Pak’ma’ra, Netbook and Adventures

Headed out tomorrow morning at a vicious hour, and will arrive in Florida that afternoon. Tuesday, we’ll get to Richmond for a few days of wild excitement and sweating and hopefully AC, and then we head off to the Outer Banks for more sweating and excitement and AC. Might post, might not. My netbook is all happy with some 2GB RAM and a new 16GB hard drive, and I installed the Easy Peasy OS on it (partly because of the name!). I really want a Drupal development setup before I leave so I can get some work done while traveling, but my inexperience with Linux combined with Apache’s persnicketiness is leading me to suspect this may not happen. Which makes me a bit cranky. I’ll figure something out, I guess.

Also, have been working on my Pak’ma’ra painting, here is the progress thus far:

Yay Pak'ma'ra!

Kinda iffy on the curlicue clouds, and I really need a reference for those mountains. Aside from that, seems to be going well. I’ve got plans for metallic material in some areas, for bonus shiny. One thing that’s been annoying – turpentine stinks. I started to get a bad headache despite the open window and fan, and after gazing long and hard at the several paragraphs of health warnings in red on the turpentine container, I decided to switch to mineral spirits. Except that I made the mistake of getting super-green enviro-friendly mineral spirits, thinking it would be the opposite of headaches and brain damage. Which it is, but it’s a cloudy white rather then clear, and keeps separating from the linseed oil, which sucks. I may have to switch to regular mineral spirits. Anyhow, it’s been pretty fun to work on, maybe I’ll do more Pak’ma’ra art after this one, too.

Upcoming Adventures + Babylon 5

I’m apparently going to be traveling a bit coming up soon, meaning that it’s a very good thing that I’ve got a giant stack of free travel courtesy of Airtran. This Friday, we’re headed for Florida for Drew’s other grandfather’s funeral (we went to Drew’s first grandfather’s funeral 2 months ago, and then 2 months before that Drew wen’t to Neil’s funeral, so it has not been a good year for Drew so far=\). The current plan is that, on the next Tuesday, we head to Richmond, and stay there until Saturday when we leave with his Dad & co. to go to the Outer Banks where they’re rented a house for a week. We stay there a few days, then head back to Denver. However, it seems I might be needed out in California for family-related purposes at an unknown point in the future, and so I’m hesitant about scheduling all of this flight time. Helps to have the travel vouchers and all, at least. I do like traveling by planes, which helps.

So I ordered a bunch of laptop parts, I’m gonna upgrade my netbook’s RAM and hard drive, and then try installing Ubuntu on it. See, it’s becoming a hindrance that I’m trying to do all of this stuff with php and Drupal and am doing it off of my Windows XP computer. I haven’t used Linux much at all, but apparently it’s much easier to do backend web programming with it then with a Windows box, and it’s time I figured out how to do that. Assuming I figure it out in the next 4 days and get the netbook set up, I’ll have a teeny workstation to use while traveling to work on the Drupal site I recently started.

So I’m almost done watching Babylon 5 – we’ve got a few episodes left, and maybe a movie. I totally caved and ordered figures, which arrived today. They’re certainly not action figures, being that Sheridan is the only one where you can move both the arms and the legs, but they’re still cute. I’ve also got Delenn, G’kar, and Londo. Now I just need to figure out how to get the rest of the figures that I want via finding the internet sellers that are trying to unload them for cheap, rather then the sellers that think they’re super valuable and are pricing them accordingly. I found someone selling Ivanova and Vir for not too much, so they might be my next order. I can substitute some of my pre-existing figures for other characters. Aragorn makes an excellent Marcus (though I might still get a Marcus character if I see him), and Legolas makes an excellent Number 1. Honestly, I never liked Number 1, I kept thinking of her as “Mars Resistance Leader Hannah Montana.”

Season 5 hasn’t been quite as exciting as Season 4, but Drew warned me of that. All of the Londo/G’kar stuff has been excellent, at least. I didn’t care for the telepaths, and they took up most of the first half of the season. I also think there’s been a huge hole where Ivanova used to be, she was a great character and I don’t think Lochley was a good replacement. As much as I liked Delenn, her character stopped being as interesting once her and Sheridan became official, which happened around the same time the Minbari caste conflict ended as well.

