mikailborg: I can't even remember what event I was attending, but I must have been taking it seriously. (space_tech)
This is the first shuttle launch in decades that I've managed to watch live. The experience takes my breath away; so daring, so defiant, putting people atop all that high explosive and flinging them into the hostile vacuum above us. I'm not always thrilled with my species, but this sort of thing restores my faith in our future... at least briefly.

In a very small way, I contributed to this launch, which only adds to the thrill. I contributed indirectly, to be sure, just by doing my day job keeping the Macs of Langley humming; but I'm proud nevertheless.
mikailborg: I can't even remember what event I was attending, but I must have been taking it seriously. (orbiting)
Langley is closed for the day, which surprises me. There's a dusting of snow outside, but it sure isn't anything I couldn't drive through. Perhaps the bridge-tunnels are unsafe. Our e-mail notification system is a tease, though: "Check Sunday at 7pm." 7pm Sunday: "Not sure. Check Monday at 5am." 5am Monday: "We're definitely closed until Monday at noon. Check at 10am for more." 10am Monday: "Yeah, okay, we're closed."

The upshot is that I have a day off, and for once Starr's not working today either. We didn't see much of each other this weekend, so this'll be nice. We might hit the Y together and get some exercising in. The cats are thrilled to have us home, which means they are all over us every second. I'm thinking of getting some kitty restraints. (Cue Steve Martin's "Cat Handcuffs" routine.)

I made my hotel reservations for Technicon this weekend. Went nuts and got a suite, since a suite at the Microtel costs less than a twin bed other places. My plan right now is to drive up Friday after work, chill Friday night, do the con and some local socializing, and drive home Monday. I often miss everyone up there. You guys need to all come down to MarsCon or NekoCon or something now so we can hang out.

Mom tried to move back into the house at Kentland this weekend. With reservations, I support this - her plan sounds workable, and she's going to have outside help. But we learned that a pipe was broken, necessitating shutting off the water, and the gas was also shut off for some reason. I have to get her and Whitney together to get that fixed, as there's not much I can do about it from here.

And speaking of houses... Starr's parents have made us an offer to buy this house from them. Without going into details, it's a deal we would be complete fools to pass up. We've agreed to their offer, and are setting up the money now. Nothing's been signed yet, but it looks like we are going to be homeowners.

I'm going to own a house. A four-bedroom, 2.5 bath house in a nice neighborhood, with a garage, a swimming pool, a fireplace... and this from a guy who was amazed he could afford a three-bedroom apartment. I'm still a little dazed at the prospect... this is awesome. Starr's right now looking at mortgage rates from her USAA membership, we might even get a good rate. Whoa. *deep breaths* Please send good thoughts my way if you can spare them. This means a lot to me!
mikailborg: I can't even remember what event I was attending, but I must have been taking it seriously. (space_tech)
Bad news: we all have to take Office 2007 and MS Vista training; it's not optional, even for Mac me. Good news: The company will reimburse tuition for any Microsoft certifications to which this training leads. Methinks I'd be a complete fool not to take advantage of this - extra certifications can't hurt, right?

At the moment, Starr and I share the house with four cats, two of ours and two from her family that are on extended 'boarding' with us. We must put in a fair amount of effort to keep up with demands for food and clean litter! As a result, though, I woke up this morning with one cat sleeping on my lap, another nestled tight against my left hip, and a third tucked under my right armpit. It seems I make an excellent cat pillow.

Tonight, Starr works late, and my chore list includes laundry, cooking, and cleaning; our Shadowrun group meets again Monday, and I don't intend to spend the weekend picking up. I need to chill, and take care of some happier business.
mikailborg: I can't even remember what event I was attending, but I must have been taking it seriously. (flying_gif)
My coworker Lee B. was joking about heading to PiChiTa for lunch - the local Pizza Hut / KFC / Taco Bell combo. I responded that he'd best be careful, because if he said "pichita" too loudly over there, it would end up as their newest menu item.

Then I got to thinking. Take some lightly seasoned diced chicken. Put it in a taco shell, cover with a little pizza sauce, add a judicious amount of your favorite topping (crumbled sausage, chopped pepperoni or shrooms, whatever), and melt some mozzarella atop the whole thing.

Frankly, that sounds pretty good. If Starr's brave this weekend, we may have to experiment a bit. If it's good, I'll give Lee full credit.
mikailborg: I can't even remember what event I was attending, but I must have been taking it seriously. (flying_gif)
Now that I'm digging the Daft Punk, everyone's been saying over and over that I needed to get the Alive 2007 album. Picked it up this weekend, finally listened to it with the speakers turned up on my morning commute. That's some fine commuting music, that is.

