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Friday, November 17th, 2006
5:07 am - Of Lan Parties, Packages and Yo-Yos
Yesterday I was given the title "Smug Yo-Yo Bastard" and it is a title I am quite proud of. I brought a Yo-Yo to school yesterday for something to do on the journeys to and from and in the halls. I love playing with Yo-Yos and it has been some time since I have. I found it to be quite a nice distraction when I need to think about some coding problems. I showed a friend a few of the tricks I could do and then he tried, with little success, to duplicate my effort. So he gave me the above title. Thanks Guido.

Today also saw the arrival of not one but two entries into my best package from the US contest. One rather large package from Max and Cyndi and one smaller but better decorated package from Tamara. The one from Max and Cyndi had what I think will be some very nice tea, a fleece vest for keeping warm, some nice purple sheets, various candies, an article about stroop waffles and a bar of soap. The whole packaged smelled of soap and many of the candies have a fine soapy powder over them. I think the vibrations on the plane shook the soap in it's box producing a fine powder. Next time send it in a plastic bag guys. No harm done though since everything else was wrapped.

Tamara's box was of a different sort. It contained a hat I left behind in CA and have sorely missed, which was nice, a nice letter, a crystal, some tapes of mine and some memorabelia from times gone buy. It kind of put me in a strange mood as might be expected. I think I am still recovering. It probably set me off a little more because I am so tired today.

I was up late last night. A friend who lives in the building came knocking on my door at about 3am visibly shaken. His roommate is an alcoholic and had gotten violent with him. He called the police and then got some things out of his room and hung out at my place until the morning. This morning at 6:30am I had a conference call with my peeps in California about the work I am doing for them. The call went well but I feel more and more behind on what they want. I am going to work hard this weekend to try to get caught up. Issues with sluggardy.net the grant proposal I have been working on and classes have kept me pretty busy of late. I went back to sleep for another 4 hours but that really only makes five and a half for the night and that was interrupted by an hour long meeting.

When I first arrived at "my office" today I found it to be taken over by 6 dutch students having a LAN party. While I have no objections to them having such an event on campus it would be nice if they had chosen somewhere other than the room I like to work in to do so in. I like that room in particular because nobody uses it but me and one other PDCS student. He left shortly after I arrived, I think due to the shouting whenever there is a kill. I have moved to the lab next door but it is slightly louder and thus not as conducive to getting work done. I can also still hear them next door when it gets really loud and I think they are bothering other students as well. I guess it is a Friday and I will chalk the fact that it bothers me so much up to my lack of sleep.

current mood: grumpy

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Wednesday, November 15th, 2006
9:28 am - Protecting Oneself
I have been thinking a lot lately about people taking advantage of other people. A very good friend tells me that this is the natural tendency of people and I think she is right.

I tend to be a very nice person. I tend to give of myself quite freely. For example, I run a donation based hosting service that costs me lots of time and I loose money on every year. Some of the users on the system have donated but some of the largest bandwidth consumers have never donated. I do it to provide worthwhile services for myself and others that aren't run by some corporation and offer more freedom than a lot of those services.

I also have been thinking about it in terms of my personal relationships. One of the things that really bothers me about my current roommate situation is that I feel like he takes advantage of certain aspects of living here. It is really a question of balance. He doesn't do dishes very often and he certainly doesn't cook for me as much as I cook for him and I have never seen him take out the garbage. Cleaning the bathroom is of course out of the question.

This was also one of the major problems with my marriage I think. I often felt that our relationship was out of balance and that I was struggling to express this in ways that she could understand. It caused a lot of resentment for me. I feel I expressed this many times over but that the message did not get through and she could not do things I needed her to in order to restore the balance in our relationship. A lot of it had to do with the imbalance of making our way in the world financially (measured in effort expended not in dollars earned) but it wasn't entirely limited to that. There were many other aspects that were imbalanced and they continue to be out of sorts still. Ironically it is one of the things that she complained about with my relationships with other people and she wanted me to learn to protect myself better. Maybe I am starting to get the message.

It seems to me that it happens in a lot of my relationships so I have been thinking about it some so that I can try to change the pattern.

It may have something to do with my fierce independence. I am not fond of relying on others and so I don't often do it and so perhaps my tendency not to try to take advantage of other people leads to the imbalance I sense in some of my relationships. They expect me to take advantage of them the way they do of me to create the balance. At the same time though I don't want to become the kind of person that takes advantage of other people. I try hard not to anyway. And it seems like the people who's friendships I really appreciate go out of their way to maintain balance in the relationship.

So I have been thinking about how to protect myself. My attitude in the past has been largely to leave myself open until people demonstrate that they are not able to maintain a balanced relationship and then usually I decide to largely cut them out of my life. The time it takes me to do so is often proportional to how much I care for them but this can lead to long term suffering when it is somebody that I love taking advantage of me. I think that this may not be the best solution to the problem though because then I end up getting taken advantage of again and again just by different people. It also sometimes costs me friends that I might otherwise enjoy. It has cost me my marriage too and I think that this is motivating me to reconsider how I judge people and how long I let people who don't understand balance stay in my life.

