Thursday, May 27, 2010

Pet Peeves Revisited, and a new list

On my way home from a meeting this morning, traveling in the fast lane on rt 495 south at an undisclosed speed, naturally within the local traffic laws...

Anyway, out of the corner of my eye, I saw fast approaching a white car. It caught my eye because for about four or five seconds, a brown fluttering appeared on the driver's side just above the roof. I looked, and the driver was holding a brown paper bag flapping in the wind like a flag symbolizing laziness, complete disregard not only for the environment (although it was just a paper bag that'll turn to mush in a week or two anyway) but to the well being of the person traveling behind him. That simple paper bag could have caused much more than an ugly brown eyesore in the lush green of the median.

I've said it before, it's not necessarily the fact that someone is litering that bothers me, but the brazen disregard for the fact that our tax dollars are being wasted, paying state workers to walk around and pick that sh*t up! If we just took our trash to wherever we're going, and threw it out, that money could be spent on better things...

Anyway, being in front of this person who was clearly in a hurry, I clicked the cruise control off, and coasted for a little while. Before long I was doing 50 in the high speed lane, no doubt to the dismay of many more than just mr. Brownbag. As his car neared uncomfortably, I saw through his windshield that he had his head tilted back, draining a cardboard cup of whatever it had in it. And ice cold serving of idiot fluid, I was certain, cause sure enough once satisfactorily emptied, the cup flew out the window as well.

It didn't take long for Mr. Brownbag to get pissed off enough to go around me, and I tried to stare some humility into him on his way by... however, he didn't look at me. I was a little bit surprised that he didn't even look over to stare into the eyes of a jackass doing now around 48mph in the high speed lane. He didn't even look inconvenienced... I began to think perhaps I was a little hasty in my judgement of him. Maybe he wasn't a complete ass, but perhaps just completely devoid of thought. Clearly, someone, at some point of this person's life had to have mentioned, at very least in passing conversation, that littering isn't nice, though, so the benefit of the doubt doesn't excuse him very much, in my book. He's smart enough to have passed a driving test (presumably) he ought to know better than to liter like that.

He zipped by me, and cut back into the left lane just ahead of me, as I sped up and wrote down his plate number. I've still not yet decided what, if anything I'm going to do with it... While stupidity is a thorn in my side, that guy's gotta live with it all day, every day. God only knows what other crap he's caused for himself without ever realizing...

But still, my few minutes of fury when I thought he was being obnoxious gave birth to a few additions to my old list of inconveniences that I wish upon the people who I disrespect.

I hope every time you go to the pharmacy, your information has been lost and they require you to produce your insurance card again.

I hope every time you reach for your insurance card, you realize you left it at home.

I hope the last mouthful of every cup of coffee you drink is filled with grounds.

I hope you scratch the display on every cell phone you buy within two days of owning it.

I hope a kid gets a hold of your glasses every couple days, with some kind of greasy substance on their fingers.

I hope you lock your keys in your car, while it's running (and while you're not inside it) at least once a month.

I hope the credit bureaus get your mixed up with someone of the same name, who happens to be in jail. (This happened to someone I knew, real pain in the arse!)

I hope that every time you sneeze, a little bit comes out your tear duct.

I hope you run out of windshield washer fluid every time a bird hits your car from above.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Power Scheme Profile force for XP, Vista and 7 (powercfg.exe)

One of the issues we've faced as an MSP is when computers turn off, hibernate or go into standby at night during regularly scheduled maintenance.

I've created the following Kaseya script to prevent this from happening. This script can be run on Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7 platforms. I have no tested it on Windows 2000, or any server platform. (BTW, this is PRE K2!)

