Minor annoyances.

My buddy Il is moving in with his girlfriend (fianc√©e now!) and is getting new Comcast service at his house. He scheduled everything to happen at once, so he asked for help waiting for the cable guy. I hate waiting, whether its for a cable guy, a delivery guy, or for a repair guy. It usually drives me nuts. But it’s Il, so I got up early, drove to a sketchy neighborhood, and waited in a mostly empty house for two hours and the cable guy never showed up. Turns out it was scheduled for NEXT MONTH. Bah.

But I did get the lawn mowed, and I went to get my mom’s car washed. Well, the car grows some kind of lichen like most cars that sit around in Oregon, and it cost extra to get it washed and waxed ($80!) And it took extra time, which meant I had something else I had to wait for today.

Honestly, I ended up playing games (The Heist and Whirly Word) on my iPhone for all the time I was waiting and the only thing that really suffered was my eyesight.

I did go out to dinner to somewhere new, the NW Public House, and it turned out to be tasty and fairly nice. Unfortunately my neighborhood is a bit upscale to begin with, and a “fairly nice” restaurant is also a good place to go on a first date. That means whenever I’m at a fairly nice restaurant in my neighborhood by myself, it’s likely that I’m going to sit next to a first date with all the nonsense awkward conversation that goes along with it. I need to stick to dive bars with the retirees who all seem to know me from the neighborhood.

Dinner was good, but the portions were tiny. Fortunately, that put me near “Salt and Straw”, a hipster ice cream parlor with lines going out the door. My¬†Lavender & Honey + Honey Balsamic Strawberry with Cracked Pepper cone was great. I’d even stand in line for it again.

Nerd vacation!

The Apple Worldwide Developers Conference sold out in TWO HOURS this year and was first announced at 8:30AM EDT. Or, as we on the left coast like to call it, FIVE F*CKING THIRTY IN THE MORNING. And it sold out before 7:30AM, much earlier than most nerds get up. What a mess. Fortunately, this nerd was up and I got a ticket.

There’s really no great reason that I go to the Apple conference, but I figure I might learn something and I get to spend a week in San Francisco. It’s as good a reason as any, isn’t it?


So it’s the dead time before the final sweeps month of the year where all the TV shows air their finales, so that means NOTHING TO WATCH. And my radio is so quiet that I wonder if the antenna fell off (it hasn’t). So I may actually get to bed on time!

Someone pointed out to me that I’m supposed to be happier now because in your 50’s (or close) you figure out that shit’s just the way shit is, and you’re OK with it. That sounds about right to me. Heck, even MIT called asking for money and I’m finally not mad at them for making it the undergraduate hell-hole that it was. I gave them even more money than I did last year when I was there for my reunion. It’s still not a whole lot, but it’s about what I give to most charities. (Someone from our class gave hundreds of thousands last year, so my donation is a drop in the bucket.) Anyway, I guess I still have my dreams but I know they’re pretty much just that. Unless I win a $600 million lottery. Then all bets are off.

Weird, no one is even on 40M. Stupid sunspots.

Left out, who cares?

I know something was going on tonight and I wasn’t invited, but that’s how I feel every night on the radio. There has to be someone on the radio from some foreign country that I could talk to if I was only on the radio. Heck, I’m sure I talked to Croatia tonight but I forgot to hit the button to put it into my computer log. As far as talking to all states go, I’m missing Delaware, Rhode Island, and Vermont and I still haven’t confirmed North Dakota, Idaho, and Kentucky, though I specifically asked the guys from Idaho and Kentucky for cards.

That’s what I get for being past the age where I would spend Friday nights out in a bar, eating dinner and drinking by myself. Now I’m at home eating Bagel Bites and drinking Scoresby, the Scotch whisky you can drink with a straw. OK, so I’m really drinking Glenmorangie, but that’s only because I was too lazy to go buy Scoresby, the Scotch whisky you can drink with a straw. It’s not that I’m cheap: Glenmorangie is $40 for a fifth and Scoresby, the Scotch whisky you can drink with a straw, is $25 for 1.75L. In ‘Merkin measurements, that’s $25 for almost half a gallon. (To be honest, I think I really liked Suntory Yamazaki Single Malt, which was made not too far from where I used to live in Japan, and where I can sense it getting close and point it out as we’re going past it on the bullet train.)

Oh, and I got another haircut:

Hello, my name is Todd and I am a ham radio operator.

You’d figure after being a ham for 35 years and finally buying a big expensive $5000 radio that I’d spend a whole lot of time playing with it. It’s been a week and I’ve been staying up late listening to a lot of static and sometimes a few guys talking. Yesterday, for example, I had a very short exchange with a guy in Moldova, and a longer conversation with a guy in Guam. I meant to go to bed early (as I also meant to today) but of course I ended up playing radio. There doesn’t seem to be as many people on tonight, which is a good thing. One of these nights I should probably get some sleep. Really, I think that’s it for excitement from me. Just a guy sitting in front of a radio, listening to Morse code. I start hearing it in my sleep, too, so I better knock it off soon.

My ma was OK.

