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Fairly Symmetrical [Site] [XML]
Description: The life and times of a .Net geek in Austin, TX, USA. Topics range from media, philosophy, and politics to science, technology, programming, and on to truly random stuff.
Last Update: 21:19:19 03/05/2006

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First Fetched: 00:16:33 01/31/2004
Last Updated: 21:19:19 03/05/2006


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Returning to the Real World
Editor’s note: I’ve been “working” on this post since Saturday, so in the interest of expediency I’m just going to post it. I promise more details um… “soon”. Really. Promise. :-P So after two weeks of vacation (and nobody even threatened to fire me!) and two weeks of houseguests before that, life is finally returning to “normal”, assuming I even remember what that is. :) First, my brother Ryan and his girlfriend Katie were here for a week. It’s nice to be getting along with Ryan again; there for a few years I worried a bit. We had a lot of fun hanging out with them. After four weeks, I can’t remember specifically what we did, though I do know it included a trip to the Alamo. :) After that, Simon and Fiona were here for two weeks. I took the second week of that off, and had an incredible amount of fun. We had a great time at Six Flags (skip the Rattler) and tubing down the Guadalupe River (margaritas in plastic bottles are definitely the way to go), plus the pub quizzes, not to ...
22:07:04 August 22, 2005, Monday (PDT) Source: Fairly Symmetrical
Perfect Day
Okay, maybe not perfect, but yesterday was a good day. It started out kind of slow, with a visit from the mold exterminators, who were very nice. They liked our animals, which is generally a pretty reliable litmus test. :) After that I went and got a long overdue haircut at my favorite salon (yay for pre-cut scalp massages), then Jen and I visited our new favorite liquor store, the Grapevine Market. It was Tequila Day, so there were four or so little sample stands set up with different kinds of tequila. Each station had a mixing/shooting tequila and two sipping tequilas, and would happily feed you samples, either in a margarita or straight up. Not a bad way to spend an hour or two (especially since their lunch menu looks yummy), and we came home with four new wines to try. Jenny’s stated goal is to have a completely full wine rack (a feat never before attempted, let alone achieved) before our friends descend upon us this summer. :) After that we took a nap. A lovely, relaxing, nap. ...
10:18:28 July 3, 2005, Sunday (PDT) Source: Fairly Symmetrical
Fifteen thousand, four hundred and sixty-FOUR, baby!
Just a quick update to announce that I passed SolArch this afternoon, which means I am now a Microsoft.Net Microsoft Certified Solution Developer (MCSD). (Kind of a cumbersome title, you think?) Incidentally, the number sure has gone up from when I checked it last month…
13:47:18 June 22, 2005, Wednesday (PDT) Source: Fairly Symmetrical
Some kind of update
Okay, since my adoring fans are clamoring for an update, here’s a sorta kinda stream of consciousness covering whatever I remember of the last month (while the cat does a square dance on my lap), in rough reverse chronological order. Today I passed the Microsoft Developing Web Applications with C# certification test, leaving me one test (Solution Architecture) shy of my full MCSD. There are fewer than 13,000 MCSD’s worldwide, although I confess that I’m still not quite as cool as the 9-year old Pakistani girl who became the youngest ever Microsoft Certified Professional. :-P At work I’ve been getting comfortable with Virtual PC. Right now on my computer at work I have three virtual computers running: Windows 2000 (US), Windows XP (England), and Windows XP (French). This is the awesomest thing ever, especially if you are responsible for making sure your company’s software works on international versions of Windows—which, coincidentally, I am. Seeing the familiar Windows UI in French ...
21:44:21 May 25, 2005, Wednesday (PDT) Source: Fairly Symmetrical
Don't Panic
Yesterday Jen and I and several of Jen’s compatriots from UT went to see Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy at the Alamo Drafthouse. It was one of those movies where you enjoy it while you’re watching, but the minute you get out and start actually thinking about it, it becomes a disappointment (at least for me). There were huge subplots that never got resolved and seemed entirely pointless, whole facets of characters (e.g. Trillian) that got removed for no apparent reason, and a lot of slapstick humor that really missed the point of DA’s writing (ironic, since DA helped write the screenplay). I didn’t mind that some of the jokes were removed, but I definitely minded that some of the jokes were bizarrely truncated. Either do it or don’t, but don’t tease me. Some of the movie was really good (Allen Rickman was genius as Marvin, and the Magrathean planet factory was brilliantly beautiful), and the rest of it was fine for a light afternoon movie. I did like the cameo by the original ...
