Monday, 10 December 2001

I’m looking for work and have therefore added my résumé to the site. See the section “Geek for Hire” on the right for details.

Monday, 03 December 2001

It was 2 o’clock in the morning.

The streets were oddly bare, their weather pocked surfaces caught in the tri-color glow of traffic lights. It’s a time when the city’s day-dwellers are tucked safely in bed; where only the drunk and dispossesed roam free.

Finding the local Perkins closed, we headed for Mickey’s Diner, a streetcar-turned-restaurant parked in the middle of downtown St. Paul. The five of us wedged into spots along the counter…no mean feat considering the place seats no more than 40.

Talking amongst ourselves, we waited for the lone, overworked, counter-man to take our order. Counter-man doesn’t begin to describe it. He was equal parts bus-boy, waiter, cook, cashier and bouncer. He hears everything and throws an occasional wise-crack into the conversation.

The wait is short and a curt “Whatllyahave?” gets things rolling. I hesitated, assuming he’d want to grab a pad of paper. With all the patients of a cab driver at a green light he added, “Speak up or it’s coffee to-go.” Slightly rattled, I blurted out my reply but he seemed to understand, not without some satisfaction in having thrown me off-guard. After that, it’s a quick smile, a simple nod, and “Next!” right down the line.

He manages to carry on four separate conversations, argue with a guy that’s trying to pick a fight, read the early paper and not burn the food. It’s like some strange ballet where cooking and chatter replace leaps and spins.

When asked how long he had been doing this, the immediate answer was “since 11.” After a while he came back with the real answer, “16 years, and I love every minute…even if some of them do go on forever.”

Don’t like how he works? “Call my boss and tell him to fire me!” He’ll give you the number.

Wednesday, 03 October 2001

I note, with some amusement, that my horoscope today reads “You are feeling amorous today. Tell that certain someone how you feel.” The mind reels at the possibilities.

And, no, I didn’t get the new stuff done last weekend. But I did try.

Thursday, 27 September 2001

Radios blaring, sirens wailing, bells ringing, trucks hauling, planes flying, phones ringing, tires screeching. I can’t take it! What I would give for just one day of total, blissful, silence.

Unfortunately, that’s something I can never have, not any more. I have what’s called tinnitus, a constant ringing in my ears. My left ear is worse than my right, although it is audibly present in both.

Tinnitus is preventable, at least it was in my case. In high school I drowned out any intrusion from the outside world with a Walkman turned up just shy of distortion. Later it was dance clubs and concerts with no thought given to ear plugs or other hearing protection. In short, I have only myself to blame.

The ringing isn’t the only price I’m paying for sins past. I’ve been slowly going deaf for years. It’s a gradual, agonizing slide towards silence. The sounds I used to hear, the sounds I want to hear, replaced by a ringing that won’t go away.

Music is a big part of my life. Few things bring me more joy than sharing a new find or even an old favorite with friends. I’m constantly picking up new CDs and looking for new artists to enjoy. When I’m working on my model trains, or at my day job, music is playing in the background. I notice what song is playing at a restaurant. It’s hard to imagine a life without.

I’m scared. I don’t want to live in silence, feeling isolated from a world I used to be a part of. It’s even more frightening because I can see it coming and there’s no way to stop it.

Wednesday, 26 September 2001

So I’m standing at the bus stop, minding my own business, when this guy wanders over and says “Nwhnmkajdncminbak.”

Finally, after the third repeated mumble I said, “Look. I can’t understand a word you’re saying. You’re going to have to stop mumbling.”

One more try, which he managed only slightly better. He was asking if I knew when Michael Jordan was coming back.

“Sorry, I don’t pay attention to pro-ball.”

His response? Another near mumble, “Oh, must be a loner then.”

Monday, 17 September 2001

Yes, I work with computers, but please understand when I say “I can’t help you. I’m sorry.” It’s not that I’m trying to be a jerk, but computers are my job, not my life.

