Update for the Peoples!

It’s been two weeks since I started working at ye olde online retailer.  Things are going well.  Everyone I work with has been super nice.  My boss is great.

These first two weeks have been about learning their database.  I only started to do “real” work late last week.  It’s 100% straight up SQL, no chaser.  I have the option of using Business Objects Desktop Intelligence or Crystal Reports.  However, for now, I’m going to take this opportunity to delve into some of the more esoteric SQL stuff that I never used in my 12 years at ye olde newspaper.

The company is celebrating their 10th anniversary.  As part of that, the CEO hosted a party for everyone at the Saltair Pavillion with special guests…  The Wallflowers.  It was a fun show, but the drinks at Saltair are pricey!  Good thing we were all given a couple of drink coupons to keep us from going thirsty.  If you know what I mean… and I think you do.  At any rate, I can now check off “see Bob Dylan’s son” off my bucket list.  😉

One other work related thing.  Commuting is super easy now.  I live less than 10 miles from the office.  That sure beats the nearly 3 hour drive I had in Illinois.  I can also catch a bus a couple of blocks from my apartment that takes me directly to my office without transfers.  I even rode my bike part of the way and used the bus the rest of the way a couple of times.  Gotta love that!

Liz is doing great.  She just got a cool new haircut.  You can see pictures on Facebook.  I think she looks FAB!  🙂

The puppy is doing well, but as it gets colder… it becomes more difficult to get motivated to go for walks. She’s big now… 63+ pounds… and growing.  She has developed an unfortunate trait.  She’s starting to become a digger.  I think we may have inadvertently contributed to this behavior taking root.  Now we’ll have to figure out a way to undo it before it becomes a serious problem.

Kiko is doing OK… has an ear infection at the moment, but he’s doing his thing… which mostly involves sleeping on the bear chair.

I’ve come to realize that I don’t use Livejournal nearly as much as I used to.  That’s kinda sad… really.  I like LJ a lot, but it’s not as conducive to the quick bursts that I’m doing lately.  Right now my platform of choice is Facebook… but I would dump it for something better in a heartbeat.  If Facebook had tag support, better group options (it would be nice to make a posting only viewable by a certain group (a la Livejournal), a decent search, and doubled the max character limit… it would be perfect.  Oh well.

That said…  if you haven’t joined Facebook…  you should…  and be sure to friend me.  I post a lot of fun stuff there… not just navel-gazing.  😉

Later gang… for my Orlando peeps… I’ll probably be in Orlando for a few days around Christmas.  I don’t have a lot of vacation days with my new job so I’m not sure exactly when, but Christmas weekend for sure.  See you then!

Brakes!!!!

Originally published at Kickin’ the new Kuh-nowledge. You can comment here or there.

Took my car to get a checkup today.  Just your normal maintenance.  Was told that I need brakes…  and a battery.  Unfortunately, that will have to wait until I have more money.  At the very least I need to get a second opinion… because you should always do that especially after the prices they quoted me (over $1000 because I need new rotors too…  Gah!).

I miss my old shade tree mechanic ( st_sardonicist knows what I’m talkin’ about).

What I’ve been up to…

I’ve been relatively quiet lately…  here’s what I’ve been up to:

  • Working!  I tallied up the total number of vacation days I’ve used this year.  The total was 4.  That’s right, I’ve only had 4 days off of work this whole year.  How sick is that?  Well, I plan on remedying that over the next couple of months (more news to come).  Other than that, work itself, has been going relatively well.  Still lots of changes, but I feel relatively safe right now.  By safe I mean, that I have been busy as hell working a lot of different projects.
  • Commuting!  Up until last week I had been commuting to Chicago by train and bicycle.  It’s been great.  I feel less burnt out when I’m done with work.  I feel a little more motivated to actually go to work each week.  And that’s why winter has me worried.  The colder it gets, the less likely it is that I’ll be able to commute by bike.  Which means that I’ll need to start driving again.  Let’s just hope that gas prices stay low this winter (yeah right!).
  • Volunteering!  I have been volunteering time to two community organizations.  The Bike Project is a bike collective in Champaign-Urbana.  It gives people a chance to learn how to fix their own bikes and to build their own bikes from donated used bikes.  They also do things like give away bike lights, build bikes for underprivileged kids and other organizations.  I also volunteer a little time at WEFT, 90.1, a local community radio station.  Champaign-Urbana is blessed with several community radio stations.  My “job” at WEFT is to open the new Rock, Indie Rock and Pop music that comes into the station and get it ready for the on-air folks.  It’s a simple job, but it does afford me the opportunity to listen to a lot of new music (some of it actually decent).
  • Gaming!  I still play D&D every week.  I play in a game in Chicago and one in Champaign-Urbana.  I also play some board games here and there with Liz and her school friends.  I would love to play more board games, but oh well…  you can’t have everything.
  • Politics!  I’ve been really sucked into the elections and the campaigns.  I read a lot online and as I mentioned in a previous post I’ve done a little phone calling.  Go Obama Go!
  • Fostering!  Up until last week, Liz and I were fostering a rescued Bernese Mountain Dog.  Carly was adopted last week by a family in New Jersey.  I had to drive her up to Chicago so she could fly to New Jersey to meet her new family.  Carly was a real sweetheart, and I think both Liz and I will miss having her around.  If you’re wondering about Kiko.  He’s just fine.  🙂

And that should get you up to date on what’s been going on lately.  Watch for another post about what’s coming up!

