2001 <-- JANUARY, 2002 --> FEBRUARY, 2002
Sick as a dog last night, so I slept, mostly, and didn't go out. Jessica called me and said she was going to Molly's. So, I went over there to see 2001 off properly, with a sip of champaign. I wasn't feeling great, or gregarious. A well-dressed woman caught my eye, but she was far too old for me. I wasn't in the mood to try and pick up women anyway. She asked me where to get the champaign, and I tried, unsuccessfully, to render assistance. Afterwards, we snuck out of the dark, muggy hole in the wall called Molly McGee's and sat around chatting at the pool place. She said that I had caught her eye, she said that she was originally from the Philippines, she that she has a room for rent, and she said that her mixed-race daughters are beautiful. We talked for an hour about many things, the basic introduction. At the end, she said that she told her beautiful, Filipina, Palo Altan girlfriend of twenty-four years that she'd find her a boyfriend. We had enough mutual interests that we exchanged numbers.
At work, I was told a story of ringing in the New Year that involved holding off on intercourse, watching the clock closely, and plunging right on in at the stroke of midnight. An eloquent way, I think, to wish the right person a Happy New Year. One thing I like about the restaurant work, there is a touch more color than there is in the office.
Jessica invited me to Hot Pot tonight. This is a Taiwanese thing that Chiawen introduced me to. It involves putting food in a hot pot of boiling stuff, letting it cook, and then taking it out to eat it. I understand that the American tradition of Fondue is very similar, though I have never tried the round-eye version. I didn't eat much, as I haven't had an appetite with this illness raging. I also passed on the oysters, which Lisa brought in from Sacramento. Many of Jessica's family were there, which made it all the more pleasant, because you're hanging out with family, even if it isn't your own, and even if you are one of two participants who doesn't speak Mandarin.
Good news on the living situation; I can take Joe's room when the lease terminates, and he moves out, in February. I can take his room at a much reduced rent. Brian was offered differing rates for single and double occupancy, that were way down from what he is paying now. He said that he would be happy to have me as a roommate for the difference, as long as I was doing the pizza thing. Well, well, well, I suggested that I could pay a little more: my target rent, which comes out to roughly 1/3 of my income. This has pleased all concerned.
Today I drove up the Peninsula, past miles of billboards hawking random computer applications. Oracle claim to make Microsoft E-mail unbreakable. The claim that a third-party database is supposed to somehow improve Microsoft's e-mail strikes me as a fanciful notion, but this is a fanciful industry, and Oracle have to make money too. My target was a shiny new company who occupy the top floor and a half of a shiny new office building overlooking the bay. Never to be accused of false humility, the shiny new company have their name affixed to the top of the shiny new building.
A former colleague lined me up with a gig fixing up the back-end of this company's web site. They're moving from Microsoft to Unix, so I spent three hours today reading ASP, a Microsoft language that I am unfamiliar with, to make a reasonable guess at what it was doing, so that I could replace it all with Perl. A shiny happy time was had by me, as I appreciate the free Snapple, the free Fritos, and the highest hourly wage I have ever been paid. It is also nice to hang out with my former colleague, who is a super-babe, even if I'm most immediately interested in getting the job done.
Damn, it feels good to me a Gangsta.
When I got back to the ranch, I noticed movement out of the corner of my eye. Then I noticed movement out of the corner of my other eye. Then I noticed movement back in that first eye-corner again. I got the door open and Stripey darted in. I set some stuff down and pulled off my shoes and turned back to the door to see another kitty hanging out on the doorstep. I knelt down to pet it, and said kitty dug that idea, then headed on in to the house.
Guess it makes sense to that kitty mind. After discussion with the incumbent feline, the cat opted for a return to the great outdoors. I brought it some food, which it nibbled at, then Stripey came by, and they felt a little standoffish. I grew bored, and returned to my mundane human concerns.