It’s been a bit exhausting watching through so many seasons of something, so it’s good timing that we’re finishing up right before we leave, since I could use a TV break!

Wheels Within Wheels

My bike has a flat tire. The last time my bike had a flat tire, I spent an hour wrangling with it, getting saturated with dirt and grease, only to have the inner-tube not on correctly and need to go to the shop to get it redone anyhow. That was the back tire though, the one intertwined with all of the gears and such. The tire that is currently flat is the front tire. Given that it’s a simple procedure to get the tire off, I’m going to give it a go again, since I’ve got a spare tube and all. Hopefully it works. Even if I am successful, I think I’ll still take my bike to a shop the next time the back tire goes kaput, as a shop has much better equipment to deal with a persnickety back wheel then I do.

I’m going through a slight conundrum with my car. See, I just took it in for it’s 90K checkup, and spent a buttload of dollars getting it fixed up. Which I’d expected. The thing is, I really liked the shop I went to. It’s an oil change and car repair shop that also has a coffee house attached. While I sat and waited for my car, I down two different types of chai tea, one of them on the house due to my really long wait. The one I actually paid for was some of the best chai tea I’ve ever had. So, this shop has an oil change deal where, for $99 you can buy 4 oil changes + 4 drinks. The problem is, I’ve got my own ramps, and my own pan. I’ve been changing my own oil for several years now. It saves me money. But then again, it’s not like it saves me a huge amount of money. And it was also a huge pain to change oil in the winter, given that the parking lot was perpetually covered in wet slush most of the time. And I live in an apartment, so it’s also a pain just storing the oil changing materials (especially since I lack a balcony or backyard). In any case, I’m currently debating selling my oil changing stuff and just going to this shop. If I do this, I might hold off until the weather gets crappy again, since changing your oil in the summer is no biggie. That slush last winter sure was awful to lie in, though!

Two Simple Tips For Looking Young

So I think anti-aging products are more or less B.S.. They don’t make you look any younger, they make you look like someone who spent entirely too much money on lotion with added snake-oil. There’s also the fact that products purporting to make you look more youthful don’t actually have that as their goal. Instead, they’re simply pushing you to look more airbrushed.

One of the side effects of weight loss is slightly flappier skin (well, or seriously flappier skin if you’re dropping 200lbs). This works in reverse – you can smooth out wrinkles by adding on some weight, thus why larger people often have less fine lines on their face then their thinner counterparts. Also, another way people will totally mistake you for being younger then you are is how you dress. Give yourself a high ponytail, some glitter on your face, and a Twilight shirt, and you’ll instantly shave away 10 years.

To summarize, here’s how to always appear younger then you are:

1.) Gain weight.
2.) Dress like you just started college.

Or, if you have the sort of “age-defiance” that way too many “beauty” products are pushing these days, *save yourself some money and buy Photoshop instead.

*Well, if you bought the newest Photoshop, you’d be dropping over $600, but your money would be much better spent at least.

The Census, Bras, Too Much TV, and Insane Colorado Weather

The Census hasn’t changed much as the last time I wrote. Or rather, things change constantly, but in minor ways and at a pretty constant rate. Yesterday I had the pleasure of talking to two people who a.) refused to answer some information and were b.) polite and respectful. I was getting afraid that either people would be polite and respectful, or would refuse information and be rather cranky about it, as that has more or less been my experience up to recently. I guess it makes me feel a little happier with humanity knowing that there are people who don’t agree with everything the Census is doing, but don’t feel like they need to take out their negative emotions about it on me.

So a little more then a month ago, I got back on the Pill. I just have some severe pain issues I’m dealing with, and as it’s been about 8 years since I’ve taken hormones, I’ve been hoping that some of the problems I had with it then would not be a problem now. Seems OK so far, and has helped with pain a bit, though not as much as I’ve been hoping admittedly, but in time hopefully that will improve. The only side effect I’ve really been noticing this time around is that whole “breast size increasing” thing. It got pretty drastic just before my period, then calmed down a bit, but I’m still at a point where I can’t wear some of my smaller bras, and I think it’s just going to stay like this. Losing weight isn’t an option – if I were meant to be any smaller, it would have happened back when I was dancing outside for 12-16 hours a week at Liberty. In any case, my BMI is quite normal and I eat my veggies and all that, so weight loss just to get into some bras seems a bit dumb. Thus, time to buy some new bras. Which is a pain, as I’m lucky to get bras as cheap as $40-$50 apiece because your standard American bra manufacturers don’t feel the need to manufacture bra sizes outside of the median range. British bras are much better with this, but they don’t exactly run cheap. So, time to scour the internet searching for deals.

