Posts

Showing posts from 2005

"Everything must go...I'm CRAZY!!!!"

On the block today:

One set of Mini wheels + race tires

One highly over-functional cell phone

:-) The race tires got interest within 10 minutes of being posted....

Vent, Chapter 1

As I look out towards the new year, I just want to vent. I want to give voice to the few doubts and fears I have...

I'm working at a company that doesn't have much of a reason to exist, making mediocre products that my customers dislike more with each passing iteration, working on a new product that will either fail outright or never be used.

Despite the above, I have a rough time relaxing this week...this car fever has me in its grip for two reasons--I've always wanted a BMW, but I love my MINI. I don't love it more than I'd love being out of debt and in secure financial shape.

I'm beating-up myself for not doing things..things I promised myself I'd do this time off: selling some stuff on ebay, organizing my finances, exercising, relaxing, reading. I've pretty much done none of it.

:-) Every vacation is like this...it takes me until a certain day to 'detox' from my workaholism, and then I can finally relax.

Thanks for listening

Buffy, tonails, a new cell phone

Image
At my darling's insistence, I went over to our doctor today to get my toe looked at; over Christmas, I noticed my middle toe on my left foot was ingrown on the right side. Today I got it removed, feeling very little pain thanks to some lidocaine.

The rest of the day, I convalesced watching season 5 of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," my most excellent Christmas gift from Bella:



Also, I have a new cellphone...Decided that I wasn't using the 450 anytime + 5000 night/weekend package I had from Cingular, so I went the same route Bella did with Virgin Mobile. $20 for a phone, then prepaid increments as needed. :-) It'll be nice to not have that $50 each month.

* * *

No news on an E30 BMW...looking at this one. Got some pics from the owner and seems nice..

On buying a car...phase 1

Image
So, 9am this morning found me at Beechmont Toyota, looking at a 1984 318i with 173,000 miles on it. Yes, this car was made when I was in Kindergarten, here I was, trying to decide how much rust was acceptable on my new "project car" / Daily driver.

Answer: Not this much. No way.

The 1984/1985 318i has the same engine (BMW's M10) as the previous 3-series and the 1970's BMW 2002 (yes, it's alot of numerical designations...please try to keep up). Anyway, this lump of iron produces a bulletproof 101 hp and likes to rev, despite its lumpy cam.

Surprisingly, giving the age of the car, it fired-up smartly and settled into a thrumming idle, and the transmission was still buttery smooth, but the rest was a raft of problems--rust throughout (more on that later), questionable electics, musty smell in the cabin, bad seats, cracked dash, and missing surrounds behind the lights in the engine bay.

After a 30 minute test drive (yep...the suspension is shot...oh, why is the temper…

Result of Quiz :: Your Harry Potter Alter Ego Is...?

Image
You scored as Albus Dumbledore. Strong and powerful you admirably defend your world and your charges against those who would seek to harm them. However sometimes you can fail to do what you must because you care too much to cause suffering.

Albus Dumbledore85%Hermione Granger80%Harry Potter80%Sirius Black65%Remus Lupin55%Draco Malfoy55%Ginny Weasley55%Ron Weasley40%Lord Voldemort40%Severus Snape25%
Your Harry Potter Alter Ego Is...?
created with QuizFarm.

My new plan to take over the world....

Image
Sell the mini, keep the change, and buy one of these babies:

On sleep, sickness.

Sleep: Haven't gotten much lately. Whitney's gotten even less. I require ~6hrs / night to function...she requires more :-)

Sickness: Apparently, I've given whatever I had to everyone in my area. Germs 1, Humans nil.

* * *

Thought...a nice used 5-speed toyota pickup would fill my current needs quite well :-)


something to commute in
reliable as dirt
good for going to Lowes, getting firewood, etc.
runs on regular gas
easy to work on
decent mileage (25 mpg)


I'd probably want a 2wd model, though...and they'd be iffy in winter driving. Could get some snows for it + sandbags, though.

One thing though...because they hold their value so well, you just don't find them under $10k.

I'd take the $1000.

Link

Does this make me a thief? A cheat? Immoral?

...Or just a guy pretty deep in debt?

Sometimes I wish I could juggle...

...that way I could get through meetings where I want to throttle my PM, keeping both hands as busy as possible.

convalescence...and why not to buy an 02-04 MINI

Ah, the glorious cold virus...it's been with us for millenia and for the last 3 or 4 days, it's been with me. For the past couple of days, I haven't been able to talk (and all the people rejoiced...)

* * *

Biggest, bombshell news of the past week is the revelation that the 5-speed British Midlands transmission in the 2002-2004 Minis is a ticking timebomb--after a certain amount of time the gearbox will fail, resulting in a $3-4k repair. The problem seems to be the gearbox was engineered for England, where it's never much below 20 degrees F. In America we routinely see 0 degrees F and below.

Net of it all...Whitney and I are weighing selling the MINI, paying off the Oldsmobile, and getting something cheaper and more reliable.

Ugh.

Travelogue along the alaskan highway...

:-) Things you find on a friday on theCarLounge

All I ever needed to know I learned during a corporate meeting

Managers are like gamecocks: More than two in a room at once, and somebody dies.
Be sure to begin each lie with the adverb: "Truthfully".
Arrive whenever you want, then derail the meeting by asking for an update
Accountability? Hell, I'd settle for competence...

On (almost) making a fire

Let me give you the conclusion: The logs never caught, the kindling ashes litter the bottom of the wet fireplace, and the house reeks of smoke.

Yes, I tried to make a fire tonight, and I failed.

My house has what's known as a 'built-in,' a fireplace that is basically an afterthought. Lacking a chimney, it's a triangular wart, occupying the place my Lay-Z-Boy should rightfully go.

Whitney has a cold, so I thought I'd build a fire and tend to her as she reposed on the couch. Lacking anything to use for firewood aside from our dining room set, I bought kindling at Lowe's and wood at Kroger, for a total of $10.