09:06:21 May 1, 2005, Sunday (PDT) Source: Fairly Symmetrical
The South Park Character Creator
Create your own South Park character.
16:50:05 April 21, 2005, Thursday (PDT) Source: Fairly Symmetrical
Photos of the new bedroom that ate my life...
So as promised, here are a couple of pics of the new bedroom, a.k.a. “What Eric has been doing for the last two weeks”. As you can see, the walls are very blue. We put in glossy stripes to kind of call to mind sateen sheets. It looks very swank, I think—Jen’s taste in decorating is as refined as her taste in life partners. ;) Incidentally, the chair is as popular as I thought it would be—Charlie especially likes to sleep in it. With luck I can get a shot of him in it, it’s so huge it makes him look like a puppy again. This shot is from the door, and shows off the new curtains. The picture really doesn’t do them justice; they actually are mostly blue, with a golden sheen to them that you can only see at an angle, which works out really well. The floor is the same as we put in the office and guest room, so NO MORE CARPET for us. Yay! On the downside, in the morning it sounds like the dogs are tap dancing, which is even more impossible to sleep through than their previous morning ...
18:42:54 April 4, 2005, Monday (PDT) Source: Fairly Symmetrical
Power Bars: Tri-O-Plex
One more Power Bar Review… Name: Tri-O-Plex Flavor: Cookie Dough Chocolate Chip Calories: 420 Weight: 118g (4.2oz) Effectiveness: 3.55 cal/g (100 cal/oz) Overall: 9 I am a cookie dough slave. When I make chocolate chip cookies, I generally get a yield of 1/2 whatever the recipe says, and not because I make big cookies. I have, in my misspent youth, made entire batches of cookies and never once turned on the stove. That’s how much I love cookie dough. So you understand where I’m coming from when I say that this bar misses greatness by the slimmest of margins. I’m sure it has to do with the requirements at hand, namely that a power bar be able to sit in an unrefrigerated cupboard, survive nuclear holocaust, lie undisturbed for the entirety of the following Dark Age or Ages, and still be fully consumable*. Also that it be at least slightly more healthy than just eating those refrigerated tubes of cookie dough at the supermarket. Whatever the cause, though, this is definitely a POWER ...
18:29:00 April 4, 2005, Monday (PDT) Source: Fairly Symmetrical
Power Bars: Myoplex Storm
Yet another Power Bar Review… Name: Myoplex Storm Flavor: Chocolate Peanut Caramel Weight: 80g (2.72oz) Calories: 340 Overall: 5 I’m sensing a trend here. Peanut Butter Rage*, Myoplex Storm… it’s almost like they’re marketing some kind of associated image with these bars, like they want people to think of them in a certain light… huh. I wonder why? This candy bar really wants to be a Snickers. Chocolate, Peanuts, Caramel. It sounds like a match made in heaven. Unfortunately the caramel really lets the other elements down here. I mean, it’s caramel. You melt some sugar, how hard is that? You can caramelize onions, you can caramelize créme brulee, you can caramelize just about anything. I’ve done it myself, it’s not hard. And yet. The caramel in this bar, I don’t know. It’s like they caramelized sandpaper or something. Concrete mix, maybe. I might recommend the caramel in this thing to my dentist as a tooth polishing compound, except you’d end up with no enamel whatsoever. Other than ...
