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.