So, to finish the story I was telling, after a night at MikeyA‘s, I spent some time with Aunt Joyce and Harlyn. They live in Alameda, near Oakland and across the bay from Palo Alto, where Tellme is located. Erik is spending the summer working for Cobalt, in Mountain View, near Palo Alto. Well, his family just so happened to move to Alameda as well, so the first week, we sometimes shared the long carpool from Alameda to the West Bay. I spent one night at his house, not wanting to wake Joyce and Harlyn, who live their vegan lifestyles on extremely early schedules which tend to clash with the extremely late schedules of Silicon Valley employees.
A Matter of Housing
That Sunday I accompanied them shopping at a food market, nice weather, nice food. I was extremely intent on finding a place, and it came down to me just about ready to move in to a small room in a nice house with three other interesting guys to the tune of $600 per month, covering utilities. At the very very last moment though, Dave found a place just down the road about a mile and a half from Tellme. Two bedrooms, two baths, pool, sauna, gym facilities. Well, for the $1650 shared between us, I jumped on it figuring this way Dave has a place too. Then it was a happy ending all around because I tipped Joe from the house with the $600 room and Erik Gilling with the shitty commute off to each other and you know, that was probably a good match as well.
Busy Days, Busy Nights
And since then, I’ve been working hard and getting things done at work at a pace that, while slower than I’d like, seems to have earned the respect of my workmates at Tellme. For social activity, I have a large peer group of UIUC alumni. This weekend there was drinking and dancing in celebration of Luther’s birthday. Before that, I recall helping to move Joe in to his San Francisco Apartment. Before that, a party at Brandon Long‘s, where we saw the most excellent movie, Dark City.
Now, by most measures this is a good peer group, a large number of very intelligent guys who have access to a shared body of history to retell and all working in similar professions – there is always something to talk about. Unfortunately, they are, almost to a man, all guys. As much as I enjoy them, the sausage parties have to be complemented by some more balanced activities.
So, always something to do during the day, or on the weekend. I eat out a lot, having made for myself and consumed maybe five breakfasts at the apartment. Due to ever-present phone delays and the busy schedule, I never get around to calling Mikey or Joyce. I need to adjust the brakes on the Volkswagen because the other day I involuntarily blew a stop light.
But, well, we have a phone at home now, DSL on order. The voice T1 at work is finally up, after repeated delays from Pacific Bell, and is not yet production thanks to another delay on the part of MCI Worldcom. Well, since the brake incident, I’ve been biking to work. The other day JG drove me over in his Land Rover and I picked up a cell, er, excuse me, PCS phone … funny little toy, but useful, and it keeps your SysAdmin on call. Since we have but one guy who is the CFO things have been rather weird around Tellme when it comes to buying things. Sounds though, as if purchasing stuff on one’s own credit card and then submitting an expense report is common practice in the Silicon Valley, at least among startups.
Back At The Ranch
So, I’m hoping to slow down a little here in my writing. Let’s talk about this weekend. On Friday Dave missed his flight to a Wedding out in Missouri, owing to bad weather delays in the Midwest. Well, he was rather bummed. I believe that evening was rather slow, because I don’t remember it. Saturday I met up again with Eric and Vernell, who are visiting from EnterAct. We rode up to San Francisco and visited Haight-Ashbury, checking out good music and drug paraphernalia. Eric and I wandered in to this park which was actually a wooded mountain within the city of San Francisco. At the summit was a wonderful view, and some person who had apparently enjoyed too much acid or something as he paced about in circles, speaking of our proximity to some galaxy and how one should either go over, around, under, or through a tree.
Ayup. Riding back to Palo Alto, we collectively checked our e-mail at Tellme. At that last moment I heard of the gathering over at Be for Luther’s birthday. We ate Pizza and walked over to the bars of downtown Palo Alto. Unfortunately, Palo Alto, being a rich college town around Stanford, is not the coolest place to party, but there was some enjoyable dancing and attractive women at a club called Q. Dave desires to go back, and I share that desire.
