Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Last post of April

Update #1:  I wrote a post about the details here and now the link is fixed.
Update #2: the gate fell off the post, so I need to buy one more piece of wood to fix it.

Technically this didn't get transferred from my notepad file to this blog until today but I'll back publish so that April has one more entry.   More entries to follow but I wanted to let you know that in anticipate of the yard work that might start this weekend, I decided to repair this crappy old fence gate.

There isn't much need for a gate here but as the previous owner had one,  I figured maybe there is a reason.  I did what amounts to research i.e. I Googled the terms fence and gate and watched a couple of YouTube videos. 

Original Gate
Surprisingly, I couldn't find much in the way of comprehensive This is How You do It and Why.  It required piecing together information from different sources to learn, for instance, why you put a diagonal board inside the gate frame (to alleviate the weight of the gate from the supporting fence post).  And that you should angle the board so that it is next to one of the hinges you use to hang the gate (same reason). 

Again I didn't research the Fuck out of It, so maybe there is a Bob Villa or Tim the Toolman resource out there that would have told me everything I ever wanted to know about gates but was afraid to ask.  My line of reasoning went as follows:

  • the existing gate is one dirty look away from falling apart anyway, so i couldn't make it worse even if I simply removed the gate;
  • it's a small enough space that I don't have to follow all the rules of measuring and weight distribution to make it work;
  • previous owner left me plenty of spare 2x4s and other pieces of scrap wood so I'm only out the hardware for the hinges and the dog-ear fence pickets...approximately $13;
  • you can learn a lot from your mistakes if you are willing to own up to them and apply what you learned to future projects. 
 So the gate isn't perfect but it does the job.  I might stain or paint it later this summer, or more likely, let the Little Monkeys do it with the leftover paint Previous Owner left behind.
New Gate

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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Strange Dreams from the Memory Graveyard

Something I might try to make someday
From The Break Room:  We have two kiosk areas on my floor at TopFive where employees can get coffee, tea or water and store their lunches.  We also have the copy machines here, so they get a reasonable amount of traffic throughout the day.  One is slightly larger than the other and thus gets more traffic of people wanting coffee, or heating up their lunches.

One time two ladies where in the center of the room having such an engrossing discussion that they couldn't be bothered to move to the side.  Everyone had to walk around them.  Another time two guys were so deep in conversation that they decided they must stand in the doorway so that you couldn't easily walk around them. 

I bring these up as random examples of people in Corporate America who just get so set in their way of doing something that they cannot break the pattern.  The other day someone was trying to reach me through our OWA and couldn't find me because they misspelled my last name.  My last name generally gets misspelled one way and it should be an intuitive step to try a different vowel but instead they just gave up and contacted their boss.  There really is no hope for the human race.

From the Memory Graveyard:  I had a dream like I have many times where I'm back at the law firm in my former life as a paralegal.  An attorney was mad at me because of a couple of petty crimes against their sovereignty.  First, the trial or deposition exhibits I was supposed to make over-sized copies of hadn't arrived yet.  In the dream it wasn't clear why this was but we found the exhibits so I can only assume from the Real Life experiences I lived through that there was some last minute change or unclear expectation.

The second issue was she was upset that I hadn't billed my time for the case matter yet.  She was of the opinion that had I done that, the first mistake would not have occurred.  I explained that our culture/system was such that time isn't due until the end of the month and it was only the 4th day of the month so far.

The dream resurrected a lot of past fears and tears from the memory graveyard. 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Narcissists to the left of me, thread jackers to the right

Pay attention at the moment you realize you have a comparable story. Because it is at that exact moment that you have stopped listening to the other person and are instead thinking about what you want to say: You are listening for your chance to jump in, and ignoring the other person.

So — STOP thinking about your own story and go back to listening to the other person. Maybe ask for some elaboration, or continuation, or clarification. Encourage them to tell their story, and let them. What are they telling you? What happened, what did they bring from it? Shut up and listen. Listening is a harder skill than talking. Develop it.

Carolyn Hax
On telling a sympathetic story that comes across as one-upping

I post the above quote in my Facebook feed the other day.  I've been keeping it in my back pocket for years and decided to finally get it out of my system.  I just had to wait for enough time to pass so that no one in particular thinks I'm talking about them.