Script Name: Power Schemes XP, Vista, 7

Script Description:

IF True
Execute Shell Command
Parameter 1 : powercfg.exe -DUPLICATESCHEME 8c5e7fda-e8bf-4a96-9a85-a6e23a8c635c 8c5e7fda-e8bf-4a96-9a85-a6e23a8caaaa
Parameter 2 : 0
OS Type : 10
Execute Shell Command
Parameter 1 : powercfg.exe -CHANGENAME 8c5e7fda-e8bf-4a96-9a85-a6e23a8caaaa "NEWSCHEME"
Parameter 2 : 0
OS Type : 10
Execute Shell Command
Parameter 1 : powercfg.exe -SETACTIVE 8c5e7fda-e8bf-4a96-9a85-a6e23a8caaaa
Parameter 2 : 0
OS Type : 10
Execute Shell Command
Parameter 1 : powercfg.exe -x -monitor-timeout-ac 20
Parameter 2 : 0
OS Type : 10
Execute Shell Command
Parameter 1 : powercfg.exe -x -monitor-timeout-dc 10
Parameter 2 : 0
OS Type : 10
Execute Shell Command
Parameter 1 : powercfg.exe -x -disk-timeout-ac 0
Parameter 2 : 0
OS Type : 10
Execute Shell Command
Parameter 1 : powercfg.exe -x -disk-timeout-dc 0
Parameter 2 : 0
OS Type : 10
Execute Shell Command
Parameter 1 : powercfg.exe -x -standby-timeout-ac 0
Parameter 2 : 0
OS Type : 10
Execute Shell Command
Parameter 1 : powercfg.exe -x -standby-timeout-dc 20
Parameter 2 : 0
OS Type : 10
Execute Shell Command
Parameter 1 : powercfg.exe -x -hibernate-timeout-ac 0
Parameter 2 : 0
OS Type : 10
Execute Shell Command
Parameter 1 : powercfg.exe -x -hibernate-timeout-dc 0
Parameter 2 : 0
OS Type : 10
Execute Shell Command
Parameter 1 : Powercfg.exe /create NEWSCHEME
Parameter 2 : 0
OS Type : 8
Execute Shell Command
Parameter 1 : powercfg.exe /setactive NEWSCHEME
Parameter 2 : 0
OS Type : 8
Execute Shell Command
Parameter 1 : powercfg.exe /x NEWSCHEME -monitor-timeout-ac 20
Parameter 2 : 0
OS Type : 8
Execute Shell Command
Parameter 1 : powercfg.exe /x NEWSCHEME -monitor-timeout-dc 10
Parameter 2 : 0
OS Type : 8
Execute Shell Command
Parameter 1 : powercfg.exe /x NEWSCHEME -disk-timeout-ac 0
Parameter 2 : 0
OS Type : 8
Execute Shell Command
Parameter 1 : powercfg.exe /x NEWSCHEME -disk-timeout-dc 0
Parameter 2 : 0
OS Type : 8
Execute Shell Command
Parameter 1 : powercfg.exe /x NEWSCHEME -standby-timeout-ac 0
Parameter 2 : 0
OS Type : 8
Execute Shell Command
Parameter 1 : powercfg.exe /x NEWSCHEME -standby-timeout-dc 20
Parameter 2 : 0
OS Type : 8
Execute Shell Command
Parameter 1 : powercfg.exe /hibernate off
Parameter 2 : 0
OS Type : 8

For those of you who do not have Kaseya and would like batch files, You'll have to keep the XP and the Vista/7 scripts seperate... Here they are.

REM Windows XP

Powercfg.exe /create NEWSCHEME
powercfg.exe /setactive NEWSCHEME

powercfg.exe /x NEWSCHEME -monitor-timeout-ac 20
powercfg.exe /x NEWSCHEME -monitor-timeout-dc 10
powercfg.exe /x NEWSCHEME -disk-timeout-ac 0
powercfg.exe /x NEWSCHEME -disk-timeout-dc 0
powercfg.exe /x NEWSCHEME -standby-timeout-ac 0
powercfg.exe /x NEWSCHEME -standby-timeout-dc 20
powercfg.exe /hibernate off