Arriving home, I set an initial fire only to find the flue wasn't open wide enough. The house filling with smoke, I doused the nascent fire with water, pushed the flue open with my fire tongs and started out again, but no matter how hard I tried, I never could get a good-sized log to catch fire.

I feel like such a failure...

* * *

It's just been that…

On blogging, comments, and a cool site for air travellers

Ah, I yearn for my firebrand, idealogue days, when being a Republican didn't mean you parrotted everything that Ernie Fletcher & George Bush said. The days when I could hold my head high and say how much the democrats were ruining my state and my country.

Ooops. The Republicans are doing just as badly. Amazing how the view from the top isn't as clear-cut as the view from beneath.

I ask myself why this is, and I return to what I thought in 2004: Conservatives can stomach a Liberal leader, but Liberals can't stand a conservative, especially one as hapless as Bush. Why oh why didn't we elect John McCain?

Furthermore, while I'm ranting, can amend the consitution so that the children of former presidents CANNOT be president? On top of heavy-handed policies, unilateralism, we don't need to be accused of nepotism.

* * *

I'm toying with the idea of enabling comments. I have several readers these days, and would enjoy what they think, but I can't quite …

"The Gold Collar" generation

I made a resolution that I wouldn't blog about my complaints about work, but that meant I stopped blogging altogether.

Check out This thread on thecarlounge.net

quote of the day

"Hey mommy! It's snowing outside...can we open our Christmas presents now?"
-- Joey

Ugh

Thirteen hours and still counting...

My hours this week:
Monday: 12
Tuesday: 11
Wednesday: 10
Today: 13

Tomorrow's basically a freebee for the company...

* * *

Work's been insane this week as we tried to bridge a release across Thanksgiving. We left last Wednesday thinking we'd release on the following monday. Didn't happen.

Review: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Image
link



Whitney and I ran out to see Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire matinee at Georgetown Theatres yesterday, and I'm of two minds about it: On one hand the acting, individual scenes, effects, and "wizard world" are all stunning, but on the other, the movie is unsatisfying. I attribute that dissatisfied feeling to the underlying book itself. "Goblet of Fire" transitioned the series from the Harry story-arc to the rise of Voldemort, and the movie makes a briefer trail through the same ground.

The movie's disjointed, long, but magnificent in parts:

The Yule Ball digression was great! It developed all the characters, provided needed comic relief, and provided the "debut" for the 3 actors as young adults, not kids
The underwater challenge. Wow.
The entrance scene of the two competing houses.


Overall, as with the books, Prisoner of Azkhaban remains my favorite.

The Rally that was...

Last weekend, Whitney, Joey, and I ran in Phil Schneider's 60+ mile TSD rally south of Lexington. Whitney tried her hand at driving, I navigated, and Joey held court in the back of the Pup.

It was a very intense rally, but Whitney and Joey were both magnificent. We ended-up with an aggregate score of only 230 after 60 miles, which was good enough for second place. But for an error on my part, we would've won :-)


Whitney seemed to like Rallying alot, so I'm on the look-out for more rallies over the winter.

Why VW sucks...

The new Golf and Jetta weren't just late to the U.S. they were several model years late. And to make matters even worse, VW dealers were fending-off irate customers who were saddled with quality problems from the get-go. And those customers rewarded VW for their callousness by abandoning the brand in droves - never to come back.


taken from: Peter's latest Rant

I am Volkswagen's ideal customer. Or, at least, I used to be. I really wanted a BMW, but I couldn't afford one. (I argue no one can really afford a new one, but that's another topic for another day!) The VW Jetta Mk.IV was like a baby 3-series, solid, serene, teutonic, and just snobby enough to be above the rice-burners from Honda and Nissan.

So, I bought an 01 Jetta and had nothing but issues with it. Windows wouldn't stay up, it stalled constantly, pieces of the complicated turbocharger failed, it leaked cosmoline rust-proofer at the door sills, and, most damningly, it just WASNT ANY FUN TO DRIVE!

I'…

Busy morning...

Waking up at 7 is early for most folks, but when you're due to pick-up a pal at 7 and you wake-up @ 7 on the dot, it's dead late...

I was supposed to get Gary at Nolan Ford this morning, but I ended-up 20 minutes late after a panicked, flight-of-the-bumblebee race around my house.

Didn't shave, and that just feels icky...

* * *

News: I've got my own office. Sort of. My perennial office-mate, Patrick, moved up to the 3rd floor, leaving his side of the office empty. I soldiered-on in the old furniture configuration for a couple days:

(ascii art:)


12'
-------------------
| ---- |
| |X / door
| --/
| |-| |-||
| | | | ||
| |-| |-||
| |-| /--| 12'
| |-| / |
| |-| |---| |
|-----------------|


Basically, envistion my stuff on the left there (with the big 'X'), on a triangular corner computer desk, with a combination desk table to my left, and a metal locker/drawer thing in the corner. Patri…

I expect better than this from 'Nature'

Article


The whole process confirms that the laws of nuclear physics worked just the same 2 billion years ago as they do today.


So, you mean things like Gravity, Electromagnetism, the Strong Nuclear Force, and the Weak Nuclear Force existed before people?!!

Fascinating article, but that conclusion is LAME...

Jumping the Shark

"Jumping the Shark" v. To achieve a moment where people realize "it's all downhill from here".

On ER two weeks ago, they treated a chimp. A CHIMP. ugh. John Leguizamo's character is awful, and Kristen Johnson is trying hard, but her character makes the show suck. Luca and Abbey are the only decent characters remaining.

For more details Jump The Shark

Ouch...

Man, what a week...I've been up, down, depressed, happy, joyous, and exhausted.

Now I'm just mad.

