Saturday, December 29, 2007

Your Pipes Suffer 2d6 of Frost Damage

Wyoming is windy. VERY windy. When you combine that wind with cold, you get enough chilling power to penatrate fiberglass insulation and freeze your pipes. Thankfully, only the pipes leading to the bathtub faucet are frozen, so I decided to wait it out. The next day, I can get a shower when it warms up enough to thaw out the pipes. In the winter, you can get away with longer intervals between showers.
Anyway, last night I'm settled in for a quiet evening when I hear *clunk-WOOOOSHHHHH!* So I go to my bathroom and see water gushing from the facuet. I figure that I just didn't turn off the faucet when I was fiddling last night. No, both valves are in the Off posistion. And there's still water. That won't stop flowing. Hmm.
I look around for the turn off valve for the water, but I don't see it. I do find single shut off valves for every other water fixture, just not the one that's gushing. I eventally call the landlord who sends over his son, who finds the main valve (open a hatch in the floor, crawl ten feet under the house, and turn the red handle. Watch out for trolls).
Tomorrow, I should have full plumbing functionality, or at latest Monday. We shall see...

Thursday, December 27, 2007

At the Movies

So, Lyman does have a theater. Size: 1 screen, 1 showing per night. That doesn't sound like much, but... really, that's about all the Valley will can support financially. This week, we had National Treasure 2. I was amused at the way the opening scenes of this version quickly dashes to pieces the ending of the first one.

End of NT1: They find the loot, donate it to a museum and receive a finder's fee large for Ben Gates and Abigail to buy a mansion, and for their sidekick, Riley, to purchase an exotic sports car.

Beginning of NT2: Ben has split with Abby, and moved back in with Dad, Riley has his Car repossessed after his accountant gets caught doing some book-cooking on his Taxes, and now has to pay it back with interests and penalties. "You know how much tax is owed on 5 million dollars? 6 million."

For those whining about the "spoiler" I just gave: this is revealed in the first 10 minutes. Suck it up.

Anyway, the theater is tiny. The box office is outside the main building, as often portrayed in TV and movies, the tickets aren't custom printed, but are basically those carnival door prize tickets. As soon as you step in, you're 5 feet from the concession stand, and makes it difficult to maneuver due to the limited space. It's not big enough for me to properly refer to it a as a lobby. But the prices are good: Popcorn costs $1.50, $2.00, or $2.50, as do the drinks, and the candy. You can get a small everything for less than 5 bucks.

One interesting promotion they do is they mark each purchased item with a number, and select about 3 of those number at the end of the night for a small prize of some kind. From what I hear, this is to encourage people to bring out their cups and bags and things to throw them away, rather than leave them on the floor. The movies they show are mostly family fare, and from my own theater experience, I can tell you that this high mess potential, and they don't employ ushers to clean up the auditorium when finished. This, like most enterprizes in this town, is strictly Mom, Pop, and the kids. More small town quaintness.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Christmas Shopping

As of 8:31pm Mountain Time, Christmas Shopping is done. Hooray for Crass Consumerism! Three Cheers for Materialism! Woo-hoo!
A few milestones:
  1. This is the first christmas where EVERY purchase was made online. I never set foot in a store or walked among the masses. The closest major shopping center being about a two hour drive, partly over ill-maintained roads might have had something to do with it, but I plan to do this more often. Ah, the marvels of the 21st Century! This year, Santa drives a Brown (Yellow/Red?) truck.
  2. This is also the first year where I didn't have to do the Gift Certificate cop-out, not even for the difficult to buy for relatives. I hope to do this again next year, but only time will tell.
  3. This year, I experienced the pleasure of not having to cheap-out on anything or avoid buying something absolutly PERFECT for someone just becuase it's a liiiitle more than I'm willing to spend. It's nice to have less of the tight-wadery and still not go out of my means. Thank you Curent Employer for redefining what my means are!

And now, I rest. Good night!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Fictional Beasts

So, I'm buying last minute Chistmas Gifts for people, including my grandparents, Grandparents being that group of people that just about everyone has trouble buying for. So I asks myself, "self, what do your grandparents like?" They like:

* Tacky nick-nacks that they display around the house.

* Said nicknacks often have a Western/Southwestern theme.

* Mementos of their grandchildren.

Hey, I think were onto something here...

BEHOLD! The Jackalope, hunted down on the 31st of June (The only day of the year a Jackalope Hunting licence is valid), stuffed and nailed to a slab of knotty pine, with which to remember their beloved Grandson that moved a zillion miles away.

BTW, for the few people who read this blog and don't know my grandparents, I'm not risking 'ruining the surprise'. My G'rents have avoided any and every electronic gadget made since 1977, including all Personal computers, digital cameras (until recently my grandmother was forced to buy one after they stopped making the film for hers), and anthing that even remotely uses an IP address or URL. They'll never see this, trust me.

(Photo courstesy of

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Seen at the Grocery Store


I was gonna leave a witty remark or two, but you know what? Not worth it. Caption it in the comments if you want, but I'm done here.

ok, fine click the picture for one teeny, tiny wise-ass comment...

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Wheel of Time Still Turns...

Back in September, when I got my job offer, my joy was quickly tempered just a few hours later by the announcment that Robert Jordan passed away after a long battle with amyloidosis. After writing 11 Wheel of Time novels, the 12th and final book Memory of Light (seriously, he promised it would be the final conclusion) was in danger, and some thought just might never be completed.

