Tomorrow is the first day of the last week of my employment at EnterAct. I’m sad to leave so many good folks and a good job, but I’m still excited to be having one last go at school, in a different environment this time, and finishing it off with a degree. I’m also excited thinking about what could happen after school. There’s a good chance I’ll prolly just work at EnterAct again, but it’s so wonderful to see that so many choices will be available to me. Maybe I’ll want to relocate and work somewhere else for a while, just for the experience, or possibly I could pursue some sort of post-graduate education. Not likely!
It will also be interesting to see how I hold out financially. I’m in a decent position, with some savings, but there’s no way I could make it through the semester without some income. Tomorrow I’ll be calling the house in Urbana and making sure it’s still available, and if it is, I’ll be accepting their room. Later in the week I’ll need to tool up my resume, and at the end of the week, when I drive down, moving stuff in and preparing for the semester, I’ll be looking around for a job. I think though, that unless I find something particularly interesting, I would be satisfied to work for the Computer Science department again as a labsitter, where I could take on consulting jobs over the ‘net in my spare hours.
It’s been a hell of a weekend. On Thursday there was a grand party at Bob’s house. Bob works in Tech Support, and he’s a cool guy. Anyway, it was the most stunning display of excess I’ve ever been involved in on New Years. Roundabout midnite we were drinking this great cheapo champaign, and Bob’s ferret was scampering about my shoulder and upper arm. Several of us spent the night, sleeping on the floor, the couch, or any other available surface. I was deep asleep on a futon which Josh shared with me after coaxing me into getting it out and unfolding it.
Awesome party. The next morning I walked home through the cold, hoping the fresh air would help clear my head, and appreciating the snow that had been falling gradually since the night before. The next day I slept heartily, waking up from time to time to watch the blizzard blowing outside. Most anyone who could help it did a fair job of staying indoors yesterday, which was a Saturday. Last night after the worst of it had passed, and after eating dinner, a hearty pasta dinner, Uncle and I went out shoveling snow. I tell you, a foot and a half of snow and a belly full of pasta is not a combination to make you cheerful. But we got the sidewalks cleared.
Today, everybody was out in the streets digging their cars out. It was nice to see so many folks in the neighborhood out in the alleys and streets working together on the same projects. It had me thinking that a good blizzard, and maybe the whole Winter Solstice thing were Mother Nature’s way of giving us a good kick in the pants from time to time to see that we might get out there and take care of each other. Something about piles of snow, even with the shoveling, seemed to bring out the good humor in people.
To be sure, things would have been a lot different if the storm had not had such great timing. Saturday is not a bad day to spend indoors, letting it snow, and Sunday is probably the best day of the week to have to dig out your car. A lady on the bus pointed out to me though too that it was good timing to wait until after New Years, so that there wouldn’t be people driving out there drunk in bad weather. And Mayor Daley looks good because the roads are mostly nice and plowed.
However, Lake Shore Drive was closed most of the weekend – white out conditions. And if it had been during the week that this storm had hit, there would be many people angry that they couldn’t get to work and such. Instead, the city had time to clear things up before tomorrow morning’s rush, which should go pretty darned smooth.
I had managed to crash sasquatch on Saturday, but waited until today to fix it. I was thinking I might try and dig out the Beetle and get it started and drive it down to the NOC, just to prove it could be done, but after eating brunch with mom, it was getting on towards 1400h and I figured to just as soon take the El. That was exciting too.
First of all, there were more people on the CTA than usual – people who just didn’t see it worthwhile to or otherwise couldn’t get their cars going. Folks were doing shopping errands, carrying bags and bags of groceries or other wares. Riding the el down, I noticed the outer tracks were still covered with snow, and got to watch the city drift by in front of me – mile after mile of people taking on monumental shoveling challenges. Some mini-malls weren’t plowed at all, especially in the Asian neighborhoods around Argyle. Maybe those places are closed on Sundays anyway.
And then I had hoped to get off at Harrison, only to learn that it is closed on weekends. Another mile’s walk through cold and slush for me. People were walking on streets a lot because not all the sidewalks are shoveled. When I got into 600 S. Federal I was hootin’ somewhat in victory. The new coat that mom got me worked well, combined with my hat and neck-warmer.
I started home around 1700h, figuring that even on Sunday there might be some sort of rush hour service. Well, I was either right, or the CTA had underestimated the amount of extra ridership it would have, as the ride home was standing room only most of the way.
On the train, I got to notice and admire a very beautiful young lady who looked very clearly to be half Asian and half Caucasian. She was way too young for me, but I still was impressed with how well everything had come together to give her such nice features. In the back of my mind I wished her well in life, coz she looked like the sort of woman you’d put in a princess fairy-tale, at least after she’d aged a few years. She seemed all the more innocent because she was riding with her Aunt or Grandmother or some other relative. Every beautiful innocent-looking princess has to have the older lady to be a confidant and protector. At least that’s how it works out in literature. I had no desire to be a Romeo in this story, I was content to muse on the idea of seeing a girl that struck me as being so lovely.
/* Right dannyman, anyway, keep talking about the blizzard! */
Perhaps it is that a blizzard of relatively Epic proportions inspires the rambling romantic muse?
/* Okay then, uhmm, you’re forgiven, but knock it off heh? */
Ayup. So on the news tonight the report was that this was the biggest blizzard in thirty years, and that 2 January, 1999, was the biggest single day for snowfall for Chicago since they started keeping records. The schools are closed tomorrow and everything sucks at O’Hare, where a quarter of a million holiday travelers had planned to fly through. Flights are running 50% today and passengers may well be stranded or otherwise delayed until Tuesday or Wednesday. There are three EnterAct employees I’ve heard of so far that are stranded on their travel holidays and who wont be at work tomorrow.
My Beetle is still covered in over a foot of snow, and is resting quietly behind a 5′ mound left my a snow plow. After this ice age, I should have the gaskets and washers necessary to do a proper oil change. At the end of the week, I’ll then be driving down to Urbana.