When there's someone you've worked with the whole week, someone who's taken-up your time, put you through an emotional roller-coaster, and generally made your job miserable, it sucks. What sucks even more is when you've gone above and beyond to help that person and they look at you and say, "You've oversensitive. I've come to you with honest concerns and you've taken them the wrong way. Perhaps I am too harsh here, but I just wanted you to know that."

I hate this job sometimes.


***

Quote for today: "Whenever I see this guy, I throw-up a little bit and part of me dies."

First good writing from edmunds.com

I hate edmunds.com...they're verbose, unprofessional, and they don't know passive voice from active voice (a particular annoyance of mine, thanks to Dr. Barbara Burch).

Article on why small cars rock

27. Yay, me!

Today is my birthday, and I feel like crap.

I don't know if this is the yang to my normal yin, the depressive to my normal mania, but I'm pissed off.

Thoughts/Rant:

* Money does actually suck. After trying to convince Whitney for 3 years that it's neat, fun, green stuff that you convert into food, hobbies, etc., I've given up. It's the stuff you pay other people to leave you alone. It's the stuff you hemorrhage because cars break, people get sick, and houses leak...um...everything. Eighty percent of personal finance is behavior, and the remaining 20 is accounting. Unfortunately, the 'behavior' part of me is really reaching for that 'blow' part of the budget that just isn't there. Don't get me wrong--my family and I are fine, but we're not going to get to have any fun for the next decade or so. How the hell do people maintain the lifestyles they do these days?

* On the way to work today, I passed an accident at the I-75/I-64 split …

My morning on Lextran

After dropping-off Whitney's Intrigue at the Don Jacobs body shop at 6:30, I didn't have a ride. I could have waited until 7:45 for the Don Jacobs shuttle van, but why do that, when I have Lexington's fabulous Lextran

After hoofing it about 1 mile towards downtown, I boarded the bus for the transfer station and met a nice lady who worked at the UK College of Pharmacy. At the transfer station, waiting 1/2 hour for my next bus, I met Serge Steshenko, my co-worker on my team who rides the bus everyday. He made sure I got on the right bus (#2 North) and we kept one another company until we go to the Northside Walmart, right beside Lexmark.

It was a very pleasant experience overall, though I wish I'd planned it better so I could've gotten to work earlier. I made it by 8:45, but that's very late compared to my usual 6:30.

Our trip to hubers

New Tires for Sharkey

Image
I love buying tires. I imagine I feel the same way about buying tires that women feel about buying shoes. Each tire has its own engineering qualities, balancing wear, noise, cornering, bad weather, and price.

After consulting ConsumerReports, I chose the Yokohama AVID TRZ, 225/60R16, with an 80,000 mile warranty and good ride, noise, and bad weather characteristics. Not a performance tire, but why do you want one on a regular sedan?



This makes the 6th set of tires I've bought in the last 3 years (most of which are on this blog!)


Kumho Victoracers - Autocross tires (04)
Continental CH95 Touring - came for free when I bought my 15x5.5" autocross wheels.
Yoko Geolandar truck tires for the dearly departed Big Red
Kumho V710 - Autocross tires (05)
Bridgestone Potenza G009's -- Performance All Season for the MINI 195/60R15
These puppies

Dr. Bud, his former self...

Before being emasculated by Miss Jolene, Dr. Bud had a firecracker named Nadine whose Dad was a Texas oil tycoon.

Read here for a little escapism, and plain fun about about Gulfstream IV's, UT Longhorns fans, and the redhead's new Mustang Cobra.

Cuteness

Image

Mini Gorge 05

Image

Halloween 05...

Image
Trying out a new Image hosting site...



Album

Quick theory on the 'apex' person...

Random thought I had in church yesterday: Lawyers and their derivatives (Judges, etc.) are the apex people of our society. There is no one more powerful, ultimately, than a lawyer in American society, because these are the people who mediate disputes between two or more equal parties. Without lawyers and a judiciary, democracy couldn't exist with our current code of laws--people would get frustrated and start killing one another, and society would break down.

At that moment, I made a conceptual leap -- lawyers' preeminence is directly related to our society. That is, I think any capitalist democracy will have many powerful lawyers. I thought through other forms and flavors of government and derived the 'apex people' I thought would fall out of them:


Society typeapex individual
Feudalism/Manorialism
Ex: medieval europeLord of the manor
BeaurocracyGovernment workers
Enlightened Despotism
Ex: Louis XIV Francecourt syncophants
FascismMilitary
Corrupt BureaocracyMob Bosses
Theoc…

Bleary-eyed, and hopped-up on coffee...

Image
There's something unamerican about being at work at 6am. Whitney and I heard a great sermon yesterday about how to balance work, God, and home, and one suggestion from a guy who worked 45-50 hours/week (like me...) was to go in to work early, so that he could come home at a decent hour. Mondays are traditionally my longest days, so we set our alarm for 5 am and I was in to work by 6:08.

I've answered every email I had, updated our internal department webpage, made coffee, looked at our PE situation, scheduled meetings, and I'm about to fall over. This may take some getting used to.

Anyway, having reached a lull after 2 hours of uninterrupted work, I wanted to blog. Haven't done so in many days, and much has occurred.

Joey and I washed both our cars and waxed the MINI yesterday. He was an exceptionally good helper, and we had lots of fun in the 65-70 degree weather with the hose. Other good news: I got the garage rearranged so that I can fit both cars snugly inside,…

Biru

Bill Randall has a Website. Not a blog, for he disdains these unstructured musings, a WEBSITE.

:-) good stuff, especially the lists of films he o'ersaw at GSP for the past 4 summers.

Trip to the Gorge pics

Image

"Elizabethtown"...really doesn't suck.

Setting the stage, I write this blog as my darling Bella exclaims, "And by the way, it's NOTHING like 'Garden State'".

Yes, this Cameron Crowe written/directed opus is long, unconventional, and dialog heavy, but Whitney and I both loved it, and any Kentuckian is sure to love it as well.