Isn't it neat how we're like the last ones to enter in to a new day? Like, they start to sample it in Japan, China, India, Russia, Africa and Europe first, then it gets over here to the Americas, and here in California, bringing up the rear guard of the Western World, we get to put the day to bed. And while we're putting the day to sleep, tomorrow's day is waking up across the water in Japan.
Yes, I know about Hawaii.
The other day I was parked in a two-hour zone. After a couple hours I stepped out to check my tires for chalk. I noticed my right front tire was all worn out on the right-hand side, with little bits of sharp pointy whiteness sticking out. Today I got the front tires replaced, but they can't do an alignment because my tie-rods are going to hell. Well, the good news is I just got a check for over $900 from overpayment on the Insight. I can't complain.
I got my schedule for the coming week yesterday. Almost every day is a double shift. My day off is spent consulting. Ouch. No days of rest over here! Well, I think it is actually kind of neat, because it helps me better use my time. Actually, I don't have much frivolity in life. I can stand only so much TV, or even the computer without it being a creative tool. My indulgences are a couple hours at the book store coffee shop between shifts, and sleeping. Sleeping is better than TV, I think, because the dreams can get a lot funkier, then if you remember anything you can figure on what message, if any, your subconscious has wrapped in the story. Creativity or sleep? My eyes are getting heavy ...
My roommate today picked up a book on growing psychoactive mushrooms. He said he found this book at Tower Records, where there is a "Pop Culture" section, which is dedicated exclusively to the topic of illicit recreational drugs. This is why California is great. Well, that and the fact that you can't smoke indoors.
I'm trying to write some code right now. It is a nice distraction from real life. Right now, I'm trying, unsuccessfully to blit a tile on to my screen. Well, I have a screen that is a white rectangle with a black square. Once I can blit the friggin' tile on to the black square, I'll be in business! Woohoo! Programming takes mental effort! I'm tired! Let's go dreaming!
No, first I shall blit the tile. By cracky, I shall blit this tile! Actually, I think I'm already blitting the tile, but I'd like to see that I am blitting the tile. "Can you see the tile?" You need to have faith that the tile is there. With enough hard work, maybe I too, can come to see the tile!
(It turns out I was blitting in to the tile, and not blitting from the tile. Once I figured that out, I was able to see my tile.)
Today was my day off. I slept in, 'til about 10AM. At 11AM, I had a technical interview over the phone. A basic screen to see if I seemed to actually know what my resume claims that I know. That seemed to go well enough, and with luck I'll have an on-site interview next week.
I drove over to Tellme. Villa was closed behind the police station, but the blockade was open to allow the cops to come and go. I didn't see any construction folks around, so I just drove on through. The other end of the street was blockaded with yellow tape, sawhorses, and cones. I moved the cones and one of the sawhorses out of the way and a former Tellme colleague held the yellow tape up as I drove under it. Turns out that I now have my own reserved parking space at Tellme, labeled "Tellme Visitor."
I met up with Jim and Angel and we wandered over to Taqueria los Charros for a burrito lunch. Mmmm! On my way out of the parking lot, I made more permanent fixes to the construction barricade. My good deed for the day. Then I drove up to the shiny company to finish figuring out what sort of work they need. My former colleague expressed much approval at the end result, and now I know what intangible benefits I shall be bringing to the company whose collaborative product I just barely have a grasp for.
You know what bothers me these days?
Walking in to the dining room at 12:00:45 or so, and having the evil manager ask why am I THREE MINUTES LATE because she's looking at one clock that is two minutes ahead of the other clock that is about half a minute ahead of my own watch.
Not that it matters, in the slightest, I have ONE TABLE that JUST SAT DOWN, and wont be ready to order for another TWO MINUTES anyway. She just wants me to sign the 8.5"x11" sheet of paper that records my stunning record of tardiness. She got very very excited the other week when I called to say I might be as much as TWENTY MINUTES late. She said I must hurry with all speed, because TWO HOURS LATER, there would be a large party coming in.
