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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Xyon's LiveJournal:

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Thursday, January 30th, 2014
8:53 pm
Where, oh where, has xyon gone?
A long time ago I feel like I had a personal goal to write something here every day.
Less long ago I had a personal goal to write something once a week.
Then it was monthly.

I've been trying for a couple weeks to figure out what to write, but nothing has come to me, aside from some vague topics.

I guess one reason for not having much to say is that I pretty much do the same things over and over. Not enforced routine, but comfortable routine. Out of the house: work, the gym, my weekly game of Pathfinder, dinner with the guys. At home: tv, cribbage, games, servalan, and the cat. Sure, there are occasional changes (going to a play, going out of town for the weekend, that kind of stuff), but... I dunno, maybe my desire to share is diminished.

It's certainly not that I've gone to Facebook and/or Twitter, because I can't stand either of those products.

So... yeah. I turned 30. Some days, it's weird. Other days, it doesn't matter. Weird. If you asked me last year what I was going to do when I turned 30, it would have been to call up my dad and rub in how he was so freaked out about his 30th birthday, and I completely didn't care. But two things complicated that... first, I sort of cared... but possibly because second, my dad died.

Sad detailsCollapse )

This past weekend we went back to Las Vegas to try to have the vacation that got so unfortunately tarnished in November. The first couple of days were still a bit hard, but we had filled the weekend up with shows and other distractions. The last day and a half were good, though.

One thing that I've carried out of this is that I should probably do more things with friends. tekman and angel_grrl moved forever ago, and I've not seen their new place. Though I'm still running at pretty low levels of social interaction, the funeral having way overdrawn my usual amount of extroversion energy.

Coming up on 9 years at work, and one of the guys on my team just passed 25. While I still like the stuff that I'm working on, I might be coming to the point where I'm ready for a change of pace (probably just another project at work, I've been on this one for 6? years). Though I really dislike being the new guy...

In happier news, my brother finally got around to popping the question, and I get to make use of my priestly credentials (his original timeline got derailed by the funeral, sadly). Also, I start the ground school portion of getting my pilot's license on Tuesday. I'm excited... in that reserved way I have :).

That's all, for now. I guess it was a lot... but still, that's all.

Current Mood: contemplative
Thursday, July 18th, 2013
8:16 am
Amusing, on some level.
So I was merging onto the freeway today, and as I started to do so I realized I had a car in my blind spot. They slowed to let me in and I did the friendly "thank you" wave... and got no response. Very shortly thereafter we were at a dead stop. And very shortly thereafter that she turned on her headlights. Er, turned them off? Hazards, maybe? It's strange that they're not blinking at the same time... Huh, must be a breakdown, she's getting out of her car. And now other cars are driving around her (and the car behind her?) in the merge lane...

Yes, it's at this point that I realize (I was tired) that the unmarked police car that let me in (and I waved to) got rear-ended. (Amusement: Not that I think she "deserved it", but that the person in back probably didn't realize it was a cop, either, until he wasn't fast enough on the brake... and how many cascading levels of "oh, crap" he went through in his mind)
Friday, August 3rd, 2012
7:42 am
Woo! Paid off a loan!
Paid off one (or, depending on how you want to count, 4) of my student loans.

What to do with all this "extra" cash now? Hmm... I suppose... pay off the others.
Sunday, June 3rd, 2012
7:26 pm
This was a triumph...
It's still a good song, so still a better thing to say than "Still Alive".

Passed the 2 year anniversary mark. I think I should be excited... but I'm not. It's just like a birthday. [thing] was true yesterday. Now [thing] is still true. Okay, so there's a new thing that's true, but you could say the same for every day. ("Now I've been married for 731 days, 732 days, ...). So while you may be interpreting me not being excited as bad, I'm interpreting it as good. It means that I've decided that being married to servalan is just something that is part of me. There've been a few arguments, but no real major problems. She makes me feel good about who I am, and has helped me be a bit more social. Heck, she took my forever-old desire to learn to fly and booked me a lesson (after which I felt like trying to update my Astronaut Candidate application with NASA to say that I had not zero, but ONE hour of flight experience. That's like infinitely better!).

Oh, yes. Flying. I was nervous as heck during the entire hour. We went through the sequences of the takeoff process, and once I said I had it the instructor called for clearance to enter the runway and take off. I'd decided slow and steady was the way to go... but the tower disagreed. We were given permission to take off, but a warning that there was an inbound flight, so we couldn't dawdle. It all worked out, though... the instructor didn't have to take over for the two controls I was operating (throttle: open full, and yoke: don't move it... he had rudder/nose wheel).

I had a bit of a panic feeling between about 40 and 400 feet, but beyond that my fear of falling had gone away. Though I wasn't prepared for how much turbulence a Cessna C172/U would encounter. When Janine and I are flying she usually gets a worried look at any turbulence, and I'm usually rather calm through it... so it says something if I'm worried about the turbulence (though maybe I thought it was my fault, and not, you know... turbulence).

ATC warned us that there was another small craft at our altitude flying down the I-405 corridor... which I completely failed to see (the instructor asked me twice if I could see it, and after the second no he told the tower he had visual on it... I saw it much, much later).

So we flew over Mercer Island, looped over my building at work (since my lesson was during the work day), flew the 520 line, over my house, out to Vashon Island, "crossed paths" with a passenger jet as we transitioned KSEA, and then looped around for a landing at KBFI.

The instructor radioed in for permission to land. We were told that we had to wait behind a [IIRC, 737; but apparently I waited just too long to find out what big planes would have been landing at KBFI between 4:15pm and 4:50pm on 2012-May-16... if anyone feels like looking it up and telling me what it was I'd appreciate it - flightaware clearly has the data, I just can't figure out how to find it now that it's more than 2 weeks ago) for 16R, but he countered that he'd prefer 16L since our destination was Wings Aloft (and landing at 16R would require crossing 16L to get to our destination). So we were given amended landing clearance: to land at 16L, but not to cross into the lane of 16R because of the inbound biggie.

The instructor was doing the landing... but it was still a bit of a shock when out of the right window I saw a jet overtake us and land while we were on landing approach.

It took me a few days to decide if I'd liked it or not. But once all the nervous had faded off I decided that I wanted to be flying again... so now I just need 10 grand to get my license.
Friday, September 23rd, 2011
10:10 pm
Thwarted Geneology
So a while back I did a trial on Ancestry.com. The OneWorldTree project told me that I was a 17th great-grandchild of Geoffrey Chaucer. Except there was an odd blank entry.

servalan recently came into knowledge of family she didn't know she had, so she signed up for a trial to see if there was any information for her (there wasn't, so far). But I decided to follow the links that supposedly connected me to Geoffrey Chaucer.

