Cross country travel in a ridiculous vehicle, etc

So the excruciatingly planned last weekend seemed to turn out OK, minus the fact that we generally left places about an hour or so later then I’d anticipated. That, however, can be attributed to my being entirely too optimistic about how efficient Drew and I can be in getting things accomplished.

It was nice to see people and eat delicious Thai food Friday night, though in an ideal world we would have had more then just that evening for such things. Saw Carolyn & Todd’s house, which is magical and full of penguins. Spent the night at my parents’ place, got delicious Mexican for lunch the next day with both my & Drew’s parents plus Julie. Next, headed off to Charlie & Tara’s wedding, which was weddingtastic. Hung out with all sorts of OWP-related peoples at reception and ate/drank copious amounts of items (it is indeed possible for asparagus to taste really good, crazy!). Went to OWP Jason’s afterward for continued OWP-related socializing. Then, off to Drew’s dad & stepmom’s place in Chester for sleeps. Get moving truck from Budget the next day, move items from attic into said truck, eat copious amounts of delicious seared tuna. Head back to my parents place, sleep. Get up next day and move my items into truck. Eat bacon, load up on travel sandwiches and cookies, hug Mickey the pigeon goodbye.

We left around 11:00am or so, taking 64W. The trip is the same that we took back in July, except this time in a giant bouncy truck (well, if you consider 10′ “giant”) that costs about $50 to refill the tank. Anyhow, the drive through Virginia was one taken many times before, and the drive through West Virginia is absolutely gorgeous. Giant mountains everywhere! West Virginia is totally underrated. We go through Charleston, which looks like a fun place to visit. Then, the long drive through Kentucky, where we end up in Louisville at Drew’s aunt & uncle’s place around 10:00 pm or so. Stay the night there, eat breakfast biscuits, load up on travel sandwiches and cookies. We drive for forever and a half the next day, all the way to Kansas, going through Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri. In St Louis we switched from I-64 to I-70. St Louis also looks like a fun place to visit, what with their fancy arch and all. The worst state for driving through, for me, was Missouri, it was just long highway and terrain not dissimilar to other long highways in VA/NC/OH. I wanted to make sure that last day of driving wasn’t Hell, so we pushed into Kansas, and stayed in Abilene at a cheap hotel, getting there about 11:00 or so. Or maybe 10:00 or so. Or possibly 12:00 or so. Our truck was on Mountain time the entire trip, my watch was on Central time, but my head was on Eastern time because I kept getting sleepy entirely too early. This continues, as for some bizarre reason I am typing this post at 7:30 am, and it’s not from staying up all night!

Anyhow, we left at 11:00 the next day, driving the long haul through Kansas. Almost all of this drive through Kansas is farmland. The first 1/3 or so is full of lots of rolling hills, and it’s really pretty. The rest is really flat. Everyone seems to complain about it being really flat, but I never really got tired of it. I kept looking around and being all like “Wow, it’s really flat!” This fascinated me until we hit Colorado and I started getting antsy for mountains. Also, it was super windy, and tumbleweeds kept flying across the road. As you move across Kansas, it also goes from “hey, it’s pretty green and farmy here” to “Hey, it’s drier, but still farmy here, just with more cattle” to “gee, it’s kinda brown!” and mostly ranches/farms with cattle/horses. Oh, and there are giant wind turbines at one point along the highway, which are really neat to see. I took pictures, and if I find any ambition whatsoever, I’ll try to post them at some point.

So we get into Colo Spgs around 7:00, making good time, eat chicken, and decide to sleep at Pam’s place for the night and drive the truck up the next day, to give Estha the cat one more day of sanity (she was staying with Pam for the week we were traveling). We’ve spent the last two days locating furniture, and today we get to take the truck back. The furniture has been an adventure in itself, and I shall post more when I have more ambition.

Grocery Stores, Delicious Juices, etc

Safeway is weird. The one in Fountain is all fru-fru, and our first visit there lead us to believe that grocery prices out here were godawfully expensive. But no, it was just that Safeway, as the Walmart down the street had the same prices as places in VA. So we’re up in Arvada now, and after driving in circles for awhile last night looking for a grocery store, we finally came to a Safeway. Looked more like a regular grocery store and less like a magical fru-fru (frou-frou?) money sucking locale. Some of the prices were still, err, pricey, but they were for the most part reasonable. I’m thinking the disparity between the two is because in Fountain, there’s that Safeway, and that’s about it, unless you want to drive several miles away to the Walmart. So they’ve got the market pretty much covered, and make the store look more fru-fru as a thinky veiled justification for charging twice as much. My guess at their tagline is “Safeway: at least we’re cheaper then Whole Foods”.

