Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Packrat

I got my house wired for Ethernet today.  Yay!  I now have a direct wired connection between both PCs, my Xbox, and my PlayStation, which should give me vastly better performance than I was getting over wireless, and allow me to stream high-def stuff like a real nerd.  I've been wanting to get this done for a year now and finally got around to having someone over.  The original estimates I got were all around $400 and this guy only charged $115, which seemed like a deal.  If only I'd just paid him from the start, I wouldn't have drilled a hole through the wall into my stairwell, which would have made the $115 an absolute steal, since now my next step is to go buy a bunch of drywall repair materials.

Now I've got two ten-foot strands of CAT-6 Ethernet cable—raw, without the ends.  My current plans are to keep these around for several years until I lose them because I can't bear to throw things away.  It's in my blood.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Renemaverick

It really annoys me that if I make the same mistake a couple times, I start to become increasingly likely to make that same mistake over and over—the error becomes reinforced.  The most recent instance of this that comes to mind is that whenever I want to reference and/or mock Sarah Palin and John McCain, the word I use is "renegade."  The word I'm looking for is, of course, "maverick."  Those two words are essentially synonymous in my mind, and when the whole overuse of "maverick" started, I would think "renegade" instead.  Now "renegade" is the only word that comes to mind for those two, and often I never even notice that I've made the mistake because it's become such a habit.

Awareness

It's extremely rare that I realize I'm dreaming.  I can't actually recall it ever having happened before at all, though I think it may have once or twice.  Twice last night I was aware that I was dreaming inside my dream.  I wasn't sleeping well at all, and that might have had something to do with it.  It was a strange experience.

I know it happened twice, but I only remember the first time it happened.  I was watching a woman retrieve a makeup case from her purse, and I noticed that it looked an awful lot like the memory card reader that I bought recently.  It even opened the same way that this reader expands and collapsed.  I thought that was very strange, and then it hit me.  I don't know how I knew, but I just did—the feeling reminded me of déjà vu, in that you feel like you've seen something before, but you don't know how or when or why.  A few seconds after this realization hit me, though, I awoke.

It happened again later that night, in the same sort of situation.  The dream included a coincidence that was apparently just too absurd for me to accept, and at that point I realized once more that I was dreaming, and then woke up.

Both times, upon waking up, I knew immediately what had happened, and my dreams were very clear to me for a few moments.  I felt very strange... almost powerful, in a way.  I had done something I may not have ever done before, and it was a bit surreal.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Sleepless in the Seattle Metro Area music awards 2008: stats

Of my top 25 tracks...

  • 8 are from debut albums
  • 11 feature strings (real or real-sounding fake ones)
  • 13 feature guitar
  • 6 feature piano
  • 14 are singles
  • 14 feature male lead vocals
  • 9 feature female lead vocals

Okay, I'm done talking about music for a while. I think.

Sleepless in the Seattle Metro Area music awards 2008: mostly dubious honors

And now, the "special" awards:

Most disappointingly overhyped album:
Feist—The Reminder

Most obnoxious yet catchy album:
Gwen Stefani—The Sweet Escape

Most annoying song:
Mouse on Mars—Spaceship

Worst album (at least it's free):
Nine Inch Nails—The Slip

Album that cost the most to import:
Quarashi—Guerilla Disco

Best music video for a song in my top 25:
Muse—Knights of Cydonia

Worst music video for a song in my top 25:
Hello Stranger—Take It to the Maxx

Only song to have a pornographic alternate version of the song's music video:
N.E.R.D.—Lapdance (highly NSFW; search for this yourself)

Sleepless in the Seattle Metro Area music awards 2008: top albums

I've also decided on my favorite three albums of the year.

Kerli—Love Is Dead
Morcheeba—Dive Deep
OneRepublic—Dreaming Out Loud

It's tough to pick one out of those, and all three are the sort of album that I want to restart as soon as it ends, but I have to give it to Dive Deep by Morcheeba.  It's soothing without being boring, varied enough, and there's not a bad song on the disc.

