Archive for February, 2002

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Work has been relatively low-stress,

February 28, 2002

Work has been relatively low-stress, but unusual. I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time outside of my own building. Between working on projects with other consultants and doing providing various traning sessions, I’ve hardly seen the inside of my own office this week. Yesterday I and another consultant conducted the first of two Mac OS X “Informational Sessions.” Up to now our stance on the new operating system has been don’t. We ourselves have been using it for more than a year but we surely didn’t want any of our users doing it. The product wasn’t fit for human consumption for some of that time, plus we needed time and experience with this new beast in order to support our community when they begin using it, too. In any case, yesterday was our first foray into the product with university computer users. It wasn’t a hands-on session, but rather “informational” only. We discussed briefly what the product is, for those who didn’t already know, and then we went on at length about how one must prepare if one intends to use it. What hardware will it run on, what software is compatible, etc. In the coming months we’ll be offering hands-on training. That should be a blast.

Today I trained a dozen people on the use of the university calendaring system. That’s a pretty easy gig, really, but I like doing things like that. I guess I just like to talk in front of people. Many people hate doing it. I love it. Dunno why.

Baldur’s Gate II is still fun, hard and confusing. I bumped the difficulty-o-meter down to “wimp” to make it a little less frustrating. I’m thinking I might put it back up a bit though. And maybe not. Perhaps it would be best to play more of this game to really understand the intricacies of how it works before taking up the challenge of more difficult settings. I did ask for advice from two coleagues who have played it before. They said I seemed to be doing OK and one gave me a URL to some good info on how to play better. It’s good to know people.

An interesting thing happend during lunch today. I hit the Brew Bayou and bought some fruit and a cup of coffee. While filling my cup, up walked the university photographers who happen to be friends of mine. They immediately asked if I was going to the Apple Tech Briefing about to begin upstairs. I’d been invited to it of course but had decided not to go and promptly forgot about it. But suddenly it seemed like a pretty decent idea. After all, I had just been planning to sit in the Brew and surf the Web over lunch. I could just as easily sit upstairs in a conference room and heckle our local Apple reps. So I went. They talked at length about the new iMac, iPhoto and Mac OS X. No surprises for one who follows the tech news like myself. But I did get to talk with an Apple engineer I hadn’t met previously. I learned two things from him. First, that cmd - f2 would make a Mac auto-detect a newly connected data projector so you don’t have to reboot. Second, that one can lay out a book of one’s photos in iPhoto and then instead of actually ordering it, print it to a PDF. Never thought of that before. So it wasn’t a wasted session.

I’m still not smoking, by the way. It’s been over a week and if this is as bad as it gets I think I can go the distance on this one.

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STILL not smoking! Woo! It

February 26, 2002

STILL not smoking! Woo! It will be a week since my last one at midnight tonight.

In other news, work has been busy today but not too stressful. I’ve spent very little time in my own building. I’m preparing to do “Mac OS X” training for various and sundry folk here at Marquette. There’s plenty to do, planning that sort of things. This morning I updated several of the MU Web pages and printed out hand-outs. Tomorrow is the first session. After that I consulted with a colleague who has been charged with making a dingy old room full of tired computers into a multi-media powerhouse of a lab. I helped him spend over $35,000 to that end.

By that time it was lunch. I just happened to have recieved a “free lunch” ticket to the Alumi Memorial Union so that’s where I went. My oriental chicken salad and small diet Coke costed $7.16. The ticket was good for a value of $7 so I shelled out the remainder and vowed to never return. $7 for a salad? I don’t think so. Even if it was good.

After visiting my office briefly and catching up with my student workers, I ditched out of the building again. This time it was to finish some reporting that my supervisor requested ASAP. I got most of that done now and just sent it off to her. Put a gold star by my name. So here I am sitting in the Brew relaxing for a minute. I suppose I’ll try to finish up more of the stuff she wants since I’m sitting here even though some of it may not be needed until the first of March. No sense waiting until the last minute.

Baldur’s Gate II has been pretty fun so far. I finally managed to get my party of adventurers out of the dungeon where the story begins. Now I’m in some city or other. People there keep nagging me to help them and whatnot. I’m thinking I’d rather take my weary travelers to some kind of Inn and catch some R&R after all that dungeon shit. I mean give me a break, I just got out. People in games. Whatcha gonna do.

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The router eventually started working.

February 25, 2002

The router eventually started working. Weird. Anyway, while the fam was watching Moulin Rouge and I was desperately trying to find something else to do, it occured to me that I could use a good game to play. Saturday morning I decided to do it. I did some research on the Web…found out what titles were out there, how they were reviewed, what the hardware/OS requirements were…and tried to decided which looked interesting.

