Junket

Or would it be a boondoggle? I’m not up on all the hep lingo these days.

Anyway, I’m currently sat at a hotel “near” Detroit, drinking coffee and steeling myself mentally for what will undoubtedly be a long and taxing day.

I flew in last night. I fly home Thursday evening.

The purpose for this two-plus day trip? Customer goodwill visits. That I somehow got roped into attending. With two of our sales team. And our company president aka “He Who Shall Not Be Named”.

I loathe him.

And I loathe what I perceive as colossal wastes of time and money, and by all accounts– this is both.

I get that these types of visits are occasionally necessary from a business perspective, but it’s the inefficiency of it all that chaps my ass.

The original “plan”, if you could call it that, called for visiting four different customers to discuss various programs, quality issues, potential new business, etc. And these four companies are scattered throughout Michigan, which will necessitate a lot of driving– as none are very close to Detroit.

Our outside sales rep has organized all of this.

After arrival yesterday I discover that we are down to three visits, as one customer decided they aren’t available. And two of these remaining three have granted us a grand total of 1.5 hours of their time.

This really leaves one customer visit of import. Which is like a four hour drive away from our current location.

Time. Waste.

This is time that I could be in the office, being productive on any number of the stacked up projects on my plate. But no. I’m here.

With them.

And then there was the $900 flight to Detroit. And the $200 hotel stay last night. And the I-don’t-know-how-much-we-spent dinner last night but it was at least $100/person.

And there will be dinner with the “one”‘customer this evening. And another hotel stay.

Money. Waste.

Lord give me the strength not to let my displeasure show today.

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Eclipsed

So, today’s the big day. Total eclipse in North America. First time in a butt load of years.

And I’m gonna miss it.

Not like I was going to see totality– we are only like at 85% eclipsed here in Minneapolis. But even that would have been nice to see. However, the weather today has other plans.

Cloudy. Stormy. Not very eclipsey.

Being the science nerd that I am, one would think that I would have taken a short trip south to see this thing. But my whole thing is: while eclipses are predictable, weather is less so. And I know with my luck, I’d travel somewhere to see this once-in-a-lifetime event, only to have it rained out.

So, I chose not to travel to see it. Although had I traveled, I would have chosen somewhere like Cody, Wyoming. It’s kind of arid out there– probably better chance of not having tons of clouds.

That’s just a guess though.

Anyway, if you have eclipse watching plans, I hope they go well for you. I wish you sunny (and moony) skies.

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Woofy Wednesday

Because we need a distraction, or as I like to call it "alt-work".


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Fragile… A name in the phone book

For some reason, this text from a Joyce Sutphen poem popped into my head this morning.

It just so happens to be the poem set to music that the Chamber Singers performed last year about this time in Denver.

Here's the link:

I still think it's beautiful.

This is the only body I know
This is my address on earth

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Drum Corps Schminternational

This past Saturday night were the World class drum and bugle corps championships. And the Blue Devils won. Again.

I'm a bit disappointed.

I just don't like the direction of the activity, and I disagree wholeheartedly with the judging.

It's not that the Devils aren't good. Because they are. Very good. But they play and march about half as much as the other corps– and the judges don't seem to care.

In fact, they seem to reward it.

The greatest demand on the marching members comes from performing while moving across the field. And not just moving– but moving in concert, with precision.

Maintaining forms. Monitoring step size. Horn angles. Body position. Keeping your horn still while your feet are striking the turf at 180 bpm. All while playing music with dynamics and nuance.

This… is wickedly hard.

The Blue Devils know this, so they write their programs to have the players stationary for much of the music– or moving at 1/2 speed. Then, when they stop playing, they take their horns (or equipment down) and then move to their next location.

Almost no technical demand on the kids.

And the judges are placing this in first– effectively killing drill and formational marching.

This simultaneously makes me sad and frustrates me to no end. It's called "the marching arts" not the "stand and playing arts". It's supposed to be music in motion– synesthesia in a sense.

And the Blue Devils are ruining it.

Well, the judges are ruining it by scoring them well. And if it's winning, why change things?

Grrrrr.

At least my old corps (the Cavaliers) managed to jump a spot at finals and ended in 4th.

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Woofy Wednesday

Because it's humpy day:



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Caffeinated.

This past weekend I used my new La Pavoni espresso machine several times. I was playing with grind and tamp and pulls.

I had like one successfully shot.

The machine is easy to use. It heats the water quickly. Everything works– or seems to.

I think I've narrowed down my issues to either (a) too coarse a grind or (b) not enough tamp.

The grinder I have is a cuisenart burr Grinder set to finest. It should be ok.

I may also not have put enough coffee in the holder thing.

It's gonna take me several more tries to get this right– but I like the manual pull thing. It feels more like I'm "making" the espresso.

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Sometimes God Just Closes a Door

Howard Semones lost his battle with cancer on Saturday evening. I take heart in the fact he was surrounded by his family and had his husband by his side.

It still sucks, though. And I'm very sad.

And it all feels so goddamn pointless and arbitrary.

Why, of all people, did he have to go? And so soon?

It's unfair and I'm so angry about it.

And bitter.

The funny thing is, we weren't even incredibly close. We'd never met in person, but we were still friends. And I genuinely liked him.

He was an easy guy to like.

We met through blogging and then migrated to twitter and Facebook friendship. We chatted off and on and occasionally played "Evil Apples" together.

He was funny. And animated. And nice. And had a great smile. And he was goofy.

And now he's gone.

In his final hours, my Facebook feed was absolutely full of people tagging him in photos they had taken with him. The number of posts was overwhelming; he had touched so many lives and had so many friends.

In that regard, I guess he was lucky. But we were even luckier.

Howard you were loved. I will miss you.

We all will.

Right now it doesn't feel very much like God left a window open somewhere.

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Electricity! Electricity!

Remember that song from Schoolhouse Rock? Yeah, I always liked it. And I always remember it when I'm working with wiring.

Which I did last night. Successfully.

I managed to install a new kitchen island pendant light fixture all by my lonesome!

I had a 5 light, halogen, stainless steel light fixture before. But it's been finicky for the past year or so.

First one of the lights would go out occasionally. I'd have to jiggle it to get it to work. Then that light stopped working altogether.

Then another light stopped working.

And then, about two weeks ago, I flipped the switch and there was the tiniest pop– and the whole fixture was dark.

This was one of those lights with a built in transformer, and I figure it just finally died.

Which was nice because I wanted a new fixture anyway, and I didn't want halogen. So I started an intensive internet search for options.

I eventually lit (pun intended) on the fixture in the above pics. Brushed black anodized aluminum. LED. Adjustable height.

I like it. It's sleek and modern and more energy efficient.

And I do feel rather accomplished that I got the old fixture down and the new one up without incurring any damages or any electrical shocks.

And there were challenges. Like being on a step stool on top of my island and working above my head. And undoing the wiring from the old fixture with one hand while supporting the old transformer unit with the other.

Then there was the fact that the new light had a small "assembly issue" as shipment had caused some things to shift and wires to come apart.

And then there was the inexact wiring diagram on the directions which neglected to show all the wires. Coupled with being exceptionally tiny and unreadable.

And then there was my ingenious solution of using bread ties to hold the new fixture up in the air so I could get all the wires attached (as this was the only way to do it by myself).

Needless to say, there was some trepidation when I turned back on the circuit breaker and flipped the switch.

I am very pleased with the outcome. The light is crazy bright and I can eventually install a low voltage dimmer. And it has successfully turned on and off every time I've tried it.

Take that Bembridge Scholars!

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Woofy Wednesday

Because I said so

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