Archived news items from June 2001
Since this is old news, some links may be broken.
news from July 2001
Believe it or not, it's been a busy week. I've been running errands, mostly. Tuesday I went shopping, where I saw lots of students at the mall and such places, and bought a receiver for my dad on behalf of my mom for their anniversary. It's always fun to spend other people's money.
Wednesday morning I filled in for our vacationing church secretary, where I got to stuff bulletins for Sunday morning and answer phones and such. Then I took my car to Bluebonnet Auto Repair just for a check-up.
Thursday I had an eye exam first thing in the morning. The optometrist was alarmed that I'd been wearing the same pair of daily-wear contacts for three years, but said my eyes were remarkably healthy. My new contacts are ordered and should be in by next week. Then I filled in as receptionist again, then went to lunch with Bob and Bob (at Jason's Deli, where I had their excellent Portobello wrap). Then I found out that my car was ready and that everything looked great.
Went home and waited around for UPS to deliver a birthday present for my brother, which finally came at 5pm. (I can write this here even though I haven't given him the present yet because right now he's on the road heading here. So you're finding out about it two hours before he will. Theoretically, anyway.)
Then I packed up the receiver, Paul's gift, my bike, my cats and other stuff and headed up to East Texas to spend a week. The drive was uneventful and I arrived here at my parents' house around 10pm.
As I write this I'm doing laundry, Paul's on his way, mother's at work but probably about to come home for lunch, and Dad's in Grand Saline taking care of some stuff for his mother's estate. (She's in a nursing home.) Paul tells me he bought the Diablo II expansion set, which he's bringing.
I've been given some of my gifts already. Mom got me two of the CDs from my wish list: The Beatles' 1 and Audio Adrenaline's self-titled debut album. She also got me a replacement comforter, bed skirt and sheets since she noticed how ragged my current ones are when they were in Austin a few months ago.
Yesterday I woke up too late to go with the singles to Perdenales Falls, which is probably just as well since they got lost and wandered around in thick underbrush for several hours. I did read some, and finished the second book in the Otherland series. I'm now several chapters into the third.
In the afternoon I went to a party at some friends' house to honor two Ukrainian adoption agency workers who have been in the U.S. so one of them can have kidney stones removed. Most of the people at the party I didn't know, since they were families who'd adopted overseas in the last year or so. But it was fun.
Then I went straight from that party to another one, this one in Burnet, which is about an hour's drive from here. This was supposedly a worship team barbecue, but I got there late, Bob (who'd been playing lost jungle man) got there later, and lots of other people were out of town or otherwise busy. So there were just a few of us, and it rained to boot. But it was still a lot of fun. My manhood was threatened when I lost a best-of-five-games badminton tournament with our drummer Bill, but got it back by beating him in a best-of-three-games "Shuttle Smash" tournament. "Shuttle Smash", as we played it, is badminton with a different racket: shorter, with a larger head and "springier" action. Though I'm pretty sure Bill threw that last game. Oh well. Of course the girls watching declared that Bill's dog Shakey really had more manhood than either of us. Oh well.
I stayed late there, but had Bill (who's also a mechanic) take a lot at the belt on my car before I left. It hadn't been making any noise since that first time, and he looked at it and said it looked okay. I'm still planning on taking the car in tomorrow.
Today the youth band led worship, so we all had the Sunday off. I still went to both services, because hearing the sermon twice makes it stick better, and even getting up for the earlier service allowed me nearly two extra hours of sleep. Plus I wanted to see everybody, and you miss half the folks if you just make one service.
At our monthly leadership time in the evening we also had a prayer time for the potential new space, and voted on it. It was nearly a unanimous decision to move to the new space. Among many benefits of the new location is that it's actually *closer* to my apartment than the current location. Not to mention 88% more space for only 33% more rent. If things go as expected, we'd be doing renovations for the month of October, and our first service in the new place would be November 4th.
Today has been a day of being helpful by being driven about. I started off by biking to school, where I met with the new computer science teacher and then spent the day driving around the northwest Austin area showing her apartment complexes. She looked at over half a dozen apartments in five different places. So now she's armed with floor plans and prices and can make a decision at her leisure. She paid for my lunch, which was nice, and we also got to talk about curriculum some. Call it killing two birds with one stone.
Then I rode back home and took off again back to the school (this time by car) to teach a former student (and older sister of Jesse the math tutoree) how to drive a standard. I think I explained things pretty well, and she drove well. In over an hour of driving around the parking lot she never once killed the engine, which has to be some kind of record. Especially considering that she reports the last time someone had tried to teach her she had done very poorly indeed.