And Vista / 7

powercfg.exe -DUPLICATESCHEME 8c5e7fda-e8bf-4a96-9a85-a6e23a8c635c 8c5e7fda-e8bf-4a96-9a85-a6e23a8caaaa

REM rename new Highperformance to ParallelEdge

powercfg.exe -CHANGENAME 8c5e7fda-e8bf-4a96-9a85-a6e23a8caaaa "NEWSCHEME"

powercfg.exe -SETACTIVE 8c5e7fda-e8bf-4a96-9a85-a6e23a8caaaa

powercfg.exe -x -monitor-timeout-ac 20
powercfg.exe -x -monitor-timeout-dc 10
powercfg.exe -x -disk-timeout-ac 0
powercfg.exe -x -disk-timeout-dc 0
powercfg.exe -x -standby-timeout-ac 0
powercfg.exe -x -standby-timeout-dc 20
powercfg.exe -x -hibernate-timeout-ac 0
powercfg.exe -x -hibernate-timeout-dc 0

Turtle Season!

No, not for hunting! Although, what do I know, it very well could be. I tend to doubt it though, because it's actually the time of year for them to climb up into my yard, dig holes and lay their eggs. Here's some pics I took. As always, click for larger pictures.

If anyone knows offhand what kind of turtle this is, I'd love to know.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Pet Peeves 3 - Huh?

Ok, I know it hasn't been very long since my last pet peeve, but I was stuck on the phone with a service technician today, who at first sounded like a cool dude. He had a deep baritone sorta, nothing's going to ruffle my feathers, easy going way about him. I thought, "Yeah, this'll be ok, he's going to keep his cool, we're going to get through this, and then he's going to sing to some ladies, all Barry White style."

I couldn't be further from the truth. He wasn't relaxed and easy going, he was dumb as a bag of hammers. AND he had a terrible habit.

"Huh?" you say? ... boy, not you too...

Didn't matter what I said, he followed up with a "Huh?"

Tech: Ok sir, Um verreh sorruh yor havin trubble today, letsee whut we khen do abowt it. Can you tell me a little bit abowt thuh prawblum?

Me: Yes, the CD rom does not read disks. I've uninstalled it in the device manager, reinstalled it, upgraded firmware, nothing."

Tech: Huh?

Me: (unsure of what exactly he missed there) Ah, I said I uh, uninstalled, reinstalled, updated the firmware, and the CD-Rom is still not working.

Tech: Ohh.(though it sounded more like an awww)Kin you take the drive an put ut in anothar computar?

Me: I did that actually, I swapped with the machine next to it, and it still didn't work. However the other machine's drive worked in this tower.

Tech: Huh?

Me: [blink] I said, I swapped with the machine next to it, and the broken CD rom still doesn't work.

Tech: Ohh, but tha other machine's cd drive worked in the original machine?

Then I realized... I realized he was asking me to repeat myself to buy himself more time to come up with something intelligent-sounded. After a while, I started doing it back. It went like this:

Me: Yes, that's right, the drive from the machine next to this one worked fine in this machine.

Tech: Huh?

Me: Hrm?

Tech: Ohh. Ok, let me see about gettin you a replacement ...

Please, use the word "huh" all you want, if you don't hear someone. If you need more time for a response, by all means, take it. There are plenty of other words to use like "Well..." or "Ah... " but don't ask someone to repeat themselves if they don't need to. Me especially. I don't know what it is, but I really can't stand having to repeat myself. It's unreasonable, I know this. I'm already driven nuts by it, don't make me do it if you actually did hear me the first time...

First person to comment with "huh?" gets a noogie.

Migraine season

As if I spoke too loudly commenting over at Buck's place last week, I had the first migraine of the season last night.

It was hot, around 80°F, and the barometric pressure was around 29.8, which is prime migraine pressure for me. A perfect storm. As irony would have it, I had only a half a cup of coffee that morning.

I sat in my office goofing around with the family's laptop, removing Vista and putting the good 'ol Windows XP pro on there, and I'd just cracked my third Guinness of the evening, when I realized I couldn't see the second half of the word I happened to be reading, always the telltale sign of the throbbing to come.