Well, it turns out... I have a 17th great grandmother of Katherine Chaucer. Geoffrey's sister. So Geoffrey Chaucer is (one of) my 17th great grand UNCLEs, not great grand FATHERs. Sigh.
Wednesday, September 21st, 2011
1:30 pm
Still remember
I walked past my old campus mailbox yesterday, and tried the first combination that came to my head (okay... the second, the first involved a K and the biggest entry is J).

Today it resolved differently in my head, and I got it on the first try.

So, yeah. Hasn't changed in at least 11 years.
Monday, September 5th, 2011
6:27 pm
Very much time to admit I'm not finishing that series...
So when I got back from the honeymoon I was all pumped to chronicle everything so that I could go back and read it a year later (and at 5 years, etc..) But really, it was taking so much time to write down that the fun details got lost. And then I was going to have servalan help me go over facts so I could finish... but that didn't happen.

And there were many times I was going to write something since but I felt guilty, because I wanted to finish the series. But it's been 15 months since my last post, it's way too late to try to finish now.

Summary of what didn't get written:

Belfast, Northern Ireland

We stayed in the Malmaison Hotel (Belfast) which is near the new Victoria Square Mall. The hotel staff there were amazing... and either they're really good at knowing who all their guests are, or we were the only Americans (and us being American must have been obvious), or we were the only people who asked them questions for what to do, where the best place nearby is to get [whatever kind of food we wanted at the time], etc...

That area of Belfast is an interesting couple of blocks... you go from the Europa Hotel ("most bombed hotel in the world") to Belfast City Hall, which was very heavily defended during the Troubles, to the new commercial development of Victoria Square Mall and the new hotels to the docks area. And the docks area itself is interesting... there's the 'it still works so don't mess with it' (the building on the right), Harland and Wolff representing 'still going strong', the Thompson Graving Dock representing 'we used to be important' and The Concourse representing 'we want to be important again' (Revitalize Belfast).

The Thompson Graving Dock is where the Olympic class cruise liners underwent drydock assembly (things like attaching the propellers), and it made for a nice tour.

And if I wore printed T-shirts, I might have bought this one: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bartonjs/4749269287/

servalan really liked the spoon chandelier in the restaurant where we ate our last Belfast dinner.

Have you ever heard of Schmap Guides? I hadn't, until they requested my permission for a photo release, making me a published photographer

Edinburgh, Scotland

We flew over to Edinburgh and stayed in The Rutland Hotel (in room 11 out of 12). The room was a bit expensive (~200 GBP per night), but the view was breathtaking (at least, if you're an American and like castles). We wandered around the city a bit, and snuck up on a wild golf course. And, of course, spent a day at Edinburgh Castle.

I'm going to do Edinburgh a discredit by not talking about it much, but it was my favorite part of the trip.

Oh, I need some setup here... we had a late night dessert craving and we got sent to a place called Pizza Express. We had seen one of these in Victoria Square Mall, but we figured they were something like a Sbarro. No, they were a real restaurant, and had good desserts, and were happy to sell us dessert at some random late hour.

London, England

London... sounds nice, right? I don't think so. The train ride that we took from Edinburgh to London was crazy... the longest segment we did we had to sit (with several other people) in the link between two cars because the train was overfull. Large suitcases were handy here. But, once we got into London and transferred over to the Underground they became a massive burden... because none of the stations we were in had escalators or elevators (okay, one had an elevator, but it was behind a locked gate). Carrying two 50lb suitcases up/down several flights of stairs in a hurry is not fun. When we finally got off of trains the air was so bad that both servalan and I were coughing and gagging. We finally walked our way to the hotel (Pestana Chelsea Bridge) and asked them for a list of spa services (we had intentionally booked a spa hotel because we had run ourselves ragged with the amount of travel we had been doing) -- and they said it was in the rooms. Okay, so up to the room we go. Guess what? No list of services. Later we found out that they aren't really a spa at all, they just have a manicurist or something. Heck, maybe they actually do have a masseuse, but we saw the "spa area" and it wasn't what we paid for. The hotel also wasn't really near anything else. They said it was a 5 minute walk to Sloane Square... Google Maps calls it a 20 minute walk.

On a Sunday (when everything in London is shut down, apparently) we tried to get some dessert. So we went to a very ornate Pizza Express. There was a wait, and for whatever reason we told the guy that we were just there for dessert. So after 30 minutes (of our 15 minute wait) we got seated, tried to order, and they refused to sell us just dessert "because of policy". So we had a mild row with the manager and person who took down our names ('oh, I thought you meant you wanted both dinner and dessert' (I'm sure we said 'just dessert')). The policy makes no sense! Dessert is usually among the highest markup items, and you get the table back faster! It's stupid! I let them know that, and we left. (That night I left positive feedback for the Edinburgh restaurant and horrible feedback for the London one) We did find a nice local place a few doors down who was happy to sell us dessert. And some alcohol, which made me be less irate.

Before going to Pizza Express we had tried going to some pubs, but they all said their kitchens were closed (in the confused "it's Sunday, why wouldn't they be?" tone of voice). One of them had what seemed to me a very good pub name: The Queen's Head (Pratchett books often have pubs of this name... The Duke's Head, The Queene's Head, The King's Head, etc...). So on Monday when we wanted some food we went back to TQH (they'd been friendly). In the middle of dinner servalan said something which made me observe the clientele, and come to the realization that she was the only female in the establishment. Yep, we went to a gay pub. Twice. They were perfectly nice about it, and our second bartender (fairly flamboyant) even seemed excited to have a normal girl to chat to. You know, about shoes and stuff.

Other than the Tower of London and meeting up with some of servalan's friends (who didn't make the trans-Atlantic trip to come to the wedding), that's about it. But London very much didn't do it for me, and I don't expect to ever go back (though I'm not opposed to England as a whole, just London. And so if we're in England, I'll probably have to at least see if it's feasible to go to a taping of Top Gear).

Dublin, Ireland

We flew back to Dublin (Heathrow's international terminal didn't impress me...) where we got looked at in a funny way by the customs officer who noticed we'd been stamped in to Ireland but not out. We summarized our car/plane/train/plane trip and he grunted and gave us a second entry stamp.

We stayed at the Eliza Lodge in Temple Bar. If you don't mind hearing late night bar-goers, it's a nice enough place... but for me, I'd rather stay over in Dublin 1 and walk the few blocks to the night life of Temple Bar.

We again didn't stay long enough to give Dublin a fair go.

The Return Trip

At this point I was convinced that all international terminals were crap... and then we were departing from Dublin. Their international terminal looked super nice. You could, for instance, buy food. How amazing. Oh, but if you're flying to the US you pass through that and enter a bit of extraterritorial United States (so you pass through US Customs in Dublin). The one cafe (only source of food or drink) didn't accept US Dollars (which feels illegal to me, given that there are many, many signs which remind you that you're now on US soil), and didn't really have anything worth having. So, yeah. Lame.

