Monthly Archives: April 2005

Good Times.

I made a commitment to myself a few weeks back to get out of the house more. I’ve been far too much of a homebody as of late, and I think it’s been contributing to my generally dark mood over the past few months. So far, I’ve been doing well. Last week I had dinner with my cousin Alex and hung out for a while afterwards. Nothing terribly special, but still enjoyable. He lives like 5 miles away, and yet I still hardly ever see him.

On saturday Steven invited me out to see a few bands play over at the Temple Club in Lansing. We had both missed out on a work-sponsored casino trip the night before, so we were ready to let loose and have a good time. We all took a cab over to the show so driving wouldn’t be a problem, and got our jag on. Phil showed up somewhere too, contributing to the madness. The first band that played was Hillbilly Nightmare. I enjoyed their sound the most out of the three bands. To me it sounded a lot like what you would get if you took ZZ Top and gave them a lot of beer and cranked their distortion up a bunch. Very deliberate, but a lot of fun at the same time. The second band was The Fightin’ Hellfish. They had a more punk sound, and they were a lot of fun too. Everybody else seemed to know the songs they were playing, but I didn’t. Oh well. Third up was Eight-Ball Grifter. Steven’s talked these guys up a bunch, and they were a lot of fun too. They also had a very punk sound, but they dropped a lot of other stuff in there too. Very cool. A good show overall. Afterwards, we went back to Steven’s house, where his wife had prepared whole plates of delicious snack-type goodies. Very good stuff!

Tonight I went out to dinner with my aunt Pam, Uncle Brad, and cousin Hannah, and then went to see Alex play in the MSU concert band’s last show of the school year. Alex plays Oboe, and is quite good. He had a solo in the first song he played in, and it was quite neat to hear.

In less happy news – round two of my eye surgery is now only 8 days away. My project at work is progressing, but I’ve now got more of a firm deadline. My eye surgery won’t help with that at all, so I’m probably going to have to be a hermit the next few days and crank out some code so I don’t have to try to program with one good eye and another that looks like I just left a boxing match with a pinkeye infection. I’m not in a bad spot as far as what I’ve got working, but there’s still plenty of stuff to hammer out.

Arise, FRANKENTOP!

I guess I forgot to post about this a while ago, probably since I was so despondent over the issue. A few weekends ago, after repeated passages through gravitational and subspace anomalies, the structural integrity fields on my laptop began to fail and it suffered significant damage to the outer hull. There were many casualties, including the first officer, chief engineer, and Ensign Rickey. It was barely salvageable, and has been in spacedock ever since.

Ok, yah, that was really lame. Only the Phils (my father Phil, my coworker Phil, and perhaps JK) are likely to fully appreciate that, but hey, it was funny. YES, IT WAS FUNNY! Actually, my laptop did break, and the outer hull reference wasn’t that far off.

The laptop has actually been slowly breaking for quite some time, due to what I would consider a poor design. The actual computer innards of my laptop (a Sager 5680) are great, but the casing is not. The first thing that went was the latch that holds the screen down when the laptop is closed. That went about three months after I bought it. I was rather peeved, but I was able to fix it quite easily with a well placed rubber band.

A month or two later I started noticing some stress fractures appearing on the casing opposite of the LCD panel near the hinges. I was rather annoyed with that as well. The subtle fractures matured into full fledged cracks, and it got to the point where I had to pinch the affected area back together while closing the display to make sure the cracks didn’t advance further. It finally came to a head a few weeks ago, when the front and back casings of the display would physically seperate by a half inch or so when closing the laptop screen.

I had enough at this point, so I decided to take the thing apart to see if there was any way to fix things, or whether I was totally screwed. When I opened it up, I found that the metal piece that connected the LCD panel to the hinges had completely broken. Things didn’t look good. I thought about turning it into some sort of entertainment center computer due to its small size, or perhaps into a car computer, but it certainly wasn’t going to be a functional laptop again. Or so I thought…

I was talking with Chris at work about some completely unrelated stuff, and the subject of my broken laptop came up. I described the broken piece, and he offered to try to weld it back together. He stopped by after work and picked it up, and I was quite happy when he said that he was able to fix the part! Tears of joy ran down my face (well, not really) and I rushed home to pick up the parts to reassemble the beast. I had loosened up the hinges earlier to try to relieve some of the strain on the part, but when I got the thing back together, I realized that they were way too loose. The screen wouldn’t stay open at any position other than vertical. I was a little peeved because I had to take the thing completely apart again to get at the hinges, but that wasn’t too much of a big deal.

