the further adventures of

Mike Pirnat

a leaf on the wind

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Endorsement Form

So if you want to go to a Bush/Cheney event to see what their platform is about, you are required to sign an endorsement form in order to get your ticket to attend.

By itself, this really bothers, irritates, and upsets me. No matter how strongly I feel about a candidate, any candidate, I'm not going to be the jackass who goes just to heckle. I might actually like a chance to hear the candidate in person before I make up my mind about them. I should not have to swear loyalty just to get in the door. This is not what a democracy--not even a republic!--is about.

But wait, there's more--deliciously, hilariously, brain-hurtingly more:

An endorsement form provided to the Journal by Random says: "I, (full name) ... do herby (sic) endorse George W. Bush for reelection of the United States."

Um. Er. Excuse me... Whatthefuck?!? I mean, seriously, if you're going to make people sign the form, can it at least be spell-checked, or looked over by someone with more than a small handful of brain cells? If I'm going to have to sign away my allegiance in some sickly display of Orwellian pageantry, I'd like the form to be at least marginally coherent. GOP folks, can we at least meet halfway on this one?

If anyone can dig up a scan of the actual form, I would love to immortalize that for posterity. I dug around for a while but didn't turn anything up.

Back to being angry again. I just read this. Grr.

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Disappointment Redux, Drama From Afar

First, it's time to vent about the kitchen.

The electrician did show up at some point today, but certainly not "first thing" or even "second thing" in the morning. And he apparently left part-way through what he was doing, despite three days of promises that he would "finish it all tomorrow". Open items include:

  • Door bell (still) doesn't work
  • Under-cabinet light installation stopped literally half-way, with little screws sitting out for the cat to eat
  • Boxes of miscellaneous crap left on floor
  • Miscellaneous parts (light switches, an outlet, and assorted friends) sitting out on the counter by the range
  • Sawdust & bits of wires left IN THE SINK
  • Downstairs: Bag o' insulation, wires, and crap sitting on the bar
  • Downstairs: Miscellaneous lumber & debris in piles on the bar, behind the bar
  • Downstairs: Hey, look, more fiberglass insulation on the floor, in the sink, etc.!

The tune-up and clean-up people were here, and mostly did a good job, but-- Wouldn't you just know it-- What horrible luck they have-- I have an eye for details! You know, little things, like paint on my countertop, or a layer of funky schmutz on the countertop, or the magic marker mark on a cabinet door, or the fact that they never cleaned the range at all... They did align all of the cabinet doors and drawers, so that is an improvement, but major remaining irritants are the sliding door (which is in dire need of adjustment ever since it was stained--the wheels are out of whack and now the damn thing is a major fight to open), the screen for the sliding door (which was never installed, grumble!), and the dishwasher (which is not actually flush with the cabinets but instead at a slight angle, just enough to really drive me up the wall).

Oh, and did I mention that the flooring guys have to come out again to fix their previous two rounds of fuck-ups with the sealing? I'll be damned if I am going to let them off the hook with a room full of tiny bubbles and crap embedded in my beautiful wood floor.

I mean, I know it was a gorgeous day today, but come on... I worked late because I had things to get done, I can't be the only person on the planet with a work ethic!

And now for musings on Liz's airport adventures... It's been quite bizarre to follow them remotely, as her story of frustration slowly unfolds through shifting arrangements of tiny pixels on various computer screens.

About 20 minutes before I left work, I pulled up her flight details from United's website. At that time, she hadn't landed yet, and had a scant two minutes between the estimated arrival time and the departure of her connecting flight. Just 120 seconds (estimated) to deplane, change concourses through United's scary glowing tunnel of tinkly-muzak doom, and rush out to her gate on the crowded B concourse.

Right before I left for home, I refreshed again, and now she had seven minutes.

When I got home, her 5:50 flight had been bumped to 6:35 due to "crew," which I presume means that there wasn't one. And the gate had changed.

At 6:35 (7:35 Eastern), when she should have already departed, another refresh... And more changes: an 8:04 departure, "due to late arriving aircraft," and a gate change.