Life is not so much fun in Chicago these days, and a lot of the fun is credited to the CTA, for managing to suffer incredible equipment failure, forcing them to close the Purple line south of Howard, and running the Red line at maybe half capacity.
Yesterday, people came to work hours late after having waited in vain on train platforms for forty minutes or more, with each passing train packed full. And of course when a train is packed full, it runs a lot slower too, as at every stop you have people squeezing in and out in slow motion. They’re desperate for equipment, coz after the blizzard the temperatures dropped, and all the El equipment breaks below zero. Yesterday I rode home on a fully packed train in a dusty train car riding next to a door that wouldn’t open more than two inches even if you pulled the emergency handle and had five guys pushing as hard as they could.
/* To be sure, it’s that the snow does a job of shorting out the motors on the 2600 series cars that are used extensively on the Red and Purple lines, and the doors get fucked because ice and snow freezes in their tracks and has to be removed at the shop. */
It was great to ride free on New Years Eve, but when people can’t get their cars out, the CTA suffers a major disaster. The Blue line got closed down on its final leg into O’Hare Airport, requiring shuttle buses. Strong winds and drifting snow caused the tracks to shift. You can’t blame them for something like that, but given the half week’s advance notice we had regarding the coming blizzard, and how well the rest of the city has been doing, you’d think they could have done something proactive against predictable equipment failures.
Or at least have managed things better. Slowly, oh so slowly, have they addressed the troubles. Today I rode on trains down the Red line that normally run on the Brown line. Yes, shifting their motive power around to meet demand – there’s an idea! Tomorrow they’ll have trains that are packed skip stops – express service! There’s an idea. It’s a little different from shutting down their Purple line express service in a crisis.
Meanwhile … well, you can see the sides of my Volksy, it’s still there. but no way in hell it’s going to be moving anywhere in the next few days. It’s snowing a little bit still and will be all week, as another Canadian cold front moves in. I called the house I decided to live in in Urbana and had told them I’d intended to come down on the weekend. Well, assuming I can dig it it, will the car want to start? Then, if it runs, would I want to drive it? We’ll see. Luckily classes aren’t for two weeks.
Well, today is my birthday, and at the last minute, all my Allen Hall friends managed to pop over to the house for a big ol’ Taco party. I think Scott, one of my roommates, was a bit perturbed by the sudden onslaught of people, but after proving themselves to be a mostly harmless bunch of geeks who then proceeded to watch a movie titled something like Cane Frogs: an Unnatural History, I think he was put far more at ease.
I bought a bunch of food, invited a bunch of people, and the rest kinda took care of itself. I tried to be helpful and unobtrusive to the numerous womenfolk who busied themselves in the kitchen preparing our feast, and made sure the place was clean afterwards, and tried to graciously accept greetings of Happy Birthday, which I still don’t know how to respond to too well. My usual inclination is to wish them a Happy Birthday right back, but you wouldn’t be surprised at the confusion this tends to inspire.
Anyhow, my plan for last week was kinda disrupted by the Beetle’s final decision not to put up with it’s Engine Oil leak problem, which as far as I can tell, had been bringing slush into the oil system. Setting out for Urbana in freezing weather, it decided that it’d sooner just stay at the Amoco station. Uncle John has since ferried me down twice in mom’s minivan, which is a lot of fun to come to Urbana in because of its fuel efficiency and its ability to travel at a pretty high speed safely. Still, I miss the Beetle, which if he has not done so already, Uncle will be taking to a place that Bill the Mover recommended in Evanston called Rolf’s.
My Secret EnterSanta gave me a black-light sensitive, trippy-looking Beetle candle for Christmas. I set it alight at the party and it’s on my desk right now, burning in vigil for my comrade, I like to think.
I’ve also to replace my Palm Pilot, which is still broken from the Spring. It is all the more useful during the semester though, with numerous contacts and a shifting schedule to track.
Today I also did balance the old checkbook. I’m using this rather overgrown Perl script called cbb, and it generates nicely-formatted reports. Here’s what it sums up for me, for last year:
Total Monthly Average Income = 2652.46
Total Monthly Average Expenses = 2231.86
Total Credits = 23872.14
Total Debits = -20086.72
Balance = 3785.42
Not bad eh? Three and a half thousand dollars is about what I have available in savings to make it through the semester, never mind extra income from working. It’s a good thing, I believe.
I just burned by thumb lighting a candle. Damn but it does hurt!
Funny thing happened to me today. I was heading for English 248, looking for room 111 in the English Building. I got to class, and the professor passes out the syllabus. Hrmm … funny … the books sound a little different … hrmmm, you know, I thought I was in English 248, not English 252 … hrmmm.
I sat through roll, and when my name was not called, I returned the syllabus and took off, looking for 111 wearing my glasses.
I passed in the hall a pretty gal named Lon, who I know from the time when I was sitting in the Allen Hall computer lab and Ravee dragged me upstairs to the Allen Hall Main Lounge to make an appearance as the only non-Asian at the Vietnamese Student Association semi-formal dance. Lon was in charge of taking money, and looked stunning in her green dress, and we got to talk some, so of course the face rang a bell.
Well, I found 111, and it had bars on the window and was locked, so I was very confused. Lon caught up with me and we got to chit-chat a little while. Very friendly. Friendly conversation with a pretty gal generally marks the high point of any day for me. I then headed down to the computer lab to double-check my schedule – English 249 is held in 115 – I had written down the wrong number!
The morning was fine too. I was late again to class – this time Geology 118 – Earth and the Environment. I didn’t feel too bad, as given that it was the introductory lecture, I managed to keep about five minutes ahead of the professor anyway – pedestrian stuff like the carrying capacity of the Earth in the face of human population growth, and the ways in which population will be contained, one way or another.
I ran into Morris heading up to DCL. He was working on a bottle of Pina Colada to help him through his days class schedule. I worry about the boy sometimes. I don’t think many bother to worry about him too much as he’s extremely smart anyway, but you know, maybe somebody should.
