Poll tested, mother approved
Mood: hopeful
Music: DJ Danger Mouse - "99 problems"
Posted on 2005-03-23 10:04:00
Words: 7

Let's give this poll thing a shot.


i dunno
Mood: drained
Music: none
Posted on 2005-03-22 21:52:00
Words: 94

Hanging out here at the ranch - my mom's in town for a conference and she's staying with me. We went places looking for a LaTeX book and the new Timesplitters game for me (got game (David will be excited!), but no book), and a confirmation card for Carrie, which are apparently very very rare or something. Anyway, hopefully I'll get a reasonable amount of sleep _and_ sleep well tonight, which would be the first time in a while. And then all my problems at work will clear up...and the world will live in harmony...


paid member!
Mood: chipper
Music: Timesplitters 2 music
Posted on 2005-03-21 23:21:00
Words: 40

I'm now officially a paid member. So, you'll be seeing more silly pictures like this one. Be warned!

(this picture was from when I was in the Austin Summer Musical for Children - you can see more pictures at my website!)


concentration, and lack thereof
Mood: irritated
Music: DJ Danger Mouse - "Public Service Announcement"
Posted on 2005-03-21 15:48:00
Words: 46

Sometimes, when I'm frustrated at my lack of progress and I'm trying to concentrate on what I need to get done, I get annoyed at people who are having a loud random conversation (not work-related). This is one of those times. Headphones with music help, though...


technology lust
Mood: hyper
Music: nothing at the moment
Posted on 2005-03-18 16:23:00
Words: 227

Does anyone else have this problem?

Usually the way it works with me is this (I'll use the iPod as a case study, since that's what I'm in the middle of right now):

- I hear about an iPod. Sounds kinda neat, but whatever. (wait anytime from a few days to a few months)

- Still thinking I don't want one, I learn some more about it. Wow, this thing has some cool features! It makes toast AND does laundry! I decide that I want one. This is a dangerous phase, as I can be an impulse buyer (lasts a few days to a week or two)

- If I haven't bought it, I convince myself that it's not really that great, and I would never use an iPod anyway (lasts weeks to many months)

- I slowly start learning more about an iPod, and convince myself that it really is that cool, and it would be awesome to own one, and I would too use it sometimes, maybe. Then I either buy it, or go back to the previous step.

I think I'm back to step 3 about an iPod for now. Anyway, I think I'm gonna get a new cell phone - mine has pretty bad battery life at this point, and I can upgrade for cheap (thanks, T-Mobile!).

Man, what a long day. Can't wait to start the weekend!


On getting started in the morning
Mood: moody
Music: Journey - "Message of Love"
Posted on 2005-03-15 08:54:00
Words: 31

Getting started working in the morning can be hard. I just started playing some music, and discovered that the current song is great for that.

I'm tired, and I miss David.


my weekend
Mood: content
Music: Enigma - "Principles of Lust"
Posted on 2005-03-14 10:29:00
Words: 63

Had a good weekend - it was nice to see my sisters again and spend some time at home. Picked up a few books - I already finished The Tipping Point, which was very good (as I had heard). I read some other essays of Malcolm Gladwell's at www.gladwell.com, which I also enjoyed.

Right now David's out of town, so I'm sorta on my own...


Mood: relaxed
Music: "CSI" theme music
Posted on 2005-03-11 22:13:00
Words: 73

So I'm here at home (in Houston), watching TV, and we saw a commercial for a sermon at a Baptist church about the "se7en" deadly sins. I'm not sure what they were going for, because they showed a lot of freeways - are those sinful somehow? I must have missed that...Anyway, that was weird enough, but right after that was a quick screen advertising Girls Gone Wild. Hah!

Hope people have a good weekend!


My eventful day
Mood: worried but hopeful
Music: Coldplay - "Trouble"
Posted on 2005-03-10 12:36:00
Tags: taxcenter
Words: 680

Doesn't that sound like it should be the title of a middle-school essay? Anyway, yesterday was quite eventful for me - nothing earth-shattering, just a lot of atypical things. So I thought I'd share them.

Morning was pretty uninteresting, except I'm just starting on a new project that looks like it's going to be difficult and I'm worried about completing in the time I said I could. Plus it's at a weird intersection of like three different things, so there are few people who can really help me on it. We'll see how it goes...

Barbara was in town for spring break (she left this morning), so she, Jonathan, David and I met for lunch at Bangkok Cuisine, which I hadn't been to. It was pretty good stuff! We had the lunch buffet. With fried bananas. Mmm...

Then I did some more unproductive work, and left around 3:00 for our release party (we released a bunch of stuff in January, yay!) It was at Austin's Park 'n Pizza, which I hadn't been to, but it's a pretty cool place, kinda like Celebration Station. I was a little wary of the whole thing (we had been assigned teams for "team-building exercises"), but we played laser tag and did go-karts, which was a lot of fun. After that we were free to do what we wanted, but I had to leave to go volunteer at the tax center.