We’re pretty sure there are other grocery stores around here, thus why the Safeway here has cheaper prices. I want to find the local King Soopers. This is because “King Soopers” sounds like a completely ridiculous name for a grocery store. Also, because they’re apparently owned by Kroger, and so I’m hoping they carry the Kroger Private Selection ice cream.

Also, I have finally been in a Whole Foods. $21.00/lb tuna, eek! Lots of free samples, though. And that aisle with all of the bulk food like Elwood Thompson has is useful. I’m not too keen on going back though: waay too expensive, and waay too much conspicuous consumption. Too bad there’s not a Trader Joe’s out here. I want chocolate granola bars and $1 garlic pizza dough, dangit!

Anyhow, I’m drinking $1 discount kosher grape juice from Safeway. It’s pretty good, might have to go back and get more.

And here’s a desperate question: where does one go to find women’s jeans that *aren’t* narrow in the thigh/knee area but are also lower cut? Lower cut pants fit me so much better then regular cut, but they all seem to be of the skinny jeans and/or stretch and/or boot-cut variety. All I want is a pair of pants that fit me and doesn’t convert my thighs into sausages!

More Job Stuff

So I didn’t get the sushi job. Which is unfortunate, as I was rather excited about the opportunity and felt like the interview went really well. Like, I felt like I proved my skills, that I interacted well with the guy I talked to as well as with a few people at the bar, I asked pointed questions, and just felt pretty comfortable and confidant with the way things went. But no go. It’s gotten to the point where I feel like I have no gauge at all in recognizing when a job interview has gone well and when it hasn’t. And I know that a lot of it is simply if I’m the most qualified person for the job, and that due to the economic climate, there are quite a lot of qualified people out there that are interested in the same positions that I am also interested in. But psychologically I still want to assume that it’s something that I’m doing that’s keeping me from getting these positions. I guess I feel that if it’s my fault that I’m not getting anywhere, that it’s also within my control to make the next time actually successful. I think I feel better with the idea that I’m simply not trying hard enough, rather then thinking about how I’m just another face in that sea of faces clawing on top of each other for that rare and elusive open position.

In any case, I should be grateful for what I do have. I’ve got a freelance job, which is good. And while it is a finite position, it will be another site on my resume to show potential employers. That, and I’ll feel much more confidant regarding Drupal, so hopefully that will help propel me onward.

More updates on the following weekend

I am posting this link because I am ridiculous like that.

It’s been cheap/free furniture time lately! We’ve got two desks: paid $20 for one, it’s decent but definitely used. We got a second desk completely free off of Craigslist, it’s a corner desk that all we had to do was disassemble and remove from the couple’s house, it’s nicer then any desk I’ve ever owned! Getting a microwave from someone today for $10. The larger furniture will have to wait until we have a moving truck. Speaking of moving trucks, we’re getting a truck from Budget truck rental for 25% off the regular price: apparently this isn’t exactly a big time of year for people to be moving. Anyhow, due to the distance we’ll be driving it, they require us to have it for a week (and we’re planning on doing the drive from Richmond to Denver in 3 days), so we’ll hold onto it for the extra days and use it to pick up a couch and such from other unsuspecting Craigslist people. Yup.

And if none of the above makes sense, here’s the dirty details: Drew and I are coming back to Richmond the 25th and leaving Monday the 28th with all of our stuff in a truck to go to the apartment in Denver (Arvada, technically) that we will have as of this Monday. Super driving party! And we get to fly on a plane on the 25th as well. I love flying on planes. Too bad it causes me to not hear properly out of my ears for several days afterwards. D’oh!

Hooray for work!

I’m working on a freelance job right now, building a website for a company that makes routers. I’m getting the opportunity to work with Drupal, which is useful. It’s one of those programs where I wanted an excuse to learn it, but how do you learn something like that unless you have a website idea and a big pile of content? So much easier to let someone else provide the site idea and content (well, plus the dollars). In other news, I would like to own a router. They’re super useful for carving pretty much anything out of pretty much any material, I’d just need to get the engineer plugin for my brain to be able to program and use it.