Today, we have offical word that Brandon Sanderson will complete the Wheel of Time series. Yeah, like most of you, I'm always worried that when someone gets ahold of someone else's world, they'll trample all over it, but Harriet (RJ's Widow) hand picked this guy, and he sounds like he's going to try to be as faithful as he can to RJ's vision, without directly copying his style, which would be awkward. He has a stack of notes, and hours of audio recordings RJ made shortly before his death, so no important details will be lost to the grave. (In spite of constant reassurance that RJ was beating back his illness, I think the family knew in the last few months that he wouldn't make it past the end of the year.)

Everyone else already said this, but I wouldn't want to be in his position right now. On the other hand, this works out GREAT for Robert Jordan's legacy. If Jordan had lived to write Memory of Light and see it published, no doubt legions of Fanboys would cry out how this was the worst ending EVAR and was a major disappointment, as happens with every major series that finally gets a conclusion. This way, no matter how it ends, any problems will be blamed on the New Guy, leaving Jordan blameless for the perceived mockery that Sanderson left in his wake.

If I were Jordan, I'd TOTALLY take advantage of that. Have one last jab at so-called fans that critisized his books since number 6 (although the 10th one really did suck; The Crossroads of Boredom or Spinning my Wheels-of-Time would have been more appropriate titles). I'd plant some bogus notes, near the bottom of one the stacks of paper left in my office. I can see Mr. Sanderson brushing aside the other stacks of paper in Jordan's office and pulling the desk lamp close to finally get a glimpse of the grand finale to the Dragon Reborn's conflict with the Dark One...

...and with a final merciless stroke, the Dark One drives his saidar wrought sword into Rand's side, into the very spot Padin Fain made his dark cut with the dagger cursed by the evil of Shadar Logoth. As Rand crumbles to the rocky summit of Dragonmount, his flesh, his bone, even his very soul disintgrates into blackness, the most horrible voice the world has known rings one last time in his ears: "I win again, Lews Therin!"


Moiraine woke up with a sharp gasp, her silken sheets stained with sweat. "Light!" she thought, "I must limit my sweets before I turn in for bed." She looked to the person sized indentation in the bed next to her own sweat marked spot. "Up early, as usual. He always said that after spending years on the road he can never stay asleep more than five minutes after sunrise."

Still haunted by her horrid dreams, she lightly steped into the washroom for a quick scrub. Someone had already gotten there, she could see the outline of a man behind the curtain using the new rain-bath device that the engineers had installed specially for House Damodred. The steam from the heated rain fogged the glass mirror that hung from the wall. She pulled back the curtain, and looked upon the smiling figure of her husband. "Thom, I had the most peculiur dream!" Thom reach for the towel hanging beside Moiraine. "I can see that. You look as though you had just met a band of Trollocks! Why don't we have some tea sent up here and you tell me all about it?" "That sounds just lovely," Moiraine said, as she threw her arms around him.

...and with the last words read, Sanderson would crush the paper in his hand and lets forth a scream that reaches to the heavens: "JORDAN! WHAT ALBATROSS HAVE YOU DRAPED AROUND MY NECK, YOU MONSTER?!?"

From heaven, Jordan would then shout back, "Hey, at least I didn't leave you notes for the two other prequels I had planned! Lews Therin finds a young Ishamael enslaved in the Far East and helps him win his freedom by coaching him in a Pod Race!"

It can ALWAYS be worse. Never forget that.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Not just good for Smiley Cookies

My sister and one of my friends from back home both linked this same commerical, so I guess I should also show people what Christmas means in da 'Burgh.

The Eat n' Park Chirstmas Star commercial is so darned adorable. Like my dear sister, seeing this on TV was offical harbinger of the Christmas season.

For out of towners: Eat n' Park is a regional chain of restaurants that started out as a drive-in restaurant in Pittsburgh, and has expanded to West Virginia and Ohio since. Think Denny's with a neighborhood diner feel to it. I think the West has something similar called The Village Inn. (I ate in one of those on the drive up here.)

Scatter Shot Post - 12/06/2007 - Grapeshot

This edition of SSP will have larger bullet points, but still to small and too many for a proper post for each.

  • I just moved from my cozy cubicle that I had to share with a person, to my very own personal cubicle, that I have all to myself... right near the major foot traffic path that leads to the breakroom. I'm still deciding whether or not that's a move up or down, but the coworkers refer to the person that occupies this cube as the "Lunch lady." No lie. (BTW, the cube location isn't merit based, but seniority based; I lost a coin toss to the co-worker that started the same day as me).
  • Since I moved out, I've been trying a new diet. Diet, refers not to a calorie-counting, fat reducing weight loss scheme, but rahter an adjustment to what I eat. Simply, I don't eat anything that I don't cook myself (almost). So far, I like it a lot, and I'm getting more enabled in the kitchen. I'll probably have a larger post about this some time in the future.
  • I still need to pickup a wireless router soon. Right now I'm parked in my room with a reclining chair that I dragged in here, with a blanket over me enjoying the warm glow of bandwidth. Not bad, but I'd like to be able to do this from the living room, but don't have the cable legnth. I'll probably wait a few weeks on it though.
  • The weather is always a the hot topic of conversation around here. I deeply suspect that the weather might be the most exciting thing in the entire Bridger Valley.
  • This Saturday is the office Christmas Party, a semi-fancy dress kind of deal (I have to wear a jacket), held at the local middle school. Aparently, it's a good time, and probably better than the parties of my previous employer. I think I mentioned before on this blog that we don't have a Holiday Party, we have an honest-to-goodness-baby-jesus-and-the-wise-men C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S party. Sometimes, living in Mormon country shows it's benifits.
  • My parents called me, looking for ideas for Chistmas gifts. If they read this post carefully, they may just find one.
  • Tonight, we are expected to have a big snowstorm. I'm hopeing to see endless white in the morning. This area has a much higher rate of White Chirstmases than PA does.
  • This has made my friggin' week: Prince Caspian Trailer - May 16th. W00t.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Beware, I Live!