I'm open to suggestions on the topic.

current mood: annoyed

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Wednesday, November 8th, 2006
11:16 am - Care Packages and Elections
Today chachicat and eriktheplaid made my day.

I woke up to the door bell ringing. (I was up late watching election results.) I thought to myself "Who the heck could that be? Nobody comes over at this hour." So I buzzed them in. They rang the bell again. Sometimes people miss the first one so I buzzed them in again. They rang again and then it hit me that it must be the mail man. He had a package for me!

It was big and heavy! I opened it to find the nicest assortment of foods I really like I have gotten since I came here. Nice trail bars, quick and easy indian foods, lentil soup, crunchy peanut butter with no added sugar, miso, soy nuts and tasty trail mix. Thanks guys! You really made my day. In the note they sent with the package they said they went for high protein foods to counter balance my high carb diet. Very sweet of them to be so considerate. Thanks guys. It is good to know that I am so loved.

In this years "Care Package Contest" you guys are in the lead by a wide margin! I am not sure what the prize is yet but I assure you it will be good. So for all those who haven't sent me a care package yet get yours in before the deadline and make it good! The bar has been set pretty high already, so if you hope to win the contest you need to make it extra special. *wink* (Yes this is a shameless ploy to get care packages out of the rest of you.)

So I checked the election results after opening the pacakge and snacking on a thing or two and was thrilled to see that things look great for the democrats. It looks like Virginia and Montanna will go to the Dems but possibly with recounts and legal battles before. I read some things that indicate Virginia may have to have a new election if it is too close (which it is right now) and it goes to the senate to decide that race. I can't imagine such a divided sentate managing to decide the outcome of the race. Still, I am happy to see the country swinging away from Bush. I prefer to see the government split between the two parties as I really feel that this leads to a more balanced policy but giving the Democrats some time won't be bad. Hopefully we will have some investigations into what Bush has been up to and I imagine Bush will have to start using his Veto pen, something he has yet to do with the Republicans controlling things. Anyway, I am pleased overall with the results.

Today is a good day.

current mood: chipper

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Wednesday, October 25th, 2006
1:52 pm - My favorite nation!
What is my favorite nation?

Caffeination!

I am now working for the university grading papers. I haven't really started yet, but the first assignment is due on Tuesday but I figure that counts. As such I figure I am entitled to some additional benefits. One of these is free coffee from the staff coffee machines. I have resisted using them before though other students I know have not. It turns out the department doesn't care about the extra cost but that the level above them does so I have been resisting abusing the system. Now though I feel that I am entitled.

So I have been coming to the university to work and drink free coffee. This has been very productive for me. I find that I am a much better code producing machine when I am well caffeinated, something I had forgotten. It has started to mess with my sleep schedule some and I need to be careful to stop consuming coffee earlier in the day but I am being very productive and that is a "Really Good Thing"(tm).

So here is to free coffee!

current mood: caffeinated

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Monday, October 23rd, 2006
12:20 am
I am really loving Amsterdam more and more.

Saturday I went with my friends heyorion and Guido to the Albert Cuyp market. This market is apparently open 6 days a week and I can't believe I have never been before now. Not only did the market feature several great vegetable stalls with fantastic prices on great looking vegetables but there were a ton of other vendors as well. I even found beets! There was also a fries vendor with some of the tastiest fries I have had in Amsterdam.

Most vendors seemed to have fantastic bargains on many things. I bought a lock for my bike, since the lock I was using just broke, for a mere 7.5 Euro. heyorion also showed me a stall backed by a store that had fantastic tea and spice selections. I found baking soda, baking powder, star anise, cardamom and some really nice tea. Baking soda is something I haven't found before here as the dutch don't seem to use it. It isn't the only product that I am missing though. I also saw 100 DVD+R for 30 Euro which is a screaming deal and when I run out I intend to go there to stock up again.

When we were at the fish stall heyorion offered to cook me sordfish for dinner. Later as we passed the nut stall and heyorion drolled over the pecans so I offered to make pie for desert. So when we got home I went looking for corn syrup and I could not find any. :( I tried using syrup instead but the pie really didn't set properly. It was still tasty but just not the same.

Today I went to a concert at the Musicgebrow with my friend thattallguy201. The wife of a friend was having a concert there so he got us free tickets. She plays the harp exceedingly well! It was a really nice concert. She played with a quartet of saxophone players. They played several modern pieces and several classical pieces and she played a few solo. They also played two pieces at the end with a flute and clarinet. It has been a long time since I have seen a classical music show like that and it was a nice change of pace. I really enjoyed it a lot and hope that I will get to hear her play again. She was very, very impressive.