It looks like Starr won't be making it to Technicon Last; she can't get out of working that weekend. Her shifts are crazy - it's a regular thing for her to have five days off in a row, but somehow her scheduled weekend shifts always fall on convention dates. It annoys us both. She has more than enough PTO to cover it if she took off, but that requires a great deal of shift-trading, and for some reason few of her co-workers want to work extra weekend shifts. Can't imagine why.

I may have a very memorable con costume this year.

I like Twitter because it provides useful writing exercise in expressing onself succinctly. I shouldn't fret, though, if I miss a few dozen because I'm away from a 'Net connection. Most of the stuff I'll want to know shows up in LiveJournal, and LJ's much easier to keep up with. (Blogging of any kind forces me to keep in mind two good practices: try to avoid that cursed passive voice, and don't write a novel where a couple of paragraphs will get my point across better.)
mikailborg: I can't even remember what event I was attending, but I must have been taking it seriously. (Default)
  • 11:38 I hope that plenty of folks got to take LeVar Burton's Birthday off yesterday. #
  • 13:42 Holy smoke, I completely missed the WoW "Love Is In The Air" festival! Glad I wasn't going for the meta-Achievement this year. #
  • 14:22 @dragonpearl Print jobs submitted late always made me homicidal, because I knew I'd be staying until 11 or 12 that night. #
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mikailborg: I can't even remember what event I was attending, but I must have been taking it seriously. (menace)
I appear to have recovered from the sinus infection I had before MarsCon only to walk right into a full-blown bout with the influenza. This is an especially impressive achievement considering that I had the flu shot back in November. Go Me. So now I'm into the negatives again with my sick days at work - thank goodness that they're pretty flexible - and sitting in bed taking Tamiflu twice a day and remembering what food and drink were like when my sense of taste was functional. Whine whine carp carp bleh.

It's kinda funny to watch some people acting like Obama has already completely ruined his presidency based on a few choices that I admit I don't agree with either. It's even funnier, in a completely pathetic kind of way, to watch "Rapture Ready" Christians glancing impatiently at the sky while wondering why Jesus hasn't come to rid them of this Antichrist. Y'know, he's just a man, albeit an intelligent, articulate one with some ideas that, if they work out the way he says, could leave this country in markedly better shape when he leaves power. Which he will do, in no more than eight years tops, because that's what the laws of the country say. But he's still just a dude. He's got four more years minimum to try to impress as many of us as he can, and we really ought to give a fair fraction of that to him before we declare him a failure.

(P.S. He's also not the dictator of America. Whether the country is any better in four years has as much if not more to do with what its collected citizens do, than with any orders he gives. The most he can do is inspire, positively or negatively. It's hypocritical to throw our responsibilities as citizens on the President's shoulders and then be angry him if we don't like the way things go.)

Okay, enough politics. Sort of. I had an excellent time at MarsCon, it offered me everything I could want from a weekend fan con and I indulged to the practical limit. I'm already in line for next year's, and I think I may even have contributed to the next chosen theme. I've heard a little bit of whining in places, though for the most part I've put it down to folks with entitlement issues.

But I've also heard quiet murmurs of staff drama. These may be overblown, and already handled, in which case I'm a happy fan. However, as I look at some of the difficulties my favorite cons have hit over the years, I'm seeing a certain cycle. Since it always seems to hit sometime between the con's tenth and fifteenth year, I'm calling it Con Puberty; after years of success, suddenly the con is hit with massive crises of staffing, programming, funding, and or general personality - an identity crisis, if you will. Sometimes they survive, sometimes they don't - often the event will fragment and reassemble as a new con with echoes of its predecessor. But either way, unlike normal puberty, in another 10-15 years, it'll hit again.

RoVaCon survived it once, and was killed the second time; it looks as though Technicon is going to follow the same path. Rising Star rose from the ashes of RoVaCon, then years later survived its own puberty by evolving into a different con with the same name. Sci-Con evolved into a completely different event with a new identity; and now, as I count back, MarsCon has been around under that name for, what - ten-fifteen years?