One reason that I can get through some of the more unfortunate/stressful parts of being an enumerator is because I am currently obsessed with Babylon 5. We just started watching Season 4, and all I can think about all day is what’s gonna happen to all the poor Narns? And is the Captain OK? And why did Vir lose all that weight anyhow? Last Sunday we watched 9 episodes in a row, it was insane. I need to stretch this out more, because my mind is waay too absorbed in this TV show. I remember the crash I experienced after watching Seasons 1-3 of The Office in about a 3 day timespan, and I think the post Babylon 5 crash will be much worse then that. It’s an amazing show, though, and I wish more TV programs were written this thoughtfully.

Oh, and we’re supposed to get up to 4 inches of snow here tonight. In the middle of May. Yup, apparently Colorado springs are completely insane. Rumor has it that Richmond is sweating to death on and off in the 90s these days. I, uh, think I prefer the random snow. I really like how out here, even when it is really hot out, it’s not dripping. If anything, you have to keep drinking lots of water because of the dryness. “It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity” always seemed like a dumb phrase, but it seems to be true. Well, to an extent, as I’m sure anyone living in Southern Arizona or New Mexico or Texas in July might disagree with me.

My Adventures as a Census Enumerator

So last Monday, April 26th, I started the enumerator job. The first week was all training. I hear my group lucked out – our training was held in a county administrative building, the room we used was bright and comfortable and quite reminiscent of a few classrooms I had Comp Sci classes in back at VCU. There was a cafeteria in the basement with reasonable prices, and an area outside to sit and eat said lunch while admiring some very nice foothills.

The training lasted four days, and mostly consisted of learning how to fill out the mounds of forms that are a supplement to any federal job, plus sorting through the piles of confusion. We started off with one crew leader and two assistants. As of Day 2, one of the assistants was assigned somewhere else, and as of Day 5 the other was assigned somewhere else, and we are assigned a second Crew Leader. So two people in our training class get promoted to Crew Leader Assistant. And then, as of yesterday, our original Crew Leader leaves as well. Aside from the shifting of peoples, there also seems to be general disagreement on how to fill out various persnickety forms, as well as disagreement on how to accurately obtain the census data itself. The first several days, we operated under the idea that you tried to do it as to-the-letter as possible, down to the “Are you male or female?” question on the form. Then, a higher-up comes in to give us a chat, and essentially sweeps all of this away, suggesting that we guesstimate a range of things based on what see see looking inside someones door (assuming that the persona at the door is refusing answers, at least). Thus far, my strategy is to operate somewhere in the middle.

So I’ve been doing the actual door-to-door for about a week now. The job is a mixture of enjoyable, tedious, and “making me want to quit” awful. The last part, luckily, has been a minority of the time, thus far.

The Enjoyable: It’s been beautiful outside lately, and it’s kind of nice to have a job that gets me out in this spring weather. My first day working, I was in a neighborhood beside a foothill with a path, so I took the opportunity to hike up it during my lunch break. I saw several species of bird I’m not sure I’ve seen before, along with gorgeous views of the Front Range as well as an interesting perspective of the nearby Coors factory.

It’s also pleasant to talk to pleasant people. People have various reasons for not having mailed in their census forms, the more common being “I forgot” or “I didn’t get one” or “I didn’t know what to put for ______”. People are often apologetic about this, and happy that, since I’m at their door and filling out everything for them, it’s one less form they have to do. Though I have not run into the mythical person that offers cake and/or dinner, I have had several people ask if I wanted to come inside and sit down. Alas, the job forbids me from doing this, but it’s a nice gesture nonetheless.

