with 'personal' tag

i have other affairs to attend to

my last day with oracle (formerly sun, formerly mysql), today, came a little over eight years after my first.

on to the next thing.

5 things you didn’t know about me

i knew that dave would get me back for tagging him eventually.

  1. i am a published poet.
  2. i have appeared on a local newscast.
  3. i did telemarketing (cold-calling) for an insurance agent.
  4. i used to work the weekend opening shift at burger king.
  5. i failed two classes in my major in college.

tagging: angel, angel, shannon, jeremy and sam.

how i work

dave rosenberg has been doing a series of “how i work” interviews and asked for more submissions. here is mine.

what is your role? i believe my title is still maintenance engineer, but i’m now actually a proper server developer at mysql. right now i’m doing some falcon-related work, but i hope to get back to working on pluggable authentication and authorization soon.

what is your computer setup? my desktop is a mac mini (powerpc), hooked up to a 20" apple cinema display. my development box, which runs headless and i just access with ssh, is an amd64 running ubuntu. i also have a 12" powerbook that i use when on the road (which isn’t often). my plan is to replace the mac mini and powerbook with a new macbook pro at some point down the line. this site also runs off a colo server.

what desktop software applications do you use daily? when i am working, i’m always running safari, terminal, itunes (plus synergy classic), colloquy (irc client), and the stickies application. i also have antirsi running to remind me to take breaks. i use mutt, running on my colo server, for all of my email.

what websites do you visit every day? i have my own rss aggregator that i use for reading various news feeds, and it has a blo.gs-based sidebar that lets me know when the various weblogs i am interested in get updated. i read planet apache, planet php, planet perl, planet mysql, and planet intertwingly regularly.

what mobile device or cell phone do you use? i have a motorola razr, and i sync my address book over bluetooth. i recently started using bluephoneelite, which lets me send sms from my computer, and also pops up caller information when i get a call on my cell.

do you use im? i went back to using ichat after dabbling with adium, but now that my fiancée celia is working from my couch, i haven’t even had a need to keep ichat running.

do you use a voip phone? every once in a while i’ll fire up sjphone to use the company’s internal voip network, and i’ll fire up skype once in a while.

do you have a personal organization/time management theory? not really. i use the stickies application to keep track of what i’ve done this week, and my short to-do list for work. my incoming email gets sorted into three folders: personal, work, and the mysql mailing lists (i’m subscribed to all of them). i try to keep the personal and work inbox to under thirty messages (generally successfully — they currently have nine and ten, respecitively), and i flush out the mailing list inbox regularly. we have a couple of monthly calendars on the fridge to keep track of upcoming events.

anything else? the whole cult of “gettings things done” creeps me out.

april fools!

saturday was fun, but pretty uneventful. nobody played any april fools jokes on me, and i didn’t play any april fools jokes on anybody else.

yes, that means this is true.

the news about new management for cole’s is also true, which is sad. even if the new management doesn’t screw it up, cole’s won’t be the same.

i asked, and she said yes

so we started a new blog.

celia and the rest of the story

while i’ve just been flicking beans out of the can, celia has gone and spilled the whole thing. if she wants to claim that i have swept her off her feet, i guess i would be a fool to dispute it. pay no attention to the lack of ground beneath my feet.



ending 2005

ending 2005

i wanted to take a self-portrait before i shaved. i took a break from shaving over thanksgiving and kept that up until now. but there were a couple of days when i gave the beard a trim (including yesterday).

self portraits are annoying to shoot. lots of aiming the camera into empty space, taking the picture, checking the image (thank god for digital), and repeating. i took thirty-four of them, and ended up liking the second one i took the most. i had my eyes closed on the first.