I quickly consumed my Rx meds, as well as a few other things, as directed of course, washed it down with about a liter of coffee. Well, the meds and caffeine did their job, and I made it through relatively painlessly, actually, although I did get the usually numbness in the right arm, and lips and tongue. If course, that much caffeine meant I wasn't going to fall asleep either. I stared at the insides of my eyelids until shortly after 4:30am this morning. I woke with less signs of a migraine than I usually have the day after, but I've been rather surly all day.

Got up, drove the trash down to the end of the road for pick up, ran through the shower and got to work. Moments later, my wife ambled into my office looking for meds. She too came down with a migraine! 

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Pet Peeves 2.0

A couple of months ago, I posted about my pet peeves, and I've through of another, so I thought I'd share. Nothing helps a pissy mood like spreadin' it around, eh?

I get irritated when I see people litter. Whether it's blatantly throwing trash out of your window, or if you try to quietly sneak it behind you and make it look like you had nothing to do with it. I once road the commuter rail and the fellow sitting directly across from me was enjoying a soda and a little grab bag of chips. He put his soda bottle, now empty on the window ledge, and finished his chips. This guy didn't try to hide it, nor did he spend any extra energy doing it. He didn't put the bag on the window ledge, he didn't put it on the seat, or the floor or hide it... He simply stopped holding the bag. Like, the bag no longer held his interest and he immediately forgot about it, erased it from his mind. one hand went into his pocket, and the other reached for his phone to see what time it was.

I did gently remind him that he forgot his soda as he was leaving, and he did feign innocence, and turn and get it, but I can't say I got any real satisfaction out of that. He would do it all again tomorrow, no doubt. I wished (and still do) that I'd called him out in front of everyone, not only for polluting our shared space, but for being so utterly lazy that he couldn't spare the few extra newtons of force it would take to carry his trash out onto the platform and just stop holding it over a trash bin. It wasn't too heavy to carry onto the train and manipulate while devouring it, and now there's less mass to deal with.

Morola Droid Call Quality

I recently upgraded my cell phone to a Verizon Wireless Motorola Droid, and got constant complaints on the quality of my calls. It always sounded fine to me, but I was told I sounded muffled, like I was in a fishbowl.

I did some research online... Now, I don't recommend anyone actually go into the programming menu of your phones, if you do so it's at your own risk...

That said, to fix the Motorola Droid muffled voice problem:

  1. Dial ##PROGRAM (which is ##7764726) and hit send
  2. Enter 000000 as the password and click Verify.
  3. Go to Vocode and Change it from EVRC to EVRC-B. Apply this, and exit the programming menu. 

Your phone will reboot, and hence forth, sound much better to those you're calling.

This information is offered with no support, warranty or any sort of promises.

Monday, May 17, 2010

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Sunday, May 16, 2010

Adventures in brewing - Part 1 (Take 2)

Ok, finally go to brew yesterday. Was an interesting time.

I kind of cheated doing this, I didn't exactly make it from scratch. We bought a kit, which basically amounts to making a cake from a box of cake mix instead of from scratch, but from what I understand, the end result is pretty much the same, though frowned upon by the purests. But hey, first brew. I wasn't going whole hog on something I was likely to foul up. The kit we used was for an Red Ale (Like Killians).

Anyway, there were a couple of things that bothered me about this particular experience. First, the pan we used was warped on the bottom, and I have an electic stove. That meant the middle never came in contact with the burner. This may or may not have been a problem. The mixture DID boil, albeit a fairly mild boil. It never came to a big rolling boil.

Why is this a problem? Well... I dunno, it may not be a problem at all. There's a step toward the end of the process where it says once you put everything in, the mixture should foam and try to boil over. You remove it from the heat, and put it back again, each time it starts to boil up and over. You don't let it boil over. Eventually, it's supposed to stop foaming like that, and that's how you know it's ready for the next step (which is to put in the hops). This is known (I'm told) as the "Protein Break". However, this did not foam up like that, and I'm thinking it had to do with the fact that it didn't get to the rolling boil that it should have.