While writing my rant about the kitchen above, another refresh saw the time bump to 8:10, and another gate change. A phone call a few minutes later found her out at B20, deep in the heart of "Ted" country, United's pitiful attempt to be like Southwest.

(Goes to hit refresh...)

OMFG! They've moved her plane again (now to B9).

At least she's getting some exercise. Damn. I bet the 6-bottle carry-pack of wine is starting to get pretty heavy...

[Edit @ 20:51 EDT]: Now it's at 8:17... [/Edit]

So yeah... um... United sucks! Don't fly them! Even if they might be the cheapest fare! Vote with your almighty dollars (or analogous local currency)!

And, while we're here, big middle-finger shout-outs to all who deserve them, from talking-head TV news droids to dumbass politicians of all stripes... from Enron executives to people who could afford the BMW but not the turn signal... from those who promise but do not deliver to those who require the dumbest, wrongest solutions... Asshats of the world, this one's for you!

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Three Cheers For Wanton Consumerist Behavior

I must have been stressing a lot lately, because the last couple of weeks seem awfully irresponsible of me, from a converting-the-equity-of-my-labor-into-useless-economy-fueling-crap sort of perspective. I think I've also been in withdrawal ever since my favorite record store here closed... I need my fix, man!

Looking back over the past couple of weeks, the following essentially useless but entertaining crap has entered my life:

Trip to Stratford, Ontario

  • "MacStew" apron (complete with recipe for "toil and trouble"--it's a Shakespeare thing, you see) for [info]aquamindy
  • Rasputina's Lost & Found on CD
  • BeatleJazz volumes one and two on CD (a pleasant accompaniment to a bottle of wine)
  • A CD for my father for Christmas
  • Assorted very cool children's books

Between Vacations
I was having an incredibly shit work week between returning from Stratford and leaving for California...

  • The Cure's new The Cure on CD (the US version; I'll probably acquire the UK or Japanese edition later on)
  • Concrete Blonde's new album, Mojave (which is satisfyingly excellent)
  • Three pairs of socks! (Brown ones!)
  • Two relatively nice-yet-casual button-down shirts (I am becoming a (well-dressed) whore for The Gap, please kill me NOW!)
  • Casual grey zip-uppy thing also from Gap; [info]aquamindy says it looks cute on me, and it was on sale too, so... yeah, that's justified, right?

Berkeley/San Francisco/Monterey

  • Part of an anniversary gift for [info]aquamindy from the Monterey Bay Aquarium
  • VNV Nation's Pastperfect, a 3-disc DVD set of concert video, interviews, shenanagins, and various wicked-cool stuff. I don't feel guilty in the slightest about buying this, because it's just too fucking cool.
  • A used copy of Morrowind for the X-Box--a "game of the year" for just $12!
  • Two (formerly?) out-of-print Criterion DVD's (that seem to be back in print again, so much for feeling like I found some treasures), M. Hulot's Holiday and Mon Oncle
  • Cheapass Games! I got:

    The Despair of Being Alone In Cleveland For A Week
    I had to run to the grocery store for food, and to Bed, Bath & Beyond for replacement razor blade parts (electric weasels ripped my flesh), so I just HAD to go to Borders to console myself in my loneliness...

    • Isaac Asimov's Foundation's Edge, as I had just finished the first three Foundation books
    • Dan Simmons' Ilium, which I have been dying to read for some time

    But the pièce de résistance arrived in this week's mail...

    Ladies and gents, I give you... the world's best Linux shirt! With the mighty powers of this 100% cotton marvel, I can be two different kinds of geek at the same time! Will wonders never cease??

    Please keep Fight Club references to yourselves; I am just fine with being owned by my posessions, thank you ever so much.

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Bouncy But Exhausted

I find myself in an odd state of being wherein I am simultaneously bouncing off the walls and mind-bendingly exhausted.

Caution: naughty language ahead--enjoy or beware at your own risk! (I am much too tired at this point to care whether I offend or not.)