Simple issues are not a big deal. Unfortunately, it often turns out to be anything but “just a quick question.” Sure, not every question is a study in quantum physics, but most require background information. That background works on both sides, for me to grasp the question and for you to absorb the answer.

In my younger days, and in my own mind, I was an expert in all things digital. However, there was less to know back then. It’s been said that a wise man understands what he does not know. One thing I don’t know is everything there is about computers, no one can.

Computers have evolved into simple tools. Like hammer and nails to a carpenter, computers help put food on the table. And, like paint and canvas to an artist, they are tools used for self-expression. But like a carpenter or an artist, computers are not my entire existence and reason for being.

Finally, all of those “quick questions,” five minutes here and an afternoon there really add up. Even if it were possible to help everyone and solve every issue, I wouldn’t have time to fix the problem with my computer.

TP

Thursday, 30 August 2001

So I’m at the grocery store the other day, picking up a few, much needed, supplies. Things like soda, bread, noodles, rice, paper towels and toilet paper. Last time through, TP got skipped because the store didn’t have the right kind and I wasn’t down to my last roll.

Standing in the aisle, looking at a wall of toilet paper, they still didn’t have the right stuff. Resigning myself to a substitute, all I see are 12 packs, 18 packs and 36 packs, but nothing smaller. Normally I by four pack because I’m not home that much. Four rolls lasts about a month and the bathroom storage space holds five at most.

While I understand the 18 and 36 packs for families, I’m just one guy. What on do I need with even 12 rolls of toilet paper at one time? I gave up landscaping in Jr. High School.

Over and above storage considerations, transportation for that much toilet paper is a challenge. The package is so large I practically need to stick wheels on it and ride the thing home.

My other purchases barely filled a grocery bag. This room divider sized package would require a third arm to carry it, a case of soda and the bag at the same time. Even splitting the pack would mean two extra bags and not enough hands to carry them all.

I ended up breaking down the package and shoving several rolls into my messenger bag. That got me down to two bags, plus the soda. Wouldn’t you know it, the food bag broke on the way in the front door, obliterating a carton of eggs. It was only fitting that I used the extra TP to clean up the mess…I forgot to buy paper towels.

Wednesday, 29 August 2001

After requests from more than one reader (I didn’t even know there were any, let alone multiple) a FAQ is now available. It tells you a little about me and even has a picture!

Thursday, 09 August 2001

She was articulate and strong willed. Sure of herself and unwilling to let anyone get in the way of that. I had a thing for her from the moment we met.

She worked with a friend of mine and occasionally showed up for our Wednesday night Mensa gatherings. We would crack jokes and have a great time. I loved her brown eyes with the impish twinkle. And damn, was she cute!

A grad student, she was working on a degree in social work. Every so often she would need help with her computer and I was always willing to lend a hand. We put in a couple late nights and two or three Sunday working on her master’s thesis. It was interesting and I actually had fun.

In all honesty, it was not for entirely unselfish reasons. I had hoped we could get to know each other better and perhaps go out on a date. I never actually did get up the nerve to ask her out. My excuse was that I could never tell if she was the least bit interested.

I would call her just to chat and see how she was doing. She would call when she needed help. I didn’t think much of it since she had two jobs plus school to contend with.

Finally, graduation rolled around. After the ceremony, her mom and her friends gathered at a nearby restaurant. When it came time for presents, she noticed there wasn’t one from me and asked about it. In front of the group. Flabber-gasted, I admitted that in my haste to get there on time, I had forgotten it at home. To my amazement she added that I had her address and could send it to her.

Ummm. No. I took it back it instead.

It finally dawned on me that the only time she called was when she wanted something.

I called her once after that. Ended up leaving a message on her answering machine…which she never returned. About six months later she did call, saying she was just on vacation and had a question about her computer.

This time I didn’t call back.

Friday, 27 July 2001

Redid the index page for In Other Words… to be script generated. Previously, I’d have to edit the index file to add a new story. Now, the script reads the story descriptions from the file itself which means I only have to copy the story file to the directory and make sure graphics are in place. Less prep-work will hopefully mean new stories come on-line more frequently.