I was advised that sometimes the protein breaks early, and doesn't foam though... So I went on with the process. I got everything together, got it into it's bucket and the air lock is now bubbling. Next weekend I will move it from the primary fermentor bucket to the secondary, leaving behind some sludge. There'll be pictures. Speaking of pictures...

The first step was to boil the water, and then take it off the heat while the grains steeped in it for 25 - 30 minutes. The grains came with a big sock-like fabric, with which you basically make a very big tea bag. I wish I'd thought to get a picture of it, but really... Just imagine a sock filled with a bunch of things that look like the bits in Rice Pilaf that aren't rice... Similar to that. After that was done, I had a gallon and a half of this tea like stuff that smelled a bit like bread, but not quite.

This was after steeping the grains, and added the malt. To learn more about Malt, click here. To learn nothing more than what it looked like in this particular kit, read on.

The malt came in two seperate cans, about the size of  a family sized can of baked beans. The malt itself had a consistence of molassas, perhaps a little thicker, although you heat it up in a pan of hot water, so it came out more like maple syrup. It smelled a bit like hot brown bread.

After putting in the malt is the step I was talking about. You're supposed to boil this, let it foam up and take it off the heat before it boils over. Repeat, until it stops trying to boil over. What you see in that picture is the extent of the foam that I got.

These little rabbit-food-like pellets are the hops. For some pics and information about real live hops, click here. For my very un-learned description, read on.

The hops are what gives the beer it's bitter taste. To experience the full effects of a "hoppy" beer, first sip something like Bud Light... Then try an IPA. It's that bitter bite you get after swallowing. I for one love a hoppy beer.

After adding half the hops, it was left to boil for 28 minutes, and I added the second half of them for the last 2 minutes of boil. From there, it was moved to the fermentor bucket, which is an air tight plastic bucket, and mixed with 3 gallons of cold water. After it was down below 90°F, I added the yeast, and closed it up. An air lock is put on the top, which is just a plastic tube filled with water, through which air can come out, but not in. This is because oxygen can make the oxydize. I don't know what that would taste like, but it sounds like it'd be bogus. As the yeast eats, it produces Co2, so that's what is escaping. The fact that the air lock is bubbling is good, it means the yeast is doing it's thing.

My plan is to do a few of these kits, and see how things go. After five or six of them, I may just try to order grains and hops (and not in pellet form) and see what the brewing differences are. Perhaps I'll experiment with things like strawberries and such as I get more confident in the process. I'd like to have maybe four or five brews fermenting at any given time. I think I'd save a good bit of money on family gatherings and cookouts to just be able to hand out my own brew, rather than go buy it.

That's about the extent of my brewing experience thus far. I hope it comes out at least drinkable. I'd hate to have to dump five gallons for which I've spent about five hours on. Keep your fingers crossed for me, and I just might share some if it's any good!

...and you can bet I'll share some if it's not. I won't want it...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

How'd that happen?

As many of you know, I'm an IT guy. I'm the guy you call when your hard drive fails, or you think you've accidentally installed a virus. I'm the guy who comes and tells you that the reason your keyboard stopped working is the 12oz of diet coke you spilled in it makes the keyboard unhappy. (Keyboards are allergic to aspartame. Oh, and water...) But it wasn't always that way. I didn't always have the answers to your computer questions.

I was a slacker in school. From as early as I remember, I was completely disinterested in school work, homework, or just about any other activity that ended with "work". Truth be told, I'm still not all that enthusiastic about some of those words... Yard work, for example. Every time I do it, I end up with poison ivy. (just getting over a case of it now).

