Saturday, March 29, 2008

There was blood

So I'm sitting at my computer last night, and I have to sneeze. I do and then follow that with a good nose blowing. And then my left nostril just started running... with blood. The inside of my nose has been so fragile and dry with this sickness, it almost overshadows the sore throat. And the only thing I could remember from my first-aid class (only a month and a half ago) was to lean forward and pinch the bridge of my nose. Maybe there's no more to it than that, but that was all I could remember. Through the evening I had three more relapses, one of which I ended up with blood on my pants.

I ended up getting ahead of it and plugging it up safely, but I was nervous before going to bed. I kept expecting to wake up in the night with a big blood stain flowing over the pillow and onto the bed.

So today I am taking it easy... again. I'm tired of being inside. I don't mind being inside normally, but when you have to stay in it's annoying to say the least. So I'm reading.

I just finished Terry Pratchett's The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents which is really fun, and I caught more bad Pratchett in-jokes this time around. So I'm on to the fifth and sixth Kim Harrison book. When I'm done I'll go back to Pratchett and read the three Tiffany Aching books.

And speaking of Terry Pratchett, we watched the English television adaptation of Hogfather this week. That was really amazing. The only two big name stars were the ones who played Lord Downey and Archancellor Ridcully. I'm excited about The Colour of Magic which is actually TCoM and The Light Fantastic. It has Tim Curry and Jeremy Irons in it as well as a huge host of other big names. In fact, just go to IMDB and check out The Colour of Magic.

I am in awe.

And it had better come to the US soon.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Geek Signs

Now I'm not referring to the image to the right. What I mean is signs that are around me that I am a geek.
We'll skip the iPod, but the Bose headphones with leather zipper pouch? Maybe. The soundtracks to the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy playing on them? Definitely.
Then there's the Star Wars image a day calendar. The Die-cast-metal Superman figure on the monitor stand. My Justice League coffee mug from the now sadly defunct Warner Brothers Store. Three 6-sided dice on a key chain as well as a Stitch key chain. Another stuffed Stitch sitting on top of a bookshelf with a mini-plush Cthulhu. The magnetic dartboard on the wall by my office door. And the reproduction of the carvings of the gates of Moria taped to said door.
I think that pretty much covers it.
But see all of these have a logical reason for being here. Why shouldn't I have items that I like in my office? Doesn't it make more sense than a bunch of stuff that is just advertising for companies that want my company's business? Now I've got that too, but only where it is useful; like my dry-erase calendar from Woodward Drilling.
Although I feel I should explain the Gates of Moria on my door. I like to close my door at lunch, and often I'll go back to to work and not open the door until I happen to print something or need to leave my office. So I wanted a sign that said anyone was free to enter, and yet be more clever than the typical signs people put on their door.
Two people have already said, "Friend," before entering. One of them wanted to say the right word, but couldn't remember it. And that's half the fun.
By the way, the password is mellon.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Down with the Sickness

So after being down on Sunday with a fever circling 100 F, I thought I'd see how I was doing on Monday before going to work. Aside from the horrible sore throat, I felt listless, so I thought I'd stay home and monitor my temp. Usually it was all right, but occasionally I'd feel it spike. I only hit 100 again once, with aspirin and lots of water and orange juice I got it back down to 99.

I did get some reading done while I was in bed. I finished A Fistful of Charms, and two weeks worth of comics (5 weeks until Final Crisis). I also watched three episodes of "Superman and the Legion of Super Heroes" which I continue to enjoy. Even if each episode makes me think that I've missed some in between, and would leave me lost if I didn't have everything Legion back to 1965.

And so this morning I was at 98.4, and still feel kind of weak. No gym for me for a few more days, that's for sure. And I've tried everything on this sore throat: water, orange juice, Pepsi, tea, Tabasco sauce (not straight). Water's even starting to taste funny. I hate it when it does that.

One big happy thought are my Bose in-ear headphones we bought Saturday. They kind of fit in my ears like a hearing aid with soft silicone covers, and have a really rich tone to them. They even came with a cool zip-up leather case that is the perfect size for the iPod classic and the headphones. I look forward to trying them out in the gym, and seeing how much ambient music/sound/noise they filter out.

And today I continued my re-read of Terry Pratchett books with The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents. It's a great take on the Pied Piper of Hamlin.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

We've got it better than him...

Well, it's been a busy weekend, and it's only just now Sunday morning.