So the other day I came across a person looking for a sushi apprentice, and I emailed them about it to learn more. The position is located at a sushi bar at a club here, and I will hopefully be going in to talk to the guy about it this coming week. They’re not specifically looking for experience making sushi (just food experience in general), but I provided images of the sushi I’ve made, so hopefully that will give me a boost over the competition. It would only be about 15 hours a week, but it would be at night so it wouldn’t interfere with what I’m trying to do with web stuff (freelance or otherwise) in the day. Also, the club itself looks super-sweet, they get various international groups (Infected Mushroom is playing there the weekend we come back to Richmond!) and even have a Goth Night room one of the nights. So I’m hopeful about that. And, I’d actually get to learn how to make proper sushi!

Return to Richmond

So Drew and I got an apartment in Arvada (a town just outside of Denver). This means that we have a place to put all of our stuff, meaning we shall be returning to Richmond to get all out said stuff (along with attending Charlie & Tara’s wedding). We got awesome tickets back (Jetblue, $100 total per person one way), if only the truck ride the other way would be as cheap! Anyhow, we’ll be in Richmond from the evening of the 25th (Friday) to that next Monday morning. As we will be spending the majority of that time either dragging stuff down from our respective parents’ attics and into a truck, and the majority of the rest of that time at a wedding, this doesn’t leave much other time for socialization. So Friday, we’re trying to coordinate getting dinner. The plan currently is to meet people at Elephant Thai around 7:45 – 8:00 or so (our flight gets in at 7:12, hopefully we won’t be late as our poor Mountain Time stomachs will think it’s 9:12 pm by then!). So, if you wanna come hang out with Drew and I and eat delicious Thai food, lemme know! Or, well, show up! Woohoo!

Monopoly City Streets: Load Time and Strategy!

I just happened to notice the launch of a new game today, Monopoly City Streets. It’s Monopoly online using Google maps, and will run for four months. So I’m like “Yay! Another online thing to eat my time!” and go try to play. And wait for the page to load. And then I look up a street to buy. And wait for the page to load. And so on. Apparently everyone else had the same idea I did, and decided to all play this game at exactly the same time as me. Eventually I got it to work, buying a few streets, with an almost continual stream of “Our server is down” messages popping up.

In any case, I hope they fix that issue soon, as the game conceptually seems neat. You start off with 3 million, buy roads (I’m trying to buy the subdivision I’m currently living in in Fountain, CO), and then buy buildings, which earn rent with each passing day. Sometimes you get Chance cards, which either give you things to add to opponents’ streets to mess them up (such as a bulldozer) or things to add to your own streets to keep them from getting messed up (such as a park). You can also buy and sell streets with other people. There’s a whole lot of available roads right now, it being the first day and all, but I think it will be interesting to see how the game changes as all of the roads get bought up.

So I’m trying to figure out a decent strategy. So far, I can’t see any reason to buy any building other then the absolute cheapest. It costs $50,000 and gives $25,000 in rent. All of the other buildings give less then half their initial cost in rent, and the cost/rent ratio only gets worse with the more expensive buildings. When all of the roads run out, there would be good reason to upgrade to more expensive buildings (as it’ll be much harder to buy roads at that point), but I’m not sure if there’s any point to getting the more expensive buildings at that point, unless they have additional benefits that I haven’t figured out yet. There are definitely people on there already with far more money then I have any idea how to earn within 24 hours of the game starting, so I’m sure there’s plenty I still need to learn.

I’m also curious to see if alliances sprout up as well, much as they seem to in other online games. There’s the ability to have friend groups (not quite the same as alliances, as you can be bastards to your friends). Incidentally, I’m on there as ptocheia, if anyone wants to come play and be in my friend group!

CakePHP Form Validation: Making Your Error Messages Change Color

When you build a form with Cake and have any sort of validation, it would be nice to have a means for the displayed error message to distinguish itself from the rest of the text (in my particular case, making the text red). Unfortunately, Cake doesn’t seem to have anything built in to easily do this. After playing around with my Cake site for a bit, and doing some extensive Google searching for a simple solution (and coming up lacking), I realized something basic that would do the trick: setting the font color style for <form> (or any enclosing element around <form>) to be the color of my error message, and setting the color for the elements within the form to be the regular text color.

This is working well enough for me for the css:

color: #ff0000;
color: #000;

This only works for displaying error messages though (or rather, for displaying a single message color). If you need a second color, you can probably set a session in your controller to represent a css style, which your view can use to determine which style should get used. But then again, probably the only reason you’d want another color is for success messages, and those are mostly useful if you’re using Ajax, in which case you’ve got better means of message styling then the one I’ve posted here anyhow.