Back from Texas last night; the trip was great and I didn’t want to come back- but it was great to wake up in my own bed this morning, even if the Boys were yowling in my ear at 6am. Southwest got us to Houston within 5 minutes of our arrival time, with two stopovers. We met up with Jen’s friend Lorie, the bride to be, and got some drinks the first night in town. We stayed with JP, Jen’s best college friend, the whole weekend; I’ve met him before, and we like him a lot. The wedding was great, too- very simple, traditional, and the service was pretty fast. We didn’t do a whole lot in Houston other than sleep, eat great food, and do some fun antiquing in an area not too far from JP’s house- we’ll have to bring a U-Haul back and load up on stuff, because the prices were great.

OK, let’s see what we have to do this week.

  • I need to stop at the Home Depot and pick up my new front window for the basement; it’s in and hopefully is the right size. Cut out the old one, build a box for it, fit it inside and install into the opening. Caulk, seal, and we’re done there.
  • Return the $28 fat rocker-style dimmer switch and exchange the cash for a few sheets of drywall. I can get a dimmer switch later on that will fit, but ganging it up into a four-switch box was stupid-unless I replace all the thin switches with fat rocker-style ones. To be determined later.
  • Clean out the Taurus, or at least vacuum it and wash the windshield. It’s disgusting inside.
  • Buy the fittings, extensions and connectors in order to move the washer to the back of the basement, and install.
  • Call Terminex to see what the price of fumigation would be for roaches in the basement. YUCK.
  • Clean the freakin’ house. it’s a mess right now.
Date posted: July 31, 2001 | Filed under travel | Leave a Comment »

Today at work, I got the CD-ROM burner working on this Win98 box. I’m going to go home and try to redo it on the NT box- I think in my haste to install I forgot to install the drivers on the NT machine. Stupid me. I think I’ll be able to get all my crap off that machine finally and store some stuff. I need to talk with Dan the IT guy here about making a copy of CDWriter 5 so I can bring it home. Bye-Bye MP3’s, and I can back up the Mac stuff and get it off that drive. Hallelujah. I also picked up a spindle of 50 CD-R’s for $29- a splurge, but something that will come in handy- I have lots of CD’s to burn! Cross one (hopefully) off the list below…

Spent the weekend at Jen’s parents’ place- that was a good time, but I was glad to sleep in my own bed last night. I’m putting in some home time this week before I fly off to Texas this weekend. Cleaning, basement, laundry, and me. I’m stopping off to pick up some drywall this afternoon to start the wall work- hee hee!

11:20PM. Decided to leave the drywall until next week. I did get a call from Home Depot about the window- I have to go pick that up this week before we take off for Texas. However, i did get the CD Rom burner working on the NT box- Duh. What an idiot I am. I didn’t install the drivers for the parallel port, so the machine didn’t know to look there. One quick install from the HP site and i was up and running pretty easily. So I’m burning a bunch of MP3’s to a disk and getting them off this drive- woo hoo!

Let’s see. We went to see Final Fantasy this weekend in St. Mary’s; I was very impressed. It was pretty good- there were some obvious, notable lapses in the modelling of the characters’ teeth, lips and eyes, but i was blown away with the level of detail in the movie- the characters were very well drawn and the story wasn’t half-bad either.

I found these books at Barnes and Noble a few months ago- I want to buy them and learn PHP:

ISBN 1-861003-145 Beginning Perl
ISBN 1-861003-73-0 Beginning PHP4
ISBN 1-861002-96-3 Professional PHP Programming
ISBN D-201-35463-2 Javascript Visual Quickstart Guide


Date posted: July 23, 2001 | Filed under books, geek, travel | Leave a Comment »


Online again after network outages-Charmnet got walloped by the train accident and has been down up until about 3:30 or so. The BreakAway connection is slow at work- so it’s actually easier to go home and use the Internet. Sad.

The basement is done, and damn, it’s good. I’m very happy with it, even though I’m aghast at having my bank account drained $1600 in two days. I need to go back on starvation rations for a few months and make the shortfall back up- I want to be back where I was pre-layoff in about 3 months (yeah, right.) I need to pay off the Texas trip pretty quick too- I’d like to have the credit card back down to $1,000 or so in a month or two. Then, I think we work on either getting the second mortgage paid off or we look at that Scout in Wisconsin.