When we finally got to Chicago, there was something going on which had caused a massive amount of delays, and so many cancellations that United Airline's customer service line was halfway around the terminal.

The anniversary

We finally got our spa day on our anniversary. We went to Salish Lodge and Spa, which is a real spa hotel. It was nice.

And so on...

Been married for more than 15 months now. Things are still going well. And I just did some calculations and concluded that we've now been married longer than the elapsed time from first date to wedding. Yay, milestones :)
Friday, July 16th, 2010
4:02 pm
3.5 Weeks: Part 4: Dublin to Belfast

Last time on 3.5 Weeks

Our foolish protagonists had to be ready for their bus out of Dublin by 6:30am local time, so they got up ridiculously early, crossed the river, and found the meeting place.

Dublin, Ireland to Belfast, Northern Ireland - 29 May 2010

We got to the old stone church with about 8 minutes to spare. When we went over to the passenger coach the driver said that we had the wrong tour, so we went and hid from the rain under the overhang in front of the gates. There had apparently been some confusion that morning: the driver was assigned a brand new bus, but the bus manager had taken the keys home with him, instead of leaving them at the office. Bud (whose "right name" was, I believe, Pat) showed up at about 6:50, and all 6 passengers got in (only we had luggage), and off we went.

The first notable thing that we got to was a toll booth, which had digital pictorial signage that I didn't quite understand. What I did understand, though, was that small change was unacceptable.

Apparently, Ireland (and probably much of western Europe) believes in "the city" and everything else is small villages like this one, with the occasional town thrown in when it gets to be too far from a real market.

As we started getting up toward the border Bud started telling stories of how things were during "the troubles". In Belfast no one would ever talk in a restaurant, because if someone didn't like your accent they might just drag you outside and beat/shoot/kill you. Or how he still always checks under his car for incendiary devices after stopping anywhere in Northern Ireland, even though that's not needed these days. And one about just past the border someone must've thrown a rock off of an overpass and hit the roof of his car, but he just kept going... when he got to his destination he saw the fist-sized bullet hole. Since servalan and I were planning to get off and stay in Belfast we got a little scared. Much later he explained to us that it's been fine for a while, but he was trying to impress upon everyone how bad things were (though he had frequently not used tenses when telling stories); and that while some parts of Northern Ireland (and even Belfast) are a little worrisome, where we were going to be staying was perfectly safe.

Two things changed when we got over the border (which is entirely on paper now, there is no border guard on the motorway). 1) The euro became the pound - Bud stopped at a gas station so that people could ATM out some valid currency, but it was out of order. 2) metres/kilometres became yards/miles. The best example of that was an incredibly vague sign.

Eventually we went through Belfast on the motorway and got to the Irish Sea and passed Carrickfergus Castle (making that the first "castyllic" (Castle-like) castle I'd seen).

The coastal country looked a bit sad and dreary after passing Carrickfergus Castle. The weather probably helped that effect, but there was just a lot of decay. There were also nice things, like St. Patrick's Church in Glenarm. My favorite picture, for entirely meta reasons is this cemetery in Carnlough, because it is missing an entire building that's there in the Google Maps street view.

There are lots of stone relics near the Irish Sea, mainly suggesting that the coastline is a bit more dynamic than the builders envisioned. I don't know if that's what caused a stone arch to cover the A2, but the arch was pretty nonetheless.

The first landmark on the tour was at Carrick-a-rede, where the coastal waters were amazing, in spite of the bad weather. The purpose of the stop, though, is to go to the rope bridge. Somewhere around halfway across, with my soggy hat wrapped around my D-SLR in one hand and the other on the rope, I started to lose my nerve. Not wanting to be "the guy who turned around on the bridge" I trekked on, though. The view wasn't really all that amazing, but it probably is when the weather cooperates. Instead: it was cold, drizzling, and very windy on Carrick Island. We stayed on the island for a few minutes, then went back to the mainland (the wind had picked up on the way back, and I started having a panick attack that I was going to get blown off into the rocks below the bridge... but that clearly didn't happen). But the short bridge appears to only have tourism purposes, and the "past purposes" are all very tenuous. Oh well, it was a thing, and I did it.

The first name on the tour is "Giant's Causeway", and that's where we went next. On the road down we passed this rock that totally looks like a face, except that servalan doesn't think so. Giant's Causeway itself is basalt columns, and ancient legends (Wikipedia describes a few of the variations). I did what every good person of European descent would do: climbed to a visible spot and planted a flag. What? It's populated? Good, pay me taxes. I've yet to hear back on them paying tax in homage to my invisible flag.

Since we were so close (and Bud wasn't yet in danger of looking like he would exceed his maximum hours per day driving commercially), we went over to get a look at what remains of Dunluce Castle (which a random page on the internet calls "the most romantic and picturesque of the Irish castles"... I think they missed Carrickfergus). Pro tip: If your kitchen can fall into the sea, you built too close to the edge.

We got back into Belfast around 5pm, where the tour allows for a break to go knickknack shopping and eat... except we were getting off for good. Bud parked near Jurys Inn and suggested that people wanted to head over to Victoria Square Mall. We went into the hotel to see if they could give us directions to The Malmaison (Belfast). They gave us a map, and directions... though they had us turn the wrong way on Victoria Street. We did eventually find it (across the street from Victoria Square Mall, where the other 4 people went), but not after feeling very uneasy walking through town dragging suitcases after Bud's stories. Passing some woman with a very unhappy look on her face didn't really help.

I think that most of the pictures in my Giant's Causeway photoset are worth looking at, so just turn on slideshow mode (and then details if you like captions) and have a watch. The story, however... is to be continued...
Saturday, July 3rd, 2010
12:55 pm
3.5 Weeks: Part 3: Dublin, Ireland

Last Time on 3.5 Weeks

We had found our way from San Diego into Dublin, and even managed to locate our hotel.