The other day I found that some clever soul had put the salt in a little teapot, much like the pepper, that is useful for refilling salt and pepper shakers. Always one to improve on a clever idea, I asked if we had any masking tape, so I could mark the salt and pepper shakers. Her response was that the salt isn't supposed to go in a teapot, and that it should be undone. I put the little teapots away, where they remain safe and useful, to this day.
You know ... now that I'm *OUT* of the tech sector, I finally have a pointy-haired manager!
For the record, I just synched my computer to an atomic clock, and I have learned that my watch is 23 or 24 seconds fast.
Meanwhile, if Microsoft pulls off the world domination bit, you'll let me know? Since I can use computers for pleasure instead of work these days, I've been playing with SDL with an eye towards game development. For my first project, I implemented Conway's Life. Now, I've managed to compile with a nice graphics library that allows me to trivially load PNGs, and now I have a game surface onto which I can place isometric tiles! WOOHOO! The PNG support made life a bit simple, because it supports transparency, making it easier to place non-square iso tiles. :)
Apparently I am a few months ahead of the curve. Scott Adams is playing "catch up!"
Dude! More evidence that Scott Adams has been basing "Dilbert" on me! Of course, my car was gas-electric hybrid, but you get the idea.
Okay, I have a few suggestions for Scott Adams of stuff that's kind of funny about an engineer shifting in to the waiting position. Off the top of my head:
Today was an intense day at work. First of all, my legs were shot from getting my dance on the night before. The brain recovered from its experience just fine, but the body felt like toast. Lunch, for some random reason, started out perfectly quiet, then, suddenly, the dining room filled to capacity. We weren't expecting that. Two servers, and a reduced support crew ... oh, man, it was terrible hard work, but those customers who did receive properly good service tipped all the better, because they know when you're really earning your cash.
At the end of my shift, I chilled out at a table with my free food. Jessica dropped in, to enjoy some food with me. That was a pleasant surprise. I was then asked could I maybe pull an evening shift? They needed me to help train a new server. Well ... you know me. Since my dinner date had fallen through, and I didn't have plans, other than relaxation, why not?
A co-worker who wants more shifts, and boy do I have shifts, well, he may take my Thursday day shift. As it is, I gotta hit the sack, as I have the 10:30-4PM all-day shift tomorrow!
And you know, sometimes, when the dining room is quiet, and I am in the proper Zen mode, I can tell a customer that their food has suddenly become ready, and that I will go and bring it out, because I can hear, from afar, the soft sound of the cook placing their plate on the counter, and I know whose food is the next up. Sometimes, I'm good that way.
Alas, Dilbert can't hang.
Man, I think this is the first day off I've taken this year. When not working at the restaurant, I been working for the colleague at the shiny company. Well, I need a sabbath to balance my checkbook. Today, after a fitful night's sleep, where I was up between 4-5:30AM because my ear has this thing where it needs to pop or something, and is a little uncomfortable, but anyway, I had the alarm turned off and got out of bed somewhere before 1PM. I showered, had breakfast, and then hung out at the bookstore, downing a pot of tea, a piece of lemon poppyseed cake, and a tall Mexicali Mocha, as I grazed through the Palo Alto Daily News, and then finished off the end of Jack Kerouac's "On the Road."
Was feeling cold today. Saw skinny Asian types in longer, heavy coats, but the strapping young lads like myself were inclined towards tee-shirts. I myself held two overshirts, as I purchased Yet Another Book and wandered over by the Hair Salon on Villa to get my hair cut. This time I said, let the top go, for I like the fancy random designs it takes upon itself whilst drying on the way to work. I had the sides and rear trimmed, because that's the funky part that feels nice short. The girl thought it wise to thin the top. Barbers always think my hair is crazy thick. I said she was the expert - go for it. Left a generous tip, and left with a complementary breath mint.
One kind of neat thing about getting over an illness is you feel kinda groggily messed up as you go about your business, and the only wise way to handle it is to relax and enjoy yourself. Have a mocha! Get your hair cut! Bundle up! Leave a tip! Don't Panic! That is the way in life.