I was afraid the lights wouldn’t provide enough indirect lighting to the corners, but there’s a light over the new laundry area (up against the back wall under the window), over the central part of the basement, in the ‘hallway’, and over the workbench. Plus, just having a light over the damn stairs is awesome- no more tripping and falling. I have to pull up the treads and kickplates to replace them now, though- the light makes all the gouges really stand out. And it’s great to have it double-switched so I can turn it off downstairs or upstairs (these are things that are standard in all new houses, but I don’t take them for granted…!) I can’t WAIT to start drywalling.

Today I lowered the boom on Renie-I told her I didn’t think Howard was the right guy for her, and she seems to be taking it quite well. She’s pretty chill about it now; we’ll see what happens when the rubber meets the road next week, when she has a ‘talk’ with him.

Date posted: July 20, 2001 | Filed under house | Leave a Comment »

Electricians have come in this morning to work in the basement- they’re doing a great job so far, as of 10am this morning, and I’m happy with what we’ve got worked out. I also just had a stroke of genius: I’m going to avoid a huge cost for hooking up the upstairs office circuit (quoted at $250) by dropping a junction box in behind the closet, tapping into the clean circuit there for the servers, and running the power upstairs from there. Bonus! I wrote them a check for $500 today and hopefully they’ll be done by this afternoon- if not they have to come back on Friday.

Date posted: July 18, 2001 | Filed under house | Leave a Comment »

Day two, and I have what I think is my new and mostly permanent computer (or at least for a month or so.) A Gateway tower- let’s see if it works a little better than the laptop from Cidera. Installed HomeSite and some other software— plus there’s a bunch of MP3’s on here from the previous owner. Pretty nice for the time being. This marks also the first time since 1996 that I’m able to hear Howard Stern in the morning on a radio at work. Not that that’s a huge thing, or I’m slobbering over it, but it’s better than nothing.

I spent a good deal of money yesterday at the Lowe’s—about $150 on electrical supplies. Got home at 8pm and immediately started installing them—that stuff is expensive! I’m hoping my roughing in the fixtures will save time, and also save money on the installation costs. I’d like for them to be out of there by Wednesday and maybe for a little less than they estimated. I’m worrying about money right now too—I’m down a bit lower than I thought, and after the basement is done, I’m at the lowest I care to be for a while. If I do this Scout, it’s gonna be a stretch. This unemployment, while being good for some things, has really fucked me in other ways. I think this coming year I’m going to spend the time trying to pay down debts as much as possible—the second mortgage is going to go, freeing up $50/month or so for the third mortgage. Meanwhile, I need to save for the Scout, if it comes through, and try to pay off the Texas trip immediately. Plus I have to raise $500 for carpeting for the basement. I think that’s going to get squozen out of my paycheck from now on… Looking forward to that first paycheck, i can’t tell you!

Date posted: July 17, 2001 | Filed under general | Leave a Comment »

Here I am at Breakaway, my first day at the new job. Looks pretty cool so far, although my temporary cube for the time being will be by a wall, and very dark. I’ll need to bring in a bunch of stuff to make it homier.

  • A light.
  • A power strip.
  • The 4-port hub from Cidera.
  • A few ethernet cables.
  • My CD/Radio.
  • A box for my junk.
  • Some CD’s to listen to.

Robby told me Mike Coale knows of a guy who has an Arizona Scout he’s hauling up here and looking to sell. I might buy it if the price is good- otherwise I’ll let it go and save the shekels. I have a call through to Mike right now.

I also need to prioritize and purchase a few things to make life easier- that will be after I pay off the Texas trip tickets on the Visa card. I can continue to buy and install stuff in the basement but I’d like a few things to get bought to make my quality of life better:

$200 A CD burner, most likely for at work, so I can start burning copies of Robby’s CD collection and save money there.
$70 A Bikini top for Chewbacca, so that sunny day drives will be more tolerable.
$170 A CD player for the Taurus, now that she’s running good again.
$1300 An iBook.

The burner presents the first hurdle, and is probably first on the list. I have the NT box at the house, but it doesn’t like sound cards. I want it to be compatible with my work 98 box and the eventual iBook so I can switch- because the iBook is way off in the future right now. I need to get all kinds of crap off the NT box at home (mostly MP3’s) and I’d like to be able to burn discs too while I’m here. Well, first, I need to get a computer here at work…

What else is going on? I talked the electricians down to $1,600, and hopefully that will get mailed out to me and be on the doorstep today. I need to stop in to Lowe’s (more money spent) and pick up a bunch of lighting equipment- two lights for the stairs, 5 monopoint lights for the main room, two for the closet, and four lesser lights for the basement rear (work area). I might actually go with a flourescent over the workbench and just put wide-spots over the other areas. We’ll see how that goes tonight, and what the damage will be to my pocketbook. More than I hoped for, but Jen did good and talked me down off the ledge- she pointed out to me that this work is an investment in something I own, and will only go to making it better, while other things I’ve bought-the shelves for the radios come to mind-were expensive but I didn’t freak out about buying them.