My personality is such that I'm extremely prone to distraction and procrastination. Why put off until tomorrow what you could do next week? My only saving grace was that I was blessed with good luck when I needed it, and an agile mind. Unfortunately, as a child, the latter of the two was used to try to figure out how to avoid work, and get away with as much as possible. ...and I was good at both of those things.

School, as I said was not a primary interest as a kid. I spent a lot of time staring out the windows, doodling on my papers, and waiting for the next break time. I had the knack of picking up just about enough information that I could squeak by, and managed to make my way into High school. Anyone who went to Brookline High (at least in the mid '90s) will tell you that the amount of freedom those students have is not necessarily conducive to learning... If you didn't have a class scheduled during a particular time, you were free to do as you pleased. Leave campus, hang out in the hallways, sit in the cafe, etc. I had a hard time understanding why some kids chose to schedule study halls during those breaks when they could just go home, or go to the local pizza joint for an hour or so. It's a shame the things that we see clearly as adults, but not as kids when the opportunities are free!

Senior year, I think I spent perhaps two hours a day in actual classes, and the rest of the day (because I'd gotten all my necessities out of the way during the first three years) at a friend's house, who happened to live across the street, playing Mario Kart and Golden eye on his Nintendo64.

The only reason I made it outta High School was that I could usually reason my way through things. Stuff, most of the time, just plain made sense to me, except for Math... I'm terrible with numbers. I struggled through that junk... But Science, Biology, Chemistry, I had an aptitude for, which for some meant an easy A. For me it meant an effortless C-/D+. Hey, a passing grade is a passing grade, and that meant my quality of life went up! I could get by, and goof off as much as possible! I'd have been a hell of a philosopher.

The luck part of things was only really just starting to manifest for me around High School. Prior to, I had no real luck to speak of either good or bad. I have three older brothers who were all IN High School when I was born. They'd made their way out, one way or another, and were but a memory by the time I hit town. However, there were still a good number of teachers who remembered them. They too were not the most enthusiastic of students, but were likable, I gather. That seemed to work in my favor. I treated the teachers like they were friends and I swear, it paid off. I even had one teach refuse to fail me because she knew I had the potential to pass. Hell yea, I thought. Less work for me! (I'd really like to go back and kick myself in the ass when I think about that.)

I applied to only one college senior year, Wentworth Institute of Technology. They accepted me. As it turns out, you can pretty much just walk into Wentworth, as long as you pay your bill... I, like millions of other kids, applied and received financial aide. I told them I'd do something for work study, which is basically getting a job on campus for which you get paid peanuts, but they give you a small scholarship, or a break on the price or something. (I never did get that job, by the way...). Somehow, I was awarded a Grant, as well as a "Merit Scholarship"! MERIT scholarship. That means, I did SO well in High School that they handed me money!! Someone wasn't doing their job, if you ask me. There's no way in hell I should have ever been rewarded for my High School work even with a diploma, let alone a scholarship! ...But there it was. I took it.

I'd selected Mechanical engineering because people told me it was good. As it turns out, it's not. Mechanical engineering, and really engineering in general just plain sucks. My humble apologies to any and all engineers who may or may not be reading this, but my friend, I hate your job. I'd rather flip burgers. About that: I don't know how any kid is supposed to know what he or she wants to learn in college, based on what they were taught in High School. I had absolutely no idea what Mechanical Engineering was, nor did I have any clue what my alternatives were... I mean, granted, perhaps I could have talked with a guidance counselor, or gone to the career center, but those things were not required to graduate, so I didn't even consider them until a couple years ago. Never occurred to me. I take perhaps half the blame there for being a crappy student, but in my defense, no one ever really pointed it out either. Or maybe I wasn't listening...

Anyway, I stayed in Wentworth, and even though I failed classes, I was still allowed to return, and even take classes for which I'd failed prerequisites! "You can't take Kinematics until you've taken Statics, and Strength of Materials!" Evidentially, it doesn't matter if you've failed either of, or both Statics and Strength of Materials.

