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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Today, I am in Markham, Onterio on business. I arrived on Sunday night after an eleven hour commute to Canada, mostly consisting of waiting at airports for the flights to board. I'm here working on improvement projects at the former ATI campus (now AMD). Since I've only been to work and back, I have not encountered much in the way of Canadian culture aside from the different accents on words and every sign in English and French. Tonight the group of co-workers that I'm assisting and I will be heading down to Toronto to check out the night life. Hopefully, I'll run in to Matt B and ask what happened to the shirt that I ordered from him.

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

I learned something on the flight home on Thursday. The short piece of seat belt that the flight attendants use to demonstrate how to buckle and un-buckle your seat belt actually has a purpose. A rather large man sitting nearby asked for one from the attendant. He used it to extend the length of his seat belt so it could go all the way around his waist.


Thursday, March 22, 2007

Captian's.. Final.. Blackberryblog... I'll be returning this horrid device on Saturday. This will be my last blog from a blackberry, as well as my last blog from the line at BWI waiting for my flight back to Austin. Instead of thinking "how am I going to cram all the stuff I want to do before Monday?" I'm thinking "you know, I think I like vanilla." See ya'll real soon. Yeee-haaa!

My thumbs hurt.

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I'm in my last hour here at the office in Maryland. In 3 hours I'll be on a plane bound for Austin. 4 more hours will pass before I'm at the house. 13 hours from then, I'll be at my new office in Austin. I'll still have to travel for my new job, but it should only be once a month. I wonder what I should wear?

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

As many of you know, I have changed jobs. It turs out, traveling just doesn't agree with me. Flying out of Austin every week to the East coast made it impossible to maintain my house, my relationships, and my leisure. I knew something would eventually break and I would have to quit. Fortunately, I was able to snag a job with a company in Austin. Now I'll be able to face the regular work week challenges that I'm familiar with (drive to work, going home late (when necessary), and working myself into the politcal structure of the company).


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

I would blog about the next stage in the flooring process, but this HP camera I bought doesn't have a standard USB connection on it, so the only option when you're mobile is to pull out the SD card. The door covering the card (and the battery) doesn't really seem sturdy enough to be opened and closed every time I want to get images off the of the camera. On top of that, the SD port on my tablet PC refused to read the 2 gig card, but that is not the big issue with the tablet anymore since it was dropped in the parking lot outside the BWI airport Hilton (see picture) and never booted up again. I disassembled it, but found no breaks, electrical burns or any other evidence of damage. So now I'm working exclusively off of my work laptop. Unfortunately, this machine has no SD card slot, and the PC card SD memory card reader that I purchased for the tablet was left in Austin.

I have pictures of the tablet PC dis-assembly, but they are on the PC card reader. The attached picture came from my Motorola Pebl mobile phone.

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Thursday, March 01, 2007

One more week down, one month to go. I'm avidly looking for a new position that allows me to stay in Austin. I have a few leads but, nothing solid quite yet. My current job has been a very good experience, and a real confidence builder. It's only the travel that's a drag. I'm looking foreward to a fun weekend in Austin, starting with a pary on the rooftop at seakeasy, downtown.

I'll have some pretty good traction on the upstairs. Once the floors are down and the few miscelaneous things I have planned. I can forsee the walls gettin re-textured in the next two to three weeks.

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Monday, February 26, 2007

All of this traveling is seriously wearing me out. You would think that the destinations would be fun, since they are all major cities. The reality is, the job keeps you in the office during the coolest parts of the day, and the sleep schedule keeps you from truely experiencing the night life. I've done my best to cope, but all the stress of traveling is definately getting to me. I need to spend more time in Austin, where I live. I need more time to work on my house, and be with my girlfriend. I need more time to play disc golf in Round Rock and mountian bike at Walnut Creek.


Thursday, February 22, 2007

Well, I'm back in line again for a fun filled trip back to Austin. This week went by pretty quickly, since I didn't come into the office until 3:00 on Tuesday. I booked the hotel the day before and found my regular hotel was full, so I ended up staying next to Camden Yards, where the Oriels play. This was the first time that I stayed in the downtown area, and it was a cool experience. I can't really take advantage of it since I need to wake up so early and the drive to work is a pain in the ass, so I'm heading back up to Pikesville nex week. On top of that, the new hotel had no parking, and the TVs had no input for my Xbox (drag, yo).