Work just sucked. I still don’t have a CS account, which got nuked while I was gone, and given the current state of affairs it is apparently non-trivial for Don to create one. I popped an X session off of one of our Sparc workstations anyway though, off of my old workstation back at EnterAct. Running X over a remote T1 connected through the commodity Internet is one of the more frustrating things one can do. I damn well better have a CS account this Friday.
In other good news, my advisor is consulting with the Dean to see if one of my old Linguistics courses can count as one of the English courses I need to graduate. If things work out, I can drop this class I’m taking on Racism, which requires much reading, grab a one hour somewhere, and cruise through the remainder of the semester on 13 credit hours.
Sweet. 15 hours labsittin’ currently. Figure $5x15x4 = $300 per month. I may get some regular work from EnterAct, for more money, as well as other jobs. When all is said and done, it sounds increasingly likely that I could float through the semester without any major financial trouble. Life is good. In fact, I think if I got some money saved when I graduate, I’m treating myself to a righteous vacation. :)
I fixed the car today. All by myself. But that comes at the end of the story.
This weekend, I caught a ride up to Chicago with Goth Dan and Brijeet, with the object of picking up the car. Well, we came around to this garage in Evanston, and there, waiting quietly in the alley, was my pretty blue Beetle. I exchanged keys and a bill for a check for some five hundred and fifty dollars.
I see I haven’t typed of this previously, so let’s rewind a few weeks, as the blizzard was clearing up and my hopes were for commuting back and forth between Urbana and Chicago a few times before classes started. Well, the first time I tried this, the car stalled out at an Amoco on the north side. Would not start, and I nearly killed the battery with my wishful thinking.
So Uncle picked me up, and we left the keys with the station attendant for the mechanic to take care of. The mechanic found that, as I had believed, there was an oil leak problem. Well, this mechanic is wiser, I think, than my young, naive recklessness, and wrote on his bill that the car should not be driven until the oil leak was fixed.
Well, I was down at school by this part, and it was left to Uncle and his friend Bill the Mover to retrieve the car from the Amoco. Bill the Mover had some insight, and recommended a place in Evanston, called Rolf’s. Well, turns out Rolf’s was not interested, but recommended this other guy, who apparently works quietly out of his house, and whom we’ve never seen, which lends an attractive mystique to the whole affair.
Well, this guy Dave had to pull the engine and the transmission to clean a whole bunch of stuff out that had become fouled by the whole thing. Parts and labor added up to $550, but it was well worth it. When we came to pick it up, I turned the key, and realized I was in a different car.
As with the brakes earlier, and the steering, previously, I had no idea that an old Beetle was supposed to ride so well. Well, it helps when all the cylinders are firing, and I’ve learned a good lesson – if you buy a Bug, find a Bug guy, and have him go over it completely. And Dave is a bug guy, because when we got the bill, it was printed in the corner the words Dave’s Old Bugs.
So, anyway, it sounded different, louder, there’s a lot more power now, so much so that I’m re-learning how to drive it. Well, me and mom and Uncle were so impressed we each took a few turns test driving it around the neighborhood Friday night. This was after I’d astounded them by folding down the back seat, which I figured out how to do after spotting another Beetle with the seat folded down. They both swore they didn’t know it was possible, and it took some experimenting to guess out the mechanics of it. My hunch is that this is a late model / Super feature.
So, Saturday morning, I reconnected the fresh air box, packed the car, and off I headed. Only I lost my ability to idle while still in Chicago. It’s a bitch to stall out when you wanna stop, so when I did have to stop, I was pumping the gas and the brake alternately. I also several times managed to restart the engine by engaging the clutch, which has made me more confident in my ability to drive stick. I was worried that things had gone so bad, but was determined to push on to Urbana. Again, this was a reckless thing to do, but dammit …
Idle aint so important on the highway anyway, except for a traffic jam on 94. That was almost fun to deal with … slowing down as much as possible without stopping, and restarting the engine. Ahhh … hell, it was kind of fun, except for the worry of ending up in a stranded car. See, another problem is that it dont start so well when it’s warmed up.
Anyways, so I got to Champaign, and got off at Market Street, not wanting to stall out at the busier, yet closer, Lincoln Street exit. I was also plotting the best route in terms of avoiding getting stuck in the middle of a busy street. This was wise, because I was stuck on many a side-street, pushing her down a hill a little ways and reassuring every other person who stopped by that I didn’t need help. That’s the nice thing about the country – people like to help out. At one point I was getting kind of frustrated, when a bunch of people popped out of nowhere and cheerfully pushed me down the street ’til the engine started.
Part of it too, I think, is that it is a Beetle, and so people tend to have even more positive reactions. Something about a bunch of older college students giving my VW a push arose in me some ancient sense of nostalgia that this had been done before, but more likely in the seventies or early eighties. I may be funny, but I swear we all might have felt something like that.
Anyway, a phone call (message) to Dave, and two rather helpful emails from a post I made to the air-cooled VW newsgroup later, and this morning I wandered out in the rain, inspected the ignition coil, and noted that the wire to the idle solenoid had slipped off. A little prestidigitation and the car was new again.
So I drove over to Allen Hall, found some kids who wanted to go to Meier, and after letting Dave Hayashida buy me a butter dish and some raisins, we managed to pack four people, six or more cases of soda, and a lot more stuff into the Beetle for the ride home. One of the guys, who I can’t say I know or even remember too well any more, was even good enough to give a little wisdom for my shifting – I’m pretty nasty going into first and second still – I’m used to driving a crappier car.
I’m also thinking of a name for the car. I’ve selected one to review, but I’m going to sit on it for awhile and decide if it really is something I’d want to Christen her with.
You know, I’ve other things I wanted to talk about, I’m sure, but I just couldn’t recall them any more.