Interestingly enough, all three of those are the first CD I've bought by each artist, and two of them are debuts.  I strongly recommend all three.

Sleepless in the Seattle Metro Area music awards 2008: top tracks

Okay, I've done it.  With great effort over the past week I have decided on my 25 favorite tracks of 2008.  The qualifications are simple: I must have purchased the song since late 2007, the last time I picked my favorite tracks of the year, and each artist is eligible to show up in the list twice.  Though much of the music here is new for 2008, there are a few older songs that I only recently puchased that still qualify.  And without further ado, here are my top 25, with the upper half given special consideration.

Alanis Morissette—In Praise of the Vulnerable Man
Bear McCreary and Bt4—All Along the Watchtower
Bear McCreary—Prelude to War  (top 13)
Enya—Trains and Winter Rains  (top 13)
Goldfrapp—A&E  (top 13)
Hello Stranger—Take It to the Maxx
Kanye West—Love Lockdown  (top 13)
Kanye West—Stronger
Keane—Perfect Symmetry  (top 13)
Kerli—Creepshow
Kerli—Love Is Dead  (top 13)
Morcheeba, Bradley Burgess, and Manda—Run Honey Run  (top 13)
Morcheeba—Wonders Never Cease
Muse—Knights of Cydonia  (top 13)
Muse—Starlight
Mute Math—Typical  (top 13)
N.E.R.D., Lee Harvey, and Vita—Lapdance  (top 13)
OneRepublic—Apologize
OneRepublic—Say (All I Need)  (top 13)
Quarashi—Pro  (top 13)
Rob Dougan—Will You Follow Me?
Sia—Breathe Me
Snow Patrol—Lifeboats
Snow Patrol—The Lightning Strike  (top 13)
Vanessa Carlton—More than This

Through the magic of the internet, I have created a playlist that allows you to listen to all of these except Enya's Trains and Winter Rains for free.

imeem: My favorite music of 2008

Lax

And for those of you who read this through Facebook or RSS or otherwise haven't seen my "bathroom scale" counter, I'm down a cool 40 pounds now. I've kept things stable over the past few days despite eating less healthy than usual (whatever food I can scrounge up around the house since until perhaps today I couldn't really leave) and not exercising. As of this morning I was down 41. I think that my expectation of ending the year 40 pounds below where I started was reasonable after all.

Wells Fargo, I wish I could quit you

Wells Fargo, I wish I could quit you, but I'm not even your customer.

See, they've been making my life pretty obnoxious of late.  Hopefully, things have been resolved and I won't have to hear from them, but I'm not certain of that.  So, if I'm not a Wells Fargo customer, how did they make life obnoxious?

It all started a couple months ago.  In the mail I got a letter from Wells Fargo saying that I owed them a little under a thousand dollars for property taxes.  There are so many things wrong with this.  First of all, I get tons of mail from people demanding money from me regarding my house, and essentially all of it is semi-fraudulent.  It may be borderline legal, but it's all stamped as a VERY IMPORTANT NOTICE about my mortgage and how it is in dire need of some company's monitoring services, or mortgage insurance, lower rates, or whatever.  The fact that I purchased my home for a certain amount through a certain bank is public record, and this information is used to make things look kind of official.  I was certainly fooled the first time I got it, but that didn't last long once I started getting one or two envelopes of fraudbait a day.  It's slowed down to a trickle now—actually, I can't remember a time in the last year that I've gotten something about it—but I just assumed this was something similar.

This letter from Wells Fargo was even less convincing than other notices I've received.  They didn't even try to sell me on some service.  They just said that I owed them money, but they said it was for property taxes.  They didn't even explain why that could possibly make sense—I'm not their customer, my bank pays my property taxes from my mortgage payments, and, well, they go to the state of Washington, not Wells Fargo.  They said that I had two options—send them a check for nine hundred eighty-something dollars, or fill out a form with all of my bank information so that they could handle things directly.