I missed trivia night, but made up for it by attending a meetup group in the downtown area. I think I may have made a friend or two in the process.

Wednesday night I just ended up at a bar after eating dinner with my co-workers. I drank three local brews (two from another local bar / brewery called the thirsty dog) and called it a night. It was too late, as I found out and ended up getting to sleep around midnight. So, the next day (today) I had to wake up at 6:00 to get to work at 7:00. Unfortunate some wires got crossed and I ended up at the wrong meetting place and did'nt realize it until 8:20. The subsequent drive to Owings Mills was total shit. There was one area where two lanes becomes one on an onramp and the "zipper method" was posted on the signs and I fell in line behind my perscribed "tooth". Then a guy rolls up on my left and hangs there until the lane starts to collapse. I'm sticking behind my leader in the line like glue, so this jerky (in a Ford Probe) makes a total dick move and jinks right giving me two options. Run into him, or run into the barrier. It was a really low speed, so I just yielded an honked and flipped him the bird. It didn't make me feel any better, though.

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

My work week is finally over, and I'm totally ready for an extended weekend. I worked over 40 hours, so the week just flew by. In fact most weeks just fly by, and I'm back on the three + hour flight back to Austin. The flight really feels like the longest part of the week. I got here really early today, so I'm finding the time to blog on my work phone. I'm flying Southwest, so it's good that I got here so early. I really like how talkitive people are on this airline. It certianly makes the time go by much faster.


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Yesterday, I called Pontiac to see if they could do anything about my dead GTO, and it turns out the car is still under warranty, and even the towing is covered. So, James at Champion Pontiac-GMC should have my car today and it should be ready by Friday, so I can walk over and pick it up. Hopefully, the Toyo Proxis T1-R tires that I bought yesterday will be in sometime this weekend as well, so I can get some new summer shoes on my Goat. I can't wait to burn out my old tires until they smoke.

For dinner last night, I ordered 1 sushi, 1 nigiri, and 1 roll (which ended up being 8 pieces). On top of that, I ordered tonkatsu (pork cutlet schnitzel) udon (thick wheat noodles), but they just gave me a plate of tonkatsu, with salad on the side. I should have been tipped off by the waitress offering me miso soup before my meal. Since the tonkatsu udon was in broth, so I said as the lady walked away "I already ordered soup". Anyway it ended up being too much food, but I'm too disciplined an eater so I cleared everything on my plate, except for the bowl of rice (that I took back to the hotel with me).

On the way back, I looked for a store that sold Gears of War for the Xbox 360. There's an EB Games right next to Edo, but they had none that were used or new. So I searched the stores that were along the route back to the hotel. I first stopped and bought a copy at Toys 'Я' Us, but found a blockbuster just a few blocks away. So, I just rented a copy and returned the game to Toys 'Я' Us. I played a little bit, but couldn't really get into before I had to get some sleep. I figured I'd be sleeping in a little, but still needed time to get the ice off my rental car and get into the office before 8:00.

Sure enough, I was awakened by the sound of ice being scraped off windshields and the tapping of icy snow on my hotel window. The snow was icy but, powdery and my dress shoes sank right into it. Fortunately, I upgraded to black gym socks from thin dress socks. My feet were warm, even when buried in the snow. My hands, however, suffered quite a bit as I was brushing the snow off the glass. It flew off the back face of the scraper and pelted my hands with icy pain. One that was over, I took the slow drive to work, practically idling the entire way. Other than being very slow it was uneventful. Still, there's plenty of work to do today so, even though my co-workers are heading to the airport this afternoon (or earlier, due to the weather) I'm here until tomorrow afternoon.

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Monday, February 12, 2007

Last night, I rolled into my driveway at exactly 20000 miles on my odometer. I engineered the moment a bit by coasting up the street, since the car flipped 20K in front of Northcross Mall. So, when I pulled into the drive, the steering was un-powered which made me swing wide, putting me at an odd angle behind my Datsun. I snapped a few pictures with my phone (now that I can mail the pictures through my phone) to immortalize the moment.