Dublin, Ireland - 27 May 2010 through 29 May 2010

Day 1

Inside the hotel lobby at last (via the side door) they informed us that the front two sets of doors were legally zoned as in a bar, so they weren't legally allowed to be unlocked this early. The staff member who had pointed me to the side doors joked with me ("I see we'll have to keep our eye on you, after you tried bangin' down the doors"), but I was so tired that I didn't realize it for a few hours. Yay, we had made it to our room, which sort of had a view of the River Liffey. But boo, it sort of had a bad smell (clearly had been a smoking room at some point in its past), and boo, I couldn't sleep yet.

servalan, having slept some on the flight, was the more awake and so decided to ask for a recommendation of someplace to get coffee (and probably lunch in a little bit). Normally I listen carefully when anyone is saying directions, because a sense of direction is not amongst my wife's virtues... but I was essentially sleep-walking at this point. I let her drag me around, for some reason believing that she knew a) where she was going and b) how to get back. We did find food (at some point), possibly at Caffe Cagliostro (it was whatever is at the Bartholomew end of the Dublin revamp of The Last Supper), which revitalized me a bit. We wandered around in the shops area in Dublin 1, and eventually I woke up enough to realize I had no idea where we were... and she assumed I knew where we were. We eventually found our way back to the river, and from there the hotel. We did a little bit of computer time, and then went exploring some more.

Over in Dublin 2 we found what looked like a "gruel special". It turns out the name of the restaurant is Gruel. We found some musicians playing in Temple Bar square, had a bit of a listen, and then let ourselves accept a sponsored recommendation for The Quays Restaurant where I had my first order of fish and chips for the trip.

I don't really remember anything after dinner, we may have zombied it back over to the hotel and gone to sleep extremely early.

Day 2

We started off by going to a Gourmet Burger Kitchen (GBK) in Temple Bar square for lunch. Readily apparent was that the upright-bass that a street band we had listened to last night was still on the street corner there, which seemed a bit odd (and, upon closer inspection, pretty much all of the gear). What that meant, though, was that as we were wrapping up lunch the band showed back up for an afternoon performance. We listened for a few songs, then decided to walk around a bit more. Just around the corner was a palm-tree bench. We found Fleet Street (but no suspicious barber-over-a-meat-pie-shops), and traffic signs we didn't understand.

Over near Trinity College we passed a pretty door-within-a-door at the Bank of Ireland building. We used our bus passes to get on a hop-on/hop-off bus tour of the city (the only time we used our passes), went 3 stops, and got off at Dublin Castle, where security was lax. For the most part it doesn't look "like a castle", and then I found nearly the worst thing ever... they cut into a turret to put a non-castle building in! Then, around the corner... it was worse. They had painted the castle, hiding the beautiful work done by stonemasons whenever ago.

The Dublin Castle gardens have a nice twisty-brick pattern where the ends are made to look like snakes. Since the Republic of Ireland is very grass-friendly (a sign at the airport said "Welcome to Ireland - Please Play on the Grass" instead of 'normal' "Please Stay off the Grass") we decided to walk along the snakes... which works until you reach EOS (End of Snake).

The Chester Beatty Library is right there, too (it faces the snake thing); and we decided to check out some exhibitty stuff there. Nothing spectacular, but the religious works section did explain to me the difference between Sunni and Shia Muslims (in short, is the leader of Islam elected (like the Pope, Sunni), or hereditary (like a king, Shia)). Of course, Google could have done the same thing, but the exhibit made me actually be interested in knowing the answer.

We walked back to the hotel, where I finally remembered to take a picture of our room key. It was some weird possibly magnetic key that you just slotted in like a keycard. I've never seen anything like it before, or since. I have a deep suspicion that we took a nap.

Eventually we headed back out into Temple Bar, and had Italian at Botticelli. Then we hung out in Temple Bar square listening to the musicians (both in bars and on the street). The corner which had the band we had found entertaining the night before (and that afternoon) was empty, but someone had started setting up (and took a while to do so). But they were pretty good once they got started. I was very impressed by the drummer, who was playing drums on a box that he'd tilt for differing sounds. And instead of a hi-hat drum, he had bells on his left shoe. Someone else had tried to argue that it was their corner at some point, and a member of the Garda kept his place in the corner of the square just watching out for trouble. After the matter resolved itself (the latecomer found somewhere else to play) the Garda-man started walking a patrol. When there was a sign between him and the band, and a tree between him and most of the crowd, he was singing along with the cover the band was doing... and went back to a serious face once he had left cover.

Day 3

We had to be outside an old stone church in Dublin 2 (which is a Tourism Office now) to catch a tour bus up to Northern Ireland, which we were using for transport to Belfast. It being a tour, though, we'd have entertaining tour things to do on the trip, instead of just hurry-up-and-wait of getting from point A to point B. It was a really good idea of servalan's, and we will probably try to do more things like it in the future.

So our last day ends very quickly... we never made it into West Coast Coffee (Dublin is on Ireland's east coast, so it's not even a reference to where it is in Ireland), and we got completely drenched on the way to the church.

To be continued...
12:16 pm
3.5 Weeks: Part 2: San Diego to Dublin

Last time on 3.5 Weeks

Our intrepid adventurers had seen a space ship and gone to the beach in San Diego and were off to the airport after only a few hours sleep...

San Diego to Dublin - 26 May 2010 through 27 May 2010

The thing I left out of last time was that the result of the phone call to United Airlines was that servalan" and I couldn't sit together, that we should have called long before. I couldn't select United seats from the Aer Lingus website, and I couldn't log in to the United website with my Aer Lingus travel info; I kept assuming that it was a timing thing, so I waited until later... until I ran out of later. On this call he gave us together seating for our return flight, but put us a couple of rows apart on the first leg (to Chicago).

San Diego airport was pretty uneventful. I got a breakfast sandwich and coffee for "wow, it's early" (in order to get to the airport by 6:50am (8:50am flight) we had to leave at right about 6am, because we wanted to leave time padding for dropping off the car at Enterprise) breakfast, and she got... um, something similar from a different location.

до свидания, товарищ (do svidán[i]ja, comrade) aka San Diego to Chicago

On the flight from San Diego to Chicago (where we weren't sitting together) the half-row in front of me and the half-row to my left were made up of Russian professors who had been at a conference in San Diego (the full details of which I learned around the time we were landing). I had noticed the person across the aisle from me speaking (what I had assumed, correctly, to be) Russian, and so when the flight attendant was telling him to fasten his seatbelt at takeoff and he wasn't responding I knew that it was him not understanding English. She sort of angrily reached down and latched it for him. His eventual tact was to just shake his head no at her whenever she looked like she was asking him a question. When she would get to the person in the window (bilingual) he would have taken off his headphones, said something (like "hot tea") and then the first guy would repeat it. This, of course, annoyed the flight attendant even more.