In the end I decided to run out to CompUSA and get Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows Of Amn. So far the game is quite hard but very promising. It adheres strictly (I’m told) to the current rules of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. Unfortunately, these rules are very complicated and not very intuitive. I’ve been searching in vain for actual newbie guidance for BGII but so far all I’ve been able to come up with is one generic walk-through and endless discussion boards which seem to be populated entirely by the well-initiated. A tip or hint can be so valuable. Consider the following. My party of adventurers came upon a group of baddies who were a bit more powerful than standard. It’s possible that I could have defeated them using methods I’d used up until that point. Even if I had, though, I might have found my party badly injured and lacking the resources necessary to proceed through the rest of the area – a situation that might lead me to have to start over from my last save point. I read a tip, however, that suggested if one had problems in this spot to have a certain character cast a spell called “haste,” which according to the tipster would help turn the tide. And so it did. Unfortunately, however, these useful tips seem to be extremely rare while posts arguing the minute points of advanced gameplay are everywhere.

Even so, the game is very enjoyable. It holds the promise of many, many hours of gameplay. In other words, it’s a good value.

Saturday night I had dinner at my mother-in-law’s. Angela and her and sister and all our kids were there to see Angela and her brother play a cribbage competition. The winner gets to keep the board (which evidently has some sentimental value). Angela won it. We ordered out for pizza.

Sunday I hung around the house. Angela and the kids went out briefly to ice-skate. We cleaned up the house some. That evening we watched Interview With The Vampire on TV. It was good although I really thought Tom Cruise was a poor casting choice.

Today at work things seem slow-paced so far. My calendar for the week looks busy so far though. I’m annoyed that on Thursday someone booked me for a comittee meeting who’s purpose is to oversee the teaching of various university-sponsored, free-to-employees, one day classes. The ironic thing is that they booked the meeting during the exact time that I’m (what else) teaching one of the classes. It gets even better. You see, they should have known that I was busy during that time and been able to choose a time when everyone was free quite easily if they had properly utilized the features of our university calendaring system. And what course am I teaching? How To Use The Calendar System.

Anyway, I’m not terribly busy this morning so far and yet I’m still longing for my lunch break. Perhaps the “iritability” of not smoking has just caught up with me? I’m still not smoking and I don’t feel much like going back to it..but I do feel iritable. I guess it is probably related.

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Friday has been OK. I

February 22, 2002

Friday has been OK. I got to work, did some stuff, had a meeting, had Indian food for lunch with Angela, did some more stuff and came home. Not bad in my book.

We didn’t have anything in the house that we wanted to cook for dinner so Angela and I went grocery shopping. We got some good stuff but for tonight we all ended up having microwaved crap. Angela and I had Lean Cuisine, Daniel had pizza bagel bites and Paige had eggrolls. Now the three of them have gone off to Blockbuster to get Moulin Rouge which I somehow have no desire to see. I haven’t seen it and my opinion is based on nothing, but somehow I feel that this remake of a classic musical is nothing more than some movie execs being out of good ideas and reaching back to a classic, following some formulas and ending up with a vanilla, good-but-not-great cheat of a movie. But what do I know? I haven’t seen it. Actually I feel the same way about Ocean’s Eleven and I haven’t seen that either. Just some star vehicle re-made to make money and further someone’s career in the safest of ways. Blech. Keep it.

Maybe I’m just in a bad mood because my router has suddenly ceased to work properly. Here’s the deal. I re-arranged some electrical plugs a while back to accomodate a new USB hub. I ended up putting my router into an outlet controlled by a light switch! There didn’t seem to be anywhere else to go with it so even after I discovered it I left it there. Been meaning to put some scotch tape over the switch so people don’t go switching my router on and off but I hadn’t done it yet. Mostly nobody uses that switch so I kinda forgot about it. Anyhow the switch was off this evening when I went to get on the net. Upon switching it back on the wierdness began.

First it appeared to be working only no wireless network was detectable from my laptop. I tried resetting the router manually and then via the Web interface (through my desktop machine). Eventually I got a wireless signal. Then I realized I couldn’t get out to the Internet. I made sure the router was getting an IP address thorugh my cable modem. That doesn’t appear to be an issue. All the settings appear to be the same as they ever were, in fact. While I was puzzling over that I realized that I could only connect to the Web interface of the router about 50% of the time. This is getting freaky. So I plugged my desktop machine directly into the cable modem (like a good little Time Warner customer) and powered off the router. Maybe it needs a nap or something. How the hell should I know. I’m just hoping that when I hook it up again it starts working properly.

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We had parent-teacher conferences tonight

February 21, 2002

We had parent-teacher conferences tonight at the kid’s school. Both of them are doing extremely well. Neither teacher had a bad thing to say, not even a “need to improve” item. Paige is being tested for “gifted and talented” this week. I’m not sure about that whole thing. I myself was tested when I was her age. I was put in the GT program and I have no good memories of it. Plus I find IQ tests floating around in your academic record troubling. Still, my own experience may not be Paige’s. So we consented to the test and if they want her in she can be in. Her teacher raved about her incredible vocabulary and passion for reading. She called her a “leader” in her group work, as well. Daniel is also doing very well. His teacher praises his industriousness: he fastidiously completes his work in his spare time so there’s hardly ever work to bring home. And when he’s done with that he uses his time wisely – he reads. His teacher says she enjoys his personality, too. No surprise there. He gets along well with everyone.

