another misAdventure

"We are all of us living in the shadow of Manhattan."

Friday, June 29, 2007


"Cleveland! How could a place possess so eerie and evil a name and not be ruled by demons?"
-- Howard the Duck

(Note: quote is fixed now!)

Guess where I'll be spending half my time in July and August. Yes, 31 days between July 1 and August 31, so officially half the days.

The Howard the Duck quote is fixed now that I'm home. The quote is from Giant-Size Man-Thing #4. (Aside: Giant-Size Man-Thing is officially the most wrong-sounding comic title ever.)

(No, I don't have a Giant-Size Man-Thing (no jokes), just the reprint in Marvel Treasury Edition featuring Howard the Duck)

They asked for availability. I marked out the big dates of the summer (Gencon, in particular), most (but not all) of the dates when I have Cubs tickets, and a few other dates, and left a couple extra days of pad around some of those times.

And then, every single day I marked as "available" before the end of August, they assigned me to be in Cleveland.

The scarier part is that the bigger concentration of available days that I marked were in September, and they haven't set the September schedule yet.

Let me just say - eep!

And, the part that makes me lean toward the "pissed off" side -- it looks like only about half the team actually answered the e-mail to give their availability/unavailability. And, if you didn't answer, you weren't assigned. That's just wrong.

I guess this is why they pay me the big bucks.

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

The 200

This is blog post #200 for me. Enough about that.

Instead, this is basically a work post.

I left work last night a little earlier than usual last night, and decided to get a couple errands done (exchange my faulty I-Pass transponder, get my weekly comics). I was debating whether to do it then or defer it to today.

It's a good thing I did it yesterday, because my 6-hour monitoring shift today stretched to 11-hours.

The morning and the first part of the afternoon was relatively quiet. Then, about five hours in (i.e., supposedly with an hour to go) we had an indicator that something had failed. That indication also meant we needed to check something else (on 8 different sites) to see if there was another corrective action needed. So, we swung into action ....

... and then the fire alarm went off. I wasn't too concerned. Our building is steel, glass, and concrete; not exactly flamable. And it's long rather than tall, so little chance of problems spreading upward quickly and cutting off exit (as it a tower), nor is a lot of hazardous material stored anywhere. Any fire alarm is likely due to a circuit board shorting out in a lab and generating a bit of smoke.

Nevertheless, our manager decided we better clear out, better safe than sorry, even if we missed a window to fix something and avoid an outage.

I realized a bit too late that I left my cell phone on the table. Which meant, I couldn't call my colleague in a different building (well, a different state) to check on things. Dang.

When we got the "all clear" to reenter the building, I sprinted up to the monitoring room (third floor). At least to the extent that anything I do could be considered "sprinting".

We checked, found some problems, fixed them, but we were a bit late with one preventative measure, and we wound up with a longer outage that recovered veeerrrry slooowwwwwly. That took me about an extra three hours past the time I was supposed to go off shift.

And, just as that finished and we hung up on the outage conference call, we got another signal that something was wrong elsewhere. Eeek! That one we did catch in time to avoid the worst problems, and the system recovered about as quickly as it could be expected to. But that added another hour. And then I needed to respond to a couple things that I couldn't do earlier in the day (or got pulled away from), so I got out of work at 8pm.

I called home -- no one had had dinner yet, so we decided to grab something quick at Steak and Shake. Our waitress probably wasn't the worst waitress in the world, but she trained under her. Inattentive, slow, and with next to no short term memory (couldn't remember who ordered anything). And, Kathy (vegetarian) ordered a grilled cheese with tomato, and instead got a grilled cheese with bacon and tomato. So, the waitress took it back the kitchen and .... as I expected would happen .... removed the bacon and brought the sandwich back out.

And I still can't really justify leaving nothing for a tip, but she did get a poor tip, and probably a few words from the manager (?), who I talked to at the checkout.

And, all in all, it really wasn't that terrible a day. Just nutty.

Tomorrow, I monitor in the evening, then not this weekend. Matt will be home for the weekend because we were supposed to play D&D, but that fell through. Saturday we will probably hit Naperville Rib Fest, which I always intend to go to and haven't in several years. Sunday: Cubs game for Ellen and I, and the kids will probably go to Taste of Chicago.

