Monthly Archives: August 2010

The Day So Far…

This morning I woke up wondering what time it was, and looked at my bedside clock to read “6:14” – 44 and 74 minutes after my alarms were supposed to have gone off, and about 26 minutes before I needed to leave.  I quickly realized that I’d disabled my alarms for Friday last week (my alarm clock allows me to arm or disarm the alarms for specific days of the week) and forgot to re-enable them.

So, I quickly yelled up and confirmed that The Kid was out of bed and got dressed – skipping my shower.  But there was one more complication: I hadn’t taken my thyroid pill which I need to take an hour or so before I eat.  This meant I wouldn’t have time to eat before leaving.  This, however, allowed me to stay in our room watching the news and getting ready to go at a bit more relaxed pace – but I did have to skip my shower.  On the other hand this made it so I wasn’t as around to hurry The Kid up with his breakfast.

We did manage to get out the door almost on time (about a minute late).  At least traffic by the school wasn’t as bad as on Wednesday – Tara was off yesterday so I didn’t have to drive him to school.  So, I did get to the transit center with a decent amount of time before catching my bus.

When I got to work, I discovered that all sorts of people had written on my wall.  Of course this was my Facebook wall, so it wasn’t vandalism but greetings in honor of my Birthday.  (Thank you to everyone whose done this so far).

At work, I’ve had a frustratingly quiet day – I’m working with someone in Santa Clara whose supposed to be helping me get a test system working, but he’s doing most of the work where I cannot see and learn.

One of the people in our team is relocating to the Santa Clara office – I gather he will be taking classes part-time at Stanford.  So, since today was his last day in the San Diego office we took him to lunch at the mythical “Building K” – otherwise known as the Karl Strauss Brewing Company at the San Diego Technical Center.  {Qualcomm buildings are lettered, and there is no actual Building K, so the joke has developed over the years.}

I’ve never been to this, or any other Karl Strauss.  So it was a bit of a new experience.  The food was good – and beyond the free samples nobody partook of any of their beer.

But looking around the restaurant, I’m wondering if it was supposed to be a American/German brewpub originally or a Japanese restaurant.  While most of the tech center buildings – which make up a small portion of the Sorrento Mesa business district – are fairly generic mid to high rise  buildings, the restaurant is located in the middle of a very Japanese style garden area (which may also include an exercise facility) and has a number of architectural features that fit that environment.

Well, I need to get back to work – and have waste too much time writing.

Again, thank you everyone for the birthday wishes.

First Day of School

Today was The Kid’s first day at school – well the first day of his first full year in this school, which makes it the first time since 2007 when he’s starting at the same school he finished the previous year at.

Other than a misplaced retainer case – for which he was sure we’d have to spend both significant time and money at the orthodontist’s to replace – the morning was fairly smooth, at least until we got near the school.

His middle school shares a driveway and parking lot (and possibly some other facilities) with the adjacent high school.  It was also the first day for the high school.  And the high school had posted on their electronic sign that schedules would be distributed starting at 6:30.

I am hoping that the horrible traffic was a result of schedule distribution, not some other altering in the school schedules that will make this the normal morning traffic.

When I turned onto the street that both schools officially front onto, traffic was already backed up nearly the whole two-block distance to the school entrance.  The traffic flowed very slowly until I got to the circular drive shared by both schools – with much of the traffic having turned into one parking lot or another at least temporarily.  I was able to drop The Kid off, but at the end of the circular drive traffic slowed again – this time waiting for the light to change to allow for turns back onto the main road.

It took probably 15 to 20 minutes from the turn mentioned above until I was back in free-flowing traffic.  I headed as quickly as possible to the transit center, but as I turned into the road that leads to the transit center and HOV entrance for I-15 I could see the bus heading down the ramp.

Last year I never had any trouble with catching the bus.  But just after school let out the moved the first runs in the morning and afternoon earlier – resulting in a schedule that is in all other ways better for me.  But it makes my mornings much tighter.

As it turns out, due to unexpectedly heavy traffic on CA-56 and I’m guessing lighter than normal traffic on Mira Mesa Road, I saw the bus again as it was leaving the neighborhood with my office in it on its way to the last stop of the route at the UTC transit center.

I’ll monitor the traffic at the school for the next couple of weeks – actually until mid-September – and decide if it is going to be too tight for me to reliably take the bus or not without moving our morning departure even earlier than last year.

Trip Report – The Return From Albuquerque

Continuing on with my report on our trip to Albuquerque for my parent’s 50th anniversary…

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Trip Report – The (Formerly) Super-Secret Trip

Friday – yesterday as I write this – was my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary.  My sisters who live in Albuquerque where my parents live had planned a celebration for the occasion. But they had convinced my parents that the only people celebrating would be my sisters, their families, and my brother, his wife and younger daughter.  This latter group were on their way through while taking the daughter to San Diego where she will be starting at San Diego State.