2005 in review: life

three best things about the last year: getting my camera, meeting shannon, and meeting celia.

honorable mention would go to selling blo.gs. (but after six months, it means the most to me as the catalyst for getting the camera.)

worst thing about the last year: the intense dissatisfaction.

my desk, annotated

my desk i played with hanging my camera from a pipe over my desk, with the idea of capturing another self-portrait. the shots with me didn’t turn out like i wanted, but this is a reasonable picture of my desk and chair. if you click on the picture, you can my silly obsessive annotation of the picture.

self portrait

self portrait

who says i don’t like to have my picture taken?

when i play my cards right, my work day consists of screwing around with my camera while i wait for compiles to finish.

rain or shine

it’s almost as hard to get motivated to work on rainy days as it is on really nice days, although for fairly different reasons. i just want to crawl under the covers. wake me up when it is sunny again.

caught up again

i’ve basically caught up on the emails that have been lingering in my inbox, taunting me and my lack of motivation to answer them. (some people play the “i’m so busy” card, but i’m willing to admit that i’m just lame.)

but i can blame some of my recent lameness in apparently not answering emails on my server getting caught up in a spam blacklist. so there’s probably a few that i answered but only i know that because the reply was eaten by some spam filter somewhere. now i’ve been migrated to a new address block, so that should be less of an issue.

twisting my words

sorry for the spate of postings — i took the day off work today, and so i find myself with an excess of writing energy and no other outlet. just know that my internal editor has been nearly as busy, and there’s a half-dozen posts i started and threw away.

a birthday is a good time for reflection, like i really need an excuse for that. so i’ve been spending time thinking about what i would like to change about my life this year. the answer is easy, but also really, really difficult.

i also came up with two resolutions, or goals, or whatever you want to call them. goals is probably a better word, since although i may phrase them as absolutes, they are something i only expect to achieve in shades of gray. accepting reasonable expectations is something i’ve managed to embrace.

but i am tired of writing about personal stuff here, since i can never decide whether i am being entirely too oblique or too obvious. you are a very strange audience, made up of people i am writing to, about, and for, where sometimes i want you to be in one category when you’re really in another, and other times i wish you weren’t in one of them but you almost certainly are, and other times when you’re not any of them, you’re just some anonymous person walking past this street corner that i am talking to myself on.

so no more. or at least less. after this.

the thing to change about my life: be less afraid.

the first resolution: don’t turn down any invitations.

the second resolution: don’t avoid any questions.

kid with crocheted yoda ears i need to come up with a simple halloween costume. it’s not quite last minute — i have until next weekend. any suggestions?

if i could go as the baby with the crocheted yoda ears, i would. the look on that kid’s face is priceless. (spotted at boing boing.)

metaphors for life

i like trying to come up with metaphors for my life. one that has bounced to mind recently has been that feeling that you have when you’re expecting a phone call, it is already past the time you expected it, and you’re afraid that your phone might not be working and are afraid to check it because you fear that it will be at the instant that you have the phone off the hook that the call will be made.

but although i really like the metaphor, since it certainly captures a specific feeling for me, it just doesn’t quite fit.

another would be the feeling when two people are alternately choosing people to make up their teams, and you know you’re going to get picked last.

i like that one for the same sorts of reasons, but it also just doesn’t quite fit.

the search continues.

five years and two days ago, i wrote my first blog entry. i started out using blogger. four days later, i made my first entry with my own blog software.

mostly the truth

jakob nielsen’s list of the top ten design mistakes in weblog usability are generally reasonable advice, but i think it is funny that cory at boing boing decided to call out the one i probably pay the least heed to: #3, nondescript posting titles.

it’s not that my titles are nondescript so much as non-sequitors, or inside jokes so inside that i’m the only one who could possibly understand them. some recent highlights:

and then there are all the entries i don’t even title.

at the end of the day, i’m (mostly) writing for me, so i like to think that gives me license to flaunt jakob’s list.

old habits

a long time ago, like back in 1988 or so, i was invited to a party at the house of this guy who ran a bulletin board system i was active on.

before i accepted the invitation, i started to decline it. but here’s the awkward bit — the bulletin board system was running on a computer in this guy’s bedroom, and so he and some of his friends were watching as i first typed “i’m not going to be able to make it...”, wiped it out, and then said i was on my way over.

i guess it all worked out in the end, as that ended up being the group i hung out with through most of high school. although i did stop hanging out with them during my senior year for reasons i don’t really recall, and haven’t talked to any of them since then.

i don’t know if it is more sad or funny that i remember these little scenarios of my dysfunction.