So, I'll probably update again Sunday if not Saturday.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007


It was a great tackle. Clotheslined the guy around the neck and brought him right down, so that everyone else could pile on.

Fun at the old ballpark.

But first, some catch-up. Saturday I had a six-hour monitoring shift that was, thankfully, very quiet and uneventful. Then I came home and relaxed, not having a lot of energy.

Sunday, I slept in to try to recover some of the sleep-debt. That only partially worked, and I still didn't feel like I had any energy.

Yesterday, I went worked, then went to the Cubs game. The game was pretty fun, with the Cubs scoring early and often. It looked like all was going well, with the Cubs having an 8-3 lead going into the 9th inning.

Then it all started coming apart. Scott Eyre shouldn't have been used for a third inning (when he struggled even earlier), and he couldn't get anyone out in the ninth. He left with runners on second and third, one run in, no outs.

Bobby Howry probably shouldn't have been used to close three straight games. He gave up three straight hits, including the homerun that put the Rockies in the lead 9-8.

Everyone in the crowd was stunned. That is, except the fan who charged the mound. He was waving his hands and shouting at Howry, seemingly asking how Howry could give up that lead.

And then the ball boy arrived and clotheslined the guy. A tremendous takedown - I hope someone has that guy playing linebacker. Other security folks soon got there, piled on to keep the fan under control, and drag him off to his jail cell.

Howry then got the next three outs, and the Cubs left the field to boos.

And, then, it turned around again.

Single by DeRosa. Strikeout by Pagan. Fielder's choice by Bowen. Two out, runner on first.

Then Hill singled. Then Theriot hit a simple ground ball to second that the secondbaseman muffed, everyone safe.

And then Soriano came through with a single and the place went nuts. Cubs win, 10-9. And everyone was just so taken by the whole thing that almost noone moved for about three or four minutes. It was like a playoff win where everyone just wanted to enjoy it. They didn't even get the usual post-game, Cubs-win music playing (I never did hear it start).

Bob and I hung around for a few minutes, and then decided to make our break out of the stadium before everyone started moving. I was still way ahead of everyone when I got to the stadium exit, and made it through the turnstiles for the El with absolutely no line.

And, I didn't go to the game tonight, but watched it on TV and it was almost a replay. The Cubs did manage to stop the bleeding earlier tonight, though, so they didn't have to go through losing the lead.

Anyway, that's it for now. I need to go to bed so I can get up for work (and another monitor session) in the morning.

Today is the 2nd anniversary of the second (and third) posts on this blog. I didn't quite make it to 200 posts yet -- that'll be the next post. See you then!

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Friday, June 22, 2007

Harried at 31

Bah, I let a week go by without a post.

So, what's been going on?

Saturday - cleaned garage and made a lot of progress. All four kids were home. Went out to dinner (at Carrabba's) as a Father's Day/birthday celebration. Played a game of Hawaiian Rummy and beat Ryan, but no one else, but it was a game where no one was consistently stuck with a bunch of points.

Sunday - went to the Cubs game with Bob. The Cubs played badly, lost 11-3. I did get a 1918 Cubs hat from the Stadium Club (because of Father's Day). Sat one table over from Rev. Jesse Jackson, a couple other men (one one of his sons?) and several smallish children (grandchildren?).

Monday - work. Arrange for some maintenance work on a customer site. Chill.

Tuesday - work. Tried to warn of a problem because the maintenance didn't fix the problem, and need to get our customer to fix it (by getting another vendor to fix their stuff). Played a game of D&D in Niles (Kalen joined me). Decent story, but short, and the main challenge in the mod was to avoid doing something stupid.

Wednesday - Hmmm, I can't remember much. Maybe I was drunk (though it then must have been from a beer a couple weeks ago). I know I didn't sleep well, though. I should have blogged.

Thursday - Monitoring (3p-9p), and a nasty outage during my shift. Got accused of not warning about a potential problem (yes, the one I warned about on Tuesday). Didn't finish and get home until 11pm, and then I still dealt with a call on the problem when I got home.

Friday - Finish putting together explanation of outage from Thursday, deal with long call with customer explaining the same. There will still be some of that to finish tomorrow and Monday. And, it's my birthday. I turned 31. Hexadecimal rules! Went out to dinner with Ellen, Kalen, Kathy, Ryan. Got birthday phone calls from Matt and Bob. Birthday e-mails from Mom, Mark T., and Goofy. Yay! Wrote this blog entry so that I stop being a non-blogging slug.