After the concert we got to talking about living in Nederland and I mentioned my inability to get corn syrup and my friend said he has a friend who can go on the military base and goes to the PX there to get such things and that he would get me some in two weeks. So that should fix that for me. He says his friend is leaving though so I apparently need to be made friends with somebody in the military. :)

After dinner with heyorion, which was fantastic, we watched Princess Bride and I discovered that there is a long list of movies that heyorion hasn't seen that she should have so I think I may borrow a projector from school soon and have a movie night and show films that she should have seen already.

I also managed to find a fabric shop that had muslin for a Euro a yard. So I bought some to mock up the dress I am making for Viola. I am really excited about the project and can't wait to start cutting up some fabric. Maybe later this week. It has been a nice diverting weekend though and I am hoping to get back into the swing of things tomorrow and get down to some real productive working. I have lots to do.

current mood: happy

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Tuesday, October 10th, 2006
8:45 am - First Cold
I have my first cold of the season now. It seems that whenever there is fun to be had I get sick but I know it is just in my mind. I am doing my best just to cope with the symptoms and keep working but it is hard. My head is all in a fog of course.

Other than the cold things are going okay. My new battery from Apple arrived yesterday. I am thinking to abuse the old battery a bit longer before I return it to Apple since they don't have a credit card to charge
me for it anyway. The new battery holds 4580mAh which is so much more than the old battery. I get an estimate of 3:22 run time when I unplug the power cord. That just rocks! I am a little upset that I seem to have two other problems which Apple has a recall for but not for my serial numbers. I may go complain though since they should be covered even though I am out of warrenty.

I am still waiting for my Pasta maker to arrive in the mail. It was heavy so I shipped it the slow way to save money but the slow way is certainly slow. They said four to six weeks and this is week six so I am hoping that it arrives soon and that I am feeling well enough to actually use it. I am not feeling well enough to spell check so sorry for any mistakes.

current mood: sick

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Monday, October 2nd, 2006
11:09 am - IND News
Today I got a notice from the IND that I needed to pay them 52 Euro to cover teh extension of my residence permit. So I payed it and called them to make an appointment for tomorrow to go to Hoofdorp to get the stamp in my passport.

This is the last hurtle before I can apply for my work permit here. Yeah! Of course it cost me nearly 10 Euro to make the appointment because of another 900 number to talk to them! I hate the use of 900 numbers in this country. My Dutch friend pointed at that IND is one of the only branches of government that does this. He pointed out that the IND serves the only group of residents who do not vote. Is it any wonder the Dutch have a reputation for making people part with their Euro?

current mood: Annoyed

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11:00 am - Anoyances of the Dutch Life
I have just spent nearly 30 Euro on the telephone calling the Orange 900 number trying to get my DSL canceled. I tried to cancel it before I left here but they told me that my contract lasted another 3 months and that I couldn't cancel. They told me to call back in October to cancel.

So I called today and they told me they extended my contract to February 2007! I then got put on hold at my expense. What a racket. I should set up a business that has a 900 number for customer service and then just put people on hold when they call and see how long they wait before hanging up.

It is unbelievable that to do business with a company you have to pay to talk to them. This is one of the most frustrating and unfair aspects of living here in the Netherlands. Having already payed them nearly 70 Euro that I didn't want to pay I have to pay them another 30 Euro to talk to them on the phone and get them to cancel the service. I got such a runaround which is so much more frustrating at such high call prices. I can deal with getting the run around when I am not paying for the call, but to get the run around while being forced to pay for it is so frustrating I just about lost it today.

I think I will go meditate now as I really need to calm down.

current mood: Frustrated

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11:00 am - Busy
As expected I am extrememly busy this semester. Between the work that I am doing and the masters I feel like I am behind already. I need to do more work for my Independent Programing project for sure and I still have a ton of work to do for midtowngrid.com. That is coming along nicely though and I think I put a big piece in place this week that will make Julia's life much easier. Julia is the engine that drives midtowngrid in many ways handling a vast majority of the drudgery. She has been begging for a calender system for some time now because it is so much work to update based on people's email requests.

So this week I did some really good work on a calendar system for her. Not wanting to reinvent the wheel I spent a long time looking for code that would do what I wanted. I finally found a BSD licensed package that had code that wasn't complete crap. It was built with some kind of IDE and they offered you the package for editing the system with their IDE for money but the code is free.

So I hacked on it a bit to get it to do what I wanted and I am relatively satisfied with it. The code itself is a little too much work to make simple changes bceause a simple change, like adding a field to the event creation screen, touches far too many lines of code but it is well structured enough that once I figured out how it all worked it was just repetitive work. Not suprising given that they build it with an IDE.

What I was surprised at was the complete crap that I evalutated before I found this system. A vast majority of it was absolute garbage with tons of security holes and some of the most disorganized code I have ever seen. It was mind numbing looking at so many packages with crappy code. Those that had code that wasn't absolutely dreadfull were completely unsuited for the purpose I wanted to use them for. It was nice to finaly find a diamond in the rough though and made the many hours of searching worth it in the end.

There are still a few bugs to be ironed out over the next day or so and all the events in the existing calendar need to get loaded into it but we are very close to being ready to roll the site onto the calendar system which I know will make Julia very happy.