Friday I had dinner with my parents and some friends of theirs before they went to see "Brighton Beach Memoirs" at the Willows Theater in Concord. I'll be calling hem for a review this afternoon when I call for Easter.

Then I went home and watched Set 2 of "Cowboy Bebop".

Saturday I woke up feeling crappy with a sore throat. Jennifer and I went down to Fremont, and had breakfast at La Piñata #5. We wandered around for a bit, went to to Livermore for my weekly fix of comics, and then we went to Costco for Jennifer's GPS unit.

I had promised her a GPS for Christmas, and she said we would wait for a good one to go on sale in the new year. Costco had the Magellan 4250 for $250. The Davnille store was sold out, and we got a rain check. We thought we would run to the Concord store, and they didn't have an offer up for a rain check. Now smart Jennifer had a print out of the sale offer from the internet. So I thought we could go to Fry's Electronics and see if they could match the offer. And while they salesman we talked to said they couldn't (they had it for $500) he raved about the unit itself. He used to have one and loved it, but it had been stolen while he was in Las Vegas. He thanked us for showing him the add, and it sounded like he was considering joining Costco to get the unit as a replacement.

So slightly downhearted, we went home to rest before our show for the evening: MooNiE and Broon at the Dean Lesher Theatre in Walnut Creek. We love them at the Renaissance Faire in Casa de Fruita, and while their show is different in a theatre (no fire eating or fire juggling) they are always funny. However at intermission we realized we had not eaten since we were in Fremont. So after the show we drove almost home and had French dips with mashed potatoes/baked potato at Carrow's. That put us home around midnight.

I took a Nyquil to sleep, and apparently drove Jennifer out of the room with my snoring.

This morning my throat is not much better.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Have you seen this weather?

And this is why I live in California. I don't have to live in fear of tornadoes. I don't have to shovel snow; I don't even have to see snow unless I feel like driving to it. I don't have to worry about hurricane season. And despite how many of my other statesmen feel, rain is a good thing.

I can remember spending hours in the basement the first time I lived outside of Louisville, Kentucky during the plague of tornadoes in the 70s. Luckily the basement was finished and nice, and I was too young to be really upset when the power went out. But remember my mother's fear of the possibility of the tornado, and her being afraid for my dad who was at work. We followed Dick Gilbert's constant updates on the paths of the tornadoes from his traffic helicopter.

The second time I was in Louisville we didn't really have any tornadoes that I remember, but when I was in Lexington for grad school and living with my aunt and cousin there was a tornado that skirted the southern portion of the city. My aunt's house didn't have basement, so to be safe, the three of us and Blackie the Whippet all crowded into the master bathroom which had no windows or outside walls. Now while I say "master bathroom" it was not really that big. Cousin Lee (over 6 feet tall and of stocky build) sat in the bathtub holding the dog, my aunt sat against the wall by the sink, and me? I got to sit against another wall with my legs straddling the toilet. Needless to say, Lee and I quickly got tired of this and got up to walk around. So where did we go? We went to the dining room with it's large sliding glass door and watched the lightning play across the sky. Nothing happened to us or the house, but all those thoughts always come to mind when people say, "Wouldn't you rather live somewhere cheaper? Maybe without earthquakes?"

To which I say, "Earthquakes may cause more destruction, but you can build for them to minimize the damage. And tornadoes have an annoying tendency to turn around to go for the houses that they missed."

And remember my profession: I'm a geologist. I like earthquakes. In the early 80s we had a bunch of earthquakes in the San Francisco Bay Area. Many of them were centered in Livermore near Lawrence National Laboratories. And what did they always show on the news? The plutonium stockpile. That's when I say it takes more than a rocket scientist or a nuclear physicist to intelligently plan for earthquakes.

I also remember going to the San Francisco Zoo and hearing all of the animals going berserk. We stopped for some food, and then went into the zoo. While we there a 5.4 (5.8?) quake hit. The liquor store next to the deli we ate at was on the news showing the broken bottles.

Then on October 17, 1989 at 5:00 PM where am I? Sacramento. Around 5:15 I get a call from a friend asking if my parents are okay, I tell him as far as I know, but thanks for asking. He says, that there was an earthquake south of San Francisco and the Bay Bridge had collapsed (yes, I know it didn't but we didn't know that). That's when the fun began. Dad had a cell phone and still couldn't get through. I ended up hearing from a family friend in Louisiana telling me he had heard from Dad and that he and mom were both okay. And did you know that Alaska's Long distance goes through California (or at least it used to). I had an aunt and uncle who were cut off until the circuits relaxed.