I had sympathy for the guy, and so when I was having some of the beef jerky (that angel_grrl had given me as a present when dropping us off at Sea-Tac) I offered him some with the universal gesture of offering (he declined). When I was putting in headphones to listen to the in-flight entertainment and it wasn't working he looked at me and said "music? (pause) broke" (they enabled the audio a few minutes later). Upon landing I pulled out my phone and went to translate.google.com to convert something "I'm sorry the flight attendant was rude to you and not very patient with someone who doesn't speak English" into Russian. Not wanting to attempt to pronounce anything written in Cyrillic, I simply handed over the phone. He looked confused until he saw the message. Then we had a few rounds of "say something while miming", with occasional help from the bilingual. He pulled out a 10 Ruble note and gave it to me as a present ("Present. Russian Money.") and I was feeling a bit awkward (what sort of equivalent present do I give back? Or is that just "thank you for trying to help make this flight suck less?")... but having given me a present he seemed satisfied to just sit back with a smile and take a break from conversing. (I took the opportunity to look up Russian for "thank you" (spasíbo), which I had planned on just using when we got off the plane, but instead ... )

After a short break (we were on the ground for a while, and since we were the back row we kept this up for most of disembarkation), he decided to explain his visit by pulling out the conference program guide, finding the page with his anglicized name on it, and handing it to me while pointing (all I remember is he's an Associate Professor of Economics). He asked something like "why San Diego?" and I pointed to my wedding band and said "to get married". He responded in Russian in a questioning tone (I presume "married?") and I shrugged, pointed again and said "married" (yes, I know it wasn't the smartest of moves, but I didn't have anything else at hand). He turned to the bilingual, asked a question (with the same word I didn't understand), and then the bilingual asked me "you just got married?". Upon affirmation of this, my Russian friend started digging through is pockets while talking to the bilingual. I got the summary of "He's looking for a coin to give you as a wish of happiness and wealth in your marriage", and, of course, a coin. It was 5 more Rubles. I thanked him again, and since we were now about to be able to leave, I whipped out good-bye (do svidán[i]ja) and found my wife in the terminal. Later, when we were situated for our flight to Dublin I thought to look up the exchange rate on my phone. 15 Russian Rubles (post-reform) is less than 0.5 US Dollars (right now it's about 47 cents). I felt better, that he gave me 30 cents for making him smile :)

Fasten your seatbelts aka Chicago to Dublin

Inside Chicago-O'Hare (ORD) we were hungry (it was 3pm local time (12pm from our originating timezone), and we weren't taking off until 6:15pm local), and instead of eating in the terminal we arrived in we decided to get into the international area and then eat. Okay, so we leave the secure zone to get on a tram to take us to the international terminal. Clearly we have to go back through security now, which is a bit of a pain... but even more so is that it seems there's not really any food past the security checkpoint in the international terminal. So instead of any of the real(ish) restaurants in the domestic area we have our choice of fast-foodish restaurants outside the security gate. We had agreed that what we wanted was a good Chicago-style pizza while in Chicago, but as a compromise we had cheapish (quality) personal deep dish. Without really thinking about it I had gotten a Diet Coke for the caffeine boost, and then I realized I had to finish it before going back through security (or to just throw it away). She wanted to go into the duty-free store for some browsing anyways, so I just finished my cola beverage while wondering why anyone would really want to buy a Bulgari watch when my Citizen watch is so much better, and much cheaper.

We got lucky, actually... the extremely long line had completely vanished by the time we finished lunch+browsing, so we walked right on through to do another 2 hours or so of waiting. Rather than parking at the gate, we decided to walk around the terminal... which we found out was only about half in use. Instead of going and crowding it out in the middle of the occupied area we grabbed some floor space in the unused half and I fought off sleep (though had an alarm prepared, just in case) while relaxing on the ground (it's around here that I actually looked up the Ruble to USD conversion rate). Two uniformed members of Chicago PD started walking toward us at some point, and as we were the only ones in that half of the terminal I actually thought it was -toward us-, but they had also apparently decided that spending time in the unoccupied half was better.

About 20 minutes before boarding was set to start we wandered over, mainly to check that our gate hadn't changed and we got to be in the crowd of people for "if you haven't yet checked in at the desk for Aer Lingus flight [whatever], please do so now" to get our customs cards. And then a few more trips back to the desk to ask for clarifying questions on the cards :) Filling out those cards is when we first learned that addresses in Dublin are a bit weird (from an American perspective). The legal address for our hotel was "Morrison Hotel, Lower Ormond Quay, Dublin 1, Dublin Co.". No wonder the Royal Mail in the UK gets letters addressed to "Steve near the baker", they don't seem to believe in addresses.

The equipment itself for the international flight was nice. The seating arrangement was 2-4-2 and we were on the left-two. I spent a while playing a game that was a bit like Solar Jetman while servalan showed her mastery of Hangman. I think that the seatbelt sign was being turned off for 2 or 3 minutes at a time every 15 minutes, followed by another "the captain has turned on the fasten seatbelts sign in response to reports of turbulence ahead". When the seatbelts sign came off for more than 3 minutes we went to the back of the plane to stand for a bit, and we got kicked out maybe 10 minutes later because the rear was "a work area", we had to go to the center crossover. No worries, though, because the pilot flipped the fasten seatbelts sign back on and we sat down.

The seatbelt sign stayed on through drink service and dinner, though there had yet to be any of the turbulence they had warned us about. I was reasonably pleased with my food, my spouse less so. But that's okay, she gave me her cheesecake and I gave her my roll (and she picked at her chicken dish, while I ate the entirety of my beef dish).

The captain still didn't show any sign of turning it off, so I flipped through the movie catalog and decided to watch The Men Who Stare at Goats. The plane had the annoying dual-mono headphones jack (but my Quiet Comfort 2s came with an adapter for that), but that meant splitting audio wasn't easy and so we could watch the movie "together" we then spent 10ish minutes making it through 2 minutes of film by trying to coordinate the video. I finally found a use for an XBL party, and sure enough I couldn't use it. In the end I think I did a pretty good job, given the delays in processing time. Anyways, the movie was kind of meh, making the coordination effort less satisfying in the end.

I floated between Hangman, the Solar Jetman-like game and reading for a bit while they kept doing the schizophrenic transitions of the fasten seatbelt sign, and eventually decided to do what practically everyone else was doing: sleep. And just as I was about to nod off they turned the fasten seatbelt sign back on, and did the PA announcement that I had come to hate so badly. Feeling sort of loopy I decided nothing too serious, and started Planet 51 from the kids movies section (it was very cookie-cutter, but not bad). The light level in the plane started changing, and I opened my window to find dawn over the Atlantic Ocean", eventually followed by a breakfast sandwich on a croissant (far less impressive than dinner). servalan started 2012 and barely finished it before landing because they kept coming on the PA (which paused the movie) to talk about stuff we didn't care about. Meanwhile, I was enjoying the flight status screen, which kept telling us things like that we had yet to move.

We landed at Dublin at 8am BMT after waking up at 6am PDT (from 3 hours of sleep), a difference of 18 hours (during which I didn't sleep). So when we landed I was ready for bed, at the start of a brand new day. Oh, joy.

