the further adventures of

Mike Pirnat

a leaf on the wind

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Welcoming the Webble

The Upgrade

After a couple years of having no footrest for my home desk, then trying a now-defunct subwoofer, and about two months of relative satisfaction with a small Amazon box, I finally decided to indulge my ergo urge and sprang for a Webble, an effortlessly-gliding, four-castered footrest that resembles a mesh-covered Pringle. It's taken me this long to write up a review because I've been too busy not being uncomfortable while working on other projects.

The short version? It took some getting used to, but now I'm sad that I don't have one at work.

Since the Webble is a bit thicker than the cardboard box it replaces, I had to raise my chair a bit in order to make my knees feel right. This has emphasized certain other ergonomic problems in my current chair (a POS from the Office Max up the road that's got to be close to 10 years old at this point), which means now my upper body wants to be spoiled too. It also doesn't feel cquite right when I'm wearing shoes, but I think that's because my proximity to the wall means that I can't quite put my feet where I'd like to with shoes on.

In sock feet or bare feet, though, it's just about perfect. I alternate between using the front edge, the top sides, the top ridge, and the open mesh area in fairly equal measure, shifting naturally whenever one of my legs wants to move. I also find myself partly rotating it quite a lot, and quite often I'll absentmindedly spin it around or pop it up like a skateboard. I find myself really missing it at work, where I use a static footrest that helps but isn't nearly as much fun as the Webble. Plus it looks a lot classier than a cardboard box.

If you spend a lot of time in front of a computer, little comforts can go a long way toward improving how your body feels; you could certainly do worse than this delightful companion.

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He Who Rocks and Puts Away Lives to Rock Another Day

The kiddo has had a pretty strong musical interest for a while now, but in the last week or so she's gotten really excited by my Rock Band controllers, which have been hanging out in the corner of the family room, right where they're easy for her to get at if she wanted to. I'm content (thrilled, in fact!) to have her noodling around with my original Rock Band 1 controller (of the woefully busted whammy bar), but I'd like to keep my pair of RB2 controllers in good shape for as long as possible.

So, off we went to Guitar Center to pick up a couple of guitar hooks to hang the controllers on the wall, safely out of reach from curious little hands.

I'm not sure if I'm more embarrassed by buying guitar hooks for my fake guitars, or by the fact that we'd worked up an elaborate tale of how I'd recently inherited a (fictional) ukulele collection (to explain my concerns about whether the hook would be narrow enough to hold the guitar head). Sadly, no questions were asked about my purchase, so we never got to try out the story.

So, here you go--photographic evidence that I am, in fact, pretty much a total dork. Enjoy.

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Random Bafflements and Minor Disgruntlings

Sometimes, life utterly baffles me.

Sears somehow thinks that, while fully aware that I'm a 29-year-old white male, adverts for "Olga Panties" are something that they should include with my bill. Even the name scares me... I mean, seriously, even if I were the panty-buying type, "OLGA PANTIES" just screams of bad branding. But that's just the tip of the iceberg...

My brother-in-law Andy had a baby last Thursday (actually, his wife had the baby, har-de-har-har isn't that a clever and not-at-all overused joke). They'd managed to not know the gender up until delivery, so they hadn't invested yet in any gender-specific items yet. Thus it was that Liz and I went to Baby Gap this weekend with orders to procure things that loudly and proudly declared the complete and utter cuteness of their new little girl. We found some really cute stuff at surprisingly reasonable prices, and as luck would have it, I ended up with another of their "do our survey and get a discount later" coupons. So, since I like discounts, I filled out the survey tonight, and I have to say, there's some stuff on the survey that really makes no sense at all. Like... How am I, 29-year-old white male that I am, supposed to know if the infant clothes that I was shopping for fit me comfortably? Maybe I could put a "If You Think I'm Cute You Should See My Dad" T-shirt over my head, or hang the little bunny shoes on my ears, but besides being utterly freakish, neither of those options sounds like it would be comfortable. And the really off-the-wall questions like that are, naturally, the ones with no "N/A" option.

And in more surreal news, I've recently been getting a string of calls to my cell phone from a mysterious number that I don't recognize. Usually they're at strange times where I've either got my phone turned off, or it's away from me, or I'm in a part of my gargantuan corporate labyrinth that gets crap for cell coverage, and my policy is to not bother returning the call if I don't recognize it and they don't feel like leaving voice mail. Finally, yesterday evening, I managed to have my phone on me when the mystery caller rang. At first it seemed like a perfectly normal wrong number situation, except... My mystery caller wasn't trying to call anyone--she was trying to check her voice mail, and for whatever reason, Sprint was convinced that they should connect her to my cell number. So... How does a mobile phone company manage to mix up their internal voice mail with a phone on another company's network? It made for a couple of amusing, albeit brief calls (Mystery Caller and later Sprint tech support), but it fundamentally bothers me. Did the call take a wrong turn at the NSA or something?

