The blog that's gotten one comment ever! Thanks mom!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

And taking it back to the shop...

In the rush of getting my wonderful car back, I didn't inspect it quite closely enough. There are some bubbles under the clearbra thingy they replaced on the driver's side fender, and on the passenger side, there's a bit too much of a gap between the bumper and fender. Neither were very obvious, in my defense, but now I've got to be carless for a bit longer. Moh.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Getting the car back.

So the damage wasn't much beyond the $500 deductible, but I'll gladly pay that rather than drive around with my poor dented Prius. Jer's going to give me a lift to the shop to pick it up and pay this afternoon. I'm hoping it's all pretty again! Maybe that'll take the sting out of the price a bit.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Ubuntu 7.04

So I've experimented with Linux for years, running Slackware, then Debian, then Red Hat, on and on. Recently, the flavor of the month has been Ubuntu, and it's been some pretty good stuff. I was running WoW under Wine with only minimal trauma, although audio driver issues eventually forced me back to the warm embrace of Windows. However, I may have to revisit that with the latest Ubuntu release, 7.04 "Feisty Fawn".

I keep an old laptop around, mainly for watching downloaded TV that Janie and I missed on the Tivo for some reason, or to browse on while I'm working out on the elliptical trainer. It had been running the previous Ubuntu, 6.10, and since I never store anything on it I want to keep, just stream stuff across the network, it made for an easy target to try the new OS.

My biggest complaint with 6.10 and this particular system has been the wireless drivers. I've got a 3Com 802.11 a/b/g PC card in the system, with an Archeros chipset I think, and although 6.10 works fine with WEP encryption, to get WPA, I had to install a bunch of additional software, none of which I ever got working correctly. So for the most part, I just used the system with my FON router to surf, and that kept me from accessing any of my saved content on my desktop.

Feisty however includes some new drivers, and within moments of the install completing, I was online on my g network with WPA. Now I can stream old tv shows and such right to the laptop, instead of copying things to a memory key first. If you're interested in running Linux on the desktop, check out Ubuntu, although if you're interested in running Linux on the desktop, I'm guessing you already have. Next stop, upgrading my Linux partition on my gaming rig, and getting WoW running again. Maybe I'll have better luck with the audio drivers this time.

Monday, May 21, 2007

And now, the rest of the story...

So Janie and I were driving to see some friends, as a first stop on our way to seeing her family in southern Colorado. We're going about 80 (speed limit is 75) while passing a chevy pickup overloaded with rectangular hay bales. One falls off, and decelerates rapidly in front of us. I slow to 70 and do my best to get out of its way, but it's like a football, changing direction every time it hits. It ends up striking the Prius a glancing blow off the driver's side, but does some pretty significant damage on its way.

The fellow driving the truck has seen all of this, and slows down. In the confusion of just having been hit by a bale of hay on an interstate, I pass him. By the time I've determined we're ok, he's way back behind us, getting lost in the crowd. I slow, and get off at the next exit to check the damage, expecting him to follow to exchange info. He doesn't stop. We don't get his license plate number. We get stuck with the insurance.

So, whoever you are, driver of that dark chevy crew cab, know that on this day, you've made an enemy. Your day will come, sir! *throws down gauntlet*


Hay bale on highway: 1, Prius: 0

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The most perfect ceiling fan ever

We've got three ceiling fans in the house right now. Janie would never let me replace one of them with this. But I want too!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

How to unimpress your wife.

Janie recently asked me to set up a website and forum for her and some folks she's attending some trainings with, so they can chat outside of the week long trips. I set things up in the course of an evening, for which I was given much praise by Janie, and my ego was suitably inflated for the soon to come comeuppance.

I was using the site as a handy ftp dump to put files I'd need to access online later, and in going to clean up the unneeded files, I accidentally deleted the forums.

I explained my transgression to Janie, and told her I'd do my best to fix it. Luckily for me, I hadn't done anything to the database, and the host I was using was good about backups, so with a few emails and a single shell command I had things back up and running. Sometimes my ineptitude surprises even myself.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Anger inducing topic of the day.