Nominally, "Elizabethtown" is the story of a wayward shoe designer (Orlando Bloom) who lost his benefactor corporation "roughly one billion dollars". At the very moment he's going to ginsu himself, he learns his father, favorite son of Elizabethtown, Kentucky, has died. His mom's thrown into overdrive, his sister is a mess, and he--as oldest--must fly from Oregon to Kentucky to bring his corpse home. What follows is a non-conventional fish-out-of-water tale, shot in and around Central Kentucky, as our wayward designer finds life and love.

Critics complain the movie's slow, predictable, but they miss the point: This movie is the flavor of Kentucky,…

People from work...

Image
Left: Patrick & MarkG

Dad got a new tractor this weekend...

Image
...and joey got to drive it

Early Birthday present!

Image
My sweetie and Joey gave me a new Fuji FinePix S3100, 4 Megapixel digital camera!!

this is what I looked like when they gave it to me:

The end of 'Snitch'

Sordid details here

Lesson? Some business models don't work...a free, muckraking newspaper in an apathetic town without identity, for example.

Tim Woodburn is a hockey hooligan who blew into town in 1995 along with the Kentucky Thoroughblades, insinuating himself into our sports-radio scene when the team left. From there he started "Snitch," and apparently couldn't keep his mouth shut to investors, etc.

A paper that I won't miss.

Well, at least he's already circumsized

There's little in life that compares to coming out of the shower to find you wife, clippers in hand, having utterly destroyed one side of her son's head, and realizing that she must 'even it up'.

It's a simple story really: Best of intentions ("Just a trim around his ears"), worst of possible outcomes (at this she says, "well, at least he's not bald"...never blog aloud...:-) ). Kid's a little short to starboard now. Port is well tapered, but that's because I seized the WWMD (Wahl weapon of mass destruction) before she could attack.

Of course, this was a gut-check moment for Whitney. Whom did she love more: Joe, or Joe's hair. For awhile, I doubted. But now, minutes later, I'm certain: his hair.

Later on, Joey appeared at the landing, a "hanger" on his finger. Bella sent him to bed, but he protested: "Aren't ya gonna clip it off".

'Neath her breath, she replied, "You don't want me near…

Bloggers are nothing if not sheep, so...

Harold needs a picture on his wall
Harold needs a Christmas tree
Harold needs to explore in order to learn and grow
Harold needs a Chrismas tree, damnit
Harold needs to come out of his shell and enjoy life
Harold needs to know his true feelings
Harold needs a frickin' CHRISTMAS TREE
Harold needs a Christmas tree
Harold needs a career
Harold needs no one


Courtesy Josh

Tech war--at home

Unlike This guy, I think my home has a new Mac convert. Whitney really likes my powerbook, especially its ease-of-use and its ability to 'instant on' from closed to open in 1 second.

That's very interesting, because her machine is a top-notch Thinkpad R40, a total tank workhorse that I bought for her Christmas of 03.

Last night she asked me to show her how to hook-up our digital camera and import + edit pictures...muhaha.

On IT "Careers"

I get a free subscription to "Information Week," the softcore executive-digested version of "Software Developer" magazine. In this week's issue there's an article by Chris Murphy entitled "Speak Up for the IT Career," whose thesis is there's a huge market for talent in IT, but few young people wish to go into IT/Programming in college, so companies are forced to outsource.

Telling quote from the article:


One of the first IT courses is a beginning programming class, which involves hours on end alone at the computer. "It's a turn-off because people think that's all there is to IT, and there's a lot more than programming...I'd rather be in a team diagnosing problems, not in front of a computer all day."


Let me rewrite this in a more familiar context:


One of the first med-school courses is anatomy, which involves hours on end of looking at books and cadavers. "It's a turn-off because people think that's all th…

The weekend that was...painting.

Image
What do you get when you cross two newlyweds with a 48 hours of uninterrupted together time?

Sex?

Nah...painting.

The Devine Mrs. C hated her kitchen color, so I brought her flowers on Friday, made us some drinks, looked longingly into her blue eyes and said, "Honey, let's paint the kitchen."

Trips to Lowes ensued, exhausting our last gift card and about $200 more, buying paint, painting paraphernalia, and painter's tape. After disembowling our kitchen/dining room, we set out binding it with strips of blue tape at each sensitive edge. Then we assaulted it with Kilz Primer, then another coat. Saturday came and went, and our kitchen was white, with a murky tinge of brown beneath. We awaited the morn, ripe for our final victory.

Home from church, and I started the assault, when the catharsis came: "I don't like this color!" Angry words ensued, accusations, reproaches, and finally: "Go to Lowes and buy 3 colors you might like, then let's try th…

On Aaron.

In my readings through Exodus and Leviticus, Aaron fascinates me. Brother of Moses, spokesman for the Lord, father of four sons, first high-priest of the Israelite nation, this guy (basically) had more power and importance than any other man of Israel, yet he's a footnote. What was he like? How did he weather being a perennial second?

The Torah doesn't give us much to go on for Aaron. So much of rich biblical history passes him by--the plagues of Egypt, the Exodus, the golden calf, the construction of the Tabernacle, Moses's law--and yet we don't see any of his motivation. WHY did he construct the golden calf when he knew it was wicked? HOW did he survive two of his sons being "consumed by the fire of God" (Leviticus 10:1-4)?

Despite his deficiencies, the day-to-day spiritual life of Israel was his to oversee: Sacrifices, Sabbath observance, dietary restriction. Moses gave the law, but Aaron was the general that oversaw its implementation. The only pa…

Quote of the day

The difference between great people and everyone else is
that great people create their lives actively, while
everyone else is created by their lives, passively waiting
to see where life takes them next. The difference between
the two is the difference between living fully and just
existing.
-- Michael E. Gerber


Indeed.