On the non-work front I am doing pretty well. I am still settling into my apartment to some degree. Today I did some work on one of one of the shelves I found to get it to fit into the space I want to put it in. I had to cut it off a bit and cut a notch in it for the conduit on the wall where I am going to mount it. I don't have a saw but I found half a hacksaw blade on the ground and used that to cut the shelf. Unfortunately it broke right before I finished the first cut. I managed to snap the shelf fairly cleanly though and make the notch with a screw driver and some force. *grin*

Now all I need to do is borrow a drill from VBU an Tuesday and mount the shelf. I may go buy a saw though as I want to put up a couple of other shelves I found that need to be cut a bit as well. I figure the saw is considerably cheaper than buying the right size shelf and shelf bracket would have been. Yeah for dumpster diving. I want to get this sorted early next week at the latest as I would like to get my place organized so it feels more like home again.

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Wednesday, September 27th, 2006
1:08 am - LVM Rocks
So this entry should be more than a little geeky. My non geek readers may just want to skip it.

Today I did a super geeky thing with LVM resizing several partitions on my work machine remotely. I started with /var and /home since I made them a little bigger than I should have. /usr is a little big too for the disk but I couldn't think of a way to resize it remotely since the tools to do the resizing are on the partition and the ssh process to get onto the machine uses several files on that partion as well. I think the only way to do that one would be to boot to a live CD so it can wait.

/home is easy of course since it can be unmounted easily. But /var is tough since so many processes use files on it. I used init to shutdown everything except ssh and network by adding sshd and network to run level 1 and then doing a telinit 1. I then had to kill the dhclient process by hand and lazy unmount /var since sunrpc uses a file in /var as a pipe and several processes remained with that open. I was then able to resize var and home and give them to the volume I wanted to make bigger. Yeah!

I am very proud of myself for figuring out how to do all this without locking myself out of the machine. Oh and LVM rocks for even being able to do it in the first place.

current mood: proud

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Wednesday, September 20th, 2006
8:13 pm - Anti-Atkins
I am poor this semester.

Very poor.

Which means that I am trying to eat cheap. In looking around the store at cheap foods I came to the conclusion that my diet this year will be the Anti-Atkins diet. All carbs, no meat. The no meat part I would be doing anyway but I do feel like I will end up eating a lot of carbs this year as they are cheap and filling.

Pasta, Chineese noodles, potatoes and home baked bread, including pizza, will probably be my stapples. These all seem to be under 1 euro a meal which is my target for a day's food expendetures. Eating out is simply out of the question and I doubt I will eat at the university at all as it is far too expensive.

I have discovered that if I drink a lot of water in the morning when I get up and then keep at it throughout the day I can wait to eat until well into the evening. I know this isn't the greatest thing for my metabolism as it would be much better to eat a lot in the morning but this hasn't worked as well as I end up very hungry at the end of the day.

I am highly adaptable though.
I am also looking for cheaper places to shop particularly for produce.

current mood: Hungry

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Sunday, September 17th, 2006
6:40 pm - Art and Pizza
Today I went up to museumplein and there was an art show on the grass. It was a long series of paintings almost continuous from the tram stop to the Reiks. It was sponsored by Windsor Paints I think to highlight their new line of paint. There were very few panels that I liked at all. Maybe a total of 3 out of the hundreds but it was an interesting show. They weren't quite done with the painting but they were taking a break when I was there, so I decided to move on though there were a number of people who were taking photos of me in my hat in front of the paintings which I found amusing.

I walked over towards the market but it wasn't running today. I stopped in Krudivart to see if they had duct tape which I need to finish the tape dress form I am making. The didn't but they did have a pizza stone with a pizza cutter and pie server for only 4 Euro. Pizza is a relatively cheep and good food so I decided that the 4 Euro was probably a good price. I worried some that the stone wouldn't fit in the oven but I just had a good feeling about it so I bought it and stashed it in my bag.

I decided to head up towards Waterlooplein to see if that market was running. It wasn't but there was a new photo installation there which was amazing. Some of the photos were so beautiful. It was a very interesting show. All the photos were taken from a helicopter and there was text accompanying them that discussed the impact of man on the environment. It was a sad thing in some ways as it reminded me of just how destructive we are as a people. It highlighted a lot of climate change warning signs as well which was sad for me and reminded me of some of the reasons I didn't want to have children. I have tried to let go of some of my fears though and realize that humans are amazingly adaptable and will adapt to the changes the world will undergo because of our influences. I try to trust in god that there is a reason for all the destruction and that it will lead to good things eventually. I know in my heart that this is true but my mind struggles with the destruction sometimes.

I then started walking towards central station and passed by a Blokker so I decided to go in. They had the tape so I got two rolls and bought some hooks to hang towels on. For whatever reason the renovation left only one towel hook in the bathroom which isn't nearly enough. I then stopped at the Albert Hein next door and bought some whole wheat flour for pizza dough and some cheap cheese.

