Seasons Greetings!

I’m seriously disappointed in the total and complete lack of costumes amongst my coworkers. I mean, I didn’t dress up either, but I’m apathetic and lazy. What’s their excuse!?

I have no Halloween-ish plans for tonight. I’m not even leaving my porch light on to hand out candy. I plan to turn on my space heaters (it turned cold here!) and curl up with a book. And I may take the occasional Angry Birds diversion (though I’ve been playing the Halloween ones from Angry Birds Seasons, so it’s thematically appropriate). I lost interest in Angry Birds months ago, but it suddenly became interesting again.

I did celebrate the season with a party on Saturday, though. Not being a particularly social creature, I planned to stay maybe an hour, but it ended up being a lot of fun, so I stayed for three (and I would have stayed even longer, but I was speaking in church the next day, and I knew sufficient sleep would be mandatory in order to keep the public speaking panic down to a reasonable level). It was a sci-fi themed Halloween party, so I threw on a bowtie and fez and called it good (i.e., I went as the 11th Doctor from Doctor Who). Never let it be said I’m not willing to put forth the least amount of effort possible. Well, I could have put forth less effort, I suppose; some people came as humans (i.e., no costume) :-). My favorite costume of the night was the blind Romulan. We had delicous chili with fixins and cinnamon rolls. Accompanying the chili was cornbread shaped like R2D2. Along with good conversation, we watched Galaxy Quest. I love that movie.

“This episode was badly written!”

“Look! I have one job on this lousy ship, it’s stupid, but I’m gonna do it! Okay?”

“By Grabthar’s hammer, by the Sons of Warvan, you shall be avenged.”

Good stuff, good stuff…. I love my nerdy friends. My people!

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Thursday Randomness

1. I am really, really, really looking forward to Saturday so I can sleep in.

2. Strange stress dreams last night. The tires of my car kept going bald, and I had to keep replacing them. It was very frustrating. I awoke all stressed out, thinking, “Ugh, I need to get new tires ASAP. They’re unsafe. Why are they going bald so fast? Argh!” Then I awoke a bit more fully and realized, “Wait… my tires are fine… chill, brain cells.” A contributor to this dream is the parking garage at Office #2. There is a left turn after entering the parking garage that I’m fairly certain is bad for tires, based on the alarming amount of rubber left behind. It’s a perfectly average turn, so I don’t understand why it is problematic. It concerns me enough, though, that I’ve taken to taking a slightly altered route, but that altered route means going through (completely empty) parking stalls rather than staying on the designed route to the level below, and I am such an irritating rule-follower, that deviating from the approved path in the parking garage is stressing me out, even though there is absolutely no sign that anyone cares even the slightest bit.

3. I clearly need to get a grip. Heavens, even crossing against a red light when there are no cars in sight stresses me out. I do it anyway because, in addition to being a pathological rule follower, I am also incredibly impatient. These two aspects of my personality are not compatible. And so I end up having bad dreams about bald tires.

4. I am supposed to change offices in Office #1 today or tomorrow. The overlords are rearranging the minions. This office rearrangement makes absolutely no sense to me (why rearrange anyone? just put the new guy in the spot the recently-departed guy left open), but the overlords like rearranging minions for some reason, and the spot was offered to me first, so I took it. It still has a nice window (my current office has a nice window, and I enjoy having a nice window), and I’ll be right by the window, but the window faces a different direction. A change of view will be nice. Also, it puts me back with my first officemate, and I miss her. She’s highly entertaining.

5. I just took a break after #4 to move my new desk. It was set so that my back would be facing the door. I hate having my back to the door. It’s a pleasantly spacious office, so now the desk is in a much more emotionally satisfying location. (I already discussed the rearrangement with my new-old officemate, and she didn’t care.)

6. Snerk.


7. Snerk again.


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My Eye

I wish I had a cool story to go with the bruise. Sadly, “I lack the physical coordination to get out of a car without hurting myself” just isn’t quite cool.

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Ah, autumn. Such a lovely season. The trees are starting to change and are very beautiful. Today a gaggle of friends and I headed out to yonder not-city Maryland for fun, frolic, and mayhem. We took a lovely drive, saw some gorgeous homes, and reached our destination: Homestead Farm, one of those places that welcomes urban folk who want to see something other than concrete or buildings. They had a pumpkin patch (which was kind of sad because all of the rain we’ve had did bad things to their crop, so they had to ship in Tennessee pumpkins), a hay ride out to the pumpkin patch (we picked up some Japanese tourists along the way; I’m not kidding), apple picking (we didn’t actually go apple picking, but the option was there), a variety of farm critters (including a long-haired chicken – really), farm-fresh produce and jam and apple cider (yum), and caramel apples (it was delicious!).

Not a bad way to spend a couple hours in October.

Afterward, the three of us who came in the same car headed out to acquire lunch-like sustenance. This is the point when C’s car door viciously, and without provocation or reason, attacked me. The car door was cold and heartless. I did nothing to anger it. I claim complete innocence. And yet it came at me. And now I have a black eye. (Note: When getting in or out of a car, try not to fling your head around, for there are metal parts, and it hurts when your face comes in rapid contact with them.)