Once I got home I started phase two of the reconstruction – structural reenforcement. I ran over to Lowes to buy some nuts, bolts, and washers in the attempt to curcumvent the plastic that took so much of the stress earlier on. I ended up running a single bolt through the entire display where a much smaller screw previously sat on each side of the display. I snugged the bolts in with plain and locking washers and a single nut on the outside, then cut off the excess bolt length. So far, everything seems to be working very well.

What did I learn from this? First, never buy a laptop with crappy internal design. Kind of hard to judge that based upon external appearances, but it’s still a lesson. More specifically, don’t buy one of the Sager 56xx series unless you want a broken laptop. Another coworker has the same laptop as I do and recommended it to me before he started seeing the same structural problems I have. Well, he and I both think the case is a piece of junk, as do many other people on the ‘net who have complained about their cases breaking in the same manner as mine. Second, coworkers with welding equipment are cool. Third, fixing things yourself is more rewarding than sending stuff away.

Since my laptop now has metal bolts protruding from the back of the screen, I think it’s only fitting to give it a new name – FRANKENTOP! Corny, but fitting. And when am I ever not corny?

Metal Madness

Shit, I meant to write up this post like two weeks ago, but Galeon ate it about 2 minutes before I was done writing it up, so I just said “screw it” and went to bed instead of typing it all up again. I guess I forgot to retype it. Well, here it is.

This summer looks as though it will be sweet for concerts. Ozzfest has a lineup that I definitely want to check out. Iron Maiden, Shadows Fall, Mastodon, and Black Label Society will be there, along with a few other bands that I want to see. I’ve never been to Ozzfest before, so it should be interesting. Dave Mustaine of Megadeth is putting together a similar show this year called “Gigantour”, and its lineup excites me even more than the Ozzfest lineup. Dream Theater and Fear Factory will appear with Megadeth, which means 3 of my favorite bands will all be present in one place. It should be quite awesome.

I recently picked up a few albums that are worth mentioning. I grabbed “The Art of Balance” and “Of One Blood” by Shadows Fall. They’re both really good, but the production quality on “Of One Blood” is a bit worse than “The Art of Balance.” You can tell they hadn’t hit it big yet. The good thing is that the songs have been better and better as the band matures. Lots of bands tend to lose their creative spark after a few good albums, but, thankfully, Shadows Fall doesn’t seem to have done that. They’ve done nothing but get better. They give me faith that good metal isn’t an art that has been lost upon my generation.

The other two albums I picked up were “Hatebreeder” and “Hatecrew Deathroll” by Children of Bodom. Their vocals still suck pretty bad, but they still seem to mix the albums so they’re not as prominent as they could be, which is good. They’re both sweet albums musically, with tons of energy and some crazy solos. The latter album is better in my opinion, but the former jams too. COB also is following the pattern of improving with each album released, so I can hope that the best is yet to come.

Because I’m bored…

Since I’m highly bored tonight and don’t want to settle into a work project quite yet, I decided to take some random tests on OKCupid. Greg took a few earlier, and provided me with this time killing idea. So here we go.

On the “Which chemical element are you?” test…

C - CARBON
Nobody understands you... no, not even organic chemists. The social individualist. You like your attention... but not TOO MUCH attention. You are able to form incredibly close relationships with many individuals, but you don't really get along with preexisting groups. You value equality in relationships, and don't deal well with overly submissive or demanding people. Well, whatever... thanks for making life possible... oh, and cut the global warming out.