*** Starting conversation with ian ian: hey bum where are ya? dannyman: urbana ian: i know ian: didnt think ya were around ian: so lemme ask you since i asked blake ian: what you gonna do with yer life dannyman: make some money, bone some chicks, raise some kids possibly, cause some grief, cause some joy, and die. dannyman: you? ian: wow ian spins ian: same ian: hopefully dannyman: you had anything specific in mind? ian: well ian: dunno ian: me or you? dannyman: you baby ian: well ian: ok ian: help ian: make ppl smile ian: if i can create on my own ian: cool ian: or at least work with something that accomplishes the same ian: i dunno ian: ok so ian: well ian: how do you balance livin with idealism dannyman: i take what i need, skim a little more of what i want, and the rest i give away dannyman: but since i’ve been inclined to take what i need, that’s tended to leave little for charity dannyman: after the degree, i’m going to ask for more ian: well fuk that ian: fuk the work ian: see ya look out for danny first it seems ian: seems dannyman: fuck the work? dannyman: in most cases, danny comes first ian: ya ian: most ian: ok ian: where do you draw that line? ian: is it anything you decide or is it just there? dannyman: well, it’s kinda like, i’m a component of bigger things. what is my purpose? i should sacrifice of myself for my family, my nation, the people, stuff like that. ian: well yeah ian: thats the choice ian: descision ian: cant spell ian: but where do you decide ian: you know you have something to give ian: where do you decide? dannyman: well i know i have plenty to give, it is a question of when it is necessary to give. others give for me so why should i give myself away? you give when it is needed. ian: hehe ian: damn danny ian: how do you know ian: you could easily decide dannyman: kinda like blood – you healthy, you give blood, you have blood to spare. you in trouble, they give blood, because you need it. ian: its never needed but for me ian: yeah but not everyone is like that dannyman: what is never needed? ian: they take ian: and they dont give dannyman: hrmm dannyman: it probably depends how optimistic you are too. ;) dannyman: and what you value ian: well thats what im askin ian: hehe dannyman: nevermind that i have more cause for optimism than you do … among ppl, i’m in a very good place. dannyman: but then, so are you. ian: well dannyman: it’s kinda like the government … always takes taxes, but then i don’t particularly mind the free roads, the subsidised oil, the free and subsidised education, the attempts at social welfare, the national defense … dannyman: … nevermind the hassle it saves if i had to provide all that shit myuself ian: true dannyman: on a smaller level, i try to be friendly to ppl, smile, be polite, courteuous. dannyman: sometimes when you need that, then other ppl come through, but then fools like me have likely been smiling at them a long time is why. ;) ian: lol ian: you think dannyman: it’s like that saying “if you’ve got it, flaunt it!” ian: i dunno ian: matches brb dannyman: and the more optimistic you are about what you’ve got, the more you can flaunt it. ian: see i got too much of that christian shit ian: i feel almost bad flaunting it ian: its like ian: help ian: and fade back dannyman: hrmm dannyman: flaunting good will should be a good christian thing though. dannyman: it’s like, if i goty cash on me, i’m a good tipper ian: should i agreee dannyman: not like i wal;k around in flashy nikes. ;) ian: didnt get taught that for a long time ian: ya dannyman: though some ppl get annoyed by cheery ppl ian: lots do ian: hehe ian: just been hard fer me lately to decide if im helpin anyone ian: all my life when i worked for anything it was to help and all ian: now i dont feel that :/ dannyman: hrmmm dannyman: well, you work to help ppl get on the internet all day ya? ian: yeah but why dannyman: and you don’t take much in the way of money eh? ian: not for any idealistic reason ian: hehe no ian: :P dannyman: and then to top that off, you don’t spend all that big enteract paycheck all overyourself either … ian: lol no i feel too guilty :P ian: but shit dannyman: maybe in your spare time, you still feel like you got extra to give, you can volunteer and shit. ian: this is the first job ian: where ian: i werked for profit dannyman: profit is a good thing, ian. dannyman: depends what you do with it. ian: well ian: how did you get that viewpoint dannyman: you can profit from work so you’ve more to give elsewhere. dannyman: i listened to enough republicans and extracted the grains of truth. ian: course you could work direct to help dannyman: and my mom is a good example. ian: hehe ian: how so? dannyman: she’s pulling down big money now, but still volunteers her extra time at church and library, and has 52 charities which get a contribution once per year. ian: yeah but you always profit off somoene dannyman: if nobody profits, what’s the sense in the loss? dannyman: the point to investing your time is that someone profits ian: there is none ian: no loss i can live with dannyman: hrmm dannyman: i read gandhi ian: loss hurts and i dont like dannyman: i started to get tired of his tireless self-richeousness. dannyman: and i wasn’t the only one. ian: i never read dannyman: one of his sons made the point that if ppl like gandhi are giving it all away, maybe it is so that others can take some. dannyman: some ppl like to devote their lives to service dannyman: some devote their lives to consumption. dannyman: i want to balance it out in my life, but provide more than i take. dannyman: that’s partly coz when i was a kid, we din’ have a lot, so i know i really don’t need so many toys .. ian: ya dannyman: some ppl don’t realise they want too much … welll, i can be happier with less, so why not? dannyman: they get too greedy, i’l lay the smack down, and if i get too greedy, some one can smack me. dannyman: so if you wanna give it away, fine. if you wanna treat yourself, fine. dannyman: i tend to like the less self-indulgent myself. :) *** Signoff: ian (Read error: 54 (Connection reset by peer)) ian^: hehe fukin enteract dannyman: charitibility is an opinion, a point of view. gandhi thought pacifism was a similar point of view, and hoped that if one were to take up a good cause by their preferred means of violence that they might also succeed. ian^: and do you usually assume ppl are say more self sacrificing or less? dannyman: i usually assume i can spot ‘m from time to time. ian^: to me tis a hard descision ian^: idealy ian^: to say well ian^: they want to be that ian^: let em dannyman: i figure what goes around comes around … too much greed will lead to disaster, which breeds sacrifice ian^: ill be how i am dannyman: as long as you are aware of what’ dannyman: s going on, you’ve got a leg up on everyone else. ;) ian^: how do i know ian^: i mean ian^: i could be nieve ian^: sp? dannyman: naive ian^: thanks ian^: hehe college boy ;) dannyman: you live you learn dannyman: the greedies will take you for a fool ian^: overall ppl who give are easy prey ian^: ya ian^: but is that bad? dannyman: while others will give you gifts you never realise ian^: sometimes dannyman: and if the charitable are taken advantage of too much, they become less charitable dannyman: if everyone around you is a pig, you may find your charity wasted among them ian^: but ian^: then