The only unpleasantness to mar the day was that toward the end of the lesson one of the belts in my engine starting making scary noises. So I'm going to try to drive it as little as possible until I can take it in Monday to get it looked at.
Oh, and I guess another bit of unpleasantness is that a guy in a large white pickup truck pulling a large white trailer almost ran into me on my bike on the way home from school. I was turning left onto a side street (not at any sort of intersection) but I failed to signal, and he, coming up from behind me, tried to pass me on the left. I'd looked behind me before beginning the turn and hadn't seen anyone. The silly thing is that I was already in the middle of a two-way street when he started to pass me, so he had to move entirely into the other lane to do so. I guess he was confused, though I'm sure a signal on my part would have helped. In fact, he cheerfully suggested this to me as I rode on after completing my turn while he was at a complete stop in the left lane.
Though part of the problem is that the sunglasses I use while biking have smallish lenses, so the frame obscures my vision when looking anywhere other than straight ahead. So put new glasses (and maybe a mirror) on the list of safety equipment to pick up next time I'm at Buck's.
The reassuring news is that that's the only remotely dangerous situation I've been in, and I've ridden my bike over 150 miles in the past three weeks. And now I'm reminded of the importance of signaling. As my Canadian pal Alanis Morissette would say, "You live; you learn."
Spring cleaning day went fabulously well. I completely emptied the storage closet and swept it out, threw away about half of the stuff that had been in there, put about half of what remained neatly back in, and took the rest to Goodwill. I also took my huge old (AT) computer case and a dead hard drive to the Computer Goodwill, where I bought a floppy drive to replace the one on my main machine which had been dead for over a year without me ever knowing. That put me out $5.35. Then I did get a load of books together and took them to Half-Price Books. Much to my surprise, they offered me $26.75 for everything, so I was able to get three CDs (none of which had been on my wish list) and some cash back. So now my house is much tidier, I've got three albums and a floppy drive, and it only cost me roughly $2 in the end (and a little gasoline, I guess).
The CDs were: the Singles Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, which I'd had years ago but gotten rid of, Stone Temple Pilots' excellent debut album Core, and Fashion Nugget, the other Cake album I was slightly familiar with (besides Prolonging the Magic, which is on my wish list). I listened to all three a lot Tuesday and yesterday, and they're all great.
Later that evening, RenaissaUce went to see Moulin Rouge, and all present seemed to enjoy it as much as I had. Afterward most of us headed to Chuy's, which is no big surprise. We requested the same waitress we'd had last week and had tipped largely only to discover she couldn't keep it because she was still being trained. That had upset us considerably, so we wanted to make it up to her. This time, she did get to keep the tip.
Yesterday not much went on. Lots of reading. I did get RedHat 7.1 installed on my main computer here at home, and messed with it a little. I'm having trouble getting my dial-up Internet connection to work because the machine also has a network card which is connected to my little home LAN. Though it dials up and connects fine, for some reason it tries to send all outgoing internet traffic through the NIC and not the modem. It's a gateway thing, I know, but I was having trouble figuring out how to get that corrected. And I haven't messed with it again today.
Today I spent several hours up at the lab again. This time I was trying to get Linux to communicate with the NetWare servers that host all our students' files. Getting a nice easy-to-use system won't do me much good if the kids can't save their files to their network drives. Not much luck so far, but I'm pretty sure it's possible, at least.
So, wrestling with Linux and reading pretty much sum up the past two days.
Score! This morning I got the bookshelves. They're up in temporary locations right now, and I can see my desks again.
By the way, leading worship went very well and I got lots of positive feedback. After lunch, I spent most of the rest of Sunday re-reading What Happens When Women Pray in preparation for teaching some seminars to each of Lakeline's small groups.
I think tomorrow is going to be "spring cleaning" day. I'm going to clean out the storage closet out on my balcony and try to make a lot of that stuff go away. And I'll reorganize all my books to take advantage of the new space. Plus I think I'll get a load or so of books I'll never read again and take them down to Half-Price books. Maybe I'll get enough for them to buy a CD or something. So, that's the plan, anyway.
This morning I took my bike and just wandered around all over the neighborhood, which is rife with trails and such. Spent about forty-five minutes just making what turned out to be a huge loop. It was a lot of fun, but I don't think I'll be able to do that as effectively if I trade in my off-road tires for some road ones in a few weeks. Some of those trails really needed the extra traction my current tires afford.