The Tedious: First off, we meet in some really strange places. It seems the classroom we were using is not available anymore, but we still need to have team meetings every day. Despite whatever stories about Census waste that are floating around say, there certainly isn’t money to spend on meeting spaces. So we’ve met twice in Denny’s. After realizing that a.) curious customers/wait-staff are not good to have around when you have work to do involving private information, and b.) we were occupying the majority of some poor waitress’s section, we’ve moved on to meeting in the lobby of a county building, and will continue to meet in that less the ideal space until a local college lets out and we can take up residence in their library.

Also tedious is the forms. So many forms! However, I get paid for filling out said forms, and the more I do the forms the easier they get, so this isn’t really a big deal.

The big tedious bit is finding some of these people. See, my job is to count the number of people in a given residence on April 1st. This isn’t as easy as it sounds. First, I’ve got to actually catch the people at home. If they’re not at home, I leave a slip of paper on their door with my number on it. Hardly anyone calls. I stop by at all different times of the day, but as I’m only allowed to go to doors until 7:00 pm, there’s gonna be some people I’ll just never catch in person. If that’s the case, I need to find a proxy – usually a neighbor or an apartment manager. It can be a bit of a pain to find these people too, and to convince them to answer questions. Which leads to…

The “Making Me Want To Quit” Awful: The Census is something that people are legally required to do. The information is mostly used to make sure communities get the money they need for schools, roads, etc.. Aside from that, it’s used for statistical purposes. The IRS will never see the information, nor will US Immigration Services. However, some people are fearful for their privacy. The minimal information I need to get is, well, pretty minimal – the number of people staying at a residence, their gender, and age. Anything beyond that is a bonus, and if people are uncomfortable giving any piece of information, they can just tell me so and I will skip that question.

Unfortunately, some people do not seem aware of any of the information in the preceding paragraph. I had a person who called me, yelling about privacy violations and the illegality of what I was doing and how this is harassment. She insulted me, left me feeling quite harassed, and I dealt with it by crying in my car for the next 20 minutes and then drowning my misery in Burger King. I was seriously ready to quit after this. Yesterday someone slammed a door in my face – not nearly as bad as getting yelled at, but it still stung.

Maybe part of the problem is me – the last “customer service” style job I’ve held was Food Lion, and I didn’t interact with customers much beyond “How thin do you want your ham sliced?” Since then, the only customers I’ve had to deal with are web design clients – sometimes a pain in their own way but generally with problems that I have some power of fixing. With this job, though, there are people that are angry because they perceive me as the Government trying to invade their space. They want to vent their anger, and I’m a nice soft target. And while logically I can understand that it’s the badge I wear that they’re angry at, it still hurts to be treated this way.

It’s a definite minority at least – most people are at least compliant, even if not totally friendly. But, it still stresses me out and I have to fight off thoughts of “What am I doing wrong to make them so angry and why can’t I fix it?” Things like this simply reaffirm that I’m designed to work better with computers then with people.

The team I work with is really nice, though, and my various leaders are supportive. If nothing else, the job pays well, is flexible, and will be over in about 2 months or so anyway.

Adventures with AirTran and spending way too much time in airports

Drew and I attended his grandfather’s funeral in Indiana this past weekend, and it was a hectic weekend indeed.

A few days in advance, I booked flights for us on Airtran. Despite the short notice, I got us tickets for around $250 each (hooray for “web only” specials!). Our flight left at 11:00 am from DEN, so we left home a little after 8 in anticipation of traffic, the long trudge in from the cheapo “long-term” parking lot, and long security lines. Rush hour was quite mild, the lot we wanted was closed (thus costing us $10 per day rather then the much preferable $6 per day), and not as many people as you’d think travel on Friday morning it seems, so we had time to kill. A session of intermittent wandering and an unnecessary Burger King trip later, and we’re on the flight to Atlanta airport, where we’ll wait for a little under two hours for our next flight. And of course, it’s cancelled. Engine problems.

This is Atlanta airport, which is, to put it simply, ginormous. Meaning, there are lots of flights that go through there. Meaning, we were presented with a few options. We could fly out a few hours later to Indianapolis (and get compensated with free one way tickets for each of us, plus meal vouchers), or we could wait until that next morning to fly out (and get compensated with free round trip tickets, a free stay at a hotel, plus meal vouchers). The latter would have been fabulous, but we did have a funeral to attend the next morning, so later that day it was. The man who helped us with the new tickets and such was very helpful and definitely made up for the inconvenience of being stuck at ATL for the next several hours.