you get into religion ian^: give and try to show dannyman: speak for yourself ;) ian^: someday one might see dannyman: give for the sake of giving dannyman: if you can educate with an example, that’s nice too. ian^: lots to think about ian^: i mean ian^: shit ian^: give why ian^: to puff yerself up? dannyman: but giving for the sake of showing how you can do your good deeds … showing off? that’s just another form of self gratification ian^: y ian^: a dannyman: you give because it’s right dannyman: din jesus say to pray in the closet ian^: hehe ian^: and who does ian^: not many dannyman: but still be a witness for others ian^: from my life ian^: in chitown ian^: i mean ian^: i can count on one hand dannyman: the best ppl i find keep their goodnerss close to their heart, while preaching or demonstrating by example on occasion ian^: ppl who feel like that ian^: ya ian^: say me ian^: not yer concern ian^: but dannyman: many ppl don’t question themselves like you are dannyman: some are good without realkizing it dannyman: some are bad for the same reason ian^: wish i could do that ian^: i think too much dannyman: you’re just conscious of what your doing, which is a nifty gift, even if it might drive you batty sometimes ian^: lol ian^: make me dum danny ian^: :P ian^: i always wanted to ask ya dannyman: hehehe ian^: i mean you can go in circles dannyman: i’d tell you to go beat yourself in the head, but you couldn’t do that because you know better ian^: i can anyway ian^: like ok im good ian^: why am i good ian^: why do i feel bad for being good ian^: why do i care ian^: but then its always that core ian^: where it is beyond me dannyman: well, you’re good and you can do better. are you being a sucker? i dunno. are things working for you anyway? push the envelope maybe, or just go wack off. ian^: lol dannyman: it’s all the same to an atheist like me. ian^: as i am dannyman: coz in the end i’ ian^: say now ian^: talkin to blake ian^: tryin to find out ian^: he sees it diff dannyman: m a mass of pulp who does good for his own self-conscious sake ian^: well ok danny dannyman: i think me and blake talking could be insightful :) ian^: why is is self concious? dannyman: what about self conscious? ian^: how much do you look at what you do ian^: or do you just do dannyman: mmmm prolly a lot more than most ppl. i keep trying to outsmart myself you know ;) dannyman: but then i never get anything done unless i tell my consciousness to shut up and do dannyman: dumb ppl get a lot of shit done ian^: why? dannyman: do they do the right thing? i hope so. ian^: well why do they ian^: assuming they do dannyman: smart ppl better do better smarter coz they blow a lot of time thinking about it ;) dannyman: why do they do right? ian^: ya ian^: i mean ian^: well dannyman: maybe they were brought up right ian^: hehe why though dannyman: a lot of them do wrong. bad environment ian^: could have easily been brought up to be selfish dannyman: ayup ian^: and think hurt is ok dannyman: ayup dannyman: they msay think hurt is GOOD dannyman: if they fuck you over, they’re doing good by keeping you down and taking care of number one ian^: ya ian^: so ian^: say to me ian^: thats not kewl ian^: that hurts dannyman: no it sucks ian^: and brings everything down ian^: but ian^: who am i to say/ ian^: it keeps them alive dannyman: so the clever ones can maybe figure out a way to convince them that hurt aing good ian^: ya ian^: you dont find many clever evil ppl ian^: hehe ian^: when ya do though ian^: they are GOOD at it ian^: hehe dannyman: a benefit of sel;f-awareness and understanding moticvations is that you can maybe alter your own ambitions and others too ian^: not to run in circles dannyman: a lot of clever evil ppl are either lucky, or they’re really torn up inside ian^: cause i do ian^: but hmm ian^: too much catholic guilt dannyman: well, you run in circles, you get in shape for when you gotta run somewhere else. ;) ian^: how do you look at that and not think better of yourself? ian^: hehe dannyman: how do i look at what? ian^: that is the quote of the year i think :D ian^: well ok ian^: take you ian^: how you see yerself ian^: not dum ian^: say hmm ian^: not better ian^: but ian^: in a sense dannyman: well dannyman: i’m extrremely intelligent dannyman: i’m not better though. better off dannyman: might does not make right, though it gives you the chance to see yourself that way. ian^: seems hard the way things are to fall into that dannyman: i suppose i could teach myself to manipulate others very well for my own ends, and whose to say i shouldn’t … if i’m smarter, i deserve more no? ian^: yes ian^: and you could say dannyman: no i don’t desrve more ian^: well you make your world ian^: why dont you? dannyman: i was given more, so i should figure out how to give more. dannyman: the game of accumulating more that gets boriong … the game of balancing things out is more interesting. :) ian^: why do you think that thouhg ian^: agreed ian^: but i mean ian^: how many ppl you know that think ian^: i was given so much ian^: i should share ian^: i dunno ian^: lol i know im not gonna know tonihgt ian^: if it all clicked id be handing out danny books :P dannyman: sure … if it starts to make sense to you, please write it down and send it over. :) ian^: lol ian^: dont hold yer breath ian^: :P dannyman: coz then you’ll save me the work of understanding it more formally. ian^: i doubt that :P dannyman: aww c’;mon bro, i’m just tryin’ to mooch good works offa ya. :) ian^: lol ian^: night danny ian^: girlie callin dannyman: score! ian^: lol ian^: shush ian^: just called to say she is goin out some :P dannyman: going out some? dannyman: with you? ian^: ya ian^: no ian^: lol ian^: course not dannyman: hehehe ian^: :P ian^: cut my hair too short fer that ian^: :P dannyman: well, i did have a hope there you know. ;) ian^: nono ian^: heheheheh *** Ending conversation with ian^ ian^: hey one last thing ian^: i could look but have you updated yer journal at all? dannyman: not in a while ian^: i saw ian^: why not? dannyman: busy, but also unsettled dannyman: i’m dating a 17-year old for one … ian^: asian again? ian^: hehe dannyman: not sure how much i wanna talk about it before i’ve talked to her some more. ian^ nods dannyman: no, she looks a lot like me actually ian^: i gave up someone for stiinky enteract ian^: wow ian^: hehe dannyman: frankly, i’m glad to branch out, but there’s always gotta be a catch. ;) dannyman: no wonder you look so defeated. :) dannyman: well, inddex is working ian^: how so? ian^: im scattered ian^: tonight is my rum nighht ian^: forgive me dannyman: thas okay dude ian^ sighs dannyman: well, you have an aura about you of “droopy” you know, the cartoon dog? that’s because you chose work over nookie. ian^: ya i know ian^: this is the first time too ian^: i dont like it dannyman: you’ll perk up someday. get yourself a bug :) ian^: lol ian^: ghia! dannyman: that’s how i got me bethy here. :) ian^: :D ian^: i member now you mentioned ian^: same girl ian^: ? dannyman: she was cruisin with the girlfriends, then suddenly flipped for my beetle. :) dannyman: yup ian^: :DDD dannyman: pimpmobile i tell ya :) ian^: lol
So, over Spring Break I got very little work that I needed to get done done. Instead, once I got car insurance at a cheaper rate on account of living in Urbana, we drove up to visit Grandma in the UP.