While the missus was wranging up some euros by playing the ATM game I wandered over and asked the information desk if, perhaps, our hotel had shuttle service (it did not). A cab was going to run something like 35 euro, I think. But we decided that since we were going to be staying in Dublin for a few days, maybe we should buy a bus pass. We saw the sign, then asked for "two of the 25 euro bus passes" and the lady was confused. She asked where we saw that price, because people kept asking for that price, even though it was 26 euros. She came and watched the sign scroll back to that page, said something like "whaddya know?", and charged us 26 euros anyways. Since we never used the bus we should have just paid 7 euro per person for the airport to city centre fair, but that was something we learned on this trip :).

A nice, friendly person told us what bus route we wanted to take, where to get off, and pointed things out to us on a map. Here's where we learned that in Dublin street names last for about 2 blocks, which is why you can just be "Morrison Hotel, Lower Ormond Quay", it's a pretty reasonable identifier. So we got off at the right stop (yay!) and wandered down the street with our suitcases in tow trying to find the hotel. We passed something that looked like it might, possibly, have been a hotel, but it didn't have any good signage so we kept walking. The road changed names, so we went back to the maybe-building. Tried to open the door, it was locked. Tried to open another set of front doors... locked. As I'm looking at the doors willing them to open someone walks up on the inside, points toward the side of the building, and starts walking back that way.

To be continued...
Monday, June 28th, 2010
5:56 pm
3.5 Weeks: Part 1: San Diego


I've decided to do this in parts, mainly so that I can write a chunk and post it before Bad Things Happen. I'm almost done with the uploading of pictures, but since things are already fading I decided I should get on it before it's all gone.

San Diego - 20 May 2010 through 26 May 2010

Okay, so I already described 20-23 May, but since this range would be the only photos that I uploaded to Flickr that wouldn't be mentioned, I'll go ahead and talk about them. The view from the vacation rental that servalan's parents were staying in was pretty awesome. It had a nice harbor view, a nice downtown view, and even a Balboa Park view. What was amazing, though, was to watch planes fly into San Diego (I got a less zoomed-in view, too... go forward a few more pictures from there... Slideshow mode is good).

We also had a beautiful view from our room at Paradise Point, and the building was not too bad, either.

What's the best thing to do the day after getting married? Well, we went to the San Diego Air and Space Museum to see Gumdrop and the "The Science of Aliens" exhibit. Don't pay for the aliens exhibit... it wasn't worth the extra cost. Sure, some of the stuff was interesting, but I far more enjoyed Gumdrop (and the rest of the Apollo stuff) and the airplane exhibits; especially since the aliens exhibit was mainly clips from Men in Black II and the War of the Worlds radio address (there was a small amount of "Earth life is so varied that extra-terrestrial intelligent life has no particular reason to be hominid", and a simulated other-world ecology display).

That night, for dinner, we asked for a recommendation for ocean-view dining at the concierge desk, and we were given a VIP referral to "World Famous". That meant our valet parking was free, and we got put at the top of the without-a-reservations seating list (though it was still a bit of a wait). The view was lovely, the food was not bad, and our waiter was terrible. The thing that I remember most, though, was a guy on the seawall who was doing calisthenics... before servalan convinced me it was calisthenics I had gone through "performance artist" (but no "please give me money" container) and "crazy guy" (but he wasn't barking at anyone or anything... just listening to headphones and doing his thing). Most of the people in, and around, the restaurant were staring, but he completely didn't care. I wish I was that self-confident.

We went to the CVS near where we had dinner to get some toiletry stuff, got back to the hotel and decided that we were going to have some of our tasty wedding cake for dessert... except since we had nothing with which to eat it, I went to a different (closer to the hotel) CVS to get paper plates and plasticware (which we sent home with her parents, along with the remainder of the cake, before leaving the country).

The next day, after getting some lunch, we went up to La Jolla, parked in free parking next to La Valencia (where we didn't have our reception) and wandered around for a bit. Starting with Scripps Park (where we, sadly, didn't have our wedding... though our wedding ended up awesome anyways), we encountered some twisty trees. I haven't identified the species yet, but I wonder if this plaque might have helped...

It was sunny, and the water was pretty, so we went down to the beach. I saw a sign (or two) that piqued my interest, so I went to look at the cave about which they were, presumably, speaking. After passing what we dubbed foot rock, there was a nice, stable rock bed that I walked through to pretty much nothing. Well, nothing that I could see... but there were people out there already, so I didn't go through to see what all the fuss was about. She was reading her book, and I was off taking random pictures... a lonely flower, the crashing 'surf', the pretty landscape, etc.

The tide was starting to come in, so we decided to abandon beach. But, first, I wanted to go see what was through that cave. I left behind the D-SLR since I was worried about dropping it. The cave floor had some water on it by this point, but there were plenty of rocks to walk across to get to the other side... which was gone. Right before I stepped onto the ledge that I didn't go past before, a medium-sized wave crashed against the rocks and splashed the wall at chest height right where I would have been had it come 3 seconds later. I very quickly started losing dry ground upon which to walk, so I decided to abandon cave. My serene walkway had become submerged.

Dinner on Tuesday was at the new location of the Bull and Bear restaurant, where we could have watched another sunset during dinner, if we hadn't finished and gone to get gelato nearby before sunset came.

One more trip back to CVS to get some last-minute stuff, a phone call to the airline that wouldn't let me check in online, and then we slept for 3 hours before waking up to go to the airport to fly to Dublin.

To be continued...
Thursday, June 24th, 2010
1:41 pm
One month down... many more to go!
Been married a month now with no major problems. Yay.

I really will get around to posting about the honeymoon/trip. The main holdup is getting all of the pictures uploaded so that I can make a post with lots of clever linking to pretty pictures. All of the CR2 to JPEG conversion has been completed, it's now the "sit and tag and describe the pictures in Uploadr, and wonder why it randomizes the order when you hit upload" stage. And, of course, waiting on it to upload.
Monday, May 31st, 2010
8:21 am
First kiss
So, we were there at the altar; did the first kiss, and as we start the kiss everyone starts laughing.

What in the world was up with that, people?
3:51 am
The 5 days of weddingCollapse )

Okay, I've been writing for almost 2 hours now, meaning servalan has finally woken up, I'll write about SD, Dublin and Belfast later.
Thursday, April 29th, 2010
11:33 pm
Hey, look! An update!
Two or three lifetimes ago I wasn't updating because there was so little going on. Every day was like every day prior, which was locally awesome and globally dissatisfying. Then I started dating servalan, and had things to talk about, including proposing. Then there was the whole weird time of "get used to the terms 'fiancee' and 'fiance'" (using the Firefox preferred spellings), moving into "plan the wedding". Then there was the first wedding planner fiasco and the reception venue fiasco. And then moving.... which is sort of still in progress (oh, wait, not there yet). But, really, the problem these days is my life has been too eventful, and after living through it, and then decompressing with friends, I don't often feel like going back and writing about it... which is unfair to anyone who isn't krunk4ever, Chad, or servalan (the people who often hear about things).