Then for Northridge, I was actually outside of Death Valley near Fort Irwin. No biggy there.

Now that I've been back in the Bay Area, I've felt a few, but there's been nothing big for a while. And still I say, I need not fear the green sky.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Vernal Equinox

Yes I have. This morning before I left for work. Have you?

So last night I watched "Orgazmo" for the first time. Now, I have been watching South Park for only a few years, not having cable/satellite until recently, so I'm catching up. And while "Orgazmo" was not a great movie (in fact it's a pretty bad overall), it was really funny in spots and I enjoyed it.

So why did I enjoy it, and yet can't stand the Wilson Brothers in movies (unless Jackie Chan is in them), am beginning to boycott Will Ferrell movies in general, and just loathe Ben Stiller?

Perhaps it's the level of the comedy? Have you seen "Orgazmo"? They don't get much lower.

Maybe the concept? See above.

I think some of it may actually be where I saw some of these people for the first time. I didn't realize why I hated Seth Rogan until I rewatched "Freaks & Geeks" and realized what an asshole his character is in that show. I knew he was in the show, but forgotten the impact he made on me. Perhaps that's why i don't like Ben Stiller whom I first saw in "Reality Bites" and on "Friends". But I enjoyed "Knocked-Up", but have yet to like a Ben Stiller movie. And I had "Shanghai Knights" for my first Wilsons experience, and yet don't like anything else they've done. And if you put the Wilsons and Stiller together ("Royal Tannenbaums"), I'll tell you that I would rather spend my Saturday having my mother watch television at me.

All right, I'm done.

Watch "Justice League: The New Frontier". It's awesome.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Something Cheap and Superficial

Perhaps you've noticed... I made some changes to the layout. An old friend (don't ask how old, please) gave me some tips, and I gave the layout a facelift. I've added some of my favorite sites (one being hers), and a list of the Webcomics I couldn't live without. And the bit that started it off, a picture and link to the book that I'm reading right now.
And believe me when I say that no matter how many links are there on the left (can you believe I just did the L thing with my hand to check left or right?), it's probably only about half of what I read. These are just the best.
I think I started reading webcomics when I finally had a regular desk job and a computer. My friend John got me hooked on two Sluggy Freelance and PvP Online. Slowly others grew from those, and I'll probably save talking about each for when the Block hits.
Then came the blogs. I used to read Belle de Jour, but she took a hiatus, and I couldn't get back into it. She turned it into a book. From her I found Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About by Mil Millington. From him I have three books on my shelf and am rabidly waiting for the fourth.
From there things have gotten out of hand. Now I have (in the favorites pane on the side of IE) over a page of Blogs/Link Diversion, and 4 pages of Webcomics. Luckily very few Webcomics are Daily or even M-F. Otherwise I'd get absolutely no work done.
And so now I can make in jokes that are so old hardly anyone would get them anymore:
And so I think after all my work that I'm done for today. However this is becoming addictive, so I'm sure I'll do more tomorrow. Meanwhile, enjoy.

Cincinnati of the Damned and other vacation locales

Right now I'm about half through Kim Harrison's Rachel Morgan series. I've been en joying the stories and have to agree with my friends who have also read them that Rachel is constantly doing stupid things, and that the background characters are usually more interesting that Rachel is. But I'd still recommend it for people who like a little romance/modern fantasy.

I also like it because the local home for non-humans (vamps, weres, and witches) is across the river from Cincinnati, and that's where I was born.

For other books in a similar vein (sorry), I like Magic Bites the first of the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews.

But the best of all is Kelley Armstrong's Women of the Otherworld. It's almost a scientific modern fantasy series. There are werewolves which are covered in the first two books and I think the sixth, and then witches, warlocks, demons, vampires, and necromancers are slowly introduced. The characters are captivating and you can really feel their emotions as you read.

And now, I have to admit that aside from the old Thieves' World series, I don't usually read women authors. I think I got a bad taste in head over them from Lynn Abbey and Janet Morris. Morris always wrote of violent men and aloof and/or helpless women. Abbey, just never thrilled me. And so I was very surprised when I read my first book by Kage Baker.

