Sudden Change of State

By the time April rolled around, I was pretty worried about several things. My savings were depleting and I hadn’t found a new job. Mom was in a rehab center in North Carolina 4 hours away from me because of her latest mini-stroke, and getting to see my girlfriend only every other weekend was becoming intolerable. In desperation, I answered an ad for a job that was… less than satisfactory, but it would pay a few bucks.

I made it all the way to the interview before they told me it was an overnight shift, which I had specifically insisted against. I’d be a useless zombie to them on that schedule. So I stormed politely out, went back to my borrowed bedroom, and considered my options. And that’s when the idea struck me: I wanted a job in NC close to Mom and Maya anyway. Perhaps I’d get more attention from employers if I claimed on my resume to already be living there…

A few quick changes to my online job seeking accounts, and I kid you not, I had an urgent interview within three days. Two years of searching, and a simple fib dropped a job in my lap in THREE DAYS.

So it’s two months later. I’ve got a solid job that pays decently and has great benefits and perks, I have my own place in Raleigh with Maya, Mom’s doing okay with her cat, and they just delivered the first couch I’ve ever paid for all by myself. As I stood at the sink washing some dinner dishes, the whole thing seemed so unreal… but here I am.

I’m more stressed than I’ve been for a while, especially since I’m still doing the podcast, and in a fit of insanity accepted my first con staff position in around 20 years or so. And I miss my friends and chosen family in Hampton Roads. But there’s so much good stuff in my life, stuff I’ve been striving for for so long, that I think I’ll find the strength to handle it. I’m just still a bit bewildered by the speed of the whole thing.

Life-changing events don’t phone ahead, I guess.

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Company… march!

Yesterday, I had to take a replacement keyboard to a customer. The weather was great, so I figured I’d just walk the keyboard over. I ended up having to go back to the same building for another customer, and out of curiosity I checked the Google Maps Pedometer site; the round-trip was a half-mile walk, so I figured I’d gotten my mile in for the day.

Turned out I had to go back to that building 3 more times yesterday, and in a spirit of stubbornness, refused to drive for any of the trips. Ended up with 2.5 miles of walking, and was quite pleased with myself for being able to handle that with no issues. I hadn’t walked that far while keeping track in a long long time. Unfortunately, it really wiped me out, and I was dead for the rest of the day, going bed early on a Friday night.

So, now that I know I can do it, the next step is to get that much walking in without exhausting myself!

Writer’s Block: Life is a masquerade

I am, though I’m not yet sure what I’m going to wear. A lot of the costumes I’ve been wearing to cons lately just aren’t especially appropriate for work (though I got away with one of them at my last job, years ago). Last year I wore a Starfleet uniform to work, and it went over well, but I’d hate to repeat the theme.

If a costume has to be made, I plan four or five months in advance – the more lead time the better. If I’m planning to buy, more like a month. As I’ve sucessfully (if sloppily) constructed my first garment on a sewing machine, I have the option of making my own from now on, but it turns out that’s nearly as expensive as a commission or a purchase, these days – who knew!

I do like to surprise folks with my costume choices when I can. What can I say? It’s the thespian in me.

EDIT: Just noticed that Halloween’s on a Saturday this year, so the whole “dressing up for work” thing is moot. 🙂

Missed connection

Predictable, really. The fuel filter was delayed a day, and didn’t arrive until this afternoon. Guess whose car refused to start with any cajoling this morning? Guess who missed work?

Since the part was in, there was no point in waiting around. I unboxed the filter, got out my Chilton manual and my DIY pictorial from the Internet, and went to town. Getting the rear seat out was the hardest part; it took me a while to figure out that the front edge is held in with sliding tabs, and there was nothing to unbolt there – just pull hard. I had intentionally run the gas tank kinda low, and armed with warnings from the DIY, spilled almost no gasoline. The pump came apart easily, and the filter was about 20 minutes work to replace. I insist than anyone who’s ever taken something apart and put it together again can do this.

That’s when I noticed something. The electrical harness connection to the fuel pump showed signs of serious arcing. The wiring itself was good, nowhere corroded through, but the scorch marks on the plastic showed that something had clearly been loose. I bent a couple connectors to tighter positions, and replaced the harness and pump.

The car started right up, smoother than it has in months. I shut it off, and started it again – it started right up. I’ll do so again in 20 minutes as a further test.

Could the problem have never been the fuel filter or the pump itself, but simply a loose connection? Did the dealer even look? Were they about to charge me $550 for a bad connector in a wiring harness?

I’m not sorry I changed out the filter, that can’t hurt and may improve performance. But if that was the problem all along? Then I’m a little mad.

EDIT: Oh, yeah, speaking of pumps, our fridge died last night also. By an unusual coincidence, we have a backup fridge… but we now have to walk to the garage every time we want a soda.

Like a sledgehammer to the gut

Recap of yesterday:

40 minutes into my hour commute, halfway across the Monitor-Merrimac bridge, when my usual mild morning nausea turned powerful, and changed over to intense pain. I don’t know how to describe it to anyone who’s not felt it, but one would gladly give up PIN codes and passwords just to make it stop. I got the car to work, and the pain briefly subsided, but as I walked into my office, back it came. I was floored – literally. I fell to the ground in the fetal position, moaning.