MarsCon's a great con. To get all circularly Frankensteinian with my metaphors, if the con's indeed having any issues, I'm hoping it's not Con Puberty, but simply a minor, quickly remedied staff infection.
mikailborg: I can't even remember what event I was attending, but I must have been taking it seriously. (passing)
I've been sick for the last two days - sinus congestion, stabbing stomach pain, sore throat, fever... same old same old midwinter bug. Reluctantly, I took Tuesday off, which I think cut a couple days' duration off this bug; it's fading away as I sit here, leaving me with a scratchy throat and headache. I should be fine for the weekend; good thing too, as I had to do a bit of finagling to make MarsCon.

On the other hand, it means I'm woefully behind on my prep. I managed to get some studying in for the panels in which I'm involved, but my costuming took the hit, and I don't know if I'll have anything ready for the weekend. Since I'll be leaving directly from work tomorrow, I have to get packed and otherwise ready tonight. Good thing I managed some laundry.

Sometime Friday afternoon, I will have to find time to take a nap if I want to do late night stuff. This is unaviodalbe, as my internal clock these days is currently set to a 5:30am - 10:30pm waking shift, and cons don't run on that time. Considering that my Saturday panels hover around 10pm and midnight, I'll probably need to do the same that day as well.

I need to do some restructuring of my life schedule anyway. One reason for my dryness of prose output in 2008 was that I had not made much time to sit, off by myself, and actually write something - the most I've gotten done in that regard is hiding in people's offices scribbling on the Newton while monitoring their OS X Leopard installs. (Up to three hours of glorious undisturbed concentration!) It's easy to journal in 5-minute increments at work, but I have not yet mastered the art of focusing on plot and character in those tiny chunks.

On the other hand, I'm slightly pleased with my attitude towards the problem. I'm doing better these days with creating plans of attack for my roadblocks instead of just whining about them and using them for excuses. I'm decades overdue on developing this skill.
mikailborg: I can't even remember what event I was attending, but I must have been taking it seriously. (decipher)
Yes, it's Interview Meme time again. [livejournal.com profile] kittenchan asked the questions, and I provide the answers. For those who wish to play along at home, the rules are (c'mon, you know this by now):

1. Reply to my post asking me to interview you.
2. I reply to your post with five questions.
3. You post your answers and this meme on your LJ.

1. What's the craziest (PG) thing you've ever done?
PG, huh? Probably in my teens, when I used to attend USS Heimdal meetings in Lynchburg, the other car in our convoy would race us there and back. 110-120 MPH speeds were known to occur. I wasn't driving, but I didn't exactly try too hard to talk the drivers out of it, either. I'm glad that we all grew out of that before something terrible happened.

2. Why did you first join VTSFFC?
It wasn't really on purpose! When Tom Monaghan started attending Tech, he invited me along on a VTSFFC trip to Stellarcon. I rode with Scott Gosik, whom I had not met before that day, and weathered a barrage of cryptic anime references; witnessed a car accident in our convoy and spent an evening in an Emergency Room with a delirious Rosethorn (also a total stranger); and entered the con costume contest on five-minutes' notice, using random items I'd happened to pack. The general consensus was that I had passed the initiation whether I'd intended to or not.

3. Do you still draw?
I have not drawn anything in 2008, I fear, besides some crude notebook sketches of my Legion of Liberty superhero. I have several drawings in my head, though, and 2009 will not be artless.

4. Do you ever miss working at the TN?
I miss a lot of the people I got to work with at the TN, but I don't miss the late Tuesdays (even the abbreviated ones) or the desperate deadlines! Honestly, I wish there was a NASA facility in Blacksburg; the work I'm doing now is great, and I still enjoy causally saying "oh I work for NASA" when asked, but I miss my friends and family up there a lot.

5. What's your favorite restaurant of all time and why?
After lengthy thought - there are two close runners-up - I'd have to say Sakura, over in Salem. The prices are moderate, the service is very good, the decor is attractive and simple, and the food is addictively good. I can name restaurants that have been better in one or more categories, but this is the all-round winner. I think a certain someone's impromptu reception dinner was held there, as well :) Stinks that I'm 5 hours away, now.
mikailborg: I can't even remember what event I was attending, but I must have been taking it seriously. (speed+time)
My exciting New Year's: no party, no fancy dinner. I didn't feel well, so we stayed home to watch the ball drop on one of the excruciating network New Year's shows. We waited for the countdown to start... and waited... and waited... and looked at the clock to notice that it had somehow become 12:22. Yes, we fell asleep waiting for New Year's. Such a hardcore life we lead, eh?

I repeat what I said last year: if I'm planning to party or otherwise celebrate late into the evening, I'm at a point in life where an afternoon nap would be a wise preparation - especially if I'd gotten up at 5:30am that day to go to work.