(i’m lying. it is sad.)

i say hello

bowling alone: the collapse and revival of american community by robert d. putnam is a look at the decline of social capital in american culture over the last few decades. it is information-dense, but thought provoking.

i can’t help but feel to be an example of the sort of disconnectedness and disengagement that putnam writes about, but i think i am getting better at fighting against it. bettertogether is a project headed up by putnam, and this list of 150 ways to build social capital would make a fine todo list. and i’m even already doing some of them, like volunteering at the library (#75).

a small irony is that staying in on a friday night to finish the book isn’t a particularly social thing to do.

tax that fellow behind the tree

who knows why they call it “playing hooky,” but i don’t think it really counts if you give notice a week in advance, and it’s so you can go get your taxes done on the last possible day before bad things happen.

and now that i double-check, the last possible day is actually monday. so i guess i am really getting my taxes done early this year.

next year i won’t be able to be so lax, because i will surely owe money.

“rich bachelors should be heavily taxed. it is not fair that some men should be happier than others.” — oscar wilde

what’s your line?

these two askmefi questions about conversation starters inspired some interesting answers. “how do you know the host?” and its variants always seem a pretty safe bet to me. “are you from around here?” and the line of questioning from there is also always pretty reliable.

i’m also one of those people who isn’t a big fan of “what do you do?” probably because what i do isn’t terribly meaningful to most people, and the most common discussion it leads to is the description of some computer problem they are having or had.

maybe i’m crazy, but i think “what’s your line?” may actually be a pretty good line itself. i expect you to research the matter and get back to me. unless it works really well, then i don’t want to know.


note to self: when you feel your back starting to feel off, skip exercising for a few days. i felt it happening the last few days, exercised anyway, and today i’m paying the price.

i’m going to be a real barrel of laughs this weekend.

(to clarify, this is strained-back-move-like-an-old-man back pain, not oh-my-god-where’s-the-vicodin back pain.)

more on me and friends

matt haughey linked to this entry about how libraries can serve people but what interested me was the quote he pulled out: “the most important information in my daily life is, simply, what are my friends doing?”

what fascinates me about the quote is that for me, it’s simply not true. i’m not even sure i can wrap my head around what it would mean for it to be true.

obviously, friends is a topic that has been on my mind recently. what brought it to the surface was going through a box of some of my old stuff and running across pictures of my best friend from elementary school, who moved away between fifth and sixth grade (or about then). as far as i can figure, i think that is the last time i had a mutual best friend. more than twenty years ago. yikes.

my oldest friends at this point are people i worked with at knowledge adventure (about a decade ago!). that is, those are the oldest friends i have any sort of regular contact with.

less of me to hate

here’s a graph of my weight for almost two years. except for that big straight line between january and july this year, i’ve been pretty consistent in weighing myself daily. since july, i’ve also been consistent in weighing myself at the same time each day, which wasn’t really the case before. even then, there are sometimes funny swings in my weight that help reinforce that it’s not a good idea to get wrapped up in the day-to-day numbers.

the trend has been aggressive since july — i’ve lost just about two pounds per week. i had a bit of a goal to get down to 220 by my birthday, but that isn’t going to happen. and to be honest, i didn’t expect it to happen when i set it. maybe i’ll be there by thanksgiving. certainly by the end of the year, unless i jump the rails again.

after that, my long term goal is really to get down to around 200. but that is a long way off.

for the curious, my approach to losing weight has been very simple — exercise more (five days a week at the gym) and eat less (mostly by cutting out crap i shouldn’t eat in the first place, but also by eating out less). the only thing i’m tracking is my weight, i just haven’t had the patience to deal with any sort of calorie-counting.

you’re allowed to hate me, i do

i still have three weeks of vacation time to use between now and the end of the year. i can roll over a week of that to next year (which would actually add to the additional seven days i have banked from previous years).

i could take the week after my birthday off to wallow.

i could take every friday off.

i could take the last week of the year off and go home again.

i could take the days of the library docent training off.

such are the travails of an ascetic lifestyle with a turgid budget.

i need to fix this painful unwillingness of mine to do interesting things on my own.

i can’t believe that anyone still reads all this angsty bullshit.

i can’t believe i’m still writing all this angsty bullshit.

just one of the ways i haven’t gotten past being a teenager, i guess.