I still have those text books though. You know, they sell you these text books at $90 a whack, and then expect you to WRITE IN THEM! I adamantly refused to mar the surface of a book for which I'd spent $90. I also refused to sell said books back to the library for pennies on the dollar, which means to this day, somewhere... perhaps in my garage, I'm really not sure, is a pile of shiny new outdated text books doing absolutely nothing, and worth just about as much. ...but it was the principal of the thing, you understand. One of those books was a result of sheer luck too... On my way to school, I happened to find $90 on the ground. I was ecstatic all morning, until I purchased a book that cost $95 that afternoon. Found $90, for a net profit of -$5.

It got to the point where I stopped going to some of my classes all together, and played my acoustic guitar in the cafeteria all day. I figured I'd paid already, might as well hang around until I get to try again next semester, right? Drop those classes I was failing, so that it wouldn't end up as an F in my average, and take em again. Seemed like a good plan. Never occurred to me that my plan might not work.

Long story only slightly shorter, I ran out of financial aide money, and was asked to stop coming back mid semester. I missed a couple of weeks, while I managed to find the funds, and came back. However, you cannot catch up after missing two weeks of college, particularly if you were I. I failed more classes, and realized I was in the wrong place. I went out into the work force, installing HVAC ductwork.

Construction and it's related trades is a tough place to be, and if you don't love it, it's even worse. I didn't love it, but neither did I really mind it. I learned a lot about work ethic and missed opportunity while hanging duct work. It was hot in the summer, cold in the winter, and always physically demanding. I won't say I don't miss it sometimes, but neither will I ever... EVER... go back to it.

My time in college wasn't a total waste, even though I spent a total of something like $26,000 and have no credentials to show for it. This was where my luck finally started to work for me. I met two great loves there. First and foremost, I met my wife there. Second, I had my first experience with a really good English teacher. It was also the first time in my school career that the assigned reading wasn't completely disinteresting to me. That's right, I fell in love with the written word in a freaking technical college, and realized I should have been an English major or something else to do with writing... Talk about irony.

I also had taken a CAD class (Computer Aided Drafting) which I failed, not because I couldn't do it, just because I didn't... One of the friends that I'd made there found me an opportunity to work for a Engineering firm in downtown Boston DRAWING ductwork. This was a big deal... Getting out of summer attics and winter basements, no more sheet metal splinters, no more falling off of ladders... A huge decline in industrial accident potential... I walked into the company, no appointment, no resume, wearing jeans, sneakers and an old beaten polo shirt, and asked for a job. The guy I met looked at me incredulously and said... "Oooookay...". He gave me the CAD test, and I thought I was on candid camera or something. It was a simple circle, and a few lines. It was a diagram for a water heater, but I'd drawn more complex things with both hands tied behind my back using "The Force". I was offered a job on the spot.

Computers were never really something I'd done much with, but they seemed to just make sense to me. Software, hardware, was all rather intuitive. I'd made friends with the company's IT guy, who was really a mechanical designer with some aptitude for IT stuff. One day, he quit. Because if my proximity to him, I was now the guy they relied on. The server died a few weeks later, and I got up to my elbows in parts. When I got it up and running, it was perhaps the most satisfying thing I'd done professionally in my life.

I'd like to say that I am where I am today as a result of hard work, diligence and/or tenacity... Truth be told, I owe my station in life to a series of fortunate events. It's been said before "I'd rather be lucky than good", and although I don't know if I necessarily agree with the statement, it seems to have worked for me so far!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Adventures in brewing - Part 1

I've decided to take up a new hobby... Tomorrow I well try my hand at brewing my own beer, and truth be told, I'm very excited. I'm like, school-girl giddy the night before Christmas. (Speaking of which, that "night before Christmas and all through the house" stuff... There couldn't have been kids living in that place, cause as I recall, there was plenty of stirring the night before. I don't think I actually got any sleep the night before Christmas until I was about seventeen! I call BS on that whole story. ...yes, I find that part the most unbelievable thing about the whole story, the reindeer and the fat guy picking his nose to fly up the chimney, I have no problem with)


I've never done this before, although I've watched my brother do it about ten years ago. ugh. actually it must have been closer to 15 years ago, cause I was not even close to old enough to sample. God, I'm getting old...