Heh... I loved Sinistar...

Anyway, after a week of being cut off from the 'Tubes, I'm back online. Look forward to a post about what I did all last week, by Friday.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

You have aquired: Permanent Address!

Monday, I'll make the final move from my hotel room to my house. Today I took a trip to the "local" Wal-Mart to pick up some kitchen and household stuff (sneer quotes used here due to the fact that the Wal-Mart is about 40 miles away, so "local" is reletive). It's difficult to remember all of the little things that you use everyday at home that you take for granted when you have to buy all of this stuff yourself, like a kitchen sized waste basket, a drying rack for dishes, and paper towels.

I think I got the basics taken care of, thanks to having to use a poorly equiped kitchen to remind me what I need, but I'm sure that some day soon, I'll reach for the whatchamacalit, only to discover that I totally forgot to pick-up a whatchamacalit. Duh! I used the whatchamacalit every friggin' day since I was a kid, and somehow, I totally neglected to grab a new whatchamacalit for my place. I'll have to improvise with the thing-a-ma-jig until I can run back out and get one. Damn, I hate having to use the thing-a-ma-jig to do the whatz-it-called.

UPDATE: A toaster. The correct answer for "What common kitchen item are you missing?" is a Toaster. Thanks for playing!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

I'm thankful for...

  • new career, which uses the skills and knowledge that I studied at college. The more I talk to people, the more I find out how uncommon it is to work in the exact field you wanted to.
  • ...the man who referred me to my current land lady, who had a nice house available to rent and ONLY rents by referral. Everyone tells me that finding apartments is very difficult here, and so it finding a house to rent for under $1000/month. I really didn't want to live in a trailer, which are the only rentable things in abundance.
  • department director, who gave several of us an invite to his home for Thanksgiving so I wouldn't have to spend it in my hotel room, with a James Lilek's $10 Thanksgiving Dinner.
  • friends back home, who still call regularly to check in and combat homesickness. I miss you guys.
  • family, who give me support of both the moral and material variety throughout my entire life.
  • God, from whom all these blessings come from, and gives more in ways that I haven't yet realized.

Everyone enjoy your feasting today, and always be mindful of those who make it possible!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Proud to be an Alumnus!

During my second year at California University of Pennsylvania, me and a few guys rented a house that was just across the street from the campus. You could spit onto the lawn from the porch, if you could get the angle right. One of the things that annoyed us was that the marching band would practice every day during football season in that field, and made it difficult to sleep off the hangovers concentrate on our studies. We'd sit on the porch and discuss maybe launching water balloons their way, or countering their sound with some big-assed speakers and some heavy metal.

Then just today, I saw a video on YouTube.

To the Marching Band of California University, I'd just like to say, I'm sorry for thinking ill of you. It's you that makes me proud to have gone to such a fine institution as Cal U.

You. Rock. My. World.

EDIT: My sister pointed out one detail that she thinks I overlooked. Look, the World Wide Web is the one place where accuracy just doesn't matter, so I'm not posting the comment here. If you give a damn about Fact Checking, and other BS like that, you can check the comments yourself.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Ninja Co-workers

One of my co-workers knows several of the more deadly marshal arts, including Tai-Chi, Nin-Ji-Tsu, and, um, Kung-Pao or Tu-Wong-Fu, or something. Anyway, he could break anyone within arms reach with a deft twist of his wrist. He mention that he was going to teach a class here in the Valley, and mentioned self-defense without kicking, punching, or otherwise striking an attacker. I asked what one does without striking an opponent, and being a hands-on kind of guy, he gave me a demonstration. These are the words that make me apprehensive of friends who master the Arts:

"Move towards me, and make like your trying to grab me."

Yeah, I've heard that before. All he had to tell me was, "I defend myself by making your parts bend the wrong way," but I got a real taste. Turn this, squeeze that, and you'll have any attacker on his knees begging for quarter in a moment. This works against any person who comes at you with fists or a melee weapon.

But up against a person who has a gun trained on you (from at least 10 yards away)? "Know when to yield. God made all men, but Saumuel Colt made all men equal. My co-worker also mentioned an easy way to counter one of those Tai-Chi artsy side-kicks. Just grab the leg like you would normally, and perform the technique called "Monkey Grabs a Peach."

I'll leave that one to your imagination.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Lessons from the Help Desk

At our company, the newer IT staff take 1 week rotations on help desk. They kind of throw you in the water to teach you how to swim, so I end up picking up a lot of new information. Most importantly, I learned about the inner workings of computer chips, including the heart of the device.

Transistors? Integrated circuts? Capaciotors? All nessicary support parts, but the most important component of all...

Blue Smoke.

First discovered in an ancient Aztec well in a 1914 excavation, this rare substance was found to have unique conductive properties that eventually let to the deveolopment of the ENIAC; the blue smoke was used in the vaccum tubes. All 17,000+ of them. Interestingly, the value of the Smoke itself is almost dwarved by the expense of the process of trapping it in the component. The ENIAC project had it's budget tripled over the course of 4 years, a bill that tax payers are still footing today.