–sam

Pinky Tuscadero

Originally published at Kickin’ the new Kuh-nowledge. You can comment here or there.

I’ve been having some problems with my bike lately.  My commute to work has been great, but the downside is that I fold and unfold the bike several times a day.  My current bike, a Giant Halfway, wasn’t really designed for this type of abuse.  It’s more of a keep in the trunk of your car and ride occasionally kind of bike.

The hinge on my current bike is starting to fail.  Basically, it will work itself loose every now and then.  I was on the sidewalk the first time it happened.  No injuries…  just embarassment.  It’s happened a couple of other times since.  I have a new hinge on order, but the issue goes beyond that…  while the bike is a snap to fold and unfold, it simply wasn’t designed to have that action performed multiple times per day.  A new hinge will just yield the same result eventually.

I started researching and searching for a new folding bike.  Most of the searching was done online, but I also made it out to a couple of different stores to test ride some bikes too.  I tested Dahons, a Brompton, a Bike Friday and a Birdy.  I thought about the Xootr Swift and the Strida.  For a moment there, I even considered going back to my car.

At some point I passed the threshold from researching, to actually shopping.  I started scouring eBay and Craigslist for a good deal.  I found several, but either I didn’t win the auction (eBay)… or the seller wasn’t willing to ship the bike (Craigslist).  One of the folks I contacted via Craigslist in Eugene, OR got back to me a week ago.  He hadn’t had any luck selling his Bike Friday Tikit locally, and wanted to know if I was still interested.  We agreed on a shipping price, and the bike was sent out to me on Tuesday.

It arrived yesterday.  Here are the pictures to prove it…

Whats in the box?

What's in the box?

Getting Warmer?

Getting Warmer?

That Cant Possibly Be a Pink Bike?

That Can't Possibly Be a Pink Bike?

Presenting Pinky Tuscadero!

Presenting Pinky Tuscadero!

Oil Is for Sissies!

Oil Is for Sissies!

Showing Off My Bling!

Showing Off My Bling!

Most likely, the Oil is for Sissies is going to be removed or replaced.  If you have a better slogan for Pinky, please let me know.  So far I’ve heard…  “Real Men Love Pink”, “Pink Panther”, and of course, “Pinky Tuscadero”.  I’ve also had some vulgar ones that I won’t repeat here because my dad reads this.  ;-)

Interesting tidbit on the name Pinky Tuscadero…  it appears that Happy Days has been out of syndication so long that people under 30 do not generally get the reference.  I’ve said it in mixed groups of people.  The under 30’s look puzzled, the over 30’s groan.  LOL

Insert Pithy Title Combining Pitchfork and Thailand HERE…

A couple of things…

First, today is my birthday… and my present to myself is the Pitchfork Music Festival which happens this weekend.  Gus is coming down from Minneapolis.  We’re manly men, staying at a bed and breakfast.  That’s right.  If you don’t start something, there won’t be something.  Expect a report on this next week.

Second, notice that I didn’t mention awesome wife Liz in that first part.  Why?  Because she’s the luckiest wife EVAR.  She left for Thailand today.  She’ll be gone for a few weeks at some “training”…  but we all know that she’s really going there to have fun.

In other news…  commuting by bike in 90 degree weather, not as cool (no pun intended) as I thought it would be.  My friends…  baby wipes, what every adult man wants to rub all over his body when he gets to work in the morning.  Haven’t you heard?  It’s the new black.

In other, other news…  I think I pulled or strained a muscle in my arm.  Does anyone have any recommendations for what I can do for it?  Should I go to a doctor and get something?  Or should I pamper myself and get a massage (will that even help it)?

In even more news…  Work is trying to crush my soul.  Who knew having your soul crushed paid so well?

Finally, I have come to a decision.  I need to sell all the collectible crap that is clogging up my house and never sees the light of day.  I figure I can turn a few grand.   Who couldn’t use a few grand?  I know I could;  especially when we go visit my dad in Brazil.  Have you seen those plane tickets.  Outrageous!

–sam

File Under: It Was Bound to Happen

Looks like today the honeymoon is over.  The Metra train from Lombard to Chicago was over an hour late.  In a moment of wisdom, Metra decided not to charge the angry, waiting riders.  Still…  that’s a lot of time to waste at a train stop.  Can someone say suck.

The worst part is that I was supposed to meet a buddy for dinner to celebrate his new job.  Since I didn’t know how long the train would be I called it off.  We rescheduled for next week.

