So that was Christmas

My Christmas was technically white, as a bit of snow fell during the day—only to immediately melt upon reaching the ground.

At Marin’s request, my dad and I carted a Christmas tree to the house; we never quite got around to decorating it fully, though, so it stands in my dining room festooned with jelly-bean-colored LED lights and wearing an Ikea silver star at a jaunty angle. (Its heart is in the right place.) Besides, my family’s favorite part of the tree is its smell—though, of course, this tree hasn’t been all that fragrant.

After significant cussing, I was able to put a string of white lights over my kitchen cabinetry; between that and the tree, we’ve been able to navigate the downstairs without additional light. The outside of my house is completely dark, where most of my neighbors managed to get some lights out—or, at the least, a wreath on the door.

So, uh, I declare this year a semi-Christmas. Next year we’ll do better!

Adding significantly to the chaos of the season has been two kittens that Marin adopted: Maaya, and the Rogue Pooper. Maaya is the black one:

two kittens; one black, one gray

We still need a name for the other, provided she doesn’t wear out her welcome by continuing to use my house as her litterbox.

If it’s not intuitively obvious (it was to me, but not to my sister): kittens are a PITA. Given how much work these two take—and that’s with them entertaining each other a good deal of the time—I have no idea why anyone ever has children.

I don’t think I’ve quite realized it yet, but I’ve finally gotten most of my life straightened out. My finances are in order; my paperwork is filed. I can now honestly say that I’ve saved some money this year. (Yay!) My server move is complete, and I’ve upgraded my computers to Leopard. They’re being backed up hourly to an external hard drive, courtesy of Time Machine, which is singlehandedly the greatest thing Apple’s done for its users in years. (Plug in an external drive, tell the computer to use it as a backup drive, and then ignore it—backing up has never been that easy.)

All that remains is putting away a bit more stuff around the house. Thank goodness.

Layer Tennis

I’m taking my first days off since a day off in late January (and before that, my Japan trip in September 2005) to try and get my affairs in order. Also, I seem to have burned out a bit at work.

No idea why that is.

My great accomplishment for the day is that all the calendars in my house now display the appropriate month. My other great accomplishment is that I recycled all the cans that had taken up residence in my garage. This second accomplishment successfully paid for tonight’s dinner.

My final great accomplishment was scheduled to be the successful defense of another innocent client in Phoenix Wright, but I think I might just go to sleep instead.

One (now extremely old) casualty of my inability to manage my time is that I don’t poke around the web anywhere near as much as I used to. I have four main sites that I visit: Ars Technica, Daring Fireball, DVD Talk, and Cheap Ass Gamer. The latter two, as you might have noticed, are more to find deals on DVDs and video games than to read actual writing. (I still have my RSS feeds, but they’ve become neglected again….)

The exception to my general web-rut is Layer Tennis. Every Friday, two creative web personalities go head-to-head in a game of one-ups-manship, with commentary provided by a third web personality. One person “serves” by sending a Photoshop file to the other, and then a series of fifteen-minute “volleys” take place—each volley somehow playing off of the previous entry. Each round is posted to the Layer Tennis website for people to follow along (navigation is on the right side, underneath the horizontal picture).

The person who serves can prepare the serve in advance; the other person will have the last volley—and thereby the last word.

It’s awkward to explain (I’ve tried before), but I find it fascinating. Of course, that didn’t prevent me from missing last week’s match. Now that I’ve addressed that oversight, I must say that it’s probably my favorite so far.

I know nothing about the people involved in today’s match, but I’ll be tuning in all the same.

Blog: functional

I finally took the time, this evening, to figure out—whereby I mean “just barely grasp”—Movable Type 4’s new template system. I then took the next step (!) and spent some time getting this blog set up properly. Things should no longer look extremely ghetto, and comments have returned. Exciting!

The most fun I had, in case you were wondering, was when I was forced to debug some bundled JavaScript code to allow the comments form to appear. (The second-most fun I had was when I was forced to figure out why the comment form wouldn’t display.)

Earlier this week I was (finally!) able to copy my email from the old server to the new one, so my server move is all but complete. My final task is to determine why I get random errors when securely checking my email… and though I get these errors, I still get my email just fine. Weird.

This server migration may well be the first thing I actually finish in the last couple months. Daaaaaaaaaaamn.

The fate of destruction is the joy of rebirth

[warning incoming stream-of-consciousness post; brent too tired to edit his ramblings]

My life is still in shambles: I have a ton of stuff to do at work, my finances remain opaque to me, I’m still not fully settled into my house. I’ve emerged from a multi-week period of hitting my head against a wall at work, though, and I seem to be able to sleep again. I remain confident I can get my act together, so long as I don’t go batshit-insane from sleep deprivation.

It was looking kinda grim for a while.

Adding to the swirling chaos of my life is a good deal of technological upheaval. My webhost is upgrading their servers; I’m halfway through the process of migrating my files. Confounding my migration is an rsync command that fails to run properly, which has thoroughly mucked up my email. Since I had to set everything up from scratch anyway, I elected to go ahead and upgrade my blog to Movable Type 4; as you can see, that process didn’t exactly go smoothly, either—while the front page looks more-or-less OK, individual entries no longer have comment fields, and monthly archives are, uh, reduced to their very essence.