18:24:54 April 4, 2005, Monday (PDT) Source: Fairly Symmetrical
Guest Review
Hi all, this is Jenny. I had a 4 hour rehearsal Saturday over lunch, and as I was meeting with Stephen, our trainer, following it, I snagged a bar. Name: Clif Bar Flavor: Crunchy Peanut Butter Weight: 68 grams Calories: 250 cal Effectiveness: 3.67 cal/gram Overall: 6 First off, the first word in the title is an absolute lie. There was nothing crunchy about this bar at all. But, come to think of it, there is not much crunchy about crunchy peanut butter. It does not actually crunch. It just has larger peanut chunks in it than creamy. That could be true for this bar as well. I like things that crunch, however. And the misnomer was disappointing. Basically, this bar tasted like a soggy Nature Valley Peanut Butter granola bar pack- a lot of peanut butter, some oaty looking things. It was very dry. It needed jelly. It wasn’t chalky, one of Eric’s frequent complaints, but it did make me need water very badly. I purposefully selected one of the lower calorie bars from his stash, as I’m not ...
20:14:03 March 28, 2005, Monday (PST) Source: Fairly Symmetrical
Power Bars: Promax
Next in my series of Power Bar Reviews… Name: Promax Flavor: Black Forest Cake (with real cherries!) Weight: 75g (2.64oz) Calories: 290 Effectiveness: 3.86 cal/g (109.85 cal/oz) Overall: 6 First thoughts: Well, the promax definitely has a hint of the same gritty/chalky texture as the other power bars I’ve had so far, but really only a hint (or maybe I’m getting used to it… heaven forfend). The packaging claims there are real cherries in there, and I actually believe it. There appear to be actual chunks of actual cherries embedded in the bar. That’s a plus, since the biggest problems with power bars (in my rapidly-less-uninformed opinion) is that they’re dry as a bone, and the cherries help with that. The bar does have both chocolate and cherry flavors, but I don’t know if I’d actually grant the full “Black Forest” moniker. “Dark Grey Copse” maybe. Still, not a bad effort, and thus far my favorite bar. They have several more flavors so I might give those a try when the current ...
14:43:15 March 25, 2005, Friday (PST) Source: Fairly Symmetrical
Power Bars: Peanut Butter Rage
First in my series of Power Bar Reviews… Name: Peanut Butter Rage Flavor: Chocolate Fudge Weight: 110g (3.9oz) Calories: 450 Effectiveness: 4.1 cal/g (115 cal/oz) Overall rating: 3 First of all, how can you not laugh yourself silly at the name? Peanut Butter Rage? What, like a jar of Jif got really angry and … made a power bar? It just doesn’t make any sense! This is a “chocolate” (we’ll get to that in a moment) protein bar wrapped in “Peanut butter”. The peanut butter is approximately the same consistency and quality as the generic peanut butter crackers you can buy out of any vending machine, and is really quite inoffensive. The chocolate bar, on the other hand, is a dense lump of extremely dry, untasty protein-stuff. Each bite must be chewed for at least 30 seconds before even attempting to swallow it, or else you risk serious esophagal damage (or worse, the fear that the lump you just swallowed will prove indigestible and will just sit there in malevolent lumpiness until you ...
20:18:34 March 24, 2005, Thursday (PST) Source: Fairly Symmetrical
Power Bars Ahoy
For those of you who don’t know (which is probably everyone), the personal trainer Jen and I consulted with has told me I need to add calories to my day (this will not come as a shock to anyone who knows me) and add about 12 pounds. To this end I have been advised to eat breakfast as well as some sort of mid-day (and mid-evening, if I can manage it) snack. Jenny has taken to this idea with great relish. We have had several shopping excursions where we go down the entire power bar aisle looking for the bars with the most calories. We then pile varieties of these bars into a shopping cart, and I go home and eat 1-2 a day in addition to breakfast, lunch, dinner, and an apple. Since I have to eat these (so far mostly) godawful power bars, I figure someone might as well get some entertainment (or would that be infotainment?) from my experiences, so I’ll be reviewing each bar as I try them. All scores are on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being “Oh my god I can’t believe I put that in my mouth” ...