So we roamed. 6 concourses, and we checked each one for the elusive large food court that I vaguely remembered from being in that airport many years ago. Turned up in Concourse E. Incidentally, airport food is weird, pricewise. We noted that a McDonalds double cheeseburger cost $3.99 there, far above the standard $1.20 or so at a non-airport restaurant. However, at Qdoba, the prices were barely more expensive then usual (they may have even been the same price, for that matter). The lesson here: If you’re stuck at an airport, your wallet wants you to avoid Mickey Ds. Anyhow, using our fabulous meal vouchers, Drew got a Qdoba burrito + brownie, and I got a turkey wrap + hummus + brownie at a nearby sandwich shop. My wrap was rather tasteless, but I had that rather convenient hummus to smear it in, so all worked out well.

Did you know that the Atlanta Airport hides an art gallery? To get to the different concourses, you can take a tram or you can walk. In the area near Concourses T and A was a bunch of Zimbabwean art, including large sculpture. Pretty cool! In a few of the other walkways were large pictures of various nebula and other images from space. Also, it’s really awesome to be much closer to sea level then you usually are, we walked all over that airport and never ran out of breath once!

Anyhow, we caught the flight, where we had been very nicely bumped to business class. We were served drinks three times during our 1.5 hour flight, and we got alcoholic drinks each time, just because we could. They were served with the alcohol in tiny bottles, along with the juice in a cup with ice, and I wasn’t feeling inclined to drink much, so I saved a few of the bottles as souvenirs. Well, the sort of souvenir that one drinks later, at least. They’re still sitting in my bathroom, for some bizarre reason.

While at ATL, we also briefly ran into Drew’s cousin Leah and her daughter, who had flown in from CA and were headed to Indianapolis as well. Conveniently, our flights were to arrive at the same time (around 11:30 pm), so we didn’t end up inconveniencing anyone into having to make an extra drive to the airport (an hour away from our destination) to pick just us up. Also, It’s really interesting how airports are islands that are rather separate from the location they exist in. I think hub airports like Atlanta have a strong case of this – so many people from everywhere, using that location to get to somewhere else.

Anyhow, the weekend was rather sleepless. Funeral Saturday morning, and flight to catch on Sunday morning. We managed to get beds each night (thus making redundant the sleeping bag I’d brought with in anticipation of being on someone’s hotel floor), but had a really hard time sleeping. I started a new job Monday, but I wasn’t too worried about lacking sleep as we’d get back in Denver around 1:30 am due to the time zone jump, and I could nap as needed. But no, it was not to be.

We dutifully get to the Indianapolis airport on Sunday entirely too early, and waste time sitting around and looking unconscious. (Incidentally, IND is one of the prettier airports out there – lots of giant windows and a really neat glowing light display on your journey to the parking lot). Anyhow, we meander up to our gate and wait for the flight. I’m kind of excited about this flight – it’s on a smaller plane with only two seats on either side of the aisle, and it’s to Milwaukee, which is an airport I don’t think I’ve been in before. Anyhow, it gets delayed. And then, of course, it gets cancelled. And then it is handled in a very unfortunate manner.

I might have expected too much – IND is much smaller then ATL, with fewer options for reseating displaced passengers. It’s a Sunday, so there are fewer options there as well. And, we had the misfortune of already being bedraggled from a weekend of little sleep. Nonetheless, they seemed lacking in how to properly deal with this situation.

Someone tells us over the microphone that they are figuring out places on other flights to place us, and we’ll be dealt with soon. Soon turns into an hour, and some other group of people leave for some other destination at our gate. A line forms at the gate, which we’re not too keen to stand in as a.) the aforementioned tiredness and b.) we were never told to get lined up in the first place. Eventually, an Airtran employee works his way down the line, figuring out where people our going. All of the later flights to Denver are, quite unfortunately for us, booked. So, along with everyone else, we’re told to sit down while they work out solutions. A little while later, another employee calls up everyone going to Des Moines. So we sit as they work through that pile of people, waiting for Denver to be called. And we sit. Then, awhile later, I overhear one of the employees speaking to a few people near us about arrangements to Denver. Apparently they decided to scrap the “letting people know what was going on” method, and just talk to people in the order they shoved themselves in front of employees. My phone rang, and it was someone from Airtran calling about a flight arrangement. We could get to Denver today, which was good. However, we’d be waiting at IND for the next 6 hours to catch a flight…back to our favorite place ever, the Atlanta airport. Then on to Denver, to arrive there at the ever-refreshing hour of 11:30 pm!