The major case of the happies is from an overdose of the VNV Nation Pastperfect DVD, which, let's be honest, pretty much thoroughly fucking rules my school. I'll be burning the concert portion to CD in the morning for some envigorating driving music.

So why the long face (and tired eyes, slowly burning, slowly burning, slowly burning, fade away*)?


1. I am still running on bloody California time after spending four days in San Francisco and similar environs;

2. I am sleeping like crap;

3. Ohio weather can go fuck itself (curse you, humidity, you steals our precious feeling of being clean and non-sticky!);

4. My eyes are driving me absolutely bugfuck (allergies? infections? alien probes? the world may never know!);

5. Work is an unending stream of things that annoy me;

6. I've not been eating much since the weekend, thanks mostly to United Airlines (mad middle-finger shout-outs to the flight attendant who explained that the reason they sell more in-flight meals than they actually offer is because "life isn't fair"), and thanks partly to the fact that the kitchen is crazy and there's not much food in the house anyway and I'm too absent minded from items One through Three to remember to buy things;

7. [info]aquamindy is in Sonoma and Napa all week;

Be it resolved that:

1. I feel like proper shite.

2. I think I need to block out a couple of weeks and just slip into a coma or something. Yes, that sounds pleasant indeed.

3. More later. Sleep (or what passes) is upon me.

*Crap, I've just raved about one industrial band and gone off on a lyric tangent of another, which is the music geek equivalent of horribly mixed metaphors. Bollocks. It shan't happen again. Unless of course it does, in which case you're just out of luck.

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Righteously Tired


I have officially Gotten Lots of Shit Done today.

I rule!

It's also nice that a substantial amount of the remaining stuff that I hadn't even had a chance to start yet is going to be done by someone else. It's amazing how much of a load off of my mind it is. Until I have to troubleshoot it later on, at which point it will suck....But for now, it's a Good Thing.

No work tomorrow (network outage, can't VPN, don't want to drive, want to hang with friends and see Harry Potter). Will probably have to work on Sunday, but that's down to the fine-tuning bits now, so it's not going to stress me out hugely. Maybe it'll only need a few hours Sunday.

Now... it's time to boogy on home and see my lovely wife and have some dinner!


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My Life, Readers Digest Condensed Version

Good lord, but it's been a crazy week.

Had an utterly horrible meeting on Monday (half of which involved being yelled at, then being told "no one is yelling, everything is under control," and that also included the same person completely misrepresenting what I'd said in a previous meeting, to the point that it was nearly 180 degrees from the truth).

But on the other hand, the squirrel that decided to run across I-90 that morning made it to the far side alive. He waited in exactly the right place for me to drive over him at 77 (-ish) miles per hour, then darted forward a few more lanes, paused, and then arrived at his destination. Quite impressive for a critter with such a tiny brain; I guess all of our traffic-based efforts at breeding a smarter squirrel are starting to pay off!

Almost got killed on Monday afternoon as a bitch in a black Lexus (LEX 1857, in case you see this waste of skin driving around town) accelerated into the spot where I was supposed to be merging. I was in a situation where two lanes became one, and was about a car length ahead of Her Royal Recklessness when she decided that "oh, I drive a Lexus, I therefore have the right of way". And she had the nerve to lay on her horn at me, while I was just a scant moment away from having the oncoming traffic test out my airbags. Fucking piece of shit in her pre-owned yuppie crapbag of a car. But the guy who had been in front of me, who Bitch Queen got stuck behind, was going like 34, so I got a nice long look at her plates, then called the cops when I got home. They can't really do anything except call her and say that someone reported her for reckless driving... But at least I did everything I could.

It's been a busy week at work; I've finally started slinging some code for the huge project that I was supposed to have been able to start three weeks ago but couldn't until Tuesday afternoon. It's coming along. Hopefully I'll still manage to get things done on time, or at least approximately on time.

The kitchen continues apace; I'll follow up later on (tomorrow maybe) with new photos. Since my last update, we've had the new walls framed, the major electrical work completed, and in the last two days we've gotten our ceiling and the drywall has been hung! It's starting to look pretty impressive. It's going to be so great when it's done!