The wedding summation

The New Mrs. Combs's summary found here

Basically, it went off without a hitch, or so the bride saw. I got to see the labor unrest with the caterer, my family arriving 2 hours (!) too early and crowding the foyer of the church, my cousin the usher arrive after having spilt coffee all over his white shirt and gotten a new one.

It was a great day, one I will cherish for many reasons:


My bride looked at me and said, "I have hives all over my body and I threw up three times this morning," it was so her that I couldn't help but smile.
Seeing Whitney freak out at my "Damn, you are so HOT" face
getting to kiss her hand in a moment of inspiration
Seeing my pal Jeremy again after 4 years.
My best man's toast. Joe, you are AWESOME!
The toast & roast. I was VERY dubious about that working, but Whitney's rambling, my extemporanous thoughts, Stu's sermon, Dad's anecdotes, Jamie's flippance, and Jeremy's summation were like the Epiloge to the first p…

How dare things be slow one day?

Ah, life in the land of feast or famine...

I bowed my head this morning and said, "Lord, if it be in Your will, please make the way straight for me this day" And it has been.

* * *

Fun test

http://www.typingtest.com/

79 WPM...ugh...used to be over 100

I'm back, and I'm MARRIED!

Yes, yes, all the women of the world may now weep, I'm off the market.

</End egotism> Doesn't suit me.

I'm married to the most wonderful, spastic, loving, tender woman on the face of the earth, and I have been for going on two weeks!! I was off work from the 16th through the 26th and didn't miss it much, but then who does? Spent lots of money, had a great wedding, reception, and honeymoon.

I'm not myself...I really can't tell who I am yet, but I'm def. not myself.

More blogging later...just wanted to tell everyone (okay, all 3 of ya) that I'm still alive.

On becoming a curmudgeon

Curmudgeon: n.

An ill-tempered person full of resentment and stubborn notions.

I'm getting there. Whitney and I ate our pizza and swilled our Pepsi before the morass of cable TV before us, and VH1 ran a spot promoting DAVE MATHEWS BAND: Storytellers, premiering tonight at 11pm

Me: "Good LORD! 11pm? Who's going to be up on a weeknight watching THAT?!"

Yup, how do you spell old fart? H-A-R-O-L-D.

I'm a morning person. Yeah, that must be it.

* * *

On a brighter note (a phrase in common usage by the anti-old person at work, LR), I think I'm in love with Whitney's mattress. Since it found a home inside my Shaker-style cherry bed, I've wakened rested BEFORE my alarm on two successive mornings. No aches + pains. No sore muscles. Pillow tops rule!

On Cable

I now have 72 channels, ranging from news, sports, human interest, travel, cooking, learning, and not-too-recent movies. It takes me 20 minutes to flip through them all, comprehend which channel I'm watching, and discern why I really don't want to watch that channel at that second. I just spent the last two hours trying to reaclimate myself to cable.

I have a headache.

I can feel my attention span shortening, my life wasting away, and a strange desire to buy airwick air freshener. Things have changed somewhat in the time I've been away from cable. News is now NEWS, DAMNIT! "News" is the presentation of current goings-on, possibly with human interest stories and some weird stuff to give flavor. NEWS, DAMNIT involves 3-4 blonde anchorpersons, a crawl going across the bottom of the screen, a rotating "FOX NEWS" banner in the lower corner, and snazzy graphics proclaiming the latest UPDATE regarding the president's digestion or Alan Greenspan's i…

So much good, so much bad...

My powerbook's been held hostage in Louisville for the past week, so no blogging from home, and (as we'll soon see) I can't blog from work. My apologies.

This is, at once, the best and most chaotic time in my life. Work is sucking unbelievably, but my personal and spiritual life has been blessed. Maybe God is trying to tell me something.

First, the facts: They fired 300 employees, then re-organized our department (no impact to me), and slipped in a not-so-subtle warning...


Internet use is now STRICTLY monitored


I walked in the next day and heard the unbelievable. My pal Joel Jirak, the guy who got me my job at Lexmark, the man who introduced me to Slashdot, Mozilla (later Firefox), my inspiration...had been fired. Porn? Nope. The only thing I could find out was 'excessive internet usage'.

Shockwaves radiated throughout our department. Not only was Joel well-liked, but he was a keystone guy, a fellow of unwaivering Christianity, good humor, and who was supporti…

Ahh, corporate america...

You enter in the morning whistling a happytune and by the end of the day you desperately don't want to work there anymore.

New extended MINI and other news...

Image
As reported over on Gabe's Blog, here's a snap of the new, extended wheelbase mini:



* * *

Had insomnia last night so I finally decided to watch Sin City



This stylized movie version of Frank Miller's graphic novels by the same name stars nearly everyone in hollywood who's under 40 and who'll work for under $2 million: Brittany Murphy, Rosario Dawson, Jessica Alba, Josh Hartnett, etc. Dark and surreal, the "plot" is actually 5-6 vignettes that occur in "Sin" (short for Basin) City, a land of angels, demons, murderers, and corruption, with the normal Film Noir inversion of sympathentic/antagonistic chracters--the "officials" are mostly evil, and the ex-cons and prositutes are the "good guys".

The vignettes are uneven: Bruce Willis's Officer Hartigan, whose fatalistic, chivalric tale bookends the others, is interesting but pathetic, making him hard to root for but for his mission to save tasty Nancy from a fate worse than deat…

mmm...dustless brake pads...

Image
link

$94...Santa, I've been oh so good this year.

"I got 20 years and 20 gears on ya"

Image
My family's napping, so here goes...

I'm so HAPPY :D These past two days have been heaven...relaxing, fulfilling, and just neat. Drove Whitney & Joey down here in the MINI, and the first thing Joey said as we pulled into the garage is, "Harold, is that your BIKE? Why don't you every ride your BIKE?"

...good question...

The saga of my lovelorn Cannondale: I bought it in the spring of 2002, when I was on a biking kick. I'd had a crappy Giant mountainbike when I was in college, and since I was out in cosmopolitan South Lexington, I thought...hmm...maybe a road bike of some sort. Then my father goes, "Son, I'll buy you whatever kinda bike you want".

