Day 200 of 365 seems like a major psychological hurdle, even though it's less than five percent over the halfway point. Probably because that first digit has rolled over, and those zeros look all nice and round.
To symbolize the challenge of keeping up the shooting and posting discipline, I went rather literal; this is a close-up of the Dodge Challenger that one of my coworkers recently bought. I guess the message is... Power through? I guess that's as good a plan as any for the next hundred days.
I let out a gasp as Cory and I pulled into the mall parking lot on our way to lunch. There, in a humble North Olmsted parking space, was a creature I'd only dared to imagine, the one car I had truly lusted for as an adult--a Tesla roadster.
Since they are still unbearably expensive, and soon to be discontinued, it seems unlikely that I'll ever get a turn behind the wheel. But a guy can dream, right?
After a long, long Friday night of staying up burning CDs for the rental car, and a long, long Saturday of airplanes, airports and power naps, we arrived in safely in Seattle and found our way to wolffire and gr0m1t's (very lovely) house without incident. After a bit of catching up we walked to nearby Circa, a West Seattle alehouse with supremely tasty food; I'm very satisfied with my choice of a Boundary Bay Blonde and the halibut tacos, a nigh-religious experience after a day of airplane food.
Today we have an appointment at Chateau Ste. Michelle and a bit of sightseeing planned, and then dinner at Beàto. In the morning, we head off to the other side of the state to start the wine visits in earnest. We're very happy to have made a better rental car selection than on our Napa trip (do not drive a Ford Taurus on windy, windy roads, kids); the comfy seats should be a nice bonus as we drive all over creation this week.
More later -- must eat breakfast and get going.
- Mood: happy
- Music: VNV Nation - "Testament"
Good: Got first big chunk of big project delivered on time and more or less working as desired. Business folks are generally happy with what our team produced in the limited time available.
Bad: Had to miss the holiday party at German class in order to get there, so no Sekt and no beer for me.
Good: It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas! We have the tree up and decorated, presents wrapped, and I cashed in some iTunes credit to pick up the new Twisted Sister Christmas CD (so deliciously, horribly addictive, it transcends awfulness, leapfrogs novelty, and lands, perhaps a bit teeteringly, just within the realm of totally kick-ass). Here's what I've basically been doing since then: \m/ >_< \m/
Bad: Thanks to global warming (or a giant cloud of liberal claptrap, take your pick), it sure doesn't look like Christmas... It's December in Cleveland; should we be having temperatures close to 60 degrees? I'm not the biggest fan of snow--especially when I have to deal with idiots who don't know how to drive in it--but do we really only get one week of winter this year?
Good: The Lost Room. Check it out in reruns or the inevitable DVD if you missed it.
Bad: The Lost Room left the door wide open (yes, a deliberately awful pun, deal with it) to become a full-fledged series. I'm not sure I have time to be obsessed over another long-form serial.
Good: New firmware for my router, maybe it'll solve my streaming audio throughput issues!
Bad: New router firmware makes streaming audio around the house even worse. My (admittedly venerable) SliMP3 now chokes after 9 seconds instead of 37. Bah, humbug!
Good: My tire was repairable, and still under warranty to boot, which means it was free! Yay!
Funny: I got a job offer from a headhunter today, very excited that I had Python experience. Turns out he's trying to place me into the company where I already work. (Woops!) After quite nearly LMAO, I shot back a polite rejection. I wonder what my boss would say if a headhunter slipped her my resumé...
Speaking of my resumé... where exactly should I list being named Time's Person of the Year?
- Music: K.M.F.D.M. - "Megalomaniac (Bomb) - Mix By Excessive Force"
In spite of the fact that my car has decided that it wants a new tire for Christmas, things are looking up. Why's that? Last month, a Starbucks opened inside AG's corporate HQ, to the general delight of the caffeine junkies. I don't do the caf, though, so I was unimpressed... until last week, when I walked by and saw that they carried Izze, my favorite line of fruity sparkling waters with no added crap. When I remarked that they only had my two least favorite flavors, and that I'd spend a ton of money down there if they'd stock pomegranate, I was overheard by the buyer, who promised me they'd get some in. And today--huzzah!--my wish has come true.
Mmm. Tasty. Refreshing. Joyous. Beverage perfection, thy name is pomegranate Izze!
- Mood: refreshed
After far too much not-blogging, I think I'm hitting the point where the withdrawal is really starting to bug me, so I guess I'd better take care of that.
Work is fairly unmentionable; I pulled a few 12-hour days last week, which I should probably stop doing if I'm going to be the only one (as usual) trying to put in the extra effort to keep the project on schedule. Hah. I am Jack's insane work ethic.