In the afternoon I went to hear a band that was mostly Lakeline's college band (that plays for the youth services) with a few extra people in it. They were playing at "Peace Fest", a thing that Cedar Park United Methodist Church apparently puts on every year. It was a basic outdoor carnival, with food, live music, face painting, a silent auction, a puppet show, kiddie train rides, a moon walk... you get the picture. They played for about forty-five minutes and did very well. It was good to see.
There was also a rock-climbing attraction there, and it was only $1.00, so I tried it. It was harder than it looked, but I made it all the way up and rang the bell at the top. I was quite satisfied with myself, though my forearms (not used to having to support my body weight for any length of time) are mad at me.
Other than going to Cici's Pizza with the band afterward (cheap, cheap pizza in mass quantities), I read all the rest of the day. I finished Otherland and have immediately started on the second in the series. Also, I finished Spirit of the Disciplines last week, so I'm working on Foster's Celebration of Discipline now. Both are very good.
One of my "neighbors" in the complex is selling some bookshelves. If they ever return my phone call I may get them. Hopefully that will be soon; just about every flat surface in my house has a stack of books on it.
Oh, and I recently watched an excellent movie trailer made by one of my former students who's making a film this summer. It's called Human Wheel and looks to be the best freestyle walking documentary ever made. Check out the web page, where you can download the trailer and can even donate if you want to support independent filmmaking. And don't worry about throwing money at a lost cause; if I ever had a student who could see a project to completion, even against the odds, it's Jack.
I've spent the last couple of days up at school experimenting with Linux to see if I can get a functional, user-friendly, secure lab set up. Things look positive, but my familiarity with using a GUI in Linux is just so much less than my familiarity with Windows 9x that I'm having a hard time.
It turns out that I'm only leading worship this week, not next, because the youth (fresh back from camp) are taking over then. Practices have gone well, though I broke a string at rehearsal Tuesday evening.
My birthday is only about two weeks away, so I've updated my wish list for all you philanthropists out there.
Been a busy weekend. Saturday was purely non-typical, and goes to show how my life would be different if I were always as caught up on sleep and relaxation as I am during the summer. I woke up at 7:15 and actually got out of bed at that time. I put a fresh bag in the vacuum cleaner and vacuumed the place. I did laundry, including my sheets. I went for a bike ride. I went grocery shopping and bought lots and lots of fruit. I did some reading.
Saturday evening, I went to a party at a friend's house, where I had my first beer in over five years. The last one was in April of 1996, where a had a single beer with my friend Chase to celebrate his getting accepted to medical school (he's now done with school and his first year of residency). This one was to celebrate the birth of Kieran Emerson Beth to my friend and former roommate. He and his wife and Kieran were at the party, and this was the first time I'd seen them since the baby was born. You might remember this couple; it was their wedding I went to the first weekend this site had changed to a weblog format.
Sunday morning went very well. Then Sunday afternoon we had our second Discovery Luncheon, where interested Lakeline attendees can meet the staff. This time we ate at the Brick Oven, and my cheese pizza with portobello mushrooms was excellent.
I then spent all evening at a friend's house trying to get her computer working again. I was eventually successful. Sunday was the first day since June 1 that I didn't ride my bike at all.
Yesterday I slept late, went for a bike ride and then went with a friend to watch Moulin Rouge which was brilliant. I highly recommend it, especially to anyone who is a child of the 80s. It's basically a love story, but the visuals were stunning and the music ("drawn from familiar 20th century sources") was pure genius. I don't want to be more specific or it'll spoil some of the surprise.
After getting done with the movie and having some lunch, I went early to tutor Jesse. Then rushed off to the new space to which Lakeline Church is considering relocating, where we had the first public walk-through (the staff and leadership have been there several times already) and a question and answer session. It ran pretty late, but lots of important issues were brought up and dealt with. There will be another Q&A session next Monday, one on the following Saturday, and then the vote is tentatively planned for Sunday, June 24.
When I finally got home, I read C.S. Lewis' The Great Divorce, which was very good. It does a superb job of illustrating the difference between heaven and hell, and the single, crucial difference between those who will end up in one place or the other. I read it all in one sitting, and it took me less than two hours. Also highly recommended.
Today there's not much on tap, which will be a nice change from the busy social schedule of this weekend. I'm leading worship at Lakeline for the next two weeks, so I'm going to have lunch with Bob today and go over all the details.