Actually, we is me and dad, and since I still didn’t have the insurance Wednesday he drove us up there in my Beetle. He drove rather well, despite Mom’s misgivings. He even fixed the brake lights three different times, and replaced a tail light.
We got there I think about 0200h Thursday morning, and spent Thursday with Grandma and Uncle Bill. We drove back Friday afternoon so I could get a head start on working. Well, heh, I headed back to Champaign Saturday afternoon and have hunkered down pretty well as of today.
Grandma’s doing great. As someone had said earlier, she’s fine and her only health problem is old age. She’s tired and more forgetful though. It is so nice to spend time with her, even if it was one day. Every time I seen her lately she’d talk about stuff I knew little or nothing about. She’s a bit more random I think these days, and I listened to things she had to say about Grandpa, most of them critical, but she said everything honestly, not like some bitter old hag. Candor is a good trait. I’m glad to see it in my family tree.
And Grandma’s my ancestral lefty, though she had the habit whacked out of her as a kid.
Anyway, enough misty reminiscence.
So, today I woke up at around 0800h, and showered, and got to class on the bike in the cold around 0910h, and then spent the morning reading the DI and a good Vonnegut novel I ripped off of my sister. I sprang for a lunch at Zorba’s – medium gyros, fries and a coke, and sat down at eesn24.ews.uiuc.edu around 1300h. I spent four hours working on Greg Jackson’s control center, then I headed home, went shopping at Schnucks, downed two roast beef on toast with cheese and lettuce sandwiches, some chips, two cokes and headed to work, where I am now.
I’ve since had another warm coke and a Twix bar. I head home at midnite. At the end of the day, I’ll have earned about $125.
Yesterday I tidyed my room some. Found my tax forms. Must file taxes already dammit … didn’t bother last year. Didn’t really care and the refund I was probably in line for is piddly enough I figured I wasn’t about to get busted by the IRS or anything.
It is a damned fine day out today. Sun is shining, and the Quad is filled with students, many of whom are attractive women.
At 12:30 I had an Interview with Cisco. Cisco, like EnterAct, is one of the few companies I’d particularly like to work for, and in both cases the biggest part of that reason is that both companies seem to have their act together, and know what they’re doing better than their competitors. Cisco to an even greater degree than EnterAct, though to be sure, EnterAct is the “local” favorite.
I can’t tell how well or not the Interview went. I’m not worried.
I’ve been reading more lately. It is good, I believe, for my morale. Though it tends to make me even more quieter and introspective than usual, I think. I haven’t been talking to too many folks of late. Any time I get like this, it is usually followed by a reaction in the other way. I’m a bit sensitive about getting too nerdy or shut off or whatever, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be, even if someone needs the occasional vacation from humanity.
I’ve been thinking about this bombing Serbia thing. I can’t say that I see quite why NATO is taking the initiative to bomb Serbia. If Russia had the resources to cause a fuss, things would be very messy about now. I don’t think anybody in Yugoslavia knows what the heck they’re doing, with the possible exception of the pilots who fly in there on their assigned sorties.
The other day, a lot of pro-Serbian chalk appeared all over the Quad, comparing Bill Clinton to Adolf Hitler and saying that NATO was an evil baby-killing terrorist organization. Later in the day, these chalkings were countered by others sharing the opposite point of view and comparing Milosevic to Hitler.
My reaction to the chalkings, presumably by Serbian-Americans, is that maybe if you have sense enough to get your ass out of a fucked-up situation like that, you might just shut the hell up instead of stoking the fires. But then, maybe I have too high of expectations. Hell, if it were me, I’d probably be a fire-breathing hothead myself. Human nature, or something.
And while I may not understand the logic or the authority under which the bombings are carried out, another gut feeling of mine is that if we are going to take so much military action, why not ground forces? What is perhaps the best solution is for the UN to raise its own Army, and then march it into the whole of the former Yugoslavia and occupy the place for a good fifty years or more, treating the entire population like the children they allow to lead them, and lecturing constantly about how all people are basically decent human beings and you shouldn’t be an ignorant little fascist pin-head.
I saw in the DI a little editorial excerpt from Singapore or Malaysia which was somewhat bemused by the fact that we were taking military action to defend Muslims for a change.
I don’t know … any wonder I’m more introspective? I guess reading two Kurt Vonnegut novels doesn’t help much. I think I said something about ripping one off my sister? Well, I borrowed another from our Library, which was an autobiography of a Nazi war criminal written from an Israeli prison cell. Now I’m reading Arthur C Clarke, still got the title here … “Childhood’s End” – basically the aliens come and make Earth a Utopia. I’m getting to the part where Earth has been a Utopia for a while now, but the other shoe is supposed to drop soon. It has been … foreshadowed!