Just as expected, my mom just couldn’t find a phone and she was just fine. Now I can go back to celebrating my birthday the way I usually do, doing nothing much at all. Microwaved a burrito and now I’m finally finished playing with my radio and confirming that I can hear just about nobody. I did find out that a whole lot of people still use Facebook and they all sent me happy birthday greetings. I also got two text messages and one phone call, plus an email that made me realize that ONCE AGAIN I FORGOT MY FRIEND SUN’S BIRTHDAY. I am a chump. A 48YO chump at that.

I am hiding.

My aunt just called several times from Japan, worried about where my mom was. My mom’s plan was to fly into Tokyo, spend the night, and then get on a train headed for my aunt’s place (at least 7-8 hours of train time). We talked about how hard it would be for my mom to call my aunt until she got on the train. The bad part about the ubiquity of cell phones in Japan is that it killed the pay phone industry and I’m guessing my mom’s having no luck finding a way to call my aunt. I had to call the hotel to make sure my mom checked in (and out) because my aunt was so worried. I figure there’s no reason to worry unless my mom doesn’t show up in Tokuyama, where they’re supposed to meet. I think that’s in an hour or so, about midnight my time. If things go poorly, I expect a panicked call around 2AM.

You know that $5000 ham radio I was talking about buying? It arrived on Monday and it’s kind of a kit. You really only need a screwdriver to put it together (they’ve done all the soldering for you) but it still took ten hours to assemble. Once I got it all together, I had to play with it. I’ve only talked to one guy on it so far (a guy from Calgary) because it’s taken me two days to figure out how to talk with the thing. I figured out how to send Morse code, and I heard Sweden, but Sweden didn’t hear me.

No news is sometimes good news, so let’s at least hope for that.

Why did I go to the doctor today?

Several people who I trust aren’t just screwing with me have suggested I go see the doctor about my stomachaches and I finally had enough of it and went today. It went pretty much the way I thought, and he was happy (unlike me) that I’d gained weight over the winter. I guess if my problem was something serious, I would have been losing weight. But he told me things I didn’t want to know. I might have to avoid fried foods. I might have to quit drinking beer. I might have some sort of digestive problems that require a colonoscopy, TWO YEARS EARLY.

The worst part is that I HAVE TO PLAY WITH MY POO. That’s right, a hemoccult test where they look for blood in my stool. Not only am I supposed to avoid red meat for several days, I HAVE TO PLAY WITH MY POO. Oh, and I got a prescription for GERD medication, too.

So now I’m old, I can’t eat and drink stuff I want to, and I have a new unwanted scatological hobby. Oh, and I got a doohickey to help troubleshoot my radio problems and it proved to me that things are going to be harder to figure out than I’d hoped. Phooey. The new radio is arriving early next week, though!

Good news everyone!

I wanted to buy a new, expensive, ham radio and my current radio is acting up. I’m sure I can fix the current radio, especially since it was a kit and all the parts are still available, but this is just another reason to buy a radio where the base model is TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS. With the accessories I picked, it was FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS. Well, I told myself that if a certain event occurred, I’d treat myself to that radio. (The event was related to a goal that might or might not be tied to my vocation.) Anyway, I got good news today, and that good news helped me blow a five thousand dollar hole in my bank account. Eventually, I believe I will have a superior radio (an Elecraft K3 with second receiver and panadapter if you’re keeping track) that I can use for the express purpose of, well, screwing around talking to other ham radio geeks.

I finally made it back to the gym today and while I thought I was just being lazy, I really was feeling iffy. I still had to go all out at times because even with all my exertion I still gained 10lbs this winter. My stomach wasn’t 100%, and I now have several people asking me why I haven’t seen a doctor yet, but I’m afraid he’s just going to say (and I’m trying to get my medical terminology correct here), “Awww, poor widdle baby has an upset tummy.” I suppose that’s unlikely, but most people know what I’m talking about here.

Time to read a few chapters before I hit the hay and hopefully dream about my new radio.

I wonder if the government still owes me money.

I usually have pretty darn exciting Friday nights and this week’s was no different than most. I left work a little early because it was the end of spring break week for us and it was pretty darn quiet. Plus, my stomach was starting to bother me. When I got home I thought I’d take a short nap, which most days ends up being five whole minutes before I wake up. This time it was two and a half hours. At that point, I decided I’d just take it easy on Saturday and skip the gym altogether.

Saturday wasn’t all that exciting, but it started up with a dream where someone parked their car ON TOP of my new car. I couldn’t get in, so I couldn’t find the number of the insurance company, and I was trying to figure out just who to call. I even remember it being on a narrow street behind our neighborhood Trader Joe’s in a dream neighborhood that seemed very familiar yet not exactly like my real neighborhood. I think I’ve seen this dream neighborhood before.

I’ve been accused of being a Civil War re-enactor because I have radios with tubes in them. Tubes, as in the glowy hot old-school things used before transistors. Today I was busy getting an old printer working so I could print ENVELOPES and put STAMPS on them. After people contact each other on ham radio, we have to confirm the contacts. There are ways to do it on the computer, but I think the traditional method, sending postcard-sized QSL cards, is more fun than just some bits on a server somewhere. So I was busy addressing envelopes and filling out cards to send out. The postage gets expensive, but who has a cheap hobby? Plus, I’m a fan of the post office and this will show my support.