We’re told over the phone to go to the ticket counter to get our tickets. The woman at the counter is confused when we mention our tickets, but eventually finds them, and hands them over, roughly brushing us aside. We had to wait until everyone else had cleared out before we could get back up there to ask about compensation for this.

The IND experience was far more disorganized then the ATL experience. However, at IND, we got free round-trip tickets, meaning we more or less profited from that weekend of flying, coming out of it with 1.5 round trip tickets for each of us. The wait at IND was long and tedious, though. No place much to wander at all in that tiny airport, and no energy to wander anyhow. The airport seats are not such that one could lie down on them, so sleep wasn’t too hot either. We did run into Drew’s grandmother Lung there, one the way back from the funeral as well, so we sat with her for a bit. No first class for our flights back, and we got in entirely later then I’d wanted, considering I had to be at work at 8 the next day.

Anyhow, this is my (entirely too long) writeup about our weekend adventures with Airtran.

Today’s Random Update

Andrew has finally seen The Wedding Singer, which is one of those movies that I like despite not caring for either of the lead people. I am a sucker for the 80’s. There’s also the fact that the only Adam Sandler movies I tend to enjoy are the ones where he doesn’t act like Adam Sandler.

We’ve been watching Babylon 5, which I am totally obsessed with. Interesting plots that totally carry over from episode to episode, hooray!

I finished reading “Characters and Viewpoint” by Orson Scott Card, which is an amazing book to read if you want to write good fiction, as well as get a better understand of human psychology and perspective.

We got on a bike path this weekend and tried to ride all the way out to Golden. Alas, we didn’t make it. I was stubborn about biking and, despite the fact that it was the first day in over a week that called for rain, I insisted we had to go. Meaning that we got drenched and had to turn around at some point. Oops!

I start the Census job in a week. This is good, as despite the fact that I have a gazillion personal projects to work on, I have a hard time getting motivated when faced with an expanse of free time. I am super productive when I have something else important that needs to get done, however! So, hopefully returning to a 40 hour workweek will help me organize my other time more efficiently.

I wish I could figure out what GS level a Census enumerator is. As this is a temporary position, I’ll be looking for a job to take on once I’m done with the Census. Having a govt. job can make it easier to get another govt. job, and if I already knew my GS level, that would be pretty useful. I’ll assume it’s either a.) something I’ll learn once I start the position, or that b.) as this is a temporary position, maybe GS levels don’t apply for it.

Drew’s job is doing well, he’s about to shift from temp status to being a part of the company – no pay raise, unfortunately, but he’ll be eligible for benefits and such.

And, that’s about all that’s been going on lately here. Oh, I did add a new fishie to my collection, as fishies are very important.

Adventures on Meetup.com

So back when we first moved to Denver, I signed up for a gazillion different meetups on Meetup.com, as I figured this would be a good way to meet people and such. Not long after that came Meetup Phase #1, which consisted of going to two different hiking meetups. The first one I went to by myself.

As an aside here, I should mention that I have horrible socialization issues. I like people well enough, but I have some rather introverted tendencies. The more people I am around, the more social anxiety I have, and the more difficulty I have relaxing and actually being able to talk to them. This can be ameliorated by knowing at least a few people, or by having the people be “my type”. Not that I’m really sure what “my type” consists of, I’ve just found some people are easier to talk to then others. One reason I really liked doing Nanowrimo were the group get-togethers. For the most part, I felt pretty comfortable being a bit social with the other Nanoers.

Getting back to the subject at hand, I was really glad that the meetup was hiking – i.e. it’s sometimes hard to keep conversation going when you’re huffing your way up a giant hill. While I enjoyed myself, I didn’t feel like I “clicked” with the people there. (The fact that I am talking about “clicking” with people might just be further evidence of my introversion, as extroverts just click with people by default.) I also got the impression that the people there were a bit more into hiking that I was – I’m pretty clueless when it comes to equipment, beyond “bring a flashlight and a jacket if it gets cold” type of stuff.