A man walks down the street,
It’s a street in a strange world.
Maybe it’s the Third World.
Maybe it’s his first time around.
He doesn’t speak the language,
He holds no currency.
He is a foreign man,
He is surrounded by the sound, sound ….
You know I graduate in less than a month. I have to tell myself as much more often. It helps motivate.
Last night I was up late doing homework at the last minute for ECE 338. Probably my favourite class. I’m still behind on my schoolwork, but have been catching up. I think I should pass everything.
Today I got up early and hauled ass over to DCL to hand in the homework I was up late working on. I took maybe half hour of nap this evening. I skipped lunch and had apple and a matzo for dinner. Maybe I have anxiety or somesuch shit.
So … gotta find my dream job by the end of the month. I’ve got a letter nearly ready to go back to EnterAct expressing some dissatisfaction with their initial offer, meanwhile I’m a bit anxious to score myself a trip out to California to check out this startup called Tellme Networks. It’s kind of hurried and given the lack of organization it being a startup and all it sounds a little iffy. There’s an off chance I may ride this weekend with Joe and Dave who are driving there this Friday. It all comes down to busy people finding telephone time in common.
I’d miss EnterAct though, Chicago and Illinois even more, I think. I can’t help but spending a few years in the Bay Area might make me a better person – being well-rounded and stuff. Plus joining a startup that’s just getting their office in May sounds like more of an adventure than returning to EnterAct, now EnterAct Corp. The weird thing is though it seems like it’s coming down somewhat by fate … can I get out there or not? Can EnterAct come through on a better offer on short notice or not? Maybe that’s why I hunger more for caffeine than calories … I’m as laid-back as they come, but sometimes life moves like a slow-motion toss-up.
I’m calling this Angus Davis character, the Tellme guy, tonight though. I haven’t heard anything since the second telephone interview. I don’t think I turned them off …
Last weekend I jacked the car up for the first time ever to adjust the brakes. I found no brake shoe pads up front so this weekend just past I jacked the car up again and replaced the front brake shoes, packing the wheels with bearing grease and everything. The brake warning light was still on though, so I pulled the rubber plugs off of the master cylinder and drained a whole buncha what looked like wiper fluid on to the ground. Now the car stops as well as it ever has under my care. I’m downright proud.
I got the speedo working again too.
Scott recently received a compression gauge for his car/motorcycle maintenance, ordered from a spare J.C. Whitney catalog I had. Between that and my recently purchased Dwell/Tachometer and a lot of help from John Muir and my other books, I hope to get Lucy properly tuned during whatever free time I muster in good weather for coming days. The philosophy has been that once I am confident of her ability to stop, I can look at her going faster than she has.
Well, this weekend, indeed, the rest of this week, is a great big one in the life of dannyman.
Last week I got the word that Tellme wanted to fly me out to San Francisco. Well hot diggidy dawg but I found the most inexpensive plane tickets I could find for such a short-notice flight, and away I went. I left early Saturday morning, riding a very uncrowded 757 from Chicago. I returned Monday afternoon, riding an overbooked MD80 from San Jose.
A quick rant about airlines here – the tickets available at the last minute go up in price about threefold, but the real kicker is that it’s cheaper to fly through Chicago from Champaign than direct from Chicago. Flying from Champaign though, this doesn’t actually upset me, but let it be observed that the cheapest last-minute flight I could reason from Chicago would have involved riding Amtrak away from the city and flying back through.
Does anyone know why it works that way?
Anyway, as I stepped out of the San Jose airport to ride along in Angus’ A4, the first thing I noted was sunshine. It was a pleasant, sunny 70 degrees. Not bad, it’s been shitty cold rain in Illinois lately, though it has been nice since I got back.
Indeed, everywhere I went the weather was different. It gets chilly at night, unlike Chicago, and because it’s all hilly and different parts are closer and farther away from mountains, oceans, and desert … well, it wasn’t any warmer than Illinois except where it is usually warmer, and some places are chillier. Weird stuff.
From the airport we drove around Mountain View and the West Bay, Angus showed me the shiny buildings that were Netscape, and a few other places. Lots of big names and impressive stuff out there. Neato. We pulled up to the Tellme temporary offices, and I met some rather interesting folks.
I’m not sure, especially because I was a little dazed at the time, having arisen at 0345h PDT, but I think I was interviewed by about half the people who were there at the time. I talked of course with Angus, but also with John, their current Internet guru, who said that I’d also have to learn myself about some secure tunneling, which struck me as interesting. I talked with Mike, the CEO, and some Engineers, Brad and Rod, each one on one.
One interviewee seemed uncertain what he should be after, so I started asking him questions, and was left impressed by my own comfort in the situation. I was actually pretty proud of that one, and glad that I didn’t make any obvious snafus that a nervous candidate might make on any of the interviews. The whole rigamarole was quite pleasant, and I felt that I got along quite naturally with everyone, and even watching discussions about internal development that went somewhat above my head, I didn’t feel out of place. The atmosphere was cordial, even better than NCSA had been, but with the informality and smallness that just made things a little more cozy, and avoided the cynicism you’re going to find in any organisation large enough to be self-conscious about itself in such a way.
I also got the impression at least, that the folks out there were each intelligent, and some especially so. The impression I’ve gotten from Angus is that he’s running about and putting together the best people he can get ahold of to put up this exciting new idea he and Mike have developed. The question that had been lurking in the back of my mind was why he’d take much interest in little old me, and as that came out in the interviews I began to put together my own little picture.
Consider if you were young and excited about creating your own startup. You have plenty of cash to go and pursue the best folks you need for the R&D stuff, and among the staff you would need are also support folks, including a Systems Administrator. For this position, a whiz kid from college should do, and so you, being the Internet hipster you are turn to the web and get yourself piles of resumes from Collegehire.com. Unfortunately, Collegehire is a slightly funny entity, and has a habit of returning a lot of obtuse suggestions. It turns out that a lot of EE/CS types, even if they have had experience adminning machines, tend to be more interested in just doing code. One candidate though is reasonably bright, and has experience and interest in the sort of stuff you’re looking for. He’s also different – a Writing major with a fairly extensive website and a sense of humour. Hrmmm …
I believe that in putting together the team, Angus may regard the company as a pallet onto which he places the colours in contrast and harmony with one another. He has some creative ego invested in the team, and takes pride in it, and one thing I have going for me is a somewhat unconventional flavour that seems to work. Voila!