I thought about my options: I could just report the letter to the police, but I didn't really want to get involved with that.  I could write them back and tell them that they're crazy.  In the end, I decided to report this to my bank and ask them what to do.  They investigated, and told me that it was "most likely fraud," and I should not deal with them in any way.  So that's what I did.

Many weeks passed, and I became certain that I had made the right choice until eventually I got another copy of the same letter, with the words SECOND NOTICE stamped on it, and no paper asking me for bank information.  This time they just wanted a check.  I was quite surprised to see this; I didn't think that a scammer would bother sending a second notice.  But, my bank told me to do nothing about it, so that's what I continued to do.

Last week, I got a third copy of the same notice.  It was stamped FINAL NOTICE, and a new paragraph was added to the bottom explaining that if I did not respond immediately I would be turned over to a collection agency, so I should call them immediately.  Sigh.  So, I called them.  I talked to a very disgruntled woman who was absolutely amazed when I said that I was not giving them any information on the insistence of my bank.  Even more annoyed, she assured me that the collection agency would be much less pleasant to deal with than Wells Fargo.  (So, great, now not only has Wells Fargo been annoying, but they have threatened me.)  Before angrily cutting me off, she suggested that I call my local tax office and talk to them.  That seemed entirely reasonable, and not out of line with my bank's wishes.

So I did.  I called the Washington Department of Revenue and talked to the only person answering the phones that day.  And I was admittedly surprised to find that he was cheerfully helpful and competent.  He looked up my tax records, and found out that there was some point to this nonsense.  Wells Fargo had paid my property taxes, and they wanted their money back.  The law prevents the Department from getting a refund of "my" tax money since they don't have any affiliation with me or my bank.  He was confused as to why they would have contacted me about it; they should have contacted my bank directly to sort this all out, and thought it was ridiculous that I was put through this nonsense.  But after that call, I had confirmation that no matter how bizarrely executed, Wells Fargo did have a reason for wanting that sum of money from someone, and why they wanted my bank account information.

I called Wells Fargo back and talked to someone new.  I explained to him that the person from the Department of Revenue said that they shouldn't be dealing with me at all.  He was confused by that, and not wanting to take my word on it, we had a three-way to sort it out.  A conference call, I mean.  The Department guy (same one as before since he was the only one there) gave the Wells Fargo guy a lot of details about my tax records, and told me that I should give them my bank information, and that Wells Fargo should stop talking to me about it.

They needed me to sign a document authorizing them to contact my bank to resolve the problems, and I had to fax that to them.  Luckily I was able to get into the office before the snowstorm began to send it off.  At this point I still had a small little 5% wariness that this was some incredibly elaborate identity theft scam, but in the end the only new information that I was providing them was my mortgage account number (not even my bank account number), and really, it seemed unlikely that anyone could do too much harm with that.  What are they going to do, pay my principal down?

I'm infuriated.  They've managed to take up a couple frustrating hours of my time thanks to their own screw-up.  It's not my fault, I'm not their customer, and there's no reason I can see that I should have to have done any of that.  But, I decided that continuing to do nothing on principle wouldn't help once I was turned over to a collection agency, and would almost certainly take up more of my time than doing nothing, and have more negative consequences for me in the end.  Realistically, all I can do about it is to try very hard to not do any business with Wells Fargo in the future.  I wasn't planning on it, though, so even that's a fairly idle threat.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Floss

One of the defining characteristics of my grandmother's appearance, at least in my eyes, has always been an ever-present piece of dental floss hanging from her teeth.  When I was young I spent many nights at my mom's parents' house, and whenever she would get ready for bed, she would become distracted by some chore of some sort, which would lead to another distraction, and then half an hour or more would have passed by, and she'd still have floss hanging from her teeth.  It seems like I'd see her with dental floss stuck in her teeth every time I'd spend the night there, and it eventually became part of my mental picture of her.

