainly gave me a refreshing feel for the rest of the day. And I woke up early this morning ready and raring, so I think I'm set for next weeks morning jogging.


Atkins Drinking Buddies


Of course than I had my Friday free when I hadn't planned on having it to myself. I was thinking that since I hadn't been to drink club this week on account of dog sitting that I should get out of the house and town and live it up a little. But it felt too last minute to get any plans together.

Then I get a phone call from Bryan inviting me to go bar hopping in Berkeley with him and Gen. Sweet. And since the two of them are now doing Atkins, we all were looking for bars that served good hard liquor. I had my whiskeys and both of them stuck to vodka, and we got pretty tore up. Well I didn't get that tore up because I had to drive home, but I still had a drink or two.

And at the final place we went to, they made up chipless nachos. Now I know you're asking yourself, "What are chiless nachos"? Well we got served one bowl of meat and onions, one bowl of beans and cheese (both of which were very big bowls) and some small bowls of guac, sour cream, and jalepenos.

And the waitress that served them was pretty cool about it. She took the effort to go talk to kitchen, knowing they would screw up the order. And she had waist-length dreadlocks in a bun at the top that gave me an "I'm too much woman for you" vibe. But I think she checked me out as I left so maybe I'll convince Bryan and Gen to go back some time soon. Or maybe I just had more to drink that night than I thought.


No Boiler Explosions


So my time as caretaker of Chez Skrenta ended on Friday, and in a more spectacular fashion than I had expected. I had been under the impression that they were getting back over the weekend, so I had been waiting until Saturday to do the welcome-back cleaning. Than on Friday at work, Bernie mentioned that everyone weas coming home that day. Whoops.

I managed to rush back to San Carlos and was just finishing up the cleaning when Rich walked through the door.