But in reality a few more guests were planing on stopping by, including my family, my aunt – my father’s older sister – and one of my cousins.  So, for a few weeks, we’ve been planing on heading to Albuquerque this weekend, leaving Thursday after work.

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Did I Do a Bad Thing – Exposing The Kid to Some of My Favorite SF?

Yesterday, as I mentioned directly in Facebook we visited what I referred to as “The Fanish Money Sink” of businesses located in a couple of centers on Claremont Mesa on each side of I-805 (Frame it Yourself – a fan run framing place, Comikazi, a fabric store on the west side and Mysterious Galaxy and Games Empire on the east side; plus other businesses with attraction to the contents of wallets, especially fanish wallets).

While we were at Mysterious Galaxy, I picked up a copy of the graphic novel collection of the first five issues of the comic book adaptation of Ender’s Game with the intention of having The Kid read them (I think he’d still struggle with a novel that long in print).  So far I’ve read it (fairly quickly as I’m quite familiar with the story) and Tara is reading through it.  The Kid looked at the pictures on the way home, but could tell us next to nothing about what is going on so I know he didn’t actually do much more than that.

After we got home, we spent some time in the garage going through more boxes.  In one of the boxes we came across a bunch of our video tapes (you know those really old versions of BluRay that had to be rewound and had no special features).  Included in  that box were three Doctor Who serials (technically two serials and a special episode).

So I put on “An Unearthly Child” for The Kid to watch after we were done in the garage.  (OK, I watched as well, since I’ve only actually see this episode once before).  In spite of his claims at a couple of points that it was “too intense,” I think he enjoyed it.  At the very least I can follow up by showing him “The Daleks,” “The Five Doctors” (which I didn’t start with since that would be a very confusing introduction) and a couple of other episodes that I can stream through Netfix.  I will probably show him some of the others that will be showing up on DVD over the next while as well.

Tara is a bit worried about the 2005 and beyond episodes (she keeps saying that they are no longer a “kids show,” which I agree with to the point of saying that they are now more of a “family” show with more content for older kids and adults than some of the earlier serials), so I may limit him to the classic run.  I suspect she’s bothered by the slightly less chased nature of the characters in the new show – even though The Doctor is still hands off with his companions, since overall the violence is no more graphic than the classic series – and less than some of the games that he ended up playing outside of our supervision this summer.

But I think that, at least if he doesn’t either ignore the story or get grumpy about us trying to make sure he’s actually paying attention to the story not just “looking at the pictures” in either case, I think he’ll enjoy both series.  I don’t know if they are going to do comic book/graphic novel adaptions of any of the later books in the Ender Universe beyond the three (Ender’s Game, Ender’s Shadow and “The War of Gifts”) that involve kids in Battle School and shortly beyond, so it will be a while before he would be ready for or exposed to the ones with more adult characters.

Even if we can never get him to be the kind of kid who is good at school, I’d be happy if he at least grows up to have things common with his parents.

That Was The Week That Was

(Yes, I know that was, or I think that was, the name of a TV show somewhere at some time in the past).

This was a fairly quiet week.  Not much going on during the work week except for work.  I did find myself a bit more tired on walks that I think I should be – I am not up to doing walks that were no problem before my surgery, and others are leaving me noticeably more tired.  But I guess having a slit cut in one’s abdominal  muscles takes longer to heal and more out of one that I’d have expected.

Yesterday we had three things to get done, and a couple of others that were in the should get done category, and we got most of them taken care of.  First, we dropped some old computers and other electronic waste off at a computer donation and electronics recycling event.  This would have been a bit easier had there been a more noticeable sign where we needed to turn off the main road.    All they had was a small stand up on a portable A-Frame, and Tara didn’t even see it until after I’d started to turn.

Next we had to pick The Kid up from the airport.  Since we got there with plenty of time, I had to sit and read, and then wander outside of security, for over an hour while Tara waited for the flight.  But once I got the notice that the plane had landed – I think before it was even posted on the airport’s own signage  (flightstats.com)  – I waited and spotted them before they spotted me.

Due to some confusion at both O’Hare, and with my Mother-In-Law – or at least confusion at O’Hare that my Mother-in-law didn’t forcefully and with good information correct – The Kid wasn’t in the system as an unaccompanied minor.  At his chronological age the service is optional, but with him it would have been good to have both ways.  At least and his grandma got escorted to the gate (apparently bypassing security which sounds like a serious problem since I didn’t think ANYONE could bypass security, even security) at O’Hare, and Tara was able to meet him at the gate.  On the other hand, we expected him to get a box lunch paid for $8.00 out of the $100.00 fee, but without him in the system, he didn’t get one.  And, my MIL didn’t pack him a lunch.  I did have some cash for food, but that doesn’t work on most (any) airlines these days, and definitely not UAL.  So, he arrived after a 10:00 CDT to 12:30 PDT flight very hungry.  This problem was solved very easily with a stop at the Rubio’s in Fashion Valley for Fish Tacos – which cannot be found in Rockford Illinois, especially since Long John Silvers has discontinued their pale imitation.