During the development of the ENIAC, the secret of the Blue Smoke was heavily guarded as the Manhattan Project, then kept classified throughout the 80's, up until the end of The Cold War. Since then, the private sector has improved on mining, transporting, and injecting the Smoke, lowering the cost of computers dramatically. The particulars of the process are still closely held trade secrets of Intel and AMD, so most of the finer details of the mining and injection equipment is still unknown, save for a few unsubstantiated rumors floating around on the Internet.

Today, when a chip or processor is made, the last thing the manufacturer does is inject a small dose of Blue Smoke into it before sealing it off. Electronic current run through the pins excites the blue smoke, sending 'happy' signals through the bus, making your computer work. OK, it's a little more complex than that, but after the the signals leave the processor, it's all bottom level logic, 1's and 0's, blah blah blah.

Under normal conditions these chips can last for years, even decades. But stress from overclocking and poor maintenance can cause the smoke to swell, and causes the the plastic on the chip to soften and split, letting the Blue Smoke escape. Although the equipment used to inject the Smoke, while it has become cheaper and more energy efficient in the past 50 years, it's still far too sophisticated and costly for consumer use, so once you burn out the chips or processor and let the Blue Smoke escape, your machine is rendered useless. You're better off buying a new device, rather than paying to have the smoke re-injected.

So the next time you see a bluish smoke pouring from the back of your computer, know that you are looking at the greatest innovation of the 20th century as it makes its final escape from your once mighty electronics.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Scatter Shot Post - 11/12/07

Lock and Load! Here we go:
  • When opening a new checking account, the most important thing to look for isn't interest earning or monthly fees. It's what kind of free gift the bank will give you. I love my mini-blender!
  • When looking for a place to rent in Wyoming, especially the Bridger Valley, it's important to know people. The woman that I'm renting from doesn't advertise, but rents by referal only. I was refered to by one of the members of the church I'm currently attending. He also owns the local grocery store.
  • Causes of gout: Everything. For each person it's diferent, but I've heard Stress, spicy food, beer, organ meats, gravy, certain vegtables, oatmeal, blinking to many times in a minute. An tip from a coworker who has delt with this and knows other people who have: Cherries. Eating cherries has worked for EVERYONE she knows who tried them.
  • New Hobby: Pox Nora is basically a computerized version of a miniatures combat game. It's worth a look.

That's all for now. Next time, I'll let you know the REAL reason why computers break down.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Ripped from the IM Logs...

Furfurkins: you ARE fascinating!
BeastMasterJ: yeah, i know it.
Furfurkins: hahaha
Furfurkins: and humble, too
BeastMasterJ: I got so much humility, my flesh tastes like humble pie! zombies are left baffled!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Stout Hearted!

Penny Arcade made me chuckle today (emphasis mine) :

If he's going to be within four or five states of you I recommend making the
drive. I don't mean the little bullshit states they have over on the east coast
either. I mean big manly states like we have over here.

Big Manly states. I live in one of those now! Wyoming is beefy! Especially with all the cows running around! Er, wait, cows don't run... they lounge... and that doesn't sound very manly. Let's try it again...

Especially with all those cows strutting around! Being all delicous and stuff!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Hometown Humor

So there's this show called Back to You about a Local Pittsburgh news team. It's amusing, although not as much local flavor as I was hoping for. The kids were wearing Penguin jerseys, the backdrop for the newscast has a nice shot of Downtown from Mount Washington, but that's about it.

Still, tonight the Weather Bimbo character was having difficulty saying "Monongahela," which was a cheap laugh (NOTE: I just had to Google it to make sure I spelled it correctly), and Kelsey Grammar and Patricia Heaton are pretty good, so I think it's worth a look.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Women's Clothing

In response to Lady Greenleaf's post, there's not much of a story, really. Ladies' pants look pretty good on a guy when you're going to a renaissance festival. Not wanting to look like a tourist, I was encouraged to wear Lisa's pants. Quite comforatable, too.

But seriosuly people, I NEVER wear ladies' garments of any kind (outside the house) for any other reason than a RenFaire.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Getting to Know the Team

Last night, the Director of the IT Department invited several of the IT staff for dinner at his house. What does the IT Director and his wife serve for dinner. We had ribs.

No wait, that didn't come out right. Ahem:

We had RIBS.

That's more accurate. Usually, ribs are about 5 inches long, and come from a pig. These were between 7-9 inches, and I'm pretty sure they were cut from a dire boar, that had been hunted in an enchanted forest, and probably killed with no less than a +2 composite long bow. Even killed, carved, slow cooked, and slathered in BBQ sauce, this animal was intimidating.

Not as intimitdating as their dog, though.

At 10 months, Thor is gentle as a puppy, but has the dimensions of a small horse. I wanted to saddle him up and ride him into town. He's Half Bull Mastiff, Half Great Dane, and all power.

So, uh, yeah. Good Ribs. My coworker thought that this was going to be a business meeting, but no, this was just a thank you for the work done so far, and for the work to come. Also releaved a lot of my uncertainty about the job. He told us the learning curve is 6 months to know everything to a degree of competency, 12 months do do it well, and about 18 months to be the Guy Who Knows Everything. So now I won't feel quite as bad when I'm confused about how stuff works. The director and his wife entertain often, and throw their own party for the staff, in addtion to the Office's own official Holiday Christmas Party. (Yes unlike most companies these days, we have a Christmas party.)