So, I jumped into the deep end and bought an all-aluminum Cannondale T800 touring bike:



It's like a racing bike, but made more solidly in all respects, and it has 27 speeds (3 front cogs and 9 rears), like a mountain bike. Everything on it was top-notch and made to last.

And I rode it for 6 mont…

Randomness. . .

It's the day before Labor Day weekend, and it's all falling apart here...

Okay, good stuff first: I got the yard mowed (after 4 inches of rain thanks to Katrina, it was a jungle), the trimming accomplished, and the car washed in the past couple of days, but I'm horribly behind on all things wedding.

I just ordered cable. I'm tired of having fuzzy broadcast reception...just basic, no digital/TiVo/etc. Whitney and I are both newshounds, so maybe that will assuage our yen to be plugged-in. Plus, hey, Cartoon network :D

New Orleans is...gone. Those who remained behind are enduring anarchy and violence closer to Mogadishu, Somalia, than anything America has seens since the Civil War. Civilization has collapsed there and people are doing anything to survive. It's a microcosm of what could happen anywhere in America if even a few basic services get disrupted and people are cut-off from food and water.

I hope this isn't the start of a cascading failure, but it se…

Yes, it rained that much...

Image

Feelings, musings, and what's wrong with rumors...

I call this blog Harry's Ruminations, because I think alot, and right now, I'm obsessed with how much things suck and how little I can do to stop them from sucking.

First, let's get it out of the way: I lost yesterday. I had a good, fun day, but I lost, finishing 3rd out of 6 drivers. Interestingly, all of us were on r-compound tires, so this isn't a bad showing, and I actually lead the class for most of the runs, but I never improved on my 63.7 time, so I got beat by a 62.4 on the last round, then knocked out of 2nd by a 63.4.

Anyway, what's really got me down: Work just flat-out sucks. We just went through a round of layoffs (275, prolly closer to 300) and today I heard rumor of a forthcoming 1500 around December. I should be concentrating on my wedding plans, moving my new family to our house, and building a new life, but all I can think of is how crushing work is.

Also, the team situation...I just don't know if we're going to make our milestone on F…

At least it's a girl name

In 1969, Camille came to Louisiana and killed 250 people. For the last 10 years, they've said the next category 5 hurricane to hit Louisiana will obliterate New Orleans. Tomorrow will likely be that day.


MOST OF THE AREA WILL BE UNINHABITABLE FOR WEEKS...PERHAPS LONGER. AT
LEAST ONE HALF OF WELL CONSTRUCTED HOMES WILL HAVE ROOF AND WALL
FAILURE. ALL GABLED ROOFS WILL FAIL...LEAVING THOSE HOMES SEVERELY
DAMAGED OR DESTROYED.

THE MAJORITY OF INDUSTRIAL BUILDINGS WILL BECOME NON FUNCTIONAL.
PARTIAL TO COMPLETE WALL AND ROOF FAILURE IS EXPECTED. ALL WOOD
FRAMED LOW RISING APARTMENT BUILDINGS WILL BE DESTROYED. CONCRETE
BLOCK LOW RISE APARTMENTS WILL SUSTAIN MAJOR DAMAGE...INCLUDING SOME
WALL AND ROOF FAILURE.

HIGH RISE OFFICE AND APARTMENT BUILDINGS WILL SWAY DANGEROUSLY...A
FEW TO THE POINT OF TOTAL COLLAPSE. ALL WINDOWS WILL BLOW OUT.

AIRBORNE DEBRIS WILL BE WIDESPREAD...AND MAY INCLUDE HEAVY ITEMS SUCH
AS HOUSEHOLD APPLIANCES AND EVEN LIGHT VEHICLES. SPORT UTILITY
VEHICLES AND LIGHT TRUCKS WI…

I still have a job!

Well, morale took a hit,
and some managers were somber
but I still have a job,
and will wonder no longer.

My obsessive personality

In pre-marital counseling yesterday, I got to face it: I have an obsessive personality. Whether it's grades, music, photography, work, women, autocross, I GET OBSESSED.

As with most things, the human fallacy is believing everyone is just like yourself. I realize that most folks are not obsessive, but I am. I not only don't get balance, I barely comprehend how most people achieve it.

The closest I can come is imagining most other people have a schedule in their mind of what they're doing at any given moment, and whenever they is over, they drop it (complete or not) and move on the next thing. That would drive me batty, but then, that's the standard workaholic foible: "I'll quit when the work's done" Thing is, the work NEVER gets done.

Hatchet day

Today is the day LXK rids itself of 275 people, and at least one of those was my friend. We have a meeting to discuss things @ 3pm. I think me just being here after lunch is a good sign; they were supposed to tell you by noon.

'Course, I was in meetings until 12...

>>sigh<< my next MINI, if I was rich....

link


220 hp
Super tight suspension
Limited slip transmission
Weighs 2200 lbs (400lbs LESS than the Pup)
Carbon-fiber body panels
2000 of 'em worldwide


Of course, it'd be difficult to drive a CF car with acrylic windows as a daily driver, but what a MACHINE...would prolly run with a Lotus Elise or a C6 Corvette on a Road Course; just crank in some negative camber. :-)

News...

Buffalo crossing pics

Image
Adlphia is been a poop, so I'm hosting these on imageshack (click on each thumbnail for a larger pic)








Little Lauren, daughter of David + Anne









Car love...and other.

Image
...


More fun dreams last night. Something about the wedding going wrong and me getting arrested for marrying my cousin...? I mean, I know Bella and I are close, but I'm pretty sure the family tree converges around Adam and Eve, but not before. :-)

Anywho...lots of excitement going on: Twenty-six days to the wedding, the MINI's been in the shop for diagnosis and it goes back as soon as parts arrive (burnt-out power-window on driver's side + bad idler pully + serpentine belt), and work's, well, bananas (as ever).