The night before last I woke up in a semi-conscious state dreaming that I was sitting at a table, and I brought myself a large pizza. I think it was a not-so-oblique way for my subconscious to communicate that the body needs nourishment, even if the appetite was shot to heck. Well, I rode it out. Last night when I couldn't sleep in the middle of the night, I choked down a few sugarless cranberry bread-cake things I had purchased the week before, washing them down with water and orange juice. Mmmm, coal to keep the fire burning. Keep the fire burning with less stress than it would take to go and harvest energy from the fat cells remaining around my mid-section.
I brought up my self-serving pizza paradox dream at work, and was told that dreaming about work was a bad sign. I dream about work on a regular basis now, but it is not nearly anywhere as disturbing as dreaming in something as abstract as a Unix command-line. Dreams of SysAdminning work were fewer and farther between, and more disturbing, but running around with food in hand is a basic concept of the mammal mind - why not dream of serving pizza?
Only $4,000 in credit card debt left to go, plus another $2,000 to Mom, $1,000 or so for University of Illinois, and, several Gs to the Department of Education. A year ago my credit cards were at $8,500. I can hardly believe that figure right now. That is what I call a lot of money. Hrmmm, and $2,800 at the outset of 2000. Interesting stuff. $6,500 at the time I was laid-off. That means $2,500 in progress in the last five months, at a distressed income. Warez. If I can sustain $500 / month, I can be on an even keel in 8 months, or a year, counting Mom.
Bills paid. Or they will be tomorrow. There was a nice little bonus of around $900 in "loan overpayment" sent back to me from Honda from the settlement on the Insight. That's handy. Oh, and the cool thing is I got another guy to take my day shift tomorrow, so after my "big day off" I'll be returning to the restaurant following a genuine job interview for a Senior Unix Systems Administrator for a company up in the city.
You know, I met some guy I don't know today, who thought I'd moved back East. I get that a lot, like since I interviewed with Illinois and Pittsburg, somehow stories get around that I've gone on to better things. The fact that people I don't know are hearing stories about me that are loosely based on reality must mean that people talk about me. Well, I'm a horrible gossip too, sometimes, so I guess I understand. Cool.
Slow night at work tonight. Only sat three tables, but my last was a handsome $7 tip on a ticket that was $20, discounted to $12. Maybe the pretty girl took a shine to me. This afternoon, a very elderly lady slipped me a dollar after her already very generous tip, because I'd been so nice and "understood old people." She advised that I should "never get old." She seemed to be doing pretty darned well for her very advanced age. We agreed that you will always get older, but if you live life right, it'll all go down a little better.
Yesterday I turned 26. No fanfare, but I did bring home $100 in tips. A nice, round figure. I had come in in the morning with my hair wandering in all directions, which happens because I shower, and then drive to work, my head rubbing against the roof of the car, as I look over my shoulders, merging lanes on the humble, six-lane, road that is El Camino Real. The salad girl sat me down, and pulled out her mousse, or something foamy, and started fretting with my hair. I have a long-standing policy of non-interference with any girl who wants to play with my hair, and the salad girl left a result pleasing to the females, so I figure it was a successful experiment.
No partyin' yesterday, and nobody is around this evening. I may just wander to the local dancin' hole and see what's up. I have a few intoxicants here, and last night the roommates had some friends over, to watch "Seven Samurai." Logically, there is much Mochi in the freezer. This is ice cream wrapped in a dough, so you can hold it in your fingers and enjoy the yum yum of it all. Mochi is the best argument I can think of for the superiority of Japanese culture.
Speakin' of decrepitude, I'm shaking off the second nasty cough this year, and a few nights back, my ear went like I had been swimming and the water needs to pop. It is still like that, and it is annoying as hell, sometimes. Can only really hear out of one ear. May have to track down a free clinic somewhere and have an expert figure that one out.
What pisses me off, though, is that this country doesn't provide health care. And even when I did have a health plan, I could call a doctor, and schedule an appointment to see one, but at no point along this line didn't anyone seem eager either to schedule me an appointment, nor did the doctor seem to give two fucks about my notion that a routine health exam might be wise. Maybe I'm just uptight, but wasn't life better than this at some point?