So, let's see.

The house: Which is "our" house, the one we're renting. We painted the master bedroom, put baseboards in it (and found out the room isn't square) ... there were several 'fail' stories about this, but they're in the past; painted the downstairs/media room; built a new mount for my projector screen; painted the bedroom that will be servalan's boudoir; painted the trim in the bedroom that will be the boudoir; picked out hardwood flooring for the livingroom (which is the library/my office) and got that installed (which was nearly a disaster); painted the trim in the library/office. And I've started hacking at the jungle of a back yard ... the blackberry bushes had decided they were in charge... though they're competing with the ivy, which might be winning.

Now that everything that needed to be done before "moving in" is finished (the flooring got installed last Friday) I can unpack everything that was in limbo (some office things, and lots of books). The weekend after this coming one we'll get to make the boxes feel loved again when we start putting servalan's stuff in them.

The wedding: As far as I know, everything here is good. Way to go servalan, and her wonderful selection in a wedding planner. It would be nice if we had more guests, though. Around 1/3 of my initial invitees declined, but it was a much higher proportion for her ... and even with re-invites we sort of quickly went from "sad we couldn't afford to invite everyone" to "sad that no one is coming". There was some drama around our liabilities with the US Grant hotel (she expected all of her guests to stay there... but then got massive declines, and we were under quota, so we paid the difference for people to move from the cheaper hotel; it saved us money).

The honeymoon: We probably need to finalize lodging. We know where we want to be and when, but only have the first of 3 weeks mapped out definitively.

The other house: This actually upsets me greatly. Having recently been looking at what's on the market as a potential buyer, I know that my house is in extremely good condition (and actually a little low for FMV) compared to other offerings. But there hasn't been a single offer in 3 months. And it's not like there's even been feedback of why people don't like it, so I don't have any action items coming out of it. And now that the home buyer incentives have expired (unless they just got extended again), I probably need to flatten the price and walk away with absolutely nothing. Protip: Don't get married during a recession, or if you do, make sure she digs your house.

Work: The previous drama ended, but then new micro-drama arrived in the form of my team split (or, well, is splitting). After much internal debate I decided to go with the offshoot, which means I get to keep all the things I like that I currently work on and dump all the things I don't like. Sounds like a slam-dunk decision, but it means a new lead and new coworkers... and I'm not always the best person when it comes to dealing with change.

Dancing: Have to learn how to dance for the first dance, right? The instructor says I'm quite good for never having done it before (I guess DDR does train you somewhat), which may explain why I went from "nervous that I'd be bad at it" to "bored" very quickly. An intermediate level group class approached "almost interesting", so maybe there's some hope (from servalan's perspective) for me in the future. Of course, she and the dance studio are having an argument right now over the word "unlimited" (they used it as no-numerical-limit, but there is a restriction... we weren't told about the restriction (beginner-level only) when we paid... at least, not that either of us remember).

Health: PT made me get some "motion control" shoes, and they've helped the ankle dramatically. We had started to address some pelvic alignment troubles which may have been induced by walking funny with the knee and ankle problems when dancing started. Dancing isn't exactly helping (well, it -might- be, because it's identifying places that hurt that didn't before, and they were probably going to hurt soon enough), but we're still making progress.

That's about it. I haven't really spent any time with anyone other than my dinner crowd and fiancee, but I expect to be more social after the honeymoon; since there won't be un/packing and wedding panic all the time.
Saturday, February 13th, 2010
9:32 am
On this day in history
I met the person I was later going to marry. Of course, I flubbed the date, didn't really leave her liking me (flubbed the date), liked her better digitally than in person (previous two points), decided to ask her out again and then later we reached mutual appraisal of awesomeness (though, sadly, not at the same time).

And while we were going to celebrate by doing coffee + a Bollywood film again, we're instead going on a date not representative of any previously... and that no one but us would enjoy as a date :)
Thursday, February 11th, 2010
1:21 am
The biggest change has to be that I moved out of my house into the rental that servalan and I picked together. How'd that go? Well, poorly. Very poorly? Okay, nearly a catastrophe.

Packing everything in the house:
Estimate: 14 hours
Actual: Oh, who knows. The first couple boxes (books, mainly) I did in advance. The 14 hours came and went; 6 more hours the next day, then furniture hauling, then some more packing; then more short trips for about a week.

Hauling furniture:
Estimate: 3 hours with the help of tekman
Actual: 3 hours with the help of tekman (load and unload) and krunk4ever (unload).

Most everything is still in boxes in the new house, because we're still working on the master bedroom (can't put the bed in the bedroom until we're done painting; and with the bed in the library/office can't set stuff up in there; which keeps cascading until I'm lying on a couch that faces the wall updating LJ).

So after a week of balancing "empty out Bothell" and "work on Kirkland", the Bothell house has finally gone on market. When I finished it out on Monday night it was fairly saddening; however, the more-than-50%-shorter commute has done a pretty good job of making me feel good about it.

At work we had a new milestone open up, and one of the things that landed on me was this tiny spec that would fulfill the Mark Ardis rule if it didn't have 3/4 of a page of "header" to it. So, naturally, after I did 20 minutes of work and had everything working perfectly the previous assigned dev (one of the worst API designers I've ever worked with, and just got bumped to Principal SDE) threw a hissy fit about how I didn't do it the way he would have and that I needed to redo it ("Just because you're assigned to do the work doesn't mean you get to go behind my back and change the design" -- not that the design was anywhere but in his head, and his design wouldn't even have worked). So we end up with a compromise, because I don't feel like arguing. Doesn't work. Since he actually said in a partner meeting "I've spent more than 15 hours thinking about this, I'm done listening"; had to push it up a level. What came down was a compromise compromise. Got that working. Now a partner is trying to say they don't like it, and asking why [the stupid part] is there. Annoying, since I thought this was all done.

Wedding planning is getting better. Good job servalan.

Okay, probably had more stuff going on (like the trip we took this past weekend), but between the stress from the crap at work, moving, selling my house, and weddingy stuff I've been neglecting to write it down (relying more on verbal ranting and the like). As for the trip we took this past weekend, that's servalan's to talk about.
Saturday, January 2nd, 2010
12:57 am
Mildly amusing
On my way home from servalan's tonight I passed by a car that was off the road with its hazards on. Pulled a U-turn to see if they needed help, and no one was around. Not feeling resolved enough, I called it into 911 so that someone could deal with it (or not). So I relay my location (on Poplar between Larch and Vine), which the computer doesn't like. Larch is in unincorporated Snohomish County, Vine is in Brier. So had to get the location a bit more precise before the computer would send it off to dispatch.