14:26:52 March 24, 2005, Thursday (PST) Source: Fairly Symmetrical
Angry Bed Positions
19:30:40 March 23, 2005, Wednesday (PST) Source: Fairly Symmetrical
My dogs are barkin'
I have no idea where that phrase comes from, but it makes me giggle, so I’ve been using it lately. Also variations on it: my wolves are howlin’, my cats are meowin’, my guinea pigs are whistlin’. :) So I’m easily amused. :) For those of you who don’t know, I started a new job Tuesday, working for a company that does association (membership management, fundraising, etc) software that’s used by non-profits and other associations. It’s a larger company than my last job (if still several orders of magnitude smaller than Boeing), so more structured and better benefits. And no travel. On the down side, I’m back in VB6 land for the moment (ack), but at some point I should get to live in C# world again. I hope. <overdramatic>Every time I load the VB6 IDE I die a little inside.</overdramatic> At least I found an add-in that enables mousewheel support in the VB6 IDE… that was a serious failing. :) Jenny and I joined a gym this weekend. It was exhausting, but good. In home news, we finished ...
20:22:02 March 6, 2005, Sunday (PST) Source: Fairly Symmetrical
I love the smell of sawdust in the evening...
…it smells like… victory. ;) So Saturday we ripped all the carpet out of the office and bought enough new laminate flooring to replace all the carpet left in the house. Unfortunately the laminate needs to acclimatize to its new environment (you know, sniff around, set up its den, mark the perimeter… oh wait) for 48 hours before installation, which meant that the office was empty all weekend but for stacks of laminate—which meant that the front hall was full of office furniture, and the living room was full of stacks of books. (We have a lot of books. It doesn’t seem like nearly so many when they’re on the shelves, but we could build fairly substantial forts out of these stacks of books, and still have paperbacks left over for ammunition…) So last night while Jen was at a New Works (er, sorry, The University Co-op Presents the Cohen New Works Festival) meeting, I spent 3 hours putting the new floor down in the office. I think I’ve gotten the hang of this flooring, since that was all ...
06:31:36 February 22, 2005, Tuesday (PST) Source: Fairly Symmetrical
Best Valentine's Day Ever
So yesterday was, of course, Valentine’s Day. This year Jen and I went to a place here in town called Zoot—one of those places where the servings are small and they have a designated waiter just to bring you pieces of bread. ;) We had a lot to celebrate this year; I hadn’t planned it that way, but yesterday I got the last of 3 and a half* job offers, and it was a doozy. So I’m changing jobs, to one with no travel, no long hours, more time off, and a much better salary. I’m really excited to start working with these guys; my interview was great, I really felt like I would fit in well there. They seem like a company that puts a lot of emphasis on treating their employees well; they told me that pretty much everyone they hire is either there for a very long time, or gone almost immediately because they hold their employees to very high standards. I’m not afraid of high standards as long as I’m taken care of. :) So Jenny put on this very nice new dress, in which she looked totally hot, ...
08:00:36 February 15, 2005, Tuesday (PST) Source: Fairly Symmetrical
"iTunes" Quiz
Jen wants me to do this iTunes quiz. The only problem is I don't use iTunes. ;) So here's my Windows Media Player quiz... How many total songs? Home: 2406 items; Est. Time 160h, 12m, 17s; 12.44GB Work Laptop: 705 items; Est. Time 46h, 57m, 58s; 3.30 GB Sort by Song Title - first and last songs? First (Home): --- by John Mayer. I have no idea what song that is. First song I can actually identify is "01 Breathe (2AM)" by Anna Nalick, which for some reason keeps reverting to the filename even though I've set the title manually like 6 times now. I hate technology. Last (Home): Yo-Yo, Mandy Moore. 3 different copies of it actually. I think I need to clean out the collection. :) First (Work): 3AM, Matchbox 20 Last (Work): You're So True, Joseph Arthur Sort by Time - first and last songs? First (Home): Welcome, The Offspring, at a whopping 9 seconds. Last (Home): Live in DC, Chris Rock, at 55 minutes. First (Work): Theme from Flood, They Might Be Giants: 27 seconds. Last (Work): The Lady ...