I read a collection of short stories called Mother Aegypt, and I had never had my emotions played with so much while I read. So I started her Tales of the Company, and thoroughly enjoyed it, both the full length books, and the short story collections. And the Anvil of the World was a great fantasy world.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

iPodicus Restoratus!

So, Saturday I began having strange problems with my iPod. I'd had it outputting to the stereo in the library, and when I took it down I noticed that it squeaked. Now this is supposed to be a precision machine, and the last thing I would expect delicate electronic components to do is squeak. I mean, where would I put the oil?

So I very careful and cautious when I plugged it into my computer to adjust the playlist. And it started squeaking.

So, I got nervous. I unplugged it, reset it, and while the Apple logo was up for the reset it squeaked. Then I went to the Apple support page, and there was nothing about iPods that squeaked. I followed the Rs, and ended up going through all of them up to the Restore. I ran the restore (squeaking away), and then went to sync it, and it kept hanging between 0.75 and 1.3 GB.

So, I made an appointment at the WC Apple store, getting in Sunday afternoon. I went in, and told them what had happened. And of course it did what all devices do in the presence of a repairman... It worked fine. It loaded up over 2 GB and never squeaked. The Genius (I use the term as a title, not as a rating of the guy's intelligence, although he was very nice and understanding) said that if he couldn't experience the problem, there was nothing he could do. He did wrote down the problem on a business card, and said that if it happened again to come back in and talk to him.

So, I got home and tried to sync again. And it started squeaking. I immediately went and made an appointment for Monday afternoon. And things went incredibly smoothly. I went in, and the store was probably half the decibels (yes I know it's a logarithmic scale) it was on Sunday (less children mostly). And I'm all prepared to show it squeaking. I take a seat to wait, and they call three names of those with appointments before me, and none of them answer. So I'm next, and without even asking for him, I get the Genius who helped me on Sunday. I told him I had been there the day before with the squeaking drive, and showed him his card as a reminder. He looked at me and said, "Well, to show you I am a man of my word, I'm just going to switch it out for you."

So, I have a new iPod. The old one was only 3 months old, but now it's relatively pristine. I went home with trepidation, and opened iTunes, and plugged in the replacement in attempt to sync. It didn't squeak, and in began to fill up. I decided to read, and check it every chapter. And all through the evening it slowly filled up. By the time I went to bed it was over 35 GB and still syncing. This morning I had the joy of finding a completely synced iPod.

So, I am happy.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Lazy boy

Yeah, I missed posting last night. I was having a party. We only had seven guests, but that made nine of us in the house, and we had a good time. We did all the St. Patrick's Day stuff with beer and corned beef and cabbage. And people were here until after one in the morning.

We drank (beer, whiskey, and some strange green liqueur), we laughed, we played games (Mad Gab, Balderdash, and Apples to Apples), we told bad jokes, and we talked about geeky things.

But for now, let's talk chocolate.

Friday night while I was writing my post about HAZWOPER classes, I was drinking a Christopher Moore zinfandel and eating dark chocolate. The bar was 88% cacao, and Hachez "Premier Cru". I ate about a third of the bar and while it wasn't great (being slightly flavourless) it was still good with the wine. And then every now and then I would break it up with a handful of M&Ms. That's when you realize how really sweet those candies are.

I have a tendency to look for new dark chocolate when I go shopping. Trader Joe's is a great place, but I've found some others as well. TJ's Traveler's dark chocolate used to be my favorite, but it has become too sweet for me. Scharffen Bereger semi-sweet (62%) is quite good, but it is also sliding to sweet. That's probably why I was enjoying the Hachez. I have several other bars in a plastic bag ready for sampling.

I've got a Hershey's Cacao Reserve at 65%, Cafe-Tasse at 77%, See's Extra Dark at 62%, Michel Cluizel Grand Noir at 85%, and a Green & Black's Organic Bittersweet at 70%.

They go well with port and brandy too.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Ahhhhh, I feel refreshed.

Okay, who thought of Madeline Kahn? In a pink Vegas style outfit. With Sheriff Bart in her room. Okay, maybe in another post, because me? I'm talking about my 8-Hour HAZWOPER Refresher.

Every year to maintain the... freshness?... of my 40-Hour Hazardous Waste Operator and Emergency Responder (HAZWOPER) training, I take an 8-hour class.