I'm fairly certain, now that I think about it, that I have inherited this quirk from her.  Not the dental floss part specifically, but in general: I too am incredibly easily distracted by simple chores when I'm trying to focus on a single mundane task, and I too will end up starting to do so many things while I'm brushing my teeth that sometimes I get confused about what I was even doing in the first place.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Stuck

Well, I'm not going to be heading back to Nebraska this year after all.  There's about a foot of snow here, and buses aren't running, taxis aren't running, and I couldn't even make it out of my street, let alone complete the trip to the airport.  I guess my annoyance at United over the past couple hours has been a little misplaced.  Technically, I guess they didn't really have to do anything.  They're still making my original flight—there's just no way for me to get there.  Instead, due to the winter storms they're waiving the fees for itinerary changes.  The next flight they could get me on would have been the 26th for a return trip on the 28th, and $700 for a one-day stop is not really worth it.  So, I'm heading back for the Fourth of July weekend, and I'll be staying here in Washington for Christmas.

I guess I was just really annoyed at the situation in general, and the easiest target was the company I paid a ton of money to get me to Nebraska, but it's not their fault.  An hour ago I was quite angry at them for really no reason at all.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Seven-eleven

In the past fifteen months, I've bought albums containing 711 new songs (including albums bought online, not including bonus content like demos), totaling about 49 hours of music.  I thought maybe I'd listen to all of it again from start to finish while I'm in Nebraska.  Now that I see what's ahead of me, this seems somewhat less practical than I expected.  Perhaps I'll just focus on the best of the best.

As a recap, I rated all of the following CDs 9/10:

Alanis Morrissette—Flavors of Entanglement
Hello Stranger—Hello Stranger
Kanye West—808s and Heartbreak
Kerli—Love Is Dead
Morcheeba—The Antidote
Morcheeba—Dive Deep
Muse—Black Holes and Revelations
OneRepublic—Dreaming Out Loud
Snow Patrol—A Hundred Million Suns

And I rated all of these 8/10:

Bear McCreary—Battlestar Galactica seasons 1, 2, and 3
Cyril Morin—Western Pansori
Hooverphonic—The President of the LSD Golf Club
Hybrid Tango (Tanghetto)—Hybrid Tango
Morcheeba—Charango
Muse—Absolution
Mute Math—Mute Math
Quarashi—Guerilla Disco
Rob Dougan—Furious Angels
Sia—Some People Have Real Problems
Vanessa Carlton—Heroes and Thieves

I couldn't bring myself to say any particular album was a perfect 10, but some of those nines are pretty close.  Maybe I'll change my mind over the next week.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Lightning Strike

The short version:
Kanye West—808s and Heartbreak: 9/10
Röyksopp—Melody A.M.: 7/10
Enya—And Winter Came...: 7/10
Snow Patrol—A Hundred Million Suns: 9/10

This latest batch of music has been all about albums that I grew to appreciate more after hearing them a few times. It's true for none of them as much as it's true for Kanye West's latest CD, 808s and Heartbreak. The style of this album is in stark contrast to all of his previous work in that most of it is sung and there's relatively little rap, and the slick modern production has been replaced with a slick retro sound and heavy use of a vocoder (Eiffel 65-style). Initially, I was a bit annoyed by the ancient sound of the album, and while I'm still not really certain I love it, I can definitely hear the thought and care that was put into it. The best track on here is Love Lockdown (video), the second single—fantastic tribal beat, excellent vocals, and a lovely piano accompaniment. Paranoid (featuring Mr. Hudson) is a great example of a lot of the album sounds, with a silly but fun 80s-ish beat, and vocals that are half sung and half rapped through a machine that makes Kanye sound mildly robotic. Robocop and Amazing (featuring Young Jeezy) are both really good too. Overall, while I can heartily recommend the album, I'm not sure specifically to whom. I guess it's quite a bit more of a pop CD than a rap CD, and I can see fans of Kanye's previous albums not liking this one, and people who didn't like his previous work thinking this one's great. Check out the tracks I linked to, and you should have a good idea of what it's like.

