Random Catching Up

Here are some random things which have been occupying my time:

  • My super Aunt Kathy passed away last week, and we drove to ONONdaga County to attend her memorial service. I was glad to be there for my family, and it was a nice service. An Irish style remembrance of all things which made her awesome with a great vegetarian buffet from a local restaurant they favored. It was tough to be sad with all these great stories about her going around, but I still managed. I was saddened to learn after her passing that she was a Buddhist. I would have enjoyed discussing that with her. I am SO glad that we were able to stop in and see her a few months ago on the way out to FUMN. I already miss her terribly.
  • Learned some lousy news regarding our property today… The (aforementioned) DPW lot behind our house is also getting renovated as part of the huge roads project in our neighborhood. They are turning 2/3rd of the lot into public parking, leaving the middle section as DPW (which isn’t that big of a deal except during this roads project; Normally they just store some snow plows there). Anyway, along our back property line (and the rest of our neighbors as well) there will be a bike path, and they will be erecting a 6′ fence along our property line. But looking at the area, I’m pretty sure they are going to have to cut down all of the shrubs and trees to make way for the bike path… Our downstairs neighbors are pumped about the fence, because it will block 100% of their view of the DPW lot.. But if all those trees come down we not only lose pretty trees but I’m pretty sure we’ll have nothing blocking our view from the deck… Such is the price of progress, I guess, and hopefully my assumptions are wrong, but I doubt it. They are also going to hack down all the trees on our street when they redo that.. So it’s going to look a little grim around here for the next few decades…. :(
  • Loving my new Macbook Pro.  While the Air was a great little machine, I had kind of forgotten what it’s like to have a balls-out monster laptop.  This thing screams.
  • Doing well with our "no car" experiment…  We’ve been without a car for about 6-7 weeks, and so far it’s been fine.  We use Zipcar from time to time to run errands or save some time on a trip to a remote part of the city, but most of the time we use public transit or walk, which is great.  For long trips, like to Syracuse or NJ, we’ve been renting cars from the local Enterprise dealer.  Even with the abundance of trips we’ve had to take in the past 6 weeks, if you add up the Zipcar, Rental, and Transit fees we’ve accumulated, it is STILL lower than what I would have spent on payments and insurance for a new car.
  • Going to NJ tomorrow night for the big summer party I’ve been throwing for a few years now.  The guest list has gotten so big that I’ve had to start removing names from the invite list, which sucks.  If you’re reading this and are upset, I apologize.  I tried to favor people I see less frequently due to distance on the invites, so if I see you a lot or you’re from boston, you might not have made the cut.   I plan on discussing some way to let this party grow a bit more for next year, but more than likely it would have to leave my parents house for it to do so…  Which would mean that the cost would go up, which is definitely not good eats.
  • Red Sox have been playing terribly for awhile.  That is all.

(Mostly) successful project

For many months now I’ve been putting off a project on my car, and I finally decided the time was right the weekend to get it done.  Between my GPS, Sirius Radio, and iPod, I was having serious contention for the sole (“cigarette lighter”) power connector in my car.  After a few weeks of using a crappy 3-way splitter (and having it get knocked out by several passengers), I decided to do some wiring work in the car.

All of these devices operate on 5VDC, so I bought a Mean Well SD-25A-5 power supply with the intention of burying it in the dashboard.  Spotlight tells me that this order was placed on March 1st, so that should give you an idea of how long this project has been nagging me.  Originally I put it off because we were getting the old place ready to go on the market, then our move, then the oppressive heat of summer…  It finally occurred to me that if I didn’t take care of it soon, I would delay it further because it was too cold out.

So on Sunday I decided to finally crack open the dashboard and fire up the soldering iron.  Building the cables and harnesses went pretty smoothly, and after removing the dashboard (which I have done before), I was able to do my first “lap test” of the power supply and made sure that everything was running off of it.  Fortunately, from a Sirius radio past (which ran on 12VDC), I already had a 12VDC line coming out of the stereo wiring harness, so that made testing very easy.  That, though, was “always on” power (so I could pause the radio with the car off while I ran into a store), so I removed that harness and wired it to a switched feed.  After reconnecting everything and making sure it still worked, I disconnected everything from the power supply and started preparing the more permanent runs.  The Sirius is on a mount on the dashboard, so I was just able to sneak the power for that out between the trim and the dashboard.  But the GPS required a hole to be drilled.  I did a decent job, but it wasn’t as clean as I wanted…  I’m going to find one of those car seat plastic repair kits they used to advertise on TV to clean it up a bit…

After finding a decent spot for the power supply to live, and reconnecting all of the wires, I gave it one last test before sealing up the dashboard, and everything was hunky-dory.  I reconnected all the dashboard switches to the dash trim and popped it back in, screwing the few screws which hold it all together.  I was satisfied with a job well done.