A lot of my friends do this and I'm sure a lot of your friends do too.  I was taught to let someone else finish speaking before interrupting and I figure if I have something to say I can wait my turn.  That doesn't mean I never interrupt or threadjack in RL or change the subject to the point where we cannot return to the original topic.  Rather, I'm just a good listener and it is the exception more than the rule when I do it.

 I had a short story to share that demonstrates this but I've delete it because the person it's about would benefit more from a hug and a good therapist (calling Dr X) instead of my calling them out anonymously on the internet.  

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Things are starting to take shape around here

I often struggle with my not wanting to speak of it and jinx it side versus my I'm not superstitious side.  Though I suppose I am superstitious if I'm afraid to speak of something in fear that it will affect the outcome.  Let's go with I am superstitious but choose to ignore them rather than let them control my life.

So then, what's been going on?

First up is I am almost done paying for last year's Flood.  Technically I've paid it off already but we had a trip to Vegas and the holidays and some other minor expenses that have kept my credit card balance up beyond a comfortable level that I could pay off each month.  I estimate that I will have paid off by June if all goes well.

Second, we are finally going to do something about the hole in our backyard! When we bought the house we asked the owner to remove the swimming pool.   I think he offered or our agent suggested he fill it with sod but we didn't take that option -- which would likely have been withdrawn once we started the negotiations.  In hindsight we should have done that.  I didn't do it because one I didn't realize that there would be a hole, I assumed the pool was on top of pavers.  Secondly, we figured we would do something with it and only end up ripping out the sod so why put it in the first place, especially in winter when it would die anyway.  So lesson learned.

Anyway, we had a landscaper come over and she is going to do her landscaping thing in our yard, parkway and side of the house.  Specifically:
  • create a planting bed on the north side of the house;
  • Remove grass around the big tree in the parkway and mulch in a circle;
  • Paver Old Greenwich Cobble and paver repair:
  • Add a paver edge near the fence and against the back of the house and a small landing near the gate to next to the deck.
  • Sod and soil needed to build up the grass bed;
  • Mulch side of house.

I'm also having them lay a PVC pipe under the pavers near the garage and laying it under the grass area and ending under the deck.  This is future-proofing in case we later decide to install garden lights, sprinklers or heck even run a ethernet cable from the house to the garage in case my pipe dream of building a LAN closet in the laundry room ever sees the light of day.

So when that is done and if the weather ever decides to permanently stay above 70, we  can have some sort of house warming event or at least invite smaller groups of friends over.  Most of my friends do not cross pollinate well so we either have to do a big bang invite everyone party or smaller gatherings of same clique type friends.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Not that kind of camp

No, I'm not aware that I'm hogging a seat at all

Today I'm working in our Chicago Office and while I appreciate not having to drive to the burbs, this day started out with some low level dramatic foreshadowing.  The bus I caught to the Jefferson Park Terminal had the heat on.  Then on the train, of all the seats available a big guy decides sitting next to me is the best option.  We rubbed shoulders for a few stops when I opted to get up and move to the other end of the car.

I'm not opposed to anyone sitting next to me as long as they don't reek of some foul scent.  I just don't understand what thought process made him decide that seat was the best option.  Perhaps he likes that one because it's close to the door and facing a particular direction.  Or perhaps he walked from one end of the car to the other and was running out of options.  All I know is that it was hard to do the Sudoku with his shoulders rubbing against mine.

Yesterday I was at Microsoft Azure IT camp, which meant I got to be in my favorite place: Downtown Chicago.  I'm actually around the corner from the No-Name Software Company.

I signed up for this because I had a little bit of down time and thought it would help with KSA.  It is definitely useful information but I am a bit past the point of being the person who will build servers in the cloud.  Still, it's good to know how it all works and what the costs are.

Stray Observations:
  • one of the geeks who wedged in our table has his Samsung phone on vibrate, and it is going off, causing the table to shake.  How does a person of his apparent age make it this far through life not realizing this is annoying?
  • several people have arrived more than 30 minutes late.  and some bozo through a paper plate away in the recycle bin.
  • Basically, a lot of the people here are working overtime to perpetuate the stereotype that geeks do not possess common social skills.