I've also been listening to Röyksopp's album Melody A.M. for a while now. It's interesting lounge-y electronica. The tracks range from Remind Me (Someone Else's mix), which has a terribly awesome music video (the reason I bought the CD) and sounds like a remix of a Nintendo game soundtrack, to the very chilled Sparks, which would sound at home on a Zero 7 CD, to So Easy with no lyrics at all. Overall I'd say it's pretty good. My main problem with it is that a lot of it is pretty subtle—if you're looking for background music, this album might work pretty well.

I kept my Enya collection up-to-date with her latest album, And Winter Came.... It's vaguely a Christmas album, though there are only a few traditional Christmas songs on the CD (O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, and Silent Night). For the most part, it sounds quite similar to all of her previous work. Most of the songs are very slow, light, ethereal, and pretty, but also not terribly substantial, like The Spirit of Christmas Past. The most intersting song on here is probably My! My! Time Flies!, which actually includes both drums and a guitar, both extremely rare for her. My favorite is Trains and Winter Rains (video), which is a rather beautiful song without being so slow as most of her music normally is. Regardless, you will love or hate this album approximately as much as you loved or hated her previous work.

Finally, I've been enjoying the latest Snow Patrol CD, A Hundred Million Suns. There is a lot of rock goodness on this disc, but my favorite track is the last one, The Lightning Strike, clocking in at more than 16 minutes in three movements (What If This Storm Ends? / The Sunlight Through the Flags / Daybreak). In particular, the first portion is emotional and absolutely stunning, and the second is a nice bridge to a satisfying finale for the album. In particular, it's a strong contender for my favorite song of the year, which I'll be choosing relatively soon. In a more perky-pop way, Take Back the City (video) is a fabulous single, and Lifeboats is another slow but grand song.

Next up, I'm going to be going back through all of the new music I've accumulated this year and pick out some of the best, stand-out tracks. After that, I've got plenty more new stuff to keep me busy listening for a while.

Lean body mass

It wasn't even a good trip; I had a doctor appointment to check up on me after the first three months of my health program, and it was something that probably could have been effectively done over email anyway since mostly all he did was give me printouts of my lab test results. (Shocking news: constant exercise and eating healthy has improved my health.)

According to the tests, my lean body mass is right around 200 pounds. The numbers I've gotten from all three body composition tests I've taken so far have been within a few pounds, so I assume they're reasonably accurate. This is roughly what I would weigh if I had 0% body fat. This gives me a little better perspective on what I might look like at various weights. Since I weigh about 240 right now, it means I have about 40 pounds of fat. If I lose another 20 pounds, I'll have lost half of my remaining fat, and "half" is a heck of a lot easier to comprehend and visualize than "20 pounds." At "half" I'd actually look pretty good, I think.

It also gives a little supporting evidence to why I keep hearing and reading that body mass index (BMI) isn't really that useful for people my height. At 240 pounds I cross the threshold from "obese" to "overweight." At 200 pounds I move from "overweight" to "normal" BMI. Based on my measured lean body mass, at 200 pounds I would be a lot thinner than "normal"—that would be right around 0% body fat, and 2-5% is the essential minimum for men. If this is all accurate, that means that my minimum weight is about 210 pounds (ignoring any muscle gain between now and then), or 30 less than where I am now.

Of course, reaching my body's minimum fat level is not my goal. I don't have a goal, but if I did, that would not be it. It is, however, both interesting and useful to have some more perspective than I did before. I'll see where this all goes. It's getting harder and harder to lose weight, which is a little disheartening, but in another light it's also a bit encouraging, because it means I have made progress. I started this all without really knowing where it was all going, and slowly I find myself getting a better picture of what my body is like.