Until the ride to work this morning, when I quickly realized that my turn signals didn’t work at all…   I got really angry, setting the stage for a bad day at work, and then when I got home I grabbed a flashlight, screwdriver, and hopedI could quickly figure it out..  Turns out than when I reconnected the wires going to the hazard switch, I accidentally put it into a dummy spot on the dashboard instead of hooking it up to the actual switch.  I’m kind of surprised that the turn signals are dependent on the hazard switch, but whatever…  Everything seems to be once again working, including my new modification.

I didn’t bother hooking up power for the iPod, since I rarely use it in the car and the traditional power socket is now completely free for it’s use.  I think at some point I’m going to put a USB connector somewhere in the dash which could power any USB device (including the iPod), but for now I’m very satisfied.

Car all better (?)

AAA came out in less than 20 minutes to service my car..  After a few tries, a jumpstart got it going…  I picked up

, dropped her off at Target, and and drove the car to AutoZone for a new battery.  I had to buy a few tools to change it out, but swapped the battery out in the parking lot.  Now I’m back in the parking lot of Target borrowing some WiFi from someone… 

Busy Weekend!

This was a pretty crazy weekend!  On Friday night I went to Symphony Hall to see Artie Lange, from the Howard Stern Show (and formerly of MadTV).  It was a great time, Jim Florentine and Greg Fitzsimmons opened, both of whom I’ve enjoyed for some time, so it was great to see them live.  The MC was some local guy, who wasn’t that good and got pretty heavily booed, but he handled it well and probably knew what he was in store for… 

Saturday was a hugely busy day for

and I.  After grabbing breakfast, we headed over to the newly-rented storage locker to check it out, and then went across the street and rented a van from U-Haul.  We only really needed the van to move some of the bigger stuff (closet shelves and one of our dressers), but we ended up taking a bunch of other shit that was ready to go over as well.  I think the U-Haul guy was startled when he saw our total mileage was 3 miles in 2 hours, but then again, they are probably used to that in the city.  Moving that big stuff into storage sucked, but not as badly as it could have.  We spent the rest of the day packing away some unnecessary clothes and items..  The goal of all this is to make the apartment look less cluttered when we start showing it (hopefully in April).  This was a good motivator, imho, because the whole house was a mess, so it was hard NOT to be compelled to clean it up.  We ended up getting into a fight, which I guess can be expected when doing something so stressful, but we worked it out.. :)  We took another carload of stuff over Saturday night, and when we got back from that trip,  I turned the car off and realized I could pull up in my spot a bit more.  I went to start the car and it wouldn’t even turn over (even all the instrument lights were working fine).  I’m not entirely sure what’s wrong with it, but I guess I’ll have AAA tow it to my mechanic tonight.  Hopefully it’s just a bad battery, but I guess it could be something far more nefarious…

Sunday was spent cleaning and doing laundry..   I was pretty tired by the end of the day, and was nodding off a little bit on the train ride over to the movie theatre.  The film club saw 300 last night, which was fun…  It was much better than I expected, and while I had some minor criticisms, overall it was a fun flick.

First Day at Snowbound

I was scheduled to start the new job this morning at 9am, so I hung around the house, listened to Howard Stern, and got my things together. I was planning on driving in this first day so I could unload all of the books/manuals in my trunk as well as the box of desk effluvia. But when I got out to my car, it wouldn’t start. The battery was drained, and probably needs to be replaced. I don’t think any drains were left on overnight, but I didn’t have time to diagnose. I ended up taking a cab to work since I didn’t have enough time to take the bus.

But aside from that nuisance this morning, everything here has been great. I decided that I have no interest in working for anything other than a software company again. One of my biggest problems at the last job is that I felt that the company considered software (consiously or otherwise) as an afterthought; They made cameras, not software. Even though I’ve only been here for a day, it is already clear to me that not only is this company a software company (That’s pretty easy to say, since they have no other products), but the team here is serious about writing software. I’m going to be focusing most of my time on their Java Applet, FlexSnap, but I have spent most of today getting my workstation set up and filling out HR forms.

One clear and present danger: Free snacks and soda are available. I am going to try and eat healthier while I’m here, but they sure aren’t making it easy. One thing is certain though, it is awesome working in the city again (well, technically not in in the city, but close and within the confines of the MBTA).

Hawkeye’s Angry

On the way home from work yesterday I had another flat tire… Fortunately, this time around I was able to get it off the car myself and replace it with the donut spare. By the time I got home all the tire places were closed, so I was forced to take care of it this morning. Unfortunately, I had plans to meet up with some of my family at Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome.. It’s a 3 hour trip over there, and the air show starts at 2pm, so I just don’t think I can make it now.. We’ll see when I get out of here, though… But that is likely impossible now, as I am still sitting at the tire place and they are doing the alignment now (it was needed for awhile now). I had them replace the other two tires, since one went a few months ago and one went yesterday, I didn’t want to have to worry about the other two. Thank god for free WiFi at this place…

I can’t help but think that Hawkeye is jealous that my new job will cause me to require less of his services… One week left at Goodrich, this week was tough. The Critical Design Review for the project I’ve been working on for the past year is this week, and so everyone is scrambling to polish off documents, make slides, and make sure we are well-researched for any questions that come up from the customer. Even though it will suck to have my last few days at Goodrich spent in meetings, I feel good that supporting the team through CDR and then leaving is a clean break. All of the documents for my software are in order, including requirements, design, and interface control specs, so whoever is assigned to pick up where I left off. I would feel better if they let me know who was taking it over so I could transfer some knowledge personally, but I’m not going to worry too much about it. My design is pretty comprehensive, not only specifying the software architecture but the individual algorithms required for each calculation, I did my best to hold the programmers hand (mostly because I’ve been thinking about leaving for quite some time and was hoping that I wasn’t going to be that programmer :P).