Far more mentionable is the weekend that just whooshed by in a bizarre combination of gosh-that-went-too-fast and cheerful, languid laziness.
Friday started out with one of the few rare instances in which I am proven right, but I was unfortunately too right. I don't know crap about cars, but I've listened to enough "Car Talk" to recognize the clicking sound that Liz's car was making every time she turned left as her CV boot. I felt somewhat vindicated when the issue turned out, indeed, to be her driver's-side CV boot, but as it happens I am karma's bitch--she needed to get both of them replaced. Somehow the old "why buy one when you can have two for twice the price" philosophy doesn't really feel so great in practice. Not the most auspicious start to the day, and it'd come at the end of a week far too long.
Liz quickly turned the tables on my week, though, starting with dinner at Nemo. We sat in the tiny little "Lover's Lane" nook, an odd little space barely large enough for a two-top table, and strangely, delightfully echoey. We had a great conversation, luxuriated in the sensations of food and wine (my Sangiovese was utterly fabulous with rack of lamb and mushroom risotto), and enjoyed the tumult of rain, thunder, and lightning outside.
We spent Friday night, Saturday night, and half of Sunday parked in front of the TV, breezing efficiently through the final season of "Six Feet Under" on DVD, a sudden arrival on seven-day loan from the library. The season had some weak spots, but overall it was a fitting conclusion to a great show, and a nice farewell to characters that have managed to become like family. It's definitely worth your time if you haven't seen it; if you can put up with the ever-present background morbidity, it's quite interesting, often hilarious, and surprisingly uplifting.
Much of Saturday managed to be simultaneously relaxing and off-kilter. Now, Liz and I had laid out a moderately elaborate plan for Saturday, consisting of all of our necessary and desired weekend errands in the proper order of timing and fuel economy, but the cats managed to completely throw it into disarray by nine o'clock in the morning as Julia came bounding up onto the bathroom counter, leaving a path of bloody pawprints in her wake. Realizing what was going on came in little quanta of sudden understanding: there is a cat here; there is something on the counter; the something on the counter is blood; the blood is from the cat; the cat is bleeding; oh crap oh crap the cat is bleeding all over; what has the cat done now? Liz was a shower and full set of clothes ahead of me, so after we corralled Julia in the bathroom to assess the damage and clean up her wounded paw, Liz and Julia zoomed off to the vet while I stayed behind to get dressed, look for more blood, and be someone for Valentine, the likely culprit, to howl confusedly at. Luckily, the bleeding--caused by a puncture wound to one of the pads on her left hind paw, either claw or fang--had stopped fairly quickly, and no stitches were required. The patient returned home promptly, along with a prescription for a week's worth of liquid antibiotics. The details of administering liquid meds--specifically pink liquid--to a fussy cat are best left to the imagination, but suffice it to say that Liz is now down one white shirt, and we had to add a trip to the dry cleaner to our Saturday agenda.
But! Our bloody cat had the good taste to get hurt, get better, and get home in time to let us get to our 10:30 appointment to peruse tile flooring options for the laundry room (a moderately long story in its own right that I won't get into here). From there, though, all of our errands seemed to start getting out of order, and the flow wasn't working, which unfortunately makes me a tiny bit fussy, even though I got a bunch of CD's from the library, got a haircut, and spent some nice time wandering around shops in Rocky River with Liz.
What really got to me was Liz's suddenly-announced, last-minute need to be on a conference call at two PM, right in the middle of when we were supposed to be tasting wine and getting groceries. Which then got rescheduled to three, allowing us to stop by Grady's to taste wine and nosh on little wine-friendly nibbles. But the vital trip to the grocery store had to be deferred. I sat upstairs and listened to music while Liz waited for her call. The cats hung out with me in the open window, relishing the fresh spring air and staring greedily at passing birds. When three o'clock came and went, I went downstairs to harass Liz about this call--shouldn't she call in or something?--and, rebuffed, I retreated back to the office to sulk and ponder whether we'd ever attend to the rest of our errands while I listened to Jethro Tull and Peter Gabriel. Slowly, there came a deep rumble, as the biggest semi I've ever seen trundled cautiously around the corner. Great, I thought, who's the asshole driving a giant truck through our neighborhood and ruining this perfect spring day? The truck pulled a little further around the corner, and I was able to see the Room and Board logo on the trailer. Liz and I had spent a day in downtown Chicago last winter trying to find a leather chair for me that was up to Baby Bear's "just right" standards, and had after several hours succeeded in filing an excellent candidate away in my permanent wish list. Swell. Somebody's getting awesome furniture and it's not me. I'm never going to get my chair.