The following is a repost of a forum post I made at

So Janie IM's me today and asks if we've had any strange account activity on one of our credit cards, as the card company just sent her an email asking about a $309 dollar transaction. I check the account, and see, well, gee, the only $309 dollar transaction was us paying off this card earlier in the year. But then why do we seem to owe $40? And what are all these charges to some company called TLG? So I do some quick searching.


Turns out, TLG seems to be a company who provide "synergy", or some such. They're the company behind the failed bid to create a terrorist tracking system by watching everyone's credit. And they're in bed with credit reporting services and credit cards, offering services to them as well. In this case, TLG took on the guise of "Privacy Guard", a service offered by Chase credit cards to insure you against privacy theft. Gee, the only way I feel my privacy's been violated lately is by these charges on my credit card that I never signed up for...

After calling Chase, and being forwarded through their system, I finally get ahold of a fast talking customer service rep at Privacy Guard. She tells me that Janie signed up for it by answering "yes" at some point during a past call to Chase. Hrm. I've said yes about 50 times so far in this call, what all have I magically signed up for? She then tells me that since Janie hasn't used the service for which she signed up, that the service would not be canceled to allow Janie to take advantage of it.

Small black holes exploded behind my eyes. Crackly voices in my skull demanded that I give in to the dark side. I politely explained that leaving this "service" on my account was not acceptable and that it needed to be removed immediately. At which point I was given a cancellation number and told that the amounts charged would be refunded.

So, keep an eye on your credit card statements. Look askance at anything starting with "TLG". And don't trust Chase.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Learning Japanese

So, in what is no doubt one of the dorkiest pursuits I could possibly pick as a hobby, since returning from Japan I have a desire to learn some Japanese. I took French in high school and in college, with dismal results. The difference here is that I actually have friends in Japan who I'd like to talk to (we'll ignore the fact that they both speak English for the moment), and Japan has a bunch more games and cartoons that I'd like to play/watch than France. So I've begun trolling the net looking for resources to help me out. Most of them are fairly silly, but there are a few that I think might help. I now have a Japanese word processor on my Pocket PC phone, complete with Japanese/English dictionary. And in various flash card games online, I've managed to recognize the hiragana for i twice! Woo! Progress. We'll see how much progress I make. I've been bugging Batty with questions about the language way too much, and Celeste has flat out told me that if I try to discuss Japanese grammar with her one more time, we're no longer friends. I'll start with just trying to learn the hiragana and katakana and go from there, I suppose.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

My knees are hurtin', we're in fer cold weather!

So Japan made me feel like an old man a bit. Not so much in that I'm outgrowing childish things. I still had a blast in Akihabara and bought some new Gundam toys to add to my collection. I was feeling old because my knees were really killing me a lot of the time. When I found a seat on the train, I'd get about halfway down, and then just collapse, falling the rest of the way when the knee pain got too great. I could walk around just fine, but even sitting down with my knees bent at 90 degrees got to be painful. I'd always have to warn whoever I was sitting across from to ignore me playing footsie so I could stretch my legs out a bit. Janie and the Batty's noticed, and their concern prompted me to go see the doctor about it when I got back.

The doc says it looks like Patello-Femoral Syndrome, the generic catch all for situations where your kneecap isn't quite lining up with the slot it's supposed to glide in. So I've got my first physical therapy session tomorrow night to try and get this going in the right direction. Wish me luck!

Monday, May 7, 2007


Well, this is what you get for traveling half way round the planet, and not doing so in some way that makes sense to your internal clock, like, by clipper ship, but by cramming yourself into an aluminum tube, blocking out as much external stimulus as possible, and attempting the feat in 10 hours or so. I'm dizzy with tired. Luckily, work has been easy on me today. With herculean effort, I was able to tell my particular system to 'go', and go it has, and will continue to do so, whilst I babysit it. That's a very good thing. My plans for this evening are to sleep, perchance to dream, and hope that when five o'clock rolls around, my stupid internal clock will not think it's morning Tokyo time, but the start to my evening.