Hiking meetup #2 was one Drew joined in on, where we showed up a little later then everyone else and hiked with the other stragglers. It was a similar experience to hike #1, with the bonus of getting rear-ended on the way off the mountain. Not that this was a bad thing: the $3000 from the insurance company combined with fact it only cost me $150 to order a tail-light and replace it myself was pretty nice. I can’t use my trunk at all, but the money was rather well-timed. In any case, it drove in my head a fear of driving on mountain roads when there was the possibility of snow, and we haven’t hiked in the mountains since. Still, hiking with both groups was as appropriately scenic and enjoyable as hiking is, and does have the advantage in safety in numbers (for the scaring off of mountain lions, pickpockets, etc). One of these days we might try another hiking meetup again, just to get out.

I/We’ve entered into Meetup Phase #2. We attended an Anime meetup at someone’s house last week. It was small, which made it easier, but still a bit of that awkwardness of “I don’t know any of these people!” thing, which only increases when in one of their homes. We watched a few things, some more interesting then others. The most interesting was Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei, which I wouldn’t mind seeing more of at some point. There’s a larger anime meetup tonight at Red Robin, which we will hit up. I’m hoping there will be more casual anime watchers there, because at the meetup at the person’s house, I became aware of how little anime I’ve actually watched compared to these people.

That’s one reason I’m becoming wary of doing meetups, actually. Since they revolve around a particular topic, they attract strong devotees. There are many things I enjoy, but I’m not really *into* anything that strongly, not off the top of my head, at least.

This became even more apparent to me at the meetup I attended last night – the “web technologies” meetup. I went sans-Drew, and suffered some rather debilitating lack of social ability. The vast majority of things being talked about, amongst the people I was sitting near at least, went over my head. Comparisons of version control systems I’d never heard of, how nodes work in non-relational databases, etc.. I took notes, at least. Occasionally things would get mentioned that I knew about, but no one ever lingered. I did talk to some guy a bit about Drupal – I’m gonna try the Drupal meetup next as that seems like it would be useful for me. Oh, one other thing that certainly did not help my social capabilities – there were about 12 people there total, and I was the only female. I’m not really sure *why* this causes me socialization issues, but it does. I just tend to prefer mixed-gender groups.

I’ve got other groups I still haven’t tried out. Recently got removed from one Art group for non-participation. Should probably try to participate in the other Art group I’m in at some point. I’m an an Axis and Allies group for Drew’s benefit, as well as a more generic game-playing group for both our benefit, but we’ve still attended the events of neither. I should simplify my life and create the “Come hang out with me” meetup group. Too bad the website charges $$ for running groups.

TV, wanderings, and worky work

So first off, we finished watching the first season of the Sarah Conner Chronicles. It’s pretty good! Second season will hopefully be waiting at the library for us in the very near future.

We finally got to wander around downtown on Saturday. My google-fu found free parking at a giant REI store, and from there we wandered through a park and along 16th street. Not as many wacky shops as I was hoping for, plus a Chick-fil-a that was astoundingly closed on Saturday, but the area was still interesting. We then wandered over to a park whereupon we were surrounded by pigeons waiting for bread. Not that we had any bread, but then they’re not exactly the brightest of birds.

pigeoncrowd pigeon closeup

These guys were super tame. Super cute, too! Anyhow, after that we stared at the Mint and then headed back over to 16th street where I spent entirely too much money on chocolate that should have tasted better based on it’s price. Then we went back to the park by the river, where we ate said chocolate and a few geese decided we were planning on feeding them. Then we returned to our abode.

goose head

HONK!

Also, work is working. As I may have already mentioned, I picked up the Census job, which I start in a month. Also, I’m finally getting paid for the project I’m just finishing up, and am going to an hourly rate for further work. I also continue to stand around outside holding a sign. I suppose I’ve technically been fulfilling what I for awhile considered the ideal job situation: a part-time white-collar job and a part-time blue-collar job. I get physical AND mental exertion, the best of both worlds!

It is good to not be paranoid about monetary situations anymore. Albeit, I’ve been almost on the verge of finishing the redo on my professional website for almost 2 weeks now. One of these days, when I’m not staring at geese or writing these blasted blog entries, one day I shall finish it.