I’m working on it.

…I’m thinking about working on it.

…It’s on my list of stuff to do. Said list is pretty darn long.

Also, on Friday Apple will release Mac OS X 10.5: time to backup and upgrade my computers! While past OS upgrades have been uneventful, given my recent luck with computer-related tasks I’ve begun to brace for something to go awry.

So, uh, you might say that part of my problem is an inability and/or unwillingness to prioritize certain things over others. (But I want to run the new hotness now!)

The one thing I’ve been handling well is exercise (!): nowdays it seems I watch most of my anime while on my exercise bike. Just finished up Fafner, which started out both horribly generic and confusing (due to characters throwing around technical jargon without any explanation) but grew into something special. I should write more about the show, since I suspect it’s overlooked and it may be going out of print, what with Geneon closing up shop…. We’ll see if I ever get to that.

Finally, Phoenix Wright 3 just came out today. I’m going to lose a week playing that, I’m sure.

Amazon MP3 Store After-Action Report

So Amazon announced a “beta” (ha) of its new Digital Music Store, which looks to be the first honest-to-goodness competitor for Apple’s iTunes Music Store. DRM-free, 256 kbps (LAME-encoded, rumor has it) MP3 files for 89 or 99 cents—nice!

I still prefer to buy CDs on sale, because they’ll never give me buyer’s remorse due to encoding bitrates or DRM/legalese (and there is a bit of legalese for Amazon’s MP3s that you should be aware of), but I’d certainly buy any one-off song I like from Amazon.

Pluses: No DRM; easy to buy; encoding sounds good (albeit, to me and my not-terribly-sensitive ears)

Minuses: Terms of service are still restrictive compared to those for a CD; did not improve my taste in music

Not sweating bullets

Nobody’s out to get me. Everything is cool. It’s normal for graffiti like this to appear on the dumpster in the next lot over:

Brent End

Right? (T_T)

Pinky the cat

Andy called me earlier today, and told me I should search YouTube for “pinkie the cat.” He said that it had him rolling on the ground, and that I would pretty much want to share that video with everyone I knew.

He was right, save for the spelling of “Pinky.”

My spam-box runneth over

My email has recently been flooded with messages warning me about this (ostensibly) sex video making the rounds online featuring me and some attractive gal. I have been warned that my mother, father, wife, girlfriend, pastor, neighbors, and mayor will disown and/or kill me if they ever see this video.

(I’ve been sweating bullets about this video all day.)

I have also been asked where I hid the camera, where I found this girl, and if I would be interested in Meg.a D I K.

These all (save the last) then include a YouTube-looking address with an actual URL that’s some spammy IP address. I was disappointed to learn that the YouTube URLs are fake.

If I were going to spam, I’d at least do it with some class.

The problem with Ikea (the store)

Ikea doesn’t respect its customers’ time. I’ve never been so pissed off as a result of visiting a store.

It usually takes a lot to piss me off.

The Ikea store experience, for those who have never been, is akin to that of a hedge maze. You wander around this predetermined path (helpfully marked with arrows) that twists and turns wildly; around the path are myriad sample setups of rooms filled with Ikea furniture. (There is practically nothing in the store that is not made by Ikea; even the batteries they sell by the checkout are Ikea-brand.) The store (really, the path) is divided into a handful of themes—kitchen, bedroom, etc. Most items are tagged with aisle and bin numbers; you write these down, and then pick your purchases up in the self-serve warehouse located just before checkout.

There are also a ton of people around you. I was surprised to see families gathering around fake kitchens as if they were in their own home… and secretly suspected that they didn’t even gather like that at home.

I’m sure the layout is great for the Bed, Bath and Beyond crowd, who have fun just wandering and poking around the store. But I wanted to buy a coffee table. I wanted to look at a side-by-side comparison of all the coffee tables they had, find one that fit my needs, grab it and go.


Moving from entrance to checkout involves following the entire preordained path; there are a handful of “shortcut” paths, but they’re poorly marked and utterly useless unless you already know the store’s layout. While you might find a cluster of coffee tables (say) somewhere, other coffee tables can only be found in one of of the demo setups. You can’t know that you’ve seen every possible coffee table until you’ve looked through the entire living room area. Other items that don’t fit cleanly into one of Ikea’s themes—like bookcases—are worse; you can’t know that you’ve seen all the bookcases until you’ve looked through the entire store.

If the Ikea store was a person, I’d punch him(/her) in the face. Hard. The furniture’s a decent value, but I’m not sure it’s worth the aggravation of the store.

Not quite myself

Today I was an ADHD monkey on crack. This bizarre change in my demeanor was fortuitous, as it allowed me to handle an unexpected surge of work with aplomb.

I’ve spent the last month feeling rather horribly out-of-sorts: lethargic, exhausted by even the most minor physical labor, irritable, on and on. (Pop quiz: how long does Brent have to feel sick before he actually goes to see a doctor? beats me) Today shouldn’t have been any different; I can tell that I’m still sick.

Yet today I’m… affected. I’m normally rather calm and slow-moving; when I’m nervous I’ll bite at my fingertips. Today I’m hyper and jittery—and gnawing on my lower lip.

Also: my lower lip can’t take anywhere near as much abuse as my fingers can. Yowch.

powered by wordpress