Volunteering was...well, it was really depressing. I only saw two people. (being delibrately kinda vague here for privacy reasons) The first was a lady who didn't make much money and had lost her job in October and hadn't found one yet. (at least she came to us instead of going to H & R Block like she had done last year) She was obviously lonely and so she chatted with me for a while, but she seemed sad. Not only that, but although she got a decent refund, she owed the IRS back taxes, and so all of it was going to them (and she still owed them more). So that was depressing.

The second was a lady with a really complicated return - she lived in Massachusetts and had moved down here in 2004, so I told her we couldn't do the Massachusetts state taxes. We did the federal ones, though, and things seemed to be going fine (she got a decent refund). But she knew that she was going to owe state taxes, and so she wanted to send the info to her daughter, who's going to school there, so she could file for her (I didn't know if you can do this or what). And then she just sounded more and more desperate, and she said she was leaving the country soon to work at KBR (sounded like she was going to Iraq), and she didn't want her daughter to know, but she really needed the money.

So I left the tax center really really depressed, and grabbed some food on the way home, and listened to Frou Frou in the car. Frou Frou is great great stuff, and it helped some. I got home and met up with David, Barbara and Teresa & Lucas, who is as cute as ever (he's really growing - he can understand commands now and stuff. Fun!). So we played with him for a while, then Teresa & Lucas left and Christi and David showed up, so we chatted for a while, then played a game. Later we watched some TV with Barbara & Jonathan. Anyway, I guess the point was that it was nice to just hang out with friends and such - we haven't been doing a lot of that lately for various reasons (mostly other people's reasons, really)

So now I'm worried about my project again since I can't seem to make any progress at all. Hopefully that will change soon.

I see amorphousplasma has an on-site interview at NI - good luck! I'd be happy to talk to you about the whole experience, except I really have no idea what tech writer interviews are like. But the weekend is fun... :-)


tax volunteering
Mood: excited
Music: Vanessa Carlton - "White Houses"
Posted on 2005-03-04 14:14:00
Tags: taxcenter
Words: 306

It's Friday! Yay! And Barbara's coming down to visit, which should be fun.

Anyway, David and I have been volunteering at a community tax center (http://www.claimandsave.org) where we do people's taxes and file them for free. It's a really neat service, and I've learned a lot about the tax code. Some random thoughts that I've had about it:

Um, that's mostly it. Anyway, it's good stuff.

1 comment

Raise the minimum wage!
Mood: hopeful
Music: DJ Danger Mouse - "What More Can I Say"
Posted on 2005-03-03 10:03:00
Tags: taxcenter
Words: 312

I just wrote an email to both of my senators asking them to raise the minimum-wage (the issue is coming up for debate soon), and I would encourage you to do the same. It's really very easy - you can find your senators websites from www.senate.gov, and most of them have a contact form where you can paste in the text of your letter. Here's my letter if you want a model:

I would urge you to support increasing the minimum wage. The minimum wage is currently $5.15, and in fact has not increased since 1997, which means that, in effect, it has been going down since then. A full-time worker earning minimum wage would make only $10,712 a year, which is well below the poverty line for a family of three. An increase of the minimum wage to even $7.00 would help to eliminate this disparity.

On a more personal note, I have been volunteering with Foundation Communities in their Claim + Save Community Tax Centers (http://www.claimandsave.org) to help low income people and families in the Austin area do their taxes. I can assure you that many of these people do make minimum wage, and an increase of the minimum wage to $7.00, while still a relatively low amount, would boost their incomes by 36 percent. Not only that, but it will also help to stimulate the economy, as lower income workers tend to spend more of their income.

I would be delighted to hear your thoughts on raising the minimum wage. Thank you for your time.

Feel free to use it, except for the personal part, unless you do volunteer there :-) There's some information available at http://www.epinet.org/content.cfm/issueguides_minwage_minwagefacts and http://www.epinet.org/content.cfm/issueguides_minwage_minwagefaq.

Keeping in touch with your elective representatives is a great way to stay involved with what's going on in politics and the world around you, and it's pretty easy to do. Go democracy!


frustrating radio
Mood: irritated
Music: NPR - "Morning Edition"
Posted on 2005-02-23 08:36:00
Words: 196

So I drove to work this morning, listening to NPR as I usually do, and the following two things irritated me to the point of coming here and posting about them:

- There was a story on how Thai officials are trying to stop the bird flu from spreading by killing infected chickens and animals near them, etc. But the story was really about how the people who owned cock-fighters were complaining about the new restrictions. A little perspective would maybe help here - if the bird flu gets into humans and mutates into a virulent strain it could kill millions upon millions of people. Yikes! The most frustrating part was the guy who talked about the restriction that they're considering to only let chickens be raised in enclosed pens (to limit contact with other animals) - the guy went on about how to be a good fighter, they need to be raised as if in the wild. I can't even come up with an analogy to illustrate how ridiculous this is.

