Today was a little more relaxed than yesterday at work. I closed a few helpdesk tickets, got to do some packet-level captures and troubleshooting that proved conclusively to a campus that the issue was with their FTP daemon and not the firewall. I love having the right tools for my job, and actually getting a chance to use them! Let's be honest... I love having the chance to do my job instead of be a paper-pusher. I'm an engineer, I should be fixing, designing, building... not sitting around and writing executive overviews that have already been written for the same topic three or four times before. What's ironic is this is exactly the sort of job satisfaction I've been missing and craving. If I got to do more like this during my workday I wouldn't be at all crabby about my situation in the company.
I stayed about 30 minutes late today to help JP install and configure a pair of Cisco 3524 switches with inline power on the 27th floor. The inline power module is super-sweet... it feeds 110v down the unused pairs of an ethernet line so that a Voice over IP (VoIP) phone doesn't need a brick to plug into the wall with -- it's actually doing much the same thing that today's modern digital PBX phone does except that it's doing it for a phone that uses IP on the computer network instead of a dedicated copper pair on the voice network.
The weird part about getting out of work 30 minutes late was that when I finally got on the freeway everything was running quick and smooth, almost as if I'd missed a rush. I wonder if other people are leaving their offices at 4 PM like I normally do and thus causing the glut I encounter every single day. This is something that bears further investigation when I have the time and inclination to write down notes and statistics for myself.
Note to self: I must tell the story of the Sex Billboard sometime in the near future. Roho and Kestral are also demanding I write up the Snail Story, so maybe I've got something I can aim to accomplish this weekend. The complex still hasn't replaced our washing machine so it seems that laundry is not a goal I can reasonably set without spending money at the coin-op laundry. It's a good thing for me that I have plenty of slacks and polo shirts from the booming days of the economy, back when vendors gave out clothing and other promotional gifts like they were candy. Heck, it'd be nice if any of the vendors even gave out candy at this point!
Dinner tonight was a cheddar-cheese-and-bacon omlette with Kestral at the nearby family restaurant. We arrive at 6:15 in the evening and the place was completely packed. We were almost ready to leave because we feared the wait when my name was called and we were seated by the windows. We felt very sorry for our waitress who was obviously frazzled to the point of breaking and so we tried to be nice, made simple orders and waited patiently for our food. The wait was well-rewarded because the meals turned out great despite the rush the kitchen was in, and we enjoyed the overall dining experience thoroughly because things started to calm down not long after we were served. After dinner we returned to the apartment and lazed around a bit. Sometime about 8 PM we put in an episode from the Season 2 boxed set of Babylon 5 and watched it. I'm enjoying the look on Kestral's face both before and after we watch a new episode -- it's good to see that I have helped turn her into a B5 convert.
To be more specific about the evening's viewing: Kestral watched on the couch while I climbed on the treadmill and ran through my usual routine, although tonight I decided to give it a bit of a twist (I also find it ironic that I say "usual routine" when I'm just getting back on the 'mill after a three week hiatus). Things went so well last night I decided to see if I could push myself a little bit more tonight; I was pleased to discover that I could comfortably go another 15 minutes beyond what I normally do without feeling any ill effects. So tonight I put in 45 minutes on the treadmill instead of 30, covered 2.6 miles instead of 1.75 and burned 340 calories instead of 229. I was tired and sweaty when I finished, but I was left with a pretty good impression overall. This is without a doubt a good thing for me: I definately need the exercise (being a cube dweller can really be a drag sometimes) and the exercise can make a tremendous difference in how effectively Atkins works. Yeah, the diet has already done wonders for me... but it wouldn't hurt any to add some more exercise to my regimen.
I'm not sure that I'm going to make 45 minutes or even an hour part of my regimen -- today's experiment indicated pretty clearly that I need the distraction of a movie or TV show to keep my attention away from the treadmill and the exertion I'm putting into it. After the B5 episode was over and Kestral left the room it was a struggle for me to go the next 15 minutes with only a blank TV to stare at. Yes, I did it... but I was bored witless and started obsessing on how quickly I could get this over and done with so I could go do something interesting. That sort of mentality is not conducive to exercise, so I'll have to make sure I have control of the remotes when I'm in the 'mill just in case a situation like this one should arise again.