Each Monday, since I started flying to Baltimore, I've been leaving the house late rand later, to see how close I can cut my flight. So today, I waited until 8:15 to leave. This morning, the car would not start. My 2004 GTO, that just turned over 20K would not start! I frantically looked from the batter charger in the garage, but it was not to be found. Even if I had found it, I don't think I would have used it, since it wouldn't really fix the problem. Since I don't know how the battery got discharged in the first place, jumping the car would only get me to the airport, and it would most likely be dead by the time I got back into Austin. So, my only other option was to get a taxi to the Airport.

I was able to make it to the airport with enough time to get a poor quality sandwich and get into the "B" line for my Southwest flight. The line was getting longer, but for the most part everyone was sitting down, since the seats were in line with the entrance. Then, a traveler walked up and asked of the people who were standing "was this the B line?". The people who were sitting down (I among them) responded, and pointed him to the back of the line. He told us that it was unfair that people could be in the line and be sitting in chairs, so he decided to stay, cutting directly in front of me. One boisterous lady had a few choice words to say to him, but he stood his ground. A few people groused about it to themselves, but ultimately he cut in front of about 15 people and nobody really did anything. I was ready to snap at him but he took a seat that I didn't want anyway, and he was quick about it.

By that evening, I was exhausted but, I still found the strength to make it to Trivia Night at with Benett at the The James Joyce pub in downtown Baltimore. I've been going there for the past three weeks, and we've won second or third place every time, which usually brings in a $25 gift card. I say "we", but Benett really runs the show. I only provide a sounding board, and perhaps a few facts that I can remember in the time allowed before we turn in our answers. Even so, it's pretty impressive that a two man team can come in a close second to table full of teachers (I'm talking to you "Vandelay Industries").

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Monday, February 05, 2007

I checked into the (very new) Hilton that's right next to BWI airport. In the room I find a Philips widescreen flat panel TV. "All right, I'm going to play some serious X-Box tonight", I thought. I find the composite inputs behind a panel on the left side of the TV and plug everything up. Then I search for the input switch button, but find nothing. There is a menu button on the side of the set, but it does not function. Finally, there is a button on the controller for "menu", but it only changes the SAP options, and sets a timer on the TV. So, I call the front desk, who sends a guy over. Apparently he's dealt with this one before. There's no way to activate the additional inputs, so I'm totally out of luck. I'm headed back to the Pikesville Hilton next week, so I'll be back on Xbox Live then.

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The sky was clear enough on the ride to Baltimore this morning that I could see our nation's capitol. I recognized the Potomic river from viewing the city from google maps. However, all that I could make out was the Washington Monument, and the Capitol Building and the National Mall that connects the two. I could almost make out Union Station as well. So it seems that the only things I could recognize were the buildings and monuments that I could see while I was on the ground last week. I had meant to publish the pictures, but I took 99 of them. I'm still looking for an easier way to publish images that doesn't rely on a service like snapfish or ophoto and allows me to host them on my own website.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

I spent the last couple of nights in the hotel, trying to figure out how to make my Xbox360 work with the hotel's wireless network. Unfortunately, it required me to get the Xbox360 wireless USB dongle to make it all finally come together. Even still, it has some connection issues and tends to lag a bit. My plans were to go to a meetup here in Baltimore last night, but the address was hidden, and by the time I was contacted with the directions, the meeting had already started. I plan on going downtown tonight.

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

I just banged through the first five chapters of "The Catcher in the Rye". Fastest 45 pages I've ever read. The type was really big though. Not big chief big, but still big. I can't read for crap. I sound out every word in my head. Now, my buddy Bill just consumes books. I remember back in college he picked up Dune, by Frank Herbert. It's a thick tome, but he swallowed it in 2 or 3 days, and still had time to go hang at One Guy's (get the beef and onion). In high school he read a bunch of pulp novelizations of Robotech, or some such crap. I would have read them too, but it takes me forever to read anything. I spent over a year on Red Mars, by Kim Stanley Robinson, which was a really great book, by the way. I think it's a combination of reading sentences word for word, reading really makes me sleepy. I probably read about one page a night on average. I think I've read about 4 books since Red Mars, and that was almost seven years ago. It's a bit ironic that my girlfriend used to teach speed reading.