So I made some pizza dough which came out great and made a pizza with pesto, fresh tomatoes, garlic, spinach and red bell pepper. I just pulled it out of the oven and will give it a minute to cool before eating it.

current mood: Hungry

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Friday, September 15th, 2006
2:16 pm - Battery Goodness
The battery in my powerbook is not in very good shape anymore.

According to Coconut Battery (a very handy application for you Powerbook users) it is down to a maximum charge of 1728 mAh from the original 4400 mAh that it could hold. Roughly 39% of original capacity. It claims that I have load cycled the battery 259 times but I know I have half cycled it many more times than that. This is a lot for the age of the powerbook. What can I say except I use it a lot.

I now get less than an hour of time on the battery which is kind of sucky and so I have been thinking that I will have to replace it eventually. I was contemplating asking for one for Christmas. I should try to be nicer to my battery since I am so poor and they are so expensive.

Fortunately I was poking around the Apple site today and saw that my battery has been recalled! Yeah! This means that I ordered a brand new battery from Apple today and it should come in a couple of weeks for free. This is one time where I am glad my product has been found to be defective. Nothing like a free battery after you have wore out the old one.

Thanks Apple!

current mood: happy

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1:42 pm - David Lynch vs. The Dutch Government
I went to see David Lynch speak a couple days ago on the VU campus. He mostly talked about Transcendental meditation and not so much about film. Apparently he has helped bring meditation training to 30 high schools here in the Netherlands which is kind of interesting. There was also the bald guy from "What the Bleep", who is apparently a very big physicist there, who spoke some as well about the benefits of meditation. It was a nice reminder that I need to meditate more often. They recommended 20 minutes two times a day which seems reasonable. Once in the morning and once at night. I haven't gotten to that point yet but I am trying.

Yesterday I had to deal with the Dutch Government. I am trying to get a work permit here so that I can be a teachers assistant for a class here. I am trying to get more involved with the department and teaching in particular since that is what I want to do eventually. I spoke with one of my professors about doing a PhD here and he was very encouraging and said he probably had capacity and funding. The funding is somewhere in the range of 1200 Euro a month which isn't a lot but is enough for me to live on anyway. I will try to put my name on the Dutch housing lists soon so that I can get cheap housing next year should i decide to stay which I am heavily considering.

But I digress. I went down to the Radhuis the equivalent of Town Hall to talk to the local government about getting my Residence Permit. They informed me that they couldn't give it to me anymore because it had expired. Why I have to reapply for a residence permit is beyond me but that is what I have to do. I didn't get the actual card last year because of a bureaucratic snafu where the immigration office kept sending it to the town hall who kept sending it back to them. I finally got it sorted out towards the end of last year but the card didn't make it back to town hall before I left the country. Anyway, now I have to wait for my renewal to be processed which may delay my work permit. I have told the professor that I will do the job for free if I have to which I think he appreciated. I am more interested in being involved and getting recommendations for a PhD than anything else.

So the Radhuis told me to call the IND (the immigration office) to setup an appointment to get a sticker in my passport. So I called, a 900 number which cost me almost 9 Euro, and they told me I would have to wait for my renewal to be processed before I could make an appointment. Don't get me started about how stupid it is to have to call a 900 number to talk to the government! Typical Dutch though. I think I will just go down there next time to save myself the 9 euros in phone charges. This was so annoying!

So after all the stress with the government I was reminded of David's talk and decided to meditate for 20 minutes or so and it really helped. I felt a lot better. I am going to try to add it to my day morning and night along with 20 minutes of Yoga. I am not there yet but I know that changing these sorts of things can take time. For this battle score one for David Lynch and Zero for the Dutch Government.

current mood: cheerful

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Thursday, September 7th, 2006
6:39 pm - Computers Sucking Less
The internet is working again. Casema apparently has replaced the faulty DHCP server. Service seems to be pretty fast as I have been able to pull 1000 Kbps off of a single server so far. Very nice! At some point I may try saturating it with a few torrents to see how fast it goes but not this week.

I also managed to get my Linux box booting again. I unplugged all but the main disk and tried booting again and grub output an "Error 17" message which it didn't output with the other disks connected. This indicates that it couldn't understand the file system type. So I reformatted the boot partition and reinstalled grub again and that seems to have sorted it out. I am glad to have that machine up and running again. Yeah for that. I am still not positive what was causing Grub to crap out but I am glad that it is working again.

So the only thing left is sorting out how I am going to do backups with so much lost disk space.

current mood: happy

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Tuesday, September 5th, 2006
2:01 pm - Computer Suckage
Today my laptop started having a strange problem. It wouldn't wake up from sleep. So I powered it off and back on again and it beeped at me three times and then the sleep light came on and then blinked three times. A friend looked up the symptoms on google and they said this is the sign that you need to reseat the memory. So I did which fixed it.

