Saturday, May 24, 2014
The new shopping cart has passed it's operational trials. It was much easier than I thought it would be to cart my groceries through the store, and back and forth over the terrain. Only hassle is repacking, inside the store. Unpacking inside the apartment is so much simpler. The apartment has yet again validated itself. At least in MVFR weather and better, I can now shop.
Saturday, May 17, 2014
Thursday, May 1, 2014
In my reduced circumstances, I have to take orders from the Volcano Gods, who operate an infallible scheduling program I shall call Clack!. If you've been exposed to any navigational or logistics problems at all, you should know about the old Traveling Salesman routing algorithm. Using one person, hit all the stops using the shortest distance, or time. The Euhler Seven Bridges of Konigsberg problem is an example of this. Try to take a route that covers all seven bridges, and not retrace your steps. Euhler proved it could not be done. The computer repair business is a mature one. Squeezing more revenue out of customers is difficult. So, what do the bosses do? Up the call quotas per tech (they get paid per call). There seem to be a near-infinite number of burnt-out geeks available, if one geek should not be able to make the quota. As long as they can get away with it, they will. Until Murphy's Law strikes. So, the Volcano Gods order Clack!, in Tagalog, to generate the schedules. Clack! then generates the routes, which seem to be optimized to maximize distance traveled. It pays no attention to geography, topology, call volume, or logic. It is infallible, and incapable of human error, and is also immune to the phrases "overbooking" and "minimum time needed onsite". So, it generates *negative numbers* for onsite time, if there are sufficient calls in an eight hour period. If you can strip a laptop down to bare chassis, then rebuild it in *minus* 27 minutes, you have a future with us. Depending on the meaning of the word "future". That future could be shorter than you might think, if you follow Clack!'s schedule, and drive 90.56 MPH through Wash U's quadrangle. Just using Google Maps, I beat Clack! by 30% on mileage alone today. That helped make up partially for the two systems that had half the securing hardware missing, and one unit that simply should have been shipped back to depot anyway. Or the customer who was *shocked* that his outfit used laptop disk encryption, and I did not have his company's proprietary unlock codes. And held on to me for half an hour before he accepted defeat (after calling his internal IT department to complain). In four hours, the Volcano Gods will speak, again. I am truly sorry for what I did in my previous lifetime :( The company saves 30-50% on programmer and support costs by locating at Clark. Until it goes off, again.
Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Yesterday, after the thunderstorms, I rolled my trash cans back to the Doghouse for the last time. Had a talk with my best neighbor, eulogizing the Doghouse. It was a sad feeling. The Doghouse is 64 years old, and not really salvageable as even a starter house. It will likely be demolished, and a modern structure put up in it's place. If it gets replaced. The basement flooded again during the storms, the siding is starting to come off, and birds and squirrels are starting to reside in the attic, now that it is no longer continuously occupied. My nieghbor will be able to see the sunrise a bit earlier with it out of the way... Got a nice postcard from my retired teacher cousin at my new address. Perfect Palmer Cursive handwriting. You won't see that very often. She's very glad to be out of education. It's a deathtrap, even for the most gifted and dedicated teachers, she says. She pities the kids, trapped in their medium security warehouses, when they emerge into young adulthood. From what I've seen on my service calls to educational institutions, she's right. One of the most cynical, hard-bitten generations is being conditioned to believe in nothing, especially themselves, contrary to the "entitled" narrative. The kids are run like cattle through (censored), treated like prisoners, and are no fools in distinguishing between what adults promise for the future, and what is actually happening. And you thought Gen X was a happy bunch. I've moved back over here, because I've had my fill of being dumped on by those happy abused children, who are now, of course, becoming the abusers. And, X is the largest group of control freak parents ever unleashed on the school system. No wonder the kids look like they have been stuck in Basic Training their entire lives. When they get loose, about 2024 or so, 1968 will look like High Tea at the Savoy Hotel. Then, X will have something to worry about other than me. It will be...heartwarming...to watch them get screwed by the kids. :)
Monday, April 28, 2014
Today, I made another check of the Doghouse, and, sure enough, there were things missed. Tomorrow is trash day, so quite a bit got rolled to the curb. Tonight's game session was one of the most silly I've played in years. I think Ron's (our GM) head is going to explode, as we try causing the universes to implode with our collective uber-stupid stunts. So stupid, they work. Why explore the wizard's dilapidated tower when you can simply NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! End of rational thinking. We took 75% casualties, but it worked. The cow lived. This game setting emphasizes low-level gaming at it's silliest. If anyone ever discovers a Wal-Mart, it's all over with.