20:35:17 February 9, 2005, Wednesday (PST) Source: Fairly Symmetrical
Holy wow - gmail invites
So I glanced at my gmail account today (which I pretty much only use for mailing lists) and I have 50 gmail invites to give away. If there’s anyone who doesn’t have a gmail account yet, and wants one, let me know. :)
12:23:00 February 4, 2005, Friday (PST) Source: Fairly Symmetrical
I'm not dead yet...
So much as work has tried to kill me lately, I’m still ticking over. I’ve spent every other week since mid-December in Phoenix, worked a couple of weekends, a couple of 70+ hour weeks, and one marathon company strategy meeting. I need a cigarette, or at least a week off. Neither will be forthcoming, of course. On the plus side, January marked the first deployment of our next-gen software, the software that’s spent the last year gestating in my head and which I’ve spent the last 4 months actually building. Not to come off as totally arrogant, but the software is probably the best I’ve worked on, and certainly the best I’ve written. As much pain as the last year has cost me, I feel like I’ve learned an incredible amount, and really started to get good at this software architect stuff. Along those lines, I am now officially 60% finished with my MCSD—and officially certified as a Microsoft Certified Application Developer—having passed the SQL Server test earlier today. Only Web ...
20:20:45 February 2, 2005, Wednesday (PST) Source: Fairly Symmetrical
Shockingly, shockingly late
Okay, so this entry is only about 4 days late. But a very happy, belated birthday to my inordinately loving, beautiful, and incredibly wonderful wife. Who is a year older than she thought she was. ;) I love you dearest.
12:12:06 January 17, 2005, Monday (PST) Source: Fairly Symmetrical
Home again... briefly.
So yes, we’re back in Austin again. Of course, I’m popping out to Phoenix later this week, and working the weekend, but it’s all good because it means I get Jen’s birthday as comp time. I have the ROTK EE. And it is good. :) The drive up to Louisville was seriously the least fun drive I’ve ever had in my life. Things were going great, a little rain, but I was bopping through Arkansas with the radio going when the temperature dipped below freezing. The road froze pretty much immediately, and then the rain turned to snow, and we had hard packed snow on top of ice on the roads. And then we had a shitload of cars in the ditch, the median, and occasionally the trees. It was a very convincing argument against buying an SUV, I’ll tell you that much—all the cars I saw off the road were upright, but none of the SUVs were still on all four wheels. It took me 4 hours to go 90 miles just west of Memphis, that’s how bad it got. The best part is that there wasn’t a single snowplow or salt truck ...
21:54:19 January 3, 2005, Monday (PST) Source: Fairly Symmetrical
This will be my last communication...
(Last, that is, until the new year. ;) Two more days until I pack up two dogs, a cat, and a guinea pig and drive 18 hours to Louisville. (I swear, every time I say that I think I must be in some Muppet movie—I’m half tempted to try to rent an old Studebaker for the trip…) I’m excited, though; I haven’t seen Jen in weeks and weeks, and Christmas is always an exciting time in the old haunts. Work has been very crazy lately. The client on one of our houses decided it would be a fabulous idea to have his house done in time for him to have a New Year’s party in the place. Now, I can totally understand where they’re coming from—a New Year’s party is a great chance to show off what I understand (not having seen the house yet) are some pretty sweet digs. But you have to wonder, when he decided that, did he even consider what that would mean for the people actually making that happen? Did he think about people working 12 hour days a week before Christmas? If he did, would he have cared? ...
18:32:34 December 19, 2004, Sunday (PST) Source: Fairly Symmetrical
Good... or bad?
Ha. I got drunk dialed by my own wife last night. I guess I’ll go with that’s a good thing. ;)
18:56:06 December 11, 2004, Saturday (PST) Source: Fairly Symmetrical
Lego Star Wars? I'm there.
In the immortal words of Eric Cartmann, kick ass! And it even features cooperative play… Yes, I promise a real update soon.