Currently listening: Kanye West—Robocop

Winter Apocalypse 2008

It snowed eight to ten inches here a couple days ago, which basically brings the area to a complete standstill.  The infrastructure for plowing the streets isn't really in place like it is in Nebraska, and people don't have a clue how to drive on snowy and icy roads.  It took me about 25 minutes to drive a little under three miles this afternoon, a journey that normally takes something like 8 minutes.  Admittedly, one of the streets that I normally take was too steep to safely ascend, so I took an alternate route that would have normally added a couple minutes.  So, the trip took approximately 150% longer than usual.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Imperfect relaxation

I'm a few days into my vacation so far, and it's been sort of relaxing.  Not super relaxing, but decent enough.  I've kept my mind off work, but I've also had a lot of stuff to do.  I still have a bunch of appointments that I need to schedule today, but I guess I'd rather get all of that stuff done now than have to deal with "necessary crap" every day for the rest of my vacation.  Still, if it weren't for taking a bunch of vacation time, I'd have to do all this stuff and work, and then I'd be really stressed out, so a state of imperfect relaxation is certainly preferable to all that.

I've been getting some World of Warcraft time in.  I got my druid to level 80 (the level cap), and my shaman is up to 77—almost there.  Once they hit 80 I'll start devoting more time to the long list of games that I really want to play that I've put on hold: Red Alert 3, Fable 2, Fallout 3 (thanks Jason), King's Bounty, Assassin's Creed, and there are probably more that I've forgotten.  My greatly increased focus on diet and exercise is taking a significant toll on my leisure time, which is starting to really get on my nerves.  Once the program is over and I don't have to deal with hours and hours of scheduled appointments each week it should become much easier to deal with, but for now, it's driving me a little bit nuts, slowly.

Needle celebration

At twelve weeks, I'm half done with my participation in the 20/20 Lifestyles diet, exercise, and lifestyle management program.  So far, I'm down 38 pounds, and I'm pleased with that.  It's been tough, but I made it through.  Well, half through.  There are twelve weeks to go—the second half is "maintenance," where I theoretically learn a little bit about how to maintain my weight and exercise once I'm all done in a still-supervised manner.  I'll see my trainer and dietitian less often than before, but my exercise schedule and diet will not really change, so in theory I should continue to lose weight at a similar rate. In theory.

At the beginning of the program I had blood tests done, and at the halfway point I had them done again.  This is to monitor how my cholesterol and other internal chemistry things are going, and make sure that I'm still getting all of the proper nutrients and such.  I failed my blood test on Wednesday.  It seems like it should be an easy test to pass—I mean, I've had blood; I've always had blood.  I failed in the sense that the person wasn't able to extract any from me.  As it turns out, my veins are made of solid titanium, and try as she did, she couldn't draw blood.  I got seven or eight holes from that fun adventure, on my arms and hands, and I've still got a bruise from it, a week later.  We rescheduled for yesterday, and I drank about 72 ounces of water the night before and the day of, just to make sure I was fully hydrated, and she still couldn't get anything out of me when the time came.  She had the needle in me, digging around and repeatedly stabbing my veins, but couldn't get it in.  Finally she gave up, and referred me to a lab in Bellevue.

So, I drove to Bellevue where I was greeted by angry people who really hated their jobs.  The first technician also failed to get anything out of my swiss-cheese-arms, and he called in the boss.  She was very annoyed, after having just gotten off the phone with an auto repair shop that had held her car for a month, but she put that anger to good use, finally getting a needle into my vein after a couple stabs, and sucking a couple tubes of blood out of me.  And this time, I didn't even black out when it happened.

Good Lord.  I've healed up, and "only" six of my needle holes are visible now.  I look like a junkie.  I can't wait to go through all of this again in twelve more weeks.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I guess I *have* lost weight

Putting on my suit just now for my date at the Space Needle, I found that my dress belt is too large, by at least two notches.  I had to substitute a more casual belt.  I guess I have lost weight.