On the bright side, beautiful morning with a Fall crispness in the air :-)

lovely sunset

Image
Compliments of Fark.com

Ahh...I have proof!

Yes, Jackson is hell

I now have proof.

Latest Harry Potter: Done!

Image
went on a book-reading bender from 3-8 today and read all of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince



600+ pages at a sitting can cause brain warpage, so forgive me if this rambles. Also, this probably has SPOILERS, so don't read on if you want to read the book for yourself.

Now in his 6th year at Hogwart's, Harry's moved past pissy adolescence into likeable pre-adulthood. Ron, Hermione, and the other Gryffindors are learning about life and love, all while the wizarding world explodes with death and intrigue as Lord Voldemort reigns again.

It's trite, but Rowling has reinvented her character YET AGAIN. The standard, rote stories of the first few books have given way to long narratives, DEEP characterizations, and appropriate twists-and-turns. Now, we see the endgame exposed, the quest required to destroy Voldemort.

Freaky, lucid dream...

Woke-up to the gentle tapping of rain against my window and thought: My Car's outside and the sunroof is up.

...Yup...great...

Anyway, I had this freaky dream that I can't quite shake. For some reason, my coworker D flew up to New York City, and I followed him, going to a museum that I couldn't get it because I didn't have any money but "You can get in for free with a ticket to Seattle". It ended up that we hung out in a restaurant in the airport by the subway. I don't remember what we talked about.

But, it was a very vivid dream and I have no idea what it means...

Ouch

I filled-up the MINI for $36.63 this morning...yike

On the bright side, my MPG indicator is reading 37.9 currently :D

Rally results + Pics

Image
Results: (lower scores are better)


Car# Score Entrants(Driver,Navigator)
4 179 Lo Arnold, Phil Schneider
3 466 Ginny Eager, Robin Murphey
10 780 Judd Campbell, Kelly Campbell
7 1030 ???
9 1119 Jim Lamb, Lynn Lamb
2 1282 Mark Thomas, Betty Thomas
8 1354 Ken Hold, Ed Howell
6 1362 Chris Davis, Kurt Clayton
1 1532 Grant Goodin, Mark Goodin
5 1800 DNF--Subaru


Pics:


top: line of porsches: a 914, Gary's 968, and a beautiful 930.
bottom: Closeup of the 930


Pic of me at a control with my map, route instructions, and PalmPilot I was using for timing.


Winners:

(from Left) Lo Arnold + Phil Schneider (1st), Robin Murphey + Ginny Eager (2nd)

Lexington Gas Prices - Find Cheap Gas Prices in Kentucky

Lexington Gas Prices

Muhahaha....website for finding cheap gas.

w00t....mechanix R Us

Image
7 hours, 3 beers, 4 Sprites, 2 rounds of Gojo, 1 large pizza, and no busted knuckles later, Joes' maxima has 2 new front struts and a fresh oil change.

I think we could do it now in under 3 hours if we had to do it all over again.

Joe's upper suspension mount + bushing was making some extreme noises, and since his car has 138k miles on it, he decided he wanted to get some Monroe Sensa-Trac struts, and he asked, "Harold, do you think you want to tackle this?"

Thinking to myself, I've wrenched on my Jetta, MINI, GTO, and Big Red, sure...how hard could it be? Well, MacPherson struts are clever if devilishly complex devices, and properly servicing one requires a medieval looking device known as a spring compressor:



you see, the strut is a combination of shock (which controls or "damps" the elastic motion of the spring) and the spring, which actually holds up your car off the "unsprung weight" of things like your control arms, wheels, and wheel hubs. …

Neat!

If you use Firefox + Gmail, here's a cool extension that adds the 'Delete' button to the gmail interface.

link

Hehe

Image
Stupid quiz of the week:




WARNING: There's some VERY obscure stuff on there....

Oops...where's my function?

There are few experiences to equal being at work at 8 o'clock at night replying to email from your boss's boss, explaining why your crack team of developers didn't deliver on the function your reported was "done" two days earlier.

You know what? I take it back. I'm GLAD I got her fired; we'll be lucky if she's the last, given how cavalier everyone's working these days.

So yeah, here we are, knee deep in code, with my normal unitized team, decomposed into two halves, each working on a significant chunk of work. I had a meeting, told them deliver me three things in 4 weeks: Code, Running unit tests @ 80% coverage, and Documentation.

Then I went off to put out fires everywhere else, attend meetings, sell my car...you know, team lead stuff.

So, I come in Monday, feeling all chipper, and I go around the room. "Yes, good to see you. How was your vacation? Awesome! Well, let's get this over with so I can go and read those journal articles on…

Updates..

Image
I came in #3 overall indexed time at today's event. Unfortunately, Mike took #1. :)

Still, a GREAT day autocrossing.

On firing people

Fired my first person today.

Well, I didn't do the firing; my manager did, but she was on my team and I could've made it go either way. If I'd insisted she remain, she'd have still been here, but I didn't. Hence, I fired her.

I feel bad about the finality of it, but it needed to happen. She was unprofessional, and a drag on the morale of other members of the team. Still, the associated sob story is rough: Two small kids, her husband is a lout, and she was a very personable likeable woman.

However, when it comes right down to it, if you're not producing over a long enough time, something must be done.

Yeah, I still feel bad. :-(

MINI UK Announce Factory JCW Option

MINI UK Announce Factory JCW Option

Daddy Like! However, this close to the model changeover, I might wait for the 07 and the factory changes....I'd really like to try that 4-door (rear suicide doors) version

Another one down...

Muhahaha....A new blogger in town.

Welcome to the blogosphere, Marshall.