stupid and contagious.

smudgy window

what i write here is an imperfect view into my life.

but more frustrating from my perspective is the imperfect view from this side.

it is hard to get acute reactions from obtuse provocations.

then and now

pooh & me pooh today the first picture is of me with winnie the pooh when i was almost three weeks old. pooh went everywhere with me when i was little.

the second shot is of pooh today (he made the trip back with me) and he’s only a little worse for wear. he’s lost his shirt, and eyebrows, and been restuffed a couple of times. i can relate.

welcome to california, old friend!

here’s a free online version of the “caring for your introvert” article by jonathan rauch that i mentioned earlier. (found by jason kottke’s readers.)

how to make friends, or at least a bunch of ideas on how to do so in response to an ask metafilter question.

oddly enough, nobody suggested bowling.

there are two ways to find a solution to the problem: undertake efforts that you believe will result in making friends and finding those that work, or undertake efforts that you believe will not result in making friends and eliminating those as possibilities until you are left with only workable solutions.

doc searls has sometimes explained how he blogs as just answering emails in public.

it has come up in some recent conversations with people i know that they keep up with what i’m up to by reading this site. (which, it frightens me to say, is probably pretty effective. there’s not much that goes on behind the curtains here.)

in conversation, i ask few questions and give short answers. i wonder if blogging has become a sort of conversational crutch for me. by blogging about something, i don’t have to talk about it.

or maybe by blogging about something, i figure out a good answer for the questions that nobody needs to ask because they’ve already read the answer.

cnet news.com reports on the results of the pew internet study that says for nearly half of the bloggers surveyed, blogging is a form of therapy.

that doesn’t surprise me. a lot of what i’ve been blogging recently has been motivated by that.

rut or routine?

  • monday through friday
    • wake up between 6am and 7am
    • check email, weblogs, etc
    • go to gym (usually around 8am)
      • monday, wednesday, friday — set of twelve reps at most of the upper-body weight machines, 20-30 minutes on elliptical machine (cascades mode, level 12)
      • tuesday, thursday — 45 minutes on elliptical machine (cascades mode, level 15)
    • breakfast (granola and yogurt), shower, begin work
    • work (generally with a snack or two of an apple or orange)
    • lunch around 1pm (sometimes i run errands. monday-thursday i fix something at home, and on fridays i usually pick something up)
    • work (generally with another snack or two of apples, oranges, or celery with peanut butter)
    • dinner around 7pm (salad — lettuce, shredded carrots, roasted sunflower seeds, and ralphs poppyseed dressing)
    • watch television, dvds, or play world of warcraft
    • go to bed anytime between 10pm and midnight
  • saturday and sunday
    • wake up between 6am and 8am
    • breakfast (pancakes), shower
    • read email, weblogs, etc
    • get out (go to a movie, go take pictures, go shopping, etc)
    • eat a mid-day meal (when and what depends on whether i’m in or out — a frequent choice is to pick up a few empanadas at the grand central market)
    • read a book, screw around on the computer, etc.
    • dinner around 7pm (salad)
    • watch television, dvds, or play world of warcraft
    • go to bed anytime between 10pm and midnight

the weekdays are more consistent than the weekends. weekends depend on what movies are playing, whether i need to hit trader joe’s, what books and movies i have on hand, whether i feel like baking bread and making pizza, etc.

but i’d say about 90% of my days fit these basic templates.

today will be an exception, for example — unless i flake out and forget, i’m going to head up to amoeba music and catch dengue fever.

looking minnesota, feeling california

a very smart person recently told me that you’re considered a los angeles native after living here for three years. i’m not sure if i’d go that far, but i’m certainly closing the gap in having lived in the los angeles area longer than i lived in minnesota (14 years vs. 18 years).

but what really makes me think i’m going native is that i have caught myself being annoyed at how cold it is — and that has meant mid-to-low 70s this week.

for the record, i’m not a native minnesotan, either. i was born in florida.

if you were me, you might find the one liter bottle of blackthorn cider to be the perfect amount to get a good buzz going. and at $3/bottle at trader joe‘s, it’s a pretty good deal.