I guess the county just prefers to be hands-off if it's in the city, since they have nowhere near the on-duty density of the city officers.

Hopefully if I said something like "and the guy is hanging out the window bleeding really badly" they'd just dispatch both to be safe.
Thursday, December 17th, 2009
10:16 pm
Would have used twitter, but...
Okay, so I don't really even like twitter, but that's where short stuff goes, no? Well, twitter.com is taking too long to respond (sez FireFox)

Whatever. Longer version :)

Last Saturday Amazon thought to email me to let me know that Bosch DLR165K Laser Distance Measuring Device was on sale for $64.99. I finally succumbed and bought it. In the hour I've had it tonight I've had at least 10 dollars worth of amusement, and since it serves practical purpose it should end up being worth it.

How much fun? Well, I just sent servalan this mail:
For some bizarre reason I know that my bedroom is 12.85’ x 12.50’, plus the doorway (1.9’ x 3’ (or, you know, 2.985’, but I’m generous)). Oh, and the bathroomy area (5.89’ x 9.08’), and closets (2.02’ x 7.98' + 2.11’ x 5.885’), and the half-bath (7.965’ x 2.83’).

Wow, much more satisfying than "New LASER tape-less tape measure is fun! Whee!"
Sunday, December 13th, 2009
11:57 pm
When it rains it pours...
I guess I'll start off by admitting things aren't horrible. I still like my job, no one is actually dying, I still have a fiancée (amusing note: the iPhone corrects "fiancee" to "fiancée", but Firefox wants to do it the other way), etc. But I still reserve the right to be whiny, and shall exercise it thusly, with what turned out to be a much longer than expected post.

Okay, so you find yourself in love. Somewhere along the way you're convinced it's a good idea to get married. While I'm still convinced that it was the correct decision then, and it will have been the correct decision after we get married, I often find myself thinking something akin to 'is this really what I want?'

The problem isn't being married. No, it is getting married. As servalan recently described, we've had trouble with this part, and I'm the wimpy groom-to-be who is stressed out from the whole thing without having done "measurable work". We went to San Diego, met a wedding planner (and decided to hire her), found two locations, and returned satisfied in a job well done. Of course, we then fired the wedding planner (sort of... we never technically hired her because she failed to be organized enough to get us a contract). After hiring a new one we picked one of our two locations (my second choice, but the alternative ended up being way out of our price range). Then that venue caused us trouble by having let us plan around their 2008 prices, then gave us a contract for 2010 prices (and some policy changes)... and apologized, saying verbal was non-binding. Then there come the arguments where I'm insisting that I really do not have any opinions remaining this late in the game (we have gone under 6 months to the date we picked out from the first venue now), and that anything Janine picks is good enough (and she doesn't believe me... hopefully she does now.). Okay, so venue 2 is looking like a good thing... and then it explodes too, for entirely different reasons. Now we get to find a third place, and by our original perfect date we have 161 days and 18 hours before ceremony time... to still do everything. (And somewhere along the way her best friend (and matron of honor) gained an intended parasite, and since her body will naturally expel it in an estimated 170 days, she has politely resigned.)

So, yeah. That's fun.

Oh, and there's the other problem. Housing. The problem is simple: two young adults are getting married and need a place to live. One of them owns a house, but agrees with the other that a) it's not a good location for the union and b) there are valid emotional reasons for wanting an 'our' place, not a promoted 'their' place. Every time that he's reminded that he has to sell his house at (if he's lucky) no out of pocket expenses, he gets a little depressed. And whenever houses that the couple can afford is missing something that the couple feels is essential (like enough space in the master bedroom for a king-sized bed and a dresser) that upsets him, too. Then there's the fact that the thing he was most looking forward to in moving was having less of a commute to work... but there aren't many houses (even for rent) that we're finding in our price range and close to work.

So, yeah. That's fun.

And I have a fiancée who doesn't want to take my name, which I can logically understand... but I feel strongly that our names match (and that I'm not taking hers); so the only viable option for us is to come up with a new last name for when we get married. I'm not against this, and if we would ever actually come up with a name I could probably really get behind it... but all of the strengthened relationship that I was building with my mother from when I'd call her every day when heading over to Janine's got completely demolished when I spoke to her about this. Basically, neither of my parents is happy with this plan, and every time they mention it I want to just hang up on them. Since a 15 minute call will likely bring it up, I've stopped calling. It didn't bother me when I was the son who was 3 timezones away with a work schedule that meant that there was not a good intersection of not at work/not asleep time and didn't call because of that... but now I'm the son who actually doesn't want to talk to his mother, and that makes me feel a little bit upset. Sometimes a lotta bit upset.

So, yeah. That's fun.

Sometime before we went to California, Janine had been complaining about back pain (which I already mentioned). It went from "back pain" to "mild musculo-spinal injury", and this week a specialist promoted it to "chronic, degenerative spinal condition". Like most things, there's a chance of things getting almost back to the way they were; but it's not likely. And we're not talking wheelchairs, or difficulties with insurance changes; but it's still unpleasant. Oh, and because it's now listed as chronic (and we're not actually married, yet), she officially offered me a chance to back out of the relationship with no foul. First, I was upset because she did this. Then I was upset because, while stuck in traffic on the way to pick her up for a party, I actually thought about it. Okay, mainly what I thought was "had we gotten married in November this would be moot", but I thought about it just the same. My 'official' position is that if she's not going to let this change her into a miserable, permanently depressed person then I'm not going to be leaving (and if so I'd have to think about it).

So, yeah. That's fun.

When I was finishing off the 20/20 program I got my weight down to 173. It crept back up over that first year to and around 203 (down from the original 240). I've held that weight since then, but I went up a pants size and the new, formerly loose, pants are now getting snug. Latest body composition test shows that while I've held weight, I've traded it from muscle to fat at an even rate over the year. So now every time I put on pants I'm disgusted with, and disappointed in, myself. I've started trying to be more cognizant of what I'm eating (calorie-wise. For example, I found out that the 'healthy' lunch I've had every other weekend or so (sometimes more often) since starting to date Janine is 1300 calories today... I had never bothered looking it up), and hopefully my physical therapist clears me for racquetball and the elliptical soon; so that I can use exercise to increase the loss rate and cure the resurgence of insomnia.

Weight: So, yeah. That's fun.

Continued ankle problems: So, yeah. That's fun.

Insomnia: So, yeah. That's fun.

Oh, and the winter is back in Seattle, so the sun's gone. With everything else that's going wrong I now get to play with SAD.

So, yeah. That's fun.
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