I decided to pick up reading as a pastime since my job has me traveling so much. I was in Detroit last week, and am in Baltimore this week. I think I'll be coming here every week for the next couple of months, and since I don't know anyone here, I'll spend my time reading. I would rather head downtown, but I typically have to get into the office early to make 40 hours in 4 days. It's nice to have three day weekends though.

I did make time to drive down to the harbor this evening though. I found a familiar bar, Salinte, and had a quick pint. It was a pretty short drive from the hotel. Left me plenty of time to get back and read my book. I'll be back in Austin tomorrow by around 9 P.M. if everything goes well.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Life on the road, Cage. Life on the road.

Yesterday, I got introduced to the crew at my new job. My impression is that I will be working with a lot of intelligent, well educated, very motivated group. My boss took me out for "first lunch" which is always sushi. We went to a place called Nobel Fish which had very high quality at reasonable prices. I had a bunch of Michigan Rolls (salmon, avocado, and crab meat, wrapped in nori and sushi rice on the outside) and a really fresh fatty tuna. So much food, I actually ate sushi as a meal (which I usually don't do, because of the price). We walked out for right around $15 each, and I was full.

After work, I decided to deal with a problem that I encountered the first night that I got into the hotel. It turns out, the TVs only have an RF input on the back of the box, and since all I had was A/V (RCA) and component video (for HD), I needed a converter. Since I didn't rent a car this trip, I was hoping there would be a local shop that would sell a product I could use.

Turns out, the RadioShack that was nearby had something that worked, but... they were over 3 miles away, and it was getting dark... and it was starting to snow... and it was very windy. I figured I could make it there and back on foot, but it turns out, I couldn't. I got about 2/3 of the way there (without gloves or a hat) and had to stop in to a CVS to warm up. Fortunately, I really needed toothpaste and some chapstick so I walked around inside for a while while I soaked up enough heat to get me all the way to the parking lot of the mall that contained the RadioShack. I say the parking lot because, as I was walking from the edge of the lot to the mall entrance, the wind really picked up and blew every degree of heat from my head, starting with my ears, then jolting down the sides of my face. My eyes were watering from the cold gusts that blasted them dry. I finally made it into the mall, and found a directory that took me 20 minutes to decipher, probably due to the lack of warm blood to my brain. The whole time that I was frantically searching through the lists of mall vendors, I was thinking that the RadioShack was not really in the mall at all. I didn't bring the directions with me, so it was possible that it was out at the edge of the parking lot. Fortunately, I found the number, and then the location. I bought my goods and had dinner in the food court at Chester Fried Chicken, where they had an assortment of fried fish on a homemade sign next to the register.

The fried chicken warmed me up, but not enough to, persuade me into a walk back to the hotel, so I called a cab using 411 on my phone. I ended up leaving a message which, after repeated calls to different cab companies, turned out to be some sort of Detroit area cab call in number. The were supposed to call back, but my cell phone died as I was leaving a message, so I wasn't sure if they even got it. I went back into RadioShack, but they wanted too much for their phone charger, and half of the kiosks around the mall were cell phone accessory vendors. A charger, and about 15 minutes of charge cost me almost $20! I talked with the middle eastern guy who sold the charger to me while he was watching "Night at the Museum" on his computer (which was still in theaters).

I finally got through to a cab company and was picked up a few minutes afterwards. Once I got back to the hotel, I set up the Xbox and got ready to log into Xbox Live. The Xbox wouldn't log in for the exact same reason as my first attempt to log into Live at Bo's. Something to do with the MTU setting on the router, which I most likely couldn't access, so I was stuck. Perhaps the next hotel that I stay at won't have the same problem. I ended up playing the demo to Dead Rising until it was time to get some sleep. I will have to get up early to meet a few more people, and get some final coaching on how to do my new job.

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