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Back In Boston

As I readjust to life in the big city.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

9:50 PM. Haven't even thought about dinner yet.

Walked home from work at 6:30 because there was a Sox game. Walked past Hynes and Kenmore to St. Mary's I should say, then a quick run on the T down to Coolidge Corner and more walking to my corner. Grabbed some laundry to do, headed to the laundro, walked the detergent back here, then back out to put stuff in the dryer and on down to BRKL Village to the Fleet ATM. Door was locked; wouldn't open with card. Gave a woman not-from-here directions to one up the street, walked back to laundro. Checked dryer, turned away from machine, bumped into girl from former job, talked to her for a bit, got stuff from dryer, headed home. Called a girl, talked to her for a bit. Got off the phone, put away laundry, cleaned the bathroom.

Blogged.

I need food.
posted by MJR  # 8:53 PM

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

I should be in bed. Really. I got too caught up in things here, though.

Today was a pretty good day. Got a semi-complete build on the QA server. I feel behind because there's still some shit to do. And something else I was supposed to have done that I emailed myself to take a look at tonight at home. But I didn't.

After racing all day to finish the build, I had a half-hour or so to just relax and chat with co-workers about the project and the new iTunes release and iPods, etc. Left shortly after 5:00. This has been a trend this week, although the past two days were more like 6:00 PM, because all the top brass is in Las Vegas for the annual conference. I've actually been pulled out the door early by one of my teammates and the team lead has been gone before us. "C'mon. We're leaving early. We'll tackle that in the morning."

Who am I to argue.

Pending Production build for Friday "evening," which means sometime in the late afternoon. THAT pisses me off. NOTHING should be scheduled for a Friday afternoon, even if Friday's date is the 30th and the client's contract starts the 1st.

Whatever.

The sky was clear and beautiful this afternoon, and still well-lit when I headed home. That was a good thing. And, as previously mentioned, iTunes released a feature-packed update today, which is a very good thing. But for all the great new features it didn't behave too well on my computer, so I just finished a slew of Windows updates that hopefully have chased away the demons that kept making my playlists look all glitchy.

I also came home to find an iTunes gift card in the mail from Mom, so I even had money to blow in the updated Music Store. I got the Butterfly Boucher album and some songs by Jem.

What else... what else... Who knows. That's about it.
posted by MJR  # 10:41 PM

Sunday, April 25, 2004

The collection of button-up, collared shirts I'm accumulating unnerves me. Even to wear with jeans. Signs of growing older.

Mom visited this weekend, which is always good. I always get to see more of Boston than typical when she's around.

She arrived Thursday and I arrived home from work miserable. I left promptly around 5:00 but I was tired and had barely recovered from my cold before being whacked in the head with tree pollen allergies early in the week. We ordered chinese and watched TV. At 9:00 we unloaded all the stuff I had left at their house (summer clothing, computer gear, books) from her car and moved that.

Friday, as you may know, was rainy, rainy, rainy. The cuffs of my pants were soaked when I arrived at work. I left Mom at home with the keys and she checked out Brookline Village and then Coolidge Corner in the afternoon once the rain stopped. Homemade cooking for dinner that night a la Mom, followed by an encore viewing of Kill Bill, Vol. 1 on DVD for her sake.

Saturday was the capstone, though. After breakfast with Mark at Lucy's in Brookline, Mom and I headed inbound on the T, destination: MFA. Instead of going all the way into Copley, on what was shaping up to be a beautiful day, we got off at St. Mary's, cut down Park Place past the Fenway stop on the D line, and then onward to the backside of the Museum.

We were a little over an hour early to get tickets for the next available entry for the Gaugain exhibit, so we had time to wander around. We thoroughly checked out the Chinese and Japanese exhibits, which were amazing: artifacts dating back to 13th and 14th century BC and the largest collection of Japanese Buddhist art outside of Japan. Then after a brief respite quickly we checked out Egypt, which featured actual mummies, and then Greek & Roman art, which featured many, many art students doing sketches.

Then Gaugain Gauguin.

Pretty fascinating. The exhibit told the whole story of his mission in life and his time in Tahiti through captions displayed and the actual output of his work. Quite interesting.

By the time we got out of that, though, and dealt with the mob scene in the gallery-specific shop, the stifling heat in the museum and walking and standing had my head throbbing. We left and hopped on the E line into Copley.