Now my first 40-hour class was supplied by then On-Site Environmental (now Aerotech Engineering) a placement company. Like Kelley Services, but for scientists. I took the class in Vallejo at an adult education school for a week. It was taught by a former Oakland Fire Department/Hazardous Response Team member. We watched lots of videos of things blowing up (crystallized picric acid was my favorite), learned what the placards and numbers on the side of trucks mean, and the last day had a pretend incident. I was in charge of determining what the exclusion zone size should be and how to deal with our fictional spill. Fortunately the secret tip on what was in the ruptured drums was wrong because unfortunately, I missed that one of the chemicals was water reactive and had that been what was in the drums, I would have killed the two men in the exclusion zone.

The best story I have from our instructor was a story he told about his team being called in to a warehouse that had (I think) half a dozen drums (plastic, maybe) that had a white crystalline substance around the rim. Now description this is has a similar appearance to many things, one of them being picric acid ( He and his crew went into the warehouse very carefully in full Level A gear. That's a positive pressure full containment suit with a self contained breathing apparatus. The cautiously approached the drums, and that was when they saw something that made them all breathe a sigh of relief: a trail of ants traveling along the floor, up the side of one of the drums and swarming over the white... crystalline... sugar that was in the drums.

For the next four years, I received my refreshers from the Certified Industrial Hygienist for Kleinfelder. His best story was about working on a military base in Colorado where they were told not to approach the prairie dogs. Normally the prairie dogs were skittish around humans, but some had been noticed to react slower. Studies of these showed that they were sick, and like all wild animals carried fleas. The healthy ones stayed away from humans and the fleas could not jump far enough to reach a new host. The sick ones, however, allowed humans closer and the fleas could possibly jump to the curious humans. And give them bubonic plague. Hanta virus may scare you from old closed up buildings, but the black death? That would have me carrying a shotgun and playing long distance Whack-A-Mole if I were anywhere near a place with plague carrying rodents.

My next refresher was through a company whose card I've lost. It was a pretty much one man show, and the refresher was taught along with the fifth day of his forty hour course. Not much there aside from watching Val Kilmer blow himself up in "The Salton Sea" (I think).

Then I did a refresher on BORING! Even with the online quizzes I did the "8 hours" in about five.

I did another online course the next year because the new company I was at had already had their group refresher. Also boring. Total online time = 4 hours.

The last two refreshers have been taught by NEC. Last year's what pretty cool. There was much rivalry among the groups and the Jeopardy game was fun. The cool story out of that one was people who rent their houses out that become crack houses. Anything that gets a positive hit on a wipe sample has to be removed. Any hit at all. That's because there is no set value for "safe levels" of crack for the general public. So conceivably, if the project was large enough, an entire house could end up being required to be gutted. At the owner's expense.

No real cool stories out of this year's class.It wasn't boring when compared to online courses, but not really outstanding.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Croce II - The Wishening

And then there's the topic of wishes. What if I got three of them. Assume the basic restrictions of not wishing for more and not being able to directly affect other people.

What to wish for?

Money is good, but how not to run out? How about a wallet that always has the exact amount needed for any purchase for any amount up to $1,000, and anything over $1,000 a credit card that is accepted anywhere, and never needs to be paid off. And perhaps a checkbook with unlimited checks for purchases that won't take a credit card... Like a house.

So that's one.

Now I've been reading comic books for most of my life, and collecting seriously for 20 years. And so who wouldn't want a Little super-power? Then there's the whole question of what power. Or powers. But let's make this easy, and limit to one power per wish. So then what to choose. Now a book that really affected me is Jumper by Stephen Gould. Please don't think of the movie. I haven't seen it, but I won't see it either. Read the book. But the way the Davey teleports in the book is the way to go. Anywhere he can see, has been recently or can picture with the help of a video and sound recording, loss of relative momentum, and teleportation by castling. Castling is the best method I can consider. Essentially he trades places with an exact Davey sized portion of air or water. There's none of the popping, or air displacement, or even the stupid visual effects of the movie. Yes, please.

So that's two.

And then I'm stuck. Perhaps I'll just save Wish #3 until I really need it.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

I blame Jim Croce

So sometimes I sit and wonder about changing the past.

Don't ride on the lawn aerator. Or at least don't take the Frisbee.

Don't jump down stairs. At any age.

Don't drive while looking at the map in the passenger seat.

Others aren't so easy, because they have made me the person I am with the present in which I am happy.

Don't hurt this person. Don't date this person. Show some balls and ask this person out.

Then there are the times that would be great to watch from a third person perspective. I think.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Saturday Night Regulars

And so as promised...