It happened again though when I got home. I reseated it and it turned on. Then when I turned it off and put the cover back on it did the same thing when I turned it on again. So I switched the memory to the other slot and it seems to be sorted for the moment but I am a little upset that the other slot seems to have a problem. I have wanted to put in more memory (with what money I don't know) but now I am not sure if I will be able to and keep things working well. Ah well. I suppose it doesn't matter right now.

On the internet front things are a little sucky as well. I am using the new Internet that is mandatory with the rent now. They bumped the rent up some 35 Euro this year which I would be fine with if the internet worked properly. Casema, the company that runs it, does not have their act together though! So I am being forced to pay for service that doesn't work. Apparently their DHCP server crashed and the backup server can't handle the load and keeps crashing. The connection has been up and down like a pogo stick. It is presently down as I am unable to pull a lease. I asked if I could have a static IP and they said no but that I could put the data in from the lease I had manually. I told them that was a lousy solution since it was highly likely to lead to an address collision in the future. I tried it though and it doesn't work. I can't ping the next hop anyway which makes me think that router is down or something more severe is going on.

Reliable they are not. Casema sucks and did a lousy job of managing the roll out of service. I have heard nothing good about them so far from anybody that has been using the service. I am not thrilled to be getting internet from them but since I am forced to pay for it I am not sure that I can justify the expense of having DSL as well. Still, I may consider keeping my DSL going if I they keep having problems as I need a reliable connection to be able to do my work. Unfortunately I can't seem to get the DSL to trun on properly either. It seems to train properly but then it sstarts flashing all the lights. I am not sure what is going on with it.

I also discovered today that I have lost another two disks. That makes a total of 3 disks this month and a loss of 320 gigs of storage space. Fortunately this time the disks lost only contain backup data but I am now in a bit of a crisis stage as I don't have disks to make backups onto now and so there is a lot of data that I now only have one copy of. I think I will have to replace at least one of these disks which I really can't afford to do. I will manage somehow though.

Finally I am having trouble getting my Linux box to boot. I can boot it to a liveCD and I have fscked the disks and they all checked out fine. I have tried reinstalling grub but still no luck. It hangs saying "GRUB loading, please wait..." and I can not figure out why. This is most frustrating as I would like to backup some data I don't have backed up due to the drive failures to this machine but I can't get it to come up properly.

All in all there is a lot of computer suckage in my world right now.

current mood: Annoyed

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9:26 am - Arrived Safely
I have arrived safely in Amsterdam. I spent most of the day yesterday unpacking my things. I got a lot done but still have a bit to do. I have my first class today which should be nice. It feels great to be back here and I am trying to settle in as quickly as possible. I have a lot to do though.

The room renovation is nice though there are some things they did that I am not thrilled with. They took the curtain tracks off the ceiling which will cost me to put back. With sharing my room I think it is important though. The new cabinets do are too shallow to hold my bake oven so I am not sure where I am going to keep that now. They also took a shelf off the wall I had hoped they would leave as I used it for all my books. The new furniture is nice though and the new floor is nice and they painted. I don't seem to have gotten a hood for the stove though and I am going to ask for that since there is space on top of the ones in the other rooms that would make a great space for the oven.

The only real problem I have had is that my Linux box doesn't seem to want to boot. The drives are recognized in the bios but it hangs loading the boot loader. I have booted to the LiveCD but some of the keys on the keyboard don't seem to be working and so the commands I would like to type I can not type all the letters of. I am hoping to get one out of the trash shortly so that I can investigate the condition of the drives and get it back online. I am not too worried though. I also seem to have not packed the USB receiver for my remote somehow. I am a little bummed about this as I use it as the snooze bar for the alarm on my computer. If Tamara doesn't find it I may ask for another for christmas or something as I miss it already.

Anyway, I am going to try to post more often here this year to keep you all updated on how things are going over here.

current mood: sore

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Monday, September 4th, 2006
4:05 am - On the way to Amsterdam
I am finally on my way back to Amsterdam. A friend pointed out I haven't blogged in a long time yesterday and I have nothing but time right now so I thought I would give an update. I haven't really wanted to since a lot of what I have to say is challenging to me and largely very private matters but here goes nothing.

I am on the plane now and it is going surprisingly well. I got a seat on this leg, from Houston to the Dam, that has an empower jack and so I am able to use my laptop for as long as I like which is really nice. I bought the cable for it when I bought my laptop but this is the first time I have had a seat that I can use it in. I wasn't sure a month ago I was going to make it back to Amsterdam at all so it is a relief to be sitting here and extra nice to have my laptop for more than just a couple hours. It doesn't charge the battery at all but it maintains the present charge.

This summer vacation has been the hardest summer that I can remember and perhaps the hardest period of my life so far though I can think of times where I have felt worse emotionally. Perhaps what I really mean is most challenging. I really am proud of myself for dealing with it with as even an emotional keel as I have. I feel that I learned a lot over the last year about how to manage myself and my emotional state and am proud of myself. I feel I have navigated some of the roughest waters I have ever really faced with grace and dignity. I am proud of myself even if nobody else is. I came back to the states with lots of hope and excitement. I was very much looking forward to reconnecting with my wife and enjoying some time together, going to Burning Man, selling my house and getting a lot of work done. I managed to do only one of those three and even that I feel I didn't do nearly as well as I had hoped to.

