I'm digressing again, though. I downloaded the study materials in PDF format, set up the printer driver on my workstation to print back-to-back and fired it off. A full ten minutes later the booklet was finally printed. It's 192 pages long, and I'm glad I had the printer do it back-to-back because otherwise I'd have 192 sheets of paper to try and keep organized while I study. I don't have to memorize all of the material that's contained in the booklet, for example I don't intend to go for the Hazardous Materials (Haz-Mat) endorsement, nor do I plan to bother for a Passenger endorsement since driving a bus isn't something I see in my immediate future. On the other hand I didn't see a need for a CDL in my immediate future either, so maybe I should go for the Passenger endorsement at the very least. It doesn't cost me anything extra in fees, I just have to take an additional knowledge and skills test. In for a penny, in for a pound, right?
Friday my manager was out of the office, something that doesn't happen nearly often enough. Unsurprisingly I came into work with a much brighter attitude and a generally good outlook for the day. I handled a few helpdesk tickets, did some troubleshooting and sat in on a conference call about the dreaded Meta-IP product. I also got to kill an hour puttering around up on the 27th floor with DP, who also didn't have much to do on Friday. I'd gotten a request to install two additional IP phones up on that floor for a pair of new hires that would be starting on the 23rd so I figured it was an opportunity to get away from my desk for a while. I asked DP along because I enjoy sharing knowledge and he's moderately curious about some of the things I do in Network Services... and because it never hurts to have an additional pair of hands along to help carry things or plug things in. Before I left on Friday night I printed out a couple of booklets from the U.S. Department of State's website. I grabbed a passport application and a directory of all the passport agencies in my area since I've never had a passport before (You have to apply for your first passport in person). Happily there's an agency about three miles away from the apartment, so I don't have to go very far. They also can do photographs on-site, which is a major bonus! I figure I can use a passport for a number of reasons... first, work sent me to Canada quite unexpectedly last December. While I didn't need a passport to get in or out of Canada for the job it would have been a nice thing to have "just in case" they decide to ship me around again. With our acquisition of Ross University (which operates out of New Jersey but has most of its points of presence in the country of Dominica, West Indies) it's entirely possible I'd be travelling abroad to do work. Second, when it comes to forms of identification you just can't beat a federally-issued ID like a passport or a military ID. Third, it's just something that's long overdue. I've mentioned in entries from a few months back that I'd like to travel abroad one of these days, and I can't very well do that without a passport. The darn things take 6 weeks to process (government efficiency at work) so I probably should take care of it now if I want the darn thing before the end of August.
Friday night we went over to Bumpers Pool hall for our weekly hour of knocking balls around. I lost every single game, which is something that both surprised me and delighted enveri since she feels she's never legitimately won a game against me (she thinks the times she has don't count because of errors on my part, or some such!). I wasn't feeling terribly good overall and I guess that it showed in my game play. Maybe next week I'll be a little more up to the challenge. I went to bed sort of early, sometime around 9:30 PM although I didn't really look at the clock when I finally crawled into bed.
Today I got up around 8:30 or so since Ra was demanding to be fed. I felt stupid because I'd forgotten to set my alarm. I was supposed to get up around 3 or so in the morning so that I could hop the VPN tunnel into work and reboot a pair of Cisco 4006 switches that I'd upgraded on Friday. The great thing about Cisco devices is that almost all of them can be upgraded "live," which is to say you can TFTP the new operating image up to the device, configure it to boot from that new image all without interrupt the users who are attached to it. You just have to reboot it to make it load the new operating system, and that's easily done from remote or via a scheduled reboot command. Since I wanted to make sure the device came up I did not put it into a scheduled reset and just leave it to fate, I wanted to actually connect to the switch and issue the reboot command so that I could time the OS load and be ready to go in to the office with my laptop if something went wrong. But... like I said, stupid me forgot to set the alarm to do it last night so I have to wait until tonight to do it. I can't do it too late (after 10:30 PM, say) because there's an upgrade that's going to take place sometime around midnight that I might interrupt. If I do it too early (say... now) I'd interrupt the users who are undoubtedly in the office at this very minute trying to clock up some overtime in a desperate bid to get all their work done. I used to be one of those people, in the office 7 days a week so that I could "make sure everything got done." My outlook has certainly changed in the last three years since I was promoted to the home office. These days I look at it that the only time I should have to stay outside my normal working hours is if there's an emergency of some kind. Otherwise... if it didn't get done between 0730 and 1600 it'll wait until the next day. The universe isn't going to punish me for letting one or two things slide until the next business day, and I've been told time and time again that despite all we talk about reaching "five nines" in reliability (slang for 99.999% up time) it's a total joke because there's "nothing we do on computers that are critical to the business that cannot be done on paper." Hey, if that's the company's attitude then that's my attitude as well.