We're back

We're both exhausted and we're already missing Batty and Sonoko. And to make things worse, we have to go back to work. I'll comment the flickr pictures as I've got time. I know my mom's already seen the pics, and I realized belatedly that some of the Akihabara pictures may not be parent safe. Sorry mom!

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Continuing adventures...

Morning again! It's Thursday here, and I'm up and showered before 8 AM. Today is Akihabara day! But that's getting ahead of myself. My last post was before we hung around Batty and Sonoko's neck of the woods. Aaron had a doctor's appointment, so we got up, Sonoko made breakfast, and we headed out to Tsudanuma, only one stop away by train, but we drove to make things easier on ourselves. Sonoko loaned Janie and I her cell phone, dropped us off at a mall, and took Batty to his appointment. Janie and I wandered around the mall all morning, buying more nick knacks than we have room to carry home. Right about the time we ran out of mall, I pulled out Sonoko's keitai to make sure they hadn't been trying to call us, and realize that I haven't heard any of the calls they'd been making. They finally got a hold of us, we met up, and proceeded to the next stop.

The afternoon is a blur, I may actually need Janie's help recalling what we did. But I do know for sure what we ate! For lunch, we stopped by a ramen place that they like, and it was nice weather for it, a bit on the rainy side. I had traditional miso broth ramen with the addition of a soy sauce soaked hard boiled egg. Delicious! For dinner, we went to a Korean bbq not too far from the Batty's home, and grilled our own short ribs at the table while snacking on kim chee. Also delicous! All in all, no complaints at all about the food, and I'm pretty sure Batty and Sonoko are having fun too!

Yesterday, Wednesday, was our whirlwind tour of Tokyo. First stop was Harajuku, famous for it's goth kids and the Meiji shrine. However, it was a school day, so the goth kids were mostly absent. It was, however, just about the best day we could have been to the Meiji shrine. Each shrine has a festival day once per year, and we accidentally visited the Meiji shrine on it's festival! We watched part of several ceremonies, jumped every time they struck this really huge drum, and saw more Shinto priests than I've ever seen in one place (admittedly, not a very impressive number before today) place offerings in the shrine. Absolutely great! We then wandered around Harajuku for a good part of the afternoon. We sampled a Harajuku tradition, crepes filled with tasty things and rolled into a cone so you can eat them on the move. Janie got one filled with cheesecake, and has decided it's her mission in life to discover other tasty things which one can fill with cheesecake. We walked down a street where all the goth kids shopped for their outfits. Imagine a whole street of Hot Topics. Oh! Almost forgot! Lunch at one of those sushi places where they have a conveyer belt carrying different sushi around the table. Just grab what you want, and they count up the number of each color plate to determine how much your meal was. I got some laughs from some other English speakers by asking if some green powder was some sort of wasabi. Turns out it was instant green tea, which was even printed on the lid. Oh well. We also found a little gift store where Janie bought even more things, along with a nice scroll for the house.

Took the train, and headed to our next stop, Shinjuku. This was where we were going to meet with Sonoko and Mika and find the restaurant that Sonoko had gotten us reservations at. After some more shopping, we met up with them, and headed to the restaurant, a yakitori chain famous for their wings. And rightfully so. Sweet and spicy at the same time. We had to order more, I think that was definitely the table's favorite. I also discovered a new taste sensation in drink form, kiwi chu-hi! Really yummy, I may have to attempt to replicate that one at home.

So, that probably sounds like a full day, but we're not done yet. One of Aaron's fellow teachers and the university was playing as part of a jazz quartet in Shibuya, at a little Irish pub. Never one to turn down a Guinness, we took train yet again, and had a pleasant end to the evening listening to some 1920's style jazz, eating chips, and drinking Guinness. One hour long train ride later, and we were home after midnight, with everyone crashing right away.

Anywho, pictures from the first part of the trip are up on Flickr now, I'll link them when I get home.

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