Liz had an event in Akron tonight, so we met up at Vaccaro's and had an excellent visit with Chef Pete. We keep meaning to visit the restaurant more often, and we keep not having a chance to get down there, so it was great to get a Pete fix. He's doing really well, the restaurant is rockin', and he's seeing a lady who sounds like she's just about perfect for him, and the shit-eating, ear-to-ear grin of his says that all the positive mojo I've been sending his way must have paid off. (Sure, I'll gladly take credit for it, what the hell!) We had a couple bottles of fabulous wine (more than I had planned on, which made the drive home in separate cars lots of fun), sampled from his extremely tasty menu, and had a great time catching up with a long-lost friend.

I'm sure there's more. But it can wait. I'll try to get some new photos posted tomorrow, I promise. (Though you can take a look here if you're impatient!)

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Learned My Lesson

This morning I had the overwhelming feeling that I should have just written off the day and gone back to bed. It turns out that my gut feeling was right, and I should really learn to listen to it more often.

Apparently I spent most of last night thrashing around in my sleep, as opposed to sleeping soundly. This, I believe, laid the groundwork for the rest of the day.

My right knee has been bugging me since Friday morning. Don't know why, it just feels like hurting. Tried a variety of different over-the-counter things for it, none of which help very much. Still hurts. I can walk okay, but stairs really kick my ass. Ouch.

I've got a huge pimple coming in, just in time to be a raging monstrosity before Andy's wedding (and the required umpty-thousand photos that will be taken). Sigh. Just when I thought my skin was deciding to behave.

Work was pretty much a wash too -- between Source Safe being down for half the day, and trying to deal with my various tasks, it was like beating my head into the wall all day long. I have two big projects that involve lots of tricky integration with different partner companies, and despite the need to Get Stuff Done, none of the technical contacts that I have seem terribly interested in Actually Doing the Stuff They're Supposed To. In fact, I can barely even get them to get back to me, let alone execute on things. Typical hurry up and wait.

Lunch tasted like ass, but apparently it wasn't as bad as what Liz ate.

Finally, I manged to accomplish a marginal amount of work toward my goals, and left the office at five, thinking that at least the day was over and I could go home and relax. About five minutes later, I was stopped at a light, and the person who rolled up next to me wanted to let me know that I had a flat tire.


I pulled into the nearest service station to take a look at the tire and maybe fill it with enough air to get me over to VW or to a tire place in Westlake. My driver's side rear tire was completely flat, and after looking at it for a minute or so, the chances of getting it across town look pretty dubious. Of course, it didn't help that I would've had to pay for air and didn't have any appropriate coinage (nor any appropriate cash) on hand. So, wussy software guy that I am, I phoned AAA to assess the damage and assist me with my spare tire. Thus I got to sit at the Marathon station on West 117 and ponder how my pleasant evening of leaving work early was about to completely disintegrate.

Once we put the spare on (props to the VW engineers for giving me a full-size spare; it's little details like that that make me love my car), it was too late to take it to the VW dealership, so off I went to Tire Kingdom over in Westlake. Of course, I still had to drive like I was on a spare, so I had to keep the car at about 50-55 mph on the highway; the car's sadness at not being driven the way it likes to be driven was palpable.

The Tire Kingdom guys took a look at the blown tire and quickly pronounced it thoroughly dead -- the nail puncture itself wouldn't have been a problem, but my nice big rims had pretty much ravaged the inside of the tire. The guy specced out a replacement tire at $193, which I thought was odd, since usually tires are supposed to be replaced in pairs. I said as much, and he said, "Yeah, we usually recommend installing new ones in pairs. Do you want us to install two, then?" I was a bit surprised that he hadn't come right out with that in his original quote, but I wasn't going to push my luck, and told him to go ahead and do two.

Time passed. I tried to watch a little of "The Daily Show" while I waited, but it was an episode that I'd already seen three times. I settled on CNN instead, which was almost as irritating -- their news was fresher, but they were still beating it to death.

More time passed.