Once there, with the wind blowing and sun shining, we sat for a bit and then walked half of Newbury. I faced a mob scene in a Starbucks to get a frap and Mom checked out some shops while I sat on the sidewalk and checked out the girls.

Finally, 6:00-ish, we, after much waiting, caught the T at Copley and headed home.

More home cooking, more relaxing with the TV.

This morning I hopped up at 9:30 remembering that I wanted to tend to Goldie. We drove Mom's car up to Home Depot in Watertown where I got a multimeter and brought that back. Cold, the battery was a bit low at 11.95 or so volts (instead of 12.6). Running, the voltage was 14.33 - 14.37 on average, which is 14.4, which is good (alternator-wise). So that made me feel better. After checking that out, I peeked in the window and saw that the battery light hadn't even come on. The battery's 5 years old and has been subjected to nothing but supershort trips that never charge it for half the winter. It needs to be replaced soon, but isn't quite dead yet. Case closed.

Then we drove Goldie up to Target to stretch her legs. A typical useless trip to Target, although I did get some new drinking glasses since my set of tumblers has, after various incidents, dwindled to 3. This becomes annoyingly apparent when you have company for an extended period of time. I also bought Ghostbusters on DVD and a shirt in the Gap Outlet.

So, just after Mom left at 1:00, the weather turned grim again and I turned my efforts toward laundry. Now, Dear God!, it's 6:00 and the weekend's waning.

Friday I went into crisis mode at work again, similar to Saturday, but even more annoying. I didn't get to post something I finished Thursday morning to QA til after 3:30 and one thing after another wasn't right. Finally I got a working version figured out and put together and posted around 6:30. Then I headed home. Tired. Beat. Feeling like I had stepped from the tech equivalent of an ER.

And tomorrow morning I have to jump into straightening the mess out and getting it working.
posted by MJR  # 4:57 PM

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

And, being an active Blogger blogger, I get to try out Gmail from Google. It's proving to be really, really cool. Message ordered by "conversation," or thread, it automatically detects new mail without reloading the page, has keyboard shortcuts, etc.
posted by MJR  # 9:13 PM

My life is whizzing past me at a blurry pace, rattling my nerves and jangling my senses. Tomorrow's Thursday already. These madcap days fly by, indistinguishable from the last or the next.

Today was a bit exceptional. It was an insanely long day. I told one of my teammates today that my impression had changed these past two weeks from those of the first two. It's chaotic. It's nuts. Too many people are pushing too many things all at once. We were supposed to have two weeks to comfortably do this build and we ended up cramming so much in that QA was a nightmare and we were patching the QA build all day while QA was trying to bang on it. That's not cool. On top of that, we're already now a day or two behind on the next release to go live on the 30th.

See, we work on a bunch of new features, enhancements or bugs and they all go on the QA server to get checked. If one of those items really needs to go live for a client or as a patch, it can't be isolated. It's all or nothing. So we push to get the whole thing live and hope for the best.

And by 8:00 tonight we got it up to the production server. Let's see how many patches result now.

So I got home late. I intended to laundry and finish cleaning tonight as Mom is visiting for a few days, arriving tomorrow. Getting off the T after 8:00, starving, and needing to stop at a store for cleaning products, laundry got nixed. It wasn't crucial. The cleaning's now done, and I grabbed Boca for dinner, so I'm set for the night.

That's about all, I guess.
posted by MJR  # 9:09 PM

Sunday, April 18, 2004

This ironing shit. How is it that a split-second slip of the wrist can result in a crease that no amount of ironing, for no amount of time, will take out. How does it take me so much longer, with the iron on top heat, to complete the task than everyone else claims.

A pox on my week it is.

Today was good enough until the weekend ended this evening, though. Got up at 9:30 when I couldn't sleep any longer. Puttered around for a bit before heading out by 11:30 to meet Mark & Craig at the Trident Bookstore on Newbury for lunch. Lunch was good but it was hot as hell where I was sitting.

The afternoon started becoming cloudy and more humid as we left to walk down Newbury, Boylston, through the Public Garden and across the Common to Loew's. Mark & I followed the rest of The Bride's story in Kill Bill, Vol. 2. It was great. Totally met, if not exceeded, expectations. We walked back to Hynes to get on the T from there so I could pop into Virgin to buy the soundtrack. And to feed our "keys" that the pretty girl on the corner on the corner of Boylston and Exeter gave us earlier into the machine in NikeTown to see if we won. Mark did. I did not. He walked out with a "gym bag" of some sort.