Sunday … slow day. Waking up around noon, we headed out and picked out a couch at Krause’s Sofa Factory. Neat place, you pick your style, you pick your fabric, you pick your options, like down cushions or a sofabed. Same comfortable sofabed as MikeyA’s place, lifetime warranty on most everything, ought to be worth the price, though we needed only pay a third down and the balance on delivery in two weeks. For some mysterious reason, perhaps our transient status, my credit report for six months same as cash didn’t quite work out. Then we headed over to Fry’s and picked up our Bose surround-sound stereo to complement our TV. Nice system, though we would have had it the week before except for credit problems. I think Discover raised the limit on my card since they received my last payment. In a few months, the considerable spending I’ve burdened it with ought to be whittled down quickly. Vernell had stopped by early with a pretty friend from Georgia. They were heading over to check out Stanford, and then, from what I gather, Berkeley. This left Eric alone at the hotel without a rental car. I borrowed Dave’s car to pick him up and off we went to eat at a Chinese place. We then spent the evening with Little Dave watching another cool movie, Zero Effect. At Luther’s party, I finally got to see The Big Lebowski, yet another great movie I’ve seen at somebody’s house since arriving in California.
You’ve seen what we are. We use your dead as vessels.
Vernell and Eric are over here watching Dark City on our DVD. Dave’s watching it too. Great movie, and the woman is beautiful. She resembles my cousin Erin too, which makes it all the neater.
This morning I slept in some. Taking off for work I headed down El Camino and got my chain lubed up on my bike. I also bought a portable tire pump, and inflated the tires. Well the lube job was no help you see, because I still skip spokes when I push too hard, so I move nice and slow.
I live right down the street from Tellme, about a mile and a half. Unfortunately, this street, San Antonio, has no bike lanes, and the crossing of Central Expressway is exceedingly nasty. What I do is ride down California about half a mile to Rengstorff and then up. Then the ride is pleasant up ’til about Charleston where I lose the bike lane and the intersections get a little contorted. A wise bike commuter would invest in a helmet, but this commuter forgot in his haste to get to work.
The day was spent working. I started cleaning up on account of some investor stopping by tomorrow. Yesterday our new office manager, Vicki, started working. Today while cleaning I found the receipt for the cell phone and gave it to Andy. At that point he and Vicki wondered if it was too late to get a refund, as Vicki has connections with another cellular provider to get us a deal on these nice Nokia phones. Ah the costs of a hasty startup. This though, is just a minor inefficiency that pales in comparison to the FUBARs I’ve come to expect from other organizations I’ve dealt with. If this is the worst that Tellme can do, they are a righteous employer indeed.
Another cool story … we have some legacy ethernet cables that were made before I came to work here. They were made by Angus, who doesn’t actually know how to make ethernet cables, but is also red-green color-blind to boot. Since the process involves laying out orange, brown, green and blue wires in a specific order … well, an ethernet cable, botched, can still work. Sometimes though said cable will provide little troubles. Well … on the inevitable occasions that someone experiences network flakiness, I check the cable, and if it’s an Angus cable, I have one more variable to eliminate.
Fun, actually. I think the funness derives from the fact that Angus is pretty good-natured about his cables. He did his best under the circumstances, and now I can fix it. What is more frustrating is when you’re in a situation where your predecessor was simply incompetent, but passed themself off as an expert. Another thing that has been surprisingly pleasant about Tellme is that everyone seems to have a positive, cooperative, team attitude. This kinda stuff is found more frequently in a start up.
Well, later on I got the call from Eric. He and Vern swung by and we went out to this really good burger joint over on El Camino, and now we’re here, at the house, and Dark City is playing.
Ah, so yesterday I drove over to Wal Mart and picked up some Liquid Wrench and a kit with a 2 ton jack and jack stands. And I adjusted the brakes. They’re better now, though not as good as I’d like … some of those adjusting stars are damned stuck. I’ll take it some place professional and hard-core perhaps.
