eternal ramblings of an empty mind

Month: November, 2012

One Thing Leads To Another

So my Kindle reappeared today. It’s quite possible I missed it, despite thinking I had turned the place upside down, but it’s here, undamaged, ready for reading, though I doubt I’ll be doing much of that.

I have the work laptop here. Let me tell you how convoluted something can get. I connect first to a WiFi network, through Citrix Receiver, to a terminal server either in Dallas or Providence, use that computer to start a remote desktop session with my work computer in Wichita. That’s bad enough (had to do that three times today to get various e-mails). If I didn’t happen to have the proper cable, I would have then used that machine to start a WebEx session with the computer in Manhattan, Kansas, a mere two feet from the starting point. Good thing we found a cable, because that would’ve been nuts. And all of that would stem from the fact that I can’t attach USB removable storage to this machine due to “security concerns”. Despite the fact that the higher capacity devices identify themselves as internal storage, and are thus exempt from the restriction. Totally ridiculous.

A couple of quick restaurant reviews—and I’ll note that some bits only apply to the particular location I visited, but:

  • La Fiesta: I’ve been here once before, but for whatever reason didn’t order my standard choices at a Mexican place. Started with the queso something-or-other, to go with the chips, then ordered their enchilada sampler. The queso bowl was quite enormous, and would have served at least three quite well. The enchilada sampler contained five enchiladas. Five. Covered with enchilada sauce, piled high with shredded lettuce (covered with it, in fact), topped with shredded cheese and sour cream. I managed to get about half the plate eaten. But it was most delicious.
  • Gambino’s Pizza: fairly established franchise, and I was looking for something just a little bit different from Pizza Hut or other “standard” fare, some place I hadn’t been before. Their buffet was priced the same as Pizza Hut, but their selection was severely lacking. Their table had room for 8 pizzas. One was their dessert pizza, one was their cheesy bread, five were sausage pizzas, and one was a “bacon cheeseburger” pizza. Seriously? And there were no more than 6 customers in the shop at any one time while I was there. Try a bit of variety, and put out some pepperoni, which seems to be the undisputed most popular pizza topping in the country.
  • Noodles & Company: I had never visited one of these before tonight. Overall, I was quite pleased. The side Caesar salad was small, but to my mind had the right crouton-to-romaine ratio. Besides, my pasta was ready before I finished the small salad anyway. I ordered the Wisconson mac & cheese with Parmesan crusted chicken breast, and it was delicious. Much like last night’s dinner, I was unable to finish, as they served far more than I expected. I did notice that they charged slightly more tax than other restaurants in the area, however: 9.00% instead of the typical 8.55% in the city. Whether this needs to be investigated by someone who cares about their nickel more than I do, or if they got special dispensation by the city government for filling the spot in the new shopping center, I don’t know.

All I Want

This’ll be short. I think. My laptop is, frankly, minuscule, and has a distinct lack of power. If I was running Windows, I could do fancy things like watch Netflix or Hulu on a whopping 10″ screen, but instead I’m relegated to watching it all in TD (tiny definition) on my phone.

For those that are unaware, I’m in Manhattan, Kansas this week troubleshooting an issue on a vendor’s production line which is holding up deliveries. Things aren’t going well there, either.

Anyway, my phone’s battery was nearly drained, so I decided I’d get my Kindle and read some of the Mistborn trilogy (just started). However, it’s nowhere to be found. Either the hotel staff swiped it intentionally (seems strange to take that and leave the computer) or it got swept up with bedsheets or something (seems strange to change the sheets and leave the pillows on the floor, though). Whatever the case, I’ve searched the room, and it doesn’t seem to be here. If I can’t find it by the time I check out, and it hasn’t been turned in to the lost and found at the front desk, the hotel is liable (according to a clearly posted sign) for up to $250. But it’s the hassle that’s a bigger issue than the money. If I do have to get it replaced, it’ll be my third Kindle in 4 weeks—not a very impressive track record.

Another thing Windows would allow me to do is connect to the network at Cessna, where I could be of use working on a different project. I should have grabbed the Cessna laptop from ICE, at least for the evening, but their evening shift has already gone home.

And I’d be rid of these annoying messages about Flash being out of date. Adobe! Citrix! Netflix! Hulu! Get your acts together! I want to be able to use Linux on a netbook! You can’t expect me to install and run Windows inside VirtualBox on an Atom N450 processor with 1GB RAM, do you?

In taberna quando sumus

Carl Orff and the poetry from Carmina Burana will be at the forefront of my mind for the next few days.