Fin

I'm done with work until 2009... that's a nice feeling.  I plan to make excellent use of this time.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Focus

Staying focused at work is about the hardest thing in the world right now.  Thursday afternoon I'm leaving for a big Christmas party and I'm not returning to work until the second week in January.  At this point my brain is pretty much running on fumes... maybe at 15% capacity or so.  Whether I want it or not, my mental energies are entirely devoted to wishing that I were already on vacation.  I've got a ton of important work I'd like to get done over the next few days, but I don't think it's going to happen.  I'm like a kid during the last week before summer vacation—maybe elementary school, before such things as finals.  Nothing useful is learned that week.

Wrinkle in time

I swear, the time between midnight and 1:00 is the fastest hour of the day by far.  That hour must have like three minutes in it.  12:00, 12:01, 12:02, 12-oh-what-it's-one-already?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

People who look like remotely famous people

Driving home from the gym a few moments ago, I passed a woman who looked like Mrs. Bennet walking a dog that looked like Mr. Muggles.  Then again, at 5:00 it's pretty dark around here this time of year.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Personal is personal

I have quite a few personal projects of my own—my software, my websites, and my World of Warcraft mods.  From time to time I get offers from people who really want to work with me to improve them.  Sometimes these offers even come in the form of complete prototypes.  I usually turn these down.

Even after all this time, I still feel a little bad for doing it, but I almost always do.  These are my personal projects, and I need to keep them personal, completely controlled and owned and managed and written by me.  If I don't, and they become some multi-person effort, then sure, they are more likely to thrive and live on and be useful to the public, but I'm also a little selfish—they become more and more like work, and less and less like something I work on in my leisure time.  The main reason I have all of these little side projects is that while I like to build things, so much that I do it for a living, it's simply a lot more fun to do it with the full control and lack of overhead that comes with being the only guy in charge.  If I start having to run ideas by another person, or stay on top of what other people are doing, or Heaven forbid ask people for permission before I start doing things, then they're no longer fun, and if they're no longer fun, then I shouldn't be doing them in my spare time, because I do plenty of software development work already that's not always "fun."  It's not that I don't enjoy my job, it's... that I don't want more of my life to be like my job than already is.  I have to draw a line somewhere.

Some random person from the internet started sending me modified versions of one of my World of Warcraft mods a couple months ago, wanting me to add those features into my official version, and wanting feedback and direction.  He must have spent quite a bit of time on all of his modifications.  I appreciated his attitude, wanting to help make my project better, he annoyed me.  It wasn't his fault, but I don't think it was mine either.  Time I spend working on those projects is time I'm not spending on other things (like playing games), and I have plenty of other things I'd rather be doing than code reviews and testing what he wrote.  He didn't write things in the way that I would have written them, and he added features that worked well for him, but wouldn't have been too useful for anyone else.  Basically, after all this time he spent working on his own, I just had to refuse pretty much everything he gave me.  I didn't feel great about doing it, but I can't be selfless all the time.  At work, I'm one voice out of several, and it's the job of those several to keep me in check and make sure that I'm making the right decisions.  That makes sense at work, but not in my hobby.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Increased speed / decreased speed

After about five weeks of driving to work every day (mostly due to morning workouts), I finally had an opportunity to ride my Segway to work today.  It was a really nice feeling; I miss being able to use it more.  This was my first time riding it under the rider maximum weight limit, actually, and it felt a little different.  Maybe it was just a bit more responsive, maybe it was a little faster, or maybe I just wasn't used to it so everything felt new, but it did feel a bit different than before, somehow.  The only truly obvious difference was that it didn't really slow down when going up the fairly steep hill on the way to my office; in the past, it slowed down to about half speed toward the end.  I didn't seem to use up as much battery power this time, either.  35 pounds makes a lot of difference to a Segway.