Finally, they got done with my car and I got to deal with the paperwork. With tax and labor, I'm now out $410 for the repairs. At least they took Discover; there's nothing like getting a minuscule cash back bonus from one's misfortune. (I like to put visits to the dentist on the Discover too, for the same reason.)

The car drives fine now, and they seem to have done a good job with the alignment and so forth, but of course they didn't have the matching tires in stock, so I have to make do with two slightly different tires that don't look entirely right. At least they had the right size. I'll have to take the car back to the wash (just got it washed on Saturday) and get the rims done, since they're now covered in black crap from being removed and rotated.

So much for leaving work on-time/early -- I didn't get home until past 7:30.

Having now learned the lesson of when to give up before even getting started, I have decided to compensate for the day's bad fortunes by mixing up something cold and strong to drink, and to plan for the future by preparing a "Cranky" playlist in iTunes for the next time that the need for it arises.

Hopefully the week improves at some point... but I am not going to expect a whole lot. I prefer to be pleasantly surprised when things start looking up.

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Cars, Irony, Justice

Before we left for vacation, I had a weird experience with the fuel gauge in my car. I had filled it with a full tank of tasty 94-octane love, only to burn the first half of it in about 50 miles. Especially troubling was that the fuel gauge dipped a little over an eighth of a tank while I was idling at a red light. But the dashboard computer indicated that I was getting normal mileage, and after the weird dip reversed itself later in the day, it drove as expected for the rest of the tank.

Weird, I thought, and scheduled a service appointment. I was right at 15,000 miles, so it was time for an oil change anyway.

I dropped off the car at the dealership this morning, and Liz drove me in to work, and came to get me at the end of the day. She dropped me off at the dealership with the intention of meeting me over at the car wash in a few minutes, as both of our cars are desperate to be clean.

I filled out the paperwork, paid for the oil change, and they brought out my car. I set my bag in the car, sat down, buckled up, and noticed that they had rolled down the front windows, and that the A/C was also running. Well, I know better than to air condition the entire planet (my momma didn't raise no fool!), so I rolled up the driver's side window, and then rolled up the passenger's side window.

Or at least, that was what was supposed to happen.

The passenger window went up about half way and then, quite disobediently, rolled right back down again. I twiddled the button, and the window went up halfway again and stopped. I twiddled the button a second time, and that's when the window mechanism made a really neat noise and the window dropped into the door with a disturbing series of loud clunks.

Fuck, I thought. That's not supposed to work that way.

I hopped out of the car and walked right back into the service desk to hotly proclaim that my window regulator had just died a horrible and unglamorous death, completely unbefitting its status as part of such a beautiful and stylish vehicle. More paperwork. Called Liz to let her know I'd be late. Waited for the rental car guy to arrive with my means of getting home. More paperwork. Pleasant small talk. Finally, I drove home in my rental -- a silver Jetta, sadly a low-end model bereft of most of the goodies that I have grown accustomed to, but thankfully worlds better than the crappy Chevy Malibu that I got during the infamous Hubcap Incident.

Now, the first thing I do when I get home is to go check the mailbox to see if there's anything in there, and as Liz was still out running some errands, there was indeed new post to be retrieved. And what, pray tell, should be at the top of the pile of otherwise useless dead tree pulp?

A little white tri-fold piece of mail addressed to me...

...from someone named "VW Window Regulator Litigation."

Yes, kids, the part of my car that just broke is the subject of a class action lawsuit that's about to be settled, and they were letting me know that I'm part of it if I want to be.

Now, I can never remember if that's irony or coincidence, but it did have me laughing out loud as I stood at the mailbox. And really, that's about the best I could have hoped for given the circumstances.

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Moving Day

Today was Moving Day in the office -- the day of my transition from my lousy old cube to my shiny new one. At my old location, there was a sort of open public area that is "graced" with some tables, supposedly to encourage small groups to collaborate there instead of visiting each other's little hidey-holes. Unfortunately, those tables had become the default location for any meeting that was too lazy to check to see if there was an open conference room, and the nigh-constant meeting chatter had me well on my way to going quite severely postal.