Tomorrow - monitoring, 9a - 3p. Then we'll see. Sunday - free! Finish bundling trash in garage that didn't fit in bins last week.

That's it! More this weekend.

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Friday, June 15, 2007


OK, so I was most likely wrong in my last post. Let's do the (approximate) math:
(77 × 200) + (24 × 300) = 15400 + 7200 = 22600.

That's the denominator.

The numerator is exact: 1530

So, approximately 6.8% .... of my comics are now inventoried.

So, I was wrong the other day when I thought I had more than 5% of my comics inventoried, because I've done three more short boxes since then. I didn't think I had as many as many as 100 boxes, but right now I have 101. 77 short boxes and 24 long boxes. And the eight that have been inventoried are all short boxes.

Anyway, I'm slowly chipping away. And it may go a bit quicker, as Kalen wants to do some of it to work off some of her debt.

Tomorrow is garage cleaning day. Yay! Oh, and going out for Father's Day/my birthday dinner. Matt's on his way up right now, so everyone will be home ... for the garage cleaning!!! Yay!

Other than that, I went to the Cubs game with Bob on Wednesday and it was a really good game, and a really good buffet. We'll be doing that again on Sunday, and hopefully everything will be just as good.

And ... that's all for now. More on progress, garage and comics, sometime this weekend.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Three-piece Sofa Set

It wasn't designed as a three-piece set, but that was its ultimate fate. It's probably in a few more pieces by now.

The theme for the weekend was "attempts at organization".

Although the attempts at organization were really just starting to make a dent in things.

One of the things we did to prepare for air conditioner installation on Friday was to clear space. Specifically, space in the southwest quadrant of the basement so that the installer could access the area to run new lines to the new outside unit location. That meant moving a table that had some of my junk on it, a number of comic boxes, and some other stuff. Where most of it got moved was the southeast quadrant of the basement, where my comic boxes are in disarray.

So, after the installation, my task was to finish cleaning the area that had been cleared, and then start using that as a more organized staging area for imposing some "array" on the aforementioned disarray.

So, the beginning of that was to pull out the full comic boxes that were just sitting on the floor (rather than on shelves), get them stacked neatly in the staging area, and get the inventory of each of those boxes plugged into ComicBase. I'm five boxes into the inventory right now, which means I should be more than 5% through the task, but well under 10% done.

There are boxes of stuff that are not comics, much of it my accumulated crap, that I need to pull out of there and put into storage somewhere (maybe the attic), until I can at least get the comics back under control. There are other boxes of stuff that are not mine that I need to have someone decide what to do with (Ellen - what are we doing with crochet-covered clothes hangers we don't use??).

And, in the process, I got rid of the old couch that was down there. It had been quite a while since it had been used as a couch rather than a junk caddy, and was full of cat hair (or worse). I said when I moved it down there that it would have to come back up in pieces, considering the hassle of getting it down there in the first place. Ryan and I made an attempt to defy that prediction, but in the end I ripped the insides out (it was a sofa-sleeper), and then had to break the front portion off in order to fit around the corner. And that's how it made it to the curb for the garbage pickup this morning -- in three large pieces, not counting the cushions that made it into another garbage can, and the smaller chunks of the front that will wait until there is space in a garbage can next week.

So now, there's more space down there to move around, and I'll try to get the organization done rather than just start stacking more junk there again.

in the next couple of days I'll try to get some of the non-comics out of the way and average at least one box inventoried each day (so I need to do two tonight). I need to get a decent dent in that during the week this week, and then Ellen has "clean the garage" on the schedule for Saturday.

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Friday, June 08, 2007

Ellen Jinxes Steakhouses

Q: What is the difference between a steakhouse and a BBQ place?

A: A steakhouse serves broccoli, or asparagus, or mixed steamed zucchini and carrots as a vegatable side dish. A BBQ place serves corn on the cob.

A few anniversary notes.

Backing up to yesterday: I was driving on North Aurora road near the train station and noticed something new. Jimmy's Charhouse was no longer "Jimmy's Charhouse". I was now "Andrew's Open Pit BBQ". I called Ellen to tell her she'd done it again. The restaurant she'd decided was her favorite steak house had closed. (see also: Timber Lodge, a bit more than a year ago).