As I said, though, Kill Bill, Vol. 2 was great. It was flawless in comparison to the first one, which had one nagging little blemish on what was otherwise a superb work: While sitting in the Pussy Wagon after getting out of the hospital, The Bride says something about having to "will [her] legs out of entropy." I replayed it. I checked the definition to be sure I was thinking correctly. I was. Entropy is a state of motion. Atrophy would've been right.

Anyway.

The car might well be fucked, in terms of battery vs. alternator. I won't know until I get my hands on a voltmeter to check it for myself. Which won't be in the next few days now that the weekend is over and I'm back in the work week.

Team lead's out tomorrow and I'm supposed to wrap up work and do a QA build.
posted by MJR  # 8:32 PM

Saturday, April 17, 2004

I don't recall life being this chaotic when I was last employed. What the hell happened. By the time Saturday rolls around, I've accumulated nothing but a list of shit to get done. I can't plan on catching up or getting ahead on anything during the week because I never know if I'm liable to get stuck at work late.

So, after sleeping til 10:30 this morning I was out the door by noon to head in one direction and get a haircut. Then a pit stop at the apartment before heading in another to go into the Landmark Center to Bed Bath & Beyond to return curtains and then Staples and Best Buy to see if I could scratch anything else off my list. I did. Some cans of air to clean my laptop.

By the time I returned home a trip to Target in Watertown was in order to finish up the list. I stopped into the apartment once again, then headed out to the car.

The battery light was on again when I started the car and remained lit. The little eye in the battery was now red. I let the car run and run, which it did fine, but the light inside never faded and went off like last time.

I called home to consult Dad.

He couldn't guarantee that I'd get where I needed to go to take care of it, but agreed that the alternator was probably fine and my battery was on its last legs. Understand that the conversation resulting in that simple explanation took much longer and consisted of many, many, many more words, acronyms, prices, places to go, things to ask, specifications, and miscellaneous dos and don'ts.

It was 3:00 PM. I hadn't ate all day. The warm day had turned into a hot and humid one and my temper was wearing thin.

I went inside and ate last night's leftover chinese and checked out the AutoZone web site to verify that 1) there was a location on Arsenal St. in Watertown, and 2) they'd test the battery and alternator before I went ahead and bought one.

By the time I got to Watertown the battery light had gone off. Makes sense. The alternator's fine, the battery's losing its charge when it sits for a week at a time, 20 minutes of driving had charged things back up.

I went into AutoZone and asked if I could get my battery and alternator checked out before buying a new one and was asked to wait 10 minutes or so til things settled down. Miscellaneous jackals were lined up at the counter, bickering over returns, prices and attempting to haggle with the poor, frenzied staff. Finally I was accompanied out to my car.

If I can say one thing about Mr. AutoZone, he definitely didn't attempt to do whatever he could to make a sale. Quite the contrary. Once I told him the battery light was on the case seemed closed: 9 times out of 10, according to him, that means the alternator's in trouble.

He went ahead and checked the battery, though, red eye and all, and showed me that the meter pegged it around 12, which is good, but not as good as 14, where it should be. So it was okay. It had to be the alternator. He was a polite, nice fellow and knowledgeable, but I don't think I was getting through to him. I explained again that the light was on when I started the car, then faded and went out as I drove it. That the battery's at its worst when the car *sits* for days at a time, not after driving it around and sucking the life out of it with accessories the alternator can't keep up with.

But his verdict was in.

Then I went to Target. As fucking useless as ever. The place where I bought my Swiffer WetJet had plenty of them, a variety of refill bottles of floor wash, but not a single replacement swiffer pad. They had nothing else on my list and I, after being confronted with the prospect of paying for a new alternator, was sickened by the thought of spending more money. I made it out of there with a bottle of LiveWire, milk, Target brand Dran-o, the Swiffer floor wash, and Kill Bill Vol. 1 on DVD. Which Best Buy at the Landmark seemed not to have. *shaking head*

It was an uneventful ride back and I was convinced that my conclusion was the accurate one. I remain convinced. My dad shares my conclusion, and was able to inundate me again with a plethora of information and data and tips about purchasing a battery. All I need is something cheap that will consistently start the car and last for the 2-3 years I'll continue to own it. But, anyway, we agreed that it's obviously crapping out after sitting for so long and doesn't get sufficient recharge through these short trips around the city. In all likelihood, the alternator's fine.