My co-workers found me, and called the ambulance. My work managed to reach Starr, and she met me in the Emergency Room. I felt quite certain I’d experienced a flareup of 2006’s diverticulitis. The doctor found it likely, but decided to do a CAT scan to be sure. I spent an hour drinking a nasty ‘lemonade’ drink, and then they put me in the big donut.

Well, no diverticulitis. The CAT scan says I have gallstones, and the doctor says they’ll need to remove my gall bladder. I’m really less than thrilled with this, if for no other reason that I’ve just spent a couple of years trying to improve my diet, and now that I’ve got it where I like it, I may have to make further changes. More importantly, I’m not thrilled with this ongoing loss of body parts fate is demanding from me.

Well, I can’t go back to work until I’ve seen the surgeon. At this rate, I don’t even know when they’ll want to do the surgery. I’m on Vicodin, antibiotics, and nausea medication, and sitting in bed playing with my Wii. But I’ve been reminded over the past 24 hours that I remain a lucky man – I may be losing an organ, but I’ve got insurance that’ll pay for it, and the support of many wonderful people to back me up. Starr’s been a treasure, there for me every time I needed comfort or assistance. I’m thankful.

Now, I just have to figure out how to retrieve my car from work.


Actual conversation from work yesterday:

Coworker: Hey, the vendor put the wrong video card in this box.
Me: Could be worse, they could have just put a ham sandwich in there.
CW: Yeah, could lead to hardware incompatibilities.
Me: Well, maybe if it had a PCI-X interface…
CW: The good news is that Mac OS X and Windows 7 already have the right drivers.
Me: Yeah, but the Mac drivers really only work best with the iSandwich.
CW: The iSandwich tastes awesome, but it’s a bit pricey, and a few breads don’t work well.
Me: I hear iSandwich 2.0 will be able to handle double-deckers and tortilla wraps.
CW: Either way you’ll have to get permission from the Condiment Industry Association of America to send sandwich description files to your friends.

We have Main Engine Start

This is the first shuttle launch in decades that I’ve managed to watch live. The experience takes my breath away; so daring, so defiant, putting people atop all that high explosive and flinging them into the hostile vacuum above us. I’m not always thrilled with my species, but this sort of thing restores my faith in our future… at least briefly.

In a very small way, I contributed to this launch, which only adds to the thrill. I contributed indirectly, to be sure, just by doing my day job keeping the Macs of Langley humming; but I’m proud nevertheless.

Lots going on

Langley is closed for the day, which surprises me. There’s a dusting of snow outside, but it sure isn’t anything I couldn’t drive through. Perhaps the bridge-tunnels are unsafe. Our e-mail notification system is a tease, though: “Check Sunday at 7pm.” 7pm Sunday: “Not sure. Check Monday at 5am.” 5am Monday: “We’re definitely closed until Monday at noon. Check at 10am for more.” 10am Monday: “Yeah, okay, we’re closed.”

The upshot is that I have a day off, and for once Starr’s not working today either. We didn’t see much of each other this weekend, so this’ll be nice. We might hit the Y together and get some exercising in. The cats are thrilled to have us home, which means they are all over us every second. I’m thinking of getting some kitty restraints. (Cue Steve Martin’s “Cat Handcuffs” routine.)

I made my hotel reservations for Technicon this weekend. Went nuts and got a suite, since a suite at the Microtel costs less than a twin bed other places. My plan right now is to drive up Friday after work, chill Friday night, do the con and some local socializing, and drive home Monday. I often miss everyone up there. You guys need to all come down to MarsCon or NekoCon or something now so we can hang out.

Mom tried to move back into the house at Kentland this weekend. With reservations, I support this – her plan sounds workable, and she’s going to have outside help. But we learned that a pipe was broken, necessitating shutting off the water, and the gas was also shut off for some reason. I have to get her and Whitney together to get that fixed, as there’s not much I can do about it from here.

And speaking of houses… Starr’s parents have made us an offer to buy this house from them. Without going into details, it’s a deal we would be complete fools to pass up. We’ve agreed to their offer, and are setting up the money now. Nothing’s been signed yet, but it looks like we are going to be homeowners.

I’m going to own a house. A four-bedroom, 2.5 bath house in a nice neighborhood, with a garage, a swimming pool, a fireplace… and this from a guy who was amazed he could afford a three-bedroom apartment. I’m still a little dazed at the prospect… this is awesome. Starr’s right now looking at mortgage rates from her USAA membership, we might even get a good rate. Whoa. *deep breaths* Please send good thoughts my way if you can spare them. This means a lot to me!

Training, sir!

Bad news: we all have to take Office 2007 and MS Vista training; it’s not optional, even for Mac me. Good news: The company will reimburse tuition for any Microsoft certifications to which this training leads. Methinks I’d be a complete fool not to take advantage of this – extra certifications can’t hurt, right?

At the moment, Starr and I share the house with four cats, two of ours and two from her family that are on extended ‘boarding’ with us. We must put in a fair amount of effort to keep up with demands for food and clean litter! As a result, though, I woke up this morning with one cat sleeping on my lap, another nestled tight against my left hip, and a third tucked under my right armpit. It seems I make an excellent cat pillow.

Tonight, Starr works late, and my chore list includes laundry, cooking, and cleaning; our Shadowrun group meets again Monday, and I don’t intend to spend the weekend picking up. I need to chill, and take care of some happier business.

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