I've been watching lots of youtube videos on it though, and I'm fairly confident that we should be able to get it done easily enough.

I'll be documenting the whole process to share when I'm done. Hopefully we don't smurf this up too badly! :)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Kick in the ass

So I noticed that my last post was number 124... so I thought I'd post up the 125th, and share one of my favorite songs. It's very quotable too, so feel free to share it.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Lawnmower blues

Weather-wise, yesterday was a perfect day if you enjoyed being ridiculously hot and sweaty. It was even more perfect for folks like that who liked to feel that way while doing yard work.

I am not one of those people, but that's what I was doing anyway. I dragged the mower out of the garage, admittedly a couple weeks after when I really should have to begin with. I checked the oil, seemed fine. I filled the gas tank, and fired her up. She started on the third pull, which is about par for the course (my lawn mower is apparently a par 3).

Around the edges of my yard is a bunch of brush and poison Ivy and I've had just about enough of that. (I just finished a 6 day prednisone routine to get rid of the poison ivy that'd attacked me already this year!). So, I took the mower once or twice around the little semi-circle driveway, and then plowed straight into the brush. It tore through that crap with eager reckless abandon. The path is nice a trim now.

Mo (my lawn mowers new nickname for the sake of convenience) and I buzzed around the yard a bit, and I noticed the brush and brambles along the edge of the lake growing in closer to my kid's play structures. The structure in question is a big plastic castle with a little slide, and realistically, I could have just muscled it out of the way, but that's my yard, and by god, I'm taking it back. I gave Mo a little lift, and dropped her down in the brambles and god knows what else. She gave it hell. I successfully mowed things up to just shy of two inches thick, a couple wiffleballs and a Frisbee.

Suddenly, about halfway through the endeavor, Mo called it quits. I promptly jumped to the worst possible conclusion: I'd killed her. This is what happened to a mower of mine two years prior. Just quit! We had a mechanic friend who used to repair them take a look, but still no good. I'd purchased a replacement, and had it for a year, until I hit something unyielding and bent the shaft last year. Mo was a replacement for that one.

I checked the oil again, made sure we had gas, and decided I'd pushed her too hard, and she overheated. I was frustrated that my lawn had a three foot stripe down the middle of it, and there were still brambles around my little princess's castle, but I couldn't deny that I was hot and could use a cool down myself.

I returned a couple hours later, thinking 'Ol Mo would just crank up. No such luck. Fearing the worst, I called the 800 number on the sticker. The thing was less than a year, so I knew there was some kind of warranty. We stepped through a couple of troubleshooting ideas, checked the gas? Yes... Checked the Oil? Yes... Checked the spark plug? Why would there be a problem with the spark plug, it ran find for almost an hour? The tech agreed... Long story a little shorter: I got it registered, was allowed to estimate a purchase date of August 15th last year, and got the number and address of a local repair shop. With one last disguised glance at my lawn and its lopsided mohawk, I retired to the house for a beverage.

A short time later, a friend of mine came by, and I recounted my misfortune to him. He's mechanically inclined, and has a bit more skill than I, so he asked to go take a look. I said sure, I'll meet you out there in a sec.

I got out there just in time to see him yank the cord, and Mo fired up, first try! (What's that, an Eagle? Not the most avid golfer here... in fact, I've never gone at all).

Dumbfounded, I questioned what the crap he'd done... He mentioned, while trying not to laugh too much, that on his short walk over, he'd noticed that the silly spark plug wire had fallen off the end of the plug.

This was me:

Naturally, today it rained, and tomorrow it's supposed to rain again. At this rate, the lawn will be five feet tall, and the brambles will be carnivorous by the time I get to mow again.

And now I'm out of beer too.

I can't wait for winter.