Somebody ELSE wins HS

Results:


'H Stock' - Total Entries: 8 Trophies: 3
Car Color
Region
Tire Brand

Times




Total




1Tm

024

Janssen, Mike
93 Honda Civic SI
Green


45.062+1
44.023
43.382

42.818
42.621
42.621


















-




2Tm


12
Bourne, D. Scott
01 Honda Civic EX
Silver


45.670
44.251

43.929
42.743
44.235
42.743


















0.122




3Tm

14
Combs, Harold
03 Mini Cooper
Green


44.762

45.270
44.378
44.497
43.941
43.941

















1.198


Mike Jansen wins HS in the car he bought SATURDAY and drove back from DC: 1992 Honda Civic Si Hatchback, with VTEC and only weighin 2300lbs. 127hp, double-wishbone suspension all around. Yikes.

Finally...sane pricing from GM

From the GM Fastlane Blog


Therefore, we are introducing the 2006 lineup this month with an emphasis on value. We have cut prices on 30 of our 76 models. For instance, the Chevy Silverado Crew Cab was $31,045 in 2005, but the 2006 is priced at $27,990. We are launching new models at prices that are aggressively competitive, such as the Pontiac Solstice at $19,995, when we could sell them all at twice that much this year. Also, we are extending our warranties on certain models and adding former options as standard equipment.


Sell things for what they're actually worth, or else your customers are going to just wait for incentives anyway.

Some fresh pics

Image
After some not-so-subtle hints from my sweetie:

Our new house, and Sharkey:



Joey's room (2 views)



Awesome radio drama

New organizational tool

Check this out:

TadaList Lets you maintain a very cool web todo list/lists and edit it inline in your browser just like in an app like Lotus Notes, Outlook, or others.

:-) Type C personality, here I come.

The old addage is true...

...no amount of money can make you enjoy a job you don't like.

I've bellyached to everyone that will listen, and they're (apparently) very tired of it. Everybody has problems, and whining about a job that pays you an obscene amount of money to (literally) twiddle your fingers all day doesn't get much traction with most people.

I don't blame them. It is getting kinda sad that no one sympathizes with me in the least...doesn't help the crushing loneliness I feel every night when I go home to my empty house, that's for sure.

Doesn't change the fact that nothing I'm doing these days turns my crank. And I'm currently embroiled in a power struggle in which I'm just a pawn.

I mean, literally, if I worked 10 or 12 hours a day programming, I got some gratification from that. If I work 10 or 12 hours a day as a team lead, I'm doing...what, exactly? Planning schedules for my team? Figuring out whom I should yell at? Writing frickin' EMAIL t…

On being a PL Slut

I confess. I'm a parking lot slut.

Most people park in the same parking place every single day, without fail. Makes them feel comfortable and safe. Not me.

Oh no, some days I'm in the mood to park in the very front, where everyone can see my shiny MINI; other days, I find a spot in the very back of the lot, away from those who would ding the Pup.

Today, I nestled in the gap between a Camry and an Accord, midpack. I'd never parked there before.

I got a thrill.

Nine Princes in Amber

Image
A book on loan from my friend the Mac fiend, this is the first in a series by Roger Zelazny, and it's a quick involving read at only 176 pages. The guy's terse and vivid and the action never stops, but I found the basic premise to be so much Fantasy that the characters were hard to get into.

Basically, the idea is that there's one "true" city (Amber) and that all the other universes and dimensions are "shadows" of that one. Amber's ruled by a central monarchy, and that monarch has died (or...something...). Anyway, the remaining 9 boys and 6 girls of his brood all fight it out to see who can recapture the throne.

It plays-out like a game of poker, crossed with chess, with a dash of "Braveheart" thrown in. Good, but not great.

Did feel good to actually read a book again.

#2 Part Deux

Well, they're going to get rid of 275 of us over the next month. Regular employees only (we're the ones that are ongoing legacy risks--401(k)'s, pensions, healthcare costs) have the option of taking a 4-26 week pay package (based up # of years of service) plus 3 months of health care coverage...

...or you can just wait until Aug 25th and find out if you get the Involuntary Exit Program (i.e. "You're FIRED"). It's unknown if you get the severence pkg with eh IEP

Shit

As part of the company's ongoing optimization of its expense structure, Lexmark also announced today that it will reduce its workforce by approximately 275 employees through the first half of 2006 with a majority of the affected employees exiting in the third quarter of 2005. A majority of the reductions are expected to occur at the Lexington site. However, the number of people employed at the site will remain about the same on a year-over-year basis as a result of R&D hiring this year.

Kings Island.

Image
It sucks to be 36.5" tall. That's what I learned taking Joey and Whitney up to Kings Island on Friday in Sharkey.

Sharkey's our Olds Intrigue. I name my cars...sue me.

Digression...The names of all my cars and those I've been in contact with:

Li'l Green My 1995 Nissan 200SX SE-R. It was Teal, a tint of green, and it saw me through every stupid thing a 16-20 year old can do with a car, including a bad accident with a deer.

The Problem Child 2001 Jetta Wolfsburg edition. I hated that car, and it hated me. I'll never buy German again, and it looks like I got out just at the right time.

Big Red (I) Robin's 1998(?) Taurus SHO. I loved the wheels, but not much else about this contrived ovoid monstrosity from Dearborn by way of Yamaha.

The Pup My MINI. The reason my online handle is miniharryc

Big Red (II) Dad's 2001 Chevy Silverado that I had for 7 months before selling it to buy Thor.

Big Blue Robin's 2003 Honda Accord that she insists upon autocrossin…

Invitations are done!

Image
Shout out to the unloved Lexmark X5150 All-in-One (Scan/Print/Copy/Fax)



Did all 31 sets of invitations, reply cards, reply envelopes, and a mail-merge of different envelopes and everything came out perfectly. We took several days of calligraphy down to 2 hours of Microsoft Word.

Coolest part had to be doing a mail merge from an CSV Excel spreadsheet with the guest list into the envelope screen in Word. I've never done this, and it was a snap. The M$ guys should be proud of how reassuring and robust this process was