My head, however, is not so fine. I still feel like my weekend, or what's left of it, is just one big To Do list and this weekly laundering of work clothes, followed by the Sunday evening ironing session, really wears on me.

I should start working on this project too.

And my voice is almost non-existent, even worse than yesterday.

Perhaps I'll watch Kill Bill.
posted by MJR  # 4:23 PM

Friday, April 16, 2004

From an email written by me yesterday (Thursday) AM: It goes without saying that gallivanting around Cambridge tomorrow night, boozing and at the very least getting excitable, probably isn't the best thing for my health: this thing will surely get worse before it gets better.

Ugh. I was right.
posted by MJR  # 7:05 AM

Thursday, April 15, 2004

I saw a reverse Holden Caulfield tonight. *She* was running for the bus *carrying* all the goddam fencing equipment.

Today is April 15th. Fortunately I checked the news on CNN.com at lunch time for had I not I would've completely forgotten that it was tax day. I filed my Federal taxes in January, via TurboTax, the instant I had all the requisite materials, purely out of desparation for my hefty return. The piddly State ones compelled no sense of urgency in me.

I actually printed out and filled out the form this past weekend, but I had to do a clean copy and get it in the mail. I did so when I got home and walked it up to Coolidge Corner where I deposited it in a mailbox that would be emptied and its contents postmarked by midnight.

Then I got Boca Grande.

Today was also a day for a Red Sox game. A night game. This makes my life hell. This causes me to spend 1 full hour getting home from work because the three C lines that passed (amidst all the B, D, and the useless E, that won't unload at Kenmore, lines) were crammed full to the doors. Oh how I wish there was some solution to Game Day T traffic. Aside from walking home, which I'll do when it's nicer out.

And Monday is Patriot's Day. For you non-Bostonites, Patriot's Day is a state holiday that serves as an excuse for many Boston employers to give staff the day off so they don't have to deal with Boston Marathon traffic. I don't have Patriot's Day off this year, even though my employer, located on Dartmouth Street 2 blocks from the Copley T Stop, which I use and which will be shut down, is right near the Finish Line.

In less than a week this cold has burrowed its way from my sinuses into my chest and taken root. I'm miserable. I feel fine overall, except being racked with the occassional coughing fit or waking up for 1 1/2 hours in the middle of the night coughing and unable to breathe through my nose.

But a secret weapon arrived today in the mail.
posted by MJR  # 7:10 PM

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

I wish I had bought more Girl Scout Cookies.
posted by MJR  # 7:09 PM

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Work busy. Still sick. Torrential rain outside. New reply from Sandra. C'est la vie.
posted by MJR  # 5:54 PM

Monday, April 12, 2004

I seem to have misplaced my knack for observing things Boston. I'll blame it on this miserable head cold that's still with me. I left work at 5:30. That was all they were getting out of me today. Not that I even felt productive at any point feeling like this.

I slept terribly last night too. I'll blame that on the sudafed-containing cold medicine. Sudafed always amps me up.

Saturday included Boca Grande for lunch and Coolidge Corner Clubhouse for dinner and a few beers. Those are Boston things.

Mrs. Grass's Soup is not, but it's what I'm having for dinner.

One thing I have noticed, again, not about Boston, is that the ads for The Punisher look like a cross between some dated movie that would air on the USA Network and an ABC Sunday Night Movie. Enough with the comic book exploitation already.

Still sick,
Mark
posted by MJR  # 5:54 PM

Sunday, April 11, 2004

Happy Easter. I'm sick. I need to do laundry. I'm listening to 1/2 The Ditty Bops' album. I could only get 6 of their songs with the iTunes Pepsi caps I have. There's one more in the fridge. Then, who knows what.

I need to do laundry or else I'm screwed next week.

I can't handle the thought of getting up and going to that job with this cold.

My Easter basket is a box of Girl Scout Cookies, though. Caramel Delites.
posted by MJR  # 11:37 AM

Saturday, April 10, 2004

I just remembered dreaming this morning that I was reprimanded at work for not staying late enough every day. Something else goofy happened too, though; I was out of the office without filling out the right paperwork.
posted by MJR  # 11:00 AM

I have a cold. This would explain why I was so damn tired last night and did nothing but watch TV.