After we got home, I headed up to the Apple Store at the Westfield North County (a.k.a. North County Fair) and retrieved my Mac Mini which had suffered a hard drive failure.  It took a couple of hours for it to restore from backup, but once restored it was mostly back to where it had been when I was last able to get it to boot.

Today after church, we headed down to Khols to get me some belts and The Kid some more school clothes – taking advantage of a weekend-long special which may in part to compensate for the fact that California doesn’t have a Back-To-School tax holiday period.

Later I ran out and got some needed groceries.

This afternoon’s final, and perhaps most trying, task was teaching The Kid to mow the lawn.  With both parents  – me in the yard and Tara outside – working to keep very calm, we had to deal with a kid who wouldn’t listen to my instructions (like don’t keep letting the mower drift to the left) and kept wanting to give up because it was too hard to push.  In the end, I probably mowed or cleaned up about half the lawn.  I still have to do the edges since I don’t trust him at all with the string trimmer.

The Kid has two and a half weeks before school starts (sorry Albuquerque students and teachers), so we have some time to get him really adjusted to Pacific time before then – which may or may not be made a bit harder by his grandparent’s early-bird schedule.  He also has some appointments that were delayed due to his being out of town for most of the summer, so it won’t be a completely lazy time for him.  Of course, Tara and I have to work – and Tara’s got some midnight shifts this coming week and at least one other, I think the week school starts.

It is probably about time to start talking to the Tae Kwon Do school I think will work for us.  We need to find out which classes we should take and whether the afternoon classes are OK for a small-for-his-age, but no longer that small, fourteen-year-old since he cannot be staying up for the evening classes.  We also need to look at what classes I could take.  There is a family class at 6:00 two nights a week, but I often don’t get home if I take the bus until nearly 6:00.  So that may or may not work.  I also may need to hold off for a bit longer if I’m still healing.  Of course if I explain my recent surgery, I’m sure the instructor may let me take some of the ab work ligher for at least a while (I’m 90% sure the National Karate instructors I had in Bartlett would have under the circumstances – again at least for a while).

One other decision that will need to be made before mid-September is if I continue to take the bus or not – at least during the school year.  If it gets too hard for me to catch the bus after dropping The Kid off at school, I’ll have to drive because I don’t want to leave the house much more than the 10 minutes earlier than last year that I’m hoping won’t be too late too often.  Since there is a gap of nearly an hour between buses in the morning – and afternoon – missing the bus would leave me either having to drive, or getting to work and thus leaving, too late.  Of course if I start driving, that would make the 6:00 TKD classes a bit easier to catch for me.  So we’ll see.

OK, I’ve rambled on randomly for too long, so it is time to move onto other things – like installing the OpenOffice upgrade.

What To Do – Mobile Phone Upgrade?

Back on 2008 I purchased a G1 phone as soon as I could use my Qualcomm subsidy for phones (and other devices) with our processors.  Over most of that time I’ve been very happy with it.  But after nearly two years it has started to exhibit some problems which may be at least in part because it is now running a very old version of Android and, as near as I can tell cannot be upgraded to a newer version.

Sometime in the last year, I got Tara a Google Nexus One to replace her very old Razer and get her up to a smart phone.  She has been happy, and I’ve been sometimes envious.  In fact I’ve been debating about using my bouns again once it becomes active in November for a new phone – and had been strongly leaning towards a Nexus One myself (unless Google released an update about that time).

But it sounds like Google hasn’t been able to crack into the US market directly with a mostly unlocked phone.  Now the Nexus one is only available from Vodaphone with a contract (no go for a US phone), or as a developer model for much more than what I paid for Tara’s unlocked phone.

So, between now and Novmeber, I have to decide if I want to replace my phone or not.  I just did some looking at what T-Mobile is offering – since I’d rather stick with T-Mobile than move to AT&T and want to keep the family on one plan so Verizon and Sprint are right out (plus I’d like to still be able to roam in Europe, et. al., not that I’m likely to be there before 2014 the way things are going).

Looking at what T-Mobile has to offer right now, I’ve pretty much determined that they are only offering two Android phones: the Garmin phone/GPS hybrid – which people on my team may have worked on, I’d have to see if I could confirm or not – and the “My-Touch Slide.”   From what I’ve read, the Garmin has overridden the default Android interface, which is one thing I’d like to keep if I stay with Android, so that may be out.  The other phone looks like it may really not be that much of an upgrade from the G1.  I’m not able to map version numbers on the Android OS to the names I hear around work (Doughnut, Eclair, Froyo, etc.).  So that may not work either.