I like my job more and more by the day.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Mah Hobbies: Let me show you them!

This weekend I took a road trip to Salt Lake City to play in the prerelease tornament for the latest expansion for the D&D miniatures game. My performance was so-so, due to hurried play, new minis, and a general lack of experience. Here's the squad of plastic I was using:
Roll Call
You can click the picture for names of all the dudes, if you want.

The nice thing about the minis is that they design the game with the knowledge that most people will use these things for their Role Playing games as well, so they make useless cannon fodder guys that have no business being used in a real game, but make great NPCs (see the Farmer on the far right [EDIT: You'll have to click through for that, the farmer is cut off Fixed!). It was a fun day, but I didn't walk away with the one miniature I really wanted: The Gelatinous Cube.

It looks like they have a decent playgroup in Salt Lake, so I might start making weekend trips on a monthly basis once I get settled. I think they're the closest group to the Bridger Valley, and it's a two hour drive. Not like there's a much of a night life here :-)

Osyluth on my keyboard

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Blue Balls

Tonight, I had another dose of frustration. I'm not good at these kind of things, but every once in a while I need to try, if for no other reason than to remind myself why I don't bother. I had a failed attempt in high school, and didn't even bother in college. But my coworkers invited me to join them in their hobby, and because I'm trying hard to network up here (the non-IT kind) I decided to give it one more chance.

I had hoped at the very least, I could get through the night without embarrassing myself, but about 10 minutes into it, any hope of that was just lost. It must have been amusing to watch me out there, swinging and missing so hard. The guys were pretty nice about my inadequacies, and by the end of it they were laughing with me (I'm pretty sure it was with me). One needs to keep your humor when you fail that bad. It also helps if you go into it with low expectations, so your not as disappointed. It not like I ever had and ability with this anyway.

In spite of my poor performance, I still haven't ruled out trying it again. They do it twice a week, which is a bit too much for me (I haven't used these skills as much as they had) but I may still go every 2 weeks, maybe even once a week.

Racquetball is a fun game, even if I can't hit that little blue ball worth a dime.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Data Like Burning!!

OK, time for a post, becuase if I don't, Some of you will assume that I'm dead. (I love you, Mom!)

Nothing too interesting to report. Right now, I'm learning about all the tables we have in our databases. There are:
- Tables that have every call made on our towers within the past 6 months, complete with phone number, phone ID (referes to the phone itself), duration, account number of who would get billed, and bunch of odd data for internal use.
-A record every phone, head set, belt holster, battery, and any other product we might sell to a customer, each with a modelnumber, maker, product code, phone associated WITH that accessory, list price, price after promotional/contract discount, and information about whether or not it has been discontinued.
- A list of phone numbers that have been on our lines, if they are still in use, about 100 different codes that tell us why we can or can't use those for a new customer, and two or three other ID number associated with that phone number (used to cross reference and join to other tables).

A query will grab data from 2-6 of these tables at a time. There are different tables each for land lines, cellular, and telular phones, and different tables for personal, business, and other lines. Payphones (we have only a few of these) and toll free numbers are grouped into one of those tables, which can throw off certain stored procedures, depending on what you are looking for.

Then, we'll port that data into crystal, from where we translate it into Excel for someone in a different department. And between this all, there's a program who's essential function is to make it tougher to get to any one file in order to keep two or more people from tinkering with it at once, and make sure there's always a backup at hand.

For contrast, at my previous job, I used ONE database, as opposed to at least 3 that I know about so far (not counting the historical data). we have many tables, but only used about 3-5 regularly, and I've never ran data at more than 10 of them, I think. not 10 tables at a time. 10 tables EVER.

Seriously, if you mis-type a query, you could change EVERYONE'S phone number to 307-555-2273. (ok, it won't affect the phone line's themselves, but you can seriously wreck the DB for billing purposes. which is kinda important.)

this is what I'm doing this week. Next week is Help Desk, which has about 3 data systems of it's own.

This is the kind stuff I always wanted to get into. I hope this doesn't turn into one of those "be careful what I wish for" things.

Friday, October 19, 2007

My First Week At [RETRACTED] Company

It was one week ago today that I first pulled into Mountain View. I've been working for Un!0n for 5 days now. How does it fare so far?

First 3.5 days were Orientation and training. This included:
* Safety training, including Blood borne Pathogens. Remember, if you see someone gushing blood, but they don't look like they are going to pass out or anything, let them help themselves so you don't get a viral infection. Really.
* Telecom 101 where we learn about what each department does, including a blur of a tale about how you call gets from your cell to someone else's (hint: it involves pixie dust, and Dark Magik!)
* Defensive Driving, which sadly, did not teach me how to take turns on two wheels.

Then, onto real work. They switch the noobs in the IT department back and forth on the Help Desk. This is the desk for ALL of the staffs' Tech issues, and several non tech issues, including inventory snafus, billing discrepancies, software/hardware installation and troubleshooting.

Right now, I'm learning about T-SQL and SQL Server 2005. The little bit they teach you in college only barely covers what there is to know.

Fun Bits about the History of the Company:

Un!0n Telephone was started in 1914 when J0hn \/\/00dy bought and merged his and 3 other telephone companies in Wyoming. He personally lay down some of the first wire across the state.