I found last night that cable company has been even more gracious in my case. FOX News and FOX Sports Channel are gone (good riddance!) and now I have MTV in my channel lineup.

And finally, I found decent chinese delivery. This has been a nagging problem for me. During my stay in Syracuse with friend Ben I had access to a cheap place right down the street that delivered food that tasted good and came in quantities large enough to eat leftovers the next day. I haven't found that trifecta (cheap, good, quantity) here yet. Until last night.

New Hong Kong, in Brighton, charged two dollars more than I was used to for my General Gau's (or Tsau's) chicken, but I got two appetizers (last night: egg roll and chicken fingers) instead of just one AND the portions were huge. Everything tasted good. There was a $2 service charge for delivery, but it arrived in under 30 minutes (none of that 45-minute bullshit) and the $10+ total got me a free can of soda. I'm pleased.

Woke up this morning to a baby crying across the way from my bedroom window, a stuffy head, and sore throat. And, of course, an agenda of things to get done.

And an eBay link from a woman my mom works with to an obscure HST book. I've already bid.

Selah.
posted by MJR  # 10:03 AM

Friday, April 09, 2004

The cable company was very nice to me. I got my first bill today and received free installation for my cable modem hookup AND there's no sign of a charge for the basic cable that's coming in on the pipe.

I just can't stay at work as long as other people. And there's no way I'm getting in before 9:00 if that time isn't my time. Which it wouldn't be. I start working on stuff as soon as I get in. That's the best I can do, I guess.

I keep getting given vague things to fix/handle/update/review/check and find myself at a point where I think I'm done but then talk to someone else and find there's more to do. It's frustrating. And there's such a flurry of things around me to do that I have trouble getting down to the details of any single one. Somehow, though, I get a bunch done in the afternoon and then around 5:00 start thinking about leaving and waste the next hour or hour-and-a-half because it's too late to start something new.

That's my day.

There was talk of doing a QA build at 4:00 today, which I'd have to do, and who knows what would go wrong with all the stuff I've been updating. Fortunately it was decided that there wasn't enough yet to merit a build (really? there's gonna be a shitload to check when we finally do one) and that we should spend more time reviewing things in Dev first (really? I thought I was just about done reviewing this stuff -- oh NOW you say I should check this, that, and the other case too).

Beautiful out today, wasn't it? Three of us walked the length of the Copley/Prudential Mall outside and grabbed sandwiches inside the far end to bring back to the office. Two of us went in the kitchen to eat where I regaled my teammate with stories of last summer's road trip.

I had to have some excuse for not planning on having any plans made for this summer.

I just got off of a lengthy phone call with my parents. My dad's a bit concerned with the rigged wiring in this joint too. I was describing the oddball outlets in the kitchen and bedroom, which he became convinced were 220 Volt and warned against plugging anything into them. But, I told him, I did try the kitchen one and not only did nothing blow up, but nothing even ran, and I have a lamp and alarm clock plugged into the bedroom one and they work fine. 220 would make sense too. While they're not near the stove or fridge, or any appliance in the bedroom for that matter, they ARE near windows, perfect locations for AC.

But we ended up thinking it was more likely that some asshole just installed them for whatever reason.

He was also worried about the ampage of my fuses. Yes, I have real fuses; not breakers. And only four of them. And 2 appear to be 20 amps or so and 2 appear to be 30 amps. Apparently this is a slight cause for concern too.

Who knows. He promised to come check out the wiring at some point and perhaps run a molding strip to a new outlet closer to the fridge and stove. I told him that unless he could get the 14.4 or 12.2 or whatever (???) was better for the appliances to them, I was already accomplishing that with the bright orange outdoor-grade extension cord run along the kitchen wall.

Enjoy your weekend.
posted by MJR  # 7:00 PM

Thursday, April 08, 2004

I think my overclocked laptop's fan doesn't come on so frequently when I'm not playing songs in iTunes. Which is fine, because I'm buying an iPod soon. Once I do I'll move all my purchased songs and bootleg MP3s onto it, delete any songs off my computer that I have the CDs for, and start copying all my CDs to iPod. Then I'll just keep it plugged into USB or FireWire (does FireWire provide power?) to keep the batt'ries charged and plug some speakers or headphones into it.

How sweet it will be.

Because then I can bring music to work and jack in and drown out conversations around me that I don't need to overhear and get into a zone.