Unfortunately the house didn't sell. That means I now have a cash flow problem and little reserves to manage it with but I am hoping to fix it with a refinance on the property in a month or two. I found a woman who signed a lease option contract on the place which will help with the cash flow. It is a two year contract but she is free to exercise her option any time before the two years is up. I am hoping she will do so but I doubt it. If not I really hope that the refinance will fix the cash flow on the property for me.

I didn't go to Burning Man which I am sad about. This is for the best though as I really didn't have time to and still take care of all the other things I needed to do. I got a ton of things done but I am sad to have missed Burning Man as I made a concerted effort at the end of last year to even make it possible. I had to give it up though as I felt that I had to act responsibly. Right now the temple is burning. The man is burned. I got to see none of it. Tamara is there though and I am sure she is having a great time.

I had hoped that Tamara and I would have a great time together at Burning Man. Instead she went without me. This should be a sign for you of where things stand with her though doesn't give the full picture. Instead of staying home and helping me get the house ready for the renters she choose to go play at burning man. I spent the week sleeping little and working a lot on the house. I am very sore and quite tired but it is as ready as I could make it in the time alloted and with little help. Tamara still has a lot of work to do to move out and I am not confident that she will manage it by the 14th when she is supposed to be out but it is out of my hands now. Tamara had agreed to move out by the first and the renter would have signed for the first if I could have had the property ready. She choose to go to burning man instead costing $1000 in lost rent. If she misses the deadline I will have to prorate for the missed days. I am not happy with her for these decisions and pray that she doesn't cost me still more money.

We really didn't reconnect very well. I realized many things over the course of my year away from her including some things that I want for my life. I also idealized her to no small degree while I was gone and found it very challenging to be with the reality when I got back. I realize now that she did an exceedingly poor job at the long distance relationship thing. She is too much of a focus only on what is in front of her person for it really to work. She said a year ago she would come this year but that is certainly not happening. When she came in December she started making noises like she wasn't going to come. It is a shame as it is a huge missed opportunity for her. She always said that she wanted to travel and moving to Amsterdam could have been a great platform from which to travel Europe.

I feel and she agrees, that she has stagnated under my protection. Instead of taking our partnership as a platform from which to achieve greater things she used it as a platform for slackitude and stagnation. This is understandable but disappointing. I have encouraged her for many years to do more and be more but she has failed to rise to the challenge. I have complained that she did not provide enough for our family for a long time now and had hoped that she would rise to the challenge presented by my not working last year but she did not do that. I now feel that she will only do what she feels she has to do to get by. I try to do more to get ahead and I am uncomfortable being put in a position to force her to do things. It just isn't in my nature. I have encouraged and goaded and cajoled her for too long and my ability to deal with that life is over.

We are getting divorced.

I am not sure when we will file. I did not have time to do so now as I had so much to do with work and the house. Tamara has said that she doesn't want to wait until I come back. I am not sure that she will really get it together enough to file on her own but I may try to help her as I would like it to be over and done with as well.

Some friends I have told have been sad for me. Part of me can understand this reaction but to me in many ways it isn't a sad thing. It is more a turning of a page. I am sure I am going to think a lot about the past for awhile but I am also thinking a lot about the future. It seems more wide open to me than it has in a very long time and I am excited for that. I feel like it is a new world for me and that a great burden has been lifted from my shoulders. I will soon be unburdened with the weight of Tamara and will be free to build my own future. I am filled with hope in so many ways.

So about the only thing I really got done that was on my list when I left Amsterdam was work for midtowngrid. That has gone very well and I am pleased with the progress so far though I wanted to be further along now. I think they are happy with my work and the value I have added to the company though and so I think it has been good for everybody involved.

I also feel like god has been testing me, particularly this last week, and that I have risen to the challenge as well as I possibly could. I feel like getting back to Amsterdam and the smooth ride, and the power port in my seat and so many other things that I see right now is my reward for meeting that challenge head on and doing an amazingly good job of sorting it out. I managed to do so much in such a short amount of time and deal with so much emotional crap in a short amount of time. I did very well at allowing myself my emotions without letting it effect my actions very much and that is a big shift for me. Despite the inordinate amount of stress that I have been under I am surprisingly happy over all. I really feel like I have turned a corner. This last week was amazingly stressful due to packing up the house, fixing as many things as I can on it making arrangements for the utilities and all and dealing with the dog.

I took Janis, my dog, to the Vet this week to get her shots and have a checkup. She was diagnosed with Heartworm. This crushed me as it is wholly preventable and possibly fatal. While I was gone Tamara made the decision to make Janis an outside only dog. She developed a "rash" on her butt according to Tamara. (I am fairly certain that this was due to fleas.) I asked Tamara to take Janis to the vet but she did not. If she had she might have been diagnosed earlier or even put back on the preventative she was supposed to be on. She was on heartworm and flea preventative when I left. Tamara was supposed to go get more when it ran out. She failed to do any of those things. I was crushed by the news as untreated it is almost certainly fatal.

