Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Lawyers, Money... No Gun

Got paid today.... w00t! That's always a good day even if the day itself seemed kinda pointless. When I got in to work I was asked to start working on a new search form for reservations. This is all well and good but I still don't have a full working knowledge of the industry and how each of the database elements relate to real-world elements. They've taken simple structures like a person's information and have split it up into 6 different tables yet have duplicated data between the tables. Also, by their own admission, there are tables and procedures that they're not even using anymore but they're still in the database!

Now, if this wasn't enough... they're using technology for multiple document applications and using it in a single document interface. Not only is this just plain stupid, it's also created more code and code requirements than is necessary. A multiple document interface application (MDI App) is for things like Microsoft Word or Outlook, something that has a standard document and the user is permitted to open more than one of those documents at a time, work on them simultaneously (switching back and forth, passing data back and forth) etc. They're using this technology for reservations, personal info, agency info, voucher info, etc. but they're denying the user the ability to open more than one of these documents at a time.

For searching data, there are no less than 10 forms to accomplish this. Why? Because you can't search for a data element without opening a new empty form for adding an element first. WHY?! It just doesn't make any sense to me how any user of this software could be happy with it other than to say, "Well... it's better than what we had!" From what I've seen, they're right... but that's no excuse for sloppy coding... sorry.

Anyway... so I was sitting there starting to design this new search form when it dawned on me that I could do away with the need for 6 entire forms, umpteen stored procedures and a few classes simply by combining all these into one search form. But then the repercussions of this idea are staggering too. It means full regression testing. It means that part of the application will be functional in a way that will make the users drool and they'll just want more. But editing this code to "do it the way they're used to" just seems like a step in the wrong direction for the application and for me personally. It's a quandary.

Wow... needed to vent there.

So anyway, I left work early to go see my lawyer. My will, living will and healthcare surrogate papers still had Rob in them and since we're no longer coupled, it was past time that he be removed from the benefits derived from my eventual death. The changes will be completed within a couple of days.

It's odd. The changes in my life recently have not felt good but not felt bad either. There's been nothing emotional about them at all. This is actually a good thing in my opinion. Riding too high on emotion is like eating a ton of sugar... you'll crash eventually. It doesn't mean I'm not happy. It just means that for matters that shouldn't be emotional, there's finally peace. This is a very good thing. I say it's odd simply because in my past, I would have had an emotional reaction to these events. Now.. they're just events. Things that *have* to be done in order to secure the uncertain future. With these out of the say, I can start to relax and enjoy my life some. :)

Today was also my Dad's 80th birthday. I called him and talked with him for a little while. He said he'd been having a good day, had gotten several calls from family and was working on his computer converting audio cassette tapes to CDs. He doesn't give up no matter what. I'm very much like him in that respect. I'm glad he has something to do that he wants to do and is able to do. At 80 years old, I hope I have that too.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Agitatorless Washers are Weird, New Revelations and Music for Taylor

So, Sunday night the dryer died. When we tried to start it, it would just go "click" and nothing more. After looking it up on the net, we found that it was probably the thermal fuse and that the thermal fuse was buried deep within the inner workings of the dryer. So instead of trying to solve it ourselves, we considered getting it repaired... but after talking with a few others we were convinced that a repair place would probably charge more than just getting a new dryer.

So then we started looking at dryers and decided that if we're going to get a new dryer, it'd be better to get both a washer and dryer set so they're both the same age and we won't have to deal with the washer dying on us 3 months after we pick up a new dryer (and they'll match).

Long story short... (too late!) we bought a new washer and dryer. We got a nice high-efficiency set that has much better capacity, takes less soap, less time, less water, etc. But the washer has no agitator. It's got a see-through top so you can see what's going on. Twink told me to come look at it and we looked and thought... uhm... is this working? It seems that it would take more energy to move the big drum around than it would an agitator... but maybe not, I guess. I don't know... but it's weird to watch.

That night I asked Twink to watch some movies with me. I bought some comedies (I was in a damn good mood) and wanted to share some laughs together. I also suggested we do something we hadn't done in a while... whippits. She was hesitant at first, but then chose to do it. WE got four boxes (2 each) and started to watch some movies.