I'm coming into some money and as tempted as I am to just order the damn thing, from Apple, so I can get it engraved with my name AND URL, and pay for it when the money comes, I'm going to be good, on principle, and wait til I have the dough.

Any other stories....? I can't think of any. It's a long, slow day when I'm just left to work on stuff that I can't turn around quick. I liked those little, urgent tasks better. Now I'm just in the midst of fixing a ton of shit.

But tomorrow's Friday.
posted by MJR  # 6:42 PM

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Whole world's gone mad. Everywhere I look. People on the T with iPods. Apple stickers on the back of minivans walking home.

I want my share.

I'm feeling quite manic. In addition to my fast-paced new job this side project that I'm tech lead on got the go-ahead this weekend. Whew! Tonight I cut out of work right at 6:00 to enjoy the nice weather (and I was at the point where I'd be starting something entirely new). Then I wasted the extra time staring at a shelf (yeah, I know) in Stop and Shop. What happened to the little two-pack of Salt & Pepper shakers they typically carry?
posted by MJR  # 6:22 PM

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Mystery solved. My but these condo homeowners are kings and queens of the cob job. I got up this morning and tried to turn on the TV to the same outcome as yesterday: Nothing. I played with the power strip, played with the power button; no results. Remembering that yesterday I turned the lamp on via its light switch in the hall, I tried that.

The DVD light came on.

Turns out that that entire side of my living room is on the light switch. I tried both jacks in the outlet too. Up until this past weekend my TV had been on the opposite side of the room, so if I turned it on in the morning, sans lamp, it was fine. Throughout the weekend any time I watched it I had on the lamp, so the switch was on.

How charming.

My apartment is not a shithole. It's not like my friend Ben's ragtag Jeep Comanche that's falling apart. It's more like his '83 Jeep Scrambler. Classic. Nice shiney paint. Character. Yet there are those few rust bubbles poking through. The muffler's starting to wear a little tiny bit. The wiring's not quite right so you can never tell how much gas you have. And sometimes the softtop roof leaks rain on your kitchen floor.

Yeah, it's like that.

It's in a great location in the neighborhood I've come to know well, halfway between Coolidge Corner and Brookline Village. It includes a rented parking spot in the back for what is, in this neighborhood, great rent. I'm renting from its owner in a condo building where most residents own their places. I've got tall ceilings, a separate living room that's just for couch sitting and TV watching, a hall that opens up sufficiently to provide me an office nook (where I'm sitting now), a huge bedroom, and an enormous kitchen.

I'm quite happy with it.

I'm tired as hell. Last night's time change high caught up with me. I really didn't want to get up this morning and the day dragged in many ways. I did a production build tonight with someone over my shoulder and patched up snags in the build here and there before that. Soon it will be my sole responsibility to do builds. Give the new guy the late in the day after QA gets their shit done tasks...

Poking around the company intranet today, I noticed the vast number of software colleagues who have not just Bachelors in Computer Science or Physics or Engineering, but Masters as well. If they don't have MBAs. How the hell did I fit into the mix with my BS in Telecom Mgmt and minor in CS. I guess I'll take it as a compliment that I can pull off the job without the extensive education.

Had dinner with Jim tonight, my first meal at the Parish Cafe in some time. Mmm.. Regal Regis and Corona.

I am tired.
posted by MJR  # 8:10 PM

Monday, April 05, 2004

I'm wired. The time change has gotten to me. It's not the caffeine; all I had today was a shitty 1/2 cup of coffee and one Pepsi, from which I scored another iTunes win.

It's gotta be this extra daylight that I started waking to between six and seven and got to walk home in. I was at work 9 hours today! I worked the whole time, too, but the day feels so short in retrospect. Surely I have more stuff to be done. It's already 8:30!

I didn't get to work until after 9:00 this morning, though. Why? The Post Office.

The USPS is irrelevant. They've shot themselves in the foot time and time again and it's no wonder they bitch and whine about losing business to the likes of FedEX, UPS, and, my personal fave, the Internet. So rare it is when I need to interact with the USPS, I can't even tell you the price of a postage stamp in a given year. All my bills are paid online except the rent check.

But this morning I had a few small packages to send. Pleased I was last night to visit USPS.com and see that my local branch had hours starting at 7:30 AM. I left five minutes early, walked past my T stop to the PO and went inside to find a line 10 people long and one poor, angry woman working the counter.