17:02:36 December 7, 2004, Tuesday (PST) Source: Fairly Symmetrical
Untitled Update, or, Eric is Lazy
So yes, my birthday was Wednesday. Thank you, thank you, I have survived another year. Shocking, innit? ;) But then, Jenny and I saw a play in which the point was made that people act as if you get older all at once, on your birthday, as if something changes, when really it’s gradual, infinitesimal, unnoticeable in real life. Birthdays are strange in that they’re at once a tiny step — a rollover of the clock from 11:59 to 12:00 — and a quantum leap — underage to adult, minor to legal drinker, twentysomething to thirtysomething, normal working adult to “eligible for retirement” oldster. Anyway, that’s the pithy thought for the week: when exactly do those things “change”? As for the event itself, it was even more low-key than the time I invited 30 people and 3 showed up. I worked from 6:15am to about 5pm, went home and made dinner, and then Jen and I went to UT to do callbacks for her show. I spent 3 hours sitting in a college desk in the hall taking photos of prospective castees and ...
21:09:54 November 21, 2004, Sunday (PST) Source: Fairly Symmetrical
Honey, where's my super suit?
Jen and I stole a little free time last night and went to see The Incredibles. It wasn’t, perhaps, the most original storyline ever—there are, it seems, a finite number of superhero story arcs in this world—but it was very well executed. All the things we’ve come to expect from Pixar: Great animation, witty dialogue, a very well-spent two hours. I’d say this one was even worth the non-matinee price. The trailer for Cars, though, isn’t very illuminating. Oh, it shows off some fantastic animation (some of the shots are very hard to tell from live video), and again the characters are very clear even in a 2-minute trailer. But what the heck is the plot? If I had to guess I’d say it’s set in the south and there’s something in there about car racing, but that by itself isn’t necessarily enough to make me really want to see it. And yes, they played the Episode 3 teaser. I might go see this one if they keep the amount of stupid dialogue under 10 minutes total; that’s really all there is to ...
08:34:52 November 7, 2004, Sunday (PST) Source: Fairly Symmetrical
My Civic Duty
I voted early today; stood in line for half an hour at a Home Depot surrounded by tawdry plastic Christmas decorations, but then what could possibly be more American than that? :) It’s funny, two years ago I felt much more political than I do now. Partially I think it might be fatigue, or media overload; I’m just tired of the whole farce, get it over with and move on to November 3 so we can all get on with the massive legal suits over an election that didn’t turn out the way somebody wanted move on to whatever’s next. Partially it’s the not-entirely-faint feeling of disgusted uselessness the whole thing has this time around. I honestly don’t like any of the candidates, on top of which I live in one of the states least likely to be considered any kind of an “undecided” state. But mostly it’s the feeling of exhaustion one gets when looking at the ballot. It’s a strange combination of too many spots and not enough candidates—too many spots in that there’s no way 90% of people (and I ...
18:34:34 October 18, 2004, Monday (PDT) Source: Fairly Symmetrical
Ain't technology grand?
Things for which I am grateful today: Windows XP’s System Restore: Instead of spending 3 hours reinstalling Windows and a bunch of applications on Jen’s laptop, I spent 15 minutes booting into Safe Mode and rolling back to a restore point. What a great idea. 802.11b: Better yet, I was able to do the above while sitting on the couch watching The Apprentice, rather than sitting in the office staring at a progress bar, thanks to our lovely wireless network. There was a third thing which I have quite forgotten. Sadly, technology has not yet figured out a way to make my memory foolproof. Edit: I have remembered what the third thing was: Microsoft’s Automatic Crash Analysis, you know, that window that pops up when Windows or an application crashes and asks if you want to Send/Don’t Send the crash to Microsoft. Jen’s laptop bluescreened while I was trying to restore it, I hit Send when it came back up, and MS came back with a web page saying that it was a bad version of the Synaptics ...
21:55:46 October 14, 2004, Thursday (PDT) Source: Fairly Symmetrical
Petals Around The Rose
I ran across an interesting “game” (more of a puzzle) called Petals Around The Rose today. There’s an interesting story attached about how Bill Gates responded to the problem. I figured it out, by the way. ;)
11:38:58 September 29, 2004, Wednesday (PDT) Source: Fairly Symmetrical