- There was a traffic accident at Guadalupe street downtown, which they pronounced as "Gwada-loop". Dang it, it's "Gwada-loo-pay"! This one bothers me whenever I hear it. Grr!

1 comment

Mood: sad
Posted on 2005-02-17 10:35:00
Words: 9

Please keep Doug & Teresa in your thoughts and prayers.


paranormal stuff
Mood: quixotic
Music: Eminem - "Rain Man"
Posted on 2005-02-15 14:38:00
Words: 63

So I stumbled upon this article today. The title is a bit sensationalistic, but the article is actually pretty interesting. The Global Consciousness Project even has a website where you can look at their data. I haven't read through all of it, but here is a list of events that they have "registered". I'm really not sure quite what to make of it...


Mood: determined
Music: Outkast - "Happy Valentine's Day"
Posted on 2005-02-15 09:09:00
Words: 71

David and I saw "Hitch" this weekend with some friends. I had read mixed reviews, but I do like Will Smith a lot, so we thought we'd give it a shot (and there doesn't seem to be a whole lot good showing right now...). Anyway, it was a good movie - I'm usually not huge on romantic comedies, but this was quite funny. Also, I like Will Smith (did I mention that? :-) )


Mood: stressed
Music: Vanessa Carlton - "Afterglow"
Posted on 2005-02-09 13:59:00
Words: 171

So work has been busy, but not too abnormally so, and I've been kinda busy this week with activities (but most of them fun/social-related), and for some reason I've been really stressed. At some points it's almost like a minor panic attack - my chest tightens up a bit and I feel like I have to get up and walk around or something. I've never experienced this exactly before - I've certainly been stressed before, but it's never had this physical effect on me.

Hopefully it's getting better, though - I'm trying to force myself to relax and cutting back on caffeine (which I was off of for a while, but I've been having more again for no particular reason).

Also, when I was getting help removing my old hard drive from my work computer on Monday, I cut my fingertip a bit, and so it hurts whenever it gets touched. This hasn't improved my mood much, although at least it's healing now (I bled a little on my keyboard, which is pretty disgusting...)


Ah, Virginia
Mood: stressed
Music: Zero 7 - "Destiny"
Posted on 2005-02-09 12:20:00
Words: 30

The Virginia House of Delegates was busy yesterday, striking back against the two most serious problems of our time - allowing everyone to get married and people wearing low-riding pants. Yeesh...


Super Bowl + whatnot
Mood: relaxed
Music: Eminem - "Mosh"
Posted on 2005-02-07 11:00:00
Words: 116

So the Super Bowl was pretty exciting, although the Eagles need to learn how to play a hurry-up offense (Hint: when you need two scores with 5 or so minutes left, you should be in a no huddle offense. Also, if you need a field goal, and you're at your own 5 yard line with 30 seconds left, do NOT throw to the middle of the field! The best thing that can happen is that the pass is dropped...) I ate too much, as expected, and so didn't have a great day at Weight Watchers today. But, hey, it happens...

Blah - I thought I had something to say, but I guess I don't, really. Oh well...


hard drives - they die!
Mood: drained
Music: Coldplay - "Yellow"
Posted on 2005-02-03 14:33:00
Words: 65

My hard drive unceremoniously died at work yesterday (the "repetitive whir of death", or something), so the last few days have been a mad rush to get stuff off of it. Luckily, I was able to get the important things off, so nothing was really lost except my time. Anyway, between this and the TiVo hard drive that died, don't let me near your data!


Quick religion quiz
Mood: cheerful
Music: Colin Hay - "Going Somewhere"
Posted on 2005-01-31 15:21:00
Words: 28

I like quizzes. This is a quiz to find your most compatible religion. Apparently I'm 100% Liberal Christian Protestant, and 83% Roman Catholic. And I'm not a Scientologist!


Mood: content
Music: Coldplay - "Trouble"
Posted on 2005-01-31 09:37:00
Words: 40

So the TiVo is back alive (albeit minus all of our old shows), and so I have my computer back, which means I can listen to music at work again (I stream my mp3 collection from home). Life is good!