I’m so proud of them both. What incredible children. How blessed we are. They’re healthy, beautiful, brilliant, happy and well adjusted. I couldn’t ask for more if I wanted to.

After that we were all starving so we went to Pizza Hut. Not a usual spot for us. Angela and I had the salad bar and split a supreme pizza. The kids shared a pepperoni and cheese pizza. The kids spent the rest of the evening reading and watching TV. They’re both in bed now. Angela is watching the olympics. The event at winter olympics: womens figure skating. I think it’s incredibly beautiful to watch, but it’s hard to respect it as a competitive sport. The diva judges, the scandals, the subjective and biased scoring…no thanks. I’d rather just watch these women skate without caring who got what score.

Well tomorrow is Friday. There are things to do at work, that’s for sure. There are no crisis-level things going on, though. I have to work on the color printing system a bit more, do some work in the grad student lab, work on some Ghost images, troubleshoot a scanner…nothing too worrisome. I hope to have a productive and low-stress day. And then weekend.

I still haven’t smoked or lost my mind 🙂

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Last night was stressful for

February 21, 2002

Last night was stressful for me and I thought about smoking more than once. I mean just thought about it, not really thought about it. Anyway, today seems as OK as yesterday. I haven’t smoked and I’m not losing my mind. These are good things. I arrived at work before 8:30 and by the time I was done with my email and voicemail it was 9:45. Jeez. I had a meeting from 10 to 11:45. Then I spent a quiet period in the Brew, having my fruit and tea lunch. It’s nice having a routine. I don’t expect that I’ll always do that for lunch; I mean sometimes I’ll get invited somewhere and I’ll go and eat. But for the most part I think I’ll stick with this. It works for me and the routine is comfortable.

After lunch I went over to the theatre department and did a couple of jobs they’d requested. Cross those off my list. Oh, I recieved new compact flash cards for the digital cameras. Now instead of taking 30 “standard compression” jpg images I can take 147. Quite a jump. I’ll be putting one to the test soon.

It’s my turn to make dinner tonight and I don’t know what it’ll be. I’ve been eyeing up that lasagne in the freezer but it takes 1.25 hours just to bake and besides we ate the garlic bread with the tortellini on Monday. So I don’t know. Tacos? Chili? We’ll see.

I’m very happy that I’ve been able to start eating less. I’ve put on more and more weight over the last four years. I think I gained more than 15 in the last two of them in fact. I figure I’ll eat light for a while so I can lose some, then re-evaluate my intake once I’ve dropped 15 or 20. By “light” I mean that I’m having a low-fat granola bar and orange juice for breakfast, fruit for lunch and then I pretty much eat dinner as always. And I’ve cut out all snacks except for occasional rice cakes. I think this is sensible for someone trying to lose a few and it’s a far cry from what was usual for me only a few weeks ago. I’m just so pleased that I seem now to be able to do it. I credit this medication the doctor put me on to help me quit smoking. I’ve got to remember to tell him of this side effect.

With slimming down, excercising and quitting smoking I’ll be so damned healthy I won’t know what to do with myself.

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It’s lunchtime here in the

February 20, 2002

It’s lunchtime here in the Brew. I got my Braeburn apple and my mint tea. I’m having a pretty good day so far.

I got up good and early this morning, got myself together and then stuck on a nicotine patch. I grabbed a bite to eat, drank some coffee and hit the road. I have to admit that when I got into my truck and pulled out of the driveway I felt something. It was a brief but bitter moment. I don’t know what to call it but the feeling was lonely. But it passed before I could even consider it fully. For sure the medication I’m on and the nicotine patch are helping me. Here it is past noon and all I can say is that if the next days and weeks are like this then I’m in great shape. I’m carying around a stress ball painted like a globe. That helps too.

Based on my previous attempts to quit smoking I have to say that the prescription medication I’m on is awesome. During the time I’ve been on it I’ve been able to eat lighter, sleep better and just generally feel less anxious. Judging from where I am today I may be the first person in history to quit smoking and lose 20 pounds. Hell, I should write a book and put that in the title. I’d be a millionaire.

Anyhow, the work problems from last night are all resolved thank goodness. I’ve been stuck in meetings quite a bit of the day so far and I’ve got a 2pm one coming up. I wont be staying late tonight I don’t think. I ordered myself copies of Illustrator 10, Golive 6, and InDesign 2. I can’t wait to start messing with them in Mac OS X.