Tomorrow is Friday, and with it I get a fresh pay check for my efforts at the Tower. Unfortunately a nontrivial portion of it (over $500) is already promised to Roho for my share of rent and utility expenses, as well as the 60 GB hard drive purchase from two weeks ago. The good news is that even after paying him back the money I owe I'm left with a significant amount of cash to throw at my outstanding debts i nthe final days of May. At this moment in time I have over $13,000 in my bank, $700 on the Visa from the bass purchase, and about $3500 remaining on the MasterCard from my final round of debt consolidation. If I keep plugging away steadily I can still meet my goal of being completely debt-free before summer is over without touching my savings account and thus losing money earmarked for a potential down payment on a mortgage. I just have to stick to budget to meet my goals. That's certainly what I plan to do but I'm having a hard time retaining a positive outlook about the reality of my budgeting and my ability to meet the monthly goals. So much seems to be conspiring against me! For example, with the current pickup still experiencing these high water temperature problems I've got a bad feeling I'm going to have to take it into the shop. Labor is not cheap, and parts are rarely any less harmful to the pocketbook, and those are costs I didn't plan for. It won't destroy my budget if I have to take it in and pay my mechanic to do some work, but I certainly won't meet my milestones as easily as I would if I didn't take it in. I guess I should stop worrying about it, though, because either way I don't have much control. Smile, keep my chin up and what will be will be, right?
I also talked to my dad on the phone tonight. There's bad news, some good news, and worse news. The bad news is that he hasn't picked up my new truck yet from the seller, since his current pickup is in need of a new set of front u-bolts before it's ready to do any serious towing. He figures he can get the U-bolt replacement done this weekend now that he's gotten most of his other major projects out of the way. The good news is that he spoke with my cousin Conway, who is something of an amateur/professional when it comes to car and engine repairs. My cousin listened to the description of the problem, and when he was told the engine was a Triton V8 he said something very encouraging! Conway told my dad, I've got a friend in Dakota who has the same truck, and when he lost the master link on his timing chain the engine locked up solid. Confused us for days until we looked at it. This is good news indeed, because the engine on this truck is inexplicably locked up, as I mentioned earlier. If it's something as easy to fix as a $95 timing chain and a few hours of labor to do the swap then $6,500 for this rig was one devil of a good deal. Dad's hoping to get the truck home by Wednesday next week, and maybe by a week from this Sunday I'll know if the timing chain was indeed the problem. I've still got my fingers crossed on that matter.
The bad news is that Priscilla's condition is entirely unchanged: she still has massive infection in her body cavity and is being shot up with just about every antibiotic known to man. She's in a lot of pain, and the doctors still do not know how much intenstine was removed and how much she has left. Even more frightening is that she asked my father to spend some time with her after she sent away my aunt, my uncle and her boyfriend. She apparently wanted to discuss a living will with my dad since she is afraid she's not going to pull through this and she didn't want to upset my uncle by bringing the possibility of a will up to him. I haven't heard my dad cry in a very long time... but as he was telling me about this over the phone he started to sob and needed a few seconds to collect himself. Every time I think I know the man he surprises me with some new aspect of himself. Of course they're usually only brief glimpses, some tender moment that he reveals for a split second and then hides away again under his gruff and tough exterior. I had absolutely no idea he cared this much about her or how my aunt and uncle must be feeling right now.
If I'm very lucky I will grow to be half the man he is when I'm older.
Tomorrow I go in to work, attend a staff meeting that will likely be much longer than it should be, and then will attempt to close a few more helpdesk tickets. I'll also help JP finish patching the 27th floor into the network and if I'm lucky will get one of the VoIP phones to put on my desk so that I can play with this new technology. I already know I will get a VoIP phone, it's just a matter of how soon it'll be put on my desk at this point. It sounds like I probably won't get my new toy until June 9th at the earliest, but I'm going to try and apply some gentle pressure here and there to see if I can't get my desk lit at the same time we turn up the desks on 27. It's good to be excited about having something new to work on!
She never knew me at all...