Now, it seems to me that if you're offering 7:30-9:00 AM, morning commute, hours you'd realize you were doing so for people who are on their way to work and have no means whatsoever of making it to the PO during their workday. People in a hurry. A lot of people in this city of ours.

But that would make too much sense. So, after losing 20 minutes of my morning, I shook my head and stormed out, got on the T, and, arriving at Copley at 9:05, strolled into the Back Bay PO and conducted my business in a more expeditious manner.

Little caffeine I've had today, but like a junkie returning to his dealer when he first gets back in town I hit up Souper Salad today for a Tuna Walkabout. I pretty much blew the amount of time I usually allocate for lunch just walking there from my office near Back Bay station (where I bumped into J.J.!), but it was worth it. I'm still convinced they put crack in the Walkabout dressing.

And my role at work is clearly emerging. We'll be offloading Christian's responsibilities to Mark, with Christian available as resource while he switches to Product Y. (We'll call my baby Product X.) Mark will be the Go To man for the Product X stuff Christian worked on. Mark will maintain responsibility of the XXXXXXXXX functionality, not just for Product X but for all common applications too. The build machine can go next to Mark's desk since he'll be responsible for the builds.

Oh joy.
posted by MJR  # 7:46 PM

The weather obviously sucked this morning so I wanted to check the morning news to see what I'd be facing when I stepped outside. I wandered into the living room, grabbed the remote, and hit Power. Nothing. Again I pressed the button. Again. Again. Again. Nothing. I walked over and pressed the button on the TV. Nothing. I flipped the switch that controls the other living room outlet; the lamp came on fine.

I walked back to the TV and flipped the power strip off and back on and tapped the reset button, which hadn't popped out, for good measure. Tried the TV again. Nothing.

Did I just lose a whole outlet? Everything else was working. No clocks were blinking in the kitchen, so there was no power outage and that nightmarish power drain on the one, single source seemed to be intact.

About to give up entirely and leave the mystery to be tackled when I arrive home tonight I gave the TV one final glance and saw the glow of the DVD player's Ready light. I pressed Power on the TV remote and it came on. All was right in the world again.

But what happened in the first place?
posted by MJR  # 7:06 AM

Sunday, April 04, 2004

I am a swirling vortex of productivity these days, though not as productive as my friend Ben who's now moonlighting as a DJ in a bar outside of Syracuse, NY. This is in addition to the car salesman gig that he arrives for by 9:00 each day and often stays at til 8:00 at night. Ben always was more productive. Never one to just loaf around and take a day off, his myriad array of Post-It notes makes it hard to see his desk for the tasks outlined upon it.

Me on the other hand, I like my time free and flexible outside of work and when I have it it's often wasted sitting at the computer. Not lately, though. Perhaps it's the Active Lifestyle multivitamins I've begun taking. Perhaps it's sheer determination to not live surrounded by the squalor that occupied my new apartment. Perhaps it's the fast-paced nature of my new job and the associated constant busy-ness. Something's kept me wound up and although I have slept in this weekend's mornings, once up I've been checking off To Do's like no other.

Typically each day I arise or arrive home with one room in the apartment to clean. Theories as to why it was so dirty abound: a former elderly resident who couldn't see, smell, or feel dirt and dust died, my landlord bought the unit and moved her son in who never cleaned, and finally rented it to me. Or - there was a fire in the unit below, which explains the replaced portion of kitchen floor and middle-of-the-apartment sag, and smoke damage wrought black grime all over the shelves which I've had to clean off since they never seemed to use them. Or - people were just lazy and never cleaned and didn't realize that typically before moving in a tenant one does a thorough job of that.

In any case, much cleaning has taken place over these past few weeks and I'm finally feeling on top of the situation. Likewise, not everything was unpacked and put away until necessary surfaces had been made clean, so I'm also finally feeling really settled.

Having basically lived out of my car for the past half-year, I've also found myself in quite short supply of many household items and, of course, some needed to be purchased specifically for this apartment. Once acquired, those needed to be mounted / hung / installed / or utilized.

There's also all the regular stuff that has to get done. Like laundry down the street so that I have clean clothes for work and the weekly ritualistic ironing of all those shirts and khakis. And making of those lunches I should really start bringing... Yeah, it sucks.

And finally, having a salary once again comes with its own duties. All that money has to be distributed and delegated to pay for various services and debts, payments need to be set up, deductions calculated, etc etc.