That one isn’t too far off actually. Here’s another personality test…

ISFJ-The ProtectorYou scored 27% I to E, 68% N to S, 42% F to T, and 42% J to P! The protector type is called such because you feel your life is best used to protect those you love from the pitfalls of life, to see to their safety and security. You belong to the larger group called guardians. You find great satisfaction in assisting the downtrodden. You are not talkative with strangers, but you can chat tirelessly with those you trust. You have a good solid work ethic. You are thorough and very likely frugal. You do not like to be in a place of authority, and will delegate poorly if forced into a lead position. You share your type with 10% of the population. As a romantic partner, you are generous and gentle. Occasionally you may be taken for granted because of this fact. You are tireless in providing acts of service for your loved ones. You run the risk of always being exhausted because you won't say no to your partner. You are sensitive to criticism and will withdraw rather than fight back. You wish to be appreciated for your loyalty and whole hearted nuturing. Your values must be respected and you thrive on consideration and kindness.

That one is close… but I don’t exactly agree with the delegation and criticism points. You shouldn’t either.

English GeniusYou scored 92% Beginner, 100% Intermediate, 100% Advanced, and 86% Expert!

You did so extremely well, even I can't find a word to describe your excellence! You have the uncommon intelligence necessary to understand things that most people don't. You have an extensive vocabulary, and you're not afraid to use it properly! Way to go!

Well… what can I say? Aside from the occasional comma splice and excessive use of the ellipsis (…) in an improper fashion, I think I communicate rather well when I want to… 🙂

What is it that I do for fun again?

I've been asking myself that question a lot lately. My mood has been kinda down the dumps the past few days for pretty much the same reason it always is – general loneliness. The simple fact is that I don't know all that many people around Lansing. I would love to just get out and meet people, but I'm not that kind of person. I just don't meet people without some kind of introduction. It sucks, but it's the way I am. I'm always bummed about my lack of a lady-friend, but normally that can be cancelled out by just going out and having a good time.

I'm also hampered by a lack of activities that I enjoy and practice. Sure, I love playing my guitar, but it's something that I can't do all the time due to wear and tear on my fingers and a general consideration for roomates and neighbors. But that goes in spurts too… since I haven't really learned anything new musically as of late, I get quite bored playing the same old junk. There's also plenty of things to do that are computer related, but I'm getting really bored of that as well. There's only so much time I can sit in this damn chair before I just get sick of it. That time has been getting shorter and shorter over the past few weeks. The weather is turning nice, and I want to go out and do something, but my quandry returns… what to do, and who do I do it with?

If you're doing something fun and the guest list is open, please let me know. I need to get out.

Courtesy Flush

(01:21:50) Mike: yah
(01:21:56) Mike: nu-metal sucks.
(01:22:03) Ross: agreed
(01:22:07) Ross: it deserves to be flushed
(01:22:11) Ross: twice, for courtesy

It doesn’t get any more true than that.

Round 2 – FIGHT!

As I had predicted, round 2 in the no-holds-barred cage between my right eye and the doctors has been tenatively scheduled for a hospital bed at UofM Ann Arbor on May 4th, 2005. Pay Per View information will follow soon!

In all seriousness now… I knew this was coming, but it doesn’t make it suck any less. Dr. Saxe said that he didn’t see any physical evidence of the backward progress that I was seeing, but since I was seeing it, he decided that getting back in for another “LASER” treatment sooner rather than later would be best. So it begins again… Oh, and if you’re curious what my eye looks like when they’re done with the examinations, I’ll include a picture, with the left eye there too for comparison.

[Big pupil]

At least he was gentle…. 😉

Spring has arrived, but prompt posting hasn’t…

Judging by the reaction of those around me, I need to post more on here. Even my mom was bugging me the other day about not posting. Well, here's a post. If there was more going on, I would probably post more often.

I've been given a programming project at work, which is pretty cool. It's not one of those ones that I've just taken up and started. Nope, this is a project handed down from above. I can't really give a whole lot of detail, but since I'm the only one that will be working on it, I've been given pretty much full control over how it will work. Time is kind of short, so I've got to get cracking. But not today. Probably tomorrow.

Spring has (finally) arrived here in Michigan, and I am glad. Last week marked the first 5 days where I could leave the house without a jacket, and I couldn't be more happy. Greg and I pulled the weather stripping off the windows, and there was much rejoicing (I'm watching Monty Python right now, haha).

On a much less happy note, it would seem that my eye is regressing. I'm catching myself closing/covering my eye again while reading, and I can't read stuff I was able to read a month or so ago. So it would appear that I'll need to get back to the doctor sooner than I had planned. Grand.