The drive in yesterday morning was also a lot easier than it was on Thursday, and that helped keep me in a good mood as well. My drive is usually about 45 minutes long even though it encompasses a distance of only 26 miles. The problem is that I have a good portion of it (9 miles or so) that are stop-and-go residential streets or major highways with a number of stoplights on the way, and low speed limits because they're not major thoroughfares. That tends to slow me down and add a number of minutes to my commute. What also isn't helping is that construction has once again resumed on I-290, and it stretches for about 7 miles. That's a total wildcard... some days the traffic is fine, there's not a single pair of illuminated brakelights to be seen. On other days, though... it's completely gridlocked and prone to not moving for ten minutes at a time. Alternate routes are starting to look rather intriguing, but there aren't many that will get me from the suburb I'm in to the suburb I need to get to. I could take I-294 to I-88 and use that to get over to the office, but I hate the idea of taking the tollways and giving my money to those scam artists at the Toll Authority. My other option would be to take IL-83 down to the office, as that's pretty much a straight shot. The downside to that is there are many more stoplights to contend with, as well as a railroad crossing and a number of residential streets. One intersection in particular is bad and can take upwards of eight minutes to navigate if you have to make a left turn like I do. The insult to injury about all this time spent in traffic is that the head unit in my truck, an old Alpine CD player/receiver, has been broken for about the last year, leaving me with no music or radio to combat the traffic noise. I've gotten used to the silence in the cab being drowned out by the road noise, but that doesn't mean I like it all that much. I could get a new one, but I don't want to drop another $350 on a stereo when I'm trying to save up and get out of debt, and if I get a super-cheap one I'll end up regretting it because of the quality of the sound or the workmanship that went into the unit. It's better to just leave well enough alone...
My usual Friday morning staff meeting was incredibly short this week. Instead of being two and a half hours long, the way it almost always is (sometimes it's worse!) this week it was only about 45 minutes. I couldn't believe my fortune when I escaped the conference room... I wasn't going to be late for lunch! I gathered up my coworkers, skipped down to the cafeteria to get some shredded cheddar cheese liberally dosed with hot sauce, then came back up to get my prepared lunch and water. We ate a lazy lunch and didn't really talk about anything in particular except how glad we were that it was the end of the work week. Then it was back down to our cubes to pass some time stress-testing a new server. It's amazing the difference that a new revision of the database engine can make, as well as a few extra hundred megahertz on the processors. Man I love unix some days...
The last part of my day was spent out in the data center, trying to be heard above all the machinery as I worked with our senior unix administrator to identify messages to filter out of our network and server monitoring package. We worked on it for better than two and a half hours, and we're still not done with the acceptance criteria for the software as a whole.
I bailed out of work about ten minutes early because it was Friday and I wanted to beat rush hour traffic. I wasn't so lucky, but I still made it home in a decent amount of time. I killed some time watching the Simpsons, and then dropped Minority Report in the DVD player. I only caught a little bit of it before Kestral came home and it was time to get ready for the weekly trip up to Bumpers, our pool hall hangout. I found out right before we left that Liin was on, so I made sure to talk to her a few minutes before transferring my Muck connection over to my SideKick so I could stay in touch during the outing. We got there in plenty of time before cover and were a little surprised at the occupancy. It's usually not that busy at 7:30 at night but it seems the kids were out in force, and there was a band tuning up in the lounge area by the pool tables, who ended up making Roho and I a little jumpy during our first game thanks to all the feedback they were creating as they set their mics in place. If I recall correctly I won the first two games, and Roho won the third and last game we managed to fit in during our hour on the table. I don't know that we really "win" when we play, because we're so terrible at the game. But maybe if we keep playing each week we'll be able to get a bit better at it over the next year. I certainly hope so.
After shooting pool we went over to our usual restaurant hangout so Roho and Kestral could have dinner. I was at the top of my carb count (if I wasn't actually over) so I abstained from ordering anything and just had a water with a slice of lemon in it. Usually the service at the restaurant is stellar but last night we had a girl in her teens who was more interested in chatting it up with her friends on the table behind us then she was in actually taking care of her customers. She didn't pay attention when we ordered, she botched up the check so that it was a great deal more than it was supposed to be, and she never stopped by to check in on us until it was time to give us the bill. The rest of the time was spent talking to the people behind us! We asked the manager to fix the bill, which he did gladly for us. Kes was particularly peeved and so she didn't leave any tip for the girl, and I registered my displeasure by asking the manager to tell the waitress that her customers should come first, not her friends.
When we got back to the apartment I secured Ra in the bedroom with me so that Kestral could feed her kitty cat. The cheetah and fennec caught the 10:00 PM showing of The Simpsons and then slipped off to bed while I stayed online and chatted some more with Liin, Koz and some of my other friends. It wasn't long after 11:30 PM that I decided sleep would be good and I shut down my PC, coaxed Ra up on top of the blankets and curled in for the night. Ra was intent on making sure that I woke up to feed him on time today, so after 6:40 rolled around he was pestering me every three minutes, then jumping off the bed and climbing around behind my desk so he can paw at paper and pull on the cables. The sound drives me to distraction and he knows it! He also knows that when he hears me roll over and throw back the covers he's in trouble because I'll be looking for him with the water bottle. This game of up again, down again, try to sleep lasted for two hours before I finally gave in and woke up fully. I fed Ra, logged on to Furry and chatted for a while, then made my way to the shower so I could get cleaned up. I spent the time until aureth arrived to accompany us to BDs by chatting online, and had a positively lovely conversation. I find it intriguing the things you can learn about somebody through relaxed conversation.
And oooh, Aureth is here, so it's time to put on my socks and boots so we can head out!
Don't you feel like trying something new?