Got to work around 3:30. Then I figured to punch down the Ethernet cables I could to the patch panel once and for all, while I installed FreeBSD on a machine to determine if Apsfilter and Samba could do a better job of sharing a printer than NT Workstation. Been bleeding my forehead trying to figure out how the freak Windows 95 clients were supposed to print to the NT Workstation that had adopted the printer before my arrival. FreeBSD and Samba proves to have better interoperability with Windows than NT Workstation does. The irony is not lost on me.
Since the machine I found happens to be a PentiumIII at 450 Mhz, and I was installing FreeBSD, and the graphics card looks pretty bad-ass too, I’m using the print server for my new desktop machine. It is too hard-core to be a humble printer server.
Left work around 3:30. My message about getting printing to work was well received, especially with the Windows 98 crowd. Slept in. Then I went to the Men’s Wearhouse and spent a lot of money. I bought a suit, shirt, two ties, socks, fancy shoes, some italian sandals, hell a belt, uhmmm. I even got a Men’s Wearhouse credit card. My first suit. Well, I bought about half a suit once for the Allen Hall formal one year, but this time I got all hard-core.
With the Men’s Wearhouse credit card, you get free pressing.
Anyway, then I did the laundry, eating at this chinese greasy spoon. Greasy food, but well, a big plate o’ stuff for $4.90, probably the best deal I’ve had yet in California.
Oh, I got the car washed yesterday too. There’s this big ol’ place on El Camino right by the house (like, a block or two away) where this army of Mexicans in blue shirts cleans your car inside and out for $13.25, I think it was. There’s a sign that says that they recycle the water, so going to the car wash uses less water than doing it yourself. And they give you lemonade and popcorn so it’s just really sweet.
I think the guy who gave the car back was hoping for a tip though. Next time. While they didn’t get all the little insect guts that had been pounded onto the hood at 75 MPH and then cooked on in the California sun over these past weeks, the car was really clean … I like it. Had that newish feeling.
Well, the plane leaves tonight at 11 PM. Mom is gonna meet me for tomorrow morning’s 4AM layover at O’Hare.
Friday morning I slept in, having stayed at work ’til 0330h the night before setting up a FreeBSD box to support Windows printing. So on Friday I bought a suit and came in to work and took it easy. Later in the evening me and Erik and Joe met up and we rode out to San Jose to catch the 11PM redeye flight to Chicago. There we met Erik’s grandparents, and I met up with mom and we ate breakfast during our layover.
As we flew in to Urbana, I started to look around the little Turboprop as it smelled like someone had cut a nasty one. Nope. Rene picked us up at the airport, and I relayed a story about how once the NetDev guys picked up some Cisco guys at Willard, and the first question one of the Cisco guys asked was “What is that smell?”
Agriculture. Shit. You no longer notice it after about five or ten minutes. But this was the first time I had flown in to town, at least during the growing season.
We went shopping. The Webber grill that we wanted to buy the Webers and the knife set were taken. Instead they got some nice pots and stuff. We wrapped these in Curious George wrapping paper and found a card with a couple with a child on the cover dressed as jesters. On the inside we got it to read “See what happens when you fool around? Congratulations … on getting married!”
There had been talk of wrapping presents in porn, but there was concern that the in-laws might not be impressed.
We dropped by h0l and got dressed. there were pictures aplenty being snapped of individuals who you would never see dressed up or in a Catholic church – and there we were, dressed up really nice in a Catholic church.
For the ceremony, the Priest talked about web development, because Rache is a web developer, and proceeded to explore the idea of marriage through the principles of good web design. He did awfully well and the sheer absurdity of it was elicited many chuckles from the computer geeks in the crowd. Normally, this sort of stuff would just seem stupid, but the wacky metaphor was in keeping with the wacky couple. Besides that the advice was sound – old common-sense wisdom repackaged in something a little more entertaining.
And I could feel the emotional climax of the ceremony. I nearly shed a tear myself as Rache shed her own kissing the parents. I’m so glad for them.
After that the reception was at Jumer’s. We waited around awhile, visiting a kitten shower thrown by the Champaign Humane Society. Cute little kittens. I donated $20 and felt like a rich, well-dressed out-of-town pimp and was told that my generous donation would fix a cat.