blackthorn isn’t my favorite cider, but there appears to have been a decline in the number of hard ciders you can get around here. i remember there being one bar i went to a few times that actually had a cider on tap, and spaceland used to have it in bottles. the last time i remember a bar having anything close was when they had pear cider, which just isn’t the same.

anyway, it was a good complement to the not-so-good second half of the game today.

because it is always a good idea to have one that is up-to-date, here’s my unabridged résumé.

if i were sending this out, the abridged (one-page) version would cut out the work experience prior to knowledge adventure, the whole honors and awards section, and all of the published works and presentations before 2003, if not that whole section. but that does remind me, i could probably add some of the articles i wrote for mysql’s developer zone to the unabridged version.

i can’t believe the experience at homepage.com only lasted fifteen months. and in not too long, my job with mysql will be the one i’ve stuck with the longest.

speaking of slogans i should have on a t-shirt, i think i need to add “i don’t hate you” to the list.

i certainly don’t mean to lay down a heavy fuck-off vibe (usually), but sometimes i think that i must. some of those sometimes have been triggered by someone asking “why do you hate me?” even if they’re kidding, i know there is truth in humor. i guess it is the always quiet thing that sends the wrong message.

and after kicking around this idea for a couple of days, i think the slogan would be more precise, if not more concise, expanded to “i don’t hate you, i hate myself.”

“it is better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt” is a quote i’ve seen attributed to both mark twain and abraham lincoln. it would be interesting to know who actually said it. i suspect it was neither of them.

i need a t-shirt that says “yes, i am usually this quiet.”

flat denial

in the creative writing class i took in high school (maybe 9th or 10th grade), one of the activities was breaking into small groups and discussing a story that one of the people in the group had written.

one time, we read and discussed a short story that someone had written (and i have completely forgotten who it was) about coming home from school and finding out that her cat had died. one of the things that was brought up in discussion, i think by the teacher who had sat in with us, was whether a few of the passages were meant to foreshadow the ending, where the girl founds out that her cat has died. i argued that they weren’t, and of course it came out that i was wrong. the author had actually worked with the teacher in constructing the story. we were discussing the story without knowing who had written it. i’m not sure we even knew that someone in our group had written it.

i’m not sure what the lesson from this story is, but it’s something i think about every so often. perhaps the lesson is that sometimes there really is a lot of meaning in what someone says or writes. for myself, i often find more meaning in things i write without intending meaning than things i write intending meaning.

the bad habit i picked up from the class came from being able to get away with doing my writing assignments at the last minute. my locker was across the hall from the english department, and i remember quickly writing most of my assignments there during a free period i had before class.

and the title of this entry has nothing to do with the content. it goes with the entry i was going to write, but did not. maybe some other time.

i have a bunch of saved emails going back several years now. i wish i had more. here’s something from an old email (january 1999) to some friends about the non-response of a company (where i had some contacts) to a resume i had sent:

(A small part of me wonders, “Maybe it just got intercepted by the lackey who filters person’s mail.” (And another small part of me says, “But you don't really want to work at company, so who cares?” (And yet another small part says, “Shut up, I’m trying to work a crossword puzzle here!” (And another part says, “Is it really healthy to have so many speaking parts around here?” (And another part says, “You maniacs! You blew it all up! Damn you all to hell!” (And the penguin says, “Moo.”))))))

here’s another tidbit, referring to this page:

I have to say that #3 isn't all its cracked up to be. But maybe I just have to give it more time.

time does not appear to have been the missing ingredient.

i don’t know whether to file this under “things you thought only happened in fiction” or “things whose subtext i wished i still was oblivious to.”

i saved a birthday card from a girl i went to high school and worked with. (coincidentally enough, sara.) it actually says “stay as sweet as you are.”

if the phone doesn’t ring, it’s me

this is something i’ve thought about writing about a few times, but it felt like i was running the risk of offending someone, or at least of making them uncomfortable that they had caused me to write it. c’est la vie.

file this under “things i would change about myself if i knew how” — i hate making phone calls. absolutely detest it. avoid it to the detriment of my own well-being. i still haven’t set up an appointment with accountant to get my 2004 taxes done because it involves calling to make that appointment.

it’s just one of the ways in which i wrestle with what you could call limited social energy. another is in spreading out my plans so i don’t totally short-circuit on a busy weekend. jonathan rauch’s article from the atlantic monthly, “caring for your introvert,” sort of explains the principle. (if you have a los angeles public library card, you can get the full article by doing a title search in the “magazines - general interest” databases.)

and of course, it is a lie to call it something i would change if i knew how — i do know how. like changing in any other way, it takes practice, patience, and hard work. so maybe it is something i’ll work on eventually, but for now i’m frying other fish. fixing my phone phobia can wait.

accurate character assessment, or self-fulfilling prophecy?