My new location is among a pod of other developers that I have to deal with pretty regularly anyway, so that's a definite improvement. I am far from the stupid meeting tables, and up against a REAL WALL for the first time in my post-college career. On the down side, I have the sysadmins on one side of me, and someone that argues with them a lot just across the way from me, so I will probably get a lot of chatter from that... But I heard that stuff from my old desk anyway, so I can't think that it will be that much worse. And it should drown out anything coming from the accursed meeting tables, and that's really my major goal--not to eliminate all noises, because I can't, but to reduce the total number of noises that my brain is going to try to ignore while I try to get work done.

So I moved all my stuff over to my new digs today, got settled in, and am really enjoying it so far. It's given me a chance to establish a much better desk layout, with both of my computers on the floor to maximize the work surface (which I find myself using more than other folks... I like to doodle and psuedo-code on paper first).

I need to find out whom to call about mounting my whiteboard on the Real Wall; it's too tall to hang from either of my two cube-farm walls, and I would apparently be in deep shit if I just drilled holes in the wall and mounted it myself, despite being more than capable of hanging a dumb-ass office whiteboard after all the home improvement work that Liz and I have been doing lately. And also the overhead light doesn't work, so it's a bit cavelike; that will certainly need fixing. However, a glace to the left allows me a tiny glimpse of the windows, so I won't be completely oppressed by our dark grey ceilings.

Now... now it's way past bedtime. I've been up late the past couple of nights researching digital cameras that my brother-in-law Andy might like for a wedding present. I think I've found a couple of good recommendations (feel free to share yours, please), but it's an exhausting process to sift through the massive amounts of information and model/manufacturer permutations available, and it seems to have really kicked my ass in the needing to get more sleep department.

So, with that... adieu, aufwiedersehen, good night!

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In Cars

Now, about the car weirdness... This is better as a list, so:

  1. Back in late November, my traction control light came on a couple of times while I was driving, and not in a good way. It came on in a way that says, "Hi, I'm your traction control system, and I'll be taking a little nap for awhile since I think I've been switched off, and there's not a goddamn thing you can do about it, mm-kay!" Since then, it's come on about every two or three weeks, staying lit and refusing to bow to my pressing of the little button on the dashboard. It usually seemed to come up shortly after I'd started up in the morning, or immediately as I started up, but it has come on a couple times while driving. It doesn't seem to depend on time, nor temperature, nor speed, nor any kind of variation in how I've turned the key, etc. But of course, since it's sporadic, it means the dealership can't figure it out.
  2. My driver's side windshield wiper sucks! It clears the crap off of everywhere except a 6 inch by 4 inch rectangle directly in front of where my eyes would look through the windshield. It's a good thing I at least remembered to buy new blades today when I was picking up my car from it's 10,000 mile scheduled maintenance. Maybe I'll even remember to install them, unlike the blades I got for my Saturn that sat in the back of my car for, what, a year?
  3. In the last month or so, it's sounded/felt like it's starting up kind of rough and wheezily in the mornings. Of course, it acted fine at the shop today.
  4. Yesterday when I was coming back from an errand, the engine was somewhat unwilling to start. It would mostly get there, then kind of cough and stop, and the angry little battery light lit up. It took me a few tries to get it to start cleanly, and even that required giving it a little gas to coax it along. Of course, it acted fine going to the shop today, at the shop today, and on the way home.

So the dealership probably thinks I'm crazy. The lady really jumped on me when I said, "I've been hearing a lot about the coilpack issues online, is there any chance that I might be seeing signs of that here?" She really let me have it about "the problem only affect[ing] the turbos" and that VW "is not doing a recall", so they wouldn't even consider it. This was despite the fact that the mechanic standing next to her at the time said, "The coils go bad on the VR6 too, but it's mostly on the turbos." Oh well. They are usually pretty nice over there in the service department, so I'll let it slide on account of how much shit their customers must be giving them about it. From what I have read online, it sounds like it's a corporate nightmare for VW right now.

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