What impact do we have on the surround area? When we started to build cell towers in Torrington, WY, a woman called the HR office to find out when they would start construction so that they could throw a parade for them when they came in with the construction trucks.
Because the Big Telecoms don't see profitability in building in and around these rural areas, people that have been starved for this kind of service for so long actually celebrate those who would provide them with it. ("Ayn Rand, please pick up the white courtesy telephone. Thank you.")

In 1956, J0hn \/\/00dy finally decided that their company would not be able to provide enough money to support his family. Not wanting to dissolve the only telephone company that operated in that part of the country, he and his son, How4rd, went to AT&T in order to sell the whole company to them for $1.00, leaving the lines in capable hands. AT&T didn't want to be saddled with an unprofitable area and refused, essentially telling the \/\/00dys, along with the whole state of Wyoming to go pound sand.
Enraged at the callous disregard they had for the people of Wyoming, they stormed out vowing to build the infrastructure to the point of profitability, and run the company themselves. They have done that, How4rd \/\/00dy, the current president of the company, holds a grudge against AT&T to this day, and has turned down several offers from AT&T to buy the company.

The company has been family owned and operated it's entire history. H0w4rd \/\/00dy spend a lot of his tenure buying back the shares of stock that Un!0n had given out as a promotional gimmick when it was still primarily did business in land-lines. Most of Howard's Grandchildren (4th Generation) have just taken positions on the Board of Directors. Their children (5th generation) are already doing odd jobs around the company after school.

My last job was at a local non-profit organization, complete with the altruistic mission statement, community mindedness, noble goals, and a genuine concern for it's own staff. I still think they have only half the love for it's employees and community as Un!0n Telephone does for it's own.

EDIT 10/25/07: You may have noticed some... subtle changes to this post. My family was getting concerned that by naming my employers, I was leaving myself open for a potential HR issue. I reread the post, and still believe that it's no big deal. I discussed this with my sister, becuase she used to have an entire blog deadicated to her work and her job. In the end, I decided to do some basic CYA editing, and split the difference between leaving this post up, and taking down the whole thing.
This will be the only post where I'll name the company, and I changed things around to defeat search engines. But I didn't want to delete this post completely. I doubt my folks (especially Dad) will think this is enough, but I changed it more than I really wanted to at all. And it's not like any of this is a trade secret or anything. I'll not link to their website(more CYA), but the story about the \/\/00dys is on their "about us" page on their website.

Blog Tweaking

Things that just got altered:

-I am now posting on Mountain time, was still posting Eastern until now.
- comments now open to everyone (you have to use the leter authentication so I know you're not a spambot)
- timestamp format changed
- Previous ten posts now appear on the page, not just the last seven. I may increase this later.

Better blog settings to meet your needs.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


Today, I got an email from the pastor of a church that I was attending for a while, and aparently, he has a blog of his own. He also does a podcast each month from a site called Ordinary Means. The past few months, there's been the topic of baptism that's being discussed/debated between John Piper and Wayne Grudem. Shaun Nolan was following this, so I'm posting this becuase I have freinds who find this stuff facinating.

Shawn's Post on "That Whole Baptism Thing"

The follow up post regarding Grudum's repsonse to Piper.

BONUS ROUND: The August podcast from Ordinary Means where Jack Kineer speaks about Baptism, and also the Federalist Vision. Click here to find Nolan's introductory post, and click on the link for the podcast.

Mito, I'm posting this for you, buddy!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Message For Wampa

Adam, this is REAL.

I'm in Mountain View, Wyoming.

I'm working for these people.

I'm sorry I didn't get around to telling you until now. :-(

Things I've Learned So Far

My trainer's cell phone went off during orientation. I asked the person next to me why there he had a ring tone that sounds like a squeaky door hinge. He told me that it was an elk call. I didn't know they made those kinds of sounds.

Interstate 80 often closes down during a snow storm. This is not "I-80 closed, take this detour." This is "I-80 is closed. Turn around at the next exit, and go back to town. If town is not your home, hope there's a motel with a vacancy. Drive carefully, and good luck."

Related to the above, did you know a strong wind on an icy road can tip over a Semi-Truck? Part of this is due to the hard winters in a rural area, some if it is due to the fact that Wyoming doesn't believe in salting roads. they just plow and sand.

My town doesn't have mail delivery. We just have P.O. Boxes.

I always thought that telling your son to cut off a branch with which his father is to spank him was just a cute story from the late 1800s. I have a few co-workers who have done just that.

New euphemism for a disciplinary spanking: "Willow Branch Adventure." I found that quite amusing.

OK, that's all for today. As I type this, it's snowing. In October. I know it's not exactly unheard of back in PA, but it's typical here. And so, the adjustment continues.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Why is the town called Mountain View?

Mountain View - South

Becuase you can View the Moutains from there, silly! This is what lies directly south of the town. Check out that snowy whiteness on the Horizion!

Click it for a few more pictures from around here. I acutally left my room to take these picutres!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

More fun with picutures!

What's better than a rainbow outside your window on a stormy day?

2 rainbows
How about TWO of them?

Friday, October 12, 2007


I have arrived here in Moutain View, and unpacked at the Pony Express Inn, a place so small it's off the Grid, Map, and Charts. I wanted to give you all pictures of some of the landscape I saw on the way here, but to get those picutres, I would have had to take them while driving. So, um... maybe some from around town, later this week.

In the meantime, I'll post two pictures from my room:

This was taken from the room I'm staying at. Most hotel room views are the hotel parking lot, the busy city street, or for the very lucky and/or extravagent, The beach.