So on into the reception. We were all chugging White Russians. By all I mean many of the Allen Hall crowd. Well, I had plenty of White Russians because I figured as much as I spent to be there, I would certainly make the open bar worth my time. I was good and drunk when dinner rolled around, and that buffet sobered me up startlingly well. The heavy consumption of Caucasians was attributed to the Big Lebowski by many. For my part I know that movie certainly made them seem appealing. Weird.
And then did the music start. During the dollar dances DB ran out of people to dance with him. I emptied my pocket of change for the privilege. When the bouquet was tossed, Chris and another gal struggled over it for a minute or two. It was an impressive site and a tie was declared when the bouquet was ripped in half.
Ya gotta respect motivation and tenacity sometimes.
And then the garter was tossed. I ended up up front, which is kinda weird and that thing flew right for me. Well, I musta fumbled or missed it and a spun on my heels and saw that sucker on the floor with a ring of shoes around it. The guys in this crowd are are mostly as timid as I’ve ever been and after the ordeal for the bouquet I think they were a little spooked, as I managed to spin around and dive to the floor and back up the six feet entirely uncontested.
Now I have a collection – one from prom.
And as the night wore on and the dancing got down, I met up with Miss tall, blond and slender in a nice blue dress. We danced and she macked the digits outta me. Jennifer is DB’s cousin, she stands at 6’2″ and could look me in the eye. Perhaps what I really need is to go dancing where the tall women of California do? Anyway, later Moshen told me that her dad had made inquiries about me. How flattering.
Around 10PM we danced arm in arm to the strains of Miss American Pie as is a midnight tradition among the Allen crowd. I headed back to h0l and as I never did get to hear from Chad or Scott, my old roommates, I spent the night on the couch there.
The next morning we had brunch at Yen Ching’s which was not a great idea but then nobody had great forceful opinions. G0ff talked us into playing this game called Cosmic Encounter – “The Game that Breaks Its Own Rules” – and you know, it was a lot of fun. Good party game for a bunch of smart geeks. It is … something else indeed.
Beth came over but only for a short while. Lasagna was cooked and we settled in to watching “The Pirates of Silicon Valley” which showed three times on TNT. It was the early days – Steve Jobs and Woz versus Bill Gates. You could tell the god guy was acid-dropping, blue box-making, Thing-driving, long-haired Steve Jobs at Berkeley, as opposed to the high-strung, dorky, conniving, fast-car driving Harvard snot Bill Gates. It was a fun movie to watch especially in the presence of geeks. Though I missed some plot points on account of the noise.
The next morning was breakfast at Perkins. Erik then went to discuss his academic career with the CS department and I went to the Quad to hang out on a nice day and await Beth’s call for lunch.
Which never came.
To my pleasant surprise the CCSO Lab at the Union let me in, so I spent a few hours responding to old e-mails when Beth finally got through, and we got to meet for about a half hour. Better than nothing.
Back to the airport, barely catching the plane. Erik’s grandparents were at O’Hare again, and Erik’s grandma kept offering us junk food. I fit what I could, figuring somebody back out here would eat it, though probably not me. And again we were in the air, on a less-crowded flight than the one we had come on.
Joe picked us up, and I spent some time trying unsuccessfully to help him get a bastardized old ‘486 box to boot … FreeBSD. It’s not going to work … but Joe … eh, I made him drive me home.
Where the news is that yesterday Dave left Taos Mountain to go and work for Confiniti. Today at Lunch I was eating with Rod, Hadi, and Scott Banister, a UI alumnus who I knew through his early early early creation of Submit-It. Anyway, it was all good because Scott knows the guy running Confiniti and had heard just yesterday that they were looking to fill that position.
Small world. He knows the UI eGroups crowd too, and told me that the repeated interconnections between everybody will get weirder and weirder the longer I’m out here.
The Bay is sucking people out here, and the computer friends you may remember from the old days may well be out here.
Anyway, It’s like 2134h and about time I rode home and played with the printer I ordered and should be here today.
. . .