What surprised me the most about the past week was that while “short time” status always stinks, the worst part has been the commute. Traffic wise, it has been the same as the past 2.5 years. But since I almost drive past my new job 3 miles into my commute, it really punctuates how much I hate the remaining 24 miles until I arrive at Goodrich. But I got my September bus pass in the mail yesterday, and after 5 more days the commute will be much more bearable.

Update: Damn, there is some abuse of the language in this entry… I guess it was a combination of anger, sleep deprivation, and writing in a mechanic’s waiting room… I leave it as-is for posterity…

Me == Jackass

Hawkeye has had some tar on his fenders for awhile now, and I finally purchased some tar and bug remover to get it off. The can required me to pry the lid off, a task intended for a screwdriver, but since I didn’t have any handy, and I am impatient, I chose to use a key for. And of course, I chose the tiniest, most fragile key I possessed for this task. My mail key snapped almost instantly, and we don’t have a spare… Fortunately, it was a fairly clean break and the hardware store was able to successfully copy the key. I had a spare made as well, banking on the fact that my stupidity knows no bounds.

My leg checkup the other day went as expected… Progress has been great, same ominous warnings as always (i.e. “you can’t do that much damage to your knee and not have negative repercussions later in life”, etc.) He asked to see me once a year to monitor my cartilage and joint spacing. He said that he expected it would take quite a while for this to catch up with me, and worst case if no medical advances were made in the next 10-20 years I would probably need a knee replacement. But I’ll hold out for bionic knee action or at a minimum human-animal hybrid cartilage.

This weekend will involve much laziness as well as some home improvement… In an effort to make the condo sellable/showable, and I have a list of tasks we need to take care of over the next few months… But aside from the relatively small project I picked for myself this weekend I intend on vegging out and playing some Quake 4. =)

Headlight Jesus Didn’t Die for MY Sins!

I had the 3rd headlight in like 6 months die on me yesterday… I am very careful not to get oil from my fingers on the bulb, so I don’t know what’s causing it.. I changed brands this time, so hopefully that will make a difference….

In other Hawkeye news, I had to get his brake pads replaced on Saturday (the little scrap-y doohickey was doing it’s job, so I knew it was time). The mechanic said the rotors needed to be replaced too, and I trust this place a little bit, so I went with his opinion… Rotors for my car are apparently only $40/each so it’s not as bad as I expected. I even did the smart thing and drove over (the mechanic is in Cambridge) and walked back to the apartment, and then when they called saying it was done I walked back, which was about 4 miles total.


On Monday my drivers side windshield wiper stopped moving.. I stopped by the dealer first thing Tuesday morning to have it fixed, and it turns out the nut that holds it on to the motor came loose so all they had to do was realign it and retighten it.. But since they considered it an “adjustment” I had to pay for it (it wasn’t covered under warranty). Total bullshit.

Weekend et. al.

Had a fairly laid back weekend…. Friday night I just stayed home with , who had a nasty cold (probably the same cold I had, although we had thought she had dodged that bullet). Saturday morning I decided to mount my Sirius radio in the car. It had been flopping around, kind of propped up in the ashtray while I waited for a nice mount to arrive in the mail (the radio came with a suction cup mount as well as velcro, but both those choices seemed ghetto). This mount required me taking the dashboard trim off, which was made easier by employing the dash trim removal tool I got with the new mount kit, but still sucked. I thought I could mount it without removing the car stereo, etc, but that was false hope. With the car stereo removed I was able to hide wires much easier, so they just pop out of the dashboard next to the mount. I also replaced the cigarette lighter adapter that came with the Sirius with some hard-wired power that tied into the car stereo’s wiring harness. I wired so the Sirius always has power, so that if I have to run out of the car quickly but want to finish what I am hearing I can pause the radio (it has a 45 minute live buffer) and shut the car off. I also moved the Sirius antenna from the trunk to the roof, as I was getting annoyed that the wires would move and get tugged whenever I opened the trunk. All in all it took me about 2 hours to finish the job, which includes running back up to the apartment to solder the power leads into the wiring harness, so it wasn’t that bad. The only downside of the experience was that it was pouring rain, so I did a lot of crawling around the inside of the car to avoid getting drenched.

Sunday we caught The Matador with the film club, which was pretty funny. A bunch of us are headed to Rochester after work on Friday for the first FUMN in ages… I’m really looking forward to that (but not particularly looking forward to the drive…).