I had her treated at great expense in order to save her life. She has some permanent heart damage from the worms. The treatment involves injections of an arsenic analog. The technician who watched her after the injections tells me that she was in quite a bit of pain from the treatment. There was a chance the treatment itself could kill her though she made it through okay. There is still a chance that she could have an embolism and die. That is the biggest threat to her now. She will have to be activity restricted for a month or more to lower the risk. So no running, no playing. She will have to have another shot in 3 or 4 weeks. I bought her a crate for her to live in for the next month. She was supposed to stay with Tamara at her new place living with Mark and Amber but in light of her negligent care I didn't feel I could let that happen. I had to scramble to find a new home for her. I am very pleased with where she is staying now as I know they will take great care of her and love her a lot though it is a big imposition on them of course. She is really a great dog though and I think they realized that when I brought her over.

I owe a giant debt of gratitude to my mother and many other debts as well. Without her I would not have made it through the summer and would not be going back to Amsterdam. She has come through with so much support for me that it brings tears to my eyes. I know this is what parents are supposed to do but it really means a lot to me. Her family is not as outwardly affectionate in some ways that I would wish her to be and so sometimes I have a hard time remembering how much she loves me. But this summer she has shown it in such huge ways that it fills me up to overflowing and it leaks out my eyes. My mom has offered to come and get Janis in a month or so. I am not sure that this will be required as the people she is staying with were already making noises about not wanting to give her up but it is a very generous offer and is more than I could have possibly asked for. Only time will tell.

I also owe a special debt of gratitude to Scott and Julia of midtowngrid. They have provided me with a job over the summer that was critical in my being able to make the mortgage and are allowing me to continue working from Amsterdam making it possible for me to finance the second half of my masters. They have done a lot more for me too that I don't want to reveal here just yet but I owe them a great deal. I can not imagine my life without them at this point. I hope to live up to the trust they have placed in me. I know they will return the favor.

Finally I feel I owe a debt to god for helping me to get back to Amsterdam and showing me exactly what I can do when I set my mind to it. So thanks god for all that you do for me. You have shown me so much of my potential in this last year and I hope to grow into that potential more than ever.

current mood: excited

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Monday, August 21st, 2006
4:04 am - Drive Death
So tonight I went to get some data off of one of my external hard drives and it spins up but then it just clicks over and over again. This is to bad as I have data on there that I don't have backed up. Ah well.

I know I should keep backups of all data but I just have too much data to really do that so I don't back up some things. The thing I was looking for tonight was just such a thing. Alas.

I am sad for the loss and am going to try to recover it by freezing the drive but I am not hopeful. If that doesn't work I may try wacking it on the side with a rubber malet as a last resort. I am too poor to send it to a data recovery shop. It may still be under warrenty but I am sure the reciept for it is in a filing cabinet that is locked and Tamara lost the key to. I may drill the lock soon.

Oh well.

current mood: Despondent

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Monday, July 31st, 2006
3:06 am - Water Heater Blues
So yesterday I crawled under the house to deal with a few plumbing issues and I discovered a new issue. The water heater was leaking. So I called our agent and asked if she had anybody she worked with on these kinds of issues since I had been less than impressed with the people I had brought out before and seeing that it was a Saturday figured I would get reamed on the price to try to get it fixed quickly.

Then I remembered that the guy across the street had said he had a plumber buddy the last time I had a plumber out here. So I went over there and asked him and gave that guy a call as well. Not surprisingly I have gotten no call back from the plumbers our agent recommended but I got a call back from this other guy after just a couple of hours. He said 7am today worked for him and that he charges a flat $200 to do the job plus the cost of the water heater which would run about $300. I figured that the $200 was a reasonable price particularly given that he was coming on a Sunday and hauled off the old water heater.

While waiting for a call back I hooked up the hose to the water heater, shut off the valves and drained it so it wouldn't leak any more onto the house. It is too bad that it died but the sticker on it says it was installed in 1992 so I guess it is old enough.

So today he came by at 7:30am which was nice and early for me but I got up he took a look and went off to get a water heater. He came back about 2 hours later and did the install which was a bit of a pain. The old water heater was pretty wide. So wide that when they did the install they removed the door jam to get it in. So he had to remove the jams again to get it out. Even then it was a little tight so he hammered one side of it in to get it out without scuffing up the new paint. I think he did a good job with the install though and was a super nice guy.

He then fixed the other issues I had with the plumbing for $50 plus parts which came to about $16. Considering that it took him at least an hour to get it all fixed I think I got a a good deal. All in all it worked out good but it was money I didn't want to be spending right now. I guess it is a selling point though. I have put a sticky on the water heater indicating that it is new so anybody that is looking at the house will note that and future owners will have an idea of when it was installed.

Ah the joys of home ownership!

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