It's all a lot of catching up and that includes catching up on correspondence to inform people of this new chapter and how things have progressed. Now that I'm getting all caught up, though, and back in the swing of things after a scant two weeks, I need to find some stuff to do. I need to stay atop the crest of this energy wave. I need a life.
posted by MJR  # 5:00 PM

Saturday, April 03, 2004

Reading Hunter S. Thompson's "The Proud Highway: Fear & Loathing Letters, Vol. 1" fills me with desire to fire correspondence off at an unyielding pace to anyone who crosses my path.

To my upstairs neighbor: "Dear Neighbor, I cannot help but wonder, and subsequently am compelled to inquire, what exactly it is you do up there when you are obviously being quite so ambitious and mobile. Is this some sort of little-known aerobics routine? Are you obsessive-compulsive and unable to relax at home until you've paced back and forth some number of times? (If this is the case, one of these days I'm sure I'll get around to figuring out the exact number.) The only other possibility that comes to mind right now is that you're in a perpetual state of hopeless drunkenness, struck with sudden inspiration to traverse the apartment to take care of something and then forgetting what it was you set out to do and heading back for another hit on the bottle. If this is the case, please, PLEASE, I implore you, invite me up to join in the merriment.

Hoping the latter is true and that you stock large quantities of Jack Daniels,
Mark, Unit #3"

More to follow as the mood strikes.
posted by MJR  # 6:10 PM

Friday, April 02, 2004

I've really got to stop going to the Target in Watertown. Not once have I headed there with a list of items, or single item, in mind and actually found it on their shelf. Yet I still manage to leave with a cartload of stuff.

Of course this afternoon's fun was compounded by Friday end-of-day traffic and Target staffing every mentally handicapped employee, God bless them, on the same shift. It really wasn't all that bad until I got to the register and Scott started flinging my items onto the post-belt counter with reckless abandon and, just as I predicted, tossed a spray bottle of Tilex (with all those lovely warnings about using the toxic product in a well-ventilated area) right into the same bag as my mouthwash.

And then this little six-outlet thingie I found that looked so great for my kitchen came down the belt. I know I've yet to tell you about my kitchen, but I'll divulge this for now: it only has one working outlet. I've got an extension cord snaked around the wall to run the igniter for the gas stove and the fridge and the toaster oven, and everything else (the microwave, the can opener, the blender, etc) sits near the actual source. This six-outlet thingie would've greatly expanded my ability to risk burning down the building, or at least blowing a fuse, and conveniently plugged into both existing jacks once you removed the wall plate.

But back to Scott. Scott tried to swipe this product and it didn't register. Scott had a minor apoplexy. He immediately flipped on the flashing light above him and summoned help. "It doesn't scan at all. It doesn't scan. And I can't enter it in." As I stood by impatiently, rolling my eyes, the other guy told Scott it was a new item that wasn't yet in the system. "Oh no," Scott said, "we've had this for a mon-- months, it's been on the shelf for months."

I'm sure Scott knows the inventory that well.

They then summoned someone else. I told Scott to just take it off the order, that I could do without it. "Okay," Scott said, "but I'm still gonna ask George about this one." When George called him back he explained that "he doesn't want it, but it's not in the system and it doesn't scan. It doesn't scan."

Scott started tinkering with buttons at this point and I watched as every item that had been scanned flashed through in succession on the little screen. He told me I had to put my debit card back in the reader. I didn't want to. Would I be charged for every item twice? Would Scott do that to me?

The screen came up to enter my PIN. "See," Scott said, "you didn't get that far before." No, you're right, Scott, I didn't.

I made it out alive, checking account intact, still needing to go across the street to Home Depot to buy a file to fix my bedroom doorjam.

Having the day off today while they move all the office's belongings to the new location, I ended up staying in bed til almost noon. Numerous times I half-awoke and felt semi-guilty about not getting up; I had a list of things to get done today and even went to bed early last night. Once I finally did wake up, though, I thought about how the past two weeks have been the first time in so many months that I've had my own space again. That I've been able to retire and to rise on my own whim. I owed it to myself to sleep in.

Perhaps this newly regained sense of space is why I'm not overly driven to make plans for the evening or thrust myself onto the dating scene at the moment. That and the freezing, rainy weather perhaps.
posted by MJR  # 6:26 PM

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