Got off the phone with Bill Tydings, the fellow selling (or facilitating) the sale of the Wyoming Scout. He says the owner is hoping to get $2,000 for it- Wow! I’m going to do some checking in to how much it would cost to ship the truck from there to here. Apparently it runs, it’s a V-8 Rallye (which means it’s at least a ’75+, I think) and it has 140,000 miles on the OD- pretty standard for a Scout. If I could get it shipped here for something like $1,000, I’d be ahead by a mile. Wow!

Some sites I found for quotes: The Express Auto or Moving Wisely – there’s a whole list there.

Date posted: July 16, 2001 | Filed under house, links | Leave a Comment »

OK, the estimate came back in for the electrical work, and it was a shocker: $1,800. Jee-zus! That’s a lot of scratch. The guy was nice, and I have a call through to his voicemail to talk about lowering the costs somehow, but shit, man! That’s a lot of dough. He gave me estimates for the other work I requested- the quad outlet up here in the office, a light out in front of the house, and some other minor work, and the total bill was about $2,300. So we’re foregoing the other expenses and doing the basement stuff first; I’m hoping there are some things i can do to lower the costs- $1,500 wouldn’t be that bad. I was really hoping for somewhere around $1,000 or so, but there’s reality for you.

Date posted: July 14, 2001 | Filed under house | Leave a Comment »

I’m back online today after being away for 2 months.

I cribbed the March design for the time being until I can get back to designing a new interface, and pick up Perl again to put the whole thing in a database.

I’ve spent the last two months working in the basement, mainly; not too much time in front of a computer other than looking for and applying for jobs. The search was a disappointing and depressing one- a ton of design firms here in Baltimore have tanked and nobody else is hiring at all right now. My inquiries into the field have gone for naught, and I took the risky, and some would say inadvisable step of taking a job with a company outside of my expertise- a computer gaming company. I’ll be working for Breakaway games as of Monday the 16th. I’m optimistic, and excited, because this company has work for me at least until next year, and they seem like they have a lot of irons in the fire. I think gaming is a good place to sit and wait out the storm for awhile.

The basement has been a very helpful outlet for stress, worry, and general mind-resting; I put myself on a budget each week for about $50 of supplies, and that figure seemed to put enough raw materials into my hands so that i could blow through a week of work or so. Luckily I was in a place where all I really needed were screws, paint, and 2×4’s, so the minimum amount of budget actually went a long way.

I got the whole ceiling primed and painted, as well as the walls down to the drywall level. After I cleaned that up, I studded in the walls along the side and the front wall, and ordered a new vinyl replacement window for the front of the house. I’ll struggle with that for a day or so when it comes in at the beginning of next week. The closet is also roughed in, and I have a pair of louvered doors in mind to close it off. I’ll probably add a fan of some kind to vent the room out the back when the computers are installed- that’s down the road a bit.

I’m at a place now where I had the electrical contractor come in for an estimate, and it left me with a great feeling. Hopefully I can get the whole thing done for under $1,000. At some point I’m going to post pictures, but for now it’s offline- no more digital camera, and I have a roll of film halfway through to be developed and scanned. At this point, looking roughly at the bills and my bank account, these last two months I’ve spent about $1000-$1200 on other, meaning food, entertainment, gas, and the basement. My total bills for the basement to date (well, total bills for home improvement period) are roughly $750- that’s including the pre-layoff bills from January. At some point I’ll add up the bills beginning May 11 to date and see what i put out in total. It’ll be interesting to see what I actually went through in dollars and cents. This weekend I file unemployment for the last time.

I also had the Scout looked at by Baltimore Body Shop, and it was disappointing- it only confirms what I was thinking before. I’m going to have to save, look for and buy an already restored Scout at some point, and relegate Chewbacca to parts truck/rainy day driver. it breaks my heart, but that’s what i have to do. The cost of the new tub, work to swap them, and other assorted shit will be prohibitively expensive.

Date posted: July 13, 2001 | Filed under general | Leave a Comment »