Today I installed RedHat 7.1 on my little "server" machine at home. I also got it running so that my main machine gets an IP address for its network adapter via DHCP from it. Very nice. And got SSH working, so I can leave its monitor off and keyboard put away and just mess with it from my main machine (which is actually closer to the server's box than its own keyboard and monitor, anyway).
I did successfully ride to school and back today. I left later than I had hoped, so I sort of had to rush to get back before dark, and only rested for about half and hour in between treks. Perhaps because I've been riding daily for a week now and perhaps because I felt rushed, I made the trip back in about fifty minutes, where it'd taken me just over an hour last time. Though the trip up took an hour, where it'd taken only 55 minutes before. Hard to explain.
Summer is definitely a slower pace, which is nice. Great news today! I found out that the person to whom we'd offered the computer science position accepted! This will really improve our department by allowing us to reach more students and reducing my workload so I can do a better job with the ones I've got. Today up at the school the principal and I hammered out our tentative schedules, and things look nice.
I also took my computer up to the school today, where I burned some RedHat Linux CDs. I'm thinking about going all Linux in my lab next year, and the CD burner I can get to at the school is fritzy. Plus, there was no way I was going to download two 650MB CD-ROM image files on my 33.6 home connection.
I've still been riding my bike consistently five miles a day. I'm going to make another run to the school tomorrow, and will probably do that once a week over the summer.
I've been riding my bike a lot lately. Five miles today, yesterday, and Friday, and eighteen on Saturday. The ride to school and back went well. Most of the way is either on a sidewalk or a nice improved shoulder, so traffic woes were minimal. I also didn't have any problems with exhaustion. It took me 55 minutes to get there and an hour to get home.
I'm pleased that my legs haven't been sore. My "sitting bone" is a little sore, and my wrists, but the heart and legs have been doing fine. In the last few days I've picked up several accessories, including a nice bike rack for the back of my car.
There's a third and probably final version of ANTISORT on the code page, mostly just fixing a few bugs from the previous version and optimizing things a bit more.
I am now the proud owner of a red Raleigh M40 mountain bike. I just got back from taking it out for it's maiden voyage on the hike and bike trail near here. I went just over five miles, and it took me just under half an hour. The ride was pretty smooth, and having twenty-one gears helps a lot on the hills. Plus, I'm less tired than I would have been if I'd walked/jogged just three miles.
Tomorrow I'm going to wait until traffic is pretty light, and see what the ride to school is like. It's about nine miles, which means I should be able to do it in my current physical condition in anywhere from forty-five minutes to a little over an hour, depending on how of much of the way is downhill. (Unfortunately, that nine miles is one way, which means I'll have to rest for a bit and then get back home as well.) If I'm going to commute during the school year I'll want to get a backpack or something to carry a change of clothes in.
Hopefully I'll stick with it and get in good riding shape over the summer so I can commute to work once or twice a week once the school year starts. Well, it's raining like crazy outside, so if I were smart I'd turn off my computer now.
Oh, I went to Half-Price books to try and find So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish, the fourth book in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series, but a woman snapped up the last copy just before I could get it. I did find Depeche Mode's Violator, though, which I'm listening to right now. So that's no longer on my wish list. Speaking of which, it's only one month until my birthday. (Nudge-nudge, wink-wink.)
I've done lots of coding in the past several days. The Java workshop was very good, and though I already knew a lot more than I expected, I still learned quite a bit. Perhaps more importantly, we got class time to work on several fairly large labs, so I got some much-needed practice programming in Java. Plus, our instructor was a big fan of object-based design and programming, so I also got practice using objects (something I rarely do on my own). Even though it was a bummer having to wake up close to my regular time in the morning, the workshop was definitely worth it.
Then on Wednesday night I was talking with someone at church, who asked me if there was a way on a Windows machine to run some sort of script that would take a file, read it in and then output the lines from that file in random order to a second file. I told him there wasn't (as far as I know), but then when I got home the problem wouldn't let me go, and I sat down and wrote a utility to do just that, which I sent him.
Of course, I wasn't happy with how it was being done, so the rest of Wednesday night and pretty much most of the day on Thursday was spent obsessing about the most efficient way to randomize an array while still getting a nice smooth distribution. Then I rewrote the utility and threw together some documentation, and the result is ANTISORT (see the code page for more details). It still has a few bugs but is much, much faster than the first version (over 130x faster for large files).
So today I really am off for the summer. I'm checked out at school (did that on Tuesday afternoon) and done with my workshop. Today I think I'm going to go check out the tent sale at Buck's, work some on cleaning up the few remaining bugs in ANTISORT, and maybe play some more Half-Life.
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