After about 1 box each, Twink decided she didn't want to do anymore. I knew her reasons but didn't understand them fully. I said okay and finshed off the remainders. We continued watching some movies but the night did not take on the "joyous occasion" feel that I'd hoped for and the next day I figured out why... at least for me.

Over the past month, I've been feeling better and better each day. Renewed confidence, renewed motivation, renewed desire to live. In one night, for myself, I managed to kill it all again... well severely wound it to the point where I didn't care and didn't want to do anything the next day. Paranoia began to set in again and life was "not worth living" again, etc. But rather than let these feelings take control of me again, I fought them. I stood up and fought them and ordered them not to take control. It was not easy for me. But nothing good is ever easy.

Here's what I realized. I was becoming Rob. I was avoiding responsibility, changing my lifestyle to reflect an attitude of "me first" and not caring about shit. This is NOT who I am, even though there have been many times in recent past that I have let it become so. Rob did this by getting addicted to internet porn. I did this by getting addicted to a careless feeling of "fuckitall."

What I'm putting at risk, though, is worth WAY more than what I'm getting out of the drugs. And so I made a promise to myself that it stops for good.

As an affirmation of that, I took Taylor to SamAsh with me last night. I went in order to pick up a hum eliminator for Twink's stereo. The PC line-out is carrying a ground-loop hum to her mixer and so we needed something to eliminate that hum so she can move forward with recording records for the website. While we were there, I remembered that Taylor needed a metronome for piano lessons. She's all excited now and I'm really looking forward to seeing her play her first recital (a year or two down the road, but still).

All in all, this week is shaping up to be an important one in my life. What today will bring, I don't know. But I'm determined to face it with confidence, motivation and PLUR.


Sunday, February 18, 2007

Lazy Sunday

It's been a pseudo-lazy Sunday. It's been remarkably quiet for most of it... which has been a nice change. The only people home have been me and Josh for the past several hours. Not that I don't like the hustle and bustle of daily life (who wouldn't? ... *wipes sarcasm from chin*), but it's good to have some peace now and then and gather one's thoughts.

I got my disaster of a room straightened out more. I put the stand that Twink gave me back here for Bella to perch on and she's actually been quiet and relaxed all day. This is a good thing. It's been cool to just sit back and chill with her.

After my room, I worked on the kitchen and the front room a little. Just trying to help out in ways that I can.

I got to chat with Kowboi for a bit. Haven't chatted with that cracker in a long time. :) It's always good to hear from him and he's doing really well. I'm very happy for him and very proud of him too. :)

I also got to talk with a friend in Indiana that I've not chatted with in years now. We talked for well over an hour and it was good just to catch up on things. My dad's 80th birthday party is coming up next Sunday. I'm thinking I might (even though it's colder than a well-diggers' butthole up there) go up and see everyone again. I miss them a lot and it's always good to re-establish connections. The "no, I'm not dead yet" visit. :)

Life has been pretty grand today, basically. Quiet, peaceful, stressless. Now if I could only find a way of keeping it that way ... not just for myself... but for everyone. Anyone got any ideas about that? ;)


Friday, February 16, 2007

Winter's End

The seasons change and after a fall there must be a winter. The fall, although beautiful, also heralds the death of that which was. The cold that must come surrounds that which was once full of life and either kills it, brings it to the brink of death, or forces it to find a way to survive. These seasons are necessary for the survival of life by facing death. It is simply the way it works.

I've been in a long winter, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. But I can see that winter's end is approaching. I can see it as surely as I see the words I'm writing on the screen. I can feel the "spring" of life returning little by little as I am reminded of it throughout the day with everyday events.

I recently purchased a Blue and Yellow Macaw from a lovely couple at the Exotic Bird Show in Orlando. Her name is Bella. Now... when I bought her, there were many things running through my mind. What I need to take care of her (responsibilities). Why I wanted her in my life (companionship), How it would affect my life as it is now (consequences). These are just to name a few. Some of them I gave more weight to than others. Regardless of the reasons... we got hitched. :)

Not long after she was at home with us in her new cage, much to everyone's chagrin... she began to squawk, scream and in general... not be very friendly. I took this very hard. I began to wonder what I had done. Had I been selfish? Had I not thought it through? Had I made a mistake? These thoughts weighed heavily on my mind but yet I wouldn't give up. I began searching across the internet for information about training and teaching. I bought a book to learn more about her and her species. I took, a very typical technical approach to the situation... and ignored what my heart was saying... which was, "she's a living being... a little freaked out... go show her some love."