Me? I get cows. Welcome to Wyoming!

You know how hotels have a copy of The Bible in the nightstand drawer? Well, when Salt Lake City is a 2-hour drive away, the book inside the nightstand is... different.

The Home Stretch

Current location: Larimie, Wyoming.

Only about 3-4 more hours of driving until Mountain View. I'm sure my car will appriciate me not driving it like a rental anymore.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Scatter Shot Post - 10/11/07 (Travel Edition!)

  • Hooray to Iowa, for free Wi-Fi at all their rest stops. Other states' DOTs should take note.
  • When using a GPS, remember to set the navigation mode to "Automobile," not "Pedestrian," for the "fastest route" will then take you off of the highway, through neighborhoods, and tell you to turn the wrongway on one way streets, avoid interstates altogether, and tell you to drive into oncoming traffic.
  • When leaving a hotel, remember to check yourself for ALL belongings when you leave. this will save you from having to double back to pick up something critical, such as your cell phone, and completely wasting a morning and a half tank of gas. *sigh*
  • Need a quick lunch, but would rather not pull over? Clif Bars are for-the-win.
  • My trip through Ohio, Illinois, and Indiana can be summarized thusly: corn corn corn corn corn corn corn corn...
  • When going long distances, avoid I-80 through Ohio and Indiana. There are hefty tolls. best to just take I-70 through those states, then turn up.

That's all for now. Looks like this trip is going to be 4 days instead of 3. As of this posting, I'm in Omaha, and it looks like Nebraska alone is going to take all day. I'll try to get to Cheyenne tonight, then make the brief trip over to Mountain View the next morning. Next time I post, It'll be from Moutain time.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Did you know...

...that the Iowa rest stops and welcome centers have free wireless internet?

Only for a half hour, though, so no Big Post right now.

**Approximate Location**

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Zero Hour

Everything that's coming with me is in the car, everything else is waiting to be picked up when I have a permanent address.

I have my destination locked onto by my GPS navigation system, and a full tank of gas.

Cellphone is charged. Camera in tow for sight seeing.

In less than an hour, I'm hitting the road.

Thank you all for your support, your prayers, and the memories. If I can spend the night at any hotel that has free Wi-Fi, I'll talk to you again soon, otherwise, I'm initating radio silence until Friday at least.

Destiny Awaits!

Monday, October 8, 2007

T-14 Hours, and counting...

Saturday, I played my last Arcade night at Rick and Vivian's home, where I was presented with a going away cake. Cake always tastes better when given to you by friends! I'll miss pwning n00bs at these events, though. It looks like pretty stiff competition between Rick, Bill, and Mark, and I'd love to hear how that turns out.

Sunday, I took my good friend Matt out for Breakfast, for breakfast is the BEST meal to eat out. Don't ask why, it just is. I introduced him to this tiny hole-in-the-wall place located at the bottom of my neighborhood. Looks like a dive + good service + friendly people + inexpensive, yet well prepared food = quaint local diner. Matt is now inspired to get people to lunch there sundays after church, and frankly, it'll beat the South Hills Mall food court (current post-church lunch meeting place) for price and quality any day.

Tonight, I had dinner with the 'rents at the Star Garden, my second favorite chinese restaurant in the area (Golden Gate, which is first, is closed on Mondays). I finished packing for the move, now I'm packing for a three day car trip, followed by 3-6 weeks living in a hotel until I find an appartment. I got my AAA trip ticks, I got my GPS navigator, and I have my sweet new laptop in the hopes of finding some wireless hotspots on the way.

Tomorrow is the first day of the rest of my life, which looks a heck of a lot different than it did about two months ago.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

A Fond Farewell to my Secondhand Dell

Hey, that title rhymed without even trying!

Anyway, as I make the final preparations for this move, I have decided that my Dell computer, donated to me by my sister after she joined the Cult of Apple, would not make the move.

Most people only replace computers when they breakdown, make the BIG crash, other electronic cataclysms occur. If I waited that long, I'd be saddled with this thing for a loooong time, I think. No, this was a good machine that just got outpaced by the resource creep of all the applications and just couldn't keep up, tossing out low virtual memory warnings every hour or so. I could hear it's groans, like an old coot complaining about those damn kids on his lawn.

"256MB to run THIS?!? Back in my day, we did our werd processin', our emailin' and our web surfin' all on 64MB, and still had enough fer runnin' Quake 3! You young apps have no idea how to manage yer mem'ry!"

"Gawd, another service pak update? How come evry' time you find another one of 'em security flaws, it costs me more of my clock cycles?"

"I don't care what your hoodlum freinds are doin'! You ain't leavin this house without a 3.5 inch floppy drive! Any file that fancies itself to be more than 1.44MB can't be up to no good anyway!"

"If God had meant for us to read DVDs, he'd have wired it in with the CD-R! If the PS2 jumped off a bridge, would you do the same?"

"Lordy, you new LCD monitors are too damned skinny! Eat somethin' fer Crissake!"

I'm typing this from my new laptop, it's low end, but it's 2007 low end, which runs circles around 2001 mid-tier computers. I just transferred all necessary documents and files to it (and it still has room for so much more!), tomorrow morning I'm vaporizing its hard drives, and donating it to Goodwill. It's still good enough for them to refurbish it, and sell to a low income family that needs Internet access, or to some adventurous grandma that wants to see what exactly is this Internet thing that her grandkids keep jabbering about. I hope it will serve them well, for it has reached the end of it's usefulness for me.