I've got some other stuff I want to blog about, but the most profound bafflement of all seems to be figuring out when it's going to happen, as work remains insane. Argh!! I want my (sad imitation of a) life back at some point. Please?

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Boxed In

Originally uploaded by mikepirnat.

Two (maybe three?) weekends ago, we woke up to discover our mailbox was laying flat on the ground. We haven't figured out exactly why this happened, though we narrow our eyes suspiciously every time we see high school kids hanging around in front of our house for no apparent reason. We had some errands that had to be run that day, so we decided to sideline the mailbox issue until we got back; when we returned, the mailbox fairy had planted our mailbox back into the ground again, though not as deep--and thus not as stable--as before. We took that as a sign that we could delay dealing with it until it became a problem again.

Last weekend, the mailbox was down again, and this time (due to the stability issues) it had really landed hard, causing the box to take some serious damage. Definitely time for a replacement--only, where to find the time? It's hard to replace or even reset a mailbox when you aren't getting home until after dark. I got really down about the state of the house as the week wore on with no progress.

That changed, thankfully, this afternoon. After dragging myself around to multiple Home Depots with our roof contractors on the insulation front, I made a return trip to the store to acquire mailbox goodies. I am now pleased to report that I have a fully functional, almost respectable looking mailbox, ready to send and receive the morrow's post!

Yes, I caved in and got one of the plastic ones that I utterly abhor, but the installation was easy, and I have to say that there's something about spending $1300 on insulation first thing in the morning that makes it hard to justify blowing heaps of money on a fancy post and all the necessary supplies.

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For ages, I have pooh-poohed Joss Whedon's "Firefly", thinking it a silly trifle of network TV, the kind of thing that can't stand up to "real" sci-fi. "It's no 'B5'," said I, despite how my coworkers tried to change my mind. Then the trailer for the movie arrived, and I started to wonder what I'd been missing all this time. And then I bumped into the Serenity in LEGO, and I thought, Damn, that's pretty neat. There might be something to this... And then even my mom told me it was outstanding.

So, I figured I ought to watch at least a little of the show before the movie comes out, so that I'm not completely clueless among the throng of browncoats who will surely be in attendance. A coworker has been trying to remember for about three or four weeks to bring in her DVD's. Finally, the waiting got to be too much, so I broke down and bought the damn thing.

And, I have to say, I was pretty much dead wrong about this show. It rocks! Snappy dialogue, great FX, good stories, a fascinating blend of cultures, top-notch acting... In a way, it's a lot like Cowboy Bebop, only without the jazz music. And completely, utterly addicting--we've watched over half the series since about eight o'clock last night.

So -- "Firefly" fans -- I admit it! I was wrong! It's a freaking great show!

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Reunion Travelogue (Part Six)

Monday, 7/25:

Up early to go rafting on the Animas (full name: Rio de las Animas Perdidas; translation: River of Lost Souls). Great trip, lots of fun. Water was about 40-45 degrees F, so definitely an eye-opener. Mostly calm trip, but some great fun rapids around the foot of Smelter Mountain, with much whooping and hollering and soaking. Got cleaned up, went to Holly's shop (Sunnyside Farms Market, plug plug plug) with my folks to get lunch and buy goodies. Dad drove us up into the valley north of town to check out the aftermath of the horrible fire season of 2002. Back into town, we stopped at the high school to take some photos of the new expansions. Did a bit of shopping downtown, then came home to get changed and went out to a lovely dinner at Mahogany Grille. Packed up and turned in so that we could get a bright and early start on our drive to ABQ for the return flight.

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Reunion Travelogue (Part Two)

Thursday, 7/21:

Breakfast at the B&B; was vastly better than dinner, though perhaps perceived quality is related to the fact that the OJ pitcher turned out to be mimosas. :-) (w00t!) Wandered Taos on foot, did a little shopping, then drove up to Durango. Stopped along the way to marvel at and fear the Rio Grande Gorge. Dad was still in Denver on business, so we went out with Mom to Lady Falconburgh's, a biergarten type of establishment, then back home for a bottle of Gruet's NV sparkling brut rose. Much happiness.