Other choices would be to look at other smart phones.  But even there T-Mobile looks a bit thin – especially given my need to ensure that there is a Qualcomm chip.  Most of the ones that I can see that are highly likely to have Qualcomm chips are either the Blackberries or WinMobile phones.  I’m not sure I want to move from Android to either WinMobile or RIM’s OS, but I think I’d lean to a Blackberry – but at the loss of a bunch of my capability.

The third choice would be to either keep my current phone, or get something that is wholly covered by a contract extension – which I should also have available about the same time unless something got glitched there – and then use the subsidy to get a wireless powered e-book reader (probably a Knook).  Obviously, I could just hold onto the bonus as well and not use it at all until absolutely necessary – i.e. when my phone fully dies or gets lost.

At least I’ve got about three months to figure this out.  And who knows – by then the Christmas phones will be out and there may be more options.

Quick Test Post – Publish to Facebook

This is just a quick test post to see if the new WordPress plugin to publish directly to Facebook works.  The RSS feed – either through LiveJournal or directly has been way slow recently, so I’m going to give this a try.

Quick Video Comments

Thanks in large part to a Netflix subscription, I’ve been watching a fair number of videos from various sources recently (and have posted before on some).  Here are a few quick observations or comments about some of my more recent viewings.

Gamerz

After a brief miscue a ways back (see http://192.168.0.34/wordpress/?p=2660) on Sunday I watched the film Gamerz about an FRPG gaming group at Glasgow University.  I did enjoy the movie – even if there was something odd about either the DVD or how the DVD’s encoding played on our Blu-Ray player which made some of the pan shots very jerky.  There were also a couple of points that the Glasgow setting made some of the dialog harder to understand than the same story made and set in the US or Canada (or possibly other parts of the UK) would have been.

While I’ve never (to my knowledge) been involved in a gaming group where the players got that wrapped up in their characters, I know that I’ve met people either in gaming or fandom in general who are quite similar to almost all of the main characters.  Perhaps most worrisome, I could see aspects of a couple of the characters in me.

Black Adder The Third: “Nob and Nobility”

Another evening when I had less time between other things I was doing and bed, I watched a couple more episode of Black Adder the Third.  In the episode “Nob and Nobility” I found myself having more trouble than I sometimes do separating the character from others played by the same actor.

In the first place the fop played by Tim McInnerny, at least at first, bore a striking resemblance to Lord Percy Percy played by McInnerny in both of the previous incarnations of Black Adder.  Of course it turns out the character is quite different, but that isn’t seen until a much later appearance.

But I had more problems with the character of the French Ambassador – a revolutionary – played by Chris Barrie.  In this case I had a hard time not seeing Rimmer through the dirty makeup, messy hair and French (or at least French as protrayed in English comedies) accent.  However, I have noted that his role on Black Adder preceded Red Dwarf so either he reused some of the same mannerisms for Rimmer, or they are (or were) part of his standard set of mannerisms for comedy acting.

The Pixar Shorts: Volume 1

Last night I watched (twice, the second time with commentary) the recently released collection of shorts from Pixar.  One thing I could appreciate was the state of the art of computer animation when each of the early shorts (“The Adventures of Andre and Wally B,” “Luxo Jr.,” “Red’s Dream” and “Tin Toy”) were made, and how while all of them may see a bit primitive by today’s standards, they were groundbreaking.  I’ll admit that until listening to the commentary I didn’t know HOW groundbreaking some of them were, however.

And, while I enjoyed the later shorts, the commentary wasn’t always as interesting since it was more “artistic” than “technical.”  Then there is the weird commentary on “Mike’s New Car” (done by the young children of the directors rather than the directors themselves) and the complete lack of commentary on “Jack-Jack Attack” (I suspect that Brad Bird was unavailable for the recording session).

The accompanying documentary was also interesting – even if I’m not sure when it was made: it almost sounded like it was made for the release of Toy Story except that in some of the interviews with John Lassiter he was wearing a shirt that had a print containing several of the logos from Cars.  In that documentary the most telling comment about where Pixar had gotten was Lassiter recalling being at SigGraph after showing “Luxo Jr.” and having the CGI pioneer from JPL (whose name I don’t recall) approach him with a question.  Lassiter was concerned that the question would be technical – probably about the shadow algorithm – but was revealed, and honored, when the question was asking if the big lamp was the father or mother.  (While Lassiter never said what his answer, if any, was, I’ll admit I’ve always thought that the big lamp was the father – but that could just be my bias).