Right about then, a lot of things happened at once. First, the truck whuffed and sighed to a stop directly across from our driveway. Valentine and I shared a dumbstruck moment of incomprehension; according to Liz, the look on my face was priceless. Liz closed the office door to keep the cat contained. And then, to my complete and utter astonishment, the delivery guys started unloading my chair, while, by complete coincidence, the Peter Gabriel CD I'd picked up at the library blasted out "Shock the Monkey."
After assessing that all was well and functional in the land of new things that recline, we did a quick furniture rearrangement in the living room, and since then I've been taking every opportunity available to test out my new manly man chair. I've covered one of the really long chapters of Head First Design Patterns; I've chilled with the iPod; I've enjoyed sitting by the open window with the cats; I've sipped wine and listened to Pink Floyd; I've passed out and drooled on myself; I've (now) blogged. So far, it has passed all of the important tests with flying colors. Well, almost all--the cats are still a bit scared of it, but I expect that with time they'll show it the same indifference that they usually show me.
So, yes, Liz's "conference call" was a lie, a ruse, a deception, a clever means to have me home so that she could see my reaction, and I completely, totally, thoroughly fell for it. In a way, that makes it all the sweeter. (Right?) In case I haven't correctly sung the praises of Liz lately, let me declare here that I totally love my wife, that she knows exactly how to spoil me, and that she is damn good at being awesome. My silly manly man chair is beyond excellent, unneeded, and unexpected. Thanks, hon!
Other than that, life is quiet here; lots of work, lots of studying, and as much slacking and irresponsibility as we can get away with. Gotta keep things in perspective, after all.
- Mood: happy
- Music: Peter Gabriel - "Shock the Monkey"
The little dashboard light came on this morning to complain about fuel, so I was off to the pump for the most expensive tank of gas of my life thus far, more than twice as much as I was paying a year ago. A small price to pay, though, as I at least still have a home, a job, and a city.
Still, I wish I had filled up the other morning when it was still below $3 per gallon, though I'm sure I did better by filling up now than by waiting until after the weekend; it's going to get a lot worse before it gets better.
Can't seem to tear myself away from the news, the blogs, the images of the week. Simply terrifying.
- Mood: depressed
So on top of being stressed out about the huge project I've been working on that might or might not launch this week, which kept me in the office until 9:30 PM on Friday night, and Liz being gone for the week for her class, and being ignored by the cats, this week has decided to kick me squarely in the metaphorical nuts by bestowing upon me that greatest of joys, car trouble.
I had the typical "gee it looks like my battery is about to die" experience this morning as I fought with a recalcitrant starter, pumping the gas in an attempt to coax the engine into turning over just enough to get running. After some perseverance, determination, and swearing, it coughed to life, the dashboard computer displaying the cheerfully ominous message, "ALTERNATOR WORKSHOP!" Right. Fine. The engine's running, I thought, take it over to the dealership while I can--it's probably just the battery or the alternator flaking out. I figured I would have to sit around for awhile, but that it could at least get dealt with.
But of course, once I got the car into the shop, it started acting just fine. Started without complaint. And of course there is no record of the alert, so they don't know what's wrong with it. So they're keeping it, to play with it tomorrow when it's a cold start. Ordinarily, this wouldn't be an issue -- my intrepid and caring wife would have given me a lift in to work, and, had I behaved myself, would have even given me a ride back to the shop to retrieve it again. But, she's not here, so now I'm screwed and have to put up with the dealership-supplied rental; no one seemed terribly interested in just giving me a ride home so that I could use Liz's car.
Now, I was fine with that concept, and I know a rental car is never going to live up to what I've come to take for granted in my Jetta, but:
- It steers like a cow.
- The gas and brakes are incredibly touchy.
- It has huge bug corpses smashed inexplicably onto the mirrors (I would have thought they'd be on the leading edges of the vehicle).
- The cup holder came with the previous driver's empty styrofoam coffee cup and trash.
- The driver's seat apparently doesn't lean back at all.
- I can't place the smell, but I don't like it.
- The gas tank was almost dry; what they described as "an eighth of a tank" was in actuality "hovering imperceptibly above empty," and I consider myself lucky that I was able to even get the damn thing to a gas station.
And just to make my week complete, my left eye has developed the nagging, intermittent twitch that means I need more sleep and less stress before I get all "Hulk smash!" on stuff.
Sigh. It's all temporary, right?
- Mood: grumpy