Hello, my name is Erik, and I play RPGs.

This Fall will actually mark my twentieth year playing Steve Jackson Games' GURPS regularly. I played a little D&D in junior high and my freshman year of college (for which I like so many others thank the late Mr. Gygax), but GURPS is the game that I have stuck with.

We've dabbled in many different worlds and genres. We treated Yrth as our home for a long time. We went into Space with military/mercenaries. We played various versions of Supers. We had a running Psionics game. But Yrth and Fantasy was where we always returned. Then about ten years ago a few of made our own little world. We drew up the first continent, assigned the races, and divvied up the land.

Now with complete control over all happenings, we play once a month for most of the day. Every few months we take a break for our low powered characters, but the primary game are the world shakers. We have been spat up by the globe itself to bring light to a darkening world.

And yet there are times when we can but break down into what we really are: men who roll three six-sided dice as our group escape in a world of make-believe.

We are telling a story. Yes, it has magic swords, and sorcerers, and the occasional scantily clad damsel in distress. And yes, it has an Elf. Me.

Now I can honestly say that I started playing my Elf before they became cool. And while he has a bow that he is very good with, he prefers to use a combination of his sword and spells. Which brings me to the story I have to share.

Sharing our stories is something we all do as well. We love telling stories about the bad guy we defeated as a team, the dragon we finished off while the rest of the party was bleeding on the ground, the trove of grimoires we found in the towers library. The best are all from a first person point of view. And mine is all just to tell a joke.

Picture a dark night standing guard at a manor House in the country. I and the holy-warrior priest are near the front door. We get a magical warning of a force of assassins attacking. I cast a spell to allow me to see in the dark. This gives me a chance to magically catch and arrow coming at me that I can now see. Then I cast a spell which causes all missiles fired at me to return directly at whoever shot them. A few more spells and the exterior of the house is cleared and I have teleported into the main hallway. A fight is going on between our support and some of the assassins. I look to my left and see two coming through a window. And then they fire their crossbows. The first misses, and I am told the second is successful and I need to dodge. I simply remind the Gamemaster (GM) of my spell by saying, "No, he does." The GM thumps his forehead, and tells me that the assassin goes down with a crossbow in his chest and begins frothing at the wound and mouth due to the poison on the bolt. The player next to me says:

Well, you didn't kill him, but it was an Elf-Assisted Suicide.

On a roll

So I got things all squared away, and Sunday I moved my computer back into the office. I decided to be a good boy (since there'd been all kinds of links the previous week for keeping the workspace organized) and use the spool of cable keeper we'd bought over a year ago.

So armed with cable ties or varying lengths and the cable keeper, I reassembled the computer. Soon I was done and very happy with the look. Happy enough that I wish I had a before picture for comparison. It's still not great; I really should get one longer power strip. The problem is the number of converters I have to plug in.

The late Douglas Adams had a brief musing about these which he called "Dongly Things". If you haven't read it (and you should), buy The Salmon of Doubt and read it.

But then I discovered, that I couldn't see my external drive. Instead it was telling me that the printer was an external storage device. Finally, after replugging the drive in the USB slot a few more times it appeared. However, it was showing as H: instead of E:. Who knew that the USB slots kept up some sort of memory? Okay, if you did, good for you. I didn't.

So I unplugged all the USBs and plugged the drive into its old slot. It still showed as H:, so I went in and forced it to be E:. All better.

I think next post I may have to explain the following embarrassing assertion: Saturday, five other men and I played a pen and paper roleplaying game for about 10 hours.

Take 2

So an old friend over at has moved her blog, and so I thought I should try this again. ... Like I need one more thing to distract me from work.

So why don't I start out with my Thursday and Friday from last week:

So the full story for the day (nearly a full 24 hours):

Thursday at about 4:00, Jennifer called me at work to say that she was vacuuming and the circuit breaker had tripped, and would not reset. I told her to unplug everything, and turn off all of the lights, and try again. Nothing.

This one circuit breaker controls: the hallway plug (where the vacuum was plugged in) but not the hallway lights, the lights and fans in the bathrooms but not the plugs which are on the GFCI breaker, the master bedroom, and the office.

I came home and made sure everything had been unplugged, and still it wouldn't reset. I called out landlady Judy and told her about it. I gave her the number for 4 emergency service electricians, the first 4 in the yellow pages (they have a half page ad each).