Score one for the restaurant. It is not uncommon for some heart-breakingly beautiful woman to grace me with her presence, however briefly. You just don't get that in the office. No, only a Unix prompt, my friend, only a Unix prompt for you. And whatever hotties you may see around the place day in and day out, but how common are the heart-breakers that they are likely to find employ at YOUR office? Alas ...
Every man poops. Not every man truly digests!
It is great that English is Lingua Franca.
Not a lot going on. Behind on work for the shiny company, getting mellower hours and making good bank at the restaurant. Trying to figure out what is the next step in life. I'll be moving in to a room with windows this weekend. Whee!
The other day I called the hospital to schedule an appointment with a Doctor. "Oh, just drop by the Emergency Room, we're open twenty-four hours a day." Well, I'm not much for confrontation over the phone, so after three hours of waiting in the ER, a nice lady told me I was congested, and I should take some Sudafed, and here's a prescription for antibiotics, in case the viral infection makes way for a bacterial infection. I've skipped on the antibiotics. Sudafed has made me feel much, much better. The ear hasn't popped yet, but I can feel it wanting to. Soon, my pretty ...
As for the bill, well, I worry about that a little. I think I was told to go to the ER because the hospital can charge my insurance company a great deal of money. I don't have an insurance company, though. We'll see. I got another windfall this week from the insurance on the Insight. Yay. Next time I'll do what poor people do and look on the Internet for a free clinic.
I just heard on the BBC that AIDS has now beaten the 14th century black death as the world's deadliest pandemic.
I wonder if that is in raw numbers, or in terms of proportion of population. Either way, that is a lot of dead people.
It used to be believed that sex with a virgin was a way to cure venereal disease. In South Africa, it is today commonly believed that this will cure AIDS. I heard one report some time back about the problem of baby gang-rape in South Africa. Today there is talk of schoolteachers coercing young girls to have sex with them. Sometimes I wonder if the BBC might have some weird editorial axe to grind with the country. Surely sick, demented crimes happen in other countries! Either way, I've no plans to be a youth in South Africa anytime soon.
You know, 150 years ago it was commonly believed that man couldn't survive a velocity greater than 60 miles per hour. You can barely tell, though, when my car is doing 90. Technology is fun.
I had a dream last night that Tellme laid me off. Like, I was still there, even though they laid me off before, but this time they laid me off even more. It was cold, too. Bigmac gave me some paperwork to give to HR, which then gave me an envelope to bring to the big man, who opened it, and surprise, your position is terminated.
I'm not sure what, if anything, my subconscious is getting at. I miss Tellme. It was a lot of fun. It sucked to lose my job, but the last thing I ought to be dreaming about is losing my job from the same company again. I think it may have something to do with the fact that Joe, who works at Tellme, is moving out of this place, so in a way, I'm losing my position at Tellme a second time, in that Joe's position as my roommate, is being terminated. Or something. Joe's job is also quite similar to the one I had, but it turns out that he had a safer place in the org chart.
Screw it, dude, let's serve pizza.
I want to get the first part of the project that my friend contracted me for on the shiny company's behalf done before the month is out. It should only take me a few hours, but they must be aligned with the proper equipment. Anyways ... let's try to tackle this monkey, eh? I need to walk over to another computer, connect to a dysfunctional VPN, and, well, I'm not going to talk much more of that.
So, mom sent me a chain e-mail the other day, but it actually had a sweet suggestion - all this crap that they stick in your bills about getting yet another credit insurance thing, or collectible miniatures from the Franklin Mint? You stuff those back in the return envelope with your payment. Why choke YOUR recycling?
Even better is if something arrives with a paid-postage return envelope? You take their crap, shove it back in the return envelope, and they get to pay twice just to hear that you don't care. Not to mention the wages of whatever poor soul gets to open these letters and determine that you're jerking the company around.
Anyway, it has worked, so far.