So I fed Ra, and I puttered around a bit. roho wanted to go over to Sam's Club around 9:40 or so to get new tires put on his car. I asked if he wanted to break the tires in by going up to my storage unit afterwards. I needed to go up there to drop some stuff off that's been sitting in my room for the last 8 months (mostly clothes, some paperwork) and to search for my missing $1,500 in savings bonds. While I was sorting bags and boxes to stack for the trip up to Lake in the Hills I came across the box that I swore the savings bonds should have been in. I decided to go through it again, and this time I really went over it in detail. Happily I did in fact find the bonds, they weren't accidentally stowed out in the storage unit after all! They'd been put "for safe keeping" in the large manilla envelope that the bond-issuing company had sent me when I originally signed up in 2001. The last time I'd gone looking for the stupid things I hadn't bothered to check in that envelope. It's a pity I didn't because I could have saved myself a metric ton of stress about the stupid things. Yes, I'm still missing about three months from the run (I get bonds for $100 a month, so run the math and I'm missing a grand total of $300) but that's a hell of a lot better than missing a years-and-change's worth of bonds ($1500 or so). So I was in considerably better spirits when we finally got in the Saab and went over to Sam's Club. We dropped the car off and wandered the store for about 45 minutes. We were very pleasantly surprised to see that Sam's is now carrying low-carb solutions, mostly the Atkins Advantage bars (in chocolate peanut butter, one of my favorites) and the NoCarb "knock off" brand that is also quite surprisingly tasty. The price that Sam's is charging for the bars is really, really low as well; this isn't a huge surprise since they are a warehouse club, but I had no idea that the per-bar price could go quite that low. I think I'll be stopping by there sometime in the next week or two to stock up. They didn't have any variety in terms of flavor selection, but that's okay... what they do have is what I like, so I can't go wrong.
Once we picked up the car it was back to the apartment. I stashed everything that needed to go up to storage in the trunk and back seat (although I discovered after we got home that I'd overlooked one bag... argh!) and off we went. We made it up there in good time, stashed my boxes and bags in the unit and checked everything out. It looks like everything is okay so far, although I'm still nervous about my art so I'm trying not to think about what the heat and humidity could be doing to it. After everything was tucked away I had a moment of clarity and decided that I should retrieve my window fan from storage since it's getting to be rather warm out. After I rescued it from the back of the storage locker we got into the car again and drove back home, stopping at a Dominick's store for gas. That was a rather odd experience for me, I'm not used to grocery stores having gas stations... but I guess there was plenty of space on their property in this case so they decided to go for it. The cool thing was that they'd give you an additional three cents off per gallon if you scanned your "Fresh Values" card, so the gas prices actually were quite competitive.
When I got home I started cleaning up my room and organizing things. Having eliminated most of the stuff that was occupying floor space I've actually got a sense that there's room in my bedroom again. For one thing I can see the floor again! The amp is nicely tucked in the corner. I don't have my luggage set looming above my bed like a Monolith from 2001. It's starting to feel much less cramped in here, and I think when I come back from Minnesota with a new dresser I'll be better able to store and organize my clothes, which will give me even more room. I also have a place to put my bass now, which is really nice... although I am thinking I might stop using the soft case and instead trade up to a guitar stand. I want to ditch the case for day to day storage because the guitar keeps getting hideously out of tune, and I have my suspicions why: I think that what's happening is that when I'm moving the case around I'm bumping the tuning screws, usually knocking them loose. This, of course, has the net effect of taking a bass that was perfectly in tune moments before and rendering it out-of-tune. It's very frustrating to spent five or ten minutes tuning up when you know you'd just tuned the stupid thing the day before. I should be able to pick it up, make one or two small tweaks and get straight to practicing... but somehow it just hasn't been working out like that. With luck a guitar stand will resolve that problem because while it's in the stand nothing will touch the head....
Tomorrow it sounds like masem will be joining us for our traditional weekly lunch at BD's. It'll be good to see him again, and the company is always welcome when we're hanging out up there.
They've seen him out dressed in my clothes