I hadn't driven that way in a little while, but still the changeover had to be pretty quick because we'd just had a meal a Jimmy's maybe a month ago. Or so. I guessed that this wasn't a major change, but that the owners had done a bit of re-positioning of the restaurant.

So, we decided to go there tonight for our anniversary dinner. (Happy anniversary, Ellen!)

I was right. They'd changed the name, the shirts on the waitstaff, and tweaked the menu to emphasize the BBQ a bit more and the steaks a bit less, but nothing else had really changed. Oh, and they served corn-on-the-cob with the entree.

So, Ellen didn't really jinx the place. It just changed focus slightly.

In other news, the new furnace and AC are in. I'm glad Ellen wanted the outside AC unit moved to the south side of the house rather than where it was, on the west side near the patio. The new unit is quite a bit larger than the old one, and the new one either wouldn't have fit as well or it would have been that much closer to the dryer vent (which was already a problem with the old one). It's cool enough today that we haven't exercised the new AC much, though we had it on right after installation to try to have it run. So, we'll see how things are when things heat up again.

That's it for now. I have a monitoring session tonight (9pm - 1am) that I need to log in for.

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

One month's salary

We spent part of the evening picking out a new air conditioner and furnace. The air conditioner conked out a week ago, and probably wasn't doing as good a job as it could last year. And, being that they are 22 and 23 years old, respectively, even if the AC could be repaired again this year there's a good chance that it would last a lot longer. The improved energy efficiency available now also makes a compelling argument, so we decided to get both units replaced. It works out to about one month of my salary, but it's needed so I'm not complaining. Better to get decent stuff than try to cheap out.
Kalen and Kathy are somewhere around Pittsburgh on their way to DC. Other than that, everything is as usual. Work has actually been pretty smooth recently -- things have settled down at least for now.

We watched "The Wizard of Oz" a couple nights ago on cable, the first time I'd seen it since I'd seen "Wicked". It struck me that, using the same numbering scheme as the DC universe the Baum books show Oz-2, the Judy Garland movie is Oz-1, and "Wicked" is Oz-3. You can't reconcile all three, so the parallel universe explanation works best. I'm not sure where exactly that leaves "The Wiz".

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Sunday, June 03, 2007

Hat Kicking Time

Happy Birthday, Bob. Though he's probably not reading this blog. :-)

We (Ellen, Ryan, Bob, and I) went to the Cubs game (and the stadium club buffet before) for Bob's birthday. From whatever source they had, they knew it was his birthday today, so Mike (the stadium club manager) wanted to arrange to sing for Bob. The problem -- it was a Sunday buffet so there was a dessert bar included, so they didn't have other bakers working today to arrange a little cake. So, Mike got a slice of Snickers Pie from the buffet, arranged a couple candles, and brought the psuedo-cake and he and our server sang Happy Birthday.

Bob reacted by throwing his hat to the floor and kicking it at Mike.

OK, you'd have to have seen what's gone on the past couple of days at the Cubs games to know why that was funny.

Anyway, the Cubs played well today, the Braves didn't, and the Cubs won big, 10-1.

While sitting at the club and watching fans arrives, I saw one guy wearing a T-shirt with "She's So Lucky" on it, and a pointing hand. The problem: he was walking on the other side of his presumed girlfriend, so the hand was pointing at everyone else who wasn't actually with him.

It may have been more accurate that way anyway.

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Friday, June 01, 2007

A few anniversaries

Two years ago today I made the first post on this blog. I'll probably make the 200th post sometime before the second anniversary of the second post.

Tomorrow (in a few minutes it will be "today") is my 27th anniversary of starting work at Bell Labs (and today was the six-month anniversary of the company becoming Alcatel-Lucent).

Sunday I'll be at the Fightin' Cubs game (with Ellen and Ryan) for Bob's 48th birthday -- so we'll be temporary twins! (sort of)

And a week from today will be Ellen and my 28th wedding anniversary.

And, in other news, Gleemax has not yet acknowledged my offering, though there are others up. Hey, mine's better than most of these!

Other than that .. monitoring this evening. Monitoring tomorrow morning. Nothing exciting going on.

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