Being the techno person I am, I need my computer, so I disassemble it from the office, and move it onto the dining room table. That took forty minutes.

I go on to make dinner, and around 7:30 there's a knock at the door. It's the electrician who is on the phone with Judy. He hands the phone to me and she says, "They didn't call you did they?" I told her no, and we worked out the details of approval. He came in and looked at the breaker board, and how much of the house was out of power. Then he wrote up a form, said he could be here at 8:00 Friday morning, got my cell phone number, and left to have his dispatch call Judy.

About 8:30 Judy called me and said that to diagnose the problem (the estimate was free) would be $700. Judy said that was outrageous, wasn't going to pay it, and that she would try to find someone Friday. I tell her all I need is 10 minutes notice, and I can meet the electrician she chooses at the house.

I go on to set three alarms (two alarm clocks and the cell phone) because I don't know if the plug-in alarms will go off with only battery power. This ends up being a waste of time because I am unable to get to sleep before 1:00 AM, sleep lightly not trusting the alarms and lacking the right lights in the room, and wake up half an hour before the alarms are supposed to go off anyway.

I go in to work, and wait for a call from either Judy or the electrician.

At 11:00 AM, I call Judy, and ask if perhaps the electrician had not called me, arrived, and left complaining. She said she had left a message with one, but had not heard back yet. I decide I will go home for lunch so that I'm not interrupted at wherever I decide to eat.

At 12:30 I still have not heard from Judy, so I call again. She says she has left other messages with this new electrician. It is one that her realtor friend has recommended to her. She gives me the name and I start calling him, and leaving messages.

A little before 2:00 I call Judy to tell her how nothing is happening. She suggests finding someone myself, perhaps asking for a recommendation from people at work or the complex. I call Jennifer and ask her for advice, and then I remember that my parents have just had their place remodeled and raved about the contractor and electrician that redid the downstairs.

So I call Dad. Dad gives me the contractor's number, and I call Carlos Duque. I get his wife, and she gives me his cell phone number; I call the cell phone, introduce myself, give him my relation to Marty and Janet Appel, and he says that he will call his electrician right away. Five minutes later he calls me back and says that his electrician will call me, and says that if Roberto does not call in 15 minutes to call him (Carlos) back. Five minutes later, Roberto calls me. He's in Pittsburg, and gets directions.

Roberto arrives about 3:00 PM. He's friendly, he tried the circuit breaker, he gets the tour of where the power is off, and the story of how it happened. The first thing he checks is the plug where the vacuum was plugged in. Nothing is wrong there. Then he tells me that this must be a special job because when Carlos called him he said that he had a quick job for him to do and that Roberto had to do, and could not say no. Roberto was going to ask why, but Carlos just told him to do it, and hung up. I told him how I had gotten Carlos' number, and he remembered the work at my parents' house and said how nice it had turned out. And that he could understand why Carlos was so insistent on this job getting done quickly. Then we went out to the breaker board.

He says, "That whole section is controlled by one breaker?" I say yes. He says, "But look here; it's only a 15 amp breaker." He takes the old circuit breaker out and says he'll check his truck for another one. He does, and as he's installing it he checks the gauge of the wire, and says that if it had been bigger than 14 gauge he could have put in a 20 amp breaker, but that he really can't with the size of the wire. He puts in the new breaker, flips it over, and it stays. We go inside and all the lights work. I ask him what I owe him, and he says $60 including the cost of the new breaker.

Now for strange and mysterious reasons, I only have a $100 bill and we're out of checks (of course), so I ask him if he has $40 in change. He says no, but that I can just mail him the money. I offer to go break it at the bank, but he says not to worry. I then sheepishly ask him for an invoice to give to Judy so that we have proof to deduct the cost from our rent. He says he doesn't have it on him but will come back and give me one then. I say I'll run to the bank, and meet him here when he gets back, he says that I misunderstood him, he'll come back Saturday and drop off the invoice. Then he tells me that I don't need to wait around for him, if I'm not home, he'll leave it and I can still mail the money to him. He packs up and leaves. It is now 3:20 PM. Judy calls to ask how it's going, I tell her and she is thrilled with it being done and only costing $60.

Should any of you in the San Francisco Bay Area need a contractor or an electrician, e-mail me for Carlos' and/or Roberto's number.

Now I have to not feel bad because Roberto left his flashlight here. I'll give it to him tomorrow with his money.

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