Or so I tell myself. A useful mythology that pleases me, for now, for lack of any better understanding of the mysterious forces at work here. I think reality adds in a factor that maybe Collegehire didn’t do a great job, but did return one prospect that actually, when you get to know him, sounds like a good fit. At the day’s end, we know that dannyman gets it done.
Come to think of it though, the folks I know who are into running the systems tend to be more unconventional. I can think of an English major, two Rhetoric BAs, a dropout, and the entire team at EnterAct as examples of Admin-types who fall far from the traditional CS mould.
After checking out the new office space that they’ll be moving to, which is a converted warehouse that Angus seems enamoured with, and that in its present state at least, failed to really impress me worth anything, we took off toward the city, running into possibly the worst traffic jam I’ve ever seen, across a bridge that was damaged in the last big earthquake, and up to my weekend’s abode, La Casa MikeyA de San Pablo.
Now, understand that before this weekend, I had never seen nor heard from MikeyA beyond the confines of the Internet. Mikey’s been readin’ this ol’ journal here since back in 1996 when I tried to buy a modem off of him and the power brick got lost in the mail.
MikeyA actually turned out much as I had expected him to, as far as I would dare to expect anyone to turn out as anything I would imagine for them over the Internet. He’s a big bearded biker dude wearin’ the Harley teeshirt and sporting a friendly, good-natured and occasionally mischievous attitude. He and Dana and I took to each other right away. The relationship felt like the distant young relative visiting a favoured Aunt and Uncle.
Mikey and Dana showed me the sights, fed me, and were thoroughly hospitable to the point of providing the most comfortable foldout couch I can recall having had the pleasure to rest on, and clean towels, telnet, coffee and pop and of all things, a good long ride all the way back down to San Jose International.
Traditionally the company will wine and dine and provide lodging and transportation. Well, always the unconventional one, I had departed company from the business professional and entered that of the fun professional.
Saturday night we went down by San Francisco’s version of Navy Pier. Pier … 39? Anyway, all they got is a lame little carousel instead of a giant Ferris Wheel, but we had some good steaks and I saw a cute little teeshirt I just had to grab for a honey I know.
After impressing MikeyA with my ability to finish off a good meal on a full stomach … he had been concerned because I’d been taking it slow, but slow and steady and I think I finished before he did. Well, we took to ridin’ around and at an overlook just off the golden gate bridge, I did finally work loose one of my baby teeth … cuspid, I think it is. This tooth has been loose since Highschool and is all the more noticeable because of the “fang” … a canine that’s been waiting to descend into it’s place for the longest time.
Well, losing a tooth may be no big deal, but for me, it don’t happen all so often. And while I’m not one given to superstition, even this atheist tends to suspect that there may be some fate guiding his destinies. If ever there was some kind of sign, it’s losing a tooth I’ve had loose since my last big life change at the monument of the area to which I am considering my move.
At the least, it does serve as a symbol of the changes in my life. The new tooth started coming into place as I left High School, but it is not until now that the old guard has fallen away, leaving the path clear. You see in that interpretation why I can hold my own in an English course?
I had also a touch of Deja Vous. One of the few times I’ve flown on a plane was one morning as I flew from O’Hare towards Alabama when I enlisted in the Army after High School. Well, Saturday morning, I hit a sense of Deja Vous as I swear I walked past a spot I had walked that morning years ago as I boarded my flight for another destiny. This time I was walking the other way. And there wasn’t anything I really recognised … it was a section of window overlooking the runway, but I had a sudden feeling of familiarity. It was spooky cool. To interpret again, the airport represents a crossroads in one’s life, where one goes to meet their destiny. The trip to San Francisco was at a cross to the trip to Alabama. I failed in the Army, and this time I felt myself walking the other way through the cusp.
Sunday did MikeyA arise early by MikeyA standards, and trudge down with Dana and I to an inexpensive Mexican restaurant. They ordered each huevos rancheros, but being on an expedition, I ordered the huevos nopales, which is eggs with shredded cactus.
It did come with beans and rice and salad and tortillas. Perhaps owing in part to the night before, I called a truce, and stopped short of consuming the whole enchilada, as it were. But those were some damned fine tasty tasty eggs.
Mikey then took me to see some more sites. We returned to the shop we’d spotted the night before, and I procured the shirt I had spotted the night before. Then we drove up Market St, through the Gay district, past Castro, past old-fashioned cable cars that they bring into service during the summer, past several Volkswagens, including a handful of Ghias and two Things, and up to the top of the hill that overlooked San Francisco, where I did take pictures.
Mikey said that as a kid he and his friend would hop the Greyhound into the city and have fun and play, returning home in the afternoon, rubbing some straw on themselves and telling their parents what fun they had had playing in the grassy field.
For dinner I rode over to Alameda, and enjoyed some vegan cuisine with Joyce and Harlyn. They’ve got a good house with an excellent kitchen. I did heartily approve. Harlyn had some surplus N scale model trains he’d gotten a deal on at a garage sale, and so promised a “starter set” for when I chose to move out there. Joyce was of the opinion that I should head out there and thus serve as bait so my momma would come visit the area and they could hang out together. An interesting take on the living near mom argument.
For various practical reasons I was then returned to Mikey’s place. The next morning, Mikey’s extensive research had suggested that the most reliable method of hitting the airport on time would be to drive there, rather than taking BART, Cal Train, and other public devices with disturbingly inconvenient schedules. And so then did he and me and KennyK ride on down to the airport, and so then did I bid them farewell and did they return to the aforementioned big hill to acquire a plant or somesuch titillating story.