Slept until almost noon on the 1st, because I'm still exhausted from last weekend. (Possibly from all of December.) Starr had to work, so after lunch I headed to Bert and Meche's, where they got a game of Munchkin Quest going. I'm glad they have it, because I want to play it again, but this time I don't have to buy a copy. It looks like an average game might well be 4-5 hours, though we had some non-gamer types at the board, which slowed things down a touch.

I'm tempted to say that my New Year's Resolution is "1280 x 1024, 32-bit color at 60hz". But in fact, the personal-improvement things I hope to accomplish this year are to keep trying to lose some spare tire, improve my education and my earning power, and do more non-journally writing. I'm especially unhappy with my writing output in 2008; I've stared at a lot of empty text files this year. That will be changing.

Happy New Year to all!
mikailborg: I can't even remember what event I was attending, but I must have been taking it seriously. (Default)
  • 09:13 Listening to TSO for, somehow, the first time this Christmas. I will *not* choke up during "Old City Bar". #
  • 11:00 @tangowildheart Yep, it's great when the total commute = 25% of the actual work hours, isn't it? #
  • 14:00 @tangowildheart That's right, I am unable to do math today. Possibly because I'm in the same boat of 1hr - 4hrs - 1hr. :( #
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mikailborg: I can't even remember what event I was attending, but I must have been taking it seriously. (rogue)
I can think of several things for which I'm thankful today:

Everything is out of the apartment now except for some random cleaning supplies, and a couple of lamps and a vacuum cleaner that wouldn't fit in the car last night. This will be taken care of this weekend when I drop off the keys. For this I am very thankful to Starr and, well, me. We've both put no small effort into all these boxes.

I am thankful to Starr for many things, in fact; but they're all mushy and I'll save that for some other time.

I am thankful to Starr's parents for allowing us to use their house for the next year or two. We'll be very comfortable here, and we'll be able to save up some money which we'll need to get our own place. (Midori is thankful to them for the gas fireplace, which is one of the best things the furless monkeys have invented since domesticated catnip and the chewy kitty treat.)

I'm thankful to NASA for giving me the opportunity to show me what I could do for them, and to [livejournal.com profile] rattrap for encouraging my developing Macintosh skills in the first place. I'm also thankful to the designers of the Apple Newton, whose long-cancelled product inadvertently provided me with some "hardcore Mac expert" cred in the most recent planning meeting.

I am thankful to the grocery store owners and workers who allowed their stores to be open this morning, so I could acquire the remaining bits of a quiet Thanksgiving surprise dinner to serve Starr, who once again works a holiday.

I'm thankful to the creators and operators of LiveJournal, without whom I'd never be able to keep track of what's going on with all my friends. My peeps are a complicated, intelligent, opinionated, goofy bunch - which is exactly how I like it, and my life would be horribly diminished without them.

I'm thankful to all the people that I like and love that my emo side is awfully disappointed this holiday. I'm supposed to be, and fully expected to be, horribly dissatisfied with my life at this age. Problem with that is, there's so much good in my life right now... how can I let the few speed bumps slow me down?
mikailborg: I can't even remember what event I was attending, but I must have been taking it seriously. (Default)

  • 09:36 Just had to explain who Cthulhu is to a workmate. Must increase geekiness of workplace. (At NASA, yet.) #

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mikailborg: I can't even remember what event I was attending, but I must have been taking it seriously. (slaine)
Happy Halloween - the one day of the year I'm expected to dress funny.

In honor of the season, here's an audio recording of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven", read by Starr, myself, and other LJ friends and associates of [livejournal.com profile] lemonlye. (5MB mp3 file). You can see the list of participants and the lines they read in this LJ post.

I wore my "Enterprise"-era Starfleet uniform to work today - it's gone over pretty well. What's everyone else wearing today or tonight?
mikailborg: I can't even remember what event I was attending, but I must have been taking it seriously. (Default)
  • 10:30 Amused that Facebook thinks I may know random people that also work for NASA, somewhere. #
  • 10:57 Lots of Wachovia phishing spam in the last 48 hours. No click from me, impaired-grammar scammer. #
  • 11:44 I *heart* dailycostume.com for all the masquerades I don't get to attend! #
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mikailborg: I can't even remember what event I was attending, but I must have been taking it seriously. (rogue)
On Friday, one of my co-workers walked into the room looking for another of my co-workers. Seeing him at his desk, she said, "Hey Dave, it's Joan. I have a question for you..."