Different resources have had different things to say on the matter. "She's calling out to her flock." "That's just what they do... you better get used to it." "She's looking for some attention and entertainment. Dance with her, play some music or something!" "She's just being a brat, you need to lay the law down and teach her you're the boss and that it's not acceptable!" With all this conflicting input, it's hard to know which approach is "the right approach."

So, I've tried to put myself in the bird's talons, so to speak. But to do that, I got to get to know her first because they're all different. Each of them has their own personality. This is something I've noticed from observing and interacting with Twink's birds. Some of them are sweet and nice and just want some love and affection. Some are playful and cute and act the fool. Some are little fighters that like to make sure you know they're the boss. So what's Bella's personality? So far... she's good at playing the wounded Diva bit. What a perfect match, eh? So it's going to take some time and patience and a fair bit of entertainment, I think. It's worth a try based on the behavior.

What does this have to do with Winter's End? I've been on the brink of despair about it. She's been, in my mind, another link in a chain of failures in my mind. But what I've been neglecting to see is that the source of it all is my attitude. Luckily, I'm not the kind to give up easily and I can see where many of my perceived failures have stemmed from me not taking the bull by the horns with confidence and a good, healthy attitude. The winter from my last fall... has been especially bleak. But the spring is almost here and I'll not let the winter knock me down or chase me away. It's days are numbered. :)


The Joy of Cooking

There's at least one person who sometimes reads my blog that will read that subject and get a hearty laugh from it. :) I'm not a cook anymore. I used to be, however I think lack of practice has left me... well... lacking (for err.. uhm .. LACK of a better word).

At ANY rate... I'm not actually talking about food preparation here. I'm getting ready to make an analogy ... a theory about how relationships... all relationships work, in general. It's that newfangled theory I was talking about in my last post (which more than likely everyone else has figured out before me... but since no one else is posting about it, I figure I will).

Consider the idea that relationship events are like preparing a dish. Depending upon the ingredients you have, the amounts you use and whether or not you follow the directions, you'll either get something great... or something more akin to sheep dip.

So... given this idea... what are the ingredients? The ingredients are your attitudes. I can characterize these fairly easily in my mind. Depending upon the attitude you bring into the relationship event, you will either make it a better recipe or one that makes it disgusting. Whenever you have something too bland, you need some spice to give it a little flavor. If it's a dessert you're looking for, then you reach for the sugar if it's not sweet enough. When there's a relationship problem, first thing to look at is your own attitude. Knowing what the recipe calls for and what you have available in the current attitudes will determine whether or not you can make what you want to make.

Of course, you could have too much of one ingredient too... and not enough of another. Or sometimes, a combination of ingredients to balance it all out is what's required. Since the ultimate goal is the final dish, no matter what your favorite ingredient is, remember that no one ingredient is any less important than another.

Okay, you've got the ingredients and you got a pretty good idea of how much to use of each... now what? Follow the directions! Are you supposed to turn up the heat or let it simmer for a while? Does it need to chill? Be Sauteed (be smothered to get it though it's thick skin)? Don't pour the heat on and burn it if it's supposed to simmer for a while or be at a rolling boil. Don't bake it without enough moisture to keep it tender... rather than dry and tasteless.

The best part about this is that if you screw up the recipe the first time, don't assume that you just can't make that recipe happen. Just keep trying until you find the right combination that achieves what works best. Don't assume that because you've not been able to make the right recipe with a friend or a group of friends that you're unable to make anything right. But also make sure that you recognize that when two ingredients don't work well together you remember that they don't. You can't force unsweetened Cocoa and Milk to taste good without adding some sugar in there too. Everyone's got something to offer and what you bring to it can either make it better or make it worse. It's all up to you.

Peas and Carrots,