Godspeed, my bulky sluggish friend!

The Last Guys' Night Out

Yesterday, myself and 3 of my closest friends, 2 of them I've known since 8th grade, went to one of our favorite revelry locations: Dave and Busters. For those of you who don't know, it's like a video arcade that's aimed towards adults (If any of you have a GameWorks in your area, it's basically the same thing). In the center of the arcade area, there's a full service bar, flanked by restaurant booths. Also, unlike most arcades of days gone by, If a machine isn't working, there's a switch that lets you summon an attendant to fix your problem and provided a refund if needed. How often have we wished we could've had that when the Pac-Man game stole our quarter?

So, anyway, last night I redeemed the+ 8000 prize tickets for a whole bunch of glassware and a milkshake machine... because, um... it's a friggin' MALT MAKER! Do I need a reason to own one?!? The original plan was to just save up the tickets until I could afford something from the ridiculous 20,000 and up range, but due the lack of D&Bs in Wyoming, I cashed out yesterday. Just 30,000 more, and I could have had a 12 inch Black and White TV!!

Meh... I'm better off with the glassware with the Logo all over it.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Scatter Shot Post 10/01/07

Or "topics that aren't worth an entire post for each item"

  • Two shopping bags full of books are worth about ten bucks at half priced books. Not much, but at least I don't have to lug those ones across 6 states.
  • Phone plan adjustment: Added text mesaging service, removed moble web. Since they increased the price of texts, it now offically costs less to do the basic plan that it does to pay per texts. The 5 bucks they get from that is now offset by the 5 they lose due to me canceling my mobile web, which is next to useless. Since this overall reduces my bill, I like to tell myself that they are losing money as a direct result of raising text messaging rates. Whatever helps me to sleep at night.
  • TGI Friday's is one of the few places that I know that will sell you a good Cobb Salad. We need more of them.
  • for the past 4 months, I've been spending most of my free time searching job boards for a new posistion, and now I'm spending it fretting about a move that resulted from that search. When I'm done, I'll have a lot of free time. I need to remember what I used to do with that.

I like this kind of post. I'll have to do it more often, especially when I don't have anything profound to write about.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

For whom the bells toll

Today, I attended what was the final weekend of what may be my last renaissance festival in this area (Does Wyoming even have these?). This year, they had a rather unique new act: A masked man with the world's only portable Carillon, ringing out some beautiful music every one and half hours, calling his show Cast In Bronze.

For those of you too lazy to click the link, a carillon, is essentially twenty or thirty some bells affixed to a frame, with the clappers rigged up with levers and cords, so all the bells can be played by one man at the helm. These aren't the little hand bells you may have heard in your church choir. These are heavy bronze beasts that range in size from "Oversized Coffee Mug" to "Liberty Bell."

Anyway it's worth listening to the audio clips on his website, but if you ever get the chance to see this live, take it. Because this thing is so unheard of, the artist takes the opportunity to flavor his act a bit, putting on a black suit and mask, referring to himself as the "Spirit of the Bells," and playing with a kind of Phantom of the Opera flourish. Several of my friends thought this was over the top, but it's a friggin' REN FAIRE. If you play a 4-ton, virtually priceless instrament that almost no one has heard of, you should get to ham it up a little, especially at an event where everyone is wearing armor, puffy shirts, fairy wings, or corsets.

Friday, September 28, 2007

First Post... EVAR!!

For years I've avoided blogs and web jornals like the plague. There's countless blogs that started out with people eager to let the world know what they have to say, only to quit because they didn't have as much to say as they think, or continue to kick out poorly written, incoherant babble, as they clutter up the intarwebs with their brain droppings.

My first exposure to the newfangled Information Superhighway with its World Wide Web was probably about 1995 or '96 in a summer vocational technical progam through my middle school. Web 1.0 was a horrid thing, filled with those vanity websites like
Strongbad spoke of.

So since about 1997, I vowed to NEVER create a website without a purpose, direction, or topic. And if I should create a website, I would not simply abandon it, unloved and collecting dust. So I thought I'd kick this off with a bit of a mission statement and personal background.

About Me: Born and raised in the Pittsburgh area, I recently took a job in southwest Wyoming, where the little missing piece of Utah is. I've never lived more than 30 miles from my hometown in almost 27 years, as I find myself across two time zones where I'll be starting from zero, trying to network both socially and professionally, and learning the general layout of the area. I leave this town within two weeks of this post.

Purpose: To keep family and friends informed of my (mis)adventures in the West.

What to expect: Mostly personal data, mundane anecdotes regarding my job, my life. No one I've never met face to face will find this at all interesting. I'll try to keep it coherent, with as little rambling as possible. Other topics will include my hobbies, mostly gaming of the tabletop and electronic variety.

Tone: My Mother is going to be reading this, so I'm going to keep the vulgarity to a minimum. This is not to say I think the big 7 words are to be avoided at all costs, but if I think that I can do without, I will.

Ice Cream: I think it's yummy, as do most people, but it has nothing to do with this blog.

Posting Frequency: At interesting times, I'll be posting more often, less durning those times when I'm in the typical work->eat->sleep cycle for extented periods of time, but over all, I'd expect a post a minimum of 3 times a week. That seems like a reasonable goal, but it can change as I'm feeling either ambitious or lazy.

That should do if for now. Stay tuned, I'm headed for interesting times.