I thought to myself, "Errr, Dave probably knows it's you, seeing as you're standing right here." Of course, the next thought that flashed through my head: "Harriet Jones - Prime Minister." "Yes, I know who you are."

Bummed to have once again missed Rising Star. I had a nice streak of attendance, reaching past the first RS in 1992 to 1982's RoVaCon 7. It sounds like the convention's doing incredibly well these days, but I just can't swing the travel (seven hours one way). Yes, I feel guilty about that. Hope everyone who went had a good time.

I myself am packing up for another move. This has a lot to do with the Stuff Reduction Plan - at least this time, there is noticeably less stuff to pack, and I'm Freecycling / eBaying / giving away even more stuff in the next week or two. Weirdness. Didn't change living quarters for decades, and now I'm in my fourth move in 5 years.
mikailborg: I can't even remember what event I was attending, but I must have been taking it seriously. (passing)
In general, I like living in Hampton Roads, I honestly do. Last night did not provide a good example...

There are three bridges in my Metro area that can take me from work to home. Assuming no heavy traffic, the Monitor-Merrimac bridge-tunnel does so in about 40-45 minutes; the James River bridge adds about 20-25 minutes to that; and the Hampton Roads bridge-tunnel adds about 20 minutes to the MMBT. (I have a bad tendency to refer to them as the Mimbit, the Jerb, and the Herbit.)

Unless it's 1am, though, there's probably going to be an additional 10-30 minutes of heavy traffic on the Herbit, and the Mimbit is a crapshoot: sometimes I fly straight through, and sometimes I sit waiting an extra 15-20 minutes. We have handy electronic signs alerting us to congestion on the Mimbit and Herbit, but because of geography, by the time I see one, the Jerb is already out of the question.

Yesterday, the signs warned me that the Mimbit was blocked by an accident - based on reports I've heard, an idiot trying to cut off a fellow driver. I had a quick decision to make - wait in blocked traffic there, and hope the accident is cleared within an hour (it usually is) or join all the additional traffic to the Herbit, probably incurring a 90-minute delay. I joined the queue of blocked traffic.

I took 2 hours to reach the tunnel entrance for the Mimbit, only to find that the tunnel remained blocked and that traffic was being forcibly rerouted back to the other two bridges. I don't know the Jerb route well enough to ensure I wouldn't get lost, so I joined the crowded line for the Herbit. 90 minutes later, I was finally home. 3.5 hours to make a 45-minute commute. (Turns out that the Jerb was just as bad.)

Starr, aware of the situation thanks to cell phones, had pizza and chocolate waiting. I love this woman.
mikailborg: I can't even remember what event I was attending, but I must have been taking it seriously. (space_tech)
Once again, here at Langley we have more work than we have people to perform it.

If you have at least a year of IT experience, and are interested in temporary work in Hampton, VA, you're encouraged to drop me a note. We are slowly moving the whole base from their old subcontractor-owned Mac, Windows, and Linux machines to our own equipment, and we need people who work well with the public and can handle unexpected glitches in file transfer and account configuration.

General aerospace fanaticism not necessary, but makes the job cooler.
mikailborg: I can't even remember what event I was attending, but I must have been taking it seriously. (Default)
  • 07:53 Just learned that Julia Child spied for the Allies in WW2. The world is a touch more awesome. #
  • 10:47 Oh, look, another crash project. There went me getting tickets done today. #
  • 20:00 Got minor 'attaboy' from boss this afternoon. On way out, felt much more willing to stay 15 mins. extra to break down monitor boxes. #
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mikailborg: I can't even remember what event I was attending, but I must have been taking it seriously. (flying_gif)
My "grown-up" moment for the week: not bidding on a Lego Mars Rover on eBay even though it came to $10 below retail. I just don't need to be spending $85 on Lego right now. But I thought about it for a second.

Worked on a shell script today which will automate and streamline installation and troubleshooting of our backup services. I keep forgetting how much I love writing code, especially the bit where it executes and everything works properly and I feel like Dr. Frankenstein shouting "It's alive!!" I caught the coding bug when the TRS-80s came out, and I've never gotten over it.

I headed in to work early today, to help install a glut of new monitors which arrived. Not my usual assignment, but I wanted to help out, and the monitors were the lightest of the equipment to be installed. On the other hand, that does mean a lot of crawling under desks, and even a 22-inch flatscreen isn't that light after you've lifted the tenth one onto a desk. I'm a little tired.

Going to try to get in touch with Mom again tonight.

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mikailborg: I can't even remember what event I was attending, but I must have been taking it seriously. (Default)
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