Then my very cool bike decided today to have a weird problem.  The latch that keeps the folded part together while riding decided to loosen.  Fortunately, it stayed together enough for me to get home without much fuss.  I was able to fix the problem when I got home tonight (I hope).  Fingers crossed for the ride tomorrow.

In other news, my boss is nuts.  He’s basically forcing everyone to change offices.  I think it’s his way to keep our minds off the recent layoffs.  I have news for him…  not really working.  And joy of joys… I get to move into a windowless office that is half the size of my current one.  Yay?

And to leave on a positive note…  Here’s some music you might find interesting…

http://www.myspace.com/timfite

http://www.myspace.com/disfear

http://www.myspace.com/sonsanddaughters

Later Gators!

Bikes ‘R’ Us

Originally published at Kickin’ the new Kuh-nowledge. You can comment here or there.

I made it through the second week of the train commute. Yes, the second week. It would have been the third week, but I got the flu right after the first week (probably from someone on the train).

Anyway, I’m learning a lot more about Chicago as a result of taking public transit and riding my bike. In fact, I would say I’ve learned more in the last few weeks than I did in the previous year. Sad, but true.

And now that the bicycle is such an important part of my transportation picture, I’m finding that I’m having to re-learn a lot of what I used to know about bikes when I was a kid. Little known fact… when I was living in Miami between 4th and 5th grade, I used to steal bikes with my cousin Bobby and our friend Joey. We would roll up to some other neighborhood and find bikes that had been left in the yard. Then we would take them back to Joey’s house, take the bikes apart and rebuild them. After that we would spray paint them and then sell them at the flea market. It was like a car chop shop, but for bicycles. I’m not proud of what I did.

I mention that only because today I had to change the tire on my bicycle. It brought back a lot of memories.
Yesterday I went over to Bikeworks, a local bike shop. The owner of the shop, Bruce, is a bit like the Soup Nazi. He’s cantankerous and gruff, and he is highly opinionated when it comes to bicycles. Here’s a video of him…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_L1m1QIFTtg

Who better to ask about the gear shifting problem I’ve been having? I spent a couple of hours with Bruce yesterday before he agreed to work on my gear problem. While there, I noticed something odd about my rear tire. The rubber was coming off where the tire met the rim. I bought the bike used… therefore the tires were used. I hadn’t noticed the rear tire issue until I was showing another customer how to fold the bike.

At any rate, Bruce, miraculously found the same exact tires (Kenda Kwest 20×1.50 High Pressure) that were on my bike somewhere inside his store (if you watched the video, you’ll know that would be quite a feat).  This morning I replaced the offending tire.  Got a little dirty in the process.  It felt good.

Next up…  I need to join the Bike Project…  http://thebikeproject.org.

–sam

Note to Self…

Today was my big test of the train version of my commute. Here’s what I learned.

  • 5:00 AM is really friggin’ early. REALLY!
  • It may be better if I check my bike as luggage on Amtrak.
  • Waiting 1.5 hours for Metra sucks balls.
  • Once I finally figured out the trick to carrying my bike, it’s really awesome. Without the trick, it would have been a worse day.
  • People ask a lot of questions about the bike. And many, many more people just stare at me.
  • I am really out of shape. I have many aches and pains this morning. I am definitely closer to 40.
  • I may be better off bringing a change of clothes instead of riding in my work clothes. Pants got a little dirty today when I carried the bike. Might not be an issue now that I know the trick.
  • Arriving at work at 11:40 is really not acceptable. There are three options available to me.
    1. Leave home on Monday night, instead of Tuesday morning. Not my preference as it would mean one less night at home.
    2. Boss would need to compromise and just let me come in at 11:40 on Tuesdays. Again not ideal as that’s not the level of service I would want to provide.
    3. Boss would need to compromise and just let me work from the downtown office on Tuesdays. This is the best, most reasonable option. My guess is that it will be liking pull teeth to get it.
  • Finally… Do NOT forget the book you want to read. Do NOT forget your iPod. And even more importantly… do NOT forget your headphones. GAH!

The Test

Originally published at Kickin’ the new Kuh-nowledge. You can comment here or there.

Tomorrow I embark on an epic journey.  Instead of driving to Chicago, I’ll be taking the train.  This is a big deal for me.  I’ll be adding a ton of extra time to my commute, but I’ll be saving quite a bit of coin.  I’m testing it out this week to see if it will be something I can do regularly.

Here’s what my train commute will look like tomorrow…

Amtrak to Chicago…  Depart 6:10 AM
Metra to Lombard…  Depart 10:40 AM
Bicycle to the Office…  Depart 11:20 AM
Arrive at Office around 11:40 AM

My current car-based commute is a bit shorter.  I usually leave around 8:00 AM and arrive around 10:30 AM. So my commute will go from 2.5 hours to 5.5 hours.  Yikes!  At least I only have to do that once a week.  On the way back, the commute will actually be a lot less…  more like 3.5 hours.  Another positive is that I get to see if my folding bike is good enough for this kind of travel.

Here’s to hoping there are no delays tomorrow.
–sam