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14 Days, 1 Hour, 55 Minutes, and Change

Popped out at lunch today to pick up the new NIN album, and the Return of the Sith soundtrack. NIN is pretty good. Haven't listened to Sith yet--considering trying to keep at least a tiny bit of "prequel purity" before The Big Day comes, even though I already read the silly kids' storybook version at K-Mart the other week. (Lucas should just cut out all the dialogue and make it a silent film, because what's in the storybook looks pretty freaking sweet.)

Also, finally got off my butt and ordered tickets for VNV Nation (June 7 at the Cleveland House of Blues, in case anyone feels like being social in a bouncy EBM-synth-industrial sort of way).

Also also, this Saturday is Free Comic Book Day!

Excitement abounds! Excelsior!

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PyCon (Day One)

It was a long but exciting day at PyCon, with many interesting presentations and discussions. Some of them were relevant to my professional life (thus justifying sending me in the first place), and some were extremely useful for personal projects (I think I finally found a satisfactory way to do neat things with my wife's Address data to make life easier at Christmas time).

At one point, I found myself seated directly behind Guido van Rossum, Python's creator and "Benevolant Dictator For Life," and I got a chance to see the master in action as he tinkered on slides for his keynote address tomorrow morning.

I got my second free T-shirt of the day upon the purchase of the newly-released (today, in fact) second edition of the Python Cookbook. Hooray for stuff!

I did have a small laugh to myself when, during the PyWebOff presentation, the speaker made a statement about it being unlikely that anyone would ever have more than 100 users trying to hit your website all at once. I'm sure that she was talking about small sites with limited scaling needs, but I'm also used to an environment where our load balancers are coping with thousands of connections per second, and where we have pushed close to 1.7 gigabits per second for hours at a time, so the idea of having 100 users on the site at a time seems to me like a vacation for the servers.

I spent an interesting hour in an ad-hoc discussion of various Python topics this evening; ostensibly on the subject of OO issues, but the discussion largely focused on some of the recent language controversies in Python, specifically interfaces and (optional) static typing.

After things wound down, Dave, [info]trygve, and I went out to El Chalan. We arrived at the decision by looking at a provided list of local restaurants and picking the one that we couldn't figure out just from the name. It turned out to be Peruvian, and pretty damn good at that. I skipped the ceviches for budgetary and waistline reasons, but had a nice little salad and the Lomo Saltado, a house specialty of beef strips sauteed with fried potatoes, onions, and tomatoes. The by-the-bottle wine list looked really fun, with lots of Tempranillo and related blends, but as I was the only one interested, I just defaulted to the Concha y Toro Cab, the only red offered by the glass. (Enjoyable wine, but pretty pedestrian.)


The only thing I really dislike about PyCon is that the auditoriums and conference rooms are hot. Hot like Disneyworld in July. Just plain disgusting. I think their A/C systems must be overcompensating for the mild and lightly rainy day that we had, but still... Even our hotel rooms are like saunas! Yikes!

I haven't been around this kind of sweaty geek aroma since Trilogy Tuesday.


On an interestingly subversive note, what at first blush appears to be a paid-only gate on all internet traffic here at the hotel is apparently only trapping web browsers, and then only web browsers that seem to be more "well known" than others. I was getting ready to pay up when GAIM magically reconnected me! I was able to rdate to sync my damn drifting clock, I can ssh into my home machine, and if I feel like using lynx, I've got all the web that's fit to read! w00t!

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Wish It Was Sunday

Apparently, today is the single day of the year that is in most dire need of listening to the Bangles' "Manic Monday" until your head explodes with nostalgic, new-wave cheer. That's right, today is officially the most depressing day of the year.

To cheer you all up, here's a nice little follow-up to last time's Darth Tater link... One of the better Fark Photoshop contests of the last few weeks.

There, doesn't that feel better?

In other news, my copy of the one-volume 50th anniversary edition of The Lord of the Rings finally arrived today, along with the 2005 calendars that had been holding up my order. It's a really, really nice set, and well deserving of the high praise that has been heaped upon it (besides, of course, being Lord of the Rings, which rather goes without saying). And there was much rejoicing...

Similar amounts of celebration arose from my astoundingly productive work day, during which time I managed to catch up on the work I had planned to do on Saturday, and still polish off everything that was on today's to-do list. It just goes to show what I can do with a fully-charged iPod and no meetings to get in my way. w00t!

Taking a bold step into 1999 (or perhaps 2000), I finally got around to setting up a Photoshop droplet to automatically batch process photos to be uploaded/attached to entries in my wine notes wiki. This should give my iMac something to do while I tinker on other things, and it'll get me one step closer to computing nirvana (or something).

Finally, and thankfully, the kittens graced us with the easiest and least-fussy claw-trimming session so far. If only all "claw nights" could be so--what's the word I'm looking for? Injury-free!

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