Sunday, April 27, 2014
Obviously, a lot has happened since my last blog post. The Winter of DeathCold and DeathSnow forced me into taking action on something I should have done long ago: I can no longer afford to maintain a house. Something about $300 monthly heating bills, siding being ripped off by storms, and adjustment to a 40% reduction in income. I now live in a basement apartment, five minutes walk from two grocery stores, a post office, and a MetroLink station. The move nearly killed me. If only I had done this when my Mom died. I had been planning something similar, but Mom died much earlier than I thought. Foolishly, I moved back into the house, and poured cash into it to make it more saleable (I thought) and habitable. All of that money was wasted, in the end. It just bought me four years of increasing expenses. Once again, I have had to jettison the past. And I do mean jettison- so much physical material had to be gifted, donated, recycled, or trashed. The operational plan was simple- only bring what was needed to live in the apartment. No attempt, this time, to stuff the house into the apartment, or the old life into the new one. It's a more profound concept than deciding what junk is to be saved. It worked. But at a cost. For my health, the backbreaking haul nearly finished me. But, once established in the bunker, my allergies diminished. I was eating food cooked by myself. I was walking more. I brought the bike, and am now using it to ride the nearby bike trails and parks. Additionally, you can stuff a lot from the store into the bike's saddlebags. The bunker is *quiet*. Peaceful. In the doghouse, every neighborhood event was noticeable, and I was aware of the slightest changes in the weather. In the bunker, I have to check the computer for the weather. The heating and cooling of the bunker is far more stable, and there are no doggie destroyed carpets to make me sneeze. There are neighbor noises, but I'm in a corner location, and sheltered. Ironically, I may be in the best place to ride out a heavy storm. There is no sign of water damage, and I've checked thoroughly. My sleeping has improved. Greatly. I've had to give up my radio and TV gear, for the most part. There is a nearby electrical substation that plays merry hell with HF, so I may be down to a handheld, soon. UHF is now my most reliable band. Less than two miles from most of the STL area's major TV transmitters, the TV sets suffer from overload. Worse, Channel 9, PBS, has to be caught by using a reflected signal off another building! GRRRRR! On the other hand, my internet connection is far superior, and I am now watching much streamed material. I'm catching up on decades worth of material. Also, I am using Skype and other methods of remote social media to connect with others, now. From a social and societal standpoint, I may be part of a trend. From degreed professional, to working poor. I'm starting my elderhood a little early. That is something the Millenial generation is facing: There may not be an American Dream anymore. (Actually, it's been dying since 1973, when real wages began falling in the US). The political board is as mad as ever. They are arguing about gun control as the rest of us are just trying to survive, and getting even more "triage fatigue" (what to sacrifice next). Monday morning steadily approaches. Time for bed.
Tuesday, January 7, 2014
As soon as the OAT (Outside Air Temperature) hit 20 F, I shovelled off the front and back steps, and got the accumulation off of the car. My purchase of the last snow shovel in the metro area on Saturday paid off. Tuesday afternoon. Cue the Moody Blues. It was simply too dangerous to work outside for an old dog like me, so I waited it out. Good call. I'm blown, after only about half an hour. If I had done this when it was - 10 F, I might well be a frozen outline in the driveway. Car warm-up will commence at 1530, peak heating for the day.