“he’s a nice guy, until you get to know him. then he’s a real jerk.” — sara introducing me to a new coworker, circa 1990.

today’s birthday

“You actively expand your mind this year, which in turn expands your finances, your love life and your network. So indulge in your passionate escape this month and next. Pursuing your hobby brings an influx of new blood to your social circle. In December, a job opportunity makes you a leader. Love signs are Gemini and Cancer. Your lucky numbers are: 6, 20, 52, 55 and 28.”

charitable contributions, as percentage of adjusted gross income (tax year 2003 edition)

the cheneys beat me out by donating almost all of the royalties from mrs. cheney’s books to charity. (data for everyone who is not me comes from tax history project.)

and yes, that 23.9% is pretty absurdly high. that’s the result of turning around and donating most of last year’s tax refund to charity, and donating my used car to the eff. i suspect i’ll be back below the teens again for 2004.

vision therapy

aaron swartz has written about “eye exercises” a few times. the concept isn’t quite as far outside the mainstream as one may think.

when i was very little, i was cross-eyed. i had operations on both eyes to correct this, which resulted in an over-correction of my right eye — it turns out (becoming a “lazy eye”). when i was a little older (about eight), i had another surgery which tried to correct that, but it was not successful.

so now my eyes are decidedly funky, even to professionals. i have different prescriptions for each eye (one near-sighted, one far-sighted), and it turns out i have some of the mannerisms of someone who is cross-eyed (like standing with my legs crossed), even though my eyes turn out.

it’s not really just my right eye that turns out — i’ve adapted to things and can basically alternate which eye i’m primarily using. this means that i shift my attention to my right eye, the left one drifts out (although not as much as the right eye does).

as a result of this, i have monocular vision, or no depth perception. close one eye. that’s roughly what i see, but not quite: my other eye doesn’t turn off, so i still have a full range of peripheral vision. there’s just no depth to anything.

sometime after my back surgery last year, i decided that maybe there is something to this modern medicine thing, and started looking into what sorts of possibilities there were for correcting my eyes. it turns out there’s quite a bit of information about the subject on that interweb thing, and i eventually found my way to a optometrist who specializes in what is called “vision therapy” (or “orthoptics”). it is almost exactly what it sounds like: a sort of physical therapy for the eyes.

now i’ll back up to before my last eye surgery a bit: before that, the eye doctor i was seeing at the time had me wear an eye patch for a while, and do what he called “eye pushups,” where you basically bring your finger towards your nose, trying to cross your eyes. that didn’t really go anywhere, and thus the final eye surgery, and

vision therapy is like that, only with a whole battery of different exercises, and regular professional supervision. i’ve been doing it now for about six months (with gaps due to traveling and holidays). and the results are much like an exercise program, properly executed: slow and steady. i have a much better awareness and understanding of what my eyes are doing, and more control.

when i started, the doctor only put my odds of getting the results i wanted at about 60%, and the feedback i’ve gotten so far is that i’m making good progress. and i feel like i’m making good progress, although it can certainly be frustrating at times.

there you go. it’s not much of a story with a happy ending (yet?), but it seemed worth telling. i’ve written very little of any depth about myself here, except obliquely, and this seemed like a reasonable place to start (even if i’m still being oblique, in part).

i guess i should back up again, and explain a little why this is something i see as a problem worth correcting. but that’s just a little too “can open, worms everywhere” for now. maybe another time.

a small footnote: i don’t mind wearing glasses at all, and not wearing glasses is not one of my goals. i’m one of those people who finds glasses attractive. it’s a goal i can sympathize with, but i’ve got bigger fish to fry, as it were.