Recruiting, college, and such
Mood: nostalgic
Posted on 2005-01-26 21:16:00
Words: 300

So I went back to Rice yesterday to work the career fair there. Going back to Rice has always been weird for me for a number of reasons. Going back brings strong memories (which are less strong the longer I've been away) of being in college - for how busy I was and whatnot, I really enjoyed it a lot and miss it from time to time. Especially when I'm back there :-)

I also just plain like being on college campuses. The college environment is very appealing to me - I guess a lot of it is camaraderie, which is almost forced when you live with people for that long. (it's difficult to separate this feeling from the memories of Rice, but I feel this way even at other colleges) This is one of the reasons that grad school appeals to me on an emotional level, even though I know (and people tell me all the time!) that it's very different from undergrad.

My first year after Rice I really liked going to the career fair, because I knew so many people still there. Now that I've been out for 1.5 years, I know fewer and fewer people, which is really kinda depressing, and made me enjoy this trip less than the previous few. I did see a few people I knew recruiting, though, and met some cool people who will be interning at the company this summer, which is nice, especially since I'm not so good at getting to know people.

In the end, though, it was a fun trip, although it was quite tiring (drive down to Houston in the morning, standing from 2-5 and 7-9, then driving back to Austin really gets to you...), and I had a nice drive down getting to know a fellow alum and employee.


darn crossword puzzles
Mood: embarrassed
Posted on 2005-01-19 22:13:00
Words: 108

So David and I were working on a crossword-like puzzle in an old Games magazine, and one of the clues was "It's wicked". So my first guess was "sin", which ended up not fitting (it was a kind of crossword in which you don't know the length of answers, which is hard of course), and then we were out of ideas for a while, and it ended up being one of the last clues we got. And the answer was...

"candle". At first I was like, "Well, candles can be kinda evil, I guess...", and then we looked at each other and burst out laughing.

Darn crossword puzzles!


Mood: worried
Music: Puddle of Mudd, "Heel over Head"
Posted on 2005-01-19 13:14:00
Words: 545

For those of you that haven't experienced the wonder that is TiVo, allow me to explain. TiVo is a Digital Video Recorder, which means that it records all the shows David and I watch for me when they come on, and we can watch them at our leisure. I've had my TiVo for around 2.5 years now, and I can't imagine going back. We just sit down later in the week whenever we feel like it to watch our shows that have come on earlier. It also records all sorts of random stuff that we only sometimes watch in case we feel like it. It is very magical! Hopefully the company will live long and prosper.

So, anyway, over the last 6 months or so, we've seen some random skips and stutters in playback that have been getting a little worse as time goes on. Nothing too serious, although sometimes it would stutter for a few seconds, but that's a pretty good indication that one of the hard drives is dying. (it came with a 60 GB hard drive, and I added a 120 GB drive soon after I got it) Since David was gone this weekend, I decided to go ahead and replace one of the hard drives. I assumed the problem was the 60 GB hard drive, since that was the older one, so I went to Fry's, picked up a 60 GB hard drive, and did the replacing on Sunday. It took a while (since I wanted to keep all of our recordings, I had to copy 60 GB's from one drive to another, which took around 4 hours), but no biggie. Watched a Futurama episode Sunday night, and things seemed to be fine.

Unfortunately, this was not the case. On Monday, David watched a program or two, and said the skipping and stuttering was worse than ever. When I got home, we watched an old Newsradio episode (the one with the suggestion box...good stuff!) and it was still skipping and stuttering. When we tried to watch the Futurama episode I had watched Sunday night, it played for about 9 minutes, got stuck, and eventually rebooted, which is pretty unheard of for a TiVo (they're very stable). After doing this a few times, we got the dreaded Green Screen of Death, which I looked up and found out that the filesystem was messed up, and it was trying to fix it. Which it eventually did, but there were still all sorts of resetting problems and such.

So we figured the 120 GB drive must be the problem, bought another 120 GB drive and set it up to copy over overnight. Got up this morning, and the copy had failed. When I checked the logs, there were all sorts of read errors trying to read the 120 GB drive.

Anyway, we're pretty sure that's the problem, and we're still trying to copy the data over (skipping sectors that can't be read). But the upshot is that I can't get to my computer (since the TiVo drives are in it), which means I can't listen to music or anything (although I did listen to some in the car on the way to lunch). And there's no TiVo. And I want it to get better!


On Weight Watchers
Mood: cheerful
Music: Fountains Of Wayne, "All Kinds Of Time"
Posted on 2005-01-17 13:36:00
Words: 107

So I joined Weight Watchers today - they started meetings at work, which is very cool. It worked for me before, and I was within spitting distance (10 pounds or so) of my goal weight, and then I graduated college, and getting to meetings got more inconvenient and getting high-calorie foods became easier. So I'm back up to around where I was where I started. But I'm gonna make it work this time!

Anyway, one thing that I don't like about Weight Watchers is the female/male ratio - there were 25ish people at the meeting today, and exactly 2 guys (myself included). It makes me...uncomfortable, I guess. I dunno.


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