But back to lunch….

The GPS kind of went insane, or else it was taking revenge upon us for some perceived wrong (I’m glad my GPS isn’t the only one that does that), but we eventually found our destination, and then we changed our mind and ate at a papusaria. Never had papusas before. I liked them!

Yes, it was a lovely autumnal experience. Okay, not so much the black eye. But everything else.

[All photos.]

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Electrons and Cities

It’s very satisfying when you’ve spent a couple days doing battle with a website, and you can’t figure out how to get it to do what you want it to do, and you’re pretty sure your desires are completely reasonable, but you only sort-of know what you’re doing, so you keep placing the code that you’re almost positive is what you want in different places to see if the website will finally no longer be broken, but it keeps being broken, just in different ways, and you are frustrated and not getting enough sleep because you’re up too late trying to get the website to work, and you post help requests in programming forums but get crickets in return, so you think you’re asking the question wrong, so you try backing up because maybe you’re asking too far ahead in the process, too deep, but then you get useless answers that don’t actually help, so you keep flinging code, and then finally something doesn’t fix the broken site, but it helps illuminate the location of the problem, and you think you’re getting close to the solution but you don’t know how to make the final connection because, as you’ll recall, you only sort-of know what you’re doing, so you send an email to a friend who you know is busy, and you’re not sure if he’ll know the answer anyway, but your second email – the one where you’re almost to the solution but you can’t quite figure out the final leap – is simple enough that he offers a couple possible solutions, and one of them works, and you are so incredibly happy that the website is no longer broken.

That is very, very satisfying.

Also, here are a couple photos from Chicago.

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Chicago! For real this time

I awoke early to catch a commuter train into Chicago this morning. The train means I am spared the stress of driving and, the worst part, parking in Chicago. It is also much cheaper than parking. Also, it conveniently deposited me across the street from my target destination. As I emerged from the underground station, I was paying careful attention to the route I was walking and where exactly I emerged so that I could find it again at the end of the day. Satisfied that it was in my memory, I looked around. I filled with delight.

Chicago! I love Chicago. It’s a fabulous city. I’m predisposed to liking it since it’s where I served my mission, but my love goes beyond that. It’s fabulous all on its own. I love the skyscrapers and the traffic (as long as I’m not driving in it) and the hordes of humanity hither and yon and, well, city life. I love the energy and the ambiance. The last time I was here was in 1999, so it’s been a long time. I remember enough to recognize some changes. It is doing well.

Since all I really had was today to see things, I decided one of those hop-on/hop-off tours would allow me to maximize my time. So I hopped on and hopped off. Ah, a lovely city. I wandered. I explored. It was good.

One thought on something I saw: Soldier Field, the stadium. Um… what?! The architecture is… well, interesting is a polite way of saying it. Jarring and hideous would be a less polite way. It looks a lot like a UFO at the top part, and that actually looks fine. I like UFOs. But then the bus continued past and I saw the Greek-style columns in the middle part. What the frack?! Separate they would be fine. Together they are jarring and weird and kind of unappealing.

So that was weird.

DC is currently in the midst of a cupcake phase. I want to like them (hi, I’m a lemming), but alas, I’m just not into them. Chicago appears to be in the midst of a popcorn phase. I’d really like it if the popcorn phase found its way to DC. The cupcakes can stay, I suppose, but adding popcorn would be great.

As the day came to a close, I caught the train back to my hotel realm.

A lovely day.

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Chicago! Or thereabouts, anyway

Hebron, Indiana, is a small town in the midst of cornfields. It’s close to Chicago – it took me about 90 minutes to get from O’Hare airport to Hebron – but it is definitely rural. Oddly, however, three lines of my life intersect there.

One of my roommates in college, Gina, is from Hebron. And then I was called to Chicago on my mission. Gina was in the room when I opened my mission call. I didn’t know if I’d serve in her ward (actually, it was still a branch then) because there are a lot of wards in the mission, but I hoped I would. It was my second area. Gina’s parents were very good to my companion and me. A few years ago a friend, Scott, moved to the Hebron ward. Those were the three lines intersecting in Hebron. It’s such an unlikely place. I like the place, though. As I looked out over the cornfields I felt at peace. And the purple house (it’s really a house all painted bright purple) is still there.

Scott’s funeral is what led me to Hebron today. I met Scott online in 1999 in some LDS forums. He became a friend. We met once, along with several others from the forums. Scott had a great impact on my path in apologetics, as well as just influencing how much I value in-depth study of the gospel and church. He was a good guy. Sadly, cancer took him too early.

After a harmless flight and drive to Hebron (what is with the Chicagoan’s obsession with tailgating?), I went to the viewing/visitation to pay my respects to his wife. As I entered the room, I realized I had no idea what she looked like. Brilliant. I flailed cluelessly for a minute and then finally asked someone to point her out to me. The person I asked was Scott’s daughter. I introduced myself and share the thoughts I wanted to share and, unexpectedly, started crying. I cried through much of the funeral service, which surprised me. I hope Scott is having much fun on the other side.

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