I am desperately seeking ways to reduce the activity in my dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (stress response center of the brain), and I’m aware that one method of doing so involves stimulation of the ventromedial prefrontal cortex. My one previous attempt at doing so produced the opposite effect, but I’ve not encountered the same antagonism this time around. The stimulus required for my experiment, however, is unavailable for at least couple of weeks given my anticipated schedule:

  • Tuesday (last): work, choir rehearsal, bed
  • Wednesday: work, choir rehearsal, bed
  • Thursday: work, choir rehearsal, bed
  • Friday: work, concert #1, greet parents, bed
  • Saturday: gardening, interior decoration, concert #2, bed
  • Sunday: see parents off, concert #3, pack
  • Monday: go to ICE Corporation in Manhattan, Kansas, troubleshoot (fix?) environmental test equipment
  • Tuesday: ditto
  • Wednesday: ditto, leave Manhattan for Olathe
  • Thursday: Thanksgiving dinner with the family (along with requisite traditions, e.g. watching the parade, football games, etc.)
  • Friday: visit any relatives I didn’t see the day before
  • Saturday: relax? Not likely.
  • Sunday: return to Manhattan…
  • Monday: more work in Manhattan
  • Tuesday: ditto
  • Wednesday: back to Wichita? Work on document here?
  • Thursday: work, work, more work, bed
  • Friday: work, RPG?, bed
  • Saturday: Can a guy catch a break? This is the first time I expect to have the slightest bit of free time (and be at home) over the course of the next three weeks. I love my family and all, but there’s nothing like doing nothing in the comfort of your own home.

In an ideal world, the “document” I mentioned would be done already, I would be taking three days of vacation next week, spend a day, two at the most, in Manhattan, and clear my plate of the temp control project before the beginning of December. But it ain’t an ideal world. So I’ll retreat into a good book every chance I get between now and the end of the year in an effort to stay sane. Nothing against the authors of the short stories in Pump Six, but it’s nice to have a coherent storyline, thus my purchase of Elantris.

See you in three weeks!

Blister in the Sun

Tomorrow is “The Election”. The media is rife with speculation. I suspect (and hope) that Americans are just as fed up with the campaigning as I am. I’m not saying things were pretty 212 years ago, I just wish that our country could have grown up a little since then. Instead of monarchy and King George, the comparisons are made to socialism and Adolf Hitler. Baseless or not, I really, really don’t want to see Republicans or Democrats in charge of this country. For that matter, the Libertarians, Greens, and Reforms have their share of loose screws. I know that no matter who I cast my vote for tomorrow, Kansas’ six electoral votes will be cast for Mitt Romney. I agree with Obama on some issues, I admit. I listen to NPR. But I am not a Democrat, and I am not a socialist. I have trouble saying I agree with Mitt Romney on anything, because he changed his mind half a dozen times since he spoke, on, well, just about everything, just about anytime. But I agree with certain positions that Republicans have traditionally held, yet I am not a Republican. Going off the beaten (and boring two-party) path, I agree with Gary Johnson on some issues. I don’t see him as quite the loon Ron Paul occasionally seems to be, but on certain issues he would be laughed out of town by a majority, if anyone paid attention to third parties. To be perfectly honest, I know almost nothing about Chuck Baldwin, the other candidate on the ballot. I know more after writing that sentence than I knew about him when he ran in 2008, but as he’s not even a national candidate, and has even endorsed another, the probability of his winning is far, far more remote than even Johnson’s. Nevertheless, I will vote tomorrow, for one of the four candidates.

Plucking one tidbit of the above paragraph: “I listen to NPR.” If I mention that to many people, they automatically draw certain conclusions that have no basis in reason. I listen to four shows from National Public Radio on a regular basis: Car Talk, A Prairie Home Companion, This American Life, and Snap Judgement. And frankly, politics rarely enters into it. Car Talk is hilarious, and answers people’s honest questions about cars. Some calls could be fielded by untrained monkeys, but a fairly convincing argument could be made that that’s just what goes on for that “waste of another perfectly good hour”. While Garrison Keillor’s political position is well-known, A Prairie Home Companion has been running for 38 years on good music, radio drama, and small-town charm. A pot-shot at a Republican may be taken now and again, but it’s never nasty. Ira Glass is also known at least as a strong critic of Republicans, but his show, when it touches political issues, feature a refreshing balance, a view that things can be ugly no matter where your ideology takes you—but with the hopeful air that things don’t have to be that way. Glynn Washington is a dynamic host of the storytelling forum, Snap Judgement. While I have no idea what his politics are, it doesn’t matter. Politics never enters into it. The stories are amazing, told by amazing individuals, who can transport you to amazing places. This is not the news, but this is NPR.

I get my news from BBC. While they are legally required to be objective in their reporting, an entirely infeasible, but laudable goal, they do at least provide a perspective rarely seen in the US: that America is not the only place on Earth that matters. They see how preposterous campaign season is here, but only report on it once in a while, devoting more bytes to cricket and football matches than to matters of US Politics.

The point that I sat down to write about, yes! Whatever my politics are, whatever fuzzy category they fall under, if it even has a label, I have been reluctant to share my point of view with anyone, afraid that, not only I would be alone in my viewpoint, but that others would spend the remainder of their resources in an attempt to convince me of the error of my ways. Thanks to a piece presented by one of those NPR shows, I learned about people who have been disowned by their family because of who they voted for, but also, about the fact that such conversations have strengthened some relationships (more here). It included a plug for what seems to be a very reasonable book, You’re Not as Crazy as I Thought (But You’re Still Wrong), how to have civil discourse about politics without the conversation devolving into a shouting match or the silent treatment. Anyway, while I may still shy away from heated discussions, and am unlikely to bring up issues of political import, so long as the atmosphere remains civil, I am willing to share my opinions. I’ll try not to dodge “the” question next time it’s put to me as I have in the past, whatever that question may be. If